Husky football is finally here... well, almost. Fall camp begins this week and the countdown until August 31st begins. In the meantime, here is an overview of several key storylines as the team opens up their 2013 campaign.
How hard will the hammer fall on Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins?
Two Huskies made mistakes this offseason: First, junior tight end Seferian-Jenkins was charged with a DUI in April; and secondly, junior wideout Kasen Williams was cited for a misdemeanor for drinking under the age of 21. The consensus among the local media and fans suggest a one-game suspension for both players is both the standard and an acceptable course of action.
Ted Miller from ESPN's Pac-12 blog says suspending the pair for one, two or three games is the correct move. Q13 Fox's Aaron Levine calls for one or two game suspensions, while the Seattle Times' Adam Jude thinks a one-game suspension sounds right. The team not having ASJ and Williams on the roster for the Boise State game turns a sure-fire advantage into a weakness.
The shiny new thing
This team's biggest addition cost $250 million and will likely stay here for longer than four years. The atmosphere is more intimate, the seats and benches are brand new and the facilities are beautiful. After a year at CenturyLink Field, the team now has a permanent home for years to come.
Husky Stadium was already considered one of the best venues in the nation, and to up the ante with this renovation - well, it will do wonders for recruiting and increased fan support. Home field advantage will be fun.
Will the Price be right?
Towards the end of last season, some hardcore Husky fans were calling for Keith Price's job. After a record-setting sophomore season, Price regressed and made mistakes; but overall, he reminded us he is not perfect. No one will ever know exactly why his performance dipped last season, but a fresh start looms for the Compton, Calif. native.
Perhaps some tutelage under Husky legend and now quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo will help Price return to his 2011 form. All eyes will be on the team's signal-caller; if this team is going to overachieve this season, Keith Price will be the chief cause.
New kids on the block
Sarkisian netted a consensus top 20 recruiting class this past season, with several players having potential to have an immediate impact on the field for the team. Damore'ea Stringfellow is a four-star wideout from Moreno Valley, Calif. He has a nice combination of size, speed and strength - add in excellent hands and an ability to catch balls in traffic, and I'd say he might be pushing for some reps come week one against Boise State.
Darrell Daniels is another four-star wide receiver; he hails from Oakley, Calif. Daniels' best quality is his size - expect to see him making gaining a lot of yards after catches.
On the defensive side, the Huskies welcome in four-star defensive tackle Elijah Qualls from Petaluma, Calif. Can you imagine a 280 lb plus running back? Qualls played both ways in high school and showed incredible explosiveness in the trenches at the defensive tackle position.
Last but not least, four-star defensive end Joe Mathis is one of the top recruits from the class. Hailing from Upland, Calif., Mathis is a top-notch run-stopper. Watching the development of these four players along with a handful of other incoming freshman will be exciting.
Is the seat hot?
Sark enters his fifth year with the Huskies, and now has a team full of players that he recruited. While he has orchestrated a turnaround from the miserable Tyrone Willingham years, the program is stuck in neutral. The evidence is on the wall: the team has a 26-25 record and three average bowl berths.
The team has shown the ability to pull off major upsets including a win over No. 3 USC in 2010, a Holiday Bowl victory over No. 18 Nebraska in 2010, and a pair of wins against No. 8 Stanford and No. 7 Oregon State in 2012. At the same time, Washington has suffered inexplicable losses including blowouts against Arizona and No. 2 Oregon last year along with a momentum-killing Apple Cup loss to the Cougars.
Of course Husky fans are not satisfied with mediocrity, but how much does Sarkisian have to prove this season to show he is a long-term solution for this football program?