By Michael Briggs @MichaelSBriggs on June 18, 2014
The Washington Huskies enter 2014 season with new faces forced into the spotlight. UW will need to replace most of its offense due to the departures of QB Keith Price, RB Bishop Sankey and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but spirits are still running high with former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen providing a jolt to the program that could take it to another level. Here are the players who will be leading the next charge.
The kicking and punting duties will now be placed on the feet of Van Winkle and Durkee, respectively, following the loss of Travis Coons, who earned second team All Pac-12 honors as a punter and an honorable mention All Pac-12 nod for placekicking. Replace a kicker who converts on 15-of-16 field goal attempts is no easy task, but Durkee, who has also been a placekicker, and incoming freshman Tristan Vizcaino offer some depth behind Van Winkle.
Feeney will be filling in for UW's leading tackler in 2013, linebacker Princeton Fuimaono, but thankfully for the Washington, the redshirt junior already has starting experience under his belt from 2012 to help ease the transition. Despite being relegated to a smaller role in 2013, Feeney showed flashes of solid production — including six tackles and 1.5 sacks against Stanford — that make him a player to watch with his length and speed.
Although an off-the-field issue has dampened the perception of Miles, there's little doubting the impact he could have this season at QB. Replacing a three-year starter in Keith Price who threw for nearly 9,000 yards during that stretch doesn't appear insurmountable with the sophomore, who won his first career start last season at Oregon State. A 61 percent completion rate, paired with 200 rushing yards, suggests Miles is ready for this stage.
Williams will have a lot on his plate in 2014, as the receiver is returning from a serious leg injury and will be relied upon to make up the production lost by the departure of Austin Seferian-Jenkins to the NFL. However, the senior has already proved he is the man for the job after leading UW with 878 receiving yards in 2012. Great hands and size will make him a reliable red zone target (13 career TDs) and deep ball threat.
Washington certainly has the biggest shoes to fill as the likely successor to Bishop Sankey, who ran for a school record 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2013. However, the sophomore has all the intangibles required for the task, with some already comparing him to former UW great Corey Dillon. Washington certainly looks the part, but holding onto the ball will be a key factor in deciding whether he can handle the pressure of his situation.
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