Of all the teams that could disappoint in the coming season, Washington might be the quintessential example. Expectations for the 2015 Huskies were far too low — they were picked to finish near the basement of the Pac-12 North and out of bowl contention — but overachieved en route to a 7-6 finish.
Now, 7-6 shines in comparison to 4-8 or 3-9. The problem is, the bar was skewed too far down last year, and this year’s hype may be attributable to pundits over-correcting. That differentiates Washington somewhat from the other teams that could disappoint this year.
The Huskies should be good — probably the best they’ve been since 2001. Coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski is one of the nation’s best, evident last year in a Top 20 scoring defense. With seven starters back on that side of the ball — many of them key contributors — the 2016 Huskies should be even stingier.
The question mark hovers over the offense. Running back Myles Gaskin was a revelation in his freshman campaign, and could compete with Christian McCaffrey and Royce Freeman for the rushing yardage crown this season, though that’s predicated on Washington getting balance from the passing game.
Quarterback Jake Browning was steady in his true freshman campaign, despite Chris Petersen’s reservations about playing a first-year signal caller. But the Husky offense suffered from stretches of anemia, the result of an inconsistent aerial attack.
Browning’s progress from Year 1 to Year 2 will prove critical in Washington having a good year, and a great one.