The skinny: Jake Locker is gone to the NFL, and Keith Price steps in. He isn’t Locker. He’s not as big, not as strong and doesn’t have the cannon for an arm. But he may be a more accurate passer. And he’s easily stepped into the leadership role.Backups: Nick Montana lost the quarterback competition in the spring, but he still competes like the job could be his. He isn’t blessed with the strongest arm, but he understands defenses and can throw the underneath routes with precision. Derrick Brown has the size and arm of a young Daunte Culpepper.
The skinny: The deepest position on the team. The Huskies can and will play six receivers in game and all can contribute in different ways. Senior Jermaine Kearse has been the Huskies only big play threat. But sophomore Kevin Smith and freshman Kasen Williams will also bring that element. Smith might be one of the team’s most improved players. Junior James Johnson has played his way out of the doghouse and back on the field.Backups: Technically, only DiAndre Campbell is the only back-up since the five others were listed as “starters.”
RUNNING BACKSPac-12 rank: 2ndThe skinny: There might not be a better combination of strength and power and toughness in the Pac-12 than Chris Polk. The Husky All-American candidate is a workhorse running back. But the workhorse needed minor knee surgery during fall camp. He’ll be back this season and he’ll rush for more than 1,000 yards breaking tackles the entire time.Backups: The position was supposed to be a loaded with depth. But the loss of Deontae Cooper in the offseason to knee surgery hurt it. Jesse Callier will carry the load in Polk’s absence. Don’t be surprised when he runs well and with success.
TIGHT ENDSPac-12 rank: 7The skinny: For the better part of two seasons, the Huskies have gotten virtually no production from the position. But this year that looks to change with a pair of talented freshman, who will both start and play plenty of snaps – often times at the same time. Prized recruit Austin Seferian-Jenkins has given UW a pass-catching, play-making threat over the middle and in the redzone. Michael Hartvigson is a good blocker and underrated receiver.Backups: Redshirt freshman Evan Hudson has the size and strength. He is a serviceable blocker and is improving.
OFFENSIVE LINEPac-12 rank: 8The skinny: In the search for cohesion, UW found its five starters almost immediately during fall camp and never deviated from those five and did position switching. Senior Senio Kelemete is the anchor of the line and has transformed himself into a top level tackle. But it’s sophomore left guard Colin Porter, who has turned heads. He’s easily the most physical player of the group looking to punish people and put them on their backs.Backups: The Huskies can ill afford to have center Drew Schaefer get hurt. Porter struggled sliding over to center with the second team and freshman Mike Criste isn’t ready. They do have some experience in seniors Nick Wood and Skylar Fancher if an injury does occur.
-Ryan Divish and Todd Milles, staff writers