Coming into 2013, there were questions as to whether Hau'oli Kikaha would contribute much at all. His talent was evident from his first season as a Husky, when he not only flashed his potential but also produced at a Pac-12 level as a true freshman. Two knee injuries in two seasons can derail any career, so the concerns about Kikaha were certainly valid.
All he did coming off of missing 22 straight games was post a 13 sack season, good enough for third in the country and second in the Pac-12.
So what will he do as an encore? There are a few factors to consider:
Recently we learned that Kikaha has been listed by UW as an OLB. Whether that corresponds to a difference in assignments and responsibilities remains to be seen -- he did quite a bit more standing up and moving around a year ago than you see from a traditional defensive end.
The Huskies will play -- at least -- one more game this season than they did a year ago. More games games = more snaps = more opportunities for sacks. In addition, they Huskies play more weak opponents than they did a year ago, and if Kikaha's performance against Idaho State is any indicatore (he had 3 sacks in one half of play) he could feast on teams like Hawaii, Georgia State, and Eastern Washington.
Because the major pieces of the front seven around Kikaha are returning, you'd expect to see an overall uptick in performance of that group, including Kikaha.
Conversely, with all those pieces return combined with the improvement of the depth behind the starters we could see more subbing on defense to keep guys fresh and get young guys reps.
Teams will be gameplanning for Kikaha. He's going to get chipped by backs and tight ends all year, as teams are going to be less than willing to allow him to go one-on-one with their tackles.
Over/Under: 12.5 sacks for Hau'oli Kikaha
A year ago there were just 20 players who recorded double digit sacks. Kikaha could very well have a fantastic year but still not match his production from a year ago. He could face normal regression, or an injury. He could also explode and completely blow this number out of the water.