2018 Washington projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord
The PAC-12 has a grand total of two bids to the College Football Playoff in its four years of existence. Washington is responsible for not only one of those bids, but the most recent back in 2016. Jake Browning was the quarterback for that team, and he’ll be QB1 for the Huskies in 2018 as well. By that you can probably already figure there’s a good chance of a Purple reign in the conference this fall, and the chance we see the Huskies in the four-team playoff.
Besides the fact that Browning, the conference’s top returning QB according to Hour Glass analytics, there are a few other reasons to believe in Washington. Head coach Chris Peterson has engineered more than a few special seasons in his time, and he stands tied with David Shaw atop the list of PAC-12 coaches with an Hourglass coaching stamp of 20. On top of that, UW is pretty talented as their HG 3-year recruiting mark ranks fourth in the conference (more on the Jimmy’s and Joes in a minute). And finally, there’s the schedule - which ranks as the league’s easier. There’s the opener against Auburn - good to catch the Tigers before they get rolling - but no other out-of-conference threats. In league play they do face two tough road trips to UCLA and Oregon, but other than they would only be in danger against USC in the Pac-12 title game.
On offense Washington should be sharp. Myles Gaskin was barely of 1,400 yards and scored 21 times on the ground last season. Browning scored seven times on the ground himself in 2017. As for Browning’s targets in the passing game Aaron Fuller, a receiver, and Hunter Bryant, a tight end, will lead a group of young and unproven players. Quinten Pounds and Chico McClatcher could be the two most likely to emerge. Replacing star wide out Dante Pettis won’t be easy, but Washington has had a knack for having WRs emerge. Having guys willing to do the dirty work will be key, as well, as the Huskies look to pound opponents again this season on the ground.
Lately, UW has become known for some of the most physical and stingy defenses on the west coast of the college football world. Sure, the tone-setter Vita Vea is gone but expect the men in purple and gold to again stop teams from scoring. The secondary is where the bulk of experience lies with guys likes Myles Bryant, Austin Joyner, JoJo McIntosh, Taylor Rapp, Byron Murphy, Jordan Miller and Elijah Molden returning. They can play in the box, defend the edges and put a lid on the pass. The team’s leading tackler in 2017, Ben Burr-Kirven, returns to lead the linebackers, but expect Tevis Bartlett to emerge as a star in this group, as well. DJ Beavers and Benning Potoa’e should also produce heavily here. On the defensive line, you have to feel good about Greg Gaines, Jaylen Johnson and Levi Onwuzurike, while Shane Bowman and Jared Pulu should help out.
HG analytics pick: 13-0, PAC-12 Champion (over USC) and #4 seed in CFP
My pick: 11-2, PAC-12 Champion (over USC)
2017 Washington projections: 12-0; actual finish 10-2 (83 percent accuracy)
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 20th – outside our College Football Playoff talent line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Chris Peterson on HG Scale: 5th (Peterson Stamp at 20) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning WA State quarterback play rated 15th in the country in our overall rankings with a stamp of 18.7. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3.