MMQB - Washington review

Monday Morning Quarterback meetings are not what they used to be. They are bigger, better organized and the programs are predominately tension free. There was a time, not too long ago, when grievances about coaching shortcomings were obvious in the questions asked and in the table-talk before the meeting. That's all been quiet for a couple of years now. We still have questions about using different players more and special team performance, but they are couched in positive tones.

I look on this period of celebration as the reward for all those years of disappointment we all suffered. We are on top now, for how long we do not know, but I'm taking the attitude that I want to enjoy it for as long as it lasts. What worries me a little is that the team might be infected by the same attitude. By the things he's said this year, I think that concerns Pete also. I view keeping a fire under this team to be the coaching challenge of 2005 and so I listen for clues on this subject as Pete talks each week.

Coach Pete Carroll met with the Monday Morning Quarterbacks today in Town & Gown on campus. He was ebullient, full of energy and seemed to be relieved that we had survived the first half of what I call the "schedule from Hell". Pete was pleased that everyone taken on the trip played in the game and referred to the fact that we scored 5 TD's in only 10 plays in his explanation for how hard it was to balance the running plays with the passing plays on this team. I got the impression from him that John Walker would not play this Saturday. In talking about Josh Pinkard who would replace Walker, Pete said essentially what he told the L.A. TIMES: "He's going to have to go fast," Carroll said. "I think this is a kid that can handle it." "When he gets a chance, he can run everybody down," Carroll said.

The taped plays from special teams were very good. Evidently the kickoff that Washington returned to our 12-yard line was kicked to the wrong position on the field. The KO return by Darnell Bing was a thing of beauty as far as I'm concerned. I look forward to seeing more returns from Darnell as the season progresses.

The punt return by Reggie Bush was greeted with much applause. He was encircled early and just broke out with speed and deception. I was surprised to see the great block by Patrick Turner who I hadn't realized had been inserted onto the punt return team. We finished with a look at the blocked punt by Brian Cushing. Brian has only played in two games and he has already blocked two kicks. I think we are going to see a lot of Brian this coming Saturday.

The defensive plays were quite numerous. They were primarily plays where we tackled the Washington players behind the line of scrimmage. The first showed Thomas Williams on the first series after the long Washington kick off return. We also looked at Lawrence Jackson, John Walker, Rey Maualuga, LuJuan Ramsey, Oscar Lua, Frostee Rucker, Sedrick Ellis, Alex Morrow, Brian Cushing and Travis Tofi all making great tackles for losses.

One that caught my eye was Travis Tofi splitting a double team to make the tackle. On pass coverage; we looked at the fine end zone pass breakup by Cary Harris. Another great play was the backward pass recovery by Justin Wyatt. On one play where we were credited with a sack, we saw that Scott Ware shut down the passing lane causing the Washington QB to have to bring the ball back down.

The offensive series of plays was the usual spectacular highlight ensemble. We began with our first pass of the game, a bootleg by Matt and completion to Dominique Byrd. Then we looked at a run with both Reggie and LenDale in the same backfield. A play-action pass from Matt to Steve Smith resulted in a TD. We saw all three plays from Matt throwing to Dwayne Jarrett for TD's as well as several other completions to Dwayne.

As each of these plays is reviewed, Pete takes time to show the strategy behind the play and to point out the key fake or block. On one play, a pass to Reggie, it was an option route that allows Reggie to adjust to the movement of defensive players.

Several Reggie Bush runs were shown. On one he gets great yardage going right between Fred Matua and Winston Justice; and as usual, received a key block on the LB by David Kirtman. An excellent run by LenDale White was run over the left side. On Reggie's TD run, the key block was made by Taitusi Lutui.

Pete showed some career highlight plays made by David Kirtman and then introduced David to a standing ovation. David spoke very well and is obviously a mature and solid person. He was asked several questions and gave what I consider to be good answers in good English.

Pete then fielded several questions. He was asked about the coming opponent WSU and his answer showed that he had given them considerable thought. I believe he thinks the Cougs are better than their record.

I have felt that we would have about 21 scholarships to offer next February and have said so in my Scholarship Math column. Pete seems to think there will be more. So I guess I'll defer to a guy who really knows. The coach was asked to give us an event-by-event rundown on what a recruit does on an official visit with us. So, he took nearly 5 minutes to go through everything from landing at the airport to returning home. If I know of any other publication containing that information I'd reproduce it here for you, but I don't. Suffice it to say that that type of information is one of the big bonuses for attending MMQB.

The meeting was adjourned around 1:25 PM.


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