Five questions for UW football entering fall camp, which begins Monday.
1. Who replaces Keith Price at quarterback?
The Huskies return seven starters from an offense that school records for points and total yards. That’s the good news. The bad news: It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for UW in when the Chris Petersen era kicks off at Hawaii on Aug. 30. Three-year starting quarterback Keith Price, UW’s career leader in touchdown passes, has graduated, and the next three QBs have combined for one career start. Sophomore Cyler Miles made that start at Oregon State last season, leading UW to a 69-27 victory, but Miles will be suspended for the season opener for his role in an altercation after the Super Bowl. That leaves Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams, neither of whom have attempted a pass in a collegiate game, to battle this month for the start at Hawaii.
2. Who replaces Bishop Sankey at running back?
Sankey rushed for a school-record 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2013, then became the first running back selected in the NFL draft this spring. No one player emerged out of the spring as a sure bet this fall, though veteran Deontae Cooper and redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman impressed. Sophomore Dwayne Washington is a the front-runner to land the featured role, and senior Jesse Callier remains in the mix. There is one wild card: linebacker Shaq Thompson, who has made it clear that he would like to do what Bellevue High product Myles Jack did for UCLA last season as a two-way threat.
3. How healthy is the offensive line?
The Huskies boast the most experienced offensive line in the Pac-12, with 124 combined starts between the 12 veteran linemen. The Huskies return all five starters from 2013 — Micah Hatchie, Dexter Charles, Mike Criste, Colin Tanigawa, Ben Riva — though Hatchie and Charles both sat out the spring while recovering from surgeries. Their return to full strength would be a big boost to an offense trying to sort things out at both quarterback and running back.
4. How does Budda Baker factor in?
The secondary is the primary concern for the UW defense. Junior Marcus Peters, who has generated buzz as a potential first-round NFL pick next year, is the lone returning starter in the defensive secondary. That means the Huskies will rely on three new starters — and likely three youngsters — in the rest of the defensive backfield. Freshman Budda Baker, the former Bellevue two-way star, expects to be in the mix for the starting free safety job, and six other freshmen defensive backs are coming in with designs on competing for a job this season.
5. Is the gap closing with Oregon?
Senior nose tackle Danny Shelton was asked Sunday if there was one game on the Huskies’ schedule he was looking forward to most. “I’ve been thinking about Oregon a lot,” he admitted. The Huskies travel to Eugene on Oct. 18. The Ducks are the favorites in the Pac-12 again, so the Northwest’s biggest rivalry will be a measuring stick for Petersen in his first season at UW. At Boise State, Petersen was 2-0 against Oregon.