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Oregon State Football: A Midsummer’s Opponent Preview - Washington Huskies (Game 6)

The Huskies enter 2020 with defensive prowess and offensive questions.

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl - Washington v Boise State Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Washington Huskies

  • Head Coach: Jimmy Lake (1st Season)
  • 2019 Record: 8-5 (4-5 in Pac-12)
  • Last Meeting: 11/8/19 - Washington 19, Oregon State 7
  • Key Returners: DB - Elijah Molden, DL - Levi Onwuzurike, RB - Richard Newton

The Skinny

In the first year of the Jimmy Lake era at Washington, the Huskies will try to reclaim their spot as the Pac-12’s elite programs. However, questions across the board, specifically at the quarterback spot, may leave their transition to a new head coach on a bit of rocky ground.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Oregon at Washington
Jimmy Lake’s program opens up the 2020 at home. Their opponent? Michigan.
Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lake first has to decide on his starting quarterback, which will be an open competition between new Sacramento State graduate transfer Kevin Thomson, last year’s back-up Jacob Sirmon, redshirt freshman Dylan Morris and four-star recruit Ethan Garbers. With a versatile skill-set and a late entry into the program, it’s easy to presume that Thomson saw a vacancy and is ready to fill it.

Though nothing has been confirmed from the first-year head coach just yet.

In the backfield alongside the quarterback-to-be-named will be a fleet of talented running backs, led by the team’s top returning rusher in Richard Newton and serviceable change-up option Sean McGrew. Yet, the Huskies will be a bit thinner at the pass-catching spots, where tight end Hunter Bryant and wide receiver Aaron Fuller, the team’s top-two receiving options from 2019 are both gone.

Instead, a new look core, led by returning wide receivers Terrell Bynum and Puka Nacua, as well as incoming four-star options Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze need to assimilate quickly to new offensive coordinator John Donovan’s schemes. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the heir-apparent tight end Cade Otton splits time at the position with 6’ 6”, 240-pound recruit Mark Redman.

While Lake comes from a defensive background, in order to fully step into the head coaching role, he’ll be handing his defensive reigns over to co-coordinators Pete Kwiatkowski and Ikaika Malloe, who have quite the defensive depth chart still available to them.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Utah at Washington
Defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike will be in search of his second straight All-Pac-12 First Team nod.
Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Huskies boast a trio of players who could compete for All-Pac-12 honors between defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike, linebacker Joe Tryon and defensive back Elijah Molden, the latter of whom may just be the best play-making secondary talent on the whole west coast. Other key pieces like linebacker Ryan Bowman and cornerback Trent McDuffie will play vital roles in helping to sure up the depth of quality needed, while a five-star defensive end prospect in Sav’ell Smalls hand the Huskies defense a much-needed burst of youthful pressure.

All in all, this should be one of the Pac-12’s stronger defensive units without question, meaning if the Huskies can iron things out offensively, Lake has some ways to avert the “year zero” growing pains. However, the Pac-12 can be unforgiving in it’s widespread parity, where the middle of the league can eat itself alive. Washington must set itself apart if it doesn’t want to get lost in the shuffle.

I’m sure that’s all nothing an opening day match-up with Michigan won’t be able to sort out.

Player To Watch

Eastern Washington v Washington
Elijah Molden might be the most gifted player on a Huskies defense that can be elite nationally.
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Elijah Molden - Defensive Back

Elijah Molden is just one of those guys who you could watch play football all day. The defensive back has unbelievable instincts and an extremely high football IQ, which gives him the ability to quickly diagnose plays and make split-second decisions. Molden led the team with 79 tackles, 12 passes defended, 4 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in 2019, with his distinctive moment coming in the form of a 12 solo tackle performance in the Apple Cup.

Game Info

  • Date: Saturday, October 10th
  • Time: TBD
  • Location: Husky Stadium (Seattle, WA)

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