My (Potentially) Rosy Outlook for UW Football

So, it's time to look into the crystal ball and ask: "How will 2013 play out for Husky football?" Well, of course no one can say for sure. But here are a few key catalysts that, if they fall right, could mean a big year for the Washington football team. Let's dive in!

Keith Price's legs look less arthritic and more bionic. We've all seen it. Number 17's legs haven't looked right for the better part of two years now where he looked sluggish and had that post-collision limp down pat. His explosiveness, which often leads to big plays, is imperative to this team's success. Without it he's relegated to the pocket where the offensive line has struggled to protect him. Keith claimed that he was fine last year but something just doesn't pass the eye test. His stride is laborious and if he doesn't display more acceleration and agility this year, I'm afraid he may have a chronic problem in his legs. On the bright side, early indications out of camp seem to point in a positive direction. He has reportedly put on about 10 pounds (presumably of muscle) and looks to have re-gained his previous speed and burst without the aid of a knee brace. I think we all know that as Keith Price likely goes, so go the Huskies in 2013. And with signal-callers like Cyler Miles and Troy Williams breathing down his neck, Price can't afford to have health concerns heading into his senior campaign. If Keith can return to his 2011 form - both mentally and physically - the sky is the limit for this team this fall.

Bishop to (Phil's) Knight. If the Huskies are going to take the next step and unseat the evil empire to the south it needs another big year from Bishop Sankey. The biggest surprise of 2012, the Spokane sophomore burst onto the scene with the same haste he hits the hole. Last summer I heard naysayers claim number 25 was too young and too small to carry the load in the wake of Chris Polk's legendary Husky career. Well, Bishop must be deaf to the peanut gallery because all he did was rush for over 1,400 yards and score 16 rushing touchdowns. Sankey finished with 289 carries on the season - good for the third-most in UW history. The Gonzaga Prep alum also started all 13 games in 2012 and capped the season off with a 30-carry MVP performance in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas; so much for a lack of durability. His vision, shiftiness, and acceleration give the Huskies an extremely reliable ground threat to complement their passing attack. Sankey is also a weapon as a receiver and could probably be even better coming out of the backfield. Going into his junior year, I'm expecting Sankey to take his game to the next level and vie for 1st team All-Pac-12 honors. If Bishop can improve on his numbers from last season and the passing game can get back on track, the Washington offense should have no problem putting up points in 2013.

Kasen the Joint. The much-ballyhooed wide receiver - the pride of Skyline High - needs to take his game to the next level in 2013. It's that simple. He was one of the top receivers in America coming out of high school and hasn't lived up to the hype. I know that sounds harsh but he has not been the world-beater I think we all expected out of the chute. His 878 receiving yards in '12 are nothing to scoff at. Yet, given his acclaim and pedigree anything less than 1,000 yards and double-digit TD's next season will be disappointing for this lifelong Husky fan. Just as a comparison, Williams recorded 41 fewer catches and nearly 900 less receiving yards than the conference leader, Marqise Lee. Granted Lee was All-Pac 12 but he was also a sophomore last year. That's the stratosphere of production you must attain to be the best. Williams is now an upperclassman and you can tell by listening to Steve Sarkisian that he expects even more from number 2. The former US Army All-American will need to further exploit precise route running and his world-class jumping ability to elevate (literally) his game in 2013. Kasen seems like a great kid and has all the ability to be the conference's top receiver. Now he just needs to go out there and take it.

Justin Time. It's actually rather ironic that the Huskies will rely heavily on the leadership of a former Oregon Duck as they chase his alma mater. We all know the likely road to a conference championship winds through Eugene (or Palo Alto). If Washington is going to win said title in 2013, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox needs to lead his unit to another year of marked improvement. The departure of NFL-bound Desmond Trufant and defensive backfield stalwart Justin Glenn leaves a significant production void as they combined for 22 starts, 99 tackles and four interceptions last year. In pursuit of the waterfowl from the south, Wilcox's cause would be greatly aided by players like Josh Shirley, Shaquille Thompson, and Danny Shelton taking the next step in their development and putting together breakout years. A big season from safety Sean Parker and sophomore-on-the-rise Marcus Peters would also go a long way in filling the void left by Trufant and Glenn. Travis Feeney's play at linebacker last season was a revelation and he brings a relentless, tough-nosed attitude to the defense. An X-factor on defense could be Travell Dixon, an Alabama transfer who should get a shot for significant playing time at cornerback. Ultimately, Wilcox did a fantastic job last year in bringing instant life into a defensive unit licking its wounds from a statistically disastrous 2011. If he can continue to accelerate UW's performance on that side of the ball, the defense will have undergone a remarkable metamorphosis in two years and just in time for a run at a conference title.

There are many more storylines heading into next year but these few should provide a primer for what will hopefully be a great 2013.

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