Friday, November 30, 2007
Over here in Hawaii tickets to Saturdays game are going for as much as $1200 a piece! It made my wife think that maybe we should sell them and watch the game on TV. That of course is very tempting, but no way are we going to do that. This is the biggest game in the history of the islands and we are going to be part of it.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
John: We have heard plenty about Colt Brennan this season, but what about the Warrior defense? Who are some of the standout players to keep an eye on Saturday?
Tom: After spending the previous two years under Jerry Glanville's 3-4, the Warrior defense switched to a 4-3 defense at the start of this season under coordinator Greg McMackin. With an emphasis on team speed, blitzing, and forcing turnovers, the Warriors D adjusted quickly to McMackin's schemes and now ranks 18th in the nation in turnovers gained, 13th in interceptions, 7th in sacks, and 4th in tackles for loss. Among the outstanding players this year, defensive end David Veikune leads the team with six sacks, middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian leads the team with 120 tackles, while outside linebacker Adam Leonard has been all-purpose, with 92 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 sacks and 2 defensive TDs. P.S. I got the stats from the NCAA site NCAA SITE LINK
Tom: From what I've seen and heard, Jake Locker and Louis Rankin will probably be the two best rushers Hawaii will see all season. Tell us a little about what they bring to the table. Do you think Jake's concussion from a few weeks ago will affect the game plan? For instance, will there be less designed runs for Jake, and/or more passing?
John: Jake is the best running quarterback I have ever seen. Every time he touches the ball he is a threat to pick up some big yards on the ground, in fact he will actually finish with over 1000 rushing yards this season. Jake has the uncanny ability to make people miss, and at 240 pounds he also can take most defenses head on and drag them with him. Jake is fully recovered from his concussion and neck injury suffered against Oregon State. I think the Huskies will have around a dozen designed runs for Jake on Saturday night.
Louis is a quality running back. He doesn't have the size to be a power back, but once he hits a seam and gets in the secondary he can outrun just about anyone. Last week he took a kickoff return to the house against WSU. Louis depends on his blockers to create those seams, and has two two hundred yard plus rushing games this season. This is his last game as a Husky and he will be testing the Hawaii defense all night as Washington tries to control the ball, and the clock.
John: Is Hawaii really going to pass the ball 70% or more of the time on Saturday night?
Tom: It's not that Hawaii can't run the ball. June Jones just chooses not to. Or at least he'd like people to think so. When you have a quarterback like Colt Brennan and an exceptional receiving corps who can break 8 yard passes into 40 yard touchdowns, you can't blame him for throwing it a lot. But when UH does run the ball, the top 3 running backs are all averaging about six yards
a carry. Something else to keep in mind is the shovel pass to the running back, which acts almost like a draw play. That all being said, I believe the breakdown is about 70-30 pass vs run, so yes that can be expected in this game.
Tom: What do you think are Washington's strengths and/or weaknesses on defense? What do you envision the defensive game plan will be against Hawaii?
John: Colt Brennan should be licking his chops because he will be facing the worst defense in the history of Washington football. UW can't stop the run very well, and when it comes to passing we make average QB's like Tuitama, and Brink look like Heisman Trophy candidates. One thing you will notice is the Husky defense is not coached very well. UW will give up a big cushion of 10-12 yards which Brennan will pick apart. We spend most of our time in a three man pass rush and only blitz around 10% of the time. That means Brennan will have a lot of time to set up his throws.
For UW to win they need to ignore the run and rush the passer. Pressure is the only thing that will slow down the Hawai'i offense. Willingham has said they are going to rotate younger players in all night to keep people fresh for the pass rush.
John: I read a note that Hawai'i is one of the top schools in the country when it come to stopping the run. Is that because teams need to pass to stay up with your offense, or are you guys' legitimately tough against the run?
Tom: It's a little bit of both. Some teams come in thinking they need to play ball control, grinding out the clock on the ground. But when UH goes up by two or three touchdowns, time suddenly becomes precious, and opposing offensive coordinators have to abandon their game plan to try and keep up. Early this year, as the defense was still gelling and getting used to McMackin's schemes, Louisiana Tech was pretty successful running the ball. But as the season has progressed, the UH defense has stiffened, assignments and gaps have been filled, and the defense is playing as a unit. UH had one of their best defensive gamesof the year against Boise State, holding the Broncos' explosive offense to just 332 total yards. I have to say though, the Warriors will face a great challenge trying to contain Locker and Rankin.
Tom: You mentioned that Louis Rankin took back a kickoff return for TD last week. Overall, how are the Huskies on special teams? Hawaii has had a few breakdowns on return coverage in the last half of this season, and a great kick return game could cause headaches for the Warriors. Do you think special teams play will play a big part in this game?
John: The Huskies are improved on special teams this year. The punting and place kicking has been very consistent. Rankin is one of the better kickoff returners in the country. We aren't that special returning punts. Anthony Russo has had only one great runback this year. We do tend to give up too much on kickoff returns, and it has hurt us at times this year. Special teams really make up 1/3 of the game. Rankin has the ability to hurt you so that could be a factor.
John: Most of us will be staying in Waikiki. I haven't been there in years, can you tell us a couple of great places to eat in that area other than Roy's? Another question is we all know this is a big game for Hawai'i, and we have also heard the crowd can get a little rough in Aloha Stadium. any suggestions?
Tom: John, first of all, I hope you have a great trip to Hawaii! I haven't been to too many restaurants in Waikiki recently (I'm currently in Cali), but one place to visit would be Lulu's Surf Club. (Click for the link) I hear the food is great, and they have UH memorabilia for sale to take back home with you, hehe. They also host the Call the Coach radio show with June Jones, so definitely a good place to check out "enemy territory". Let me know if you'd like me to send you a list of other restaurants to check out. As for the fans at Aloha Stadium -- most of them are great, but as with anywhere else, there are fools who cause trouble. After the whole hubbub over some Fresno fans getting harassed during their game, UH and Aloha Stadium officials beefed up security, June Jones filmed a PSA asking fans to show aloha to their opponent, and in the end Boise fans had a great time. I didn't hear of any complaints. Most of the people you'll encounter in Hawaii and Aloha Stadium are very nice, even if they rib you about your team. You should have a great time.
Tom: Any score predictions? Do you think Locker will get the 90 yards he needs to break 1000?
John: I have to go with Hawaii in this one, but Washington will be in it to the very end if all the other games they have played this season are any indication. Our record might not be that good, but we have taken every team into the fourth quarter this year win, or lose. It is going to be a high scoring game, and I predict the Warriors win 49-35 behind the 600 yards of passing Colt Brennan will put on the board against the Huskies.
I am pretty sure Locker will go over 100 yards since nobody has been able to stop him all year. The real question is how many yards Louis Rankin, and Brandon Johnson will get? If UW can put together around 200 yards from the tailbacks they will be in great shape to win this one.
John: What about you, what is your prediction?
Tom: I want to say Hawaii will win big and put an exclamation point on an undefeated season, but I have to agree with you that it'll be a hard-fought game. UW won't be able to stop the Warriors' offense, but the combination of Locker and Rankin will give UH problems as well. In the end, the momentum and the rockin Aloha Stadium crowd will be too much for the Huskies to overcome and the Warriors will pull out a 42 to 31 victory. Thanks John, this was fun. Hope you have a great trip.
Most of us that are flying over there are going to be on the beaches, playing golf, or off site seeing most of the time, so it makes sense for us all to meet up before the game on Saturday at the UWAA Tent.
Aloha, and see you all there!
UWAA Football Warmup
Join the Huskies on the road and party before the away football games with your host, Husky Legend Greg Lewis, the Husky Marching Band and Cheer Squad and Husky alumni and fans! Washington Warm Ups are the official pre-game parties of the University of Washington Huskies and are proudly presented by the UW Alumni Association.
Kick-off is now set for 6:30 p.m. (Hawaii Time). Warm Ups always start 3 hours prior to kick-off, so the fun begins at 3:30 p.m.
Cost: UWAA Members $15, Non-Members $20. A very limited number of tickets will be available at the door for at the "At-Door" price of $20. Advance ticket sales have been cut off but tickets will be available at the door.
Location: Richardson Field (across the street from Aloha Stadium), Honolulu, HI
Aloha Stadium Issues Traffic, Parking, Security Advisory
This is a link from the Honolulu Advertiser concerning all of the above. They are really going to beef up security to assure the safety of all fans.
Q&A with the Hawaii Blog
Tombo Ahi of the Hawaii Warrior Football blog has been kind enough to exchange questions with me this week. We should have it finished and posted later in the day for viewing.
Well the Seattle newspapers are finally breaking their silence on the coaching situation at UW. Steve Kelley is the first columnist to come out and suggest that now is the time for UW to make the move to bite the bullet and hire Jim Mora Jr.. I have no idea what is going on up at the upper campus, but it will become very evident inside a week from now.
Washington coach Tyrone Willingham called the play a communication breakdown. But a communication lapse that enormous? After a timeout? Twelve weeks into the season? It never should have happened. It was more than a breakdown in communication. It was a colossal gaffe. The kind of mistake, when heaped upon all of the others, that gets a coach fired. Week by week, mistake by mistake, it is becoming apparent that Willingham isn't working at Washington.
McGrath from the TNT chimes in.
Nobody figured to be thrilled with a 4-8 record, but given the circumstances – a brutal schedule; a close-call, near-miss upset bid against a Southern California team then ranked No. 1; a perception that the no-nonsense coach has re-established honor and accountability to a program that went goofy under Rick Neuheisel – Willingham gets an automatic extension toward a fourth year. The game at Hawaii changes that. It sets up Willingham to become the first UW coach to finish with two nine-loss seasons in three years. More troubling is the possibility of humiliation – and it’s a real possibility.
WSU is going to end up with a pretty good football coach and chances are only 50/50 it will be ex WSU coach Mike Price. Price was the most succesful head coach at WSU since Lone Star Dietz matched wits with Gil Dobie. WSU either goes with Price or they go with a younger coach.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Todd Turner is still firmly behind Ty Willingham according the Seattle Times.
Asked whether there was any doubt that Willingham would return next season, Turner said: "Not in my mind."
Houston Nutt wasn't out of a job very long. He landed back in the SEC at Ole Miss. Nutt won his final game at Arkansas beating #1 LSU, but was axed at the end of the season. He should do well for the Rebels.
Bo Pellini was interviewed for the Nebraska job today. The LSU defensive coordinator is one of the front runners for the Cornhusker job.
The Cougars have a long list of potential candidates that include John L. Smith, Mike Price, Tim Lappano, Bobby Hauck, Bob Gregory, Chris Petersen, Pat Hill, and my favorite, Wyoming coach Joe Glenn. That is a pretty impressive list that Moos, and Sterk have put together.
The Seattle Times and all the other usual sources are telling us that Prosser HS Wr Cody Bruns has verbaled to Washington. Even though the Huskies have been losing they are still bringing in a solid class. Washington will take 25 this year, and maybe a JC or two. UW currently has 16 verbal committments. December is a crucial month for the Huskies in recruiting. Bruns coming on board is a very big thing. The kid has the best tools in the Northwest despite lacking sprinter speed. UW really could use a kid who runs great patterns and knows how to come back for the ball.
Nathan, and I are at it again over in his PI Blog.
John: It seemed to me that UW moved away from everything that made them successful last week against Cal on offense. Was the WSU defense so different that it forced UW to pass almost 40 times?
Nathan: It's a great question and I've been chewing on this topic for the last 48 hours. WSU plays a 3-4 and it is a different animal. Does it justify passing 37 times, though? I don't think so. If anything, it should be easier to run north-south up the middle against a 3-4. And, UW had success when they ran the football. Granted, they didn't have any long runs like they did against Cal but they were effective moving the chains. So, no, I don't think the WSU defense forced UW out of their game plan. I think the UW coaches forced themselves out of their game plan.
Greg O'Byrne contributes a couple of video's that are sure to lighten things up. Click on each of them, they are pretty funny.
From the Maryland game the ref calls a personal foul for "giving him the business". Heh nice one.
Here is what some consider the original call from the NFL years ago.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I would have bet that the Cougars would have kept him after the Apple Cup win but they have decided to part ways on a high note. Don't worry about Bill Doba, he leaves with more than enough money to have a great retirement. I always thought Doba was a class act, but the bottomline in college football is winning, and the Cougars haven't been doing much of that lately.
Before we get to all the blather, first and foremost, a big thank you and shout out to Ole Bill. Without question, the guy put his heart and soul into the program. Moreover, when you think about how he handled his wife's illness during a gut-wrenching 4-7 campain (that was ssssssooo close to a 9-2 season), and you have to tip your hat to the man. He really is a class act.
The WSU blog thinks Mike Price will be named head coach by the end of the week. WSU by the way fired all their assistants too which means they already have a good idea of who is going to be the next head man.
WSU's final touchdown really summed up the season. The team doesn't know how to finish, and it is obvious that the coaches aren't putting the players in a position to finish. That one particular play was the result of a terribly blown scheme where half the team was blitzing, and the other was in cover two. There is absolutely no excuse for that in the final minute of the last conference game of the season.
Still it wasn't just the defense that lost this game, it was a terrible offensive game plan contributed also. Washington drove California into the ground last week with a backup quarterback and a strong rushing game. Washington moved completely away from what gave them perhaps the best win in the Willingham era last week over California. UW threw the ball 37 times yesterday completing only 12 passes, with two interceptions. The Huskies also lost a fumble on one of the few receptions one of their receivers actually were able to make. UW receivers dropped at least six very catchable balls yesterday. If you make a couple of those catches dives don't stall, and you probably come away with a win.
Washington didn't lose on Saturday because WSU had better players. Washington didn't win because they didn't execute very well on either side of the ball. The team didn't execute well because the coaches ignored what the team has been becoming very good at, and that is simply running the ball. You have to wonder why these guys keep sabotaging themselves.
My friend Nathan Ware seriously doubts that UW will make a move such as firing Willingham, and Turner after the team returns from Hawaii. He thinks the best we can hope for is that they replace a couple coaches, but even that is dicey since Ty refused to do that at Notre Dame.
I on the other hand think that there is a very good chance that they make a move because booster favorite Jim Mora is in town, and very available. That move will cost a lot of money, and the big bucks guys will have to step up to make that happen. Word on the street is they are ready to make that kind of move if Emmert allows it.
I have always liked Willingham, and I think he has done some good things at UW since he arrived, but it really comes down to winning football games and putting butts in the seats. Willingham hasn't accomplished either, and the program may not be able to afford to give him another year to see if he can get over the hump.
Washington should have finished with at least a .500 record last season, the loss to Stanford was inexcusable. Losing to WSU, and Arizona this season is inexcusable too. You need to win the games you are supposed to win even if you are rebuilding and we simply haven't done that.
On Thursday my wife, and I fly to Honolulu for the game. We leave with mixed emotions because of the expense, and of course the likelihood of another loss to finish the season. This was a game that should have meant something. This was a game that should be propelling us into a bowl with a win. What it has become is a reward for a senior class that has never been to a bowl game.
I think it is going to be very tough for this team to compete in Aloha Stadium on Saturday which is unfortunate because it will be on national television via ESPN. Willingham's team has shown up for every single game this season, and in every one of those games they have had a shot to win. Let's hope that continues for one more week.
We will be posting from Hawaii as time, and Internet connections allow.
Rumors About Doba
On rumor is circulating that it looks like Bill Doba has escaped the hangman's noose over at WSU according to our friends over at the WSU blog. Doba was a shoe in to get the axe before the Apple Cup, but that win, and the 2.8 million it would take to buy his staff out have apparently given him another year on Poop Island.
Another rumor posted over at Dawgman suggests that an inside source has divulged that Doba will announce his retirement this evening. that rumor says a settlement has been worked out which will allow the Cougars to pay the contract off over time.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I was surprised that USC took apart Arizona State on Thursday, but Pete Carroll is definitely the king of November out in these parts. Looks like only one Pac Ten team will be in the BCS this year unless the Trojans can somehow slip in with two losses.
LSU's loss while I enjoyed it really shocked me. Looks like Les Miles will head off to Michigan anyway if my sources are correct, this just made it easier. Tough to be an Oregon fan knowing that if Dixon hadn't gone down they would have been in the championship game. I really don't think he Ducks will win another game this year. Nothing personal, I just don't think Leaf can get it done.
As for the Apple Cup I really don't have any idea of what to expect in a game where you throw out all the statistics, strap it on, and let everything fly. From what we are hearing Doba is gone no matter what the out come is which is too bad because I like the guy. For Willingham he is a little more secure, but a loss today to WSU will really get the drums beating for a change.
I have a number of friends who have mixed emotions about the last two games. One actually said he wouldn't mind losing two more if it means Ty gets the axe. I on the other hand can't do that, I am rooting for us to win the last two.
UCLA 16 Oregon 0
The Ducks did USC a favor and knocked themselves out of the Rose Bowl. If the Duck offense can't get by UCLA they are certainly not going to get by the Beavers next week in the Civil War. Tough loss for the Ducks who may be lucky to end up in El Paso when this all settles down.
Notre Dame 21 Stanford 14
Notre Dame really has sucked this season, and nothing proves it more than a fourth quarter death struggle in Palo Alto. The Irish pull it out stopping Stanford on the ND 6 in the last minute of the game.
Huskies and the Coug's
Louis Rankin just ran the opening kickoff back for a TD.
Washington 7 WSU 0
The Huskies drive deep on the second possesion and come up with a FG after the drive stalls do to illegal procedure on third and two.
Washington 10 WSU 0
The Huskies offense starts stalling due to penalties, play calling, and the usual questionable decisions. WSU rips a couple passes for 74 yards in two plays to get on the scoreboard. UW shut them down well most of the 1st quarter till that series. UW needs to keep it simple and hand the ball off to Rankin just like last week.
Washington 10 WSU 7
The Huskies march down the field led by Locker and he completes the drive with a nice 25 yard TD run sprinting around the outside.
Washington 17 WSU 7
Coug's put together a nice drive built around a long gain that was picked up on a deflected pass. Ivory surprises the Dawgs on a 25 yard run to take it home.
Washington 17 WSU
Huskies drive again but dropped passes stall the drive. Perkins hits the FG.
Washington 20 WSU 14Coug's finish the second half with a long scoring drive to take the lead. Is Baer making his final appearance in Husky Stadium?
WSU 21 Washington 20
The game started with a lot of promise, but it got ugly for Washington in the second quarter. UW simply isn't doing the things they did last week to win. Too many mistakes on both sides of the ball adds up to a one point WSU lead at the half.
Coug's open the second half with a TD drive.
WSU 28 Washington 20
Jake hits Reese for a long TD. We go for two and convert,
Washington 28 WSU 28
UW drives to the Cougar one and goes for it on fourth and goal. Locker takes it in from one for the TD.
Washington 35 WSU 28The Huskies sack the Cougars for a long loss, but they are called for defensive holding which is around a 30 yard turnaround. On the next play Brink hits for a TD and the game is tied...unbelievable.
Washington 35 WSU 35
Corey Williams fumbles the ball on a reception at the Cougar 28. The Huskies are doing their best to lose this one. The Huskies avoid disaster and get the Coug's out of the drive with four minutes to go. Brink hits Gibson for a long TD with 31 seconds left as hit on the blitz.
WSU 42 Washington 35
Washington has 31 seconds left to pull this one out. Huskies take over at the 50 with 25 seconds left. UW takes a couple shots at the end zone from the fourty. Cougars win as Jackson intercepts in the endzone.
Friday, November 23, 2007
The Orange (4-1) were able to hold a double-figure lead for most of the second half thanks to their defense. Syracuse had 12 steals in forcing 21 turnovers and the Orange were able to convert many of those into easy transition baskets.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Donald Sloan scored a career-high 18 points and No. 16 Texas A&M held Washington without a field goal for a key 5-minute stretch in the second half to beat the Huskies 77-63 on Wednesday night in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals.
"They did a good job guarding us," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We didn't knock down shots at crucial stages."
Washington missed Ryan Appleby tonight and had to depend on seven foot center Joe wolfinger to provide offense behind the tree point line. Despite the loss that was much closer than the score indicated the Huskies looked better than last year and will contuniue to improve as the season goes on.
John: Do you expect Alex Brink to bounce back this week after throwing six interceptions against Oregon State?
Sedihawk: In a non-blind-homerism sort of analysis, yes, I think Brink does bounce back this week.
Why? Well, there's a number of reasons:
1) Oregon State's defense is really something. Their speed at linebacker is ideal for stopping the quick, short passing game that WSU thrives on. And the Beaver D's ability to defend the run is off the charts. It's well-documented that when Alex Brink has a running game that goes over 100 net yards, he's 8-3 since the beginning of 2006. But when the running game is under 100 yards? Try 2-10 over that same stretch. When you combine those numbers with the WSU offense losing senior TE Jed Collins to injury, who not only is an excellent pass-catcher with 50+ balls this year but also a vital blocker as an H-back in the running game? It was a disaster waiting to happen. Once OSU was up by a couple of scores, with no running game to speak of and the pressure of trying to play for bowl eligibility all hitting a t the same time? Forget it. The whole thing collapsed in an ugly, rainy, crimson-n-gray heap. At least nobody was there to see it as 80% of the campus was already home for Thanksgiving by the time kickoff arrived.
2) So, that said, UW's defense has been, well, spotty at best this year, if not downright bad in some games. To put it another way, this isn't exactly a top-shelf defense that's full of speed and power. Even Captain Husky (the old man in the purple Superman outfit?) will admit that. Now we do know the Husky D has in fact played better against Stanford, OSU and now Cal, so they have improved. But they still aren't at that elite level. And Brink has done well against defenses that don't have top-shelf speed to defend the short passing game.
3) Finally, hard as it is to believe, but Brink has rarely laid an egg in consecutive games. He's been a big time bounce-back guy his whole career. He always seems to bury his bad performances as fast as possible. Last year for example, he was awful against Cal and was actually pulled in the 3rd quarter for a short time as the Cougars lost ugly, 21-3. Yet the next week, he was outstanding against Oregon, playing the most efficient game in his career while leading them to an upset victory over the hated quacks. His performance was good enough for Pac-10 POW honors.
So, bottom-line man (in "Softy" Mahler-speak): He's a senior in his last game. The pressure of trying to win to get to a bowl is gone, exactly like it was in 2004 and 2005. He's not a kid that's really ever lacked confidence, so I think he'll put this game behind him and come out ready to play.
Brinkhater: Can Brink bounce back? The answer is "hell yes." And that's the problem, the kid ALWAYS bounces back. To compound matters, he never gets hurt, and even worse, NEVER graduates. I keep waking up in the middle of the night thinking that someone is going to bequeath upon him a Bob Garman (7 year WSU offensive tackle) double-secret-probation medical redshirt and give him an additional fifth year....god what a nightmare.
The big thing in this game, honestly, is the play of our offensive line which really could not be more of an up and down group. IF the line blocks (which it has NOT done against the Dawgs--even when we were good), then I think that this game will be competitive, if not an outright nightmare for the Dub. Now, will the line throw something other than look-out blocks between 4 and 5:30 on Saturday? I doubt it, but that's why they play the game...
Did I mention that we've now beaten you five straight times in basketball?
John: I knew you were going to get around to that, and it is pretty amazing what has happened to the Poop Island basketball program. The Cougars have done a good job recruiting hard workers while the Huskies have had a hard time getting their primadonna recruits to play together. The rebirth of the Cougar basketball program has to be one of the top stories of the decade.
Sedihawk: It sounds like Locker will be ready to go on Saturday. When he's not busy turning water into wine or working on a cure for cancer, will the Savior play the whole game, or should we expect Bonnell to get some playing time? And if Bonnell does play, how much does the play-calling change based on who's at QB?
John: Ty won't officially tip his hat till game time, he wants Doba to prepare for both of them. Personally I don't think we will see much of Carl Bonnell outside of holding for PAT's, and FG's. If Carl is forced to play they won't run him much even though he has decent speed. He is pretty prone to injury, so they will just hand the ball off to Rankin, and Johnson. Carl can make things happen, and he is actually a more accurate passer than Jake, but he doesn't have near the arm strength so when he throws on the run he is often short hops the ball. After last weeks rushing performance and the tendency of Pac Ten safeties to rip Locker's head off you might not see Locker run much on his own either. The Huskies learned something last week, Jake doesn't have to carry the entire load. I would love to see Carl get a series in the first half when it means something, but Ty isn't really into that. If Carl plays QB it is likely to be mopping up at the end of the game.
John: Talking about running the ball, how is the Cougar defensive line holding up? Will they be able stop Rankin while still keeping an eye on Locker?
Brinkhater: You know, given the beating that we took last weekend, you woulda thunk that our D just absolutely sucked. But, the EIGHT turnovers makes it pretty hard to evaluate their performance. So, Brinkhater is going to bank that last week was mostly an abberation caused by the offense's ineptness.
With that in mind, it is Brinkhater's view that the progress of the defense has been the only bright spot in this plague-like season. Also, the move to the 3-4 has really improved the aggressiveness of the D against the run and provided A LOT more flexibility for Abdullah (which is a good thing for Coug fans unless the opponent is Arizona or Oregon).
So, can we contain Rankin? Absolutely. Can we contain Jake the Savior? Don't think so.
The BIG thing to watch in this game is whether or not Jake can stretch the field through the air. My bet is that the Cougs are gonna stack the box and let her rip. IF Jake can take advantage of that over-aggressiveness and hit a pop or two across the seem then I think that this game could get ugly real quick (Like a TOTAL redux of last week for us). But if he can't, it could be a REAL dangerous sign for Puppy Lovers everywhere. Quite seriously, out of all of the schools in the country, Washington is probably the school that Alex Brink feels the most confident about Remember, the 2005 Apple Cup in Seattle is the ONLY in-conference come from behind W that Alex has ever engineered. And, UWs scheme is the type of scheme that Alex really picks apart.
So, the question for us will be the same as for all of our games: We'll move the ball, but can we score?
Brinkhater: What do you think it will take for you to break your five game losing streak to us in basketball this year?
John: For starters we are going to need 35 solid minutes from John Brockman to beat any top tier team. WSU by the way is a top tier team this year. We need to handle the rock better, so the development of point guard Venoy Overton is going to be crucial to the success of the team. We weren't a very good defensive team last year, and that has to change. Hopefully Dentmon, and Overton can close down the perimeter. Ryan Appleby is a streaky kid who can shoot the lights out any given night, but he is a big liability defensively. I see Ryan as more of a hired gun who comes in off the bench shooting three's. We are obviously going to miss Spencer Hawes who will be sitting on the end of an NBA bench this year, but not as much as you think because he was below average defensively. Quincey Pondexter is a kid that has NBA potential that could really make a move this year. He had some legit personal problems last year that affected his play after a strong start. I look for him to take over some games this year with his athleticism. Joel Smith was a kid that had to sit out last year with an injury. He is more of a swing type of guy that can play defense ala Bobby Jones. If he can get it going the team just might gel in time for conference play.
John: So do you guys think you have what it takes to make a run for the Final Four?
Brinkhater: With us, it really is going to come down to the injury bug as well as the world of match-ups. On any given night, we can and will be beat by a team that either shoots REALLY well from the trifecta or has a point guard that can really split the middle of the defense. For Brinkhater, that means that UCLA is a nightmare, USC will be tough with OJ who looks out of this world (god I hope the Sonics get him if they stay), and Oregon will be BRUTAL for us. As for the Huskies, I don't think the guard play is there, so even though I have them as #5 in the conference, I don't think that you will get us this year either (which of course was the same reason why you didn't get us last year).
But, come tourney time, it really is a crap shoot. I think that last year was yet another example of how important seeding is. You get that 2 or 3 seed (or a 1) and you really have a nice path to the regional final. But when you come in as a 4 or 5, it gets REALLY difficult. You get that horrible upset special with a 12 or 13 in the first round, then get a 4 or 5, and then get a 1. YUCK!
For Brinkhater, if things go right, the Cougs are a 2 or 3 seed. That said, if SC improves and if Oregon becomes as good as I fear they might be, then the Cougs may drop to a 5 or 6 seed this year. And that spells trouble. But, hey, we're #9, and if Low or Weaver get hurt we might not even make the provisional NIT...
Brinkhater: What are Washington's plans to defend against the rugby style punting onslaught that the Cougs are going to throw at the Dawgs this weekend? Put differently, do you have any concerns that this UW team may be the first team in the history of EVER that FAILS to stop a Cougar faked punt?
Let me stop laughing for a second...better now...The great thing about the Apple Cup is nothing is going to be held back on game day by either team so you are likely to see about anything. Our special teams are among the worst in the Pac Ten and we are very susceptible to any type of fake you can throw at us. Washington has trouble staying home, so any type of misdirection is often lethal against the purple and gold no matter what the situation is. I don't think anyone has run a fake punt against us this year so the Huskies are probably pretty ripe for that type of ploy. Most of our opponents simply punt the ball to Russo knowing there is little chance he will return it more than 2-3 yards. That actually backfired against Cal last week when he almost took one to the house.
Thanks again to the guys from the WSU blog for taking the time to join us this week!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I like the new Pac Ten contract with ESPN. This year we get a classic Thanksgiving night game between USC and Arizona State in a game that has BCS Bowl implications. This is bowl type exposure for the Pac Ten on a night when most of the people in the country are going to be looking for a football game to watch together. I would like to see the Pac Ten play a game each Thursday night on ESPN in the future. It makes a lot of sense from an exposure point of view. A package of ABC, ESPN, and Fox Cable makes a lot of sense.
Last year Willingham cost his team a winning record by taking the steam out of them before the Stanford game by announcing that some players were being asked to graduate before their eligibility had expired. This year he had no surprises, all the fourth year seniors have been apparently awarded another year in the program. Juan Garcia is contemplating going pro and says he will make his mind up before the team heads to Hawaii. Most think he is leaning toward staying another year. Next year would be Juan's 6th year, and he already has one degree, and is close to completing a second. Pretty good job for a kid who barely got in school, and it shows you how a football scholarship can change your life if taken seriously.
Big Aloha Surprise
I had my 49th birthday this past Saturday. We did things pretty low key this year. We watched the game on TV, and then went out to dinner.
At dinner Kate handed me a small box to open. In it were four Husky Football tickets for the Hawaii game. I was pretty surprised, and was happy to learn that one of my best friends from high school was also going with us.
So we are going to be in Honolulu for the game!
Hopefully for my 50th we will be in Pasadena for a Husky Rose Bowl Game!
When Washington State, and Washington adjusted schedules this year so each team could have a bye the Cougars ended up on the short end of the stick. Coach Doba said he doesn't want to play another home game against an opponent other than Washington on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The Cougars only drew 23,000 to the game which was played in very ugly weather. I have a suggestion, why don't the Cougars play their annual Seattle game later in the year? The weather is better, the facilites are better, the attendance is better, and most of the students are already over in the Seattle area on vacation. It isn't like the Cougars are playing marquee out of conference opponents in Qwest early anyway.
Bud Withers has a nice story from the Cougar perspective going into the Apple Cup.
Having just stumbled out of the woodshed after its 52-17 crunching at the hands of Oregon State on Saturday, Washington State might be in need of a little historical boost. Here's as much as we can do: Last time the Cougars came to Seattle for an Apple Cup as about a six-point underdog? (They're a 5 ½-point 'dog Saturday.) Oh, 1997, when WSU thwarted the Huskies, 41-35, and thus partied on to its first Rose Bowl in 67 years. The bad news is, this team isn't bringing Ryan Leaf. (The good news is, that's also a bonus for civility, goodwill and good manners.)
Every week Nathan and I talk a little Husky football in his PI Sports Blog. We finally had some positive things to talk about after a nice win. I have to tell you it was difficult to be positive after Oregon State
John: Were you surprised how dominant we were running the ball on Saturday?
Nathan: Shocked. Absolutely shocked. I know the Cal D isn't the second coming of the 85' Bears but I thought they would be better than they were. The Dawgs' offensive line was as good as we've seen in several years.
Nathan also writes about the smash mouth running game the Huskies used last week to beat California.
The last 24 hours of fan chatter have been very interesting to me. I had a few e-mails from readers about the blocking on the offensive line and an interesting comment on Monday's blog post about it, too. UW fans loved the traditional, run-it-down-your-throat style that Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano used against Cal.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The Dawgs looked like they were in better shape and better conditioned than the Bears. That's the first time that I've thought that about a Husky football team – particularly when they are playing a quality opponent - in a long time. By the fourth quarter, Cal looked winded.
That is what a dominant running game will do for you, it simply wears down your opponent. Don't confuse it with your quarterback running for 150 yards either. When you hand it off to your running backs for over three hundred yards the game becomes very simple. Washington simply beat the tar out of California, and it was fun to watch. In fact I may watch it again at lunchtime.
If Coach Lappano is smart he will pick up where they left off last week and continue handing the ball to Rankin, and Johnson this Saturday. Brink was picked six times last weekend by the Beavers but don't expect that to happen again. Washington needs to control the clock and run the ball to win the game. When you dominate time of possession and wear down the opposing defense good things happen.
WSU Coaching Change?
This is Apple Cup week and Washington needs to build on the momentum to close out the home season with a win that will likely send Coach Doba into retirement. Doba actually deserves better, but most Coug fans are in favor of change, and that change might bring back Mike Price for a career finale if he is interested. Only a victory over the Huskies on Saturday will save Doba's job. I thought Doba did a great job pulling the Cougars together this year. The injuries at running back have crippled them in the second half.
Mike Price burned a few bridges when he traipsed off to Alabama a few years ago for a very ugly Spring of football and off field shenanigans. Former Husky assistant Bob Stull rescued his career by giving him another shot at UTEP. They love Mike in El Paso, but the lure to come back home and rebuild what he started may be too hard to resist. If it isn't Price, the man who succeeds Doba will likely be Bob Gregory who is the defensive coordinator at California. We didn't see the best of Bob last week in Husky Stadium, but he is well respected up and down the coast.
Ty Off the Hot Seat?
Is Ty off the hot seat? Well things are definitely a lot cooler this week after the win. It was a very Husky like November victory. If Washington wins next Saturday against WSU no change will be likely despite the attraction of Jim Mora Jr.. I have to tip my hat to the staff for keeping this team together and competitive each week. Washington looks to be in good enough shape to finish the season with a three game winning streak.
ASU and USC
Now that Oregon is falling off the map the battle for the Rose Bowl may come down to ASU and USC. Most of us thought that USC would be there at the end of the season but it is surprising that Dennis Erickson has brought the Sun Devils along this quickly. USC is a team that is used to winning in November so it will be interesting to see how this one plays itself out.
WSU Q & A this week
I will be doing some Q&A with our friends over at the Cougar blog this week. It will be interesting to see what Brinkhater and the gang have to say about the Apple Cup.
"Attending WAZZU is great preparation for real life. It teaches you not to expect too much."- Don James.
A: The first row of fans at Martin Stadium.
Q: What do Cougar cheerleaders and Cougar quarterbacks have in common?
A: They're always on their backs.
Q: What's the number one pickup line used for picking up WAZZU chicks?
A: "Hey, nice tooth!"
Q: What's is the most common lie told in Pullman?
A: "I was just helping that sheep over the fence."
Q: Why are a tornado and a cougar divorce similiar?
A: You know someone is going to lose a house trailer!
Q: How do you keep a Cougar from drinking too much?
A: Slam the toilet on his head.
Q: What’s the difference between the Cougars football team and a box of Cheerios?
A: Cheerios make it into a bowl.
Q: Why did they put cardboard over the Martin Stadium field?
A: Because the Cougars look better on paper.
Q: What do you get when you breed a WSU Cougar and a groundhog?
A: Six more weeks of bad football.
Q: How do you find Wazzu?
A: Head East until you smell it, then South until you step in it.
Q: What do you call a good looking girl in Pulman?
A: A Tourist.
Q: How do you make a WSU graduate leave your house?
A: Pay him for the pizza.
Q: What do you get when you cross a Mormon and a Couger?
A: A basement full of stolen groceries.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
This was a true Dawg Day Afternoon. This was a throwback to the days of old when the Huskies used to physically beat up their opponents on Saturdays. This was the Husky football we all know and love.
This will also be marked as the day the program finally turned the corner.
UW had every reason to pack it in after letting a couple slip away against Arizona, and Oregon State. The coaches and players had their backs against the wall. The teams star Jake Locker was going to have to sit the game out, and nobody was giving this Husky team much of a chance to win against explosive California. you have to hand it to the coaches for keeping these kids together under a lot of pressure, scrutiny, and adversity.
This actually reminds me of 1989 when the Huskies lost to Arizona State in Husky Stadium to ASU 34-32. The Huskies were 5-4 at that low point. That team responded by blowing Oregon State out the next week. They followed with an Apple Cup win over WSU. Finally the season was capped off by beating Florida and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith in the Freedom bowl to cap the season. The rest of the story is the young nucleus of that team went on one of the greatest runs in Husky history culminating with a national championship.
The Huskies are getting better, and they beat one of the better teams in the Pac Ten with a power running game that lacked perhaps the best player who will ever button up a chin strap in the purple and gold. Beat California without Jake Locker? Beat California with Jake Locker? It was as an impressive victory as we have seen this decade.
So what now?
Even though these Huskies won't go bowling they have a very good chance of winning the next two games against WSU, and Hawaii. Finish the season by winning three in a row and the team will build a lot of momentum towards bringing in a great class during the crucial December recruiting period.
Only last week it looked like UW was going to lose some of that coveted in state class, but one week means a lot when you are talking about 17 year olds. Win three in a row, and they can visualize themselves playing behind a rapidly improving offensive line with Jake Locker calling the signals for perhaps the next three years. They can visualize coming in as freshmen in 2008 and making a difference.
Only last week Oregon was on track to win the national championship and have the Northwest's second Heisman Trophy winner. This week it is doubtful they will win their two last remaining games. Kearse, Ta'amu, Bruns, and Middleton are going to get a good look at Oregon's future without Dennis Dixon, and Jonathan Stewart. It won't be pretty.
California, and Oregon are Washington's main competition in recruiting on the West Coast. With a decisive win over California yesterday, and a rapid fall for Oregon, Washington is in a position to make up some serious ground over the next few weeks.
For Willingham it wasn't the signature victory the program has been lacking. Lets face it, California was beat up coming into this game. Their heads were certainly not in the right place from the moment they hit the field and bungled the coin flip. Still it was a powerful win over an opponent that is better than us on paper.
Ty needs to beat WSU next week to come back next season, and I am pretty sure he and his team are going to do it. Knock Hawaii out of a BCS Bowl the following week, and he just might have the opportunity to retire at Washington.
This team is getting better, and next year if they can fill some holes on the defensive line they are going to be pretty damn good.
What a difference a week makes.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
California is favored today and rightly so, but Washington is capable of giving them a game and beating them even with Jake Locker out of lineup. For that to happen the Huskies are going to have to be able to run the ball, and pick up some turnovers. Nate Longhore has had an off year, but the Bears are still potent with Forsett, Jackson, and Hawkins capable from scoring anywhere on the field.
Right now I am hanging out watching the kick off of Ohio State vs Michigan. This is going to be an interesting game, and I think Michigan is going to knock off the Buckeyes in the Big House.
The University of Oregon has announced that Dennis Dixon is out for the season which is very bad news for the Ducks. Dixon's loss ends up costing the Ducks a shot at the BCS Championship and the Heisman Trophy. Anyone who saw Brady Leaf in reserve on Thursday realizes that the Ducks may not win again this season. I feel sorry for Dixon, he is grea tplayer, and you hate to see a season end like that.
Duke is playing Notre Dame today and you have to root really hard for the Blue Devils. Losing to Duke would be so humilating for the Irish. I have to take the Irish, but my heart is with Duke.
California at Washington
Jake Locker is looking pretty good while warming up and it looks like he is going to be able to play today if needed. No word yet, and they don't have to make a decision until the first series.
Ty said on his pre game show with Rondeau that they were going to start the game with Carl Bonnell. We could see Jake at some time because as we said earlier he was looking pretty good during the warmups. Ryan Tolar is going to be sitting the first half out, and JWF will get the start. The rain is letting up at Husky Stadium but it is going to be a wet and cold one today.
If you look at the Husky Poll most of us are predicting a California victory today. This game is going to be a lot closer than people think.
The Huskies march down the field the first series of the game on the ground. The TD drive is highlighted by a 46 yard Rankin run.
Washington 7 California 0
Washington forces Cal into a three and out and then proceeds to drive down the field on the ground for another TD. Rankin has over 121 yards in the first quarter. Brandon Johnson runs it in from the five to finish the drive.
Washington 14 California 0
California wakes up and responds with drive of their own behind Forsett and Jackson. Longsjore hits Morrah for a TD pass from the 20. Bad snap on the PAT.
Washington 14 California 6
Huskies go three and out. Cal drives the field mostly on the ground and on two consecutive pass plays puts the ball in the end zone.
Washington 14 California 13
Huskies go three and out again as Lappano has forgotten the ground game. Hard to figure why he didn't keep running until they stopped it. EJ Savannah intercepts a pass deep in Cal territory. UW goes back to running the ball as Louis takes it 30 yards in a couple of plays to the one. Kravitz takes it in from the one.
Washington 21 California 13
Cal goes three and out with the help of a penalty. DeSean Jackson is limping and out of the game. UW goes three and out after a holding penalty backs them up. UW needs to keep it on the ground. Forsett breaks through the Husky defense for a long one a third and long....ouch. Cal scores on the next play.
Washington 21 California 20
Huskies start from the 39 with under two minutes to go. Huskies stall at midfield and are forced to punt on a 4th and two. Cal muffs the punt, UW recovers, but it goes to review and the call is reversed. UW drives to the Cal ten on a Bonnell pass to Russo. Bonnell hits Reese on a jump pass in the endzone for the TD.
Washington 28 California 20 Halftime
Perhaps the best first half of the year for Washington so far mostly on the legs of Louis Rankin. Two turnovers cost California two touchdowns. California has not been able to stop Washington on the ground today. Defensively the Huskies haven't really stopped Forsett enough, but the Cal passing game hasn't clicked yet long so that isn't too bad. Longshore is 14-17, but most they have mostly been short passes. UW needs to keep the ball on the ground and build on what they did in the first half.
Louis has a 42 yard run of the first drive and the Huskies are back in business again. The Huskies stall when they pass and Perkins hits a 45 yard FG. Louis has 220 yards on the ground so far on 19 carries.
Washington 31 California 20
Cal hits a long one from Longshore to Jordan to take it to the Husky 2. Way too much time for Longshore. Teo Nesheim made a great stop at the two that brings the crowd to its feet. 3rd and three and Cal calls timeout. UW holds as Longshore is forced to throw it away. Cal hits the FG.
Washington 31 California 23
UW goes three and out. Cal goes three and out. Bonnell hits Ellis with a bomb to the Cal 20 on a third and 24. Very big play for UW. UW stalls after a holding call. Perkins drills the FG.
Washington 34 California 23 Fourth Quarter
Cal starts at the 38. Cal fumbles and Washington recovers and takes over on the UW 43 at the start of the 4th quarter. Rankin must be dinged because Johnson has taken over and is looking good. Kravitz is stopped 3 inches short and Cal takes over. Husky D backs up Cal with the penalty to a 3rd and 34. Forsett gets knocked out of the game. Cal has to punt the ball. Russo returns it to the Cal 11. 63 yard return for Russo. Huskies stall at the two and kick the FG.
Washington 37 California 23
Cal starts at the 30. Forsett is back and Cal moves it the midfield with 6:45 left. The Huskies need to get to Longshore. Husky D has toughened up and Cal is going backwards. 3rd and 22 and Forrester knocks away the pass and Cal goes for it. They do not convert and the Huskies take over with 5:10 to go. All UW has to do is run the ball and take time off the clock. Rankin is out with a hip pointer. Johnson will finish for the Huskies at TB.
UW starts at the 45. The clock is ticking.... . Brandon Johnson is just pounding it on this final drive. He has 110 yards so far. Washington's rushing game has been special today. UW shows mercy in the red zone and takes a knee.
This was a very big win for Washington.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Washington athletic director Todd Turner had hoped to deliver a final recommendation on renovations to Husky Stadium to the school's Board of Regents on Thursday. Instead, Turner and a committee helping advise on the project have decided to push back making any presentation to the board until early next year. Turner said the move is simply a delay due to the complicated nature of the project, in this case, trying to coordinate construction plans with those of Sound Transit, which is scheduled to break ground on a new station near the stadium in 2009. That construction could last until 2014.
Todd Turner announces another delay in the stadium remodel project due to the complexity of the project supposedly due to the Sound Transit Light Rail project.
If you read between the lines the delay is more perhaps about the uncertainty of Todd's tenure as UW as athletic director, and also the tenure of his chosen football coach Ty Willingham. It wouldn't make sense kicking off what could be a $450 million dollar project if those guys aren't going to be around after the first of the year.
With three weeks left to go in the 2007 season both Turner and Willingham are on very rocky ground. Washington has never had three consecutive losing seasons in football. We are talking over 100 years of Washington football history here. The natives are restless, and the big money boosters are not in a mood to open their wallets till the teams shows signs of turning the corner.
Arizona beating Oregon last night while unrelated throws more wood on the fire. Only three weeks ago Mike Stoops was almost certainly on his way out at Arizona trailing Washington by 15 points in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats put together a spirited comeback beating UW 48-41 and have won their last three games. The victory last night over Oregon by the way was what you call a signature victory, the type of win that turns around football programs.
Willingham on the other hand still lacks that type of win after almost three years at the helm. Losing to Arizona, and Oregon State have assured that the Huskies will be home once again for the Holidays. It also assures that Mark Emmert who has been bombarded by emails, and phone calls will have to make a very tough decision at the end of the year.
In a perfect world Willingham would coach the Huskies till retirement. Ty brings a lot of good things to the program, he really does, but the two things he hasn't brought is excitement, and winning. Washington needs both if they are going to continue to sell tickets, keep the athletic department out of the red, and most importantly modernize Husky Stadium.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Brady Leaf never got it going in the second half and the #2 Ducks go down to Arizona 34-24. The story of the game was Dixon's injury, and Bellotti's play calling. Oregon panicked plain and simple and should have kept the ball on the ground the rest of the night. Stewart went out late in the game with a leg injury, but Oregon blew this one by not going to it's strength which is running the ball.
So it looks like USC and Arizona State will be playing each other for the Rose Bowl. The Ducks actually could have fallen tonight from the BCS Championship Game all the way to the Sun Bowl...Wow!
I am not an Oregon fan, but too bad about Dixon. Oregon would have won by 21 if he hadn't gotten injured. So in one night the Ducks lose the National Championship and the Heisman Trophy. Your as strong as your weakest link, and backup QB was Oregon's weak link. Leaf simply couldn't run their offense.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Backtalk with Johnny B
Nathan Ware, and I are a day late with our backtalk column this week. Losing can be physically exhausting even if you are just watching from the stands, or on TV. This was one of those weeks where we had to dig a bit to keep it interesting because so much had been hashed over from the game already. Now many times can you talk about the play Jake got hurt on?
John: Let's start off with the question all inquiring minds are asking. It's third and two; we are driving down the field with plenty of time left, why throw the ball when you have two downs left to pick up the yardage?
Nathan: UW Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano said he wishes he could have a "do over" on that play call. Throwing a fade route was certainly a risky play call considering the circumstances. At the time, UW was running the ball fairly effectively. There were several curious calls during the game, though. The two-point conversion, the offensive drive in the first half that had three straight deep balls, going for it on fourth down in the 3rd quarter, etc. I'd like to have a "do over" on the whole game.
Pac Ten Alley
Lets take a walk down the West Coast to see what the neighbors are up to.
California is having a down year after being rated as high as #2 in the polls at one time this year. For the Bears there is still hope as they play a team that is struggling more than they are this week. It was only a few years ago when the Bear faithful would have been excited about a season like this. Expectations have now changed and they are looking for scapegoats.
There are only two games left in the Cal football team’s season and finally someone is taking responsibility for the Bears’ fourth loss in five games. Certainly no one wants to point fingers, but the person who should be admitting to his own failures has finally spoken. Quarterback Nate Longshore is owning up at last to his mistakes after a 24-17 loss to USC, and it’s about time. For the first time this season, he admitted that he was fallible, and it was a relief to hear someone say it at last. “It’s just culmination of the loss of this season,” Longshore said about why he was taking the loss to the Trojans so hard. “I haven’t been playing well enough to win. That’s what it comes down to and I’ll be the first one to say that. Our guys have been playing hard out there. I just need to make some more plays and give us that opportunity to win.” Despite Longshore’s lackluster play throughout the game, the Bears still had the chance to force the game into overtime. After Forsett rumbled 34 yards down the sideline on Cal’s last drive, the Bears had the ball on USC’s 36-yard line. On the next play, senior wideout Robert Jordan went out on a hook route on the near sideline. But there was a hesitance to Longshore that has
plagued him all year and that was not present in his 3,000-yard campaign last season. There was a hesitance in his throw, a hesitance in his reaction. And when Longshore threw the ball, there was Terrell Thomas, waiting for the interception.
We are going to have a Q&A next week with the boys from the WSU blog. It should be pretty entertaining stuff. You have to hand it to the Cougs this year for looking better almost every week.
It's never a good thing to see your starting TE on crutches. Especially a TE who happens to lead all Pac-10 TE's in catches with 52 (did you know Collins ranks 6th in the entire conference in catches per game? Not bad for a guy who ran a "wind-aided 5-flat 40"!). But things are looking up for Collins, as Doba says he is now probable for Saturday.
Guess what the topic is at UCLA this week?
As far as I am concerned, it is all about the coaching search now . The soft L.A. media can try to make excuses for Dorrell; he can act like he's still working on the future; but it doesn't matter. Dorrell is gone. If I'm somehow wrong, so be it; but I am going to concentrate on the all-important task of looking for a new coach. Of course, I'm not the one who will make the decision, though I sort of wish I were. I wish that I could be sure that Dan Guerrero and whomever he chooses to help with the process are going to do it in the right way: systematically, thoroughly and patiently. Please don't rush this hire just to try to save a few recruits whom you are probably not going to lose anyway. Please don't make it impossible to get a really good coach by turning him off with demands that he keep Walker or any of the other assistants; let him have a free hand in recommending his own choices. And don't do what UCLA usually does: rush this process because it somehow feels uncomfortable to be looking, and you feel it is embarrassing to be turned down by your first or even your second choice. All that ultimately matters is that you end up with the best possible coach, even if it should take you three months to get him.
USC faces ASU this week in the battle for what could be a Rose Bowl berth against Ohio State.
Defensive end Kyle Moore will see a hand specialist today because of a bruised nerve in his forearm that prevents him opening his hand and could place his status against Arizona State in doubt.``I can't extend my fingers at all,'' Moore said. ``It was numb (against Cal). I can't open my hand and grab anybody.''Moore wore a soccer shin guard on his forearm against Cal to protect the nerve but USC coach Pete Carroll said he was not sure how long Moore would be out.Moore is not practicing this week and vowed he would play against Arizona State on Thanksgiving.``I'll be back and play with one arm,'' he said
The house of Heat is reeling this week after a loss to Oregon, but they better buckle up that chin strap because USC is up next.
So we lost. The sting isn't as bad as it was immediately following the game, but the BCS is looking like a streatch barring a complete catastrophe, not that the 2007 college football season hasn't been without the unbelievable. More on that in a moment, but what the hell happened?We got beat by a better team but I think Oregon fans will admit that Saturday's game wasn't their best performance. There were several dropped passes by the Ducks, they were without superman Dennis Dixon for the fourth quarter, and the Oregon pass D was less than spectacular. While many doors were left open for ASU throughout the night, the Sun Devils couldn't seem to walk through any of them. Here's my list of gripes:
Michael at the Oregon Blog is letting the pictures do the talking this week, and why not, his Ducks may be the best team in the country.
Michael Wines over at the Oregon Blog has gone video happy this week. You really can't blame him because a picture tells one thousand words, and each of those video's help explain why the Oregon Ducks are now the best team in college football.
Arizona and Oregon square off on in a Thursday night game on ESPN.
Much is being made of the Oregon offense, and rightly so. But Arizona better account for No. 49, defensive end Nick Reed. The junior can be as daunting as Heisman Trophy favorite Dennis Dixon or tailback Jonathan Stewart. Reed doesn’t get the national exposure that he deserves. That could change with a nationally televised showcase against the Wildcats on Thursday in an ESPN broadcast. What makes Reed so good?
Stanford is getting a much needed bye so John Wilner is taking all your questions about Bay Area college football.
We’ve got 10 days worth of comments and questions to address here, so I’ll keep the intro short. One thing, though: Although I went back to Hotline posts from early last week for this item, I did not include questions that were asked from my Nov. 4 Associated Press poll — the reason being that I thought everything was a bit dated since I’ve done another ballot in the meantime (and since Ohio State has lost).
I had a lot of fun with Jake last week doing the Q&A for what turned out to be a pretty ugly game that should keep the rivalry charged into next year. I also get a kick out of the fact that Julia's Bra Shop is now a sponsor of his blog....way to go Jake!
Lyle Moevao had a good game for his first collegiate start, throwing for 109 yards on ten completions. I like the way Lyle went deep several times, and I wish he could have completed the deep ball to James Rodgers during the Beaver's second drive. I loved the block Moevao threw on DE Grayson Gunheim, in which he pancaked all 265 pounds of him on the turf. Riley said that Moevao was begging for that play. It's hard to grade Moevao at this point because we've hardly seen him, but I think the C+ is safe right now.
Hawaii keeps steaming along, and while they haven't cracked the top ten yet they should end up in a BCS bowl if they can beat UW at the end of the year.
Let's face it: There is not a powerhouse in college football this season. There are a lot of good teams, and maybe a great team or two. Who is to say that Hawaii is not one of them?Hawaii certainly has not played the schedules of some of these teams, but they haven't lost either. They have had close calls, as have the BCS conference teams, but each time they have risen to—and beat—the challenge. Looking beyond just record and schedule, there are other reasons why Hawaii's season merits inclusion in the title game.Everyone knows that road games in hostile environments are difficult for any team to overcome. Hawaii must deal with all that adversity after flying halfway across the Pacific Ocean.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The program won't finish with a winning record, there will be no bowl, and public confidence is eroding as far as the coaching staff is concerned.
This is Willingham's third year and the seat is starting to get pretty hot after losses to Arizona, and Oregon State. Those losses guarantee that Washington will be fighting to avoid the cellar this year. For most Husky fans it is unacceptable, no Husky coach has ever had three losing seasons in a row, Willingham will be the first.
The questions most fans have is if Ty should get another year to try to turn things around. We all have mixed feeling about it, but most feel that at the very least there should be turnover as far as the coaching staff is concerned. While Coach Baer has put together a couple of decent defensive outings the last two weeks most fans want him replaced.
Jim Mora Jr is they guy that everyone would like to see become the new head coach at Washington. There is a little urgency there because he also might be in line to become the next head coach of the Seahawks. The situation reminds me a quite a bit of Urban Meyer and Notre Dame. The boosters wanted Willingham out so they could grab Meyer. Meyer surprised everyone by choosing to go to Florida. Washington boosters don't want to miss out on this window of opportunity concerning Jim Mora Jr. while he is still available.
This is the third time Mora's name has come up in conjunction with the job. The first time was when Neuheisel left. Both Charlie Weis, and Jim Mora Jr expressed interest in the job that went to Willingham. When the Huskies canned Gilbertson he was the hot first year coach of the Atlanta Falcons, so even though he wanted the job he wasn't in the position to take it. Now with Ty on the hot seat he is the obvious choice to take over if Washington makes the move.
What makes Jim Mora Jr a great candidate is that he has always wanted this job. It is something that the has been working toward for over twenty years. He understands Husky tradition and culture because he has been part of that culture most of his adult life. Jim understands what Husky fans want in their head coach.
The question is do you make the move at the end of the season, or do you give Ty another year to show that he has the program headed in the right direction?
You can also build a case for keeping Ty at least one more season. I don't think any coach could have turned this program around in three years. Most of his recruits will be sophomores, redshirts, and frosh next season, you win championships with juniors, and seniors. You can fairly make a case saying that Ty needs more time.
You can point to a 2008 recruiting class that will have up to twenty eight players that is currently half full with the best of Washington still trying to make up their minds. Players like Kearse, Middleton, Thompson, and Ta'amu like Willingham and his staff. Kids also like to win, and they also want to spend their four to five years of college with the staff that recruited them. It isn't like these kids, and their don't know that Willingham is on the hot seat.
Do you roll the dice that Ty is going to, change up his staff, bring these kids in during December, or do you make a move and see if Mora can close the deal? You could always let Ty give it a shot through Christmas and can him in January if recruiting isn't going well. That decision while cold would save the UW around two million, and it would also coincide with the time you would expect Mora to be available.
The future of the program over the next five years is closely tied to this upcoming class. You can't screw up when you are planning to bring in twenty eight players which would just happen to be over one third of your roster. These are the kids that are going to help flank Jake Locker and bring championships back to Washington.
I haven't seen the Husky Nation ever this down, I really haven't. We have had some great years, good years, and real bad years, but this five year stretch has really taken the steam out of the program. I like a lot of the things Ty has done, but overall the program lacks pizzazz as Todd Turner would say. It also lacks great game day coaching. Even though they are rebuilding, the Huskies should be beating OSU, and Arizona by now. They should be getting better, and overall they are not even though the players are going at it hard.
Oregon is on the verge of winning a national championship and having a Heisman Trophy winner. That is make quite an impact as far as recruiting goes. Does Coach Willingham have what it takes to compete against Oregon for the best players in Washington, and California? I mean that is all it really comes down too. Can he being in a top twenty class, put a fence around the state, make changes to his staff, and finally, lead us to a bowl game in 2008?
President Emmert has some big decisions to make in December. This program needs the excitement, and enthusiasm that Jim Mora Jr can bring. The window isn't going to be open long for Mora, the Seahawks, or another NFL team will likely come calling in the off season. Washington either needs to bite the bullet on Mora or give Ty Willingham an extension so he can continue to recruit with confidence.
Monday, November 12, 2007
One of the more unusual things I saw this weekend after the game was the number of Oregon State fans that made comments on the blog that I had to delete. I am usually pretty fair, but it was pretty harsh after the game in reference to Jake Locker.
It is OK to want your team to win, it is OK to be critical of the other team, and it is OK to present a view that differs from what is going on over here in Huskyland. What is not OK is to be obscene, make threats, and defame UW players. Some of the things posted were simply ugly, and twisted. I have to hand it to you Beaver fans, you now make the Ducks look pretty good in comparison. We got more than a few comments from OSU fans who hoped Jake was permanently injured. I don't get that, I don't get that at all.
People get fired up after they have had a few, but there is no excuse for comments, or thoughts like that no matter what your level of inebriation is.
Postgame Q&A with Jake from Oregon State
Jake from "Building the Dam" thought it would be interesting to some chat post game since it had to be one of the crazier games we have seen in quite some time.
Jake: I've read what Tyrone Willingham and Scott Locker had to say about the Locker hit, but what are your thoughts?
John: I agree with Ty in the assessment of the situation. I also understand Scott Lockers concerns about his son's safety. I have watched every game this season, and in almost every game someone has tried to take Jakes head off with a helmet to helmet type hit. Spearing whether it is intentional, or unintentional is a penalty that should result in ejection. I have mixed feeling on whether the play was intentional or not, really only Afalava knows the answer to that one.
John: How do you feel about the play?
Jake: I feel for Locker, and I also understand that Scott is concerned about his son's safety. I don't think the hit was intentional, he was just trying to stop Locker from getting the first down. If you watch the replay, Locker was leaning out for the first, and Afalava was in a difficult position to make a tackle. As Riley said after the game, "I don't know how Al is going to make that tackle unless he goes down to meet him." Afalava is known for big hits, but I don't think he was intentionally trying to hurt Jake. Don't know if you've read it, but Al said he said a prayer for Locker during the time when he was being attended too on the field. Also, there was really no "wow" factor to that play. It was just another college quarterback fighting and scraping for a first down. If Locker doesn't lay on the field and get transported away in an ambulance, nobody probably mentions that play again. I'm not trying to sound like a dick, but it didn't look bad until we saw the result. Football is played at a very high speed, and sometimes plays like that are unavoidable. Bottom line, I'm glad Jake is okay.
Jake: I read on the Husky website that Jake suffered a stinger and trapezius muscle strain, however I haven't heard how long he will be sidelined. Have you?
John: Jake could be back as soon as this weekend depending on how he feels. He looked pretty stiff in the fourth quarter when he came back to the stadium so I am thinking this week might be just a little optimistic. Carl Bonnell who came in for him is a good quarterback, so if Jake can't play we are still in good shape with Carl. I am pretty sure the UW staff is going to be on the cautious side with Jake.
John: What was your take on the Bernard fumble that was returned for forty yards?
Jake: It sure looked like a touchdown, and if it wasn't, he was down at the 1, and the Beavers have the ball second and goal. It was just poor officiating, as the referee and one other guy were standing at the goal line like idiots, holding the spot, while everyone else was taking off down the field. If they truly thought it was a fumble, wouldn't they be running up the field too? It was clearly a case of the referees not calling a play on the field because they know it will be reviewed. And that one wasn't. I didn't really realize how much time was left on the clock during all of this until the Huskies started their drive and I saw that there was only one or two minutes left on the clock. That was a big, big, call, and there's no reason why that shouldn't be reviewed. You should have seen Bernard on the sideline when the Huskies got the snap off.
Jake: I assume that you were watching the game on TV-- did you think it was a correct call? There was a Husky sitting next to me during the game who told me he wouldn't feel good about the game if the Huskies won. Also, what did you think of Lyle Moevao flat backing Gunheim?
John: I thought it was a terrible call, you have to review a play like that. UW did the right thing by snapping the ball quickly so it could not be reviewed. The Pac Ten officials are the worst in the country, calls like that prove it. It was a hard hitting game on both sides of the ball, you have to like it when your QB lays some lumber on a defensive end.
John: I heard a lot of Husky fans had trouble with OSU fans at the game, did you see any of that going on? I mean you don't want to emulate Oregon do you?
Jake: Haha... Well, I had box seats at Reser for the first time on Saturday, so I wasn't in the "OSU/UW mosh pit". There were some Husky fans in our box, but everyone was good-natured, however slightly under the influence. Walking out of the stadium I didn't run into any trouble either, but I'm sure there was some bickering going on. It was just and ugly, ugly game. It's safe to say the most Beavers hate the Huskies even more after Saturday's game, but I don't think our animosity adds up to Oregon's.
Jake: Carl Bonnell came on in relief of Issiah Stanback after he went down last year, right? How will Husky fans feel if he gets the start against Cal?
John: Carl almost beat Cal last year on the road in a game that went in to overtime. Husky fans like Carl, and more than a few thought he should have been the starter at the beginning of the season. Carl is a redshirt senior and he deserves some playing time before he graduates even though you hate to see it happen this way. I think our chances are better with Jake, but I am fine if Carl starts.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The hit was questionable, it was helmet to helmet. It was obvious that Afalava led with his helmet. If you abide by the rules of the game he should have ejected even though I don't think his intent was to hurt Locker.
"We never stopped fighting," Willingham said. "And as a team, we didn't give up."
That is true Ty, but why would you throw long on third and two late in the game while driving with the tired Beavers on their heals? With two plays to get two yards what are you doing throwing the ball?
Another question, why can't you get a play in?
Husky fans, draw your own conclusions.
Five straight years without a bowl game..... .
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Illinois Upsets Ohio State 28-21
Ohio State fell to Illinois this afternoon and it was a great game for the Illini who celebrated a little too long at midfield in Columbus which resulted in some fisticuffs with the Buckeyes. If you are an Oregon fan you have to be excited because now the Ducks are in the drivers seat for the BCS championship game if they can win out.
(Wow, I had the byline as Wisconsin rather than Ohio State...lol...thanks for the heads up ABG!)
Arizona State Sneaks by UCLA 24-20
UCLA is giving Arizona State everything they can handle in the fourth quarter, but just turned the ball over in the endzone with an interception. Dorrell needs to keep it on the ground, he has a RS walkon at QB and still doesn't get it. Looks like ASU is going to slip out of the Rose Bowl with a win today. Too many turnovers by the Bruins today to pull off the upset.
WSU Overpowers Stanford 33-17
It is 20-17 WSU as we start the fourth quarter. Stanford may be crippled, but they certainly aren't pushovers. This game is a lot closer than I thought it would be. Stanford is spunky. WSU wears them down to won the game 33-17. Stanford ran out of gas, but I like the way they play for Harbaugh.
USC leads Cal 17-10 in the early in the third
Cal is holding on, but USC looks like the best team in the first half. USC just hit a FG after intercepting Longshore deep in Cal territory.
Check back through the day, and during the game as we update the blog as things happen.
Pray as Hard as You Can
Washington isn't doing well tonight, the Oregon State defense has contained us all night going out to a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. That is the good news, the bad news it looks like Jake Locker has possibly suffered a serious neck, or spinal injury and has been carted off the field. Let's hope he just had his bell rung and will recover after the game. All I can say is say your prayers for our good friend Jake Locker.
16-0 at halftime as Washington has been stylied all evening by the Oregon State defense. Jake is not going to return, and we all hope that he will be fine. Carl Bonnell will lead the Huskies in the second half and I have a sense that this game is going to get ugly. By ugly I mean the Huskies are madder than they have been in over a decade. I think we are going to come out in the second half and play as physical as we have all year. It is going to be a total brawl.
As far as Jake goes it seems he has movement, but his neck is sore. Hard to say what it going on yet till we get a report from the hospital. Hopefully it is just a concussion or a sprain, but it is scary. Once again say a prayer for our friend Jake.
16-10 OSU Early in the third quarter
We have come out with fire in the second half as I expected. 8:29 left and I like our chances. Let's go Carl!
Jake is Going To be Fine
6:00 minutes left and it is 29-23 OSU after a fine scond half performance by Carl Bonnell. We stillhave a chance if we can make a defensive stop.
Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.
We have the ball third and two. We throw for the end zone. We have plenty of time, two plays to make two yards and we throw long. Very poor play calling, very poor, and ultimately unforgiveable. You tell me Rankin, or Homer couldn't have gotten two yards on two plays?
Friday, November 09, 2007
Oregon State has twenty three seniors including Yvenson Bernard who will be playing their final game in Reser Stadium this weekend. While Washington went through three coaches the Beavers had relative continuity in comparison during the same time period.
The Beavers have a lot more experience and depth in the upper classes than the Huskies do. They have had some injuries and disruptions this year that have hurt them, but they can beat anyone. Give them Jake Locker at QB and this middle of the road Pac Ten team would have been a championship contender. The season can be marked by the redshirting of Sammie Stroughter do to mostly personal reasons, and the lack of an experienced starting QB. Mix in some injuries, and you have a good team that was only a couple of players away from being a top twenty team.
Let's take a look at the Washington senior class.
A Plus - Consensus All American (0)
You don't see any do you? No Mark Breuner's, Corey Dillon's, Lawyer Milloys, Steve Emtman, and Reggie Williams. As you can see with Jake Locker having one or two of those guys in each class puts you in championship contention.
A - First Team All Pac Ten (0)
None of these either. No Larry Triplet's, Dave Hoffmann's, Tim Meamber's, or Joe Steele's.
A Minus - NFL Draft Picks (0)
Nope, not here either. I don't see any Cody Pickett's, Rashan Shehee's, or Chuck Nelson's.
B Plus - Conference honors (2) Lewis and Rankin are a couple of guys that will get good looks as NFL free agents. Put them in the same class as a CJ Wallace. You could even slip in Reese here, but I didn't see enough from him this year to think he has what is needed to stick in the NFL
B - Starters (7) Howell, Reese, Russo, Macklin, Gunheim, Afoa, Reffett, are all kids who have played a lot and have had varying degrees of success
C Plus (2) Rayford and Bonnell haven't been full time starters, but they have been key contributors when needed.
C Role Player (6) All these kids have contributed, some have even filled in starting a few games. Quinton Daniels was a pretty good player slowed by injury.
QB Bonnell (C+) Carl was a nice pick up and has been a good reserve.
TB Rankin (B plus) Will likely run 1000 yards in his senior year.
WR Reese (B) (Willingham) Has underperformed.
WR Ellis (C) Has provided epth and a few moments
WR Daniels (C)....Injuried have held him back.
WR Russo (B) Has been the most consistent WR.
TE Lewis (C) Has played here and there, was always a tweener.
T Macklin (B) The guy has been a rock, not a big rock, but a rock
T Berglund (C) Came back after quitting for two productive years in the depth
DT Afoa (B) Never got better after his sophomore year
DT Reffett (B) He really came on the 4th, and 5th years
DT Lobos (C) Has been inconsistent
DE Gunhein (Gilbertson) (B) Too stiff, never lived up to potential
DE Rayford (Gilbertson) (C+) Should never have played early
LB Howell (Gilbertson) (B) Has not had a good senior year
LB Trew (C-) Another tweener
CB Lewis (B Plus) Has developed into one of the better CB's on the coast
Take a good look at the quality and experience on the Oregon State defense.
DE Dorian Smith 6-3, 260, Sr., 1V
DE Naymon Frank 6-5, 288, Sr., 3V
DT Jeff Van Orsow 6-4, 262, Sr., 3V
DT Gerard Lee 6-1, 285, Sr., JC
DT W. Akauola Vea 6-2, 285, Sr., 2V
DT Curtis Coker 6-1, 302, Sr., 3V
LB Derrick Doggett 6-3, 210, Sr., 3V
LB Joey LaRocque 6-2, 235, Sr., JC
LB Alan Darlin 6-1, 238, Sr., 3V
CB Keenan Lewis 6-1, 199, Jr., 2V
CB Brandon Hughes 5-11, 177, Jr., 2V
CB Gerard Lawson 5-11, 196, Sr., 3V
S Daniel Drayton 5-10, 210, Sr., 2V
S Al Afalava 5-11, 209, Jr., 3V
Inexperience at QB, and the lack of All American Sammie Stroughter at WR this year has hurt the Beaver offense. Still when you look at this team you see a lot more talent in the upper classes on both sides of the ball than Washington in most positions.
RB Yvenson Bernard 5-9, 202, Sr., 4V
FB Andy Stewart 5-11, 235, Sr., 1V
WR Anthony Brown 6-1, 209, Sr., 3V
WR Brandon Powers 6-2, 218, Sr., 3V
OT Tavita Thompson 6-6, 293, Jr., 2V
OT Andy Levitre 6-3, 311, Jr., 2V
OG Adam Speer 6-3, 284, Jr., 2V
OG Roy Schuening 6-4, 320, Sr., 3V
C Kyle DeVan 6-2, 306, Sr., 3V
A Final Note
Things don't get easier for Washington experience wise. This program is going to grow up completely around current RS frosh QB Jake Locker. Next year Washington's team will most likely consist of over 60 players in the sophomore, redshirt, and true frosh classes. UW will only have 16 seniors with only five projecting right now as starters. They only will have ten juniors, but the good news is that most will start or contribute quite a bit. I think by Jakes junior year this program should be back in championship contention no matter who the head coach is.