Washington Preview 2006

Posted Aug 8, 2006

The program can blame past coaching staffs, turmoil and a silly blowup over an NCAA basketball bracket for the speedy downfall from superpower to also-ran to dregs, but now the concern is whether or not things can ever be back to the way they were.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

The program can blame past coaching staffs, turmoil and a silly blowup over an NCAA basketball bracket for the speedy downfall from superpower to also-ran to dregs, but now the concern is whether or not things can ever be back to the way they were.

The problem for Washington, at this point, isn't if it can get any better, it's if the rest of the Pac 10 can come back to the pack. USC isn't looking like it's going to slow down too much, Oregon has rebounded, Cal is on the verge of really big things, Arizona State and UCLA continue to be strong, Arizona isn't going to get any worse, Stanford showed last year it can hang with anyone, and Oregon State and Washington State appear to be better. Unless the Huskies have a few tricks up their sleeve, this might be another very long season.

So what was learned by beating Idaho, Arizona and San Jose State over the last two seasons? That's what second year head man Ty Willingham and his staff must figure out right away. There are good athletes on both sides of the ball and there are players with Pac 10 talent, at least there are as many as most of the teams that'll finish in the bottom half. Now they need a little bit of confidence that can only come from winning.

Head coach: Ty Willingham 
2nd year: 2-9
12th year: 67-60-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 16, Def. 19, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 31
Ten Best UW Players
1. SS C.J. Wallace, Sr.
2. FS/CB Dashon Goldson, Sr.
3. LB Scott White, Sr.
4. RB Louis Rankin, Jr.
5. WR Sonny Shackelford, Sr.
6. QB Isaiah Stanback, Sr.
7. DT Donny Mateaki, Sr.
8. P Sean Douglas, Sr.
9. LB Chris Stevens, Soph.
10. WR Anthony Russo, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 San Jose State
9/9 at Oklahoma
9/16 Fresno State
9/23 UCLA
9/30 at Arizona
10/7 at USC
10/14 Oregon State
10/21 at California
10/28 Arizona State
11/4 at Oregon
11/11 Stanford
11/18 at Washington State

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record:
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Air Force  L 20-17
9/10 California L 56-17
9/17 Idaho W 34-6
9/24 Notre Dame L 36-17
10/1 at UCLA L 21-17
10/15 at Oregon L 45-21
10/22 USC  L 51-24
10/29 at Arizona St L 44-21
11/5 Oregon State L 18-10
11/12 at Arizona W 38-14
11/19 Washington St L 26-22

Things couldn't have started out worse for Willingham as he tried to pull the team up out of the 2004 nosedive. There was the stunning last-minute home loss to Air Force to start the season followed up by a blowout by Cal and then seven more losses out of the final nine games. Ticket sales have been a problem, the Seahawks are one of the NFL's best teams putting more interest in the pro game, and once again, the Pac 10 has improved.

But that doesn't mean this can't be the Pac 10's deep sleeper. If you believe the adage that veteran teams win close games, then the 15 returning starters, along with all the experienced depth in many key spots, should be enough to win the squeakers that last year's struggling team lost. A confident, positive attitude team would've beaten Air Force. It would've hung on against UCLA, found a way to get by the weird game against Oregon State, and would've come up with the Apple Cup win. Veteran, positive teams tend to get the needed breaks for a 6-5 season instead of a 2-9 stinker.

If QB Isaiah Stanback can be this year's Michael Robinson and make the senior year transformation the former Penn State star was able to make, and if the deep stable of running backs turns into something special, and if the questions can be answered at corner, and if there can be some semblance of a steady pass rush from the front four, this really, truly could be a turnaround season.

The Schedule: It's not a peach after the opener against San Jose State. Forget about the road trip to Oklahoma, the team really needs to not clunk at home against Fresno State with UCLA coming into town the following week. The Huskies aren't likely to beat USC, Cal or Oregon this year without things being drastically different, so those games might as well be on the road. However, that means home dates with teams like Oregon State and Stanford are must wins to have any hope of a bowl season.

Best Offensive Player: Redshirt freshman J.R. Hasty. But he's not on the team this year being declared academically ineligible. The Washington state high school superstar is one of the few potential difference makers on the offense ... next year. QB Isaiah Stanback might turn out to be the team's best offensive player, and number one receiver Sonny Shackelford is the team's steadiest offensive producer, and RB Louis Rankin might get the starting call on opening day, but Hasty is the most talented player on offense.

Best Defensive Player: Senior SS C.J. Wallace. Safety/corner Dashon Goldson is the far better pro prospect, but Wallace is the tone setter for the defensive back seven with his linebacker-like hits and great support in the running game. Now he has to make more plays when the ball is in the air.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Isaiah Stanback. If he doesn't pull out a least three wins by the end of September, there might be a change at quarterback just to get looks at some of the other talented options. Washington fans know all too well what has happened over the last few years when the quarterbacks start to rotate. Stanback has to be the one who makes the team a winner in his third year under center.

The season will be a success if ... Washington wins seven games. There has to be a big upset or two to set a fire under the fan base, while a win in the Apple Cup over Washington State, and a 5-1 home record, would do wonders to get the program rolling into 2007 when the program will finally be three years removed from all the past problems.

Key game: Sept. 23 vs. UCLA. Washington must win the Pac 10 home opener for confidence before a two game road trip to Arizona and USC. The Wildcats are going to want payback after last year's 38-14 loss, while USC is, well, USC. A win over the Bruins would do wonders for the team's psyche and could set the tone for a good home season.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 116 - Washington 70
- Penalties: Opponents 85 for 712 yards - Washington 68 for 556 yards
- Completion percentage: Opponents 66.8% - Washington 52.5%

The Last Time Washington…
…played in a bowl game…2002 (Sun Bowl vs. Purdue)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1997 (USC)
…was shutout…2004 (USC)
…scored 50 points…2001 (Idaho)
…went undefeated…1991
…won a conference title…2000
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2003 (Cody Pickett)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…1997 (Rashaan Shehee)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (Reggie Williams)
…had a first-round draft choice…2004 (WR Reggie Williams)

Related Stories
Washington Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
Washington Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
Washington Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006

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