With fall camps just around the corner for each Pac-12 team, we're going to go around the conference and look at each team's most pressing issues and interesting storylines. We start our fall camp series with Washington:
Will the defense improve?
When we last saw the Huskies on defense, Baylor was torching them for 777 total yards and 67 points in the Alamo Bowl. Coach Steve Sarkisian wasn't impressed by his team's defensive effort in the game and he responded to the loss by firing defensive coordinator Nick Holt, linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills.
Sarkisian then brought in defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox from Tennessee to run the show. Wilcox will be responsible for revamping a defense that ranked 106th in the country and surrendered 35.9 points per game last season. The most experienced unit on Washington's D should be the defensive backs as cornerback Desmond Trufant and safety Sean Parker both return.
Who will take over at running back?
When Chris Polk and his 4,049 career rushing yards decided to leave school early for the NFL draft, a gaping hole was left in the Huskies backfield. Looking to fill Polk's shoes will be junior Jesse Callier and sophomore Bishop Sankey. As a true freshman last year, Sankey averaged an impressive 6.7 yards per carry. However, don't count out Callier, who's rushed for 260 or more yards in each of his first two seasons with the team.
CanKeith Pricestay healthy?
If you Google “Keith Price, injury,” you may notice that over 1.5 million hits come up. And there's a reason for that: Price was dinged up a lot last season. He sprained both his knees before conference play started. He sprained an ankle against Utah and suffered a shoulder injury against Oregon. However, when he was completely healthy, which didn't happen often, Price was unstoppable, just ask the Baylor defense. Against the Bears in the Alamo Bowl, Price threw for 438 yards and four touchdowns. If Price can stay healthy for the entire season, Washington could find themselves contending for a Pac-12 North title.
Who will emerge as the Huskies new specialists?
With Erik Folk and his 242 career points now in the NFL, finding a kicker will be on Sarkisian's to-do list during fall camp. Junior college transfer Travis Coons is probably the odds on favorite to win the job, but it can't make Huskies fans to confident knowing that Coons only hit 2-of-10 field goals last season at Mt. San Antonio College (Calif.). Washington will also have to replace punter Kiel Rasp, who holds the school record for career yards per punt at 44.4. Incoming freshman Korey Durkee is the most likely replacement for Rasp.
Who's next in line at wide receiver?
Polk wasn't the only big offensive loss for Washington, the losses of wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar could sting too. Kearse and Aguilar left Washington ranked second and seventh on the school's career receiving yards list. Kasen Williams, a true freshman last year, came on strong in the Huskies final four regular-season games; catching 19 passes total for a combined 251 yards and four touchdowns. Senior James Johnson should also contribute this year, he's the Huskies' third-leading returning receiver behind Williams and much ballyhooed tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
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