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Thought: Just How Good Is Washington?

Thought: Just How Good Is Washington?

Johnson: The emerence of the Washington Huskies. How good are they?

CFN Analysis 

Week 7 Thoughts, Oct. 17 

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- Cirminiello: How Good Is Sammy Watkins
- Mitchell: South Carolina's Really Bad Week
- Harrison: Do Ohio State Fans Want Fickell? 
- Sallee: SEC East. The Division No One Wants
- Johnson: Just How Good Is Washington?
- Zemek: The Rule Book Problem With Fumbles
 
By Terry Johnson 

How good are the Washington Huskies?

With very little fanfare or recognition, Washington has started the season with a bang, racing out to a 5-1 record – including a 3-0 record in Pac 12 play. This week, the Huskies entered the rankings for the first time since 2009, debuting at #22 in the AP Poll and #24 in the USA Today Coaches poll.

Do they deserve this ranking?

That depends on who answers the question. Critics will say that Washington has yet to beat a team with a winning record. They will also assert that when the Huskies did face a tough opponent – on the road against Nebraska – they lost in convincing fashion.

While the above criticisms might be factually correct, they do not paint an accurate picture of the season. Two of Washington's conference wins came against Utah and California who both have 3-3 records. Even though these two teams do not have winning records now, both will likely end up in bowl games.

As for the team's loss at Nebraska, UW only trailed by three at halftime until some costly turnovers on special teams gave the Huskers a comfortable 20-point cushion. Even though the Huskies did not win the game, they outscored Nebraska 21-14 in the fourth quarter.

Not a bad showing against the #13 ranked team on the road.

So if the Huskies are not a bad team, how good are they?

Last season's Washington team had future NFL draft choice Jake Locker calling the signals. Due to his excellence at the position, the Huskies finished 7-6 and with a victory in the Holiday Bowl. Locker's graduation would leave a huge hole at the position.

Rather than take a step backward as expected, the Huskies offense has improved this season. New QB Keith Price has quietly emerged as an all-conference candidate, throwing for 1466 yards, and completing 69% of his passes – almost 15% higher than Locker. More impressively, Price shown the poise of a veteran QB when it comes to taking care of the football, throwing 21 TD's against only 4 interceptions.

The defense has improved a great deal as well. Last season, the Washington run defense was the team's Achilles heel, allowing 4.7 yards per carry. With 8 starters returning from last season's defense, the Huskies have reduced that number to 3.2 yards per carry. The UW run defense has been so dominant that only one opponent attempted more runs than passes against the Huskies this season.

With so much improvement on both sides of the ball, Washington will return to a bowl again this season.

Are they ready to contend for the North division title?

We will find out Saturday when they travel to #7 Stanford.

- Cirminiello: How Good Is Sammy Watkins
- Mitchell: South Carolina's Really Bad Week
- Harrison: Do Ohio State Fans Want Fickell? 
- Sallee: SEC East. The Division No One Wants
- Johnson: Just How Good Is Washington?
- Zemek: The Rule Book Problem With Fumbles