It's reloading time around the Pac-12. For some programs, the offseason challenge is more daunting than it is for others. Still, even Utah -- perhaps the league's most experienced team -- will be depending on multiple players to fill voids in 2015. So here's our team-by-team look at talent that will be called on to deliver key replacement production around the conference.
Next up: Washington. The Huskies may be the Pac-12's least experienced team, returning only 10 total starters from both sides of the ball.
A new offensive core
The numbers don't indicate that Washington was horrible offensively in 2014, but they don't suggest greatness either. To put it bluntly, the Huskies featured a mediocre attack last season, and its output must increase in 2015 if the team is going to successfully absorb substantial losses on the other side of the ball.
That improvement will have to come from a new-look unit. Quarterback Cyler Miles is gone, as are four of Washington's starting offensive linemen. Such losses immediately cast the replacement spotlight on running back Dwayne Washington, who emerged with a trio of 100-yard efforts to close the 2014 regular season. His 221-pound frame shouts workhorse potential, one that can provide an offensive backbone that the Huskies never really enjoyed last year.
Some tough running support could ease the transition for a fresh quarterback and offensive line. Either veteran Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels, or true freshman Jake Browning will earn the nod under center. The winner of that competition will hold his breath and hope for quick maturation in the protection ahead of him -- only guards Siosifa Tufunga and Dexter Charles have significant experience. Early effectiveness from presumed new tackles Jake Eldrenkamp and Coleman Shelton will be a prerequisite for Washington to have offensive success.
A ray of sunshine amid all this uncertainty: The Huskies return some firepower at receiver -- though John Ross was lost for the season -- so they can potentially feature some explosive capability, but only if they're able to figure things out up front.
A heavy loss of defensive star power
Danny Shelton, the Huskies' block-gobbling 340-pound anchor up front, is gone. So is edge rusher Hau'oli Kikaha, the nation's leader in sacks (19) and tackle for loss yardage (139). Supporting linemen Andrew and Evan Hudson have also left, while attrition among the linebacking corps is almost as severe: Washington said goodbye to All-American Shaq Thompson and tackle leader John Timu.
Our Ted Miller opined that "no team in the nation lost more from its front seven than the Huskies," and it's tough to argue with that claim. The sheer number of players to replace is daunting in its own right, but their pedigree makes the retooling effort that much more intimidating.
Elijah Qualls in the new nose tackle, while Joe Mathis will likely man one of the edge spots. Both played last year, so they figure to have the inside track toward starting positions ahead of a large crop that's expected to rotate along the line. Outside linebacker Travis Feeney is the one piece of real experience behind them, so he'll bring a much-needed veteran presence to the front seven. Cory Littleton, Keishawn Bierria and Scott Lawyer are the other replacements to watch at linebacker.
With so many shifts happening, it's wait-and-see time in Seattle. Only this much is certain: The secondary -- the defense's glaring spot of inexperience last season -- is now considered the unit's veteran strength. That's a remarkable role reversal.