Just like Rodney Dangerfield the 2008 Washington Huskies are not getting any respect in the national media. Most of the prognosticators are picking the Huskies to finish anywhere between 10th, and 7th in the conference. The opening lines from Las Vegas have the Huskies starting out the season as a 10 1/2 point underdog to Oregon even though the Ducks are less than settled at QB. Bob Condotta of the Times reports that the spread is likely to be bet up before the game because bettors usually pick the favorites at home to begin the season which makes plenty of sense.
Winning breeds respect, and Washington hasn't won very much since Rick Neuheisel left the program. Washington hasn't beaten Oregon in five years, and what makes the losing streak even worse is that they really haven't gotten fired up to play the Ducks in five years. I have been to every game, and Washington has come out lacking emotion each time. How can you lack emotion when you are playing Oregon?
Last years game was typical, but a RS frosh by the name of Jake Locker willed the Huskies to stick with the Ducks throughout the game till they ran out of gas in the 4th quarter. Locker single handedly picked up the team and made them competitive or it could have been one of the biggest blowouts in Husky history.
You might have noticed that whatever gets written here in the blog now gets edited, and posted over at Bleacher Report. The Oregon preview got an interesting response. One poster responded that UW had to be crazy to schedule the Ducks for opening night in Autzen even though it meant UW was able to pick up a much needed bye during the nations toughest schedule.
I want to know who the idiot is that scheduled the UW vs. Oregon game as the season opener ? I know it was done to obtain a much needed bye during the season but to play the opener against a pac ten team on the road a team of Oregon's caliber is just plain silly . This loss could ruin the whole season . Ty you're sticking you're neck out on this one . As most people think you need some W's and this is a bad place to start . Good luck to you and the 2008 Husky football team ! I have been a Husky fan for 50 years and yes U dub has had some tough season openers but this one takes the cake !
They rescheduled it for two reasons, one for automatic TV money, and two to give the team a much needed bye week later in the season. You would rather open with Idaho, but with a non conference slate of BYU, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma there were not a lot of options. The question should be who was the idiot that put together that brutal non conference schedule?
Thanks for the opinions, but I for one don't agree that opening with Oregon hurts Washington, in fact it is better than playing them later in the year. The best chance Washington has to beat Oregon in 2008 is in the opener when the Ducks are breaking in a new quarterback. The best chance Washington has to be fired up is for an opener on national TV when everyone expects them to lose.
Take away Dennis Dixon from the 2007 Ducks and they went from BCS Championship contenders to the consolation bowl participants. It is a given that whoever starts for Oregon in 2008 will do a better job than Brady Leaf who was ill suited to run the spread offense, but there will be growing pains at Oregon since breakig in a new QB, and new WR's is never easy to do.
Nate Costa is the likely starter for Oregon in the opener, and like Dixon he is a dual threat QB. He would have been Dixon's replacement last season if he hadn't have gone down with a knee injury. Some Oregon fans even think that the Ducks wouldn't have missed a beat on the way to the BCS championship game if Costa was available.
I think Costa will develop fine, but I think it is a stretch based on what we saw this Spring that he is going to step in and run the Duck offense with the efficiency that Dixon did on opening night.
I still am predicting a Duck win, and a ten point margin doesn't seem to be too far out of the realm of possibility, but if the Duck QB makes mistakes UW could surprise. What Bellotti needs to do is control the game on the ground, but his ego is such that he may just have his team come out throwing which would be a mistake in my opinion.
Bridge Program Absentee's
Three incoming players will not be participating in the bridge program. RB Demetrius Bronson, QB Dominique Blackman, and DT Craig Noble all have work to do to qualify for Fall.
Noble needs to retake his California High School Exit Exam. He has passed his SAT, and has the required GPA. Bronson is taking some Summer courses from BYU, and is awaiting results. Blackman's GPA slid this Spring which means that he either has to take a course to raise his GPA, or retake the SAT. All three kids have a great chance of being here later this Summer if they get the work done.
Noble is the only kid who had a realistic shot at playing this year, but the chances are diminished since he may not be here till mid August. If you miss the first two weeks of drills chances are it means a redshirt season which in Noble's case may be a blessing even though he will be disappointed.
Conditioning and Drills
Molly Yanity from the PI has an in depth article on the Huskies off season conditioning program.
Football practices are still more than a month away on this bright June morning. The Huskies don't have a game for 69 days. Yet, here is the majority of the team, scattered between the humid weight room and the adjacent Dempsey Indoor practice facility -- and it's not even 8 a.m.
College football is a 365-days-a-year endeavor -- particularly for a team coming off a 4-9 season -- and for players, getting bigger, stronger, faster and smarter must happen year-round.
Bob Condotta from the Times also had a chance to watch some off season drills at the invitation of Trent Greener.
The conditioning started with about 10 minutes of stretching, then a lot of sprinting and agility drills under the supervision of trainers. One set consisted of 10 different exercises -- 40-yard sprints, 10-yard sprints, backpedals, lateral shuttle-type drills, etc. --- with brief breaks in between.
Both of the beat writers came away with the impression that Washington was making progress in this area, and they feel that this team may be in the best shape of any that have competed for Willingham during his tenure. Take that with a grain of salt because we hear this stuff every year. It was good to hear that Kelani Aldrich has put on some weight because we need the depth at DE.
Ted Miller of ESPN, and formerly of the Seattle P-I is probably the most knowledgeable college football writer in the Northwest. Ted is usually spot on, and this is what he has to say in his blog.
Will Washington and Arizona win enough games to earn Tyrone Willingham and Mike Stoops another year on the job?
The odds are better for Stoops than Willingham for one reason: schedule. Arizona's nonconference schedule -- Idaho, Toledo, at New Mexico -- is set up for a fast start that should help Stoops get to 6 or 7 wins and the program's first bowl game since 1998. Willingham's Huskies, meanwhile, start the season at Oregon, then play BYU and Oklahoma. An 0-3 start could severely damage a team trying to rebuild its confidence.
Who wants to trade schedules with Arizona?
The AD search isn't going very well, in fact Scott Woodward will probably stay on as the interim guy through the Winter with a chance of taking over the position permanently.
A couple of things are complicating the search.
1. AD's at other BCS schools are not interested because the job does not pay more than they are currently making.
2. A new AD isn't really interested in coming in to take care of the dirty work required to fire Willingham. When Willingham goes it will make national noise no matter what his record is.
3. Many AD's don't like the way the firing of Todd Turner went down. Don't think for a minute that Todd hasn't been bad mouthing his former employer, this was not a graceful parting.
4. Who wants to start a new job with a mandate to raise $300 million to renovate a stadium for a 4-9 program?
5. UW wants to hire a guy around 50 years old, the viable candidates they have that are interested are in their mid 60's.
Washington is in on some very good athletes, but they do not have a single verbal as of yet. Blame most of it on the lack of a strong in state class, the lack of a local headliner, and a coach who needs to win some games to keep his job. Washington is the only Pac Ten school that has not gotten a verbal yet.
We welcome some new site links this week as we get ready for the 2008 season. You might notice that we added Irish Band of Brothers, and Domer Report to the lineup. Win, or lose the Irish have one of the largest fan bases in the country so there is no lack of information about what is going on in South Bend. We have also added a new blog on Arizona football, and one covering the Oregon Ducks. The House of Heat which was very entertaining last season has not published a new article in quite some time, so I am still looking for a replacement if they don't start publishing again in August.