Last August the Washington Huskies opened fall camp with a firm mission. Continue the growth and improvement shown in the last couple of years and continue a climb toward the top of the Pacific 12 Conference.
Quarterback Keith Price was an upperclassman now, fully ready to take the leadership reins and lead this team to heights not achieved since the early 1990s. The rushing game was going to be kept fresh and headed in the right direction because no one was going to be overworked. Jesse Callier would start, and Bishop Sankey would spell him. Together they would be fresher in the fourth quarter than the defenses that they would face.
The defense was going to be better just because it could scarcely have been worse. New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox would bring newer, sounder, schemes to add to the aggressiveness that the unit had displayed at times in the 2011 season.
So how did it turn out? Well it must be said that Keith Price took a step back. His quarterback rating (122.4) was almost 40 points off of his rating in 2011. After throwing 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2011, Price threw 19 TD's and was picked off 13 times this year. Righting the Good Ship Price will be essential if the Huskies are to bounce back next season.
Jesse Callier blew out his knee. While that was a devastating hit for the young man, it showed the Huskies and their fans just what they had in Bishop Sankey. The sophomore back from Spokane burst on to the scene with 1429 yards, a 5.0 yards per carry average, and 16 touchdowns. As if that wasn't enough he caught 33 balls for 249 yards as a receiver. Rather than wearing down late in games Sankey kept driving into, and through, defenders. If he develops at a normal rate the Huskies have a true star in their backfield.
Defensively, the Huskies were, in fact, better. Much better, if yards per game is your statistic of choice. The Huskies finished the season 31st in the nation in total defense, after being in triple figures in 2011. Even with that, the Huskies defense was too often run over and around at will by some of the more prolific offenses in the nation. That will need to change if the Huskies are to be playing after Christmas in 2013, rather than before.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian declared his 2012 goal to be eight wins in the regular season. After the loss to Boise State in the MAACO Bowl the Huskies finished the year at 7-6 for the third year in a row. By no reasonable standard can the 2012 season be deemed a success, as signature wins against the likes of Stanford must be balanced against puzzling losses to the likes of Washington State. That said, if this and that break right, improvements are made, and recruiting goes well, 2013 could be better. For Coach Sarkisian, a fourth straight 7-6 season will not be acceptable. Nor will it be acceptable to those who decide if he keeps his job.