Steve Sarkisian took over arguably one of the worst teams in history when he inherited the winless Washington Huskies back in 2008. He has accomplished a great turnaround considering the condition of the program when he got there, but after three straight seven win seasons, some are questioning whether Sarkisian has hit his ceiling with Washington. Can the coach finally take the Dawgs over the top in 2013?
The opportunity is certainly there. Washington returns 20 starters on offense and defense in 2013 with elite talent on both sides of the ball. After playing one of the toughest schedules in college football last season, the Huskies will benefit from a much easier slate next fall, particularly in non-conference play. After getting walloped by the LSU Tigers in the Bayou last year, their toughest non-conference test next fall will be the Boise State Broncos.
If Sarkisian hopes to improve and finally break through in 2013, he will need to get a bounceback season from his senior quarterback Keith Price. Last season, Price was a popular dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy, but that quickly fell apart as injuries around him and inconsistency from him undercut Price’s effectiveness in 2013. He finished eighth in the Pac 12 in quarterback efficiency, throwing 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Sarkisian brought in a new quarterbacks coach to work with Price this season and has liked what he’s seen from his senior so far during spring practice. The Huskies will need a high level of play from Price as they try and break through the hyper-competitive Pac 12 North Division next fall.
Next on the fifth-year head coach’s fix-list is getting his team to consistently finish games. Last season, the Huskies were on the verge of winning nine games if they were able to hold onto an 18-point fourth-quarter lead in the Apple Cup and then win their bowl game, but they failed to do either. After one of the worst collapses in their rivalry with the Washington State Cougars and a disappointing letdown against Boise State, they stumbled their way to yet another 7-5 mark.
Now, with a bad taste lingering from their late season failures, Washington is hitting spring practice hard with the intent to finally break through in 2013 as one of the Pac 12′s best teams. They had better because their coach’s job may depend on it.