Coach's Corner

I was lucky enough to see a really good football team play Saturday night. They were clearly more mature, more experienced, and more confident than their opponent. Unfortunately, it wasn't my team.

Still, as a lifelong football person, I immediately recognized that I had just had the pleasure of watching a really good college football team for a really good "football" school, in a really big football state, in a really big football stadium. Wow!

Before the game started, I went down to the field in hopes of seeing my old friend Jim Heacock, the defensive line coach for the Buckeyes. He held that position under Don James before Randy Hart was here. When Dawgman and all of the other Seattle people went to our end of the field, I went looking for a chance to eyeball the Buckeyes. I was in their end zone waiting for their line to come out when I ran into Al Roberts, another great Husky and NFL coach. Al coached Corey Dillon for us the year we won a championship under Coach Lambright.

Finally I caught Heacock's eye and got a chance to study his kids.

Oh, my God. We had nobody that looked like their guys. They had three All-Big 10 guys and the fourth ended up being the dominant performer in the game (Simon Fraser). They were mature 22-year olds who have been working even harder after they had won it all last year. Then, I go over to look at their offensive linemen, and see that they were huge and had arms that were a foot across.

I knew the Dawgs were in for a long night.

Still, if you had told me that if the Huskies win the kicking game, hold the Buckeyes to 345 yards, give up no touchdown passes, and had no turnovers, that they wouldn't have been in the game, I wouldn't have believed you.

Yet, they really weren't. They simply played a great team and they are still working on becoming a good team themselves. That's where we are, Dawg fans. They will, and they will learn from this experience, and they will get better. I promise you this, the team they played will still be the champions until somebody defeats them, and by looking at their schedule, that might not happen. Again.

Last year the same team, The Buckeyes, did the same thing to the Cougars, and the Cougs went on to win the Pac-10, and go to the Rose Bowl. Considering that that is what it's all about, I would take that end result, thank you very much.

Hats off to the special teams, who are now coached under Gilbs by Scott Pelluer. There was a definite bright spot in an obvious loss. The special teams of the Huskies featured new snappers, new kickers and a new punter. They also featured tremendous protection, for both the punter and on field goals. The blocked field goal was just reflective of the tremendous overall athletic ability of the best team in America. Dustin Fox, the guy who blocked it, has a 40-inch vertical leap. Nugent, the OSU kicker, teased Knudson after the game that Fox does that to him all the time in practice.

Still, the kickoff coverage by a true freshman, who had never even flied, must less suited up or played at the college level, started a classic college football game. Way to go, Tahj Bomar.

Hey, our kids competed. I know we lost but the fact is we won the second half and there was no quit. Oh yeah, people can say Ohio State played their backup, but so did the Huskies. This was a great learning experience for the Huskies. Now, the players got a taste of the upper echelon of college football. They got hammered early but didn't back down.

Washington will improve every week, and they just happened to start their season against the arguably the best team in the land right now. But, they held their own and conceivably could still have won it.

What, are you nuts coach?

I know you're thinking that, but you still have to remember that there are no style points in football. Stats don't mean squat, except for one. All you need is one more point than your opponent. What if when the Huskies went for two, after they finally scored a touchdown, they would have been successful? I know Husky fans, and I know a lot of you questioned Gilby going for the deuce. Then they would have been only 17 down instead of 18. Two touchdowns and a field goal. Then push in that touchdown instead of the blocked field goal and wham, it's a 10 point game. There was plenty of time for an onsides and at least two more possessions.

If you look at it with an open mind, Washington was still in it despite getting hammered in the face repeatedly. They were still standing and still swinging. I was proud. I saw them compete with the best and not back down. It was a loss, but there were still a lot of good things. They just have to get better, and they will. No more distractions off the field, no more media circuses surrounding their coach. Just pure football, and Gilby has the chalk.

Saturday was a game that will have taught them a lot. Let the learning begin. 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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