24 Days to go, Husky fans.
Hell, it feels like camp is almost over and we are just three days into it. Given that time is running out on us, we better get down to business. It's time to talk about who projects to lead the team in scoring in 2015. In honor of Howling Husky, who thinks that I bury my qualifiers in the body of pedantic posts, let me be very clear here: WE WILL NOT COUNT KICKERS IN THIS EXCERCISE.
The good news for the Huskies is that two of the their top three non-kicking scorers return this season. RB Dwayne Washington (9) and WR Jaydon Mickens (6) were two of the most productive guys on the roster when it came to crossing the goal line in 2015.
The bad news?
Well, for one, the #2 guy - WR/DB John Ross (7) is injured and will not play this year. That kind of blows.
Secondly, it is great that UW is returning two of its top scorers in D-Dubs and Jaydon. However, 15 TDs between the two of them isn't all that impressive. By way of comparison, Oregon true freshman RB Royce Freeman scored 19 TDs as a part-time player while three receivers and one quarterback each managed to put up seven touchdowns themselves.
I know. That's not good.
While UW doesn't have to be Oregon in terms of scoring to have a productive and successful campaign, it is going to have to do much better on offense than it did one season ago. In today's poll discussion, we take a look at who the best candidates are to potentially lead UW in scoring.
Option 1 - Dwayne Washington, RB
There is no doubt about the fact that UW is going to give D-Dubs the first shot at claiming the role of "workhorse" for this offense in 2015. Washington is an absolute beast. He sports a 6'2" 225 lb frame and has elite PAC 12 breakaway speed as demonstrated by the flurry of long TD rushes - four of them from 50 yards or more out - he posted at the end of last season. Here is one of the shorter ones:
I love Washington's potential as a running back. He closed last season very strong having rushed for 6 of his 9 TDs and 458 of his 697 yards in the last five games of the season. I'll freely admit that I'm a huge fan of Dwayne - after all, you have to love a kid that honors both Don James and Abner Thomas in his Twitter timeline. He has all of the physical skills, the maturity and the experience that is required to feed into a true breakout campaign. Plus, he's just a stud of a kid that is easy to root for.
But, the secret is out. Ted Miller has called out D-Dubs as the best RB that nobody is talking about in the PAC. If Washington is going to lead this team in scoring, he's going to have to do so with the full attention of opposing defenses.
Reasons he will: UW's top returning scorer; Is clearly the "first man up" for a rush-heavy offense, Has the body to be a red zone factor
Reasons he won't: UW's RB corps is deep and he might have to split carries; Lavon Coleman is also a legit goal line back; UW's offense figures to incorporate a more aggressive passing attack
Option 2 - Jeff Lindquist, QB
I alluded above to the fact that Oregon QB Marcus Mariota scored 16 TDs on the ground a season ago. That was third in the conference. UCLA QB Brett Hundley scored 10. Both of those guys scored more than Dwayne Washington's 9 in 2014.
The point here is that a QB can score a lot of TDs on the ground depending on a) his skills and b) his offense. Given that Lindquist is a 6'4" 240 lb monster and that the UW staff has already demonstrated a willingness to use him as a running threat, it is not inconceivable that Lindquist could lead the team in TDs this year.
This presumes that Lindquist wins the QB battle which, if the first three days of camp are any indication, is far from a sure bet. Even if he doesn't, it isn't exactly clear to me that he still wouldn't be used as a rushing threat when the Huskies get near the goal line.
Lindquist is a big, strong, tough man who has the right demeanor and attitude to fill a role that very well could result in him leading UW in TDs this year.
Reason he will: He's a QB in a bull's body; The staff has already shown a willingness to use him as a red zone threat; He's a bad ass
Reasons he won't: It's not clear that he will even win the QB job; UW has a number of goal line options with their tailbacks - and potentially a guy like Elijah Qualls - who each could play a similar role
Option 3 - Dante Pettis, Wide Receiver
With apologies to Darrel Daniels, Josh Perkins and Brayden Lenius, I expect that Dante Pettis will be the one receiver who will lead the team in TDs this season. Given his athleticism and what appears to me to be the best route-running skills on the team (outside of Jaydon Mickens), Pettis seems most poised to really explode should UW see the gains in timing and accuracy that they expect out of their QB position.
This could be really good news for UW.
Pettis has all the tools to be an elite scoring WR. He's tall enough, has good hands and he may be UW's best jump ball player. In addition, he figures to be on the field pretty much all the time in one of UW's outside receiving positions. Opportunity plus potential, in my mind, equals the best bet for scoring TDs among UW's receivers.
Reasons he will: A great athlete with great tools; Built up a ton of confidence and momentum with a successful 2014 campaign; Is UW's best "home run" threat with J-Ross out
Reasons he won't: UW is still a rush-first team; Some of the bigger receivers like Perkins or Daniels may get more opportunities in the red zone; UW's QB situation may not hit on all cylinders
Dwayne Washington, RB
I do worry that somebody that I haven't listed - maybe a Josh Perkins, a Lavon Coleman or a Brayden Lenius - might come out of nowhere to claim this particular title. However, it seems to me that Washington is the most obvious candidate to lead the team in scoring.
He's on the cusp of a breakout that both local and national pundits fully expect to see. He's got all of the physical tools to be an elite PAC 12 running back. He demonstrated at the end of last season a much better sense of ball protection and an ability to generate some yards after contact - issues that were present early in the year. Most importantly, he plays in an offense that wants to run often and do so behind a "war daddy" kind of feature back.
Dwayne Washington is that guy. I'm going to go ahead and predict 13 TDs for Washington this year which should lead the team.
Others Considered: QB KJ Carta-Samuels, RB Lavon Coleman, WR Jaydon Mickens, TE Joshua Perkins, WR Brayden Lenius, RB Deontae Cooper, TE Darrel Daniels, DT Elijah Qualls