USC's Lane Kiffin congratulates Washington's Steve Sarkisian after a 40-21 Washington win in the Pac 12 Championship game on Friday, November 12th, 2012. Washington advances to the BCS Title game where they will face Big Ten Champ Wisconsin for all the marbles on January 7th, 2013. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Football season has arrived once again with the official opening of camp today at 3:00 pm in Montlake.
Unlike other years in the past the fans aren't welcome because there simply isn't enough room for them with all of the stadium construction going on. The media will still be there and while they aren't allowed to report on anything specific we should have a pretty good idea of the physical health of the team by the end of the week.
Overall this once again will be a pretty young team. There are only ten scholarship seniors on the roster and only four players on the roster are left over from the previous regime. By the fall of 2013 the rebuilding process will be 100% complete and the team should begin annually competing for championships.
So what about 2012?
The schedule is exceptionally brutal. Washington will play four teams in their first six games who finished in the top ten last season. Three of those teams are in this years pre-season top ten. The oddsmakers predict that the Huskies will be 2-4 at the mid point of the season even though most prognosticators feel that the Dawgs could be top 25 material themselves.
The players and the coaches are welcoming the challenge. You come to the University of Washington to play in big games, big venues, and to compete for championships.
The team welcomes the opportunity to take on programs like LSU, Oregon, USC, and Stanford. They not only welcome it but they have developed the mind set that they can compete and beat these teams.
The Huskies threw a scare at LSU a couple of years ago in Husky Stadium during a game that Washington could have won if the ball bounced the right way a couple of more times. The Huskies sport a 2-1 record under Sark against the might USC Trojans. The entire team knows that they can beat those guys because they have done it.
Getting over the hump this year against Stanford and Oregon this year is a challenge that must be met. The Huskies simply haven't been competitive with those two programs as of late. That has to change if Washington wants to challenge for a championship in 2012.
Five early things to look for in camp:
1. Health - How much can Semisi Tokolahi, Colin Tanigawa, Kevin Smith, and Deontae Cooper contribute during camp? The earlier these guys get going the stronger the indication that they will be able to contribute early this season. Washington will be a much better team if these guys can show that they are getting close to full strength when the season begins.
2. Offensive Tackle - Finding three solid players to start and rotate out there is one of the biggest challenges of camp. Does Drew Schaefer have to move outside to solidify the position? If he does probably isn't a good thing because it means that Riva, Hatchie, and Charles are not developing as quickly as they need to.
3. Linebackers - Depending on how the Huskies line up on any particular down there are as many as four starting slots to compete for over the next three weeks. Will the move of Nate Fellner to LB be a repeat of the Vic Aiyewa move a couple of years back? Will Shaq Thompson start his career as a LB rather than a safety?
4. Defense Schemes - How quickly will the existing players adjust to the schemes brought in by the new defensive coaching staff? To be honest they never adjusted to the schemes of the departed staff. Is that on the coaches or the players? How well will these guys play as a unit?
5. Running Back - A strong running game led by Chris Polk was one the biggest reasons that the Huskies have won more than they lost over the past two seasons. Will Washington be able to duplicate that type of performance in 2012 with a talented stable led by Jessie Callier and Bishop Sankey?