- Can Jacob Eason ignite what's been a stagnant offense as the Huskies go for their fourth-straight double-digit win season?
Our college football 2019 season preview issue is here, which means we're checking in with all 25 teams from SI's official preseason Top 25 ranking. What do you need to know about each of this year's top contenders, from top-ranked Alabama down to Stanford? We'll be rolling out scouting reports for each team over the next two weeks, all of which are being collected here. Next up, it's No. 12 Washington.
THE BIG STORY
It feels like a rebuilding year for the Huskies, with the core that led Washington to three consecutive 10-win seasons largely gone. The Huskies might be less experienced, but it's possible they're more talented. After years of uneven QB play, the Huskies are hoping they've struck gold on the transfer market with former Georgia QB Jacob Eason, who rewrote Washington state high school record books just 35 miles from campus. Eason was a five-star recruit who could ignite what's been a stagnant offense.
Running back Myles Gaskin, Washington's all-time leading rusher, is in the NFL, but junior tailback Salvon Ahmed—a 196-pound burner whose acceleration and burst rivals Gaskin's—has averaged 6.0 yards per carry in his Huskies career. A third-down back last season, Ahmed, also a receiving threat out of the backfield, will carry a heavy workload.
How much of a drop-off will there be on defense with the departure of nine starters? Senior safety Myles Bryant is the lone returning starter from a five-man secondary that was the only group in the country to not allow a 40-plus-yard pass all of last season. It'll be on him to keep that unit strong.
Jacob Eason is a key addition at quarterback for the Huskies, but the biggest factor to a potential Washington leap forward on offense is its line. This is the Huskies' most experienced unit in years, with four starters back, including All-Pac-12 center Nick Harris. But it can be even better this season, with the return of senior left tackle Trey Adams, who was sidelined most of last season with a back injury. In 2016 the 6'8", 314-pound lineman was a second-team All-America, and he gives the Huskies a physical but also athletic line that will go a long way in giving Eason time in the pocket and opening holes for Ahmed, unleashing a Huskies offense that has underwhelmed in recent seasons.
OVER OR UNDER?
Over 8.5 wins. The schedule sets up for another conference title run: The Huskies' three toughest opponents—Oregon, Utah and Washington State—visit Seattle, which means they will likely be favored in every game outside of their October clash with the Ducks.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Last season's 10-win campaign marked the first time in school history the Huskies have had a run of three straight seasons of double-digit wins. Coach Chris Petersen's retooled team could make it four.