Series Record: Washington leads, 38-41-4
Harbaugh/Shaw Era: Stanford leads, 4-2
Last Season: Washington 17, Stanford 13
This Season: October 5th at Stanford
There is perhaps no better barometer to measure the state of Stanford Football over the past few years than the Washington Huskies. As the defense was just beginning to round into form in 2010, Stanford travelled north and crushed the Huskies, 41-0. In 2011, midway through Andrew Luck's senior season, there was another shellacking, this one 65-21 in Palo Alto.
Last year, however, Stanford arrived in Seattle in search of an identity. The Cardinal had just beaten USC, but since that happens every year, it didn't really say much about the current state of the team. It was just three games out of the Andrew Luck era, and observers weren't sure what to expect from one week to the next. The Huskies took advantage of the situation and exposed a lackluster Stanford offense in defeating the Cardinal, 17-13.
That game pushed the villagers to the brink, and soon enough they were gathered at the steps of Castle Shaw with pitchforks and torches in hand, demanding a quarterback change. (Those villagers all wanted Brett Nottingham; five weeks later they'd get Kevin Hogan instead, and they'd eventually exchange their torches for bouquets of roses.)
Washington has finished 7-6 for three consecutive seasons, but the Huskies finally look ready to move out of the realm of mediocrity. Most of the top performers are returning on offense, most notably senior quarterback Keith Price, who has more than 5,700 yards passing over the past two seasons; junior running back Bishop Sankey, who had 1,439 yards rushing and 16 TDs in 2012; and junior Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who will likely be the top tight end in the conference this year. With all of that, and a huge emerging star on defense, the Huskies should be a handful and could be the third-best team in the Pac-12. The problem for them, however, is that the two best teams are also in the Pac-12 North.
With more insight on the Huskies, I give you Anthony Cassino from UW Dawg Pound. (Keep in mind, he answered these questions before the Huskies destroyed Boise State on Saturday.) Lots of good stuff, so read on...
Steve Sarkisian arrived from USC in 2009 and brought high expectations to the program, then made the mistake of leading the Huskies to an upset win over #1 USC in his Pac-10 debut, a victory that no doubt sent expectations soaring. His four years in Seattle, however, have been marked by mediocrity, including three straight 7-6 seasons and bowl games losses each of the past two years. How does the fan base feel about Sarkisian now? Is he on the hot seat this year?
The thing to note is that though the end result of 7-6 has been the same, the team has gotten better each year, and I think that's why UW's AD, Scott Woodward, is still firmly in support of Sarkisian. The fanbase is still behind him, but another 7-6 season (or worse) would see a big portion turn on him. He's not in danger of losing his job just yet, but if he doesn't get it done this year the burner he's sitting on is going to be turned up to 11 heading into 2014.
Quarterback Keith Price had a good year in 2012, but it was somewhat of a drop off from his 2011 breakout season. What can we expect from him in 2013?
The expectation is that Price will bounce back, it's just a matter of how far that will be seen. The conventional wisdom is that his 2011 season was the result of having a ton of NFL talent to throw the ball to with Jermaine Kearse, Chris Polk, Kasen Williams, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins around him, while his 2012 season was mostly the result of not having a capable offensive line in front of him. The offensive line play should be improved heading into this year, but it remains to be seen how much help he'll get from the guys around him. If I had to guess, I'd predict he finishes the season with around 3,000 passing yards and close to 30 touchdowns.
As everyone knows, you simply can't run against the Stanford front seven. It's impossible. Somehow, though, Bishop Sankey ran for 144 yards against the Cardinal last year. (I only know this because I've read Sankey's game log; I don't remember a single thing about that game, not even the final outcome.) What are Sankey's strengths as a running back, and what are your predictions for his 2013 totals? Is he a viable Heisman Trophy candidate?
What's the realistic best-case scenario for the Huskies this season?
For the first time in over a decade, there isn't a game on UW's schedule that they don't have a shot in. The best case is they could win double digit games and win the conference. There's enough talent on the team now and if everything breaks right, they could be the Pac-12's representative in Pasadena.
Who's the best Washington player that people outside of Seattle don't already know about?
It depends on how far outside of Seattle you go. I think most people who follow the conference closely are aware of who Shaq Thompson is, but if you were to head to SEC country, they probably wouldn't have a clue. But after this season, I bet they do. The kid is just a freak; there aren't many players in college football who can do the things that he does. He's the size of a linebacker, can cover like a corner, anchors against the run like a lineman, and carries the ball like a halfback. He'll probably be an All Conference player at linebacker this year, and in the coming years will have a good shot at being an All-American.
The Huskies travel to Palo Alto this season, but tell me why I should make the trip north at some point to see a game in Husky Stadium.
Finally, when UW students grow up, do they all automatically buy huskies as pets? If so, that would be pretty cool.
They don't buy them, they're issued at graduation. Diploma in one hand, Husky in the other.