In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new team is revealed in the HERO Sports Top 100.
No. 5 Washington
In five years, Chris Petersen has built Washington's roster into one of the best and deepest in the country. His staff has done a magnificent job with roster management, which will be on full display in 2018 as they'll mix 16 returning starters with a couple dozen inexperienced freshmen and sophomores, many of whom will contend for future All-America honors.
College Football Playoff is the expectation.
2017 Record: 10-3 (7-2, Pac-12)
The good: Washington won 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the fourth time in program history, have won more Pac-12 games the last two years than any other team (15) and were an eight-point road loss to Stanford from another appearance in the Pac-12 Championship.
The bad: No College Football Playoff. The 2016 team set the bar; every Petersen-led team that follows is now chasing that expectation.
Head Coach: Chris Petersen (5th Year, 37-17)
With Washington's 10-win season, Chris Petersen became the fourth Huskies' head coach to win at least 10 games twice and already ranks seventh on their all-time wins list.
He signed a contract extension in April 2017 that runs through the 2023 season.
WR Dante Pettis, TE Will Dissly, OT Andrew Kirkland, C Coleman Shelton, DT Vita Vea, LB Azeem Victor, LB Keishawn Bierria, LB Ale Kaho, S Ezekiel Turner
Dante Pettis, a 2017 consensus First-Team All-American and the best punt returner in FBS history, graduated, as did two-time all-conference center Coleman Shelton and two-time all-conference defensive tackle Vita Vea.
They lost three linebackers, though Ale Kaho never played a game for Washington. A four-star member of their 2018 class, Kaho was unable to gain acceptance into the school and transferred to Alabama earlier this month. He was expected to play immediately.
Returning Offensive Players
QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, RB Salvon Ahmed, WR Aaron Fuller, WR Chico McClatcher, WR Andre Baccellia, WR TE Hunter Bryant, OT Trey Adams, OT Kaleb McGary, G Jesse Sosebee, C Nick Harris
Offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith left to become head coach at Oregon State, his alma mater, and was replaced by Bush Hamdan, a former Washington assistant from 2015-16 who was Atlanta Falcons' quarterbacks coach last year. If you don't know him, he has a unique story for an FBS coordinator.
Washington was one of the most efficient, balanced offenses in the country, averaging 0.8 turnovers per game (fifth in the FBS), 0.53 points per play (12th) and 6.1 yards per play (26th) while converting 45 percent of third downs and averaging five yards per carry (27th). They did, however, struggle in the red zone, failing to score on 17 percent of their trips inside the 20.
Though the offense will "stay the same" for the most part, senior quarterback Jake Browning needs some new (healthy) weapons to replace Pettis' production. Pettis caught more than twice as many passes as any other player and was the only player amongst a depleted group with more than 26 receptions or three touchdowns. Chico McClatcher, Aaron Fuller, and several others are in line for bigger roles.
Tight end Hunter Bryant underwent summer knee surgery and is expected to miss, at best, most of the season. He led all regular pass-catchers with 15 yards per reception last year.
Running back Myles Gaskin (below) is back in search of a fourth straight 1,000-yard season. If he gets it, maybe people will start paying attention to one of the best backs in the country. Salvon Ahmed is a nice backup after strong freshman season (6.4 yards per carry).
The offensive line is a top-five line in the country. They hit the jackpot in January when Kaleb McGary announced his return and will have Trey Adams back at left tackle after he missed the final six games with a knee injury.
Returning Defensive Players
DE Benning Potoa'e, DE Jaylen Johnson, NT Greg Gaines, LB Ben Burr-Kirven, LB Tevis Bartlett, LB Ryan Bowman, CB Byron Murphy, CB Austin Joyner, CB Jordan Miller, CB Keith Taylor, NB Myles Bryant, S Taylor Rapp, S JoJo McIntosh
Holy defensive backs.
Washington's secondary is far better than any in the Pac-12 and even better than Michigan's David Long- and Lavert Hill-led group.
Taylor Rapp (below), Byron Murphy and JoJo McIntosh (and potentially others) will contend for All-America honors after leading a unit that allowed an FBS-best 9.6 yards per completion in 2017. And they'll be coached again by Jimmy Lake, who came with Petersen from Boise State, was promoted from co-coordinator to defensive coordinator this year and takes over play-calling duties from co-coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.
"…I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think he can do it. He deserves it," Kwiatkowski said of ceding play-calling duties to Lake. "There’s only one play caller. As far as game plan and all that stuff that goes into it during the week nothing has changed. It’s the same deal. The last whatever years we’ve been together I’ve leaned on him in the back end. He’s going to be calling and he’s going to be leaning on me for the front seven, run fit, pass rush, and that kind of stuff and obviously the other coaches."
Oh, and the secondary has three sophomores (and several freshmen) in Elijah Molden (corner), Brandon McKinney (safety) and Isaiah Gilchrist (safety) that would start on most teams in the country.
Linebacker Ryan Bowman led the team in sacks (5.5) as a freshman last year, and Tevis Bartlett provided some pressure (four sacks, 12 tackles for loss). Their sack rate of 7.9 percent ranked 23rd in the FBS (and third in the Pac-12) but they need more consistent pressure without bringing extra guys. The pass rush was dominant at times during spring practice but most of that happened with special packages. We'll see if ends Benning Potoa'e and Jaylen Johnson can make it happen.
Three-year starter Greg Gaines is back at nose tackle but they need someone else to help in plugging holes inside if they want to allow only three yards per carry again.
QB Jake Haener, QB Jacob Eason, QB Jacob Sirmon, QB Colson Yankoff, WR Alex Cook, WR Terrell Bynum, WR Marquis Spiker
Yep, Washington's quarterback room has Jake Browning, Jake Haener, Jacob Sirmon and Jacob Eason. They should start a boy band.
J to the 4th.
OK, I'm done.
Haener, a redshirt freshman, emerged as Browning's backup during spring practice, though Yankoff showed his strong arm and should push Haener throughout the year. Eason will sit out the year after transferring from Georgia and will be the favorite to win the job in 2019.
They have three freshmen receivers fighting for time in redshirt freshmen Alex Cook and Terrell Bynum and true freshman Marquis Spiker. Spiker didn't arrive until the summer, but he's a big target (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) with a college-ready game. If he can pick up the offense quickly, he'll play early and often.
Beat Auburn in Atlanta in Week 1 and there's some margin for error in their bid for a playoff berth. Lose to Auburn and Washington probably can't afford another loss.
The Huskies also visit Utah and Oregon, host Stanford and don't have a bye until Week 11.
|Saturday, Sept. 1||vs. Auburn|
|Saturday, Sept. 8||vs. North Dakota|
|Saturday, Sept. 15||at Utah|
|Saturday, Sept. 22||vs. Arizona State|
|Saturday, Sept. 29||vs. BYU|
|Saturday, Oct. 6||at UCLA|
|Saturday, Oct. 13||at Oregon|
|Saturday, Oct. 20||vs. Colorado|
|Saturday, Oct. 27||at Cal|
|Saturday, Nov. 3||vs. Stanford|
|Saturday, Nov. 17||vs. Oregon State|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||at Washington State|