College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Washington Huskies and what they'll be working on this spring.
Washington under Steve Sarkisian has been consistently inconsistent, with the Huskies showing flashes of the old tradition on occasion but, more often than not, folding against the more physical teams. The mediocrity is becoming routine, as UW went 7-6 for the third straight year in 2012. Recruiting has gone well, and Sarkisian has been given ample time to rebuild the program, so the pressure is on him to finally have a breakthrough season. Anything less than eight wins might put his job in jeopardy.
Spring practice begins: March 5
Spring game: April 20
2012 record: 7-6
Returning starters: 17 (10 offense, seven defense)
The Least You Should Know About Washington This Spring
-- Making sure Price is right. Sarkisian admitted in the pre-spring press conference that one of the goals of the offeseason was to get senior quarterback Keith Price back to his sophomore-season form. Price threw 33 touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions in 2011, but his ratio in 2012 was just 19/13 while his efficiency rating plunged 40 points. Sarkisian appears dedicated to getting Price right again, but if that reclamation project fails, look out for redshirt freshmen Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist. Both are dual-threat quarterbacks with superior athleticism.
-- Rebuilding the secondary. The Huskies lose cornerback Desmond Trufant and free safety Justin Glenn from a secondary that jumped from 87th in pass efficiency defense in 2011 to 27th in 2012. Strong safety Sean Parker is starting for his third season, and he'll be the rock of the unit, with eight-game starter Marcus Peters returning at the cornerback spot opposite Trufant's. The most likely replacement for Trufant is speedy Greg Ducre, who logged one start last season. If Will Shamburger or Brandon Beaver can step in for Glenn, this could once again be a solid group.
-- Developing the young talent. The Huskies have recruited very well the past couple seasons, especially at the skill positions. Now, some of this talent is starting to mature, which means it's time for those classes to bear some fruit. For the first time in awhile, the Huskies should have more than one or two playmakers on defense -- plus some depth to keep players fresh on that side. The pieces are in place on offense as well. This spring will give Sarkisian a chance to push these classes to become vital assets to the team.
-- Let the offensive line gel. The offensive line has been the Achilles' heel for Washington for several years now. Last year, the line was injury-riddled and allowed 38 sacks while lacking consistency in the run game. Toward the end of the season, nine of 10 linemen in the two deep were either freshmen or sophomores. That means nine out of 10 are now returning in the two deep, plus a couple of key players who were hurt before the year began. The potential is there for Washington to have, at minimum, a solid line. But finding the right combination in the spring and then letting the unit gel is going to be key. Otherwise, Price might be running for his life against next fall.