This is the second of four reports on OU's non-conference opponents from the writers who cover the teams.
This time, we look at the Washington Huskies through the eyes of beat writer Molly Yanity of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
STRENGTHS: Senior quarterback Isaiah Stanback (pictured above) and the Huskies are going to benefit from experience. Stanback looked solid in the spring game and showed that he has much greater command of the offense. A full year under offensive coordinator Tim Lappano will do nothing but make Stanback better. Stanback is a tremendously gifted athlete with intelligence and senior quarterbacks typically flourish in the Pac-10.
The defensive line should be a strength if the starters that return come back stronger, smarter and hungrier. Greyson Gunheim, Donny Makeati and Erick Lobos have plenty of physical talent and showed flashes of that on the field in 2005. But putting it to productive use on the field consistently is the next step.
WEAKNESSES/CONCERNS: The biggest concern for coach Tyrone Willingham is the youth and inexperience of the offensive line. The unit graduated four starters last year but, in all reality, it wasn't that good to begin with.
Senior Stanley Daniels and a corps of youngsters must improve at a rapid rate or it will be another long season in Seattle.
Lappano, a former star running back at Idaho, could not have been happy with the rushing performance he saw in the spring game. But, he admitted, that was partly by design. The Huskies have two running backs that will compete for the starting job in Kenny James and Louis Rankin. All have shown to be capable, but none have proven to be consistent.
Injuries and inexperience decimated the defensive backfield last season.The unit was terrible through the first half of the season, but saw marked improvement in the second half. Junior college transfers and the move of Dashon Goldson from safety to corner will give the unit a lift.
Everyone is anxious to see what the secondary is going to look like in game-action, especially J.D. Williams. The new DBs coach arrived from Cal in the spring.
COMMENTS: The Huskies will inevitably be picked to finish in the bottom three in the conference in preseason polls. There isn't going to be a savior, not incoming freshman quarterback Jake Locker, not Willingham himself. Every player at every position has to improve for the Huskies to even dream of a .500 season. That would be a smashing success and an overachieving effort.
More on the Huskies:
2005 Record: 2-9
Offensive Starters Returning: 6 (WR, LG, TE, WR, RB, QB)
Defensive Starters Returning: 7 (DE, DE, DT, ILB, CB, CB, SS)
Special Teams Starters Returning: 1 (P)
Scouting Report: A quick look at Washington
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