As the Washington Huskies prepare to start the Chris Petersen era in 2014, they’ll rely on a very strong defense to lead the way. With dynamic and experienced players returning at every level this season, the Huskies are in a position to surprise some people in the Pac-12 title race. If they hope to get it done, however, they’ll need junior linebacker Cory Littleton to develop into an elite disruptive force this fall.
As a sophomore in 2013, Littleton began to show what he is capable of when he gets unleashed in the defense. He finished with 62 total tackles a year ago and finished second on the team with 10 tackles for loss and five sacks. Only star defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha made more negative plays for the UW defense last season and the team figures to use him in a similar fashion as their “rush end” for 2014.
This season, Littleton is going to get moved around as the team’s need dictates between outside linebacker and defensive end. He has that liberty thanks in part to the talent surrounding him on the defense, particularly at linebacker. John Timu, Shaq Thompson, and Travis Feeney all return to man the base linebacker positions which allows Littleton to be utilized more freely wherever he can inflict the most damage.
Washington has a lot of major hurdles in front of them if they hope to win the Pac-12 title in 2014 but there is enough raw talent on this team to give them a puncher’s chance. If some of that dynamic talent, like Cory Littleton, can be refined and focused, look for the Huskies to be a very dangerous team in the Pac-12 North this season.