Coach's Corner

Yep, here we are again in the dregs of winter when football has officially ended, baseball is just getting going, and basketball is in the stretch run. It's almost as depressing as the mid-summer time when the Mariners are usually already out of it and football hasn't even started yet. And don't tell me Phil beating Tiger carried your sports interest, or Phil making a playoff this past weekend.

That was as depressing as much as it was exciting. Come on, give us some football. Hell, I'd even take the pro bowl now. No, wait a minute, I'm not that desperate.

Like most of you other sports fans, I am a Northwest homer and automatically follow and root for all the northwest teams (except the Ducks, of course). But let's face it, we are in one of those dead zones of sports again. Husky hoops somewhat fills the void but we don't even have a pro basketball team anymore to fill in the other days. I really miss the Sonics and get no satisfaction from watching the Thunder. I refuse to even consider how cool it would be to be rooting for Kevin Durant right now, and of course they're starting to tease us with the notion of stealing Sacramento's team, which will mean we have lowered ourselves to the level of Oklahoma City and our good buddy, Clay Bandit.

I chuckled at the idea of forgiving David Stern. I have a hard enough time buying a Starbucks drink. Let the Thunder have their own thunder. Give us back our Sonics and our records and our history. Let's get our own team but can we please call it the Sonics? Let Chris Hansen build an arena, but let's forgive David Stern along with all anyone else who helped steal our original team in the first place? Right! Let's boo his ass every time he comes to town.

Maybe it's just that there is only one sport to watch at this time of year. We're not in one of those overlap time slots where football is sharing time with the World's Series or basketball and the football playoffs.

But really, the Husky basketball team only plays twice per week and I don't like putting all my happy eggs in the same basket. I thoroughly enjoy watching every Husky game on TV but I simply just need a bigger sports fix. Give me some football. Anything will do. Come on, get that combine going and let's over analyze every kid and wait for hours just to see one of our Husky kids perform.

Hey, by the way we just set a modern day record this year for the number of Huskies at the combine with four (another sign of progress in the program).

The NFL combine and draft both tease me from a personnel standpoint, but I'm really a college football fan and only get into the NFL (Not For Long league) when there is no football to watch or it involves the Seahawks. I do confess I follow that combine insanity every year simply because it fills a void. After the combine then of course we have the build-up to the draft, but before that happens we'll have March Madness and then it's time for Husky Spring football. OK, now I'm starting feel better.

All Husky fans have been looking forward to this year's spring ball just to see the impact of the new coaches. Assuming there will be open practices, all of us can take in some action, maybe attend their coaching clinic and of course watch their scrimmages. Now we're talkin'. This should be fun because change always brings some instant energy. Besides it will be interesting to see how they will move personnel around and develop a scheme that fits those players.

Football is football, but each system has its own adaptation period and much of this spring will be spent implementing the new defense. I can't imagine that coach Sarkisian is going to change the tempo of his practices, so much of the teaching will be done on the run.

What's exciting from the coaching standpoint is that as new coaches you get to establish new relationships. The players need to get to know you as much as you need to know them. These Husky defenders know they need to get better as a defensive unit and I don't think they will have any trouble buying in. Everyone gets a fresh start.

There is some talent. Make no mistake - the cupboard is not empty. These coaches will find some great kids to work with and I think it starts with Danny Shelton up front. He showed unbelievable strength and toughness for a true freshman last year. I could easily envision him as a true nose man in an odd front. but after visiting briefly with coach Justin Wilcox I'm positive we will see the Huskies in multiple fronts. However he's used, Shelton could be dominating and it's always positive to anchor your defense around such a stout kid. He is one of 9-10 defensive ends or tackles who have some sort of playing experience.

There are plenty of safeties and at least four good cover corners with more of both on the way in the incoming class, including safety Shaq Thompson, as well as corners Brandon Beaver, Cleveland Wallace, and Darien Washington. But watch out for Marcus Peters who red-shirted last year, and Antavius Sims who enrolled for winter quarter, because they both look like the real deal athletically.

It could be the linebacker spot where we may see some personnel changes simply because none of the returning kids has really shown they can be every down players. They are mostly young and still developing as college linebackers. New linebacker coach Peter Sirmon will definitely have his work cut out for him. He appears to be a perfect fit with this group, but it wouldn't surprise me to see a safety or two moved up or a smaller defensive end moved back.

Whatever, it's all exciting to look forward to but what about right now?

I guess I'll go ahead and put all my eggs in the Husky Hoop basket. It's the NCAA or bust. You've got to appreciate what coach Romar is trying to do with one senior and two juniors and all the rest underclassmen. How cool would it be if both Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten decided to stay for next year? Heck with that, how cool will it be if these Huskies win the conference this year? Go to the conference tournament and win a couple more and play for the conference title - then go to the tourney and win at least a couple more. OK, that will get me through February and deep into March. By then I'll be skiing and waiting for spring ball.

Whatever, let's get that combine going so we can have a little football to carry us over.


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