Everyone knows that Tyrone Willingham is on the hot seat in 2008, but he enters the season with enough talent to put together a winning record and go to a bowl. In fact that has been the case for the past two years but his teams have not been able to finish games in the fourth quarter.
One reason for those collapses has been the lack of overall depth at key positions, and the inability to get the tough yards needed to keep drives going in clutch time. You need to pick up that 3rd and two if you are going to start winning close games. Washington was terrible at picking up those extra couple of yards to keep the chains moving, they need to get that figured out in 2008.
Most importantly Washington needs to learn how to finish, and expect victory. UW has had USC on the ropes the past two seasons, but the Trojans won those games because they knew how to reach down and finish.
If you take a realistic look at the schedule, and the strength of our opponents, you come away with the feeling that Washington has a realistic a shot at winning eight games this year if they can fill the holes in the DL, and develop skill players to compliment Jake Locker.
I feel confident that the Huskies will beat Stanford, WSU, but frankly the other six winnable games, BYU, UCLA, Cal, Arizona, Notre Dame, Oregon State are all swing games that could go either way. The victories are there if the young team performs.
Washington also needs to avoid starting the season 0-3 against three possible BCS bowl teams. An 0-3 start will be very tough for a team with a likely lame duck head coach to overcome from a psychological standpoint.
We really don't know much about the new Oregon QB, but the Ducks have owned us ever since Willingham has been here. Predicting a Husky victory on opening night in Autzen is a bit of a reach. Oregon however is breaking in a new QB, and Oregon is a different team without Dixon. I still have to pick the Ducks, but it will be close.
We have played USC tough over the years, and the Trojans are also uncertain at QB, but the Troy defense will be a wonder to watch in 2008. I don't think the Huskies upset them in the Coliseum.Oklahoma is a top five team this year loaded to the gills with talent and depth. The game is at home, but UO is in a different league at this point than UW. I have to go with the Sooners.I went to the ASU game last year in Tempe and while UW won the first half, ASU simply pounded UW in every way in the second half. Mark this one down as out coached, outclassed, and out played. We have them up here this year, but Erickson has too many tools at his disposal to probably lose this one.
@ Oregon (Loss)
@ Arizona (Swing with slight advantage to UA)
Oregon State (Swing with slight advantage to UW)
Notre Dame (Swing with slight advantage to UW)
@ USC (Loss)
Arizona State (Loss)
UCLA (Swing with advantage to UW)
@ WSU (Win )
@ California (Swing with advantage to CAL)
So breaking it all down I would say Washington can win eight games in 2008, but six of those games are of the swing variety. If you split on the swing that means five wins, and a new head coach in 2009. Realistically Ty needs to win at least seven games in 2008 to keep his job.