Ask Coach Baird

Spring football is in the books now, and it's four long months until we can watch the Dawgs on the gridiron. Coach B will be there, and will be providing weekly articles here on this fall from his film study and practice observations. He'll also be answering his mail, as he has done in this article. Keep those letters coming!

From Eric Lloyd
: Coach, as a long time Husky fan, this year's NFL draft has to be the lowest, if not one of the lowest ever points for the Husky football program. At least as far back as I remember. After watching the Huskies struggle on the field for the past couple of years, seeing zero Huskies get drafted, only validates what many have felt for a while: either the Washington coaching staff is unable to recruit quality talent, or talented players do not see Washington as a football power and therefore don't want to come to Seattle. This year's recruiting class does not seem to be much better than anything the Huskies have done the past 3 or 4 years (worse actually). Knowing that the Huskies still aren't recruiting top class offensive linemen and reading this year's spring practice reports and seeing that the Huskies still can't run the ball is incredibly scary. Am I crazy or has the Husky football program no longer anything more than a mid-level program? Personally I can't see the Huskies being any better this year than they were last year. And I don't see Rick Neuheisel as being someone who is capable of turning things around. I'm interested in your thoughts on if/how you see things being turned around here at Washington.

A: Come on Eric, it's not that dismal. We can all blame the recent draft on me cause I was the recruiting coordinator five years ago. Our getting fired definitely had a major impact on what otherwise would have been a great class. It always does. There were a lot of kids that were lost in transition. Still, I agree, no Huskies drafted in one year doesn't make sense, but then they were 7-6 last year. I know it's partially my fault but it's over now, and there is no changing what happened. I think this last class was excellent and the program will be much stronger if they stick with Coach Neuheisel and not repeat what they did to Lambright.
From EJ
: Coach- I really liked the linebacker article and the information on the former players from your coaching days. It has been talked about in the past, but would like to hear from you about how the linebacking group was so strong and young during the 80's that the other Pac 10 schools really used this against the "U" during recruiting. Also would like your thoughts on the linebacker depth of the current team, it would seem we may not have the numbers in the next couple of years.

A: I think the linebackers will be improved over last year, and there appears to be adequate depth if a couple of the freshmen prove that they can help. I love Joe Lobendahn and think he will be an excellent middle linebacker and along with Tim Galloway, they are two kids who can definitely play the MIKE. Marques Cooper is one of the best running Linebackers I've seen in a long time. With added weight and a good senior year, he will keep playing the game on Sundays. It's really up to him to have a great summer and fall. Scott White improved dramatically in the spring and shows a nose for the ball. He proved during spring he can help inside. Tyler Krambrink and Greg Carothers are both proven veterans who should be great competition at the SAM or Stud linebacker (who plays to the TE). Watch for this group to really be leaders during summer workouts. I really think they will need to use 1-2 true freshmen to fill out the depth, so whoever comes in mature enough to handle it will probably get into the action. The defense still needs more speed and range coming off the edge.
From Hector Perez
Dear Dick Baird,
: Hey coach, first off I have to congratulate dawgman on the best husky website I have ever seen. I have been a lifetime Husky fan but, thanks to your website, this is the first year I have really gotten into the X's and O's of the team. My question for you today is about the most dominant passer Washington has ever seen. Do you feel it is likely that Cody will be a Heisman candidate this year? What are his chances of winning it all? I'd love to get your thoughts on this.

A: Cody Pickett for Heisman is a real thought. His numbers alone should make him a candidate going into his senior year. However, I really think it will have a lot to do with how his team does. It is HIS team now and he knows the only numbers that count are in the left hand (W) column. Look for Cody to jump to the top of the chart with a win over Ohio State. It's certainly not out of the question and this summer will do a lot to get them there. Cody wants to win. Awards are nice, but I'll bet he would take the MVP of the 2004 Rose Bowl Champions over the Heisman. Besides, who's going to vote for a kid who grew up on Chicken Dinner Road in Idaho?
From Alan Kaselj
Coach Baird,
: What do athletic directors look for when they are putting a non-conference schedule together 8-10 years down the road? Program success? Easy Wins? $$$? What are some of the key things that go into the decision-making process? Also, when you were the recruiting coordinator, what process or steps did you go thru before you offered someone a scholarship?

A: I have no idea what AD's are thinking putting together a schedule eight years in advance. I think they are juggling and adjusting it all the time both with regard to opponent and dates. Therefore it's a bunch of crap to say it's all done 8-10 years down the road and that nothing can be done to change it. I personally think you should use a "2 and 1" or "3 and 1" formula when scheduling. Do exactly like Washington is doing this year. Schedule three teams you should beat and one national level team to measure yourself against. Schedule a home-and-away with the biggy and a home-only against the others. Then you only need to win three or four in league to get to a bowl game. In reference to your other question, I will try and do a column on the process we used to use in order to offer a kid. Our system was distinctly different then what they use now. Randy Hart and Keith Gilbertson use both in their recruiting of the in-state kids.
From Tim Van Horne
Coach Baird,
: In reference to your "Iron Dawgs" column - Now that was an inspiring article!!! I damn near knocked my monitor onto the floor when I jumped up at the end of your piece and roared at the top of my lungs while pounding my desk.

A: By the way Tim the new NCAA rules will require a trainer and a conditioning coach to be present at all summer workouts. You are going to be pleased to know right now 95% of the team will be staying here in Seattle this summer and that Emtman and Kaligis will be getting them ready for next season. I also saw in the draft where Ohio State lost a lot of players right up the middle of the defense to the pros. Believe it, Washington can win this game.
From Aloha Mike
Dear Dick,
: Are you now the "Ask Dawgman" guy now?? I live in Longview and had the opportunity to attend last year's coaches tour in Longview. I thoroughly enjoyed your part of the program. Are you going to attend this spring? Do you ever speak to groups such as the Lions Club?

A: Yes I am scheduled to attend and play in the annual Longview Husky tour. I think it's getting close to 20 years of doing so but it's one community that has always shown me a great time, and I've been known to have some fun. Over the years I've got in a lot of trouble in Longview for letting my fun meter run off the chart.
From RBK
Dear Coach,
: Your straight-forward approach to Washington football is outstanding! Do you see much option football in Washington's future with Stanback's skills and speed?

A: The OPTION is back. It will stay back particularly with Stanback and Bonnell in the program. Cody will be a threat this year running and I predict we will see him have positive rushing yards in most games next fall. Shelton Sampson and Louis Rankin on the pitch could be tough. Both fullbacks have the belly play down, and the Huskies will probably use at least four different types of option: speed, belly, trap, and dive (or counter). Expect to see at least twice as much as last year.
From Jim Loucks
: I'm concerned as a fan continually about Chris Massey. The only time I seem to notice him is when he misses a tackle or blows a coverage. Can you please give me some insight as to why he continues to play for the majority of the time in most games. Maybe I am not noticing the great plays he makes.

A: Chris Massey returns to the corner position, where he his more natural than at safety. He played some safety last year. His experience alone will keep him in the depth and that may be critical because both corners have been a bit fragile over the past three years. He and Matt Fountaine are clearly the back ups at this point but watch for a frosh like Dre Simpson to be added to the mix. Chris is really bright and will find a way to help, not hurt, his team. 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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