Can Washington Win the Pac 12 in 2016?

The Washington Huskies hired Chris Petersen from Boise State after USC hired their previous coach, Steve Sarkisian, to take over their program.

His first year at Washington saw the program win 8 games and lose 6.

From the 2014 season’s roster, the Huskies lost some outstanding talent with 4 guys taken early in the NFL Draft.

Husky Defensive Tackle Danny Shelton was taken with the 12th pick of the entire draft by the

Cleveland Browns. Cornerback Marcus Peters was picked with the 18th pick by the Kansas City Chiefs and he was an immediate star.

Linebacker Shaq Thompson played both ways for the Huskies, but the Carolina Panthers picked him at the 25th spot to play Linebacker.

My personal favorite, Hau’oli Kikaha, was picked by the New Orleans Saints with the 44th pick. Nobody had more guys taken early than the Washington Huskies and nobody had more draft picks than the Pac 12 in the 1st round. The ACC and the Pac 12 actually tied with 9 first round draft picks a piece. But, I am sure Paul Finebaum told everybody that already.

All of the Husky Draft picks were defensive players, but they still had the best defense in their conference this past season.

In spite of only posting a 7-6 record in 2015, the future is looking bright for the Huskies this season and beyond.

One of the biggest reasons for optimism is Jake Browning at Quarterback. Last season, as a true freshman coming from the Sacramento, California suburb of Granite Bay, Browning was impressive. He did look like a true freshman at times, but he also threw for 2,955 yards and 16 Touchdowns. He only ran for 35 yards last year, but the 6-2, 205 Browning is a talented athlete and he can pick up yardage with his feet.

He did throw 10 Interceptions, but look for that total to decrease with maturity and experience.

Another true freshman rose to the occasion at Running Back. 5-9, 190 Myles Gaskin showed

outstanding quickness while running for 1,302 yards and 14 Touchdowns. The hometown guy, Gaskin, decided to play for the Huskies as coach Petersen wants to keep all of the in-state players home.

It was a good thing for the Huskies that Myles Gaskin remained near home.

Another home town guy that Petersen and staff helped to stay near home is Chico McClatcher. As a true freshman last season, McClatcher showed plenty of speed and talent. He didn’t have a huge season, but he gave us flashes of what he can be. He is listed as a Wide Receiver and he did play there catching 8 passes. But, he also ran the ball 19 times for 153 yards and 3 Touchdowns at an over 8 yards per carry average.

He was also the main return man on punts and kicks. McClatcher can scoot, but he’s only about 5-7, 175. The Huskies just signed a recruit out of Bellflower, California named Sean McGrew that is almost exactly the same size and quickness. At St John Bosco High School, McGrew ran for 5,762 yards and 76 Touchdowns and he averaged 9.1 yards per carry over his 4 years in high school.

Dante Pettis is even more dangerous as a return man and he took 2 punt returns back for Touchdowns last year. He also caught 30 passes and he could be Browning’s main target at Wide Receiver this season.

Wide Receiver John Ross missed all of the 2015 season, but he’s back for 2016. Ross only caught 17 passes in 2014, but 4 of them were for Touchdowns. He also ran for a Touchdown. But, his biggest contribution might be as a kickoff return man because he had 2 returns for Touchdowns in 2014.

Ross has a lot of speed and look for Petersen to get him more involved with the passing game in 2016.

The Huskies will have a lot of speed at Wide Receiver and Running Back.

The Offensive Line was really young last season and especially Left Tackle Trey Adams who looks to be a real budding star.

They return a lot of depth up front and this unit should be vastly improved.

We’ve all heard all of our lives that defense wins championships and the Huskies might be building a very special defense.

The Huskies return 8 starters on defense, but two of them were Outside Linebackers Cory Littleton and Travis Feeney who were team leaders.

Elijah Qualls is like the immovable object at Nose Guard.

Azeem Victor is possibly the best Linebacker in the Pac 12.

The Secondary led by Budda Baker and Sidney Jones is talented and fast.

Stanford is thought by some to win the Pac 12 next season, but keep an eye on Washington. Usually, if a coach is going to make it at a school, his third year will be a good one.

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