Pac-12 preview: ‘Team to beat’? Huskies should be a tough out in 2021
With a defense that is loaded and three quality QBs vying for starting duties, Pac-12 teams may not want to sleep on UW
Editor’s note: Eleventh in a series of stories examining the 12 football programs in the Pac-12.
Last November, Washington rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to beat Utah 24-21. The Huskies went on to win the Pac-12 North and clinched a spot in the conference championship game.
But due to COVID-19 cases within the program, Washington couldn’t play for the title.
In coach Jimmy Lake’s second season at the helm, the Huskies are expected to contend for a North Division title again.
Washington signed the No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2021, Sam Huard, son of former UW star quarterback Damon. He’s battling Dylan Morris for the starting job. As a freshman in 2020, Morris threw for 900 yards.
Colorado State transfer Patrick O’Brien is also in the mix for the starting QB job.
Washington must replace star running back Myles Gaskin but it does return Sean McGrew, Kamari Pleasant and Richard Newton. The Huskies also boast one of the nation’s top tight ends in Cade Otton.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski left Seattle to take the DC job at Texas, now led by former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.
Lake promoted Bob Gregory as the new defensive coordinator and he’ll look to continue to build a defense that allowed 25 points per game.
Linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui recorded seven sacks last season in four games. Freshman defensive tackle Voi Tunuufi, who hails from East High, is expected to make an early impact.
Word on the street
“Washington’s first season with former secondary coach and defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake at the helm had its share of highs and lows. The Huskies finished the pandemic-shortened campaign with the best win percentage in the Pac-12 North, but COVID-19 protocols denied them both a rivalry matchup with Oregon and, more importantly, a shot at the conference title.
With that unfortunate turn looming over it, Washington has plenty of reason to play with a chip on its shoulder in 2021. That could be a serious problem for the rest of the Pac-12. The Huskies are loaded on defense and will continue to employ the physical brand of football that buoyed the program during Chris Petersen’s tenure. If the offense comes together, this might be the conference’s team to beat in 2021.”
— Kyle Kensing, writing for Athlon Sports
By the numbers
2020 record: 3-1 (3-1 Pac-12)
Returning starters: Offense: 7, defense: 8
LB Jordan Lolohea (East HS)
LB MJ Tafisi (Alta HS)
DL Voi Tunuufi
DL Sam Taimani (East HS)
Sept. 4 Montana
Sept. 11 @ Michigan
Sept. 18 Arkansas State
Sept. 25 California
Oct. 2 @ Oregon State
Oct. 16 UCLA
Oct. 22 @ Arizona
Oct. 30 @ Stanford
Nov. 6 Oregon
Nov. 13 Arizona State
Nov. 20 @ Colorado
Nov. 26 Washington State