- Mason Kelley, Reporter, Recruiting Nation
SEATTLE -- Here are the five storylines facing Washington as the Huskies prepare for their trip to play No. 3 LSU in Baton Rouge, La.:
1. Protecting Price pivotal: With right tackle Ben Riva sidelined with a fractured arm, Washington's versatility is being tested at the position. Expect Erik Kohler to slide out to right tackle, while James Atoe steps in at right guard.
The Huskies could also use Mike Criste at right tackle, while keeping Kohler at guard like they did against San Diego State after Riva’s injury.
The success of the shuffling will determine how well Washington can protect quarterback Keith Price.
Also expect to see tight end Michael Hartvigson on the field often as the Huskies try to keep Price healthy and on the field.
2. If Price has time, he can make plays: When Price had time to stand in the pocket against San Diego State last week, he found receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who combined for 15 catches, 157 yards and a touchdown.
Once the ball lands in their hands, the sophomores have the ability to make plays.
While LSU has dynamic defensive linemen, the Tigers have a young secondary, which could present passing opportunities for Price -- if speedy freshman Jaydon Mickens can get open, the quarterback will find him – but the junior needs time to spread the ball around to his offensive weapons.
3. Huskies need defense to deliver: Washington’s defense is a work in progress under Justin Wilcox.
The new defensive coordinator has implemented an aggressive, attacking style that showed signs of potential last week. However, the Huskies face a true test on the road against LSU, taking on an offense that is coming off a 41-point performance.
The Tigers totaled 316 yards on the ground, averaging almost 7 yards per carry against North Texas last week, while the Huskies allowed 199 yards against San Diego State.
Washington would like to slow down LSU’s ground game and force quarterback Zach Mettenberger to make plays, which is a tall task.
4. Depth at running back a concern: When Deontae Cooper suffered his third ACL tear on the Huskies’ first day of fall camp, depth at the running back position quickly became a concern for Washington.
Now that junior Jesse Callier will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL tear, the Huskies have even bigger questions at the position.
Sophomore Bishop Sankey rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries against San Diego State and looked capable of carrying the load for the Huskies. After Sankey, the backup role falls to freshman Erich Wilson II and walk-on Willis Wilson.
With a lack of depth and experience, Washington needs Sankey to stay healthy, and productive.
5. Counting on kicker Coons: After seeing several kickoffs come up short and missing a 47-yard field goal the health of Travis Coons’ kicking leg was called into question after Washington’s win over San Diego State.
Coons was given time off during fall camp due to a tired leg, and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said the junior has been dealing with a sore hamstring, which hindered his performance in the season opener.
The Huskies' head coach told reporters Wednesday that Coons looks better this week as the program prepares for LSU.