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Washington Huskies come very close to knocking off Stanford again

Washington seems very close to reaching elite level once again. We chat with Jack Follman and Lars Hanson about all things Huskies.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington at times looked like the equal of Stanford.  Do you think Washington has finally reached the level of an elite Pac-12 team?

Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: I would say we won't know for one more week. I think last year, many fell into the trap of thinking the Huskies had finally arrived after they beat Stanford only to be brought right back to earth by a blowout loss to Oregon. If the Huskies can truly compete with Oregon this week, as in the game is still legitimately in question in the final minutes, then I think they will have arrived at the elite level, or at least as the third or fourth best team in the conference that can truly challenge the best in the country consistently. 

Lars Hanson, Real Dawg: Washington, in my opinion, looked the better of Stanford outside of special teams. Keith Price was a surgeon in the pocket and Stanford's offense couldn't move on Washington savor three or four big plays. The Huskies definitely proved to their Pac-12 opponents and the nation that they are a top 25 team.

If Washington finishes with a nine to eleven win team, how deep is the concern that Steve Sarkisian and Justin Wilcox could both become hot coaching prospects for big jobs in college and the NFL after the turnaround job they've done at Washington this year?

Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: It would start to be a legitimate worry. With his personality, professionalism and youth, I think Sark will become a hot candidate whenever he does reach that 10-win pinnacle. With the way Wilcox has transformed the once laughable Husky defense, I think he already is a hot candidate that I fear the Huskies won't be able to hang onto much longer and I think that concern will only grow if they have a 10-win season and the defense keeps performing.

Lars Hanson, Real Dawg: Sarkisian isn't going anywhere, that's already known. He just got a renovated stadium and new facilities along with an incredibly talented team so I can't see him giving that up. Justin Wilcox will be a name to watch for but I believe Wilcox will become a Kirby Smart-esq coordinator where he gets a substantial raise to remain just the defensive coordinator. No doubt Wilcox will get some looks but I believe he will stay at Washington.

Which Huskies are making the biggest difference on the each side of the ball between this year and last?

Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: On offense it's Keith Price. He was a liability for much of last season, and now he is the driving force of the offense. A lot of that has to do with how much better the offensive line has protected him as a unit though with the health of Colin Tanigawa and Ben Riva, and the emergence of fantastic secondary receivers in Kevin Smith and Jaydon Mickens. On defense, Marcus Peters is picking up right where Desmond Trufant left off as an All-Pac-12 level cornerback and a healthy Hau'oli Kikaha has really helped the pass-rush. Every single linebacker has improved too, with Shaq Thompson specifically turning into a star. You can't forget about Sean Parker at safety either, as he finally looks like the All-Pac-12 level guy people have hoped he could be.

Lars Hanson, Real Dawg: John Ross, given that he wasn't here at all last year being a true freshman, is making a huge difference on offense. However the Huskies that are making the biggest difference on offense are the entire offensive line. The protection this season is night-and-day compared to last season. Defensively, Marcus Peters has taken that next step to filling the void left by Desmond Trufant. Linebacker Travis Feeney is another player who has started to improve this season. Undoubtedly Sophomore linebacker Shaq Thompson will be the leader in that "growth" category as he continues to dominate with each passing game.