Washington Season Outook 2018-2019

This is a follow up on my series that looked at the Utes Season Outlook 2018-2019, but this time we’ll go to one of the expected powerhouses in the conference.
Like previously, we’ll start with what the team  “supposed” to be. ESPN’s analysts pick them to finish in 1st place (overall) in the PAC-12 and first in the PAC-12 North Division. The ESPN FPI expects the Huskies to go 11-2 (including a win in the conference Championship), with a 53.3% of winning the conference and a 7.6% chance of winning out.
With all that being said, the will be put to the test their very first game when the (6) Huskies meet the (9) Tigers of Auburn.
Washington finished with a stellar recruiting class, bringing in no less than 9 four-star recruits. However, the real “star” of the show last season was quarterback Jake Browning who will begin his 4th straight season at the helm of this UW team. Last year he had a rather “pedestrian” season by his statistical standards with only 230/336 completions for 2,719 yards and a 19/5 TD/Interceptions ratio. The usage of pedestrian is only to bring attention to the absolutely ridiculous season he put down in 2016, where he was 243/391 completions for 3,430 yards and an insane 43 Touchdowns to go with 9 interceptions. His freshman season is only slightly less impressive than his sophomore and junior year (albeit with a few more interceptions and a bunch more sacks). One final note about Browning, is that once teams thought they had him pinned down in the 2017 he was absolutely blistering passing 3/3 for 34 yards on 4th down and any distance, just to make things worse for the opponent he also had three 4th down runs for a total of 36 yards and a touchdown.
Although you may have noticed the relative drop in TDs for Browning, the one thing you can’t see from his statistics is the running back besides him. Myles Gaskin averaged 6.2 yards per carry on 222 carries for 1,380 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2017. That’s 11 more touchdowns on roughly the same number of carriers and yards, and is likely the cause for the “drop in Browning’s performance). The scariest part of all? Both are back as seniors for this loaded UW team.
Washington did lose their top receiver, Dante Pettis, last year to the NFL draft, and eventually the San Francisco 49ers, who caught 63 balls for 761 yards and 7 TD last season. They also lost tight end Will Dissly and Running Back/Receiver Lavon Coleman. They added a number of talented recruits to build on to the already impressive stable of wide receivers they have. They return Hunter Bryant (Soph.) who caught 22 receptions for 331 yards and a TD, as well as Aaron Fuller who caught 26 for 291 and a TD. They also return Andre Baccellia and his 16 receptions for 187 yards. Regardless of the loss of talent through graduation and/or the draft, I don’t think it’s a matter of how they will replace that production, just a matter of who steps up and claims the catches.
These Huskies went 10-3 last year, losing a defensive battle 13-7 to Arizona State, a close game at Stanford 30-22, and the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State 35-28. In that first game, all the credit has to go to Arizona State as they held Jake Browning to 17/30 for 139 yards and zero touchdowns passing, though he did manage 1 rushing touchdown on 10 attempts for a total of -24 yards. It was a defensive battle and the Sun Devils were able to edge it, partly because Washington was completely unable to find any rhythm whatsoever. The second game they ran into a beast called Bryce Love, in a  rushing-oriented scoring game. Starting running backs accounted for all 6 touchdowns and everything else was accounted for by the kickers, with both runningbacks eclipsing 100 yards, Gaskin on 18 carries for 120 yards and Love with 30 carriers for 166 yards. While both teams played great, it was a few penalties late on that catastrophic effects on their ability to make one final comeback. The Fiesta Bowl game was a case of Penn State being able to hold on, barely. Washington was on the prowl and after a lateral with 5 seconds left, it was fumbled and recovered by Penn State to seal the win.
Here are a few games to watch for (2 home, 2 away, and a neutral site game):
Week 1 v. Auburn (Neutral site)
Week 3 v. @Utah
Week 4 v. Arizona State
Week 7 v. @Oregon
Week 10 v. Stanford
If Washington can take care of business, I see absolutely no reason why they can’t advance to the Conference Championships and maybe to a College Football Playoff birth.
Last Update: August 30, 2018
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