2013 Season Review

On Friday, Washington finished the 2013 football season on a high note, downing BYU by a score of 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl. The win allowed the Dawgs to finish with nine wins and sent Husky fans' minds wandering toward what could be in 2014. Here's a look back at the season that was from the Dawgman.com insiders...

Offensive MVP

(Andy Poehlman - aka "YaleDawg") Bishop Sankey. This one shouldn't really be a question--Sankey had the best season for a tailback in Washington history. The only question left in Sankey's career is whether he will come back for his senior year and become Washington's all-time greatest tailback.

(Dave Samek) Bishop Sankey. This guy is quite possibly the best Husky TB that ever carried the ball. He is dependable, durable, and most of all, productive as they come.

(Chris Fetters) Bishop Sankey. This was an easy one. Keith Price was mostly good, but there was only one offensive performer that was consistent from start to finish, and his statistics would have been even more impressive if he had carried the ball more than four times against Idaho State, for starters.

(Marshall Cherrington) Bishop Sankey.

(Kim Grinolds) Bishop Sankey. For a kid that played quarterback in high school, he was the most productive tailback I've ever seen.

(Scott Eklund) Bishop Sankey. Big Shock! When you rush for a single-season program record 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns while also hauling in 28 receptions for 304 yards and another score, it's pretty much a given that you would be named the offensive MVP. When he signed with UW, I thought he'd have a nice career at Montlake, but never thought we'd be talking about him in the same breath with guys like Corey Dillon and Napoleon Kaufman, but that's exactly where he's placed himself in Husky lore.

Defensive MVP

(AP) Danny Shelton. It's hard to imagine what Washington's defense would've looked like this year without Shelton in the middle. Though the Washington defense was good in 2013 with players like Hau'oli Kikaha, Shaquille Thompson, Marcus Peters and Sean Parker, in terms of value on the defensive side of the ball, the space-clogging, hogging and havoc created by Shelton was clearly the most valuable contribution on the "D".

(DS) Danny Shelton. This was his breakthrough year, as he proved that he was more than just a run-stuffer. He got into the backfied in 2013 and was dominant.

(CF) Danny Shelton. Again, the most consistent performer from the beginning of the season to the end. He was there every game, clogging up the middle allowing players like Hauoli Kikaha, Cory Littleton, Josh Shirley and others to go nuts on the defensive line, resulting in one of the most productive seasons in UW history when it comes to sacks.

(MC) Hauoli Kikaha.

(KG) Marcus Peters. Clutch; lock-down cover-corner; All-American in the making.

(SE) Hauoli Kikaha. I vacilated back and forth between Kikaha and Shelton. Both had big seasons, but for what I expected out of him, Kikaha vastly surpassed what I expected as he finished with 13 sacks, second only to Jason Chorak's 14.5 sacks in the program's single-season record books. Kikaha generated a pass-rush against every team Washington played and he brought their only consistent pressure on a week in and week out basis. I could have flipped a coin and been happy with choosing Kikaha or Shelton.

Breakout Offensive Player

(AP) Kevin Smith. Smith's career at Washington ended with a year that would've been extraordinarily promising if he were a redshirt junior (as he should have been--Coach Sarkisian elected to play Smith in 2012 coming off an knee injury to negligible effect). However, as his senior campaign, his 722 yards on 45 catches will have to be remembered as flashes and glimpses of a player who was just starting to figure it out.

(DS) Dexter Charles. Charles' presence was huge, as was apparent when he went down to injury and Erik Kohler had to take over. There was significant dropoff. Charles is a beast.

(CF) Jaydon Mickens. Mickens, who had 20 catches as a freshman, emerged as Washington's go-to receiver with over triple his 2012 output. Any time the Huskies needed to move chains or come up with a quick-hitter using their no-huddle, up-tempo look, Mickens was almost always the receiver Keith Price would look for.

(MC) John Ross.

(KG) Jaydon Mickens. More than just a speedster, this kid can now block and run good routes. Watch out in 2014.

(SE) Dexter Charles. You could have come up with a lot of names here seeing as how prolific the UW offense was this season, but it was obvious in the Arizona State game how important Charles is to the offense. He's a very good athlete, he plays with a bit of a nasty side and he's technically sound. I am convinced he's going to break the Huskies' 11-year streak of not having a first-team All-Conference offensive lineman. That should happen next year as long as he remains healthy.

Breakout Defensive Player

(AP) Marcus Peters. Peters was fantastic as a freshman in 2012, but after Desmond Trufant left there were open questions as to whether he could pick up the slack. The answer came quickly (as soon as the Boise State game, really): he could. You could even argue he was better as a RS-Soph than Trufant was as a senior.

(DS) Hauoli Kikaha. Hard to consider him a breakout but he missed nearly two seasons before his incredible year in 2013. The future is very bright for this young man.

(CF) Marcus Peters. Peters, who started to emerge at the end of 2012, was expected to be one of the real important pieces to the 2013 UW defense - and he delivered. The sophomore led the team with five picks and became the heir apparent to Desmond Trufant when looking for the next great shutdown Husky corner.

(MC) Hauoli Kikaha.

(KG) Marcus Peters. What a nice surprise.

(SE) Marcus Peters. I've felt for a while that Peters had All-Conference potential, but I never dreamed he would be this good this quickly. His coverage skills didn't surprise me, but what really jumped out to me this year was his ability to stop the run. He's a physical and he brings a brashness that the Husky secondary sorely needed with the loss of Desmond Trufant.

Underclassman To Be Excited About

(AP) Damore'ea Stringfellow. Though Stringfellow's freshmen season was shaping up to be another one of Steve Sarkisian's attempts to waste a year of a talented player by playing him instead of redshirting him, Kasen Williams' injury thrust String into battle and he delivered. String showed an ability to separate, natural pass-catching ability and fluid speed.

(DS) John Ross. He has great hands, he is dangerous in the open field whether it be as a receiver or kick returner and his coverage skills are Pac-12 quality. He is a true triple threat.

(CF) John Ross. We had heard about Ross' speed and playmaking ability coming into the 2013 season and the true frosh lived up to his billing. He quickly became Washington's lead kickoff returner and had his first touchdown of his UW career on a quick screen he took 57 yards for a touchdown. He also showed at the end of the year he can play some defensive back too, so his future in purple and gold is very bright indeed.

(MC) Damore'ea Stringfellow.

(KG) Lavon Coleman. Tree trunk lower body. Very nearly burned his redshirt in 2013. Keep your eye on Jermaine Kelly.

(SE) Damore'ea Stringfellow. I always thought he possessed the skills to be a dominant receiver, but didn't expect him to show those skills until next year. With his size and soft hands, he's going to be terrorizing Pac 12 secondaries for at least the next two seasons. Right now, he just out-physicals everyone. Just wait until he hones his skills and becomes an even better route-runner. Runner up for me was John Ross who seemingly could score every time he touches the ball.

Most Impressive Win

(AP) Boise State. Oh, what could have been. When Washington was ready to play in 2013, they could play with anyone and to my mind they were only ready to play twice, once at Oregon State and in the Husky Stadium opener. Washington absolutely dominated a decent Bronco team and convinced Chris Petersen that UW was worth checking out.

(DS) Oregon State. Good lord! The Huskies abused the Beavers and had three rushers run for over 100 yards. It was the high point of the 2013 season.

(CF) Oregon State. Whenever you can hang 69 points on a Pac-12 regional foe on the road, it's a season highlight without question. It was the most points scored in a game by the Huskies since 1944, and against a team they hadn't beaten in Corvallis in a decade. It was the most dominant and most impressive win of the year.

(KG) Oregon State. No brainer.

(SE) Oregon State. I figured, if Keith Price had started, that the Huskies would be able to put up some points on an average, at best Beavers defense. However, with the prolific Sean Manion and the rest of the OSU offense was, even against good defenses, it was mind-boggling that the Huskies could hang 69 points with Cyler Miles starting his first game and that they held the Beavers to just 27 points (most of those coming in garbage time) and all of this on the road no-less. If this category was named "most surprising win" I would have said the same game. That was how shocking and big this game was.

Most Depressing Loss

(AP) Arizona State. Every year under Steve Sarkisian, Washington suffered a humiliating defeat to a team they should have been competitive with and in 2013, that loss came at the hands of Arizona State who absolutely shredded the will-less Huskies and had them waving the white flag by the third quarter.

(DS) Arizona State. Getting your doors blown off the way the Huskies did in the desert was humiliating. They failed to get off the bus in Tempe.

(CF) Arizona State. Watching them lose at Stanford was heartbreaking; watching them lose to Oregon was just frustrating. But watching them not even compete at Arizona State meant a lot of the credit Steve Sarkisian had put in the bank was now gone. Fans thought the blowouts were a thing of the past, but they were wrong. UW didn't compete in any phase of that game and frankly it was an embarrassment.

(MC) Stanford.

(KG) Arizona State. The anger and vitriol from the fan base that came forward was reminiscient of Tyrone.

(SE) Arizona State. The result speaks for itself and it really wasn't as close as the 53-24 final score would indicate. The Huskies' will was taken away early in this one and they were just never able to get untracked. Stupidely, I picked UW to beat ASU in our weekly predictions, but even if they had lost, I thought it would be in a close one. This was the one game Washington was not competitive in during the season and, while ASU definitely is a rising program under Todd Graham, they are definitely not this much better than the Dawgs.

Final thoughts on 2013

(AP) To me, 2013 was a year where we saw the full spectrum of Steve Sarkisian's coaching abilities. When the team was focused (Boise State, Oregon State), the talent Sark amassed in recruiting could absolutely flatten opponents and hang with the best teams in the country. But ultimately, sloppiness and lack of focus lead to 2 more losses than what was reasonable and prevented Washington from big moments like wins over Stanford and UCLA on the road.

(DS) The future looks bright now with a favorable schedule, a solid core of returning players, and a coach that has a proven track record of winning and developing talent. This could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship between Coach Pete and Seattle.

(CF) Steve Sarkisian was expected to do three things during his time at Washington; rebuild the UW Football culture, recruit, and win. He did one of these things pretty well, one of them well enough, and the last one just slightly better than average. There's no question he left the program in much better shape than how he found it, but when he found the team still licking their wounds after 0-12, the bar wasn't set all that high. The way he left Washington sucked, and clearly could have been handled much better. It will be interesting to see how Sarkisian's legacy is portrayed - not only by how Chris Petersen takes what Sark left at UW, but also by how he does at USC.

(KG) Getting that ninth win was a huge deal. Like him or hate him, Sark left the program in much better shape than it was in when he got here.

(SE) I think UW was better than nine wins this year, but you are what your record is so, that's where we are. Still, nine wins isn't shabby considering it's their best win total in over 10 years. There were ups and downs, but the roller coaster ride had many more high points than low points. Steve Sarkisian leaving like he did could have been a setback for the program, but Scott Woodward did well in getting Chris Petersen to leave his comfort-zone and come to Montlake. A big reason why Petersen decided to leave was the foundation that Sark left him. I think, ultimately, the 2013 season could wind up being the launching pad for bigger and much better results from the program if things fall the way we think they will.

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