Ask Coach Baird - May 6th

Coach got so many letters this week that we made him do two columns to answer them all. Here is today's edition. Thanks for writing in Husky fans, and now heeeeere's Coach B!

From Eric Baker
: I was wondering why UW didn't go after a JC QB this last recruiting year. Was it because there wasn't one available who could beat out Paus? You know that if Pickett goes down, the Dawgs are done! I can't remember a UW team not having a qualified backup. Thanks!

A: They did look at some JC QB's last year, and just didn't see anything they liked. Casey and Isaiah are both improving fast. They won't be needed however, because Cody will play the whole season, and will play hurt if he has to. Every team who wins this conference does so with the same QB all year long. McNown, Leaf, Tui, Harrington, etc... all led their teams through the whole season without major injury. So will Cody. Don't worry about injuries until they happen. The Huskies will not need the backup but if they do, whoever it is will take the baton and keep the team winning.
From Name withheld
: I was curious as the feeling during spring drills before the 1991 season. Did it feel any different than other seasons? Could you sense that something special was coming? And in your opinion, how does that feeling compare to spring practice this year. I love the column – keep bleeding purple and gold!

A: Number nine, number nine, number nine . . . Beatles flashback, Sorry. Coming off the 91 Rose Bowl, Ed Cunnningham stood up before the team and told them they were coming back the next year and win it all. Now I don't want to give Ed too much credit cause he's a big-time announcer now, but it set the tone and they all believed it would happen. I can't compare times and people of different eras so I would rather just say that one team was coming off of a 10 and 2 season and the other is coming off of a 7-6 season. Totally different confidence levels.
From C. Blondino
Dear Dick Baird,
: I visited the Husky weight room when the new outdoor field was laid. With all this new equipment, is that room large enough to handle it all? If not, what goes out? Thanks for your great info.

A: Good question. The weight room isn't large enough but with the Dempsey Indoor Facility, the two together create an excellent conditioning environment. If it were Nebraska, they'd just build another weight room. But Washington's is first class and remember: Facilities don't win championships. It's the people inside them that do.
From Tom Rebholtz
Coach Baird,
: Coach, in reading the 1's vs. 1's scrimmage reports and seeing the Spring Game, it seems the defense is dominating the O. I'm not sure if the D is that good, the O not so good, or if it's natural for this point in the season or whatever. Anyway, I'm curious about how the first team vs. first team scrimmages were during the '90-92 seasons. We had a dominating D during most of that time but also had a really strong offense. Could the offense move the ball with any consistency then? Can you draw any comparisons between now and then for us? Thank you.

A: It is pretty standard for defenses to handle offenses in the spring, especially when there is a turnover in the line coaching. The defensive line has the same coach and knows what to expect. The offensive line is still going through an adjustment phase. Continuity is so critical to development. Kids are creatures of habit who like to know their environment. A new coach brings new expectations, new techniques, and new attitudes. The 1's on offense held back considerable amounts of the offense. That is why spring games are so vanilla. You know you're getting skunked, so you just try to find out who can block and tackle. I think everyone is expecting that the Huskies will instantly have a running game. There are a lot of factors, starting with the running back. Nothing was decided this spring other than Singleton and Sampson showing that they'll be contributors to the team come fall. As to whether either will be the starter was not decided, and when Rich Alexis and Kenny James both return along with frosh Louis Rankin, the real competition will begin. I think Alexis will be a good 3rd down back for the 1-back offense. Shelton Sampson could take it to the house off the pitch in the OPTION but so can Rankin. Put that speed on the perimeter. The O-line blocking is better - period. Schemes have been basic because you need to be that way in spring. Kids are pulling a lot better and the straight ahead blocking has improved. Give some credit to the defensive line for having a pretty good spring.
From Snowman
Coach Baird,
: Do you think the Huskies would ever hire Jim Lambright back in any other role than head coach? I know that he still "bleeds purple" as he said when he was fired, and he seems to show up a lot around the action. Seems like they could have used some of his toughness and blue collar ethics last year.

A: I have no doubts that Rick Neuheisel would offer Jim the Defensive coordinator position if it were available. That will never happen with the current administration. I think Jim has more coaching in him, but he is also settling well into retirement and running his foundation to benefit his children. I just think the longer you stay out the harder it is to get back. He is pleased with Rick's addition of Phil Snow (who Jim thinks is a great coach). He is friends with Tim, Randy, and Gilby, and will always stay close to the program. Jim Lambright is a Husky Legend and will always be a big part of Husky Football history.
From Lena Remme
Dear Dick,
: I appreciate your knowledge and insight with Husky football. My question is about vocal fan support. My first season as a ticket holder was the purple reign year of 84 (great year to start, huh?). Granted, the crowd was electric because of the dominating defense that year, and much of the following years. But with the scholarship limits, and sanctions hurting depth, our team wasn't as dominant as once was. My point is, we didn't make as many stops defensively to get the crowd fired up. I want to know your opinion about the jumbotron. When Neuheisel talked to Bob Rondeau a few years back, he mentioned that the crowd seemed more lethargic possibly because the fans watch the Huskytron instead of the live action on the field. This makes it seem like they were at home watching the game on the recliner. If the defense becomes dominant as it once was, I think it will be loud, but don't you think it would be much louder without the tron? Or what about a compromise? Only show replays on the tron?

A: Defense wins championships and the Husky fans realize that collectively. They can be the most dominating presence for the home team, and when the defense responds with big plays then the Dawg House erupts. Washington fans should realize they play a great role in Husky success. When the defense is on the field and they have the fans with them, it is literally impossible to hear anything on the field. That obviously includes offensive audibles and signals. Oregon learned this so well that they pumped in added sound when their defense was on the field at Autzen. It works. As for the Huskytron, it doesn't matter to me. It's up to the fans to make noise, and to know that they can make a difference.
From Marc Franco
Dear Coach,
: I cannot express how thoroughly I have enjoyed your articles since you have come on board Dawgman. I do not always agree with you- your take on the Alexis scrape at the frat, for example- but your opinions are always informed and fun to read and learn. My question involves John Anderson. We understand, of course, that kickers are usually not drafted, or, at best, are drafted low- Oakland Raiders notwithstanding. But in most of the draft reviews that I saw, Anderson was not regarded particularly highly. Indeed, even the Seahawks, who badly need a kicker, and they did last year, too, did not go for Anderson at all. What were the "problems" with him?

A: John Anderson signed a contract to be a kicker with Chicago. I think he will make somebody's club because he can kick off into the end zone. The Seahawks used a late draft pick on a kicker so that explains why they didn't sign him. John showed the strongest leg ever for a Husky kicker and has the most 50+ kicks in the record books. He is a great person and will make a team because he will only get better with a quality snapper and holder. He missed some kicks but really most were break downs in blocking, snapping or holding. The 12th man on the field would have been moot if the Huskies had not got a field goal blocked in the first quarter at Michigan. Likewise against Purdue, they had an early kick blocked that would have put the score at 20-0. These were big, but not reflective of John's ability nor were they his fault. I really think his calm disposition lends itself to he being such a good kicking prospect. He made a big contribution to Washington and will be missed.
From Boyd B
Dear Coach,
: Now that we have a slow period for football news how about contacting some past huskies and do a catch-up column? What ever happened to Dave Williams? Will Bo Yates coaching at the large new High school (West Salem) help us land some good Valley league kids? How many ex-husky players are coaching in CA, H.S. especially in the football factory schools. Will we be able to take advantage of that relationship for recruiting?

A: Because Washington doesn't offer education at the undergraduate level, it is tougher to get HS coaches who were ex-Husky football players. Danny Greene is still in coaching in the Olympia area and I periodically see others who have chosen coaching as a profession. But by and large there are not a lot of players who have gone into high school coaching. There are some in California but not a lot. Dom Daste went back home and is involved with kids in the LA area. There are some but not enough to establish any kind of advantage in recruiting.
From Charlie Hill
Dear Coach,

A: I too feel terrible for Coach Price and certainly think he got screwed (so to speak). Since when to you get fired for lap dances? There are some obvious hypocrites in Alabama. I don't believe Mike should've been fired, unless Alabama is going to fire everyone in their athletic department who has ever frequented a strip joint.
From DH
Dear Coach,
: I found your self loathing a bit maudlin regarding recruiting woes in the final days. The pitiful draft report card for Husky players does not disparage the fact of your overall contribution to Husky success. The two most important recruiting moments in the last 30 years were Jim Kenyon's presence with Don James at Warren Moon's home and your appointment as recruiting coordinator. When Allen Stover opted out for stock brokerage and Don accepted Mike Lude's suggestion to hire Chuck White, the poor recruiting effort in 1985 had a lot to do with the dismal 1988 season, just as the 1999 class had its effect on the 2002 season. When you assumed command in 1985 things changed dramatically. In between there were four Rose Bowl's and the best record in the PAC during the eighty's and ninety's. Until your arrival the function of recruiting coordinator wasn't even listed in the press guide. So quit beating up on yourself and don't waste anymore time on the NFL draft. I solved the NFL problem by spending last week on an island.

A: Thank you for the letter. 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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