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August 6, 2012

Camp will start giving us answers

The Washington football team has a lot to be excited about heading into the 2012 campaign.

The Huskies return one of the nation's top quarterbacks, some impressive play makers on both sides of the ball, and there's hope that a new group of defensive assistants coaches can make a big impact.

Like every other program the Dawgs do face some questions heading into camp. Some of those questions won't be answered until the season begins and some may not be answered until later in the season.

We will start to get some answers once camp begins. And, football fans, camp begins today.

UDUBNation.com takes a look at some of the burning questions that will start to be answered when the Huskies begin preparation for the season opener against San Diego State.

1. How will the offensive line hold up?

It's tough to underestimate the importance of the offensive line. That's Football 101. No doubt, Keith Price is a remarkable play maker behind center. And yes, the Dawgs have some talented athletes that can make big plays when the ball is in their hands.

But how is the line going to protect Price? Will they open enough holes for Bishop Sankey and Jesse Callier?

We all know about Colin Porter, Colin Tanigawa, Erik Kohler, and their injury issues.

What was once promising to be a very impressive offensive line is now a unit that's a big question mark. Steve Sarkisian believes Washington has the ability to put five quality players on the field but the tackle spots are questionable at best right now. Much of an offensive line's success is determined by how well five guys can mesh, work together and stay healthy.

We all know the defense has some issues to improve on from last year. But the offense is expecting to score a lot of points. How the line performs will tell us a lot about how this team fares.

2. The defense ... where to begin?

We could ask a dozen questions about the defense. How do the linebackers look? Will the players adapt well to the new coaches? How will they react to adversity after being embarrassed last year? Will the multiple 4-3, 3-4 look be successful or will the unit lack for an identity?

Where to begin?

We'll start to get some answers very soon. The Dawgs held just one opponent under 21 points last season -- Utah. They surrendered more than 42 points per game over the last seven.

We believe Washington had much better defensive talent last year than the points and yards allowed columns indicated. We believe the defense has the talent to be an upper-echelon Pac-12 unit this year and one of the most improved in the nation. But after last year can we really predict it yet?

3. How do you replace Chris Polk?

Sarkisian alluded to this at Pac-12 Football Media Day. How do you replace a guy that accounted for more than 1,800 offensive yards and 16 touchdowns?

There are a couple of answers. First, expect the Huskies to rely more on Price. The Dawgs aired it out just more than 400 times last year, or nearly 31 times per game. We wouldn't be surprised to see that closer to 35 times a game this fall.

Second, camp will begin with an intriguing position battle between Sankey and Callier. Each provides something the other doesn't and we could see a by-committee approach at first, but generally that by-committee gives way to a starter/back-up system later in the year.


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