Washington Huskies Football: 2015 Season Preview and Prediction


Chris Petersen enters his second season with the Washington Huskies looking to improve on last year’s 8-6 record, but it could prove tough without a quarterback and a defense.

Chris Petersen left Boise State after going 92-12 in eight years to take on the challenge of building up the Washington Huskies into perennial powers in the Pac-12 but as you might expect he encountered some challenges in his first year and went 8-6.

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That’s half the amount of losses Petersen suffered in eight successful years at Boise State so it was a shock for Petersen to adjust on the fly and change the culture and try to instill the system and philosophy that worked so well with the Broncos with the Huskies. He faces challenges after losing a glut of players to the NFL Draft and a quarterback who retired to injury but let’s take a look at how his second team is shaping up for the 2015 season.

Offensive Outlook

Washington last year’s starting quarterback Cyler Miles to a career-ending hip injury that forced him to retire on June 22 and the Huskies quarterback competition now looks like Jeff Lindquist will win the starting job over redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and true freshman Jake Browning.

Miles completed 66.6 percent of his passes last year for 2,397 yards and 17 touchdowns to only four interceptions in 12 starts. Lindquist played sparingly last year, completing 10-of-30 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown so he faces a steep learning curve should he win the job over the talented freshmen arms.

Petersen could go with the upside of Carta-Samuels or record-setting prep quarterback Browning if the competition is close and roll with them for the next few years and establish some consistency at the most important position.

Whoever wins the job will have a pair of impressive targets to work with in leading receiver Jaydon Mickens who 60 catches for 617 yards and four touchdowns. Dante Pettis looks to improve on his 17 catches for 259 yards and a score as a freshman and he’ll have to after John Ross was lost for the year with a knee injury. Tight end John Perkins could contend for the Pac-12’s top tight end after catching 25 passes for 325 yards and three scores last year as a junior.

Dexter Charles and Siosifa Tufunga anchor an offensive line that will pave the way for leading rusher Dwayne Washington who returns after running for 697 yards and nine touchdowns. Lavon Coleman could be the breakout star of the offense after rushing for 565 yards and a score last year as a freshman.

Defensive Outlook

The Huskies had the No. 2 rushing defense in the Pac-12 and the No. 3 scoring defense in the conference last year but lost All-American linebacker Shaq Thompson, nose tackle Danny Shelton, cornerback Marcus Peters and the nation’s sack leader in Hau’oli Kikaha in the first 44 picks of the 2015 NFL Draft. Few teams will experience that loss of talent but Washington also loses leading tackler and four-year starter John Timu and Andrew Hudson who was second on the team with 12.5 sacks and Evan Hudson from a defensive line that must replace all four starters.

Shifting to a true 3-4 alignment means they only need to find three starters instead of four, but that’s not exactly a silver lining considering none of the options have starting experience. Senior Taniela Tupou, sophomore Elijah Qualls and redshirt freshman Jaylen Johnson are first in line to win starting jobs.

Travis Feeney returns as the leader of the linebackers after making 60 tackles as a junior and his 4.5 tackles for loss are the most among returning players. He’ll be joined by Azeem Victor, Keishawn Bierria and Scott Lawyer on the inside with Joe Mathis and Corey Littleton competing for reps opposite Feeney on the outside.

The secondary will have to lead this defense after the front seven was depleted, but the Huskies finished 10th in the Pac-12 in pass defense last year. The best returning player on the unit is Budda Baker who may be the best safety in the conference after tying Thompson for third on the team with 80 tackles as a freshman last year. Fellow sophomore Sidney Jones could develop into a lockdown cornerback after faring well as a rookie.


Losing your only quarterback with starting experience in the end of June isn’t the type of momentum Petersen was hoping for to start his second fall camp with the Huskies, but it could be a blessing in disguise if Carta-Samuels can win the job and gain valuable on-the-job experience. The running game should be solid with Washington carrying the load and there are nice weapons on the perimeter, but the defense could be a nightmare all season.

The entire defense has to be rebuilt and they lost six games with that much NFL talent on one side of the ball so it will be an uphill climb to try to get back to eight wins again this year. Petersen is collecting talent and he was wildly successful at Boise State so he should get a rebuilding year or two and be given the benefit of the doubt but six wins would be considered a success this year.

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