If Washington's going to improve upon last year's 7-6 record, here are three players -- on offense, defense and special teams -- who need to produce.
Offense: QB Keith Price
Price is the obvious choice here. The junior quarterback played most of 2011 with two bad knees, but still managed to set single-season school records for touchdown passes (33), and completion percentage (66.9). One of the big keys to a successful Huskies season will be keeping Price healthy, which is easier said then done. Depending on the health of guard Colin Tanigawa (knee), Washington could be starting as many as three new offensive linemen this season. Also, the team will be breaking in a new running back, which means opposing defenses may not respect the run as much as they did last season when Chris Polk was in the backfield.
Defense: CB Desmond Trufant
In the pass happy Pac-12, the value of a good defensive back can't be overestimated. Every Pac-12 team needs one, while two would be great, three would be ideal and four would win you the conference title. Washington's shutdown corner is four-year starter Desmond Trufant. The senior led the team in passes defended last season with 16. Trufant isn't only a cover corner either; he was third on the team in tackles last year with 64. Trufant will be expected to lead a Husky secondary that might just be the team's strongest unit.
Special teams: Travis Coons
If you're a Husky fan who's never heard of Travis Coons, don't fret, he's never actually played a down for Washington. Coons is a junior college transfer and the odds on favorite to replace three-year starter Erik Folk. Coons has a strong leg, but he struggles with accuracy -- he hit two of 10 field goals last season at Mt. San Antonio College. The play of Coons this season could be the difference in one or two Washington games.
If you ever doubt the importance of kickers, just talk to Oregon coach Chip Kelly or Stanford coach David Shaw, who both watched their kickers miss clutch field goals last season. Stanford's Jordan Williamson cost the Cardinal a Fiesta Bowl win while a 37-yard miss by Oregon's Alejandro Maldonado cost the Ducks a chance to go to overtime in last year's 38-35 loss to USC.
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