As college football begins its playoff structure this year, many are advocating for tougher non-conference schedules.
Washington, however, opens its 2014 season with four very winnable games before opening Pac-12 play. Husky fans may want a big-name opponent from the SEC or Big 12 on UW's schedule, but they will have to wait.
With a new coaching staff under Chris Petersen, several high-profile players from 2013 leaving for the NFL, and no starting quarterback established, it begs the question: is a soft non-conference schedule such a bad thing for these Dawgs?
Opening at Hawaii and then hosting Eastern Washington, Illinois, and Georgia State at Husky Stadium, Washington will have four chances to iron out the early-season kinks. Chris Petersen and his staff will have a great opportunity to install their new system against lesser competition, perhaps allowing the coaches to fine tune areas like special teams and the no-huddle offense.
Another advantage to this schedule is that it should help sort out the quarterback quandary facing UW early in the season. While sophomore Cyler Miles serves his one-game suspension in the season opener, Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams should both see action if the Huskies can dominate Hawaii. Four beatable opponents may give coach Chris Petersen the chance to play all three quarterbacks in many game situations, hopefully allowing for a true starter to emerge.
In fact, large in-game leads could give many of the new Huskies invaluable game experience before conference play. With a depleted secondary and several new faces at safety and cornerback, the opening four games should help solidify the back end of Washington's defense. Also, expect the depth chart to be tweaked between August 30th and September 27th, when Washington faces Stanford.
Sure, many Husky fans would love to see Auburn play at Husky Stadium this season, but would these Dawgs truly benefit from such a test in the opening weeks?
Being 4-0 and full of confidence before hosting Stanford on September 27th may be what every Husky coach, player, and fan truly prefers.