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Dawgman.com's Pre-Season Picks

The time has come! With game week just a day away, the Dawgman guys have put it off until the very end - but here are their picks. We've chosen a number of different categories, finishing with season record and what bowl game we think the Washington Huskies will reach. Specific opinions vary, but generally-speaking optimism is running high.

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Kim Grinolds

Offensive MVP

Jake Browning. He's no longer the freshman competing for the job. It's his team and he's leading it like a veteran. 

Defensive MVP

Budda Baker. Like Earl Thomas, his ability to play center field allows the defense to do things they can't when he's not in there. Surefire All American.

Breakout Player

 

 Jaylen Johnson. Number 92 on the defensive line who really came on strong at the end of last year. Originally committed to Petersen at Boise, he switched his commitment to UW after Pete was hired. Will be a huge key in rushing the quarterback.

Newcomer To Watch

Taylor Rapp. Chris Petersen said he'll be tough to keep off the field. He's physically ready and oozes big time talent.

Toughest Road Game

Utah. Solid offensive and defensive lines. Game at altitude. people are sleeping on Utah.

Toughest Home Game

Stanford. Stanford opens with Kansas State, UCLA, and USC. No pre season for them. They'll be battle ready when they hit Seattle.

Position To Watch

Receiver. They really need some guys to step up. Right now it looks like they'll do it by committee. They don't have a go to guy right now.

UW's Season Will Live Up To The Hype If...

The defense can maintain the level of play they had last year. They have the talent and they have the depth.

UW's Season Will Fall Short Of The Hype If...

The offense fails to progress. There's a reason they brought in Jeff Tedford.

Season Record

10-2

Bowl Game

Alamo

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Chris Fetters

Offensive MVP

Jake Browning. He has to take that next step in his development for Washington to realize their potential on offense. Be accurate and make great decisions. That's what he needs to do. 

Defensive MVP

Budda Baker. He's a preseason All-American for a reason. He solidifies the middle of that amazing back line and leads by example. There are two senior corners that are going to find NFL rosters next year but it's Budda's secondary. 

Breakout Player

Jordan Miller. With Sidney Jones managing nicks and dings, Miller becomes the next guy to step up and produce in the secondary. I think he has a chance to be better than all that have come before him: Trufant, Peters, King, Jones, Gardenhire, etc...

Newcomer To Watch

Byron Murphy. I'm going to be very curious to see how Jimmy Lake keeps Murphy off the field, because everything I've seen so far tells me he won't be denied. He's just that talented.  

Toughest Road Game

Oregon. Very obvious call here. The Huskies haven't won at Autzen since 2002. They have to break that streak, and it has to happen this fall. 

Toughest Home Game

Arizona State. This game certainly won't be the toughest for UW on paper, but it's another obvious demon the Huskies need to exorcise immediately.  Washington hasn't beaten the Sun Devils since 2001, and haven't beaten them at Husky Stadium since 1997. That's ridiculous. 

Position To Watch

Offensive Line. They will be the driver if Jake Browning is able to live up to his expectations. If Trey Adams can, to use a line from former UW OL Coach Dan Cozzetto, keep Jake Browning's mind sound and jersey clean, life should be good for the offense. 

UW's Season Will Live Up To The Hype If...

The offense can raise their level to the defense and both sides are pushing each other to the point where the toughest scout they face all year long happens at their practices.  It's already starting to happen. 

UW's Season Will Fall Short Of The Hype If...

Certain injuries occur. Losing Jake Browning for a significant amount of time would be a game-changer. Losing Myles Gaskin for a significant period of time would be a game-changer. Losing John Ross III again would change things on offense considerably. Losing Budda Baker for a significant time would fundamentally change how things appear at safety. 

Season Record

12-2

Bowl Game

Rose

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Scott Eklund

Offensive MVP

Jake Browning. He's a year older and smarter. He's become the true leader of the offense. He should have a big sophomore season.

Defensive MVP

Azeem Victor. Victor sets the tone for the defense and, as long as he keeps his temper in check, he should garner All-Pac 12 honors and All-American consideration.

Breakout Player

Joe Mathis. UW needs Mathis to have a big season rushing the quarterback and he's got the skills to be the guy to replace Travis Feeney at the BUCK.

Newcomer To Watch

K.J. Young. You don't start as a true freshman at Oklahoma unless you're pretty darn good. Young is really smooth and seems like the most likely newcomer to have a huge impact.

Toughest Road Game

Oregon. Tough test following what will likely be a knock-down, drag-out brawl vs. Stanford the week before.

Toughest Home Game

Stanford. Could wind up being for the Pac 12 North title. UW has to figure out a way to limit Christian McCaffrey's impact on this game.

Position To Watch

Offensive Line. If this unit plays well, the offense will be very, very good. If they don't play well, it could wind up being a very long season.

UW's Season Will Live Up To The Hype If...

Their offense, specifically their offensive line, rounds into shape and can consistently move the ball. The defense is good enough to win almost every game this season, but a handful of games -- Utah, USC, Washington State, Oregon and Stanford -- are games where the offense will have to put up some points.

UW's Season Will Fall Short Of The Hype If... 

Injuries take the toll. If the Huskies stay healthy, they should be able to stay in contention for the conference title until the very end, but if any key players go down, the wheels could come off really quickly.

Season Record

9-3

Bowl Game

Alamo Bowl

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Luke Mounger

Offensive MVP

Jake Browning. Chris pointed out earlier this week that successful teams have quarterbacks that move the ball down field efficiently and take care of the ball. With that in mind, Jake’s performance this year will be instrumental in the Huskies’ success. Should he suddenly become unavailable, it would be a huge, almost insurmountable, blow.

Defensive MVP

Joe Mathis. The Huskies lost their two most productive pass rushers last season in Travis Feeney in Cory Littleton. Mathis needs to be the guy who picks up where the BUCKs before him have left off. A double digit sack season would be huge.

Breakout Player

Tevis Bartlett. The true sophomore has lived in the Husky offense’s backfield all fall camp long. Even with Psalm Wooching at SAM, it will be hard to keep Bartlett off the field if he plays the way he did in camp.

Newcomer to Watch

Aaron Fuller. He wasn’t as highly rated as some other new guys, like Byron Murphy or Camilo Eifler, but Fuller seemed to make play after play during fall camp. The lack of depth at receiver should allow him to sneak into the rotation.

Toughest Road Game

Washington State. Luke Falk and Gabe Marks were the most lethal duo in the PAC-12, connecting 15 times for touchdowns. Their defense returns some studs like Peyton Pelluer and Hercules Mata’afa. With both teams geared up for big seasons, this could be the most meaningful Apple Cup in recent memory. 

Toughest Home Game

Stanford. The Cardinal need to replace a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. However, they’ll be battle tested, having already played USC and UCLA. Not to mention, they still have Christian McCaffrey.

Position to watch

SAM. Psalm Wooching had a solid camp, but Tevis Bartlett was turning heads as well. It will be interesting to see how the rest of fall camp went and which of those two can separate themselves from the other early in the season. 

UW’s Season Will Live Up to The Hype If… 

The offense takes advantage of scoring opportunities. The Huskies finished 11th in red zone offense last year, converting on just 83 percent of their 53 chances. On top of that, the Huskies were 10th best in the conference at turning their trips into the red zone into six points. If the Huskies can take a step forward in missing fewer opportunities in the red zone, or turning three points into six points every so often, that should be plenty to win a lot of games with this defense.

UW’s Season Will Fall Short Of The Hype If… 

They struggle to find offensive rhythm in a way similar to last season. The Huskies were 10th in the PAC-12 on third down conversions last year. If there is no progression and they continue to only convert at a 37.9 percent clip, Washington’s offense may never take the step it needs to start winning more games. 

Season Record

11-3

Bowl Game

Rose Bowl

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