With Myles Gaskin gone, there’s a void on offense and opportunity for players to step up and be the focal point of the Husky attack. With a new QB who is stylistically opposed to four year starter Jake Browning, the offense should have a new feel to it. Whether that means new young play makers emerge or some veterans get a new lease on life, we’ll have to find out. Though, given Petersen’s history, I lean towards the latter. We’ll some young guns but I think the bulk of the production will be from the players below. Here are 5 choices on this year’s potential Offensive MVP:
TE Hunter Bryant
After Hunter Bryants freshman year he appeared destined to be a star and one of the best pass catching mismatches in college football. He’s got incredibly large and strong hands, runs well, and has great strength to break tackles and not get knocked off his routes. Injuries slowed him down but he appears healthy and ready to go to have a huge junior year (though it sounds like there are some minor health concerns still). He’s a second team All Pac-12 pre-season choice, and a couple big catches in the Rose Bowl have helped the country take notice of his immense talent. Despite this, there’s still a lingering feeling like the offense might not feature him enough. Those catches in the Rose Bowl didn’t come until late in the game when the Huskies were down 28-3. Was it Jake Browning not finding Bryant? Was he not getting open? Or was he just not the primary target on those plays? It’s hard to say, but if Hunter Bryant truly is going to be the teams primary or secondary option in the pass game, he will likely garner MVP consideration.
QB Jacob Eason
There’s obviously a lot of excitement about Jacob Eason because he has the tools to have a massive season. The 2016 season showed there is potential for a QB in Petersen’s system to have huge numbers - with the right options at WR. So if the play makers emerge outside (Terrell Bynum? Austin Osborne? Puka Nacua?), the OL blocks like a unit with over 100 starts, and Chico rediscovers his form, it is certainly possible. Those are 3 decent sized “ifs” and the only one that doesn’t feel like a certainty is big time options emerging at WR. But the hope is the veteran experience of guys like Aaron Fuller and Ty Jones coupled with talented youngsters and Junior Adams coaching, will create a clear improvement over last years WR performance. But, even if that all happens, Eason still has to get the ball there. I think he’ll have a good season, and show some of the improvement folks have wanted from his game since his UGA days - namely accuracy and decision making. But, until I see him play (Cal and their tough defense in Week 2 will be revealing) it’s hard to assume he’ll be MVP even if I project a good season for him.
OL Trey Adams
How about a little love for the big guy? I imagine if Trey Adams is having a huge enough season to warrant offensive MVP consideration, that probably means Salvon Ahmed had a massive year running behind him, in which case he’d be the MVP. So, it would be pretty rare and frankly unlikely for this to happen. But everything is set for Trey Adams to have a big year as a healthy 5th year senior. He could very easily be 1st Team All Pac-12 this year (he’s a pre-season choice by the media), and push for All-American honors. Trey Adams’ play is integral to the offense’s success this year and will no doubt be a key part of any player’s MVP season, even though he likely won’t win the award himself.
RB Salvon Ahmed
Salvon is probably the favorite here. Though like with all these predictions, it’s hard to know until we see his usage. Is he going to get 20-25 traditional running back touches, like Myles Gaskin? Or will he still get around 20+ touches but more of the all purpose variety? I get the sense he’ll receive about 12-15 rushes a game (over double his career average) and then another 5-10 all purposes touches - screens, jet sweeps, and various pass game looks going his way. He’ll likely be the focal point of the offense and has rare stop and start ability coupled with big play potential every time he touches the ball. The offense simply has to be more explosive this year to take the next step and Ahmed is the best bet to make that happen. If he’s healthy, it’s likely him vs. Hunter Bryant for this award.
WR Chico McClatcher
Speaking of explosive, it won’t take long for us to remember why Chico is important to this year’s team. In the quest for more big plays, the answer might be in one of, if not the smallest member of the team. Chico plays the RB/WR/all purpose offensive weapon role really well, and like Ahmed has explosive play potential. He’s a diminutive and elusive runner who was a big part of the offense his freshman and sophomore years, before injuries derailed his 2017 and 18. He’s been a nice surprise in fall camp and should look to build on his 2016 sophomore campaign in which he had over 500 yards and 5 TDs.
Others In Consideration
WR Aaron Fuller: He’ll get plenty of balls thrown his way, and if he builds on the form he showed in the first half of 2018, I could see a 1,000 yard, 8-9 TD season. Depending on how the rest of the offense performs, those numbers could warrant MVP talk (hopefully not though).
WR Terrell Bynum: He’s 6-1, and is entering his 3rd year in the program, having played in 10 games as a redshirt freshman last year, though he did not catch a pass. He’s got great speed, and might be the “take the top off the defense” threat the Huskies sorely have lacked since John Ross went to the NFL. If he shows he can be a threat early in the season, he could be the first WR Eason looks to by the end of the year.
For what it’s worth, I went with Salvon.
Who Will be Washington’s Offensive MVP in 2019?
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