USC Football Schedule Preview 2015: Scouting Washington


Steve Sarkisian faces his old team for the first time as the Trojan head coach when USC football takes on Washington to start October.

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Chris Petersen’s Huskies were 8-6 in his first year on the job in the Pac-12, but went winless against the six teams on the schedule with winning records.

Here’s an early look at USC’s fifth opponent of the year:


Quarterback. Quarterback. Quarterback.

That’s been the big question for the Huskies this spring as they get ready for the 2015 slate.

Cyler Miles took a voluntary leave of absence earlier this year and does not seem to figure into Washington’s plans, leaving Jeff Lindquist, K.J Carta-Samuels and early enrollee Jake Browning to vie for the starting job.

Impressions from spring camp suggest that Browning is likely out of the running. That means the Trojans are likely to face either Lindquist, a junior who started one game unimpressively for the Huskies last season, or Carta-Samuels, who ran the scout team while redshirting during his freshman year in 2014. Both are pro-style QBs, though Lindquist has served as a wildcat option with power-based running ability.

Whoever takes over at quarterback, the Huskies will still base their offense around a strong rushing attack.

Nov 15, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies running back Dwayne Washington (12) runs the ball for a touchdown during the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Though they lose two rushing options in Miles and Shaq Thompson, Washington returns their top two runners from last year — Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman. Both featured at different points last season and could form a one-two punch going forward.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, there is work to do on the offensive line if the running backs are going to have a chance to do damage in 2015. With three departing starters, there are certainly gaps to fill.

Jaydon Mickens returns as a playmaker in the receiving corps, along with the top four pass catchers for the Huskies last season. Still, with the Pac-12’s second worst passing offense last year, Petersen will be looking for greater production from the group as a whole.


Washington had three players picked in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

On the plus side, that’s a great recruiting tool for Petersen and company. On the negative side, they are now looking to replace three first-round caliber players on defense and seven total starters.

The Huskies only gave up 24.8 points a game last year, but it will be incredibly difficult to replicate those numbers with so much turnover.

In the secondary, they at least return Budda Baker, who was third on the team in tackles as a freshman. Kevin King and Sidney Jones also will be around to help out the secondary.

The real trouble is in the front seven, where linebacker Travis Feeney is the lone returning starter.

Washington’s 52 sacks last season was second in the nation, but just eight of those sacks can be attributed to currently available Huskies.

Special Teams:

Cameron Van Winkle had the best field goal percentage in the Pac-12 last year so his return is a boon. In fact, Washington’s special teams unit differs from the offense and defense in returning nearly everyone of note.

Punter Korey Durkee averaged 42 yards on his punts last year.

In the return game, Dante Pettis ran a punt for a touchdown as a freshman while averaging 10.29 yards on returns. Junior receiver John Ross took back two kick offs for scores and enters the new season with a solid 24.68 average on his returns.

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Threat Level: Medium

The Trojans get Washington at the Coliseum, which should give them a leg up.

However, there’s no getting around the storylines which make this game all the more intriguing.

Will Sarkisian’s former players be extra hyped to try to beat him? Will Chris Petersen be extra invested in making a statement to the university which rejected him in favor of Sarkisian?

While USC looks stronger than Washington on paper, the game is sandwiched between a difficult game versus Arizona State and a rivalry game with Notre Dame.