Washington is a Pac-12 sleeper

Despite losing top offensive players, Huskies return enough talent to contend

Updated: February 28, 2014, 11:00 AM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Chris PetersenOtto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesChris Petersen, formerly of Boise State, could lead Washington to a Pac-12 title in his first season.

The Steve Sarkisian era in Washington would have to be graded as a success. After seven seasons without a bowl appearance, Sarkisian led the Huskies to four consecutive bowl games and his nine victories last season were the most by a Washington team since 2000.

That achievement bar under Sarkisian has to set the program's goals under new head coach Chris Petersen even higher. At first glance, it might look as if that bar will be difficult to reach this year, as the Huskies lose three of the most prolific offensive players in team history (Keith Price, Bishop Sankey and Austin Seferian-Jenkins) as well as six starters on defense.

Daunting as those personnel losses are, a closer look at the game tape, metrics and scouting reviews indicates Washington actually has a very good chance of being a strong Pac-12 title contender in 2014.

Replacing Price

The scouting reviews begin at the quarterback position. Cyler Miles was slated to be the Huskies' starter in 2014, but his recent off-field issues have put his future with this program into question.