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Brock Huard’s 5 storylines for UW Huskies in 2019

There's plenty of intrigue this offseason around Chris Petersen's UW Huskies. (AP)

Spring ball is underway for the the defending Pac-12 champions UW Huskies, and there are plenty of questions for a program that will enter 2019 without a few key starters.

710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard takes a look at five of those questions and storylines:

1. The quarterback competition

For the first time in four years, Washington will have a new starting quarterback under center. Just who that starter will be, though, be has yet to be determined. Competing for the role will be Georgia transfer Jacob Eason – a favorite for the role – sophomore Jake Haener, redshirt freshmen Colson Yankoff and Jacob Sirmon, and true freshman Dylan Morris.

“I don’t care about completion stats, percentages, any of that stuff,” Huard said of the competition. “If I was an analyst or consultant, I’d have eyes on one thing and one thing alone: Who elevates everyone around them? Who steps in the huddle, and everybody believes he’s a difference-maker?

“Is that Jacob Eason? It should be; he’s the national player of the year, he’s 6-foot-6, and he can throw it 80 yards. He should be the guy. But who’s the guy who consistently elevates everyone around him? He’s going to have a better offensive line, I think, than Jake Browning ever had, he’s going to have a deep running back room, every single receiver is back, and your go-to tight end is back. Every piece is there offensively. Who makes them better? That’s number one.”

2. Bush Hamdan in Year Two

A UW Huskies offense that has never quite been able to match the performance of its defense will now be without two major contributors in Browning and running back Myles Gaskin. As far as offensive identity is concerned, the unit could be starting from scratch. What kind of system will offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan run?

“You can’t be a pretender in everything and a master of nothing,” Huard said. “So what is going to be your system that you’re going to hang your hat on?”

3. How do they replace difference-makers in the front seven?

“Everybody will focus on all the NFL guys they’ve lost in the secondary,” Huard said. “But it’s not the secondary that is their concern. Instead, it’s their Vita Veas, their Greg Gaines, their Ben Burr-Kirvens. With what they like to do, it’s their big people within the front seven.”

4. Can Salvon Ahmed and Trey Adams play up to their talent?

The Huskies’ odds to win the conference will be boosted with strong seasons from two key players: senior offensive lineman Trey Adams and junior running back Salvon Ahmed.

“Trey Adams looked like a first-round pick a season ago before he had a significant back injury coming off of an ACL injury. Is that dude the best left tackle since Lincoln Kennedy? That’s his ceiling; that’s his potential. And Ahmed is the craziest athlete there — I mean, he’s like Chris Carson. He’s 225- or 230-pounds, jacked beyond belief, and ran a 4.33 at their Husky combine. Can those two play to their ceiling and can you develop them? Because if you do, you win the Pac-12 next year.”

5. Who will be the next game breakers and game wreckers for a program trying to take the most difficult and daunting step: from great to elite

“They’ve gone from good to great,” Huard. “They’ve gone from seven wins to 10 wins, being conference champions, and having the best defense going into the conference for the last five years. Now, how do you go from great to elite in college football? How do you do it? When I see Ohio State, and Clemson, and Alabama, they don’t have one Salvon Ahmed; they don’t have one game-changer. They have three or four guys that catch it, and can break a tackle and take it to the house. Those defensive ends from Clemson (can’t be stopped); Alabama has five dudes up front and you can’t block them. So, how do you get from great to elite? To me, that’s the fifth and always the biggest storyline for the Huskies.”