Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"There has been no time in my career, for one reason or another, that the heat hasn't been on Tryone Willingham,'' he said. "When I took the job at Stanford, the heat was on. When I took the job at Notre Dame, the heat was on. Here, the heat is on. The only thing that solves any of those problems is just winning football games. We are a football team that is very close to doing that an awful lot. No matter how you cut it, no matter what statistics you look at, this team has played good football. Now, we may not have played it long enough to win particular ball games, but we have played good football and we have to shore up all those areas where we are weak at and we will do a lot of winning.''
If you look at it from an offensive point I have to agree, his Huskies have been turning a corner and getting better. Defensively I don't know what to say, something tells me (48 Arizona points) that they aren't very close at all. We have five games left this season, so lets see what they come up with.
This team needs to make a committment to get the best 22 football players on the field each week. Don James was great at that, and he aslo was pretty good at putting his best players on defense since defense wins championships.
Losing Kosub was a blow because you lose the time you invested in the kid. They could move an offensive lineman over here to fill the void but nobody really comes to mind. This is a pretty tough spot to fill.
Lappano said some nice things about Kirton's blocking last week, but they still haven't thrown to him all year. Moving a guy in his 5th year and having him learn a new position isn't easy. Walt Winter has some time at DE and is buried at TE, but you would think that maybe he will graduate rather than come back for a 5th year.
Quinton Richardson at WLB? I think that could be a possibilty depending on how he fills out over the Winter. What about Yakaboski? They loved him early, the kid can really hit, but they might like him better as a power back. The thing is Yak is a football player, he needs to see the field. If he isn't going to be one of your top three RB's he needs to play safety or LB. these are a couple of kids that need to play in 2008. I think Sylvester is headed to LB one of these days.
The Huskies are bringing in a boat load of CB/RB type of guys this year. Depending on what they see this Spring, and during Fall camp they could potentially interchange quite a few young kids. Curtis Shaw is going to compete for the starting RB job, but what if he ends up buried in the depth? That speed would look good in the defensive backfield, or maybe even receiver. Matt Mosley is a kid I could see being moved back to WR.
Yakaboski comes to mind because he knocks the snot out of people when he hits them. I am not sure what this kid will grow into. Will he stay at RB, or grow into a FB, LB, or S?
A lot of people have talked about Chris Stevens making the transition to safety for his senior year. The kid has played well but is more of a situational player. Once again, it tough to move a guy his final year.
Thirteen or fourteen of these kids are going to end up on defense. I put together a best case scenario based on where we are now as far as verbals, and who is currently interested. We aren't off to a bad start, and if we can keep the best of the state home we should do ok. As Lappano says they need to start winning now to make recruiting easier in December.
Speaking of coaches, it would also help if they had some new coaches on defense next year, but since almost everyone in the Husky Nation feels that way I will save that for the end of the season.
If you want to fix the defensive line it all starts with landing these big local guys. Ta'Amu seems to be pretty much a lock to go to UW, and Thompson is a good bet too. Rabe would jump on it if offered after being dumped by Oregon. Ta'amu could end up being an offensive guard, but he will get a look in the middle as a run plugger first. UW will take 4-6 defensive lineman this year with Ta'Amu being more of a swing guy that could count either way. I don't know much about Campbell other than he is good friends with Mesphin Forrester. Don't forget Kavario Middleton who could end up at DE or TE and play as a frosh if he comes to Washington. Kelemente has had a tremendous senior year and may be the best player in the state, that's right, even better than Middleton.
They could really use some immediate help if they were lucky enough to find a JC that could qualify. UW of course has been burned on this one more than once, and stud JC DT's that could get into UW, let alone consider UW are rare.
It would be great if they could convince Kosub who is still in school to come back next year, he had a good chance to start.
DT Craig Noble
DT Senio Kelemente
DT Alameda Ta' amu
DE Everett Thompson
DE Courtney Campbell
DE Jon Rabe
We have depth at linebacker, but as you have seen the last couple of weeks we need some better players. UW made surprising choices at LB in the past few years. Who had ever heard of Donald Butler, or Mason Foster? Panapa and Stuckey are good ones, but they are longshots to come here. Depth wise we only need one or two, talent wise it is a different story.
LB Ryan Panapa
LB Dewitt Stuckey
UW has been loading up on RB/DB's early this year in the effort to infuse more speed, depth, and athleticism on the roster. The guy that is the most intruiging is Golden who is the best corner in the West who recently backed away from Arizona. Glenn is the best corner in the Northwest.
CB David Freeman (Could play RB or WR)
CB John Tate
CB Anthony Gobern
CB Justin Glenn
CB Robert Golden
Everyone likes Vince Taylor and feels he could grow into something special. Walker is a LB who will play Safety in college. he wasn't exactly highly recruited. EJ Woods visited a couple of weeks ago and he is the best safety in the West. Woods of course is a pipe dream, but he did visit. He is taking some visits after backing off UCLA.
Hilton Dawson is a JC kid they have looked at out of high school, they may offer him if he can get in by Winter quarter. the coaches keep saying they are out of the JC business, but they could use some luck in this area.
S Vince Taylor
S Greg Walker
S EJ Woods
Forget about schemes and coaching, let just look at bullets. How many bullets do you see on defense this year? Look a little further, how many for next year?
Willingham's guys are in red, and I have put a star next to any player whose loss, or injury has really hurt the defense's performance in 2007. I am counting five injury stars here including one kid that is out for the season in Wells, and another, Butler who probably should sit out the rest of the year and get healthy.
You can't even blame Rick Neuheisel for this defense because he has only two players left on this part of the squad. The defense has actually gotten worse rather than better as Neuheisel's players have left. You can however put the blame firmly on Gilby's only class, and Willingham's first class which was mostly just picking up the pieces Gilby left behind. Those two classes really put this part of the team in a hole. You can also point a finger at Willingham for picking too many JC's who did not qualify, but hey, he was gambling to fill holes.
If you are hoping for this defense to be better in 2008 it just might be wishful thinking no matter who the DC is. Washington needs an incredible defensive class in 2008 to start turning this around.
When Wells went down this year so did enforcement from this position. The future at Safety is very young and inexperienced. You are talking frosh, and kids that are still in high school. We will have two potential senior starters who would not be able to start at any other Pac Ten school.
I think Nate Williams is going to be a very good one. Put him back there with Wells and you have improvement over 2007. Keep an eye on Aiyewa, the kid may develop into an animal. If Forrester and Harris provide depth that is fine, but if they have to start again we are in trouble.
*Jr Wells (Willingham JC) Three year starter
Jr Forrester (Gilbertson) Has played out of neccesity, not a great talent
Jr Harris (Gilbertson) The kid is gamer but not a great talent
Fr Williams (Willingham) I would start him now, he is the future
Fr Aiyewa (Willingham) Playing on specialties as a true frosh
Fr Richardson (Willingham) RS that could move to LB
You want to pick one position that has plagued us the longest, this would be it. If you want to pick a legit area where the current staff has failed it has been recruiting for this position. Last year they addressed it well, and in 2008 they are addressing it well again. They blew it the first two years by relying on JC's who didn't get in, or didn't pan out. It takes time to develop these guys and we are back at ground zero in 2008.
Roy Lewis is hands down the best DB on the team and he will be missed in 2008. Davenport will man one side, and the best player available will man the other each week. We have depth, but it is young and undeveloped, I would say we won't be improved at CB next season unless we can bring in some better talent.
Sr Lewis (Gilbertson Transfer)
*Jr Davenport (Willingham JC) Good pick up, but injuries have held him back
RS Mosley (Willingham) Doesn't exactly have the tools for this position
Jr Murchison (Willingham JC) Hasn't seen the light of day
Fr McDowell (Willingham) Has started a few games and been eaten up
Fr Persley (Willingham) The coaches think he will be a player
They just aren't getting better from year to year are they? We keep hearing how much Tormey likes young guys, but it hasn't translated into anything. Injury, depth, and coaching have been the biggest problems. They are still young, but we need some better quality behind the starters, and some good health. A coaching change would help too. If Butler can come back to full strength next year, he and Foster are going to give us a very good looking middle. Same can be said if Savannah can go 100%. The problem is there isn't a lot of talent behind them.
I don't want to name names, but we have some dead wood in the depth. The young starters need to stay healthy. If that happens we will see improvement.
Savannah is the teams best linebacker but because of stingers we probably aren't going to be able to find out what type of player he is. Behind is a complete void, when Savannah isn't at 100% the defense suffers. Stevens is best as a situational player.
*So Savannah (Willingham) Injuries have held him back
Jr Stevens (Gilbertson) One dimensional player who isn't a fit as a true starter
Rs Houston (Willingham) One of those fill in guys who hasn't emerged
You have to love Howell's attitude, but injuries this year have taken away a couple of steps of speed. Foster is impressive and will be a three year starter at UW.
*Sr Howell (Gilbertson) Plays well when not injured
Fr Foster (Willingham If he stays healthy he is going to be a star
Sr Trew (Neuheisel) A classic tweener, not enough speed
Fr Dennison (Willingham) Redshirting this year
*So Butler (Willingham) Injuries have killed his year and robbed him of his speed
Jr Tuiasosopo (Gilberston)
Fr Sylvester (Willingham) this kid probably will end up at FB
Gilbertson screwed the pooch of the future when he played Rayford, and Gunheim as freshmen. 95% of lineman need the full five years to develop, and they are at their best in their 4th, and 5th year. We have been hearing for almost a decade that we need a better rush off the edge, and it just hasn't happened.
I think we are actually going to be improved a bit at these spots. We won't miss Gunheim, but we will miss the continuing upside of Rayford.
Sr Gunheim (Gilbertson) He looked the part
Sr Rayford (Gilbertson) Too bad he doesn't have one more year
So Teo Nesheim (Willingham) Great motor
So Jones (Willingham) This kid could be real good if he stays healthy
RS Matthews (Willingham) I thought he would have played more this year
Fr Aldrich (Willingham) He reminds me of Gunheim, but in a good way
We have seen a lot of numbers go through here, but we haven't seen a dominant lineman in some time at UW. Jordan White-Frisbee looked like he was going to be the guy but foot injuries sent him to offensive guard. We graduate three guys this year, and behind them are a group of guys who simply haven't played much. To make matters worse we lost one a couple of weeks ago who decided to transfer. You hate to lose a couple of years investment in a kid. Wood and Duncan came in injured so those guys lost a year of development. So we basically go into 2008 with three kids who haven't played, and a whatever true frosh we can dig up.
You want to pick the single area I am most worried about for 2008 and this is it. It will be Elisara who has limited experience flanked by some kids who have never played a down. If you are a defensive lineman that want to play as a true freshman this is the place. Losing Kosub hurts because that substracts a big body that would have been starting his third year.
Didn't I just say that Gilbertson screwed the pooch by playing Gunheim, and Rayford as true frosh? With Kosub leaving count on one or two true frosh to play in the rotation next year which will stunt their future development. Craig Noble if he comes could end up being a four year starter. O'Connor hasn't cracked the depth in the four years he has been here.
Sr Afoa (Neuheisel)
Sr Reffett (Neuheisel)
Sr Lobos (Gilbertson)
Jr O'Connor (Gilbertson)
Rs Elisara (Willingham)
Fr Wood (Willingham)
Fr Duncan (Willingham)
When I look at our next five opponents I see five teams that we can beat. A 48-41 loss to Arizona isn't going to change my mind on that. It also isn't going to obscure the fact that even if all five are winnable, we could lose all five too.
With that being said lets think positive and think about winning the next five. The last half of the Pac Ten season is all about surviving, and when you have Jake Locker getting better every week it may just be enough t0 push you over the top.
We start off the week with our next opponent Stanford.
The Cardinal have surprised all year as Jim Harbaugh has done an excellent coaching and motivational job with his team. You may have forgotten, but the Cardinal lost a lot of key guys early this year. They weren't deep to begin with, so what Harbaugh has done so far is borederline amazing. Washington should beat Stanford this week simply because we should be able to outscore them with our offense. The question of course is whether the Husky defense can rebound, or if it will just continue sliding? Washington has a big edge on offense with Jake Locker running around back there, while Stanford has the edge in overall attitude. Jon wilner of the Merc takes the attitude this week that Stanford is Rodney Dangerfield, they just get no respect.
The Washington Huskies have lost six games in a row, they trail Stanford in the Pac-10 standings, and they just blew a fourth-quarter lead, at home, against Arizona. Their defense has given up more than 1,700 yards in the past three games. They have a freshman quarterback. They haven’t won a game on grass this season. Their coach is on the hot seat. Their defensive coordinator is on the scalding seat. Fans are howling. Media are pouncing. And yet … The Huskies are a three-point favorite at Stanford on Saturday, according to the line published in the Merc. Wow. The oddsmakers and betting public have zero respect for the Cardinal.Imagine what the line would be if Stanford hadn’t won at USC. Or if it hadn’t beaten UW last year in Seattle. But those results help explain the current line. Stanford has handled itself fairly well on the road in the last 12 months but has won just one home game in the past two years.
Mike Riley is a pretty good coach, and if you remember he was actually Barbara Hedges first choice to succeed Jim Lambright. He has his Oregon State Beavers headed in the right direction, and he even has been reducing Sean Canfield's turnovers. Still he runs into some major adversity this week because Yvenson Bernard may be out a week or two with a shoulder injury. If there is anything that can help the Huskies win on the road in two weeks it is the absence of Bernard in the lineup....stay tuned. I think the Beavers are going to get pounded by the Trojans this week, and it is going to hurt their depth further going into the Washington game. If Bernard plays against USC chances are he will be too banged up enough to go against UW.
According to Paul Buker, who is at the OSU Press Conference, Yvenson Bernard sprained his shoulder in OSU's 23-6 win over Stanford. If he plays or not against the Trojans will be a game-time decision, the same decision Yvenson and the Beavers were faced with last year.
He didn't play, and Clinton Polk did just fine as the Beavers went on to upset the Trojans 33-31.
"It's a sprained shoulder, which is good news,'' Riley said. "There's no separation, no break. ... it's basically a day to day thing.''
Just a few weeks ago Cal was perched at the #2 spot in the polls thinking about a Pac Ten title, and a national championship. Now after three losses in a row they are reeling with a limpy QB, and a suspect defense. The Cougars are coming to visit this week fresh off a crushing win over UCLA. I have to pick the Bears to rebound in this one, but root for the Cougars to soften them up for the Huskies. I picked a Husky upset over the Bears before the season began, and I still think it is a good possibilty. One scary thought though....DeSean Jackson isolated on Vonzell McDowell, or Meshin Forrester.
The Bears' run of 26 consecutive weeks in the top 25 has ended, as Cal fell out of the rankings for the first time since the late stages of the 2005 season. "It's kind of unbelievable," Cal offensive lineman Mike Gibson said after Saturday's loss in Tempe, Ariz. "I'm just speechless." A win Saturday would have kept Cal very much in the Rose Bowl picture, and the Bears held a 20-7 lead in the first half as they dominated the early going. But ASU scored the final 24 points of the game, and Cal's final seven possessions resulted in five punts and two turnovers. For the second straight week, Bears quarterback Nate Longshore, still limping from a sprained ankle, threw two second-half interceptions.
They gave the Cougars up for dead before the season started, but Coach Doba had at least a couple of more wins in him as his squad not only upset, but beat up UCLA at home last week. This week the Cougars get Cal on the road and we find out if this resurgence is for real. I really have to go with the Bears in this one. If WSU pulls off another upset Doba may not be going anywhere. As far as the Apple cup goes it is in Seattle this year, and the Huskies usually win this type of game at home. This game is going to be a fireworks show for these two teams, and who knows, maybe there will be a bowl bid on the line. Brinkhater is predicting victory for the Coug's.
As far as we're concerned, well, to be honest, we only have ONE team left on the schedule that will pose significant problems for us defensively and that, my friends, is the University of Washington. The rest of the teams that we play pretty much have pocket passers. And, if you look at two out of the last three weeks, you will see that we have stiffened up tremendously on the defensive side of the ball. Moreover, CAL, Stanford, and Oregon State look much more like UCLA and ASU than they do like Oregon--at least from the perspective of Quarterback tendencies.
Hawaii....imagine if UW closes out 4-0 in the Pac Ten. Imagine an ESPN game to close out the season with the Warriors playing the Huskies to get a BCS berth. Imagine the Huskies at an improbable 6-6 trying to knock out an undefeated Cinderella for the right to go to whatever bowl will take them.
Brennan, one of the most accurate passers in NCAA history, struggled his first games back from the ankle injury, throwing a flurry of interceptions."Because I struggled early on, everybody's kind of written me off," Brennan said. "I don't think people realize that I'm really hungry and I'm about to have a run that I'm really excited about."
USC has now lost two games this season, and they are playing another team this week that can beat them, in fact OSU beat the Trojans last year. For some reason this Pete Carroll team isn't clicking on all cylinders. You can bring up the QB change, but I think it is more than that, something has gotten stale.
A couple glaring things stand out on that fourth-and-1 play in the first quarter. Oregon’s defense shifted completely towards the side where the play went and no one was in front of the right guard, which meant a gaping hole existed.USC believes Oregon got confused by the formation and accidentally shifted into the perfect spot to tackle Joe McKnight.But offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said he regretted not calling a timeout before the play. Sarkisian said he saw Oregon’s defense shift from the sideline.``When I look back at it, I should have called a timeout from the sideline,’’ Sarkisian said. Ironically, the shift created a hole because no one lined up against the right guard, but Sarkisian said the play USC ran did not really allow for an audible.
Is there a worse coach in the Pac Ten than Karl Dorrell? If you are a Husky fan you might debate that since Dorrell and crew outcoached the Huskies in the Rose Bowl last month. Let's face it, we blew the UCLA game, and it was very winnable. UCLA plays at Arizona this week and I think as terrible as the Wildcats are they just might have enough firepower and emotion to knock off the Bruins.
That got me thinking about the psychology of the Bruin faithful. You see, we're headed for a break up. And though I know some of you aren't as optimistic as myself, I firmly believe that KD is history. Sure, I'm literally knocking on wood while I write this, but dude is gone. You don't need me to tell you why. But, dude is gone. This past weekend was it. Sure, Wyoming or Arizona or Utah or Notre Dame were each enough to warrant it. But, until this weekend, there was some doubt. And don't give me any crazy talk about winning a share of the Pac-10 title. If you believe that will happen, you need to stop dipping into momma's Quaaludes.
How about the Sun Devils, and Dennis Erickson knocking on the door of a national championship? The guy can coach, but can he keep the team out of trouble in coming years? Well at Arizona State they really don't care right now because it is nice to be back in the limelight. The Ducks are up next for these guys, and I am predicting a loss for the Devils.
Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter wore a brace to protect his sprained right thumb when he held his weekly meeting with the media on Monday. The junior starter injured the thumb on his throwing hand with 11 minutes, 14 seconds left in the third quarter of a 31-20 win over California on Saturday. His availability to throw in practice this week for Saturday's game against Oregon remains in question."You'll have to come to practice to find out," said Carpenter, keeping his hands underneath a table so they couldn't be seen.
The Ducks face off against ASU, and as I said previously I give the edge to the Ducks in this one. I think Oregon is playing the best football in the country right now. Gameday in Eugene twice in one year? Say it isn't so!
It is confirmed. This mornings Eugene Register Guard reports that College Gameday will make a second appearance this year. They will be broadcasting live from Autzen stadium starting at 7:00 am local time this coming Saturday. If you plan to attend, get there early. A group of us arrived at about 6:30 am when they were here for the Cal game and it was tough to get a good vantage point.
Arizona may have come back to beat Washington last week, but they have to win a coule more before Mike Stoops is removed from that hot seat. Hot and cold UCLA visits the Wildcats this week fresh off a loss to WSU.
Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after his five-touchdown and school-record 510 yard performance against Washington. Receiver Mike Thomas garnered the special teams honors with six kickoffs for 173 yards, including a 45-yarder. Thomas also caught 10 passes for 165 yards and three scores. Tuitama completed 38 of 51 passes to set the passing yardage record, previously owned by Jason Johnson with 492.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I can live with Todd Turner as long as we have a winning football team. I think he can accomplish his goals if he has a winning football team.
1. He has failed to raise any money in 3 years for stadium renovations, which should have been priority No. 1 for the AD.
(I would have expected a fund raising plan to have been released during the week of the USC game. So it isn't like he is way behind schedule raising funds for the project. I think the plans are wonderful, but we have been getting mixed messages over the past month. The suggestion that he was going to double ticket prices over the next five years went over like a lead balloon. His #1 priority as AD was never to rebuild the stadium, it was to rebuild the integrity, and fiscal responsibility of the department, and he has done a very good job doing that. I think there is more to the stadium story going on behind the scenes with the Board of Regents.)
2. He has defended an indefensible coaching staff, shifting the blame to the players (which directly contradicts comments he made at the beginning of the year).
(I think he was just stating the obvious, they need more players, and they need better players. I don't think for one second he was trying to demean the current players. I think a lot of people love jumping on whatever Ty, or Todd says and give it a little twist. Point is nobody is happy right now, especially the guy who is in charge of balancing the budgets and raising funds.)
4. His stubborness in defending Ty and Co. is becoming arrogant and smug--the "the fans don't know what they're talking about, I do" mentality.
(Do you really think any AD is going to throw their coach under the bus after 2 1/2 seasons? I haven't seen smugness, but I have seen disapointement. It is his job to stand up for his coach until he decides to move on and hire another coach. The only thing he is stressing to the fans is patience, and tha thas been his message all year long. I liked the way he tried to rally everyone for the last five games and I am following his lead.)
5. His comments regarding which programs Washington should emulate--Oregon and Kentucky--are unforgivable to a true Husky and shows that he knows nothing about the culture of which he is now "leading."
(Who really cares, Oregon and Kentucky are winning, and both schools have shown patience getting there. He was just using it as an example. What he should have done was give an example of what the Huskies were doing to reach that level in the next year, or two. Talk about what you are doing to get better, don't wish you are something else.)
6. Talks down to fans - we don't matter, plus we are ignorant internet half brains
(The internet half brain comment will be forever in the lore of Husky football, but I don't think he talks down to fans. I think he is simply bureacratic, and that is how it comes across. Todd actually returns unsolicited email when he isn't getting buried by thousands of Fire Ty emails.)
7. Disconnected from what it means to be a Husky
(I agree with this one. Even though he pushed for the Legends Center which is a good thing, he doesn't seem to be an extension of Husky tradition. They are trying to establish, or have established their own culture, and the Purple Curtain surroundng the football program has turned a lot of people off. I don't know if Todd has become Northwest enough. Jim Owens came from Oklahoma and he did it. Don James came from Ohio and he did it. Todd needs to do a better job of studying what is important to the fans. )
8. Hired a football coach whose staff is failing to develop players and blindly defends it with more platitudes.
(I think they develop players, but I don't think they have enough players. If you take a look at the roster most of his players are frosh, and redshirts. He has plugged in some JC's along the way, but the foundation of this team is very young, and also too early to judge. I would say this staff develops players better than the last two regimes at UW.)
At the midpoint of Willingham's five-year contract, the Arizona defeat shifted leverage to the critics who, because some are about to be hit up for donations for the stadium renovation, can now hold the program hostage until they get their way.
That's a bad smell.
Until Saturday, a 2-5 season largely could be rationalized, given the Huskies' onerous schedule and legacy of chaos that prompted Willingham's hire. But blowing a 15-point fourth-quarter lead at home to a mediocre opponent was just about the worst outcome at the worst time. Not only was it a bad loss, it calls into question all the words and deeds of Willingham and Turner at a time when many among the disgruntled have handpicked Willingham's successor.
Nathan, and I are at it again in our weekly chat session in the online edition of the PI.
John: I enjoyed your remarks concerning Coach Baer from the weekend, but I don't think his removal alone will solve the problem. Let me start off this week by asking the ultimate question, do you think Ty Willingham should be fired at the end of the season?
Nathan: I'm not ready to say that Ty should be fired. I do believe that Baer and some of his assistants need to be changed. First, I think there is some value to coaching stability. Second, Ty is continuing to get good effort from the players and that is the first priority of a coach. Lastly, I'm starting to believe that Ty's problems are more related to issues with his assistants than anything else. I'd be curious to see what Ty can do with a top-tier defensive coordinator. Maybe, things would turn out different. Ultimately, I think Ty is a good coach but I just wonder if he's saddled himself with lousy assistants. Don't forget, Bill Deidrich was his OC for a long time and we know how bad he is.
Nathan also journeyed over to Anthony's Homeport in Ballard to take in the Ty Willingham Show.
The most interesting moment of the event was when one of the people in attendance asked Ty some very pointed, aggressive questions. The person's name was Larry and he asked about why UW did a worse job than Northern Arizona at stopping the Arizona Wildcats. He asked why they continued to throw the players under the bus, etc, etc. He said that the coaches had failed as educators. He called Kent Baer the worst defensive coordinator in the country.
Larry did good job framing his question and expressing his frustration in a professional way. The thing you can't tell on the radio is – because of the cramped layout of Anthony's - that Larry is standing about 4 feet from Ty. He asks the question looking right into Willingham's eyes and accepts the response with Ty's intense eyes looking right back at him.
And, Ty definitely felt attacked by the situation. It was a very tense, uncomfortable moment. I have to applaud Larry for having the balls to ask Ty a tough question like that in person. Kudos, Larry.
Getting ready for Stanford
Well there is no reason to continue to cry over spilled footballs because we have another game this weekend coming up in Palo Alto. This of course is a must win game for the program, and Ty Willingham has his work cut out for him getting his team back up from an attitude perspective after last weeks crushing loss.
If you want to analyze last weeks loss it is simple, Washington is running out of healthy players on defense, and they turned the ball over five times on offense which is always the kiss of death no matter how many yards your QB was able to put on the board.
For the Huskies the goal is to eliminate the mistakes, take advantage of all scoring opportunities, and most importantly do what they did not do last week, and that is put the knife in their opponent in the first half and put the game out of reach. Washington was so close to doing that last week, in fact they would have been up so far in the first quarter it would have been ridiculous if they had not had the two unfortunate fumbles.
The Husky defense is what it is at this point in time, the only thing that will help it get better is healthier players, so in the absence of that the offense needs to keep them off the field as much as possible in the first half while building up a big lead.
Stanford is psychologically in better shape even though they are in just as bad as shape talent wise as Washington. Harbaugh has the one thing this staff does not, and one thing I admired Neuheisel for, he has the ability to fire his players up on game day enough to get them to do the impossible.
Ty Willingham is feeling serious heat this week, and yes the man has feelings, he cares, and his back is firmly up against the wall. While I feel for him, I also have to objectively look at the steps that have brought him to this point, and while he inherited a mess it would be hard for anyone to say that he has given 125% since he got here to turn it around.
What is missing?
Let's start with creating excitement and promoting the program. Can anyone honestly say that he has done that to the best of his abilities since arriving at UW? Look what Harbaugh is doing at Stanford, he is taking on all comers, he is firing up his players, and he actually has these kids believing they can win every week when we all now they have the worst talent pool in the league.
What can he do?
It all starts with winning next weeks game. UW has five games left on the schedule, and if they win all five this terrible week will fade into oblivion. Even if they win four out of five missing a winning season most people, including Ty's superiors will acknowledge it isn't time to make a change. Lose the next five, or only win a game, or two and the writing is on the wall.
Willingham has done a lot more right than wrong at Washington. He inherited an ugly mess, and there are a lot of things that don't show up in the win loss column that he has done that will help the program immensely over the next five years. Willingham isn't a failure, he simply has lost two games in his tenure, Stanford last year, and Arizona this year that he should have won. when you compare that to Gilbertson's tenure it actually looks pretty good.
Both of those terrible losses were caused by injuries for the most part. Let's be honest, the Husky defense that took the field against Syracuse, Boise, and Ohio State would not have given up 48 points to Arizona. The same thing can be said for last years Stanford game when he simply ran out of healthy QB's.
This years edition of the Huskies were chewed up and spit out over the seasons first seven games. By the time a breather with Arizona came along there just wasn't much gas left in the tank. What gas there is left is possessed by an offense that is getting better every game. As Jake Locker goes over the last five games so will the Huskies.
Keep this in mind, when Jake Locker starts the Huskies are always capable of winning.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Garcia needs to make perfect snaps to Jake Locker.
This is probably the important thing you can improve on offense. Every time Jake has to reach for a snap, or go down and get a low one, it throws off the timing of the offense. If you can get this one thing down you are going to improve the efficiency of the offense by 20%.
Why that much you say? It is because the 1/4 second or more delay takes away a read from Jake Locker, maybe he can't make a great fake, or perhaps it makes him fumble the ball during a hand off.
It is all about discipline, and doing it right every time, that is what makes a football team win, and that type of precision takes coaching no matter what the talent level is.
Regardless of the expectations and, more importantly, the final scores of our first eight games, our team and staff haven't given up. They've fought to the last second in every game. They've represented the UW with character and dignity in the face of some terribly disappointing days. They've kept their frustrations in check, instead choosing to focus on the next play, the next game.
There are five very important games remaining this season. There is still an opportunity for this team to take a very big step forward. I, for one, am not giving up on our team or our staff. They have proven themselves to be fighters who will not throw in the towel. They are terrific young men. They are our Huskies and are deserving of our support until the final whistle blows.
I want to thank the many Huskies I have heard from personally lauding our team and its leadership for their character, tenacity, and grit. Thanks for your steadfast support. I also want to encourage those whose frustrations evoke some pretty emotional responses directed at our coaches, staff, and even our players. I understand your disappointment. If you are a fan, which all of us are, you can't help but want your team to make you proud. And, while I know this isn't easy to do when the scoreboard isn't your friend, the ultimate satisfaction is in the process of overcoming adversity with steadfast, unwavering character and phenomenal effort to build something enduringly special... and that's our goal.
All of us involved with the football program appreciate your support. We know how passionate you are about the Huskies. We know how much you care. We know the expectations. We wouldn't have it any other way.
I think Todd feels the same way I do actually. We have five games left, and in those five games we can make a difference, and it all starts on Staurday at Stanford. This Arizona loss was tough for all of us, but we all saw the silver lining of Jake Locker last weekend. Any game this guy starts from now on we have a chance to win. We of course have to score a lot of points to outscore the opposition because I don't know what you need to do to turn around that defense other than get key guys healthy.
1. Demote Kent Baer from Defensive Coordinator
Why postpone the inevitable? Make the change now Ty so the fan base can sense you are being proactive about the problem. Now is the time to give Tormey a shot to see what he can do.
2. Dump the three man pass rush
It isn't working, and it makes a guy like Tuitama look like a Heisman candidate. At the very least I wouldn't use it in the second half of a game since it is obvious our players dont have enough gas left.
3. Start Chris Stevens
This kid is always making plays and he has been benched most of the season.
4. Switch Johnnie Kirton to DE
Why wait till Spring? The kid is in the Dawghouse at TE, why not utilize his size and speed in a position he can be effective at next year.
5. Switch Forrester, or Harris to nickle back
Nate Williams is a good looking young safety who comes up and makes hits the way a Safety should. He may not have the experience, but he has the aggression, and speed you need.
6. Play a little more man defense
It is the only way you are going to be stopped from getting picked apart each week. sure you are going to get burned once in awhile, but they need to play it to get good at it.
7. Blitz more
You need to get more pressure on the QB, you are actually getting decent pressure on the QB at times with three, imagine what you can do when you send seven? How many points have we given up the last three games? Do you really think blitzing is a risk at this point? Get aggressive and go after people.
8. Throw to your fullbacks
How many passes have we thrown to these guys this year? Less than five maybe? We have two pretty good fullbacks, make better use of them.
9. Throw over the middle more
I have been saying this all year. Where on the field was Marcel Reese when he caught the 98 yard TD pass? Jake is much more confident attacking the middle than the sidelines.
10. Stop putting it all on the players
We all know talent is part of the problem, but to say that is why UW gave up 48 points to Arizona is just insulting. The coaches have been letting down their defensive players all season. The benching of Byron Davenport the whole game was total bush league. Give these guys the aggressive schemes they need to achieve. Start attacking on defense, what do you have to lose?
Lets talk about the way Jake Locker and the Washington offense is developing. The Husky offense is finally starting to show what it can do as Jake Locker gets more experience. Saturdays performance, minus the turnovers was one of the most impressive ever by a UW quarterback. When you consider that Jake is only in the middle of his freshman year you realize that this kid, with the adequate package of coaches, may be able to put the program back on top while he is here.
I can't recall a quarterback who has the arm strength of John Elway and who also runs like Eric Dickerson. Make no mistake, Jake isn't a scrambler, he is a power runner who carried defensive linemen, and linebackers with him as he goes. As far as the arm goes, it is only getting better, and as we saw over the last two games he is starting to develop some touch. That 98 yard TD pass to Marcel Reese Saturday was a thing of beauty. Imagine what Jake could do with better receivers? The crew that is coming in next year has more talent, size, and speed than the current group, what they will lack is experience, but receivers tend to be more ready to play than any other position. Aguilar, and Boyles will at least have a full Spring with the team, and that will be a big plus going into 2008.
Louis Rankin has had two good games in a row which means the offensive line is maturing and doing a better job. Brandon Johnson hasn't carried the ball much this year, but he has a nice carry on Saturday that flashed a lot of potential to me. I really like the way he moved.
I would love to see them use Kravitz, and Homer more as receivers. You have to love the way they both ran the ball on Saturday in short yardage situations.
TE Mike Gottleib is finally becoming an option in the passing game. Mike had a couple of nice grabs on Saturday, but in the real world of Husky football we are talking third TE. Washington really needs to bring in Kavario Middleton next year to team up with Izbicki. Kavario is one of those rare kids who are ready to play on either side of the ball from the get go. Izbicki was a HS All American who needed a year in the weight room. According to coaches Izbicki is the complete package.
Now back to Jake Locker, he accounted for 493 of Washington's 572 yards of total offense against Arizona. If you could take away the turnovers Washington would have scored over 60 points and had this one put away for all intents and purposes early in the first quarter. Despite the loss this performance was one for the ages, and the kid is only going to get better.
Only 18 quarterbacks in major-college history had ever thrown for 300 and run for 100 yards in the same game. Locker added his name to that list but missed joining Marques Tuiasosopo as the only 300-200 achiever in the group. Marques by the way achieved that mark against a Stanford defense which was coached by a guy named Kent Baer.
There is a lot of gloom, and doom surrounding Washington football this Monday morning, but there is also the knowledge that the best offensive player to ever play at the school may be currently on the roster.
As Washington heads into their last five games of the season with it's bowl hopes virtually extinguished by the loss to Arizona there is always the hope of running the table when you have a talent like Jake Locker on the roster.
Husky fans, enjoy the kid while he is here, and he might just be here the full five years since his value as an NFL QB will be measured more by the development of his arm than his tremendous legs.
All hail Jake Locker!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
This is what UW coach Ty Willingham had to say after Saturday's disaster, 14 words that will come back to haunt him: "I still think this is the best effort our young men could put forth. "Really, Ty? That was the best possible effort? That's the BEST they could do, Ty?
Minutes after the final whistle made Washington’s demise official, contributors to the electronic message boards began tearing the hide off Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham. “Willingham should be fired at the stadium today,” suggested one irate reader. Now that’s an example of the short-sightedness of some of the knee-jerk fans out there. Willingham should at least get until Monday.
From what I am reading in Dawgman, and the Seattle Times this morning fans are beginning to gather the torches to march down to Montlake, and build a gallows over the W in the middle of Husky Stadium.
In Seattle it has been a long tradition that Husky coaches are fired after the lead columnists in the two major dailies start asking for change. Steve Kelley is the first to make the call, and you can bet Art Thiel will be close behind him on Monday when the PI publishes again.
Truth be told, Todd, and Ty don't have a single friend in the local media. That lack of friendship even extends to their flagship radio station which has been turning up the heat over the past few weeks. The purple curtain they have put around the program will be the one thing that hastens their departure. These guys need friends right now in the media, and they didn't bother to make any.
Steve Kelley is simply asking for change without demanding the head of Coach Willingham, yet. He isn't even calling out Coach Baer, but the implications are simple, for Willingham to survive he is going to have to dump one of his closest friends, and when asked to do the same thing at Notre Dame to save his job he declined and was fired.
Over at Dawgman, and the other fan sites, Husky fans are pouring in emails to AD Todd Turner, and President Emmert demanding that Ty, and, or Todd be let go after the season. The Internet half brains as Turner labeled the fan base at the school are not happy, and plan to show their unhappiness by not renewing their season tickets.
Steve Kelley the lead columnist for the Seattle Times says changes are needed at the UW.
The age of forgiveness is over. It ended late Saturday afternoon. Ended after Washington blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead — to Arizona. It ended when the defense allowed 535 yards and the offense committed five turnovers. Ended with a 48-41 loss. Last week, Washington coach Tyrone Willingham speculated that none of his players could start for USC. And then those players went out and proved him right. Turns out the Huskies don't even have the talent to beat Arizona. "Obviously there are a lot of people who don't feel very good about who we are right now," Willingham said after the game. And every fan who sat through Saturday's debacle has the right to wonder why, after three years under Willingham, this team can't even win these games.
One of our readers has started a site demanding that Todd Turner be shown the door. The writers are anonymous, and I was critical of that here, and at Dawgman. They did however take the time to point out that I was anonymous too, and I had written a couple columns this week critical of Turner, and Willingham. Fair is fair, so even though it is the worst kept secret in the world since I do a Q and A every week in the PI with Nathan Ware under my own name, my name is now published as an author on the blog.
Firetoddturnernow.com is the work of dedicated alumni, fans, and friends who are sick and tired of watching Washington fall from grace. We believe Todd Turner does not have the proper focus, skill, or credibility to lead the athletic department of our great University. His comments have proven he is out of touch with the fan base and suggest we should sit back and enjoy the product on the field regardless of the win/loss record. The breaking point came when Director Turner informed the fans to be patient as Husky Football can be compared to Kentucky...and we should strive to emulate Oregon. Maybe he should take his own advice, not only did Oregon execute when a stadium renovation was needed...the AD resigned after being told he was no longer welcome.
What do I think?
I agree with Steve, we need change, and that change starts with firing some defensive coaches at the end of the season. If Willingham isn't willing to make those changes he needs to be shown the door.
Coaching stability of course is very important for a program, and I have previously been in favor of keeping Ty for the length of his five year contract. I personally like Ty, and I think he is the type of guy that I would want to mentor my own kids. I like a lot of things about him, but lets face it, his job is to win football games, and his teams are not getting better. Take away Jake Locker, and you have a complete mess at Montlake.
Here is one thing I, and the rest of the media know about Ty, he isn't going to fire any of his coaches under pressure. If given that type of mandate he will resign, or accept the consequences which would be his dismissal. Don't feel too sorry for him since he will have enough money to never have to work again in his lifetime.
What about Todd Turner?
I like what Todd does for the most part, but I feel he has been bungling the Husky Stadium remodeling project by not having a fund raising plan in place after two years. His call out to double ticket prices for a team that hasn't won in four years shows just how out of touch he truly is. Todd simply isn't one of us, and he is never going to learn how to be one of us. The Husky AD position is just another job, it doesn't seem to be his passion as it was for Mike Lude, or even may I say Barbara Hedges. Todd is part of the Purple Curtain, and he feels the fans, and media don't need to be a part of anything other than giving money, and buying tickets. Todd really doesn't seem to care about what individual fans think, and to me that represents a total disconnect with the fan base who just happens to pay the bills with their support.
What should we do?
I think the right pieces are out there to fix this in state right now. Jim Mora Jr would be an excellent choice to succeed Willingham as head coach, and former Oregon AD Bill Moos would be an excellent choice as Athletic Director. Both of these guys understand Husky football, and most importantly Husky history. They both know what it takes to build a program, and win in this environment.
What about President Emmert?
I think Emmert's heart is in the right place as far as Husky athletics are concerned, he however has to answer to the Board of Regents whose heart is not in the right place currently. One of the Regents, Bill Gates Sr even thinks the stadium should be torn down and the real estate should be sold to build a medical center.
Emmert works for the Regents, and at LSU the Regents wanted a winning football program, he took the bull by the horns and gave them exactly that by running a one man coaching search which landed Nick Saban.
You can write all the letters you want to Turner, and Emmert, but also start writing letters to the Regents, and of course their boss who happens to be the Governor of the State of Washington. If you really want to change what is happening with Washington football start at the very top, put pressure on the Governor, and work your way down from there.
The removal of decay surrounding Husky football isn't the simple matter of firing asst coaches, the head coach, or even the current athletic director. The decay runs very deep, and it starts at the very top of the food chain which is represented by the Governor of the State, and the UW Board of Regents. If you really want to annoy the right people you start there, and work your way down.
I am sure if Christine Gregoire woke up with 50,000 emails about Husky football on Monday morning she would take notice, same goes for every member of the Board of Regents. If you are going to email Emmert, and Turner, don't forget the Regents, and the Governor.
Learn from the Nebraska food chain
The reason they are making changes at Nebraska is that football is important to the Governor of that state, their Board of Regents, and of course the entire population of that state which just happens to vote for the Governor who appoints the Regents, who hires the President, who hires the Athletic Director, who then hires the football coach.
Start at the very top of the food chain Husky fans, and work your way down, and don't forget the big buck booster's either, take the time to let them know what you think!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Sounds like a guy that is losing control of his team if you ask me. Bulyca, and Savannah were benched for a series a couple of weeks ago for disclinary reasons.
Davenport gets benched the entire game on the second play when your defense gives up 48 points? You have to ask Davenport, or do you have to ask Willingham?
The defense was baffled and couldn't figure out the coverages when coaches tried to mix things up – three down linemen, nickel package, penny package. Guys were clearly confused. Why didn't Davenport return? Why wasn't Stevens – an obvious play-maker – playing more?
Why exactly isn't Chris Stevens playing more?
Are the coaches playing the best players every week?
Let's face it gang, this team isn't getting any better, and we aren't recruiting at a high enough level to turn it around. Ty needs to go, and if if Todd Turner doesn't agree he also needs to be shown the door.
The only thing we have going for us right now is Jake Locker, take away Jake Locker, and you have one of the worst teams in division one. I have never seen a Washington defense that gets progressively worse each week. I have never seen a Washington team that scored 41 points and still lost a football game. To me that is totally unforgivable.
I have been what is called a Posi Dawg on Dawgman ever since Ty was hired, but I have finally had enough, and true to my word I am making my call in the middle of his third year once all bowl possibilities have been exhausted.
I started this blog to be supportive of Willingham, but frankly I have had enough of this crap.
It will cost UW 3 million to fire Willingham, and it is the best investment they can ever make. While your at it fire Turner too, and bring in Bill Moos.
The Huskies start of the game with a nice drive that ends with a fumble deep in Arizona territory. The Wildcats are three and out on the next series. UW once again puts together another nice drive deep into Arizona territory which results in another fumble. The Huskies should be up 14-0 early but two early fumbles have hurt them. Arizona comes out, and goes long twice in a row and the second one results in a 66 yard TD pass.
Arizona 7 Washington 0
Locker hits Reese on a long one and UW is back in business again deep in Arizona territory. Locker picks up a bobbled snap and runs it in from ten yards out.
Washington 7 Arizona 7
Arizona gets a decent run back on the kickoff to around midfield. Arizona ends up punting on 4th and 1.
The Huskies start from their own one yard line after a great punt and a friendly bounce. Locker strikes on second and eight from the two for a 98 yard TD pass to Marcel Reese.
Washington 14 Arizona 7
Arizona comes back with a 51 yard strike down the middle for a TD as Forrester bites on the play action.
Washington 14 Arizona 14
The Huskies put together another long drive as Arizona is incapable of stopping the Dawgs. the highlight of the drive is a 33 yard pass to Corey Williams on third and long. The Huskies convert on another third and long as Locker hits Rankin for a 12 yard TD pass to finish off the drive.
Washington 21 Arizona 14
Arizona takes over on their own 36. The Wildcats go nowhere and bobble the snap. The Huskies end up blocking the kick and returning it for a TD.
Washington 28 Arizona 14
Arizona bobbles the kickoff, but they return it to the 33. Arizona hits another long one to the Husky 21. Something isn't right in the middle of the Husky secondary today. Arizona has a 4th and two deep in the red zone and they decide to go for it. They pick it up for the first at the seven. Arizona punches it through for the TD. UW blocks the extra point.
Washington 28 Arizona 20
The Huskies start on their own 27 with 3:32 to go. The Huskies start driving with a couple of nice pass receptions by TE Mike Gottleib. Locker is intercpeted at the Arizona ten, and the Wildcats return it to their own 40.
Arizona takes over with 1:22 left. The Husky D responds with a sack. UA converts on 3rd down after the Huskies miss a bunch of tackles after good pressure. UA keeps marching to the Husky 26 with 40 seconds remaining. Roy Lewis breaks up a play in the endzone with a great deflection. The Huskies force the Wildcats into a 4th and one situation. The Wildcats go for three and hit it.
Washington 28 Arizona 23
Jake has 14 carries for 98 yards. Louis has eight carries for 41. Locker is 12-17 for 270 yards two TD's, one fumble, and one interception. Those three Washington turnovers cost the team 21 points. Arizona hasn't been able to stop UW all day, and Washington never punted in the first half.
Tuitama has exploited some weak safety play in the middle hitting 15 of 23 for 268 yards, and two TD's. The Wildcats have -5 yards on the ground so far today.
Arizona will have the ball to start the second half, and even though they have been putplayed all day have a chance to take the lead if they can put together another drive. UW needs to straighten things out in the middle of their secondary.
All indications are that Washington will continue to blow these guys out in the second half, the only question I have is if we can stop giving up big plays. Most of Tuitama's passing yards have been on three big plays. Eliminate the offensive turnovers, stop giving up big plays, and Washington should win big.
Can Washington play a second consecutive good third quarter? Washington is obviously the better team and the only way they are going to lose it is to give it away.
Arizona takes over at their own 22. The Wildcats start driving by using short sideline passes. the Wildcats put together a serious drive highlighted by a 22 yard keeper. The Husky defense is not playing well at all. The Cats are mixing in the run well to start the second half. The Wildcats get down to the Husky 7 where the drive stalls forcing the to go for three.
Washington 28 Arizona 26
UW takes over on the 28. UW goes nowhere and has to punt for the first time today. Not exactly the way you want to stop the third quarter.
Nice punt, no return. Arizona takes over on their own 25. UA starts marching with a screen pass for a 13 yard gain. They hit another 15 yarder on the sideline. UW's defense needs a stop and come up with one on third and two at the Husky 36. Arizona goes for it and the pass is knocked down by Tui. Huskies take over.
Rankin plunges for one on first down, the Huskies seem flat. They hand off again for another two. On third and six Williams drops a long reception and the Huskies have to punt again. I hate to say this, but we are in trouble because the defense is gassed again.
Arizona takes over at their own 20. Meshphin Forrester comes up with a big play with an interception deep in Wildcat territory. Arizona is playing much better on defense this half. The Husky running game has been stopped. Locker connects to Russo for 18. Locker keeps for a nice run to the goal line. Locker then runs the sneak for the TD. Jake has 407 yards in total offense today.
Washington 35 Arizona 26
Arizona takes over on the 22. The Wildcats go 3 and out highlighted by a Rayford sack.
UW takes over on the 39 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. Locker takes off on a big keeper for 30 yards.
UW has the ball on the Arizona 31 to start the fourth quarter. Louis busts free for a big gain to the UA 13. Locker takes the ball 8 yards to the goal line. Luke Kravitz takes it over for the TD. Perkins misses the PAT, first he missed all year. I noticed he was pretty erratic today, could be the snap.
Washington 41 Arizona 26
UA gets a good return and starts at the Husky 46. This one isn't over yet. Anthony Johnson is a big receiver and he picks up nine yards and the Wildcats are in business at the Husky 30. The Huskies come up with a big stop and a 3 yard loss. Roy Lewis makes another nice breakup in the endzone. On 3rd and 13 Tuitama hits a 33 yard TD pass. Rayford was obviously held on that play but the refs missed it. He was tackled at the feet of Tuitama. Vonzell McDowell is getting feasted upon today.
Washington 41 Arizona 33
UW takes over at their own 38. Locker fumbles again at his own 30 and Washington once again is in serious trouble with over ten minutes left. Huskies drop them for a loss of three on the screen. Arizona completes a pass to the Husky 12 for a 22 yard pick up. Grigsby takes it to the Husky 2. Tuitama hits thomas and burns Lewis for the TD. Arizona goes for two and converts it to tie the game.
Washington 41 Arizona 41
8:42 left and Locker picks up 15 on a keeper to take the ball to UA 47. Rankin isn't really getting yards now. If UW is going to win this one it is going to be all Jake. Gottleib drops one, and then Locker goes long to Ellis only have it tipped away. the Huskies have to punt.
Arizona starts at their 20 with 7:16 left. Arizona fumbles but recovers. Third and four for the Wildcats. Tuitama hits Turner for the first down with a little over five left. Arizona has another third and four and picks up another first down....yikes. Arizona from the 49 and picks up 2 on the ground. The Huskies need to make a big play, they don't, and Tuitama hits a 19 yard pass for another first down. Tuitama has completed ten in a row. Third and seven from the Husky 27. Tuitama hits another TD pass and this one is about over.
I am so sick and tired of the three man rush!
Arizona 48 Washington 41
UW starts the final drive of the day with 1:55 left from the 35. Jake is sacked on the first play with 1:44 left.
The game mysteriously dissapears from the TV as the Huskies start the final drive of the day. Leave it to Fox to screw the pooch on that one, and the sorry thing is it doesn't matter because Locker throws another interception and Arizona wins.
The committee then had more meetings and discussions throughout the Summer to figure out how exactly they were going to be able to stage construction at the same time as SR-520, and the Sound Transit light rail station. After that they went to the press and said that sooner is better than later, and they wanted to get it done on a time frame that would finish the project in the 2011-2012 time range.
Somehow that has all changed because they came up with a price tag of around $450 million which shouldn't really have surprised anyone, especially the people who have been working on the planning for two years. Everyone knew that this was going to cost a lot of money, so I don't understand the surprise.
Would you pay double the money for your tickets?
Todd Turner, and his committee feel that they can raise $130 million through existing revenue sources such as ticket sales, premium seating, current donation streams, and get this, doubling the current price of football tickets over the next five years.
It's funny, I was just looking at my ticket stub, and at $65 per game I thought it was a bit stiff for the type of entertainment they were providing out there on the field. Of course I have been going to games so long that I can remember when it was well under $20. Getting back to the story, Todd thinks he can raise the price of that ticket up to $130 over the five to six years?
Don't you think it would be wiser to do that once you have a football team that is winning, and of course a football coach that is dedicated to winning? I like Willingham, but I am not seeing a lot of urgency going on by him, and his staff. The main way you turn this all around is by recruiting, and while I give him a pass on the first class, the last two have been very average by Washington standards. In other words I don't see an immediate return to the top ten under Willingham.
Anyway that $130 million won't lower the field, it won't remove the track, and it won't replace the aging bowl. What it will do is take care of pressing needs on the South side of the stadium. It will provide premium seating, a new press box, improved access, and offices for the football team, and athletic department. In other words it is a $130 million dollar band aid that fans may rebel against rather than rally around because they really won't see the improvements they want even though they are paying double to see a game.
Another thing I have found that is quite odd is that they haven't raised one dime for the project yet, and they currently don't have a plan in place to raise any money. You would think that since today is homecoming, and the public opening of the Husky Legend Center, that they would have kicked off a fund raising program to coincide with that today.
Would I eventually pay double? Yes, I probably would, but I wouldn't be happy doing it with the current product out on the field, and I certainly wouldn't be happy doing it if they don't come up with other funding sources that would get the entire job completed in a timely manner.
To me charging double just may be the final straw which brings the wrecking ball to Husky Stadium.
Another piece of the pie would be to sell naming rights to the remodeled stadium. Microsoft Field at Husky Stadium etc... . For some reason this really isn't on the table either even though they need $450 million to get the job completely done.
The naming rights to Reliant Stadium, where the Houston Texans play, cost Reliant Energy about $10 million a year for 32 years. In 1999, FedEx Corp. paid $205 million for 27 years for the naming rights to the Washington Redskins home field in Landover, Md.
Closer to home the naming rights to Qwest Field in Seattle were sold for $75 million over 15 years with a renewal for another ten which puts that deal in the $125 million ball park over a 25 year period.
Former Governor, and Regent Dan Evans who is Turner's right hand man on this project is not in favor of selling naming rights. He has a point, we all love it just as Husky Stadium, but there is no way you can do this project without it unless Bill Gates starts things off by plunking down $150 million.
Talking about Bill Gates, his father, Bill Gates Sr., who is also a UW Regent, wants to tear down the stadium, and sell the real estate. He feels the property can be better used as a world class waterfront medical center. Mr Gates is probably right on that one, but he obviously doesn't understand the value of Husky football to the community, and the University. Husky football when it is managed correctly pays for the entire operating budget of the athletic department. Husky football when managed correctly is the best form of advertising the University has on a national basis.
Think about this Mr Gates, what would a company pay for a three hour plus advertisement on national television 12-14 Saturdays per year? When you think about it in those terms Husky Football is a bargain for the University because the University doesn't put one dime into the football, or athletic program, it is all self supporting. Nothing the UW does generates the name recognition that football does. Being successful is all about branding, and having the UW brand out there on national TV is priceless.
So lets do a couple of quick calculations.
Let's say we have the $130 million Turner is talking about, and then add another $125 million for naming rights, that would give you $255 million which means you would have to raise another $190 million in private donations to finish the entire dream. $190 million isn't out of the realm of possibility. The Campaign for the Student Athlete which didn't have a lot of support because so little of it was being allocated to football raised around $90 million. You can't tell me that you can't find another $200 million out there if you tap all the resources available, and that includes the State of Washington. I mean if they can subsidize stadiums for the Mariners, Seahawks, and possibly the Sonics, they can kick a little in for the University of Washington.
What is really going on?
I think what is really going on is that the Regents gave the committee's plan the cold shoulder when it was presented to them. Gates Sr's reaction, and comments were very typical of that cold shoulder, and since he represents the funds of the worlds wealthiest human being his comments certainly can't be discounted. For some reason this man thinks wiping Malaria off the face of the planet is more important than six or seven football games on the shores of Lake Washington each Saturday. He thinks the goals of the University would be better served if the team simply moved downtown to play at Qwest which just happens to be the finest football stadium in the country.
I think the key here is not the remodeling of Husky Stadium, I think it is the beginning of the battle to preserve Husky Stadium from being torn down. I think there are quite a few people on the upper campus who would like the stadium to be torn down, and I think the battle lines are currently being drawn.
When you present a magnificent $450 million dollar plan with out a public plan to raise donations to fund it it makes me think that something funny is going on. Wouldn't fund raising be first and foremost if they are really serious about getting something done?
Maybe all this has been is window dressing to show that remodeling the stadium is a waste of money, and the University would be better served by playing it's games in Qwest in the future.
Dick Baird made a lot of sense today when he said the University missed the window about 15 years ago when the team was drawing 76,000 fans per game, and the cost to do it would have been around $200 million. You can blame Barbara Hedges for that one when she decided to upgrade the other facilites first with the Campaign for the Student Athlete. You can also blame her, and the administration again when they turned down Paul Allen's offer to find the entire project by allowing the Seahawks to play there for 15 years.
I don't think for a second that Todd Turner doesn't want to get this project completed, I just think he is running into some resistance from the upper campus.
I don't have the answers, but something doesn't smell right, it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next year.
Friday, October 26, 2007
During the week before the game Ty handed out pink slips to a number of juniors who expected to be back the following season. Many observers felt that it was a mistake, and that it affected the teams play against Stanford in a negative way contributing to the upset. We all know what happened in that game. UW was crippled at QB and couldn't get anything going on offense, and the Cardinal won their lone game of 2006.
For most it was the end of the honeymoon for Ty at Washington. Most fans knew when Stanback went down with a mid season injury that this team's bowl hopes were slight, but we all expected a victory over lowly Stanford. Rhe team did rebound the following week to beat WSU and finish 5-7, but that shot for a bowl game, and a non losing record went out the windows against the Cardinal.
Tomorrow we play Arizona, followed by Stanford the next week, both are must wins against two very beatable opponents. Win those two, it solves a lot of problems. It heals a lot of open wounds. Win those two and Washington is back on track for a bowl appearance. Win those two and the team should be able to be competive enough to steal one from Oregon State, or Cal which would put them in great shape for a bowl bid when they finish the season with WSU, and Hawaii.
The question I have is which Huskies are going to show up?
I think it is a valid question since this team has been through a meat grinder the past five weeks playing a constant diet of top ten teams. Do they have enough left mentally, and physically to take care of business? I ask this question because the Huskies lost two players the past week, or two who just walked off the team. Both players were in competition to see a lot of action next year, but for some reason they were unhappy, and decided to move elsewhere.
Quitting in the middle of the season is always bad form. I can understand when a kid decides to transfer at the end of the season, but leaving in the middle of the year is a selfish betrayal of the team concept. When you see things like that you wonder if it is an isolated incident, or if their are more problems waiting to surface.
Hasty, Bush, and Kosub were not going to contribute much this year, so their loss really means nothing for the immediate future. They do however represent links in a chain that form the team. A team is only as strong as it's weakest link. Once you start losing links out of that chain things can begin to unravel.
Was losing these three players just simple attrition, or is it a sign that the overall mental health of the team is suffering? Is it a sign that there is a developing disconnect between the players and the coaches?
Can the players, and the coaching staff keep it together in the face of a much lighter schedule? Can they keep the dream of a bowl bid, and a winning season alive?
Tomorrow at noon we are going to find it, and I think we are going to like the answer.
The answer of course is redshirt freshman Jake Locker.
Jake is the guy that makes this team go, and I think he is ready to flourish Staturday against a weaker opponent.
I watched the Oregon game in person last Saturday. the defense came out absolutely flat, and ill prepared to play a football game. We fell behing 14 points in the first two drives and it looked like the Huskies were willing to tank this one. What followed was an inspired performance by Jake and the offense which helped lift the defense enough to give the team a chance to win.
Jake is a difference maker, and that is what difference makers do, they lift the perfomance of the entire team by deeds, and example. I think Jake is the guy that is going to rally this team to a bowl bid, and I truly think we can win every game left on this schedule.
I think Washington is going to come out tomorrow, and kick the snot out of Arizona exactly the way they have the two previous years. That victory is going to give them the confidence, and faith they need to end the season with a strong finish, and bowl bid. That victory will send them to Palo Alto on a mission the following week to avenge last years surprising loss.
I think the best days are ahead for this club, and it all starts against Arizona.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Hasty never really got it while he was a Husky due to injury, academics, and conditioning issues.
James Sr has some comments in the PI
Under adversity your true character shows, and under a little adversity JR Hasty quit on his teammates in mid season. Good luck in the future JR.
"We've got to get us a few more bullets in our gun to attack these guys," Willingham said. "That would help."
That, obviously, means improving the team's talent base, which is done mostly through recruiting.
Asked this week where the team needs the most help, Willingham said, "We are not good enough everywhere. I think I should ask you this question and you can come up with your own answer — how many of our starters, when we lined up against USC that night, would start for them?"
Is Ty throwing his players under the bus as some pundits, and fans are insinuating?
(I don't think so at this point. I think a couple of wins over Arizona, and Stanford will get the positive thinking headed in the right way.)
Is Ty just being realistic about the current talent on his team?
Would Jim Harbaugh say that about a similar situation he is in at Stanford?
(No, it is something that doesn't need to be discussed because it is pretty obvious. A better tact to go with would be to talk up your players, and find some positives. Harbaugh is in his first year and he has the Stanford players believing.)
Is this as Race Bannon says the beginning of Gilby II?
(Gilby's teams rarely competed, Willinghams teams compete every week. I wouldn't make that call till I see people giving up. UW was very competitive in all five losses, Gilby would have been blown out.)
I have mixed feelings on this one because if you look at the USC lineup you probably won't find a single position where a current Washington Husky would win a starting position. Would USC start Locker right now, no way!
To be honest that is the way it was most years of Don James reign as Husky head coach, and it will be that way most years in the future. The point is that a well coached team of lesser athletes can often beat a team with more talented athletes that isn't executing. Stanford proved that this year, and UW almost proved the last two seasons.
I completely agree with Willingham, Washington needs an upgrade at every single position except quarterback on this team in the future.
I also say this team needs to do a better job recruiting. In the crucial 2008 year we are ranked in the 30-40 range so far again, and that just doesn't cut it. Ty has 14 in the bag right now, but the next 13 he brings in need to be pretty special to put this one over the top. He needs the top local players desperately.
Those players are going to come from his last two recruting classes, and the next one which will have 27 players in 2008. Like he says it is all about recruiting, and those three classes will determine his fate.
Players with NFL Draft Potential
Here is a list, but Locker is the only guy on the roster that is lock to get drafted some day.
CB Lewis ( Late round if any)
C Garcia ( Third round or higher)
LB Butler ( Too early to tell because of a nagging knee injury)
LB Savannah ( Still young but has the speed you like.)
DE Teo Nesheim (Has a great motor)
QB Locker (First Round)
DT Elisara (Hasn't emerged yet behind three seniors, watch the second half of this season.)
OT Habben (You start as a RS and you might be pretty good by the time you leave.)
OG Tolar ( Same thing on Tolar)
Frosh (Way too early to really predict on anyone, but here are some guesses.)
QB Fouch ( This guy is going to be a great QB)
RB Johnson (We haven't seen much, but he is the top backup as a frosh)
LB Foster (Getting a start as a frosh is special)
S Williams (I think Nate can be a rock in the secondary)
S Aiyewa (He hasn't played much, but has great potential to grow into)
TE Izbicki ( He won't be lower than #2 next year behind Gottleib. this guy has the tools.)
OG Shugert (Like Tolar last year the coaches pondered about playing him mid year)
Arizona like Washington has struggled this year, but unlike Washington the Wildcats have struggled against a much easier schedule. This was the year that Mike Stoops was supposed to put it all together in Tucson, but the season has been disappointing so far. One interesting note is the entire coaching staff was crying tears of frustration after losing to Stanford. It is obvious these guys want to win, but it also obvious that if they don't turn it around this weekend they will be dismissed at the end of the year.
The Washington staff doesn't feel that type of urgency yet, and it could be to their disadvantage on Saturday when playing a program with their collective backs up against the wall. The heat has been turned up on the Ty Willingham as the press is starting to criticize the team a bit. The message boards have been just brutal since the USC loss, and Husky fans are desperate for a win. That being said, no jobs are in danger this year since Ty is likely to continue coaching at UW at least till the end of his contract.
The next two weekends are must wins for the Huskies. Arizona, and Stanford are a couple of teams that they should beat since they represent the bottom of the Pac Ten. Nationally people look at the Huskies schedule and realize that it has been the nations toughest so far, some even go as far as labeling the Huskies as the best 2-5 team in the country. UW has had a chance to win every single game they have been in this year, and took Oregon who may be the best program in the country down to the last six minutes of the fourth quarter last weekend.
Moral victories aren't cutting it anymore for Willingham, and his staff. If they lose one of the next two, or the unthinkable, both of them, the fire is going to be turned up to record levels for Ty and his crew.
Why Arizona will win
The Wildcats aren't a bad football team despite the record. They have shown improvement on offense this season and are one of the leading passing teams in the league. Despite that improvement they have had a lot of trouble in the red zone, and that means they are not doing a very good job rushing the ball, or coming through in the clutch.
Defensively the team is a couple notches below where most people thought they would be coming into the season. Stoops of course is a head coach with defensive roots, and the Wildcats have some real talent throughout the defense that the Huskies would be envious of. For one reason or another this group hasn't jelled as a unit yet this season except for the WSU game. For the Cat's to beat the Huskies they need to come up with the type of performance they are capable of.
Arizona will win this game if they can control Jake Locker, and take away the Washington running game. If they make Locker beat them with passing they have a shot for the upset. On the offensive side of the ball they will test the Washington secondary all day. The Huskies have been dealing with the run for the most part the last five weeks, and this is the first pass first team they have played since Syracuse. Offensively if Willie Tuitama can hit his receivers and they can get extra yards against a soft Washington coverage it may open up the running game which would give the Wildcats the balance they need to win the game, and convert in the red zone.
Why Washington will win
The Huskies are playing at home in front of a homecoming crowd against the first team they have been favored against since the opener against Syracuse. This Washington team is still in the bowl hunt, and they are very aware that a win against a beatable opponent like Arizona will help erase the pain of the past few weeks, setting the tone for the rest of the season.
If you watched the Oregon game last week there was one thing that stuck out more than anything, and that is the offense led by Jake Locker is starting to come together. Louis Rankin is now rushing the way we all thought he could, and the Huskies finally have a deep game which is starting to stretch the field. If Washington can score 34 points on Oregon they can score at least that many against Arizona.
Defensively the Huskies had a historically bad performance against the Ducks. The Wildcats won't be nearly as tricky, physical, or as talented. The Washington front should finally be playing against a team they can dominate, or at least slow down. The Washington DB situation has solidified quite a bit at corner even though the safety position lacks a hammer. Arizona likes to throw it about three yards out to the edge much like Syracuse did, the Huskies should be able to shut down with tighter coverage at the line of scrimmage. Look for the Huskies to hurry Tuitama into making mistakes which turn into turnovers.
What do I think?
I think Washington is going to kick the ever loving crap out of the Wildcats. Jake has shown me enough growth over the last couple of weeks that I think he will run all over Arizona. I predict that he will have 250 yards through the air, and over 100 on the ground. Louis Rankin will have his first 100 yard game since Syracuse, and the Husky defense will keep the Wildcats under twenty points. the UW defense will also atone for last week by keeping the UA running game under 100 yards, and they will put enough pressure on Tuitama to force him into three interceptions.
That is pretty optimistic isn't it?
Well if Washington is going to win five out of the next six, and go bowling it all starts with a breakout performance on Saturday against a team they should beat on most Saturday's.
Washington has played a top ten team each week since they started the season 2-0. I think playing that type of competition, and staying competitive each week will help them during the second half of the year win some games. UW isn't a top ten team, but I think we can beat every team left on our schedule including Cal.
Will they do it?
I don't know, but this weekend will give us the answers we need, and I think we are going to like those answers.