Friday, August 31, 2007

Wow

Wow is all I can say after this one. Washington just dominated tonight! This is Syracuse, so you have to temper the enthusiasm a little bit, but last year we would have had problems with these guys. Tonight's win makes you think that these Huskies have the ability to do something this year against a very tough schedule.

Jake Locker is a real difference maker, and may have had the best debut of any RS frosh that I have ever seen. After getting over some jitters, and bad field position he just took over this game in a way we haven't seen since Tui was leading us. Locker didn't look at all like a RS, he looked like a polished veteran out there, and the scary thing is he is only going to get better. this kid is going to lead us back to a Rose Bowl before he leaves.

I thought our two frosh DB's played as well as any DB's we have had the last five years. they covered well, went for the ball, and had a tremendous debut. McDowell, and Williams were glued to the players they were covering. It wasn't like they were covering chopped liver either, the Syracuse receivers have some talent.

The defense came up with seven sacks, and did it without blitzing for the majority of the evening, that's huge.

How nice was it to see Paul Homer pick up some tough yards tonight? short yardage didn't seem to be a problem for the Dawg's as it has been in the past.

Louis Rankin was on, and the Huskies amassed 300 yards in rushing! Louis looked smooth, and only danced on one play. Brandon Johnson looks like a player, and scored his first TD tonight!

Our receivers were sure handed all night, and after a couple of early Jake overthrows pulled down everything in sight.

How about special teams? Perkins, and particularly Ballman were stellar all night, and Johnson did a nice job returning kickoffs. Anthony Russo did exactly what he was supposed to do, and that was catch the ball on punts and not turn it over. We still need work on coverages, and I didn't think guys flew around enough, but this was a decent start with a lot of positives to build on.

The 30-point margin of victory was the largest win of the Willingham era. The last time UW beat someone as bad was the 42-10 win over Oregon in 2003.

This was a great way to open the season, and get ready to face a much better club in husky Stadium next week in Boise State. The Bronco's looked good earlier this week, but that was Weber State. Expect a competitive game, but UW has the horses to wear these guys down and open the season 2-0.

Well that's it for tonight since it is midnight out here, but it was great, savor it Husky fans. That light at the end of the tunnel is no longer a freight train!

UW Syracuse Game Blog

We have approximately two hours and ten minutes before game time, just cracked my first beer and am listening to the Husky Honks doing the pre game show on KJR. You have to like the coverage that KJR puts together on game day. I feel very confident tonight, and after studying this one backwards and forwards don't see how UW can lose unless they turn the ball over repeatedly.

Come back during the game as I will be updating summaries of the action at the end of each quarter. Also tune into the Husky Chat Room at Dawgman.com. All the usual characters will be there since this is a road game.

First Quarter

Syracuse gets a nice return on a decent kickoff by UW. The Oreange march down the field and settle for a FG. The Orange aren't going to be able to run tonight, and they are going to be passing out of the gun and passing it wide for a couple yards at a shot. The Huskies look a little tight, and a little slow. Rayford had a couple of good plays, they can't block him.

3-0 Syracuse

Locker gets pounded on the first play. Rankin for zero on second down. Locker overthrows Reese, but he had a good shot. Three and out. Huskies continue with terrible punt coverage, but it is called back on a clip.

Syracuse starts from the 25. Sacked on the first play, false start on the second. A couple by Brinkley on the next. Quick kick by Syracuse on third down....wow!

UW starts from their own 12. Locker for 8, but a five yard procedure penalty. UW from the 7. Locker sacked at the 4. Reese for around 8 on a quick out. Locker overthrows Daniels who is wide open. Time to punt. 42 yard punt no return.

Syracuse starts from their own 42. Robinson to Smith for 7. Brinkley for a couple. robinson picks up the first on a keeper. Savannah was run over by a QB. Fumbled snap, and a loss of seven. Robinson for zero. Short pass, and Syracuse has to punt. Punt is a touchback.

UW starts at the twenty. Locker to Williams for 7. Rankin for a couple. Homer for 4, first down. Rankin for 15 on pitch that he reversed. That was all Rankin . Rankin on the swing for 6.

Second Quarter

UW starts off driving over midfield. Rankin for 15. Swing to Rankin for 6. Locker keeps it for 11 to the 13. Locker to Russo for 1. Rankin TD from 13 yards!!! 80 Yard Drive!

UW 7 Syracuse 3

Syracuse starts at the 23. Robinson for very little. Robinson to Williams for 12. Incomplete. Gain of nine on a quick pass. Cuse at midfield. Brinkly for the first on a short gain. Sack by Howell loss of 7. Delay of game, 2nd and 22. Incomplete screen pass. Complete for a good gain but well short, time to punt. Touch back.

Huskies start on the 20. Locker for 20. Rankin for a couple. Rankin to Reese for 12. Locker for 7. Incomplete ...3rd down and UW calls a time out. Rankin for the first down. Locker for five. Locker for 10. Rankin dances for a short gain. Locker to Russo to the 6 yard line. Locker to the 1 for a five yard gain. Homer stopped at the 1. Locker on the keepr for the TD. Two 80 yard drives in a row.

UW 14 Syracuse 3

Touch back on the kickoff, but a flag so they have to kick again. Syracuse takes it back to the 42, they start from there. Brinkley for 4. Robinson to Brinkley for 16. Robinson to Sellers for 4. Timeout Syracuse. Robinson goes for the endzone but McDowell has it covered well. Robinson to Moss for 13. Offsides. 1st and 15. Incomplete to Moss. Sack by Gunheim. Timeout with 0:32 to go. Incomplete in the end zone batted away by Nate Williams. Great play. Syracuse hits a 41 yarder.

UW 14 Syracuse 6

Homer take the pooch kick to the 34. Rankin for 8. The first half ends.

First Half Highlights

The Huskies have limited Syracuse to only 9 yards on the ground. Locker has seven carries for 67, and Rankin has 8 for 49. Robinson is 12/18 passing for 110, and Locker is 7/11 for 47. UW hasn't thrown a long one yet. Ballman and Perkins have doen a great job kicking the ball, no problems there. UW is definitely the better team, and they get the ball to start the third quarter. If UW can put together another drive like the last two, both went for 80 yards, this one will be over.

I have the feeling UW is just warming up, and we could see a lot of points by UW in the second half. You have to like the way Locker looks, very poised. Rankin has been running hard all night. the frosh may get carries later, but not until this one is put away.

Defensively the Huskies have been fine, they have bent, but haven't broke. Syracuse has been aided by field position. If 'Cuse starts from the 20 they are in trouble becuase they have no balance.

Third Quarter

Johnson returns the kickoff to the 30. Locker to Reese for 10. Rankin for a long 3. Locker to Russo for 13. Rankin takes it to the house for a 47 yard TD!!!

UW 21 Syracuse 6

Syracuse return to the 25. Brinkly for a couple. Robinson is sacked by Rayford. Incomplete, time to punt. Russo fair catches at the 30.

Locker to Reese for a first down. Locker for 8. Rankin for 5 and the first down. Huskies run the reverse for a big one. Locker dances into the end zone for the TD.

UW 28 Syracuse 6

Syracuse picks up 28 after we have a break for baseball....I hate ESPN. Robinson for nothing. SACK BY RAYFORD!!! First down 11 yard pass completion. Ty decides to challenge the play. The play stands. Holding. The Husky pass rush is killing them now. Another Sack. Incomplete. 3rd and 24 now. Shovel pass for nothing. Screw ESPN they are breaking again for the perfect game. 4th and 20 time to punt.

Rankin for 3. Russo for 3. Lewis for 13. Rankin stacked for a loss. Penalty. The no hit game is now over, and he walked a guy, and they got a hit....back to the action. 3rd and 24. Locker to Russo for 30 and the first down. Russo 5/49. Rankin for 9. Incomplete in the endzone on the throw away. Homer for a couple and the first down. Rankin takes it to the house again from 21!!!

UW 35 Syracuse 6

Fourth Quarter

Syracuse starts at the 30. They pick up nine on a quick pass. Robinson completes another for 5. 'Cuse calls a timeout after sensing a blitz. 4th down and Syracuse punts. Russo fair catches. ESPN does a terrible job paying attention to the game.

UW takes over at the 12. Bonnell takes over. Shaw for a couple. Williams grabs a catch for one or two. Incomplete. 3 and out, and time to punt. Ballman hits a 52 yarder. i am impressed with him tonight.

Syracuse starts at the 44. Flag moves them to the 49. Smith for a five. Smith for zero. Sack by Gunheim. Cuse picks up a 1st down. Smith for a couple. Flag on Syracuse. Snith for a couple. Swing to Smith for a few more. Incomplete in the end zone. Flags down, poor pass interference call, a little home cooking. Syracuse at the 10. Flags again, false start. Incomplete again. Sack by Gunheim. Nice spin move. Draw to Smith.....4th and goal. TD Syracuse. They miss the kick.

UW 35 Syracuse 12

Johnson takes it back to the 23. Shaw for a couple. Johnson for 11 and his first 1st down as a Husky. Johnson for a couple. Hasty for around five. Johnson for nada. Time to punt again. Huskies are keeping it pretty vanilla at this point and just running the clock. Ballman with another great punt inside the Syracuse 15.

Syracuse fumbles, Huskies recover!!!

Johnson takes it down to the seven. Johnson for a couple. Johnson to the goal line. Brandon Johnson take it in for the TD.

UW 42 Syracuse 12


UW / Syracuse Matchups

Quarterback - Even

Locker, and Robinson both have the ability to be playing on Sunday in the future. Locker has the edge with his running ability, but it is his first game so we will call this even. Robinson has the advantage of playing at home, plus a little mop up experience last season.

Running Backs - Washington

This isn't even close. The Huskies are bringing a stable, while Syracuse is down to one dinged up starter. I will be surprised if Syracuse can go over 80 yards rushing.

Wide Receivers - Even

Receiver is a strength for Syracuse, but Washington counters with an experienced veteran lineup. This one is really too close to call till they play.

Tight End - Washington

UW's TE by committee has more going for it than Syracuse who had to move a linebacker over to fill the position. Syracuse had a major blow when the starter quit right before camp.

Offensive Line - Washington

One word for Syracuse's offensive line...horrible. Washington's is unproven, but has some good size.

Defensive Line - Washington

Cuse's Jameel McNeal is a potential sack machine the UW has to look out for. Watch him line up against our LT all night long. UW is strong, veteran, and deep. UW has a very slight edge on paper. Keep your eye's on Gunheim, and Teo Nesheim who need to wreak havoc against a horrible Syracuse offensive line.

Linebacker - Washington

UW's unit is speedy, young, and talented. Syracuse doesn't match up at all. Rankin could have a hey day breaking tackles, and getting deep into the secondary.

Defensive Back - Syracuse

This is close, and Washington loses out simply to depth, and experience problems at cornerback. The Huskies will play two rookies on Friday. How they do will be a bellwether for this unit. Keep an eye on Vonzell Mc Dowell because Syracuse is going to throw at him all night. This will be a key matchup.

Special Teams - Syracuse

Syracuse has a good kicking game. UW's punter, kickoff guy, and placekicker are all unproven. Same can be said of our return unit until they play. Special teams have been weak under Willingham, and hopefully we see improvement on Friday. Anthony Russo will be the early season punt returner, but look for the "Flea" to grow into the role as the season progresses.

This Weeks Predictions

What a Labor Day weekend we have lined up to open the college football season. Games start Thursday and run all the way through Monday, so if you have been missing your favorite sport you will certainly get your fill this weekend.

I will be coming out with predictions for the week each Thursday during the season all the way through the bowl games.

PAC TEN CONTESTS

Washington at Syracuse

The odds makers favor UW by three over the Orange in the nationally televised opener of the college football season on ESPN. Both teams are breaking in highly touted QB's, and the game will be won by team that is able to dominate the line of scrimmage. I like UW by 10 points in this one. Call it just a hunch, but I think the Huskies are going to surprise people this year. I guess we all know by the end of the first quarter exactly what we have going here. I will have a game preview out on Friday Morning for this one which will illustrate what I think we should look for from both teams.

Utah at Oregon State

OSU is favored by 6 1/2 over the Utes and as we know anything can happen when you take on those boys from Salt Lake City. Sammie Stroughter will probably sit this one out since he just returned to practice. Riley isn't really happy with him at this point, but he has to be tempted to use his All American play maker.

UCLA at Stanford

UCLA is favored by 17 over Stanford and I would bet that one because UCLA should be pretty good, and Stanford is just awful. I like Harbaugh, but he is in year one of a five year rebuilding plan. UCLA should play itself into BCS consideration with the talent they have stockpiled on hand, if not they could be looking for a new coach. Rick Neuheisel will be watching this one with interest.

Houston at Oregon

Oregon by 17, and Houston is already down to their 4th string QB. This should be a relatively easy game for the Ducks and be considered just a warm up.

Washington State at Wisconsin

Opening up in Madison will be no picnic for the Cougars who are 14 point underdogs. Wisconsin has however had a habit of under performing early in the season. Alex Brink however needs to have the game of his life for the Cougars to compete. Wisconsin is physically superior at just about every position, so I have to take the Badgers.

Arizona at BYU

Arizona is a 4 point favorite on the road in this one, but I am going with the pride of Mormon country. I think the new UA offense will sputter as much as the old one. I am not a big Stoops fan even though he has been increasing the talent on board every year. this game will be a good barometer if they have made any progress on the offensive side.

Tennessee at California

Cal is a 6 point dog at home, but I think this is the year the Bears open with a big victory and chase USC for the conference championship. Cal has waited a year for this game to avenge the loss last season in Knoxville. Tedford will not be denied. The oddsmakers are looking at last years contest in Knoxville rather than this years game which is typical early in the year.

Idaho at USC

It would be a lot more competitive if USC favored by 46 was playing it's third team. This is going to be no more than a scrimmage. Look for USC to be playing it's second team early in the first half or it will be really ugly. USC is likely the most talented team in the country, they have a quarterback who should have a huge season and they have few weaknesses.

San Jose State at Arizona State

The Devils are favored by 14 1/2 and I say you take SJS. Tomey returns to the desert, and the wheels aren't going to be on for awhile at ASU. The Devils will win, but it is going to be close. Tomey has really done a great job turning around, and literally saving the Spartan program. This is a game that Erickson could lose.

NATIONAL GAMES

Marshall at Miami

Miami is favored by 18, but Marshall is always tough, and the Hurricanes are regrouping. Look for a closer game with Miami coming out on top. I hate Miami by the way, and any loss they come up with looks good to me. That being said there is a huge chasm of talent dividing these two programs.

Colorado St and Colorado

They play this one to start the season and both teams are pretty close this year with the Buff's coming in as 3 point favorite. Hawkins needs to win this one after last years disastrous first season. I pick the Buff's and it will be close, but wouldn't be surprised to see State kick them in the rear.

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame

We hate the Irish right? Georgia Tech should have won last year, right? We all want to see Charlie open 0-1, right? ND is favored by three at home, and that home field advantage should be enough for the win. Go Rambling Wreck!

Missouri at Illinois

Not a couple of power programs, but two programs on the rise with Mizzou favored by four. Pinkel has been treading water for awhile, and he needs this one. I am going with Mizzou, but Illinois is a program on the rise that just brought in one heck of a recruiting class.

Oklahoma St at Georgia

The Bulldogs are favored by six at home, and while Okie State is solid they aren't going to come out with a win in Athens.

Kansas State at Auburn

Auburn is favored by 13, and K-State hasn't been a factor since the coaching change. This one is easy....Auburn.

Florida State at Clemson

Papa Bowden is a 3 1/2 point favorite on the road, and I don't agree, I have to go with Clemson. This could be the start of the last year of Bobby which is fine because I am rooting for Paterno, and his new hip to end up with the all time win total.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Washington vs Syracuse Preview

Washington opens up the season on the road against what has become the doormat of the Big East, the Syracuse Orange. Syracuse like Washington is in year three of a rebuilding program under a new coach, and will also be an improved team this year. How improved is the question that will be answered on Friday night.

The first game of the season for two young team's with new quarterbacks is pretty hard to predict. It is even harder to predict when the media has had little access to practice during the Spring, and Fall. You have to go with your gut this time of the year, and hopefully if you are a Husky fan I will be right in my assumptions.

When Syracuse has the Ball

Look for Syracuse to try to air it out against Washington, and overwhelm it's undermanned secondary. Vonzell McDowell is going to be a very busy man on Friday as Syracuse QB Andrew Robinson tests him early. Byron Davenport isn't going to make the trip, so young Vonzell is going to be out there all night. The Orange likes to run a West Coast style offense, and while it is nothing the Huskies haven't seen before, look for them to try to take advantage of the legendary Baer cushion. That means a lot of routes with 4-5 wide receivers trying to play possession football. Look for Syracuse to run plenty of routes 12 yards, or less. Andrew Robinson can throw it, and wide receivers Taj Smith, Lavar Lobdel, and Mike Williams can catch it, and go.

The Syracuse running game is basically crippled right now. The knee of starting Syracuse running back Curtis Brinkley is still an issue. Listed backups Paul Chiara (59 yards on 17 carries last season) and Jeremy Sellers, a senior who has no carries the past two seasons, don't appear dangerous at all. What this means is Syracuse is going to have to pass quite a bit to stay in the game. Tight End is another black hole for the Orange who had to move over Mike Owen from defense to fill the void.

Washington's veteran defensive line needs to take the heat off the defensive backfield. UW's speedy LB's are going to need to help cover those intermediate routes. I think we will see Syracuse put the ball in the air 40 or more times on Friday night. The Orange are breaking in a rookie QB who is starting his first game, forcing him to make mistakes, and converting those mistakes into points will be the formula for success. Syracuse doesn't have a great offensive line, and that should allow UW to get to Robinson all night.

When Washington has the Ball

Washington is going to look a lot like West Virginia did last year from a play calling perspective. UW is going to try to control the game on the ground ,and not put the outcome completely on Montlake Jake's shoulders. Lockers strong point at this time is running the football, and look for him to net 10-15 carries in the opener. The option/pitch in some form will be back at UW this year, and the Huskies plan to give Orange defense fits with their mobile quarterback. Syracuse has a very active front four, but that can be negated by a mobile QB.

The Husky receivers are a veteran group, and look for them to go over the middle a lot more on Friday than they have in previous seasons with Stanback at the helm. Syracuse's LB's are very vulnerable, and UW will try to avert the strong Syracuse pass rush by using the TE's, and FB's a lot more in this game. Don't forget the long ball, UW is going to use it early to help stretch the field.

TB Louis Rankin is going to carry most of the rushing load on Friday. He is capable of knocking off a couple long gainers in every game he plays. The key of course will be the blocking ahead of him. Look for UW to run the option with success and keep the Syracuse defense on their toes. The backup is undetermined at this time, but watch for the debut of at least Johnson, and Shaw, along with Hasty. The Fullbacks are going to be a big factor. We have two guys that can run, clock, and catch. UW is going to unveil this portion of the offense and Friday, and if it clicks it will be a big plus.

Last year, the Orange allowed 399 yards and 24.6 points per game so Washington should be able to move the ball all night on these guys, the question is can they convert those yards into points.

Intangibles

Syracuse's special teams are more stable, while Washington's are unproven coming into the year. UW is counting on Brandon Johnson to give them a boost returning the ball on kickoff's, while veteran Anthony Russo will handle the punts. There is a lot of uncertainty concerning kicking as UW replaces both of last years specialists. The spotlight will be on Ballman, and Perkins to see if they are able to handle the job.

Syracuse is going to be able to put together a pass rush, how well Locker handles it will determine the outcome of the game. Even though Syracuse isn't a great team, they like all teams have their strength's, so the UW offensive line is going to be tested. Syracuse DE Jameel McClain, who had 69 tackles (9½ sacks) last season. UW needs to find a way to keep him away from Jake.

Turnovers can always be a huge factor in any game. UW needs to force them, and not give them up. UW's defense has a goal to more than double it's turnovers this season, and it all starts on Friday night.

The Huskies will have just five players listed as cornerbacks available for the Syracuse game, Starters Roy Lewis and Vonzell McDowell Jr., backups Matt Mosley and Desmond Davis, and Marquis Persley. Persley was a surprise addition after Byron Davenport wasn't able to make the trip because of his hamstring. If Washington suffers some more injuries at CB during the game it is going to get real interesting. Willingham earlier this week said Persley wasn't far enough along to be ready, so expect him to be available only in emergency.

The Carrier Dome is going to be loud, hot, and poorly lit. The Orange are used to it, while Washington is going to have to make some adjustments. Locker has experience in the Tacoma Dome, but the Carrier Dome with it's inflatable roof is a whole different animal.

Why Washington Will Win

I think Washington should beat Syracuse if we get enough pressure on Andrew Robinson. The table is set, UW doesn't really have to worry about defending a running game, and whatever they do muster on the ground, the Huskies should shut down with ease.

The key to the game is forcing Robinson to throw some picks, and complete less than 50% of his passes. Gunheim, Stevens, Rayford, and Teo Nesheim should be able to get to the QB. Sacks are going to be a big factor in this one. Rattle the young QB early, and put him on his backside.

Offensively UW needs to take care of the ball, and spread the workload among the skill players. They need to eliminate mistakes, take what Syracuse gives you on the ground, and control the time of possession. Running the ball and creating balance on offense is what Washington needs to do to win this one. Locker is surrounded by veterans, no reason that he has to do everything himself.

Washington is going to win this one because of offensive balance. They are going to be able to keep Syracuse off balance all night. Syracuse on the other hand won't have balance on offense. They have to pass to move the ball, and the more you put it in the air, the more the defense can come at you. I think our speed at linebacker will be the key to stopping the short passing game.

UW's secondary is going to be tested, they are going to give up some yards, but on paper Washington just has a lot more tools than Syracuse on both sides of the ball.

Why Syracuse Will Win

The Orange can pull off the mild upset if they are able to get some balance on offense. If Robinson can keep the Huskies off balance, complete 60% of his passes, and if they can get enough of a running game going to keep UW honest, they have a good chance in this one.

The Syracuse defense will have to step up, and shut down the Washington running game which would put the game on Jake Locker's young shoulders. Young QB's are prone to make mistakes, and turnovers can turn things around pretty quickly for the underdog. If you take away Washington's balance you put them in peril.

Syracuse seems to have an advantage in the special teams area because Washington is bringing in almost a completely new set of specialists. The history of special teams during the Willingham era has been spotty to say the least. In a close game missed field goals, PAT's, and shanked punts can turn victory into defeat pretty quickly.

What do I think?

I am predicting a 27-17 win for the men in Purple, and Gold. I think Washington has a lot more tools on offense than Syracuse does. I also think we have a better front seven on defense coupled with their poor offensive line which should give our DB's a break on Friday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Weekly Poll Question

Will Ty go with two starting QB's this year?

Yes 14% (3 votes)

No 81% (17 votes)

Other 5% (1 votes)

The pollster's overwhelmingly said no, while Ty has been letting it slip that people were going to be surprised how much Carl Bonnell plays this season. I voted yes, because I simply have been listening to the coach. Locker is the starter, but Bonnell is going to see some action this year if he doesn't prove ready. Bonnell has been noticeably crisper in practice, while Locker has been the better rusher. I think there is a place for both at times.

This weeks question-

Will Washington win the first two games of the season?

In my mind UW has to beat Syracuse and Boise or they are headed to a 0-5 start. If they win the first two then anything can happen. I think it is a reasonable expectation that they can beat Syracuse, and Boise.

Pac Ten Alley

Just two more days till kickoff, and we start with a little good news from Montlake. Ty say's that Byron Davenport will travel with the team and have a 6o% chance of playing on Friday. It looks like he has practiced on Monday, and Tuesday and participated in just about everything they could throw at him.

Willingham did essentially rule out DE Darrion Jones, and PK Erik Folk from making the trip.

LB Chris Stevens had his left thumb in a hard cast, though he seemed to be playing with it, going through the paces of early practice. Hard to know how serious that may or may not be.

Sixty-six to 74 players will travel, but one of those unlikely to make the trip is freshman Marquis Persley. Despite being one of the team's six healthy, and able cornerbacks, Willingham doesn't believe Persley is ready.

Nathan Ware of the PI Dawg Fan Blog has a few comments on the upcoming game of what he expects to see.

Yes, I expect Syracuse to pass more than they normally would. In general, they like to pass around 20 times per game. I would expect that number to be closer to 30 in this game. The Orange will attack Washington with QB Andrew Robinson, TB Curtis Brinkley, and WRs Taj Smith, Mike Williams, and Rice Moss. That's a solid, yet unspectacular, group of skill position players. Put it this way, this is least impressive QB-TB-WR combo Washington will face all season (maybe Stanford has less firepower, maybe).

Pac Ten Alley

Well it is that time again to take a walk down the coast to see what our Pac Ten neighbors, and out of conference opponents are up to.

Syracuse's #1 TB is banged up for the opener

Syracuse University starting tailback Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley is not 100 percent, though he insists he'll play against the University of Washington on Friday night at the Carrier Dome.
Brinkley made his comments Monday night during the final media opportunity with Syracuse players before the opener. "Am I 100 percent? We'll see on Friday," Brinkley said. "I'm going to be out there. I don't know how much. But I'll be out there, though."


The No. 23 Boise State Broncos open their season Thursday in Bronco Stadium against former Big Sky rival Weber State. The Broncos take the nation's longest winning streak, 13 games, into the game.

Less than a week before home opener against Weber State, Boise State head coach Chris Petersen finally — after nearly six months of waiting — picked a starting quarterback to lead the Top 25 Broncos out of the gate. His name: Taylor Tharp. Tharp is no newcomer to diehard Bronco fans. He’s entering his fifth and final season and has been around since the Ryan Dinwiddie regime that kickstarted the Boise State program into what it is today. But before Friday, his greatest claim to Bronco fame came against Idaho in 2005 when he replaced a struggling Jared Zabransky and sparked a 70-35 whipping of the Vandals.

The Ohio State Buckeyes don't necessarily slow down when they're breaking in a quarterback.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel says there is an evolution to every quarterback. In that case, Todd Boeckman is just now crawling out of the primordial ooze. Boeckman is expected to be named the starter today for the opener against Youngstown State on Saturday. The fourth-year junior has thrown 10 career passes, all in mop-up duty.

The UCLA Blog tells it like it is about Pete Carroll.

According to Bruins Nation, noted humanitarian and USC football coach Pete Carroll attended a service at the Agape Spiritual Center, one of these Oprah-friendly nouveau religious centers for those who like their religion without crushing guilt, obligation, or judgement. You call them New Age, we call them total pussies. (Lapsed Catholics say what!)

USC is really stretching the envelope bringing in Idaho to play in it's opener. Why, was Azusa Pacific busy?

Considering USC hasn't played Idaho since the start of the Great Depression – and the Vandals will be led by a first-year head coach – it might appear the Trojans lack information on this Saturday's opponent.

AZ Central brings us their 2007 review of Arizona State.

The arrival of Dennis Erickson brings a renewed sense of hope to the ASU fans. For many, what the program accomplishes in '07 is critical, but for others, it's where the program goes long-term that really stirs the emotions.

The Duck's open up with the Houston Cougars.

Dennis Dixon was the starter going into spring, was the starter coming out of spring, was the starter going into fall camp, is the starter coming out of fall camp," UO coach Mike Bellotti said Monday. "And he's performed very, very well. He's improved in some areas. So far his decision-making has been very, very good in the scrimmage situations."

BYU is flapping it's collective lips at Arizona.

There is nothing wrong with believing in yourself, and being up front, but on game week it usually is not smart. BYU has had several players talk openly about beating Arizona and taking on preseason All-American Antoine Cason in Saturday’s opening season game at BYU.
It makes for good copy. “I have been preparing for a guy like (Cason) for 2 1/2 years,” BYU receiver Austin Collie told the Salt Lake City Tribune. “Is it intimidating? Not really. I know I can play football. He is a great corner and a talented kid, but we are not threatened by him in any way, shape or form.”


My old Minnesota college football watching buddy Darrin Nelson likes what he see's at Stanford.

After former Stanford star Darrin Nelson, now a senior associate athletic director at the school, watched the team's scrimmage Thursday, he said of new coach Jim Harbaugh, "He's brought something that's really important - that's that the players respect him. It seems like they want to play for him. "I'm not quite sure Walt (Harris) had that. I think Walt had that initially. But as the seasons wore on, I think that kind of went away. I think Jim has that now. Whether he keeps that or not, it's up to him. But I think he has the kind of coaching style where he'll be OK."

The Beaver's open up with Utah.

"Now we've got Utah. They've been a top program now for a few years. They hit the national spot light. They present a number of problems with their offense, their versatility, personnel groups, their formations; their backup quarterbacks become the 12th man as a running back, an extra guy to run the football. I think we'll see the gamut of things and probably some new stuff from them as they've developed."

California opens up with Tennessee at home with revenge on their mind.

Cal figures to try to do some things differently against Tennessee this time around. One change that coach Jeff Tedford already has decided on is the role that Craig Stevens will play. "He won't be on kickoff returns," Tedford said. The Bears' chances of beating the Volunteers in their season opener last season took an immediate hit when Stevens suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff. Stevens is an All-Pac-10 tight end who could have provided a boost to Cal's stagnant running attack in that game. The Bears also open the 2007 season against Tennessee, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Cougar blog renews for another year of it's "We Hate Brink" program.

First of all, props to my good friend Brinkhater. His "senior thesis" on why he adopted the moniker should be on the short list of best post of the year. Very, very good view as to why he's "hated Brink at hello" (great line btw). That said, for all the hatred and disgust towards the young man, isn't it somewhat amazing that we're sitting here on the verge of a QB set to break every passing record in the WSU media guide?? How did we get here? Why does Brink have such a polarizing effect on WSU fans? It's not an easy answer is it?

EX UW kicker Michael Braunstein better watch out because Hawaii has a Lou Groza candidate. Wow, imagine the intrigue we missed at the end of the year with Mike taking his act to Ohio.

University of Hawai`i place-kicker Dan Kelly was named today to the Lou Groza Preseason Watch List as one of the premier college kickers in the country. Kelly, a 6-3 right-footed kicker, is 23-of-32 in field goals over his two year career. Last season, he booted 13-of-17, including 9-of-11 from 39 yards and in.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Syracuse...The Windy City?

Wind issues? Inside the Carrier Dome? You bet, says University of Washington head football coach Tyrone Willingham, who plans a personal inspection of the Syracuse University football stadium and its doorways to check for wind exploitation potential.

During a news conference Monday in Seattle, Willingham expressed his concerns about the Carrier Dome, site of Friday's college football opener between the Huskies and Orange.
Willingham, while not accusing Syracuse of air-pressure trickery, he all but did by announcing his plans to play gumshoe with a wind gauge.

"I'll be all over the weather report trying to figure out which door they open in the Dome to create the wind," Willingham said. "You laugh. No, when you play at some other places, you know that's important."

Willingham pointed out there are differences playing in dome stadiums, such as the structure of the building and the lighting. Then he went a step further.

"The wind is different," Willingham said. "Some people would say, what wind? Always in a dome, you open certain doors. Things happen. It's a totally different environment."

The reaction from Syracuse officials was measured, if not amused.

"I can assure you that we cannot create a wind in the Dome that can affect the flight of a football," said Pat Campbell, senior associate director of athletics who oversees the Carrier Dome. "I doubt we could create a light breeze strong enough to get a kite airborne."

"Tyrone is an outstanding coach and person," said director of athletics Daryl Gross. "I am sure his concerns refer to dome stadiums in general. Our dome stadium staff is the most hospitable in the country and display impeccable integrity."

Willingham may be smarting from his last trip to the Carrier Dome. The former head coach at Notre Dame was here in 2003. The Orange defeated the Irish 38-12. Willingham also spent three years (1992-94) as an assistant coach for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, a team that plays its home games in the Metrodome. That stadium has an air-supported roof, just like the Carrier Dome.

Willingham took one other little jab at the Dome and its lack of air conditioning. "The only weird thing is it's sponsored by Carrier and you think they'd figure that one out," Willingham said.

I have personally attended games at the Metro Dome in Minnepolis which is similar since it has an inflatable roof and Willingham does have a point. When the doors open there is a definite, and strange difference in the air pressure inside the building, in fact it can feel like you are getting sucked in, or sucked out depending on which door you pass by.

Another item to be concerned about is the lighting. Domed stadiums with inflatable roofs have terrible lighting because lights can't be mounted from the ceiling like they were in the old Kingdome. For what it is worth, the Kingdome was a much better place to watch a game than the Metro Dome was even though both leave much to be desired. since the Carrier Dome is similar to the Metro Dome lighting will also be a concern.

Dinosaurs

Yesterday was one of the busiest Monday's I can remember. It has been a long time since anyone got worked up about a walk on CB leaving the team. Let's hope today which just happens to be the last day of practice till the Huskies arrive in Syracuse is a little less surprising.

The number one thing to keep an eye on at practice today is the status of CB Byron Davenport. Word from Molly Yanity is that he looked considerably improved over the weekend warming up and sprinting. the coaches will make a determination today to decide whether he is recovered enough to make the trip to Syracuse. One thing is for sure, Vonzell McDowell will start, he will play the majority of the time, and Syracuse is going to throw at him and test him by fire on Friday night.

Bud Interviews the Dinosaur

Bud Withers of the Times has a nice interview with Pac Ten Commissioner Tom Hansen. Hansen is a Northwest native, and graduate of the University of Washington. Hansen is viewed by most as a dinosaur as he nears his 70th birthday. Under Hansen the Pac Ten has lost a lot of it's former lustre because he doesn't have the ability to think out of the box. Hansen for better or worse is the mouth piece of the presidents of the schools in the league. He is one of those guys who doesn't rock the boat, and takes direction from his superiors well. Innovation isn't in his vocabulary.

Hansen states in the article that he indeed is nearing retirement which would be a good thing for him personally and the conference. The Pac Ten needs a dynamic young leader to push the conference to new heights in the early part of the twenty first century. With Hansen all you get us all the reasons things can't be done any different way.

My candidate for Pac Ten Commissioner would be another man with Washington ties, current AD Todd Turner. Todd has the ability to think a bit out of the box, he has NCAA administrative experience, and he has been vocally critical of Hansen's leadership. While Todd isn't the most popular guy in Seattle from a football coach hiring perspective, he has stabilized the athletic department from fiscal and organizational standpoint, and has boldly moved forward with plans to modernize Husky Stadium in the face of overwhelming odds.

Hansen probably has a couple of more years left, so does Ty Willingham if he doesn't start winning this season and recruiting enough defensive backs. A Turner exit with upper mobility near the end of the Ty era at UW would make a lot of sense.

Whoever takes over from Turner, and Ty is going to have a lot easier road to hoe, but they are both going to have to be a lot more football oriented. How can a football coach not be football oriented? It all comes down to winning, promoting, soliciting donations, and selling tickets. Ty hasn't done any of those four things during the two years he has been at the helm.

Year three is a crossroads for Ty Willingham. He has the security of knowing that he will be here for five full years, but any talk of an extension will not happen till he starts winning games, and taking the Huskies back to New Years Day bowls.

Friday we get a good look at where he is in the process. UW needs to win the first two games of the season. If they start the season 0-2 the drums will start beating along the shores of Montlake because an 0-5 start will be very likely. If you can't beat Syracuse, and Boise, you are not going to beat Ohio State, UCLA, and USC.

The next regime at Washington will be football oriented by necessity, and it will have a tie to a purple and gold past. Jim Mora Jr if still available will be the front runner among the big booster set. As for athletic director look for someone more in the mold of a Mike Lude who knows how to include the boosters, and community in the process of building a winner. The Athletic Department under T/T has lacked that connection with the community. UW isn't going to go anywhere meaningful until that is fixed.

We are only at the start of the third year of the reign of Willingham, but he is a coach that could skip the hot seat and jump completely into the fire over the next six weeks.

Sports Projections Dot Com

Our good friend Nestor from the UCLA blog recommended me for a couple of different gigs over the Summer. One was to participate in Pac Ten predictions at Sports Projections.com

Here is the link for those projections from blogs, and websites up and down the coast. It was my first opportunity to participate, and it was fun to be able to do it. The site is interesting and has predictions for all Pro, and major college football teams.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nicol Retires Due to Injury

Cory Nicol told Bob Condotta of the Times that he has retired from football due to a reoccurence of the groin injury he originally suffered when he was at Orange Coast JC.

He said he made the decision that he could no longer play on Saturday and told Tyrone Willingham before practice. But he said it was a brief discussion and that he intends to have another meeting with the coach on Tuesday to more fully explain his decision. He said there is no plan to return to football, however.

Too bad for Nicol, and the Huskies, he plans to remain a student at UW, and will meet with Willingham later in the week. What it came down to was the pain was too much. Nicol had surgery for that injury, and he thinks it never properly healed.

Role for Bonnell?

Willingham keeps hinting that Carl Bonnell is going to have an expanded role this season despite being the backup to Jake Locker which of course was the poll question we asked this week. Once again he brought it up roday on his radio show.

Asked a question about Bonnell, Willingham said "there are some things Carl will do before the year is over that may surprise some people. We're eager to see what they both can do (Bonnell and Jake Locker) as coaches.''

Carl might end up being used to provide a changeup for opposing defenses. I guess we will find out starting on Friday night.

CB Cory Nicol walks out on the team

Bob Condotta of the Times is reporting some bad news.

A quick note to let you know that Tyrone Willingham announced today that walk-on cornerback Cory Nicol has quit the team. This could be a severe blow to the team's cornerback depth as he was contending for a starting role.

A quick look at the depth chart shows that this really is going to hurt Washington in the long, and short term. Roy Lewis, and Vonzell McDowell will be the starters, backing them up will be RS Matt Mosley, and true frosh Marquise Persley. Byron Davenport was penciled in as a starter in the pre season, but he has missed most of camp so far. Davenport looked better over the weekend, and expect him to play if physically able against Syracuse. Jordan Murchison is still in limbo due to legal problems. Walk on Desmond Davis will also be in the mix.

Nicol was penciled in for a lot of playing time, and a scholarship this year, so the move catches everyone by surprise. Obviously there is more to this story than him just giving up, so we will bring you the news on it as soon as it becomes available.

"It's terribly unfortunate,'' Roy Lewis said. "I felt Cory was happy and that he had a home here. He definitely came in and made some plays and proved that he could play. He was definitely in a spot to contribute to the team immediately. I don't know the reasoning behind it. Everything seemed really good, his morale seemed really good. I came to practice one day (Saturday) and he just wasn't there. We don't know the details of it, we just know he's no longer with us.''

KJR's Softy is on campus today doing a Kickoff Luncheon Show so expect him to talk to the coaches and get some more information on the situation if it is available.

EJ Savannah on today's Softy Show said that he had no idea why Nicol quit, and he personally tried to contact him after the fact, and was unsuccesful. "Real weird,'' he said. "Just like 'wow.' He was going to be playing and they were probably going to put him on scholarship and everything.''

Nate Williams said he is the backup to Roy Lewis in both the nickel and dime defenses, indicating that he could play a big role in pass defense this season, and likely more so with Nicol gone.

Williams, and McDowell are going to play huge roles with the team this year, and that could open the door for Persley, and Aieywa to see action earlier than expected. Remember UW isn't devoid of talent in the defensive backfield, what they lack is experienced depth, and that depth just may get wome experience pretty quickly this year.

Don't compare this situation to the one that Willingham faced the first year when he simply ran out of bodies when Handy, and Freeman failed to qualify after starting camp. The Huskies have young players to fall back on this time. We had a great recruiting class, and they are going to show their stripes early this year.

Molly Yanity of the PI has this quote from Willingham

"Always that late a stage in the process you are surprised," Willingham said. "The first thing you want to do is make sure that the young man is all right physically and mentally that everything is OK and there are no family issues involved ... he seems to be of sound state of mind."

The Monday Morning Wash

Ok guys, it is now game week, and a short game week at that. We have all made it through another long off season, and now we get to see exactly what type of team we are going to have this season on Friday night.

The Huskies will practice Monday, and Tuesday, then they fly to Syracuse mid day on Wednesday. Chances are good they will practice in shells the day before the game at the Carrier Dome to shake off the stiffness of a long plane ride.

Willingham has coached here before. He was trounced by the Orange in his last visit as head man at Notre Dame, so he should understand the venue, and what it takes to get his team ready to play there. On paper UW is a decided favorite, but at this point of the year anything can happen since we really haven't seen a lot from either team in practice. Expect both teams to be improved, and also expect a close contest as two untested QB's start their first games.

The weather shouldn't be a factor because it is expected to be less warm, and humid than normal for that time of the year in Syracuse. That is a big reason that they didn't crank up the heat in the Dempsey for a practice, or two. Humidity in the dome shouldn't be much of a factor. Crowd noise shouldn't either since 'Cuse expects a crowd of around 35,000 in the 50,000 seat stadium.

I really wanted to go to this game but my wife shut me down early on that one since it is our first wedding anniversary weekend. She just didn't think Syracuse was very romantic,(she felt the same way about Norman, Oklahoma for a honeymoon destination) and I do have to agree with her, but man I wish we were going to the game. Now if we were opening against Hawaii she would have been all in for that one. Her next plan was to take me to a local steak house to watch the game which I in return nixed. I told her I want to stay home on Friday, drink plenty of beer, and Scotch, eat something good, and watch the game on the 50" Plasma. I don't like a lot of distractions going on when I am watching the Dawgs.

Potential Problems UW could face with Syracuse

1. Road game in a hostile Dome environment - Syracuse plays well in the Carrier Dome, rarely are they out of the game, even against top rated teams. They even played Louisville close last year till the 4th quarter.

2. Syracuse will be using a lot of pass plays and four WR sets to move the ball because of their depth at WR, and lack of depth at RB - couple that with the lack of depth at DB for UW and it could be a positive for the Orange. You don't think they will pick on Vonzell McDowell do you? The key to shutting these guy's down is jumping all over their young QB, and forcing mistakes. Robinson by the way isn't just any young QB, the kid could be playing on Sundays before he is through. He compares well with a young Donovan McNabb.

3. Syracuse has a strong and experienced defensive line, and while the UW offensive line is big, they are also relatively new at guard, and the first game on the road vs a good defensive line could mean trouble up for UW. Syracuse has a couple of very good defensive ends that we need to find a way to neutralize. Syracuse's offensive line also has had it's issues and they face a veteran Husky defensive line. Games are always won in the trenches, and this contest will be no different.

4. Syracuse's kicking game and special teams are solid with the exception of at punter. UW is still trying to sort everything out which could give Syracuse an edge. One bright note for the Huskies has been the emergence of Brandon Johnson as a return threat. UW still hasn't decided who will punt, kick off, do PAT's, and kick field goals.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Syracuse....

According to the 2000 census, the city population was 147,306, and its metropolitan area had a population of 732,117. It is the county seat of Onondaga County and the economic and educational hub of Central New York, a region with over a million inhabitants.

The city sits on the edge of the Finger Lakes region, a major tourist destination in the west-central section of Upstate New York, are actually eleven in number, but only seven of the largest are commonly identified as such. The lakes resemble each other in shape, which collectively reminded early map-makers of the fingers of a hand.

Syracuse University was chartered in 1870 as a Methodist-Episcopal institution; no longer sectarian, it has grown from a few classrooms located in downtown Syracuse into a major research institution.

Syracuse University's sports teams are officially known as the Orange, although the former (until 2004) names of Orangemen and Orangewomen are still affectionately used. The school's mascot is Otto the Orange.

From 1907 to 1978, Archbold Stadium was the home of SU football. Archbold opened up with a bang when the Orange defeated Hobart 28-0. It went out in style 71 years later with an improbable victory over second-ranked Navy 20-17. In 1978, SU fans said good-bye forever to the historic stadium. Archbold was demolished to make way for the new on-campus facility, the Carrier Dome, which opened in 1980. The Carrier Dome is the largest dome college stadium in the country. Despite being named for the Carrier Corporation the stadium does not have an air conditioning system. It has a seating capacity of 50,000 for football.

Syracuse made its first bowl appearance in the 1953 Orange Bowl, followed by appearances in the 1957 Cotton Bowl and the 1959 Orange Bowl. The 1957 Cotton Bowl team featured Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown. During this era, Penn State emerged as Syracuse's principal rival, replacing Colgate University which had not kept up to compete at a national level.

In 1959, Syracuse enjoyed an undefeated regular season, following which it won the Cotton Bowl and was voted National Champion. The team featured sophomore running back Ernie Davis, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961, but died of leukemia before being able to play professionally.

Syracuse remained competitive through the 1960s with a series of All American running backs, including Floyd Little and Larry Csonka. The program began a gradual decline, though, in the 1970s. The construction of the Carrier Dome in 1980 began to turn the program around, as did the success of future NFL stars Joe Morris and Art Monk.

The program returned suddenly to national prominence in 1987 under coach Dick MacPherson with an undefeated 11-0 regular season record. The team featured Maxwell Award winning quarterback Don McPherson and fullback Daryl Johnston. The team missed an opportunity to play for the NCAA Division I-A national football championship, because both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Miami also finished undefeated that year and finished higher in the polls. Instead, the team faced Southeastern Conference champion Auburn University in the Sugar Bowl. The game ended in a tie when Auburn kicked a late field goal rather than trying for a game winning touchdown.

Over the next 14 seasons (1988-2001), the program enjoyed tremendous success under coach MacPherson and his successor Paul Pasqualoni, appearing in 11 bowl games (including 3 major bowls) and winning 9. The team also captured or shared 4 Big East football championships during this period.

On November 12, 2005, Syracuse University retired the uniform number 44, to honor Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, and the legacy of the number itself.

Syracuse like Washington has been down this decade, and it's athletic plant needs a huge infusion of money to stay competitive, but Coach Robinson seems to have them back on the right track. Washington is a big game for the Orange, and if they come away with a victory it will give the Orange program a huge shot in the arm to start the season.

Odds and Tight Ends

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier stood by troubled safety Emanuel Cook on Friday, saying his arrest on a gun charge -- which resulted in his suspension from the school, making him ineligible to play for the Gamecocks -- was a case of being "at the wrong place at the wrong time." "He's a good young man and obviously was at the wrong place at the wrong time,'' Spurrier said Friday. "You've got to choose your friends. Supposedly, the gun was not his (Cook's) but he was with a guy with a gun. You're guilty by association.''

Former USC running back Emmanuel Moody said Friday that he has narrowed his transfer choices to Florida and North Carolina. Moody, the second-leading rusher on USC last season, had also considered Texas and Oklahoma State.

Former Arizona State running back Loren Wade, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2005 slaying of another ex-Sun Devils football player, was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison. Wade, 23, faced 10 to 22 years under sentencing guidelines after being convicted June 7 by a Maricopa County Superior Court jury. He was charged in the death of Brandon Falkner, who was shot outside a nightclub in suburban Scottsdale on March 26, 2005.

If there is one guy who really rubs me the wrong way it is Charlie Weis. Notre Dame visits Husky Stadium in 2008, and we return the favor in 2009. Nothing would make me happier than to have Willingham, and the Huskies spank Fat Charlie twice in a row.

By now, you’ve probably heard a few hundred times how Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is "arrogant." Not just from judgmental sports columnists like me, mind you, but from actual Irish players ("He seemed a little arrogant," former defensive end Justin Tuck said following Weis’ first team meeting) and opposing coaches (“Weis is arrogant as hell," one such coach told The Sporting News last year).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Davenport Back?

According to Molly Yanity of the Seattle PI...

CB Byron Davenport was going full speed, back-pedaling and then exploding out of that into a sprint. He was really testing that hamstring and seemed to be passing.

That is a pretty good sign, but it is going to be tough for him to be ready for Syracuse with only a few days of practice. I am sure they are leaving the door open for him, but he needed to be ready last Thursday when they scrimmaged for him to have a decent shot. This still is good news because we are going to need this guy as soon as possible.

Said J.R. Hasty is day-to-day with what apparently is an ankle injury (he didn't detail what it was). Hasty is in heavy competition for the backup RB spot and Willingham said this injury could impact Hasty's chances of getting that job. "Everything as you get closer affects it,'' Willingham said.

Brandon Johnson has been getting plenty kudos from the coaching staff, as have the other frosh RB's, so Hasty is in a pretty tenuous position.

Don Ruiz of the Tribune spends Sunday talking about the new rule pushing kickoff's back to the 30 yard line.

When the Washington Huskies open their football season Friday at Syracuse, the kickoff will be launched from the 30-yard line, 5 yards back from previous seasons. Coaches expect the move to add up to something more. “I think it will probably be greater than 5 yards,” UW coach Tyrone Willingham said. “I’m not sure it will be 20, but I think there will be a difference because anytime you have more returns, the chances for big returns are greater. … There won’t be as many kicks into the end zone – and that’s why the change was made. Possibly speed the game up and make it more exciting.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald, and the Olympian chimes in with from his blog.

Apparently the back problem that has been bothering freshman kicker Erik Folk has come back. It looks like, for now anyway, that the kicking and punting duties will all fall to Jared Ballman and Ryan Perkins, though who does what is still up in the air.

The Huskies are taking the day off on Sunday, but I am sure they will be busy having meetings, and breaking down film on Syracuse even though they won't be hitting the field.

The team will have practices Monday (after the annual Kickoff Luncheon) and Tuesday before a midday flight to Syracuse Wednesday. The Huskies will most likely have a walk through and shirts and shorts practice on Thursday at the Carrier Dome to get used to their surroundings.

Red River Rivarly Heating Up

The rancor in the Red River Rivalry apparently doesn't die between football or basketball seasons. An Oklahoma City man has been charged with aggravated assault and battery, accused of causing extensive damage to another man's scrotum just because he wore a University of Texas shirt into a local bar.

I am thinking the Seattle City Council should start to be more wary of Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon, and anything from Oklahoma.

Sammie Stroughter

Look's like OSU's Sammie Stroughter has decided to return to the team just as Fall camp is wrapping up. Oregon State coach Mike Riley said Stroughter's full return to the team was still undetermined and that he was just "testing the water."

Sounds like someone didn't want to go through the grueling days of camp. Sammie wouldn't be the first college, or pro player to play this type of card. Riley of course will welcome his All American receiver back into the fold.

Syracuse LB's add Depth to RB position

Depth issues abound on the Syracuse University football team - tight end, linebacker and running back. Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson hopes the leaks are plugged. At least on the running back front, the move of Jeremy Sellers and Derrell Smith back from their brief trip to linebacker has stabilized the backfield.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bob Condotta on Closed Practices

Someone asked why myself and and others in the local media have been critical of Tyrone Willingham for his secrecy, yet it seems everyone at Notre Dame lauds Charlie Weis for being clever for not revealing the name of his starting QB.

Why?

Answer: Not sure if it's exactly as black-and-white as that. I don't read everything written about Notre Dame so I don't know for sure, but I'd be surprised if some of the media there haven't criticized some of Weis' policies in these areas.

But you also can't strictly compare these situations in any way. The more valid comparison here is Willingham with other UW coaches, and with the market in general. UW has always been a pretty open program --- even when past coaches closed practices, they usually kept them open during the spring and early part of fall camp, which is one of the biggest gripes of many of us who cover the team. There's no gameplanning going on then, nothing that could be revealed that's going to cost the team a game --- not that I really think it matters anyway, as I have alluded to several times here by pointing out that the most open program in the country right now may be USC. I've written on here before that while most of us would like everything open, the way it was for years, I can understand why coaches would want to close things down somewhat during games weeks. But what really doesn't seem to make as much sense is keeping us out of most of spring (there were a few more practices open this year) and fall, especially early on.

Whenever I write about this people mention Don James closing practice in 1989 after a dispute with media over what he wanted reported about an injury. That overlooks the fact that he had practices open for 15 years of his tenure. For much of his time at UW, James' home phone number was printed in the media guide and you could call him whenever you wanted. Practices were completely open during the Neuheisel era, and while Gilbertson closed some things down, spring and fall camp was open.

And unlike Notre Dame, UW is in a market place where there are three other pro teams, including a wildly popular NFL team that is about as open as could be.

UW Blogspot Opinion

Let me give my two cents...I think Ty Willingham hurts the UW program by not being more open with the local media. To me it is simply an ego move that hurts the program overall. Sure there are practices that need to be closed, but Ty has been been overly abrasive with the media since he got here.

Lorenzo Romar runs an equally high profile program, but understands the balance you need to maintain a succesful program in a major media market. I like Ty, but he really is hurting the program from a promotional standpoint. Last Thursday's debacle was just another in along line of media missteps.

Spotlight on the Freshmen

Safety Nate Williams

Only six more days till the Huskies open up against Syracuse and I feel pretty good about our early season prospects so far. We start off with John Boyle of the Everett Herald who writes a nice piece on Nate Williams, and other frosh that should make an impact this Fall.

Before the start of Washington's fall camp, freshman Nate Williams, who was recruited as a tailback, walked into Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham's office and decided he was ready for a change.Williams, a two-way star at Burien's Kennedy High School, was ready to give up the glory of touchdowns to play safety.

Look for Nate, if he stays healthy, to morph into a starter pretty quickly at Safety. No knock on Mesphin Forrester at all, but he may have to slide over to corner at one point in the season if depth gets shallow over there. Mesphin has been a jack of all trades the past couple of years in the defensive backfield. Even though Williams has less experience he has shown himself to be the superior athlete in the early going.

Corner Back Vonzell McDowell

Cornerback Byron Davenport is still battling a hamstring injury, as is receiver Cody Ellis. When asked about Davenport's chances of playing next week, defensive coordinator Kent Baer said that he didn't "see any way he's going to be in there."

You hate to start a frosh at CB in game one, but let me remind you that the last time we started a freshman corner back from Rainier Beach things turned out pretty well. Of course I am talking about the great Nate Robinson who pound for pound, and inch per inch was the greatest athlete ever to attend UW.

Vonzell of course isn't Nate, but he has impressed coaches enough in the early going that they envision him as a four year starter at the position. JD Williams says it may take about two games for him to adjust to the role, but that isn't too bad.

Davenport of course will be back, and the former Long Beach Poly athlete will have a big impact this season once his hamstring is better, but it is nice to see them have that type of confidence in Vonzell.

Tailback Brandon Johnson

"He's a way better inside runner than we thought," said offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. "He's pretty sturdy, but in high school he was one of those guys off tackle, outside, who outran everybody. But he runs the ball up in there hard for a smaller guy. He can hit the hole quick. He's got instant acceleration, he's very physical inside. He could eventually be that third and short guy, because he slams it in there like you're supposed to."

All four freshman RB's are probably going to play this year, but the guy that seems to have popped out of the pack at this point is Brandon Johnson who will return punts, and kickoffs for the Huskies this year. the most important thing he has showed the coaches so far is that he can hold onto the ball. Brandon hasn't fumbled once this season and has returned punts for TD's in scrimmages which is something Washington has lacked for quite some time. He is also pushing JR Hasty for the back up RB job. Blocking assignments are the key thing they are looking for in that position, all four of the frosh can run the ball.

Quarterback Ronnie Fouch

God help us if he has to take a snap this year because it means that Locker, and Bonnell are injured, but if he does get a shot this kid figures to do pretty well. Fouch has impressed since the moment he arrived on campus this past Spring. He has a high football IQ, and he picks things up pretty quickly. Fouch will be the starting QB one day, no doubt about it, but let's hope it is a few years in the future. The Husky QB position is in the best shape it has been in since the days of Lambo. The Dawg's figure to bring in 2-3 more in 2008, so we should be back to full strength by next Fall.

Tailback Curtis Shaw

Curtis has impressed the coaches with his ability to run the ball. Curtis could be the fastest guy on the team and he is the likely candidate to be paired with Johnson on kick off returns. Speed kills, and UW has lacked speed, look for Curtis to get some carries, and play quite a bit on special teams.

Tailback Willie Griffin

Willie reminds people of a bowling ball when he run the ball, the kid is pretty thick, and runs well on the inside. Willie is more than just a power back, he has the ability to break them long also. Willie is going to get some carries this year.

Tailback Brandon Yakaboski

This kid has been the surprise of camp, and even though he is out right now with a concussion the coaches feel they have a kid who runs strong, loves to hit people, and will be an instant terror on special teams. A friend of mine who went to practice says this kid just knocks the snot out of people. I'm not sure how bad the concussion is, but he should be playing on special teams against Syracuse if he is recovered.

Linebacker Mason Foster

Anyone who saw this kids film last year knew he was going to be a special player. The frosh from tiny Oceanside didn't make the radar of most Pac Ten teams, but Timm Lappano knew about him from when he was an assistant with the 49ers. Mason is going to be in the rotation this year at LB, and he is going to be another part of the infusion of speed, and hitting ability which should make our special teams more enjoyable to watch this season.

Talking about special teams, they haven't been a high point of Willingham's tenure, and they have taken a lot of heat about it. The key to special teams is always depth, and young talent which UW simply hasn't had enough of in recent years. The class of 2007, plus the 2006 redshirts are going to really improve this aspect of the team in 2007.

Kicker Erik Folk

Erik hasn't seen much action this camp because of lower back spasm's, but from what the coaches have seen he has a very strong leg, and once those issues are over he should assume the place kicking position over the next four years. Look for the Huskies to ease him in as the season goes on. He has a good shot of being the kickoff guy against Syracuse.

Possible Impacts

TE Chris Izbicki is most likely going to be redshirting this year because of all the depth ahead of him at the position. Nothing much has changed at TE, too many dropped balls in practice, and missed blocking assignments, still Chris hasn't shown enough to pull into the rotation. Blocking is the most important part of this position, and it is quite a bit to ask any frosh to come in immediately and have an impact.

Wide Receivers Anthony Boyles, and Devin Aguillar are still hoping to get passing test scores on September 15th which would allow them to join the team when school starts. Aguilar seems the closest at this point, but both have an excellent chance of getting in. Because of the late start neither is likely to play this season, and if they don't pass expect them just to keep testing and try to qualify for Winter Quarter. If they don't make it by then expect them both to take the JC route, but I am keeping my fingers crossed because word on the street is they have a pretty good shot.

Defensive backs Victor Aiyewa, Quentin Richardson, and Marquis Persley are all guys that could see some time if injuries crop up, but at this point the coaches would like to see them sit out a year to mature.

Redshirts

All the defensive, and offensive linemen will redshirt this year. Not much written on these kids because as usual lineman have the farthest to go before seeing playing time. Right now all our swimming trying to learn technique, the play book, and physically mature. Nick Wood who was probably the closest to being ready had surgery on his wrist at the beginning of camp and is still a week, or two away from practicing.

LB Austin Sylvester was at Spring practice this year. Sylvester who is the product of a Prep school is actually a year older than all the other incoming frosh. The extra year of HS, Spring practice, and maturity hasn't been his ticket onto the field at the MLB position. Something tells me this kid may end up at FB before all is said and done. Dennison who is the other frosh LB needs a year in the system, and the weight room.

Nathan Ware on Matt Mosley

Nathan makes a good point, but that is a move that is more likely this Spring. Mosley will play as much at CB, as he will at WR this year, so no hurry. We need him more at CB right now.

This confirms another point of mine: Matt Mosley is playing on the wrong side of the ball. He needs to move back to WR which is where he started his UW career. Had we not had some issues getting CB's academically admitted to UW, he would have stayed a WR. This should be fairly obvious if he's losing a position battle to a walk-on and a true freshman. The kid has good speed and is a solid football player. Cornerback takes other skills, though, that not every player possesses.



Syracuse Press Conference

Some highlights of Syracuse head football coach Greg Robinson's opening week press conference held today at Manley Field House

Syracuse Takes a look at Jake Locker

Syracuse's Andrew Robinson won't be the only rookie quarterback making his debut on Friday. Washington quarterback Jake Locker is a first-timer on the other side. Locker is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore from Ferndale, Wash. He was named the Huskies starter prior to spring practice.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Late Friday Notes

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times was able to speak with Tim Lappano today about the scrimmage. (Photo of Husky freshman RB Brandon Johnson)




Lappano said the main goal was for the scrimmage to be a lot cleaner than was Saturday's, when there were a handful of critical penalties and three bad center snaps out of the shotgun. "We cleaned that up,'' he said of the snaps. "We didn't have any of that. The snaps were as good as they've been all year.'' He also said the penalties were "down a lot'' with a couple of holding calls and one motion.


Brandon Johnson is earning his name as a returner and apparently returned a punt for a TD in the scrimmage as well as handling some kickoffs. But he also apparently is impressing as a short-yardage runner. Expect all four frosh RB's to see playing time this season. Lappano said Johnson has not fumbled once this camp and noted that he's a physical back who is "a way better inside runner than we thought. He runs the ball up in there hard for a small guy.''

Bob also had a chat with Ken Baer about the defense.


The biggest news was his assertion that there is little chance that CB Byron Davenport will be able to play against Syracuse. "I don't see any way he's going to be in there,'' Baer said. "I don't know how many practices he's had, not very many, and he's been out since then. That's just missing too much. You can sit on the sidelines all day and study and try to figure out what you are doing and think you do. But showing up and doing it live is a whole different ball game. So I don't see any way that's going to happen with him.''


It looks like freshman Vonzell McDowell will start against Syracuse according to DB Coach JD Williams in a conversation with Chris Fetters over at Dawgman.

He also said freshman Nate Williams is showing a lot of ability at strong safety but pointed out how young he is and that there's a lot to learn at that spot, as well. Expect Willliams to see a lot of action this Fall.


Molly Yanity of the PI reports on the QB situation.


The Huskies apparently have a quarterback problem -- a good one. Their No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks are both doing well and both played well in Thursday's scrimmage, Lappano said. Redshirt freshman Jake Locker is the unquestioned starter and Willingham and Lappano share the mindset that a one-quarterback system is the way to go. But fifth-year senior Carl Bonnell isn't going away


Don Ruiz of the Tribune chimes in about Brandon Johnson.


Lappanno might have sounded most fired up about true freshman Brandon Johnson who apparently runs far harder than you might guess from his size: 5-11, 195. Lappano seems to think Johnson's power and his ability to hold onto the ball could make him the Huskies' long-sought solution for their short-yardage offense.

Five Key Issues for Syracuse

1. More adversity:

Tight end Tom Ferron, the team's leading receiver a year ago, phoned in his resignation two days before the start of camp. Freshman linebacker Jermaine Pierce, the prize of the recruiting class and a man among college students on the practice field, was forced to quit because of a blood-clotting issue. It just seems, sometimes, that bad news comes in waves.

(Syracuse like UW is rebuilding, and maybe a year behind UW chronologically in the process.)

2. The linebackers:

The departure of Pierce and a concussion to backup middle linebacker Mike Stenclik underscored the vulnerability, lack of depth and anxiety about the linebacker unit. If starting middle linebacker Jake Flaherty gets injured, his backups are true freshman Mike Mele and walk-on Oliver Fernandez. It remains to be seen how Robinson and defensive coordinator Steve Russ scheme around a shaky unit.

( The UW Fullbacks, and TE's will have a signifigant advantage, and that is one reason the media hasn't seen them used in practice like they will be in the opener.)

3. Curtis Brinkley:

The starting tailback for the Orange has had arthroscopic surgery on each knee since last season. Brinkley has been strategically limited in preseason camp. More has gradually been added in spoonfuls to his plate each day. Brinkley has revealed flashes of his speed and his trademark cutback skills. His durability remains a question, though backups Paul Chiara, Jeremy Sellers and Derrell Smith have improved and are easing some of the anxiety over the position.

(UW needs to stop the running game and put pressure on the QB)

4. Positions of strength:

Two units distanced themselves from the rest of the team with their talent, skill and execution, the wide receivers and the defensive line. These units look stacked. Compared to where the receiving position was two years ago, the transformation is stunning. Mike Williams and Taj Smith are play-makers at receiver and primed for big seasons. The defensive line, led by Jameel McClain, Tony Jenkins and Arthur Jones, has more depth and good-looking football players than any SU team in eons. They'll need to play big to take pressure off the linebackers.

(This is going to be a key test for the young Washington offensive line. It is also going to be a test for our defensive backfield since we should be able to shut down their run game.)

5. Andrew Robinson:

This is the guy Major Applewhite and Greg Robinson hand-picked during the summer recruiting period in 2005 to fit the West Coast system at Syracuse. Andrew Robinson has been on campus just a little more than a year, but he is the new face of Syracuse football. Coaches have praised his intellect, leadership and skill. He desperately needs the offensive line to eradicate its protection issues in order for the offense to function, but Robinson has looked solid with his deliveries, his decisions and his command of the offense.

(Getting pressure on the young QB is a recipe of success for UW against the Orange. this kid is going to be pretty good, but hopefully he won't blossom against UW.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ty Escorts Them Out Early

From Molly Yanity of the PI.

Tyrone Willingham pulled a new one today. The media is allowed to watch the first 25 minutes of practice, but today Willingham pulled the plug early, making us leave after 15 minutes. So, we got to see not one snap of the scrimmage.

From Bob Condotta of the Times

Serious enough that UW coach Tyrone Willingham made sure to have the media escorted out before it began. Usually, we are allowed to watch the first 25 minutes from the scheduled start of practice no matter what is taking place.

Today, they were about 15 minutes into that period and ready to kick off when Willingham called over and had us removed, with the kickoff not taking place until after all of us had left. It's the first time I remember him having us removed before the period of time that practice is scheduled to be open has elapsed.

Total BS move by Ty....he needs to stop jerking the media around. Pretty shabby way to treat people without any warning. Would the measly ten minutes have mattered?

Scrimmage notes

Brandon Johnson may well emerge as the starting kickoff returner in part because he shows a good burst through the hole.

Anthony Russo was able to handle punt return duties just fine, apparently breaking one for 30-40 yards that was called back by penalty.

Great Man Passes

Former college and professional basketball coach Butch van Breda Kolff, who ranks 74th on the list of winningest college coaches, has died after a long illness. Van Breda Kolff, 84, died Wednesday afternoon at a nursing home in Spokane, his daughter, Kristina van Breda Kolff, said.

Butch was a favorite of mine I grew up with, he was a great coach, an innovator, a legend, and a winner.

One question, what was Butch doing in Spokane?

Husky Crew Headed to Moscow

Having conquered all challengers in its homeland, the national champion University of Washington men's varsity eight crew will head to Russia next week to face some stringent international competition.

For the first time since a historic 1958 victory against four crews in the Soviet Union, the Huskies will compete on Russian waters in the Race of Champions on Sept. 1 in Moscow.
"This is one of the reasons you come to Washington to row, for opportunities like this," said UW crew coordinator Bob Ernst, who accepted the invitation after his men won the IRA national championship in June to cap an unbeaten 2007 collegiate season.

From Greg Johns of the PI

Puppy Chow

EJ Savannah is back in the good graces of the coaching, staff and has regained the starting position he vacated after suffering undisclosed academic problems this Summer. Obviously a little work corrected that problem. EJ has the ability to be an impact type of player this season and it is great news that he will be eligible. Chris Stevens will still play a lot this season. Expect to see a lot of him on passing downs.

Our poll question this week had to do with the use of two QB's. For the first time this year Ty leaked to the press that he will use both of them depending on the situation which makes a lot of sense. Locker is the future, and may be the present, but Carl Bonnell may give them the best chance to win early in the year. Ty knows that this isn't a throw away season, he needs wins, so look for Carl to come in quickly if Jake has growing pains.

Daily Doubles are over for the year, but it isn't as big a deal as it used to be. The Huskies only had five days of doubles this year because of NCAA regulations. Back in my day, every day was a double practice, and it was certainly a grind. Practicing in shorts, or shells? No way, all through HS, and college we pretty much suited up every single day. The limits on practice hurts teams who need the repetitions to improve. A young team like the huskies needs every minute of practice they can get.

USC is going to be holding a public scrimmage in the Coliseum, and expect a big turnout of fans to watch the #1's go against the #2's. USC is one school that could probably craft a couple of top ten teams out of it's roster. Practicing against the best each day is a key to winning championships.

By now you have all heard about Phil Knight coughing up 100 million dollars to kick off the building of a new state of the art arena on the Oregon campus. Washington is on the search for a similar sugar daddy who will kick start the remodeling of Husky Stadium. No word lately on any progress being made on that particular project, but expect something by at least the USC game when they unveil the new Husky Legends Center.

On the injury front Ty is still saying that everyone should be available for the Syracuse game. Anthony Russo is almost all the way back now and is the leading candidate to handle punt returns which is good news. You always like to see those senior hands back there early in the season. I would really like to see the "Flea" get a shot back there. The kid has a lot of speed that needs to get used. That being said, catching punts without fumbling the ball is an art form, just because you are fast doesn't mean you can catch the ball from that angle and hold onto it.

The Huskies are leaning towards going with a couple of frosh return men on kickoffs. Looks like the redshirts will come off for RB's Brandon Johnson, and Curtis Shaw. No word yet on if they have passed Hasty by for the backup TB job, but today's scrimmage will go a long way in determining the pecking order at that position. Brandon Yakaboski who has been impressive this camp is out for a few days with a minor injury.

Brief Notes

Former UW quarterback Isaiah Stanback saw his first action as a Dallas Cowboys receiver Saturday and registered a 15-yard TD reception. Looks like IS is going to make it which is nice to hear!

Lucas McGee, a former world champion with the United States National Team, was named the men's freshman rowing coach at the University of Washington, head coach Michael Callahan announced Wednesday.

Expanded Husky Coverage

I remember when I moved to Nashville in the early 90's how hard it was to get any information let alone broadcasts of my favorite team. If a game was on TV I had to go to a bar with a satellite and see if they would free up one of the TV's so I could watch the game. The Internet wasn't really happening yet, so games on radio where only available over the phone at an outrageous charge. Thank goodness that times have changed. You can be virtually anywhere in the world as Hair of the Dawg will tell you and stay connected.

The Huskies have announced they are expanding coverage to 11 hours of live radio and Internet coverage every game day. Through agreements with the Washington ISP Sports Network, flagship radio station 950 KJR in Seattle and official athletic website GoHuskies.com, Washington football enjoys increased coverage throughout the Northwest. For a complete network listing, click here. Every game will also be carried live for via the free Dawg Channel All-Access. Simply click on the link on the front page of GoHuskies.com and register for the service.

In the Seattle area, 950 KJR's live coverage of Husky football begins four-and-a-half hours prior to game time with the one-hour "Purple and Gold Saturday" show, hosted by award-winning broadcaster John Clayton. Three-and-a-half hours prior to gametime the "Husky Honks" take the air for a two-and-a-half hour show hosted by Dave "Softy" Mahler, former UW and NFL quarterback Hugh Millen and former UW assistant coach Dick Baird. The first 90 minutes of the show is called the "Husky Tailgate Show" and airs on 950 KJR. Two hours prior to game time, the trio transition to "Husky Gameday" that airs on the entire network.

Also don't forget that all the games can still be heard on XM radio! As the official satellite radio network of the Pacific-10 Conference, XM airs Pac-10 football, plus men's and women's basketball, live and nationwide. XM, which started airing Pac-10 games in 2004, recently extended its broadcast partnership with the conference under a multi-year agreement.

Coverage of Husky football does not just take place on game day, however. Every Monday, Rondeau and 950 KJR's Mike Gastineau visit with Coach Tyrone Willingham for an hour beginning at 4:30 p.m. live from Anthony's HomePort at Shilsole Bay. In addition, 950 KJR hosts the "Husky Honks" each week.

The Weekly Poll Question

Last week we asked:

Which Five Players will Start against Syracuse on the Offensive Line?

Macklin 16% (21 votes)
Ossai 11% (14 votes)

Habben 10% (13 votes)
Berglund 2% (3 votes)
Bulyca 17% (22 votes)
Tolar 18% (24 votes)
Rosborough 1% (1 votes)
Sedillo 2% (3 votes)
Garcia 18% (23 votes)
Bush 2% (3 votes)
Mason 2% (2 votes)
White-Frisbee 2% (2 votes)

This was a pretty interesting poll where everyone that was nominated got at least one vote. The Left Tackle position came down to almost a dead heat with Ossai gettingthe nodover Habben by only one vote. The top vote getter believe it or not was Tolar. Juan Garcia who is certain to start every game if healthy was not the unaminous choice at center which was surprising to me.

I voted pretty much along the line with the majority, but picked Habben over Ossai. Both will likely share the position this year, and I can see a rotation overall that includes nine players which will help keep the big guys healthy, and fresh.

This weeks question:

Will Ty go with two starting QB's this year?

Carl Bonnell had a great Spring, and he has also had a great Fall camp. Locker of course is still the starter and has been improving every day, but even Ty has been musing to the press that it may have developed into a 1-A / 1-B situation. What that means while Locker is still the starter you may see Bonnell play meaningful minutes and actually get inserted if the offense doesn't move.

I agree that you wasnt to go with one leader, but having two starting caliber QB's isn't a bad thing if it is managed correctly. Locker is the future, and probably the present, but Carl will be there to help ease that transition. What that means if Ty thinks he can win by inserting Bonnell he will do it.

This is from Bob Condotta's blog.

While UW coach Tyrone Willingham let float the hint that Washington could use both quarterbacks, Jake Locker and Carl Bonnell, while games are in question, it's clear where his sentiment lies.

"I think leadership is best when you have a real vision of that leader," Willingham said. "I think it would be very difficult for us to have two head coaches. I would think it would be very difficult to have two quarterbacks extend their leadership on a football team."