Ask Coach Baird

Coach has been a busy camper, out at practices and studying film. But he is excited to answer his mail. Here is the next batch of letters that Dick has responded to. Thanks to those that wrote in to Coach B.

From Margaret Gray
: In your article (Defensive Observations) 4/14/03, you mentioned Donald Jones in regards to how we now look at pass rushing ends. I don't remember him. Can you brief me?

A: Donald Jones played for the UW in the early 90's. In fact he played to the left of Steve Emtman and came to Washington as a fullback from Virginia. He had tremendous speed off of the edge and great leverage. He could get his right shoulder so low on his charge that it went under offensive tackles and helped turn him toward the quarterback. He benefited from Emtman bullying up the middle and got lots of sacks on QB's scrambling out to his side. He was an absolute monster in the Michigan game against Elvis Grbac, who he regularly beat to the set-up point. He is one of the finest young men to ever play for us.
From Todd
: Love your column. How about some juicy, exciting, funny, or even scandalous recruiting stories? I'm sure you have enough stories for a column a week on just recruiting alone, eh?

A: I'm reluctant to tell some of the juicy recruiting tales because I don't want to get personal. I can tell you one time I picked up a basketball recruit and checked him into a hotel where he had just come in from visiting Syracuse. He proceeded to unpack a new pair of Orange shoes, an orange warm-up, and was wearing an orange hat. I asked him if they were given to him and he told me that he had to buy them. For $20.00. Nice sale! I once asked a kid what was so great about his visit to UCLA and he told me it was the girl waiting in his room. Kids would always tell me about going to the strip clubs in San Francisco while visiting Stanford, and it was never mentioned that those clubs in SF are outside of the 30-mile limit for entertainment. Scott Frost told me that Joe Montana just happened to stop by Coach Walsh's house during his official visit to Stanford. On a visit to another school, one of the Huards was given his allotted entertainment money by his host because he didn't want to go into the bar as an underage kid. The list goes on and on but it never made sense to throw stones.
From Ken Franek
Dear Dick Baird,
: I was watching ESPN this evening. They highlighted five college spring football games. They said Oklahoma has sold 40,000 tickets for their spring game. Ohio State is expected to have 80,000 people attend their spring game. The Huskies will probably draw 5,000 fans. How do we get people in Seattle and surrounding areas interested in the Spring game? Is Seattle and Washington State really football territory?

A: Face it. Football isn't as important in the western part of the country as it is, particularly socially, in other parts. Remember that Oklahoma has no professional sports at all. It is the same with Alabama and Nebraska. People in Seattle are still the best fans in the west but football is just one of many past times. Come fall it is important to have the passion but the rest of the year there are too many other things to do. Regardless, the Huskies are still thriving in spite of being in a town with pro teams in every major league. Sometimes we would get 15,000 to a spring game but usually it is between five and 10-thousand. I personally think spring games are a facade. You can't possibly field two competitive teams and never want to show your opening opponent anything new. It does serve the purpose of giving everyone a spring football fix though.
From John Borland
Coach Baird,
: Excellent to have you as a part of the Dawgman team. Your articles are as great as your speeches at the recruiting banquets. Enough said. I have a question about the team's seeming lack of enthusiasm as they came out of the tunnel last season. It looked like they were walking out to take a final exam, not play a football game. They weren't running and jumping around as in the past. It seemed to carry over into the games too, as we witnessed some pretty stale first halves of football last year. Why were they so flat? Why no apparent enthusiasm? Do you think it was indeed a factor in the slow starts? Do see things changing with the coaching shake-ups? Thanks for your insights, and great having you aboard!

A: I was talking to Marques Tuiasosopo the other day and he also mentioned how other teams are handling the dreaded UW tunnel. He was concerned about the lack the fear it once put into opposing teams. I'm not in a position to comment on how this team gets ready for games because I haven't been with them in pre-game. I do know that one of the most fired up coaches I've ever seen in the tunnel was Dan Cozzetto, when he was at ASU. Now he is on our side and between he and Coach Hart, I'm positive things will be different. No question about it, and I'm sure Rick is aware of it. The Huskies start slow. Now granted, you don't want to burn up your kids before the game even starts, but I'm like you, let's get some hellfire and frothing at the mouth! Come storming out of the tunnel and be so loud in it that the opponents know they're in for it. Maybe a little more pre-game emotion would help the slow starts, especially on the road. At home, I guarantee you every time you come out of the tunnel to the siren and crowd, you get goose bumps. I did, and I never hit a sole. A lot of it really comes from your team leaders. Also, they may have been told to tone it down because there are other people in the tunnel who don't appreciate some of the more colorful chants that can go on. As a coach I always got jacked up watching the kids get jacked up. Particularly the defense, which I think needs lots of emotion. Let's hope they solve the riddle of how much emotion is enough and how much is too much.
From Scott Williams
Coach Baird,
: A few years ago Rick noted that he felt the defensive line was in need of some "war daddies". Certainly, other than D'marco Farr and Larry Tripplett, it doesn't seem that we've had this type of player. The recent practice observations by yourself and others sound as though several of the D-line players may be ready to take on the "war daddy" role. Who do you see as the most likely candidates? As others have expressed, I too miss the days of the Husky Hunters. It was great fun and we didn't cheat!

A: "War daddies," or "difference makers," usually end up playing on Sundays. They are warriors who stand out because of their physicality and burning desire to be intense competitors. Of this year's team, I think Terry Johnson has the chance to become one if he would simply allow himself to do so. The other kid who I think has those qualities is Joseph Lobendahn. Despite his height, he is a monster. Powerful, quick, mean and ornery. Being physically cut really helps, but there are a lot of players look like Tarzan but play like Jane. Olin Kruetz was a war daddy and so were Steve Emtman and Corey Dillon. It is an attitude. The Seahawks have some in John Randle and Chad Brown. Manase Hopoi could be one by the time he is done. I used the term a lot myself when looking for that "unstoppable" kid.
From John Young
Dear Dick,
: I have been a SW subscriber for years just to keep abreast with Husky football happenings. I learned this spring that the players during the winter participate in the dreaded "Mat" drills. What are the Mat drills? Also, I really enjoy your straightforward, honest commentary on the Husky programs and players.

A: Mat drills are a series of indoor workouts intended to improve conditioning and sharpen footwork. They are usually held at 6:30am so players can attend classes afterwards. Not designed to be fun, they are usually a series of different drills or exercises that increase running skills and help develop quick bursts, which is the key to football. The term "Mat drills" comes from a segment that is done on the wrestling mats. Randy Hart almost always coaches it and before him it was Jim Lambright. This particular segment involves a group of usually three players sprinting onto the mat then reacting to hand signals back and forth, up and down, and on command. Any loafing or lack of concentration means you and your buddies have to do it over again. Each burst is for about 10 to 20 seconds, but repeats pay double.
From Josh Shaver
Dear Coach,
: When recruiting was over it sounded like the Dawgs had taken too many players. Now, with attrition, it looks like they might be alright now. Do you know where they stand, numbers-wise? Also, hearing that Auburn coaches were in attendance, is that because Nehuesiel had Mike Price's number?

A: My count is that the Huskies are still over in their total. I have 59 scholarship players who came in as "initials," meaning they counted for their year of immediate enrollment. Then Mapu, Reffett, and Lyon all are here, bringing the number to 62. Biddle has been on scholarship, which would bring it to 63. Washington will bring in 24 new guys this fall, including Carl Bonnell, who I'm sure will not greyshirt as he already did for WSU. That adds up to 87, or two over the allotment. If this holds they may not be able to reward walkons such as BJ Newberry, Matt Griffith or Eric Roy for the fall term (all are major contributors at this point). Biddle may retain his, as he has more than proved his worth. It also could mean that two signees may not enroll in the fall term. The rules allow you to replace any mid-year graduates or players who complete their degrees after fall or winter quarter. This is one way that you can actually have more than 85 total during any one year. I'm sure you're making a strong case for why the Auburn coaches attended our practices. It is common practice to make spring visits for such purposes. At times we used to have as many as seven different staffs visit us during spring. Many of the teams were scheduled to play other Pac-10 teams in the coming year. We did it before we played Nebraska one spring and also visited another "option" school. It didn't help, though, Nebraska still killed us
From Chip Goss
: Shouldn't Ty Eriks be getting a solid look at TB? He has the size and speed to be a good one. He could be another Corey Dillon if he indeed lives up to his talent.

A: Ty Eriks is doing just fine. He is at the right position and recently got some goal line reps as a tailback. I always have felt he would develop into a fine fullback with growth. He's up to 235 now will play in the 240's next year, and then will grow into the 250's as a senior and emerge as an NFL prospect after graduation. He really had never played defense, and when tried there, was a little bit out of water. He's now back where he always played, and that is fullback. I think he is really pushing Zach and it is a position of excellent competition. Both need to still improve as blockers but both are showing good hands out of the backfield. They will play a critical role in the expected improvement to the running game. columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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