OK, the boys are 1-1 now and showed a lot of improvement from week one to last Saturday. Let's hope that the bye week will allow some younger guys to get more reps and get more comfortable filling in, as season ending injuries to LB Joseph Lobendahn and OG Robin Meadow will require some movement to shore up the depth. And now on to the letters . . .

From Bud Holden
: I think our defense will come around, but what I don't understand is out of 85 scholies we can't get 1 REB that has the ability to make a difference. If Lasee is the best we have then someone is not recruiting real well. I know we have Ala and Mateaki and they're young, but is one of these guys going to be the answer THIS YEAR? If not then quarterbacks are going to have too much time.

A: You're sharing the same concern as any husky fan who has been watching the first two games. Where's the rush? No question about the need to put more pressure on the quarterback. There just isn't a big fast speed rusher in the bunch. Terry Johnson is on a pace to get 15 sacks himself and it just might take that for his team to win a championship. He should really be hitting his stride by Stanford and UCLA.I think Stanley Daniels has the feet to be really special as another inside pass rusher. Lasee is still another year or two away from being big enough and fast enough and strong enough to be an impact player. On the outside is where they might need to bring an extra guy because there still doesn't appear to be an Andy Mason, Don Jones, Jamal Fountaine, Jason Chorak type. (Yet) I know they will get better with Randy Hart, though.
From Southwest Husky
: I have watched the Huskies since 1950 including the chaotic last years of Jim Owens. I have never felt the Huskies were at as low an ebb as they presently are. The hustle, which to me is the best barometer of a team's commitment, is not what it once was. The fundamentals seem to be lacking. If I hear about our lack of running backs and experience at receiver once more I am going to be physically ill. This theme of lack of experience, and youth can't continue to be an annual theme. Give us some hope, Coach.

A: All I can tell you is that they have to let Keith be here for 5-8 years before we really know if he can fix the problem. The Huskies are not as bad as they seem, nor are they as good as they could be. Face it Southwest, Cody has yet to have a really good game. He is solid because he is a senior but far from spectacular so far. It was obvious that he was hurt against Indiana. If the injury bug will back off, this can still be a good football team. It's way too early to be pointing fingers and throw in the towel. Keep the faith. There will be changes made along the way as Gilbs begins to exert himself into different aspects of the program. Recruiting is always critical but I tend to think that way. No, we are not a real good team yet. But, I see us getting better just as we have done in both second halves. Now it's time to put together an entire game and start getting ready for league play.
From Kurth Demoss
Dear Coach Baird,
: Coach, still wearing those purple-shaded glasses. How can you even dare to point to winning the second half when OSU was obviously in cruise control? There must have been a lot of indications of how bad this team was before as you watched practices and yet the only hint was in your summary of the final scrimmage. I arrived to the UW the same year Don James arrived, and I am trying to remember a worse performance by both lines, and particularly the OL, than that put on by the Huskies. Unbelievable. I hate to think about how many losses this team will have in the Pac-10. The Huskies are not remembered any longer for comebacks and tough play, but by the blowouts starting with Nebraska and Notre Dame, followed by UCLA, Oregon State and Miami. Gilbertson's play for three points instead of a first down, on one of the few decent drives they had all night, was a signal to the team the game was over. Perhaps the gentlemen's agreement was to finish the game more like a scrimmage as long as OSU did not run up the score. That is what it looked like on TV. The announcers ridiculed the decision. I really want the Huskies to do well, but with the exception of a few positions, this team has so many holes I do not see much reason for optimism. I want Gilby to succeed, but watching him Saturday night was like watching some of Lambright's re-runs. Recruiting and patience over the next 3 years appears to be the only real remedy.

A: Kurth, relax a little. The season is young and your vent is really uncalled for. I'm sorry but I never approach the game like that. I always believe that the team will get better, that they are being well taught, and that they are trying hard to win every game. I know the quality of coaching is high because I've watched it personally. I also think you should fill your cup up a little bit, if it's less than half full. Me? I will never take off my own rose colored glasses, but I will suggest that if you think you have the answers, then put on a whistle and become a coach. Then others like myself can second guess you and tell you what a terrible state your team is in. If you continue to have such frustrations, then I suggest you just quit going, quit following the Huskies, and switch over to the Seahawks because it looks like they are going to be good. A simple solution is to get it in perspective and lower your negativity.
From The Phinneys
Coach Baird,
: It seems like the Huskies always have used the excuse that we are a young team. Well, guess what? Here we are again. There were, what, thirty-one kids playing their first game in Ohio? I know that this is at least the fifth year we've used that excuse. What gives? When will we have a mature team.? IF EVER?

A: It is sort of like a vicious cycle because as soon as you start playing the true freshman then you pay the price at the end of their careers when they're usually at their best. Attrition likewise takes its toll in the depth of your talent pool. I really think it goes back a complete decade when the university gave up 20 scholarships over a two year period. That sanction had talent restrictions in place that were finally felt 4 to 5 years later when there were no seniors. Also, 3 to 4 kids also had elected to go pro. So when Rick Neuheisel came in, he immediately played a lot of his own recruits. This just kept the number of 5th year kids real low and those are the kids you win with in the trenches on both offensive and defensive lines. You can blame it on me, since I was the previous recruiting coordinator. But it's not that important to fix the blame, but rather more important to fix the problem. Rick was able to redshirt his entire class last year, which was terrific.
From Todd Charleson
Coach Baird,
: I noticed it last season, especially against UCLA, but really noticed it Saturday while watching the Husky game along with the Ohio St. vs. San Diego State game. Why do the Dawgs put so little pressure on quarterbacks? As I watched the Ohio St. game the Aztecs were bringing six or seven guys every time, forcing Krenzel to throw off balance and he was 5 for 20. Then in the husky game Matt LoVecchio had all day to throw because the huskies would rush only 4 guys and he was able to pick apart the secondary. Tom Ramsey and Steve Physioc mentioned it a few times how they were bringing no pressure, and giving LoVecchio a lot of time to throw. I know our secondary is weak but wouldn't it help to force the quarterback to throw passes off balance along with banging him up a little bit? Krenzel almost went untouched in the first game.

A: You have a lot of company in wanting there to be a better pass rush, Todd. It didn't happen in game one, but the dawgs are getting better at it, and are getting a lot of good experience in the young player ranks. Remember, you want them to be peaking there for Stanford and UCLA.
From Greg G
Dear Coach,
: I noticed that USC's defensive line will all slant in the same direction at the snap of the ball. This seems to stretch the O-line and allows their lineman and LB's to penetrate. UW doesn't seem to employ this tactic choosing instead for their D-lineman to individually defeat their blocks, which they are struggling to do at this juncture. What is the benefit of using a scheme approach versus an individual approach? It does seem risky to slant lineman especially if they guess the wrong direction and the play develops in the opposite direction, but how can you argue with results? USC D-line is small but they get off blocks. USC brings in back-ups and they get off blocks, while our starters are latched on to the opposing o-lineman as if they were wearing Velcro.

A: You are really talking about apples and oranges. USC has a great defensive line and Washington's kids are just trying hard to be a good defensive line. It really doesn't matter what the scheme is, as long as you win. The movement you are talking about is called slanting or sparking. It can drive an offensive line crazy because there are often at least one or two guys penetrating on the backside of the line of scrimmage. The problem is it requires the linebackers to change their angle and responsibility for gap control. It's in the Huskies package and will come out down the road, probably in league play. They are just not as fast as the USC kids as a group. Washington's line just needs to continue to improve, which they all did last game.
From Kurth
Dear Coach,
: The one play I really liked last Saturday was the throw to Toledo over the middle. It has been a while since we have seen that play and always loved seeing Bruener, Conwell, etc. rumbling on the play.

A: The tight end hot route has been there every time this year, but Joe wasn't always looking or Cody was rushing it (sometimes out of necessity). I think it will really be big, just like the guy catching it. By the way it's almost time for Bandel to start having a four to five catch game. I like both the tight ends to start becoming a duel force.
From Jake Eggimann
Dear Coach,
: Can you tell me about Brandon Ala and Donny Mateaki? Both were highly sought after recruits but have yet to figure in the two deep rotation. Why is that? Injuries? Also, where is Mike Mapu? Will he be red-shirting this year? Thanks for the insight. I just want the Dawgs to get better every week until they play Stanford. I would imagine that the next big test for them will be the UCLA game and I am hoping that things will have started looking better by then.

A: Good inquiry. What a lot of people forget is that these kids are young yet and it takes time to earn your way in the Hart Foundation. All showed pretty good in the games and as soon as Mateaki just "lets it go" the sooner he will start making plays. Ala is still a year or two away due to strength alone. He has good but not great speed and I think will be a real good player in time. I think the defensive line is going to have a break out game against Idaho and will be hitting their confidence just in time for league. Of course, Randy Hart is my good friend so I am prejudiced.
From Taft Ring
Dear Coach,
: the D is playing better but remains vulnerable to a 3d and long situation. Last game, if IU, was close and tried to run the ball, we pretty much stopped them. But if they were 3d and 6, 8 or more, they often made it. We seem to still be playing way off the ball, get little or no pressure, other than some blitzes late in the game, and QB LoVecchio had all day to throw (6 sec or more by my sweep second hand). What do we do? Appreciate your thoughts.

A: Washington's particular package is designed first and foremost with gap control to stop the RUN. They will play the percentages and always make sure they are filling the running lanes. They are pretty good against the run but I agree with the frustrations with the pass coverage. I am positive Phil Snow shares your concern and he has really been working hard in stressing footwork, upper body, and vision mechanics. The secondary kids are all better but the two top corners have to quit being so fragile and quit getting hurt. When Derek and Roc play, the Huskies are pretty good on defense this year. It's a matter of trust. They allow the coaches to use more man pressure and get up in everyone's face. That will force the Quarterback to three step drops and early releases. Until the defensive front four shows it can put on more pressure Washington may need to bring an extra 1, 2, or even 3 extra men and at least get hits on the QB. My prejudice is that I come out of a man-free thinking background so it is natural that I would favor man blitz, crash, or dog. Hope you got that.
From Aloha Mike
Dear Coach,
: A burning question that hopefully you will be kind enough to answer. When the try for extra point is made, why is the holder not ruled down because his knee is on the ground when he receives the ball? This holds true for field goal attempts also. Other instances where a body part other than the feet or hand that touch the ground the ball carrier is ruled down.

A: Excellent question. What you are describing is merely an exception to the knee down rule because a holder can stand up and run, even if his knee was touching when he received the snap. It's sort of similar to an offensive linemen being eligible receiver on kickoffs. You're right though, anytime the knee touches and you have the ball, in the college game, the play is over. 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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