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Better Know a 2017 Opponent: Washington

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Here come the bad times.

NCAA Football: Washington Spring Game Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Hey gang. Sorry you haven’t seen these for a few weeks. I was stuck in the San Bernardino Mountains with spotty-at-best internet for a few weeks. But I am committed to finishing this series before the season starts, so you’ll probably see some mid-week entries before kickoff on September 3.

That said, this entry is going to be shorter because oh boy is this going to be an asskicking.

LAST YEAR

Last year’s Huskies became the second PAC 12 team after Oregon to make the College Football Playoffs, which is not exactly what everyone expected, but in hindsight makes complete sense. Chris Petersen is a very good coach who was already taking less-talented Boise State teams to major bowl games; it was only a matter of time till he’d do the same in Seattle. And yes, I am absolutely going to do another alternate reality side-trip in a second, but we should focus on the realities of last year first.

There isn’t much funny you can even say here; Washington was really, really good last year. And the majority of the players from that really, really good team are back this year. Good luck!

THE FANS

Washington fans are weird to me? Like, they’re not borderline psychopaths like Wazzu fans who are willingly choosing to live in Pullman for most of the year, and they’re not front-runners like Oregon fans who are suddenly wondering why they bought 15 different uniforms for the same losing team. Washington fans are more....well, normal’s not the right word, since we’re still talking about college football fans, but maybe the most stereotypically West Coast? Like, Washington was not very competitive in that College Football Playoffs Semifinal game, but you couldn’t really tell because Washington fans were all smiles and “aww shucks we’re just happy to be here” the entire time. Which, I guess is understandable since the Huskies weren’t expected to be in the Playoffs last year, but still. Can you imagine how USC fans would feel about getting boat-raced by Alabama?

Actually, wait that happened last year. Nevermind.

Still, Washington is again making this section hard by having a normal, good fanbase. Maybe I do actually hate these people.

PS sailgating is dumb and Washington fans should stop pretending it’s the pinnacle of class. Tennessee fans do it too, and you don’t want to share anything with Tennessee fans.

THE COACHES

Chris Petersen is in charge here, but more importantly, it’s time for another round of ALTERNATE REALITY COACHING CAROUSEL!

2011: Jim Mora becomes head coach of UCLA. The Bruins had previously tried courting Chris Petersen but couldn’t lure him to Los Angeles.

2013: After proving a base level of competency at the college level, Washington approaches Jim Mora about their vacant coaching position. Despite it being his alma mater and having lost his job with the Atlanta Falcons in part for calling the Huskies Head Coach job his “dream job”, Mora turns down the offer. Chris Petersen is instead hired.

But how does this play out if Mora actually takes the Washington job? LET’S TAKE A LOOK:

Under Jim Mora, Washington....probably looks similar to how they did under Steve Sarkesian. The first few losing seasons under Petersen probably don’t happen, if only because Mora decides to keep Washington similar to how they had been rather than reinventing the team in his image like Petersen did, but that also means the ceiling for those teams is much lower. Mora wouldn’t be on the hot seat yet, though.

Petersen probably remains at Boise State, though this past offseason presents Oregon the opportunity to bring him in. So let’s say Oregon now wins the Chris Petersen sweepstakes.

Dan Guerrero, in an attempt to keep momentum from the early Mora successes, promotes Noel Mazzone to head coach, and oh god I just threw up in my mouth I’m so sorry everyone this was a mistake QUICK GO TO THE NEXT SECTION!

THE PLAYERS

Hey look, it’s Jake Browning! If there’s a player that is absolutely maddening to me on Washington, it’s Jake Browning. Jake Browning is getting dark-horse Heisman praise this preseason for his performance as an above-average Alabama quarterback. By that, I mean he hands the ball off to very good running backs running behind a very good offensive line, and can throw the ball to the one very good wide receiver while not turning the ball over too much. Honestly, if Lane Kiffin hadn’t led Saban astray for a few years, you’d almost assume Browning would be behind center for the Crimson Tide right now. Nothing would make me happier than if Browning became the average quarterback he was destined to be without John Ross to bail him out.

A lot of the big-name defensive players from the secondary are gone, which is great for UCLA. Bad for UCLA: that shouldn’t matter all that much, since most of the defensive line and linebackers are back. You might as well learn Vita Vea and Greg Gaines names now, since they’ll be the two guys running past the turnstiles on the UCLA offensive line (featuring Outland Trophy watch-list member Scott Quessenberry oh god I need to throw up again).

FEARLESS PREDICTION

Josh Rosen skips the game to go sailgating. I do not blame him one bit.

Washington romps the Bruins. Jim Mora asks if that contract offer is still on the table.