Over the next few weeks, the Pac-12 writers will be taking part in a debate series called “Buy/sell” in which two writers take opposing sides on a statement about the current status or future happenings of Pac-12 football.
Today, Kyle Bonagura and Chantel Jennings discuss the future of the conference with the topic: Washington is the Pac-12 team built best for the future.
I absolutely buy that. Let’s start at the top -- I don’t see Chris Petersen leaving Washington anytime soon. He’s digging his heels into that Seattle territory and I think he’ll be there for a while. He’s certainly planning for two or three years down the road at all times and I think he likes what he sees with the Huskies.
Offensively, you’ve got all the pieces. In a few years, you’ll have a quarterback, running back and left tackle who have started from day one and are veterans on the field and in the locker room. Receivers such as Chico McClatcher, Isaiah Renfro and Brayden Lenius will have all sorts of chemistry with quarterback Jake Browning and that offensive line -- which had a true freshman and redshirt freshman starting at both tackle positions this year -- will be the sturdiest in the conference.
Defensively, I don’t know how you can bet against a squad that lost so much in 2014 and came back just as strong in 2015. At this point, I’d bet Petersen & Co. could field a stand-up defense using the five members of the Pac-12 blog, five starters on the Washington basketball team and Ross from "Friends". It’d be tough, but I think they could do it.
That group will have a veteran, uber-experienced secondary in the coming years and they’ll continue to plug in less-experienced players to get them more reps with the veterans as time goes on. In that front seven coaches like Elijah Qualls, Vita Vea, Jaylen Johnson, Keishawn Bierra, Victor Azeem and several others. Not to mention the 2016 recruiting class has several impressive skill position players and big bodies that the coaches can mold into playmakers. And, need I say that Petersen already has locked up an impressive 2017 cornerback and 2018 quarterback? Petersen has his ducks in a row, and he’s planning on using them to take down the Oregon Ducks.
This is a pretty easy sell. Not because anything Chantel said was inaccurate -- the Huskies really are positioned well for the future -- but because if the options are Washington and the field, I’ll take the field every time.
Let’s start with Stanford, where coach David Shaw is 54-14 in five seasons with three Pac-12 titles in the last four years and isn’t going anywhere. The Cardinal will break in a new starting quarterback next year, but presumed started Keller Chryst was among the nation’s most highly touted players in the Class of 2013 and should be a three-year starter. Like Andrew Luck, he’ll begin his career with a Heisman Trophy candidate at running back and be allowed to develop at whatever pace the coaching staff feels is appropriate. When Christian McCaffrey is gone, Chryst should be ready to lead a team made up of some of the best recruiting classes in Stanford history.
Then there’s Oregon, you know, the team that last lost to Washington in 2003, three seasons before Chris Petersen was named head coach at Boise State. The Ducks took an obvious step back this year, but let’s not forget they were two plays away from an 11-1 regular-season record. Washington may be trending up and Oregon in the other direction, but the Ducks still were two plays away from an 11-1 regular season, and with Brady Hoke in as coordinator, the defense is in capable hands. Washington eventually will beat Oregon, but the Ducks have earned the benefit of the doubt (not that there is any).
Now let’s turn our attention to the city of Los Angeles, where USC and UCLA continue to bring in impressive recruiting classes year after year. Would Chris Petersen trade his roster for UCLA’s or USC’s? Yes. Yes, he would. They’re both coming off of letdown seasons, but their long-term prospects remain very good. So do Washington’s, but this is still a team that nearly missed a bowl game. Let’s pump the brakes. There’s still a lot to prove.