What to watch for: Washington's Spring Game
Will 2013 be the step forward many expected Washington to take last year? It's been a steady march of progress for Steve Sarkisian and company over the past few years, but they still haven't gotten over the hump to truly make a run at the division and be a consistent presence in the top 25. The Huskies look primed for just such a run this year, so here are a few things to keep an eye out for as spring ball wraps up at 4 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Networks:
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Which Keith Price will we see in 2013?
2011: Good Keith Price. 2012: So-so Keith Price.
There's little doubt when looking at the numbers and film that the Washington starter took a step back last year. Part of that can (and will) likely be attributed to sub-par offensive line play last season. That shouldn't be an excuse for the team this year, which returns a whole host of starters at key spots and has All-Pac-12-caliber skill position players in Bishop Sankey and Kasen Williams. The surrounding cast is there for the quarterback, so will Price play like he did a few years ago when everybody labeled him a breakout star? Or will it be more of the same? If it's the former, then the sky may be the limit for the team.
[Related: Spring football TV schedule]
Year two strides under Justin Wilcox
Few defensive coordinators have had an impact on their team's defense like Washington's Wilcox, who has led a remarkable turnaround from one of the worst units in the league to one that was surprisingly competitive in 2012 despite some inexperience. It helps, of course, to have players, and the Huskies have some good ones in Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and John Timu, among others. Most of the focus this spring will be on finding somebody to replace the terrific Desmond Trufant (a possible first-round NFL draft pick) and there is a number of candidates with Greg Ducre, Alabama transfer Travell Dixon, Marcus Peters and Cleveland Wallace all looking solid this spring. The secondary has plenty of depth, but finding a breakout star at corner would be great for a unit that has a reliable safety in Sean Parker and another safety spot up for grabs.
[Related: Washington 2013 football schedule]
New look no huddle
Sarkisian is known for being one of the better offensive play-callers in the Pac-12 and he's using spring ball to put in much more of an up-tempo, no huddle look. Though he's generally known for a pro-style attack, Sarkisian hasn't been shy about adding new wrinkles to the base offense, and while it has always featured some shotgun and up-tempo looks, it's going to be a bigger part of what the Huskies do in 2013. The reviews so far are good this spring and while nobody thinks they'll look like rival Oregon on the field, it will be an interesting new addition to an offense that has plenty of playmakers.