In 2013 the Huskies were finally able to scratch the seven-win itch. Yes, gone were the early-season super opponents like LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and the toughest schedule in the country. They were replaced by worthy opponents like Boise St. and Illinois.
The conference record may be the telling factor add to the quality of the team and that record held steady at 5-4... including a blowout loss in the desert and at home to the fowl from the south.
This year's non-conference is that of one that I would normally make fun of as it's very SECesque. I guess that's the way football had gone so we'd be fools to not follow suit. And given the quality of players lost it might be a good year to break in new players at some critical positions.
Let's take a look at some of those positions where the Huskies might be better or worse.
QB: Worse Keith Price was the final holdover from the Tyrone Willingham era. Yes, Coach Sark got him to put ink on the paper and was his only college coach, but he was a Ty recruit. That said, who knew he would put up QUALITY numbers like he put up when he was signed. His slight build, his lack of height were indicators that he would just be an average QB and look what we got.
However, let me say this: by season's end the difference should be negligible. As I alluded to the schedule is perfect for breaking in a new QB: Hawai'i on the road, Illinois at home and a couple of C- teams rounding it the first month+ and Coach Pete can have his full install by the time Stanford rolls into town.
By season's end this position could be better but I'm going to call it worse in respect to what Keith Price accomplished here in three years.
RB: Better Yes, better. This is a position where the Huskies probably have the best depth. And given that, I'm going to say that the parts are greater than the whole of Bishop Sankey.
This position can feature zone read with Cooper, Callier, and Coleman, Fly Sweeps with Callier, Power with Shaq and Washington, and Grinder Yards by committee.
If push comes to shove is there an heir-apparent to Sankey? Not in the form of another 1,500 yard rusher, no. This position, overall, should be better none-the-less.
TE: Better Again, yes, better. But again, the committee approach give the depth and diversity of the athletes at this position the Huskies should be better.
Last year ASJ's drop off in terms of catches and yards was due to a couple of factors. Scheme and bulk. Austin was dealing with a suspension from team activities so he entered the season out of shape and never fully caught up with the HUNH scheme.
Another factor in the statistical drop was the decision to run behind him. Sankey would not have had the season he had with out the big fella.
This year, with the zone read the way the Huskies address defensive ends, the usage of a blocking tight end will diminish greatly. They won't have to hold their blocks as long and will be a receiving threat more often. That plays into Hartvigsen's, Daniels', Brown's, and Perkins' hands nicely. The quality of the parts is greater than the sum of what has departed.
Defensive Interior: Better This will be better for many reasons. Firstly, it's Shelton's last hurrah. It's his senior season. Physically, he's always played the part of the big-bodied run-stopper. He should be a terror on the interior.
Secondly, there were times when he'd take a series off. But it wasn't like he had a choice...there was not any body behind him that could get the job done. Now, with Qualls emerging behind him he can go gangbusters for a series, get a blow, then go back out and do it all over again.
Finally, for a big guy, he has a very soft spot in his heart for his family. Few guys wear their hearts in their sleeve like Danny. This year he has switched his number to 55 to celebrate his brother. Now every time he looks down he will see his brother closer to his heart and the reminder that he's playing for him.
It's all being set up for a special senior season for the big guy.
Coaching: Better... I'll let you fill in this one in the comments!
There are other positions to cover on future dates.