Ask Coach Baird

Washington has really shown me something. They've improved each week, and they are playing hard. They cannot afford any more injuries, but that's part of the game. I'm excited to watch this weekend's game with UCLA from the box. And now onto the letters . . .

From Josh S in Anchorage, AK
: Coach, I read that Marques said that his brother Matt Tuiasosopo might be considering going somewhere else, "to make his name". I have two words to say to that, "Luke Huard". The guy would have been almost guaranteed a chance to prove himself at Washington, merely because his last name is Huard, at North Carolina he was just another highly touted recruit who never panned out. I think that having a known name is more help than hurt in a program like Washington. What are your thoughts?

A: . I too think Matt should stay and play football and baseball at the UW. He could red-shirt his first year and concentrate on baseball then in two years he could be drafted again if he doesn't go this year. Baseball is really trying to concentrate on the really good athletes and just like the CB from UCLA, Ware, the option of swinging at a ball has a definite appeal. Besides baseball is where the real money is. But, I happen to think that family is very close and he does not need to make a name for himself but rather use the name for the long term occupational contacts just like his father did. I know Tina, his mom, would like to watch him play and they are very comfortable with Keith. I really think there is no comparison between him and Luke except that they were the third sons. Matt is a lot more mobile and has a much strong gun. Luke by the way is coaching Interlake HS.
From Joe Lambert
: Sitting in the nose bleed section the last oh, 3 years and sitting in the student section now, I have seen on all levels of how the noise has become well, non-existent. Oh the looks I received over the past 3 years sitting in the nose bleed section yelling on my own, with a brother or friend, trying to make some noise, and support the dawgs. At first i thought it was the big screen. It seemed as much of the attention was drawn its way. ( Might I add when the dawgs score in the second half, why don't they show Captain Husky? It's a great tradition in that end of the stadium that no one else seems to know of. ) Then I look around and I see no purple, no gold, no hats, just some people that seem more interested in networking then actually watching the game. Oh I longed for the student section and so far I have enjoyed it, but not as much as I know I can. Many in the stands want big plays and only big plays, and don't understand it takes more. What it takes is an active fan base, give the team something to play for other then themselves. Just last Sunday we saw how the fans can alter the game. I was there and I have no doubt that losing my voice played a part in the hawks winning. Mark Bulger said at one point that he couldn't even hear himself in the huddle, He had to wait a few seconds for the crowd noise to subside just a little. Well I will end this small essay by saying, go the game, be loud, be proud and support the damn team. If it is too loud for the tackles to hear the snap count there is going to be some mother f------ mayhem for the opposing quarterback, and you, me and everyone else can know we had a part of it. Oh yeah, the funnest part of the Seahawks game was knowing I lost my voice for the team! Thanks Coach and keep hammering the point home.

A: I really agree and think the crowd really helped on the goal line stand against Stanford. It will be a test to stay up vs. Nevada who most don't realize is a pretty good football team coached by a pretty good coach, Chris Tormey. Then the crowd will really be ready for the Trojans.
From Big Al K in Vancouver, BC
Dear Coach Baird,
: I noticed the Huskies are recruiting Robert Johnson, the hot-shot JC QB. What would be there rationale behind this when they already have Paus, Stanback, and Bonnell? Also, what was your philosophy with JC players? What kind of JC players did you look at when you were the Recruiting Coordinator?

A: They are really interested in getting the younger Tuiasosopo as their quarterback or Rocky Hinds, who was in their camp. Matt is the one you take if he decides to come because he is family and that is important. The JC kid is obviously a wonderful athlete and they are looking to have more mobile quarterbacks. You always recruit them all so you can cover yourself but I'm sure the top two are waiting to see what the other is going to do.
From Rick in Southern California
Coach Baird,
: The Huskies have never fully recovered from the sanctions of the early nineties. The Fans are still there but the excitement and loud noise is gone. Since Don James and the Championship Teams of the eighties and early nineties, our Husky Teams just don't seem to have the respect and terror anymore. It appears that our arch rival Oregon now commands that with Coach Belloti. Lambright didn't have it and even Neuheisel still couldn't get the blue chip recruits and win the big games. How does Gilby get all that back? He doesn't seem like the top notch coaches and colleges we always here about (ie, FSU, Michigan, Miami, etc). A winning attitude, National championship and Pac 10 champs every year must be the goal. What are your thoughts?

A: I think you're shooting for the moon. Both Lambright and Neuheisel won championships during their tenures at Washington. That means Washington is still better than any other school for the last ten years with 3 championships. Gilbs will just work hard and will be a good recruiter because kids like real ball coaches. If Don had been defended in the first place the sanctions would not have crippled Lambo which resulted in his being fired just as the 2 years of restrictions had reached their 5 year maturity. Then Neuheisel inherited a program that needed to be infused but you could never get those 20 scholarships back, which forced the playing of too many freshmen and it became a vicious cycle. So it goes, but Gilbs will just work hard and that's all he can do. It's what he does, he's just a ball coach.
From Anthony Forte
Dear Coach,
: Great column coach. - Say, why do you think the Huskies have lately had so much trouble shutting down opposing offenses on third down? Seems like teams can hit big passes for gains much of the time on third down and it's enough to move the sticks. A: Anthony, they are improving slowly as the season goes on with their 3rd down defensive package. The coaches now have a variety of dogs and crashes as well as a multitude of different coverages, including some bump to disrupt receivers. That down will be critical this weekend in LA. If the Huskies can hold them to less than 30% then we will probably win. The Dawgs have forced opponents to punt 31 times and have only punted 22 times themselves. That's an average of 8 or so punts per game which indicates they are doing something right on 3rd down.
From Walt in Ferndale
Dear Coach,
: It is disappointing to see so many empty seats, which I don't understand if they are paid for, why not attend the game. The fans don't seem to get into the game like they did in the late seventies and in the eighties. I wonder if the Tyee people aren't as committed as Joe fan. I also feel that the HuskyTron competes for the fans attention, thus taking away the fans impact on the game.

A: I think there are a lot of reasons, including the big TV, that detract the fans, but the whole marketing of Husky football has been in steady decline for about 10 years. There are a lot of ideas like yours that make so much sense but we seem to be answering the financial demand by simply increasing the "donations" for the right to buy your seats. No stadium expansion, no dog sleds drawn by real huskies, no banners for championships around the moat, no exploration as to feasibility of lowering the field and taking out the track, no noise makers handed out, in innovative thinking to increase fan participation. But then, let's be real, we need a really good team to return the fans to the way they were. It's happening in LA right now with USC going over 70,000 per home game. I know Washington is reporting that amount but there are still lots of empty seats disguised as fans.
From Aloha Mike
Dear Coach,
: True story. Our seats are five rows up in section 22 about the 35yard line. I often wonder if the opposing players can here me. The Miami game was one of peak interest to me. Coach Davis stated publicly that he didn't think that Husky Stadium could be very loud and that they had played in some noisy stadiums. I took to heart that I would yell as loudly as I could. When his qb had to call time out several times I yelled even more loudly. One of his assistants was directly in front of me. I was loud enough that he slowly, after making eye contact with me, turned his back to me raised his right hand behind his head and GAVE ME THE FINGER!!!!! I yell enough at all the games that by half time I have no more voice left. WHEN ARE THE DAWGS GOING TO START PLAYING AN AGGRESSIVE STYLE OF DEFENSE AGAIN????

A: It's starting to get back to the days of guys giving you the finger again. I appreciate the efforts and so do the kids and coaches, to make some noise. If it doesn't happen in the next few games then I will know you're only giving a half-assed effort to help the Dawgs win, in which case, I'll flip you off myself (typed with a BIG GRIN with tongue in cheek). 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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