Ask Coach Baird

OK! Football camp has opened, the pads are popping, and Coach Gilbertson has the troops rallied and ready to go. I couldn't be more pleased that Gilby is the man to lead us into battle. And now, onto the letters . . .

From Larry Dykes (father of Trent Dykes)
Coach,
: You wrote, "First off, let me say that there is no question that the intent and overall results of Title-Nine are positive and socially correct. "

I adamantly disagree. This is social engineering at its worst. My son Trent was an outstanding H. S. athlete as you recognized. However, so was my daughter in swimming. She is 1/2 fish, Allstate etc. She had NO desire to swim collegiate level. Those idiots that wrote Title IX ignore human nature. "Boys will be Boys and Girls will be girls." God made the plan, not congress. Congress cannot change human nature ... or should I say "hu-person nature". BTW, You may recall, I tried to interview you on my radio show KOL, the day your phone lines were cut and you were burglarized. I was burglarized a month later by one of my former Boy Scouts when I was an asst. Scout Master. In court, I told him I tried to get him a rifle merit badge, not a burglary merit badge.

I refuse to buy into this politically correct crappe'.

A: Whether or not it is correct or not, the fact is Title IX is here to stay and the girls are getting more opportunities and funding because of it. I tend to agree that anytime we take right from one group to give to another it is incorrect, but they decided not to change it and so we can only hope that it continues to provide opportunities rather than deny opportunities. Sorry to hear you were robbed as well. The violation of property makes me sick. What ever happened to Thou Shall Not Steal?
From Jake Eggiman in Portland
: I appreciate your perspective on the program and some of the recruiting stories that you have shared. As the season gets closer to starting, it is hard not to focus on more of the personal side of the picture. On the linebackers: I believe that both Cory Jones and Joseph Lobendahn both play the same position. Which one will start... and which player has the biggest upside? I really haven't heard a lot of hype about Jones after the Dawgs lost the recruiting battle to Notre Dame. Will Mike Mapu, the highly ranked JUCO, start on the defensive side of the ball? He is listed as a DE, but the loss of Josh Miller certainly opens up a space on the line. Where will he fit in and will he have a significant impact this year? I am excited at the addition of Phil Cozzetto as the offensive line coach. I truly believe that he can bring back some of the nastiness that has been lacking in the line that I don't remember seeing since Benji Olson and Olin Kreutz. With the improvement of the line, who will be the featured back? I love to see the ball in the air, but it is all for not without some semblance of a running game. Please tell me that the Dawgs aren't pinning their hopes on the emergence of Rich Alexis. Thanks... and keep up the good work.

A: There is no comparison between Joe Lobendahn and Cory Jones. Joe is a linebacker and Cory just got moved there and has no background at the position. In fact, he's now back at fullback. The position is up for grabs between Joe and Tim Galloway with Cory probably contributing on special teams because of his athleticism. I believe Mike Mapu really improved in the spring and will eventually start opposite Manase Hopoi as a defensive end playing to the TE side. He is man enough already and showed some great strength and quickness coming off the edge. If he gets into shape, he may be the best JC pick up in a long time. We'll see. As for the running game, I believe you are correct in that the O-line will be better and so it will just amount to who wins the playing time at tailback. I still think Kenny James is a natural and don't be surprised to see the freshman Louis Rankin getting a shot as well. Also watch the progress of Ty Eriks at fullback as that position is critical to a good running game. He is really gifted and a hard worker. Singleton and Shelton showed progress but I think Gilbs is still trying to find the guy. The running game starts up front.
From Scott in Yakima
Dear Coach Baird,
: Concerning the recent news about Junior Coffin and Josh Miller, will their injuries threaten their health in such a fashion that should preclude further participation in football? What do you foresee as the possibility of success for the D-line?

A: It always hurts to lose experienced players and I'm not sure whether either will play again. Coach Hart has some excellent younger players coming up through the ranks and will have to play Big Tui, Dan Milsten, and maybe Stanley Daniels. That's why line depth is so critical and why you always have to recruit the big boys first. I think we will surprise up front, as I know what a good and tough coach Randy Hart is. There is a reason they are referred to as "The Hart Foundation".
From Brian Donohoe
Coach Baird,
: There's always talk in non-conference game about officials and whatnot. Of course coaches scout the opponent prior to playing a team. I am wondering if coaches scout officials before a game. In other words, it must be known ahead of time which officiating crew is doing a game. Do coaches ever research and review a game that the crew has done recently and check out where that crew's focus is? Do they call personal fouls? Do they call holding? One thing I've noticed over the years is how holding is called far tighter one week and never called the next. I would bet it has to do with individual officials and their interpretations. One week, an offensive lineman has to tackle a defensive lineman to get a holding call. The next week, if the offensive lineman even extends his arm to "hold" up a lineman, the flag comes out. Love to hear your opinion.

A: Your points about officiating are well taken. I personally think that all officials make bad calls but as long as they are against the other team, then all is good. You can't let them get to you, and yes, some do call holding more than others. Some crews are just better than others. I don't think you can dwell on it because they are all just doing their job. You can't let your kids think about it either but I do know of some calls that have taken games away from us. When Arizona's Ortege Jenkins went over the top to beat us years ago, we had had a touchdown taken off the board by a holding call completely across the field on a TD run by Marques Tuiasosopo. The call was made by an official from Arizona, who the next week made a bad call to take a game away from WSU as well. I believe he was prejudiced and made the calls so the Arizona teams would win. He was fired, appropriately, but they never change the scores on those games. Had the penalty not been called then the dive by Jenkins wouldn't have made any difference. Tui's score would've been the nail in the coffin. But you can never let the officiating become an issue. In the last bowl game vs. Purdue, I saw the Boilermakers start to play dirty on purpose and take late hits. When the refs ignored it, the Huskies lost their composure and subsequently the game as well. It's tough, but you have to keep discipline instilled in your players and let them focus on the game, not the calls.
From John Jones
Coach Baird,
: You provide wonderful insight to football fans that love the Huskies and wish they had the talent and youth to play for them. Having only played little league football, many of the technical aspects of the game have never been explained like you have done recently in your articles. Most refreshing. I recently read on this website that the Huskies will be preparing their "game plan" for Ohio State. Now, it is obvious that we will stack the defensive line to try to stop Clarett, but that is hardly a "game plan." Is there a "game plan" for each position? Are we talking only about down and distance and the formation each player will be in at that time? Please give an example say for a linebacker (you pick the exact one) against Ohio State. Also, it has been said on TV at times is that the team will "have to throw out the game plan" due to the score. Does that really happen or is it just hype? Thanks for providing us with your knowledge.

A: Every game has a plan for all three phases of the game based upon what the opponent has done in the past. When they say, "throw out the game plan" it is usually because the score dictates it and you go from a conservative approach to a more wide-open attack in order to get back into the game. The best way to stop the Buckeye offense is to keep them on the sideline and or get ahead enough so that they can't keep trying to hammer Clarett at you. I personally don't think we will even play against him but if I were the middle linebacker I would definitely know where he is at and where he is going on every play. I think he will be declared ineligible prior to our game but don't think he is a super human being anyway. He is very good but was dinged up much of last season and really only had 1 game of his last 6 that he went over 100 yards rushing. He missed two games last season as well as most of the spring. I hope he plays so the Dawgs can smack him in the face a few times. I'm going to write a column on him soon so stay tuned.
From Bob Myers
Dear Coach,
: Please explain how and/or why Coach Gilbertson is qualified to be UW's head coach. In terms of Xs and Os, what are Coach Gilbertson's strengths and weaknesses? How will he stack up against other Pac-10 coaches in terms of game preparedness, game strategy, and recruiting? I'm asking, because most of the comments that I've read favoring Coach Gilbertson's multi-year deal are emotional or sentimental in nature. Please tell me how Gilby will kick ass and bring us conference and/or national championships. Thanks for your time.

A: Gilbs is qualified because he knows football, Washington, and kids extremely well. He has been a head coach twice and worked at the NFL level as well. He is way more qualified than his predecessor was and has a great knowledge of the X's and O's of the game. His game preparation will follow that of Coach James with his checklists and reminders of all situations. I think the last four years you have seen the offense make great game time adjustments so that is also one of his strengths. As for recruiting, he is simply a down to earth guy that kids relate to. He has a firm but fun attitude with the kids and they are not looking for a movie star but rather a ball coach and that is and always will be what Gilbs is.
From LoyBrd
Dear Coach,
: Do you think Gilby will be all offense minded like Rick was? Maybe we can get back to smash mouth football like the good old days and maybe win some games with defense. Love your column. In Las Vegas the only Husky news we get is from Sports Washington magazine.

A: Gilbs will go with what he has and what is given to him. The run will improve this year because the pass threat is so potent. He will stay involved with the offense but will make sure we emphasize the kicking game more and really wants to see the defense improve in their attacking the offenses. He'll stay involved with the O because that is who he is.
From Jack Barrow
Dear Coach,
: In a previous article or ask Coach Baird segment you talked about Gilby asking the "10 Tough Questions" in recruiting. I may have missed it but please elaborate on that.

A: The ten questions I referred to are a series of character questions, as that is the toughest thing to measure during the evaluation phase. Coach James was a stickler on them but they are cumbersome and it takes time to assess them properly. They are things like - Does he have headhunter type toughness? Does he come early and stay late? Is he dying to be a great player? Does he want his degree? etc. They are great to determine leadership, commitment, and they end with "Will he ever quit?" I know Randy and Gilbs still used them but am not sure about the other coaches.
From Husky Heat
Dear Coach,
: The talk is to get Washington back to the aggressive style of play on defense. Do you see Washington running a lot of the "46" defense, especially with the experience and speed in the secondary?

A: The "46" was not used in spring and if we see it, it will probably be used as a change up. What we will see is more man-free coverage, meaning that everyone will be playing man-to-man with the free safety playing center field zone. The 46 was the old Chicago Bears 8 man front with man up coverage on the TE and the strong safety up as a linebacker in an odd front with the DT's covering the guards and a man on the center as well. It takes a lot of specific drill to develop, but Coach Snow has used it before and we know Randy Hart used it extensively when he was a coordinator. Personally, I liked it but we had problems playing zone coverage with it.
From Wet dawg
Dear Coach,
: Back when Bruce Snyder was head coach at ASU, I remember the Huskies had to pay special attention to defense of the counter trey. Now that we have Coaches Pettas and Cozzetto from that staff, will the counter trey become a staple of the Husky ground game? I have visions of speedster pulling guards Clay Walker or Rob Meadow really making that play work. Or have pressure defenses caught up with the counter trey?

A: I've been wondering the same thing as to whether or not we will be seeing the counter trey play. My guess is yes. Dan Cozzetto gave us fits with it and it is still one of the best miss-direction plays in football. Often times it goes right up the middle and is essentially a double trap play with the backside both pulling. You can also add a third blocker by bringing the fullback across as well. I'd be surprised if we don't see it since we really didn't have a good weakside play beside the draw trap, which also goes back against the grain. Look for it.
Dawgman.com 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 Dawgman.com 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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