Pre-Season Top-10’s - #6

It’s that time of the year again! For many Washington fans, it feels like forever, but we’re a week away from the official beginning of Washington’s 2014 football season. So with the start of fall camp, Dawgman.com is breaking out their list of pre-season lists, the stuff of speculation and debate - so let the fun begin!

Top 10 Fall Breakout Returners: No. 6 - Marcus Farria. Farria has been an object of curiosity for Washington fans ever since he stepped on campus as a student athlete last fall. Even though the 6-foot-4, 225-pound sophomore hails originally from the Big Easy, his journey to Montlake has been anything but. Farria, who played in seven games as a true freshman, racking up 7 tackles and 2.5 sacks in limited action, is no longer a newbie. He’s had a year to get acclimated to college life, on and off the field, as well as spring football with a new staff - so Marcus has had time to mature, dedicate himself to being a student-athlete, and take the steps necessary to push his talent to the next level. We’ll see if it emerges this fall, because he could push the defensive line productivity up a bunch if he harnesses that vast potential.
No. 7 - Jermaine Kelly
No. 8 - Kendyl Taylor
No. 9 - Siosifa Tufunga
No. 10 - Joe Mathis

Top-10 Newcomers to Watch: No. 6 - Sidney Jones. Once verbally committed to Utah, the new UW staff stole Jones late in the recruiting process. Word the back channels associated with this deal had the Utah staff livid for losing the West Covina star; they felt like they had really gotten away with something by keeping the 6-foot, 171-pound cornerback well underneath the recruiting radar. When you see his senior highlights, Jones comes off as an athletic playmaker that could very easily be a return specialist as well. With cornerbacks in short supply (at least until this fall), Jones is in a position to make an impact the moment he steps on to the field turf at Husky Stadium.
No. 7 - Kaleb McGary
No. 8 - Jaylen Johnson
No. 9 - Greg Gaines
No. 10 - Shane Bowman

Top-10 Position Battles to Watch: No. 6 - Right Guard. Wednesday we looked at left guard; today we look at the position on the other side of center. This battle is going to be fun, because there are two seniors presumably battling it out for the starting nod, and both Colin Tanigawa and James Atoe could very easily lay claim to the spot. Atoe had the nod after spring, and Tanigawa couldn’t push Sifa Tufunga out of the left guard position post-spring despite having a shot to do so with Dexter Charles out rehabbing a shoulder. Could Panda be the odd man out? Perhaps, but if he is that’s a true testament to the quality and quantity of offensive lineman at Chris Strausser’s disposal. My guess is that Tanigawa won’t make it that easy for Atoe, but at 6-foot-7 and a whopping 381 pounds (per the updated gohuskies.com roster) the senior from The Dalles has looked agile and hostile. Steve Sarkisian famously suggested Atoe was a sleeper that had ‘potential top-five NFL draft pick’ ability. We may find out this fall what Sark was talking about.
No. 7 - Left Guard
No. 8 - Defensive End
No. 9 - Tight End
No. 10 - Outside Linebacker

Top-10 Storylines: No. 6 - Can a young secondary grow up in a hurry? In a word, yes - but it’s going to take some doing. Marcus Peters is about as much of a lock defensively as their is right now. Sure, there are others that are playing at as high a level as Peters, but not sure there’s going to be a more important piece to the puzzle than the junior cornerback from Oakland. With Washington losing six defensive backs to graduation, the Huskies were always going to be a bit green in the back third heading into fall, but the emergence of Brian Clay as a do-it-all secondary performer could prove to be a bigger deal than we originally thought. Trevor Walker and Brandon Beaver got their work in at safety, and Kevin King started to get back physically to where he needs to be in order to be an impact player. Jermaine Kelly, as we talked about Thursday, will be an integral piece, as will Travell Dixon. And at least a couple of the true freshmen will have to play older than they are right from the jump. Budda Baker is an obvious choice here, but how about Sidney Jones - as stated above? Or Naijiel Hale? Jojo McIntosh, Darren Gardenhire, Brandon Lewis, and Lavon Washington are all going to be names to watch. I suspect a few of those names will gradually move to the side as the learning curve gets steeper and steeper. My guess right now (completely based on what they did at the prep level) is that Baker, Hale, and Jones will be the true frosh to emerge. How much they play will be up to how those in front of them cope.
No. 7 - Will the OL experience show up?
No. 8 - Can the LB’s be the best group in the Pac-12?
No. 9 - Will the defense have to carry the offense while they get settled?
No. 10 - How will the special teams shake out?

Top-10 Games: No. 6 - 11/15 at Arizona. There is one giant reason why the Arizona game is important - the Huskies haven’t won at Tucson since 2006, and they need to reverse that trend as soon as possible. Ironically, Tyrone Willingham had a winning record at Arizona, 2-1, but his last time in Tucson as Huskies head coach was a 48-14 disaster. Including that 2008 contest, Washington has been outscored 144-45 their last three times at Arizona Stadium - and obviously none of them were close. Steve Sarkisian could never solve the riddle that was the Wildcats in the desert, although he beat them both times in Seattle. Can Chris Petersen? If he can, Sarkisian and Keith Gilbertson will remain the only Washington head coaches to lose at Arizona their first time around.
No. 7 - 9/6 Eastern Washington
No. 8 - 10/11 at California
No. 9 - 11/22 Oregon State
No. 10 - 8/30 at Hawaii


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