Saturday's basketball contest was everything that was expected. The veteran Cougar team dominated the last ten minutes of the game, in fact the Huskies only scored once in the last six minutes of the game. Washington played well, really well, but in the end the better team was able to muster enough to get past them. The story of the night was poor foul shooting by the Huskies, and great defense by the cogars on Ryan Appleby. Ryan is a good shooter, but he doesn't have much speed which is a liabilty on defense, and offense. WSU was able to clamp down on Ryan, and UW doesn't have anyone else to step up from the outside. Next up is a road trip to Los Angeles where the Huskies have to at least gain a split or they could put themselves in a hole similar to last year.
HS All Star Games
I watched the HS All Star games hoping to get a good look at Washington commits and didn't really come away with much of an impression because of the limited playing time. Kearse caught a pass or two but the West offense just sucked so he didn't get much of a shot to show what he could do. Middleton did impress me on the defensive line with his speed, the kid can move when he cranks it up, and he made a couple of nice tackles in pursuit.
Aloha June Jones
June Jones is leaving Hawaii and heading to SMU which should make my friend Andy (Yale Dawg) happy. Jones didn't want to leave, but Hawaii has the worst facilities, and funding in division one football. The windfall from the Sugar Bowl could have gone a long way toward helping out, but it seems that the University had other plans for that money. Hawaii simply does not have a lot of money, or foresight. Wrapping up Jones for the forseeable future, and making a committment to improve facilities would have been a smart investment.
SMU hasn't been a power in football since the old SWC days. If you remember, the Mustangs were given the death sentence by the NCAA and the program was left for dead. This move signals that SMU boosters are ready to take another crack at big time football. SMU is going to be paying Jones a reported 2 million per year plus take care of his assistants in a big way. CUSA is very similar to the WAC, and Jones should be able to accomplish whatever he wants at SMU even if that means leaving to coach at a BCS school when the timing is right.
Will UW be the Next Illinois?
Every year you have breakthrough teams like Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri who start to click and begin surprising people. Mizzou has been on the verge of doing this for quite some time and should have played in one of the BCS contests. Gary Pinkel's Tigers were only a game away from the national championship this year. Kansas proved they belonged by knocking off Virginia Tech. Illinois on the other hand had their lunch handed to them by USC. the Illini had some impressive wins this year, and are on the upswing, but they were totally outclassed by the Trojans who were running on all cylinders for the first time all season.
I read a blurb recently by SI's Stuart Maisel that said the Illinois team of 2006 resembles the Washington team of 2007. He goes on to say the success Illinois enjoyed in 2007 could be the same type of success Washington enjoys in 2008.
On the positive side the Huskies led eight games at halftime this season playing the toughest schedule in the country with an inexperienced RS quarterback. That RS QB happens to be one of the most talented players in the country and could compete for a Heisman before he leaves. The Huskies also scored 7 more points per game last year than in 2006. those numbers should go up again in 2008.
I think if you look at Washington offensively you have a lot to get excited about. You have plenty of experience, and depth on a rapidly improving offensive line. You have two bruising fullbacks, plus you have plenty of young skill players coming in to plug the holes, at receiver, tight end, and at running back. You lose a lot of experience at receiver, but you also lose the lack of speed, the crappy routes, and the hopefully the inability to hold on to the ball.
How many games did we lose in the the fourth quarter? Let me see just in November we lost to Oregon State, Arizona, WSU, and Hawaii in the fourth quarter. Winning three of those would have given us a 7-6 record which would have made us bowl eligible. This team was close. If our defense was better, and perhaps Jake Locker a little more accurate this team could have gone bowling.
I would be excited for 2008 except for the simple fact that we enter the season with a lame duck head coach who is hanging by a single thread. I am still not convinced that he will survive beyond LOI day, the situation is that tenuous. I think the team is close to turning the corner from a talent perspective, but that corner may only be turned completely by bringing in a completely new coaching staff led preferably by Jim Mora.
Jim Mora by the way isn't going anywhere, he is going to stay in Seattle, and is building a new house on the Eastside. He is in a pretty good position. He knows that if he is patient he will either be the next head coach at UW, or the Seahawks. Let's all hope that Mike Holmgren decides retirement is not in his immediate future. Yesterdays win over the Washington Redskins was one more positive step in that direction. The Packers next week in Green Bay will be a different story.
Tick Tick Tick II
Our friend, the other Andy from Meanderings on Dawgman let the complete cat out of the bag in his latest post entititled Tick...Tick...Tick II.
This is a very nice piece of writing which ties together all the pieces of information, and rumors we have been hearing since the WSU game. I have heard bits, and pieces here, and there but haven't really commented too much on it since I have been out of the mix in December traveling, and hosting guests here during the holidays.
From what I have heard this is the complete story on what went down without any hyperbole. The comments, and threads that proceed it are just as amazing as everything is stireed up over on the boards right now.
Finding a Defensive Coordinator
Ty Willingham refused to be interviewed concerning his search for a defensive coordinator which resulted in a dead end last week when DeWayne Walker turned down the job. Ty will be at the annual coaches convention which starts Sunday in Anaheim. This networking convention is usually the way most coaches are hired after obvious choices fade from view. Most insiders are now speculating that Willingham is going to go the NFL route to find an up and coming guy when it comes to hiring a DC.
Nathan Ware spent some time combing the NFL coaches lists trying to find coaches who were somehow related to Willingham, or the University of Washington.
One name that keeps popping up is ex Falcons DC Mike Zimmer who spent some time in the past working with Dennis Erickson. UW obviously has money to throw at this position so perhaps he would be interested if he can't hook on as a DC in the NFL. The thing that makes this tough is that is probably a one year gig at best.
Rusty Tillman is interested in coming to UW as a ST/TE coach. That would be an interesting hire since he has a ton of experience and is regarded as a special teams guru. Tillman is currently out of coaching, I think his last stop was in Minnesota with Mike Tice. Rusty makes his home in Seattle so the move would make sense. No word out of Montlake if they have any interest. I imagine this will be one of the last spots they will fill since Chris Tormey could also move over here if needed to fill the position.