2009 CFN Washington Preview
Washington DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim
Washington DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim
Posted May 29, 2009

Can the Dawgs get their bite back? With new head coach Steve Sarkisian ready to try to bring back the success to the once proud program, and with a slew of veterans returning like DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Washington might be able to turn things around in a hurry. Check out the CFN 2009 Washington Preview.

Washington Huskies

Preview 2009

By Richard Cirminiello

Interested in blogging about Washington football?  Let us know

- 2009 CFN Washington Preview | 2009 UW Offense
- 2009 UW Defense | 2009 UW Depth Chart
- 2008 UW Preview | 2007 UW Preview | 2006 UW Preview

Head coach: Steve Sarkisian
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 34, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best UW Players
1. QB Jake Locker, Jr.
2. DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Sr.
3. LB E.J. Savannah, Sr.
4. LB Mason Foster, Jr.
5. SS Nate Williams, Jr.
6. WR D'Andre Goodwin, Jr.
7. LB Donald Butler, Sr.
8. WR Jermaine Kearse, Soph.
9. LT Cody Habben, Jr.
10. CB Quinton Richardson, Soph.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 LSU
9/12 Idaho
9/19 USC
9/26 at Stanford
10/3 at Notre Dame
10/10 Arizona
10/17 at Arizona State
10/24 Oregon
11/7 at UCLA
11/14 at Oregon State
11/28 Washington State
12/5 California

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-12

8/30 at Oregon L 44-10
9/6 BYU L 28-27
9/13 Oklahoma L 55-14
9/27 Stanford L 35-28
10/4 at Arizona L 48-14
10/18 Oregon St L 34-13
10/25 Notre Dame L 33-7
11/1 at USC L 56-0
11/8 Arizona St L 39-19
11/15 UCLA L 27-7
11/22 at Wash St L 16-13 2OT
12/6 at California L 48-7

You’re Washington, dammit. Start acting like it. 

The Huskies have been so bad for so long, it’s getting hard to remember the rich history that once made this one of the Pac-10’s power brokers. The job of restoring that pride and building a bridge to the Don James era now belongs to Steve Sarkisian, the young former USC assistant and BYU quarterback. Although he inherits an 0-12 team and the mess left by Tyrone Willingham, this is not Baylor or Vanderbilt. If the program has hired the right man, which no one will know for a while, it’s still possible for U-Dub to get near the top of the league and stay there.

Besides being in a great location and having a solid fan base, Sarkisian and his staff have the luxury of being surrounded by a level of young talent that’s atypical of winless schools. Yeah, they were extremely raw and inexperienced last fall, but every class has at least one future NFL player, a nice starting point to build around. From seniors, like DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and LB E.J. Savannah to sophomores, like RB Chris Polk and WR Jermaine Kearse, the Huskies are home to some very gifted players. The job of the staff is to rebuild their confidence and make sure they fulfill all of that potential. In particular, Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have to raise the level of play of QB Jake Locker, who was on the shelf for the final three-quarters of the 2008 season.

You could feel the difference around the program this spring. Everything is new, from the coaches and the system down to the uniforms and the attitude. Having reached rock bottom last fall, it’s time to start building back up. There’s enough in the cupboard to win three or four games, but the real dividends won’t come until 2010, when Washington should be poised for a long-awaited return to the postseason.

What to watch for on offense: A more stationary Jake Locker. No, he’s not about to become Chris Chandler, but the staff isn’t sure it wants the second-coming of Marques Tuiasosopo either. Shades of Mark Brunell would be nice. Obviously, Locker is going to use all of his talents to make plays, which means tucking and running on occasion. However, the Huskies believe that the quarterback is surrounded by enough good, young talent at the skill positions to keep him from enduring such a pounding. A more balanced Locker is, in theory, going to be a more effective Locker.

What to watch for on defense: The evolution of the secondary. If it sounds like an old tune, that’s because it is one. While the front seven has potential, the defensive backfield is a total mess. CB Quinton Richardson and SS Nate Williams provide a nice start, but after them, it remains up in the air who’ll win the other two spots. The Huskies have provided no resistance to opposing passers over the last few years, a trend that needs to change if the defense, as a whole, is to make strides. The competition here figures to be as hot as the temperature when the team reconvenes in August. 

The team will be far better if… the defense is respectable. It’s not going to be good after allowing 38 points and 451 yards a game, but if it can make a few more stops, preferably in the red zone, Washington will be more competitive. Although the offense shows promise, especially with the healthy return of QB Jake Locker, it’s not going to be built to survive in shootouts. It’s been almost three years since the Huskies won a game when it yielded more than 30 points.

The Schedule: The Steve Sarkisian era doesn't exactly start out slowly playing LSU and USC in the first three games, but both games are at home, for what that's worth for the rebuilding program. And it doesn't get too much easier with three road games in the next four and five in the next seven. However, three of the five are against teams that didn't go bowling last year. Even so, that puts the Dawgs in the ugly position of having to likely beat Arizona and Oregon to have any prayer of going to a bowl. The Apple Cup will be in Seattle, but that doesn't end the regular season like normal with Cal coming to town to close things out.

Best offensive player
: Junior QB Jake Locker. As quarterbacks go, he’s one of the best athletes in the country, a 6-3, 222-pound locomotive when he leaves the pocket. If the new staff can coach him up as a hurler, look out—the Huskies could have one of the scariest dual-threat this side of Gainesville. After a terrific debut in 2007, his development and his sophomore season were cut short by a thumb injury. He’s healthy again and ready to become the leader of U-Dub’s rise from the ashes.    

Best defensive player: Senior DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. While NFL scouts might tell you he needs to get a little bigger and a little faster, for the Huskies, he’s absolutely perfect. One of the fiercest and hardest working ends in the country, Te’o-Nesheim has overcome modest expectations upon arrival to become a pass-rushing force. Despite getting little support from his linemates, he’s had at least eight sacks in each of the last two seasons, earning second team All-Pac-10 honors in 2008. 

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Jake Locker. More than just the quarterback, he’s the catalyst and the face of the Husky program. In order to put its recovery plans into overdrive, Washington needs Locker to flourish now that there’s a new staff and a new system in place. The Huskies also need him to be much more than just a running threat, evolving into the type of complete player, who can vex defenses and maximize the talents of the kids around him.    

The season will be a success if ... the Huskies win four games. Hey, you’ve got to crawl before you walk, especially after going 0-12 and delivering the worst season in school history. In the first five games alone, Washington must host LSU and USC, and visit improving teams at Stanford and Notre Dame, so the schedule offers little wiggle room. It might be favored just twice all year, when Idaho and Wazzu come to town, so even getting to 4-8 might require an upset or two. 

Key game: Nov. 28 vs. Washington State. Not only is it the annual Apple Cup, always a big deal in the state, but it’s also the Huskies’ best chance to win a Pac-10 game in 2009. Washington will be looking for pay back after dropping a 16-13 double-overtime heartbreaker in Pullman, which pretty much put the bow on a winless season.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 120 - Washington 27
- Penalties: Opponents 88 for 802 yards - Washington 56 for 475 yards
- Average rushing yards per game: Opponents 240.6 - Washington 99.3