Letters to the Publisher

Thanks to those that wrote in. I got quite a few letters since Tuesday so I decided to answer them before the game on Saturday. So here goes, on to the letters . . .

From Mitchell
Dear Dawgman
I have no doubts that you know the Huskies quite well, and you are astute about the game; but as an Alumnus living outside the land of optimists, I can tell you Gilby is Guilty of lacking the head coaching skills. With several of our top players Cody, Reggie, Charles and Rich working together for three years, you do what Coker did at Miami, and that's to slowly transition the team philosophy, do not dismantle it completely in two weeks. Cody is out of sorts because he has played a north south game with 40 passes a game, he has lost his rhythm, Dub needs to go back to a more familiar type offense, until next season, when new players like, Isaiah, Casey, Lyons, Samson, and Eriks can carry Gilby's vision. A good coach would not have single handily destroyed Cody's game. Dennis Green, Mike Stoops or Norm Chow would have been a much better replacement for the Dawgs. Sorry Dawgman but you are way off course with Gilby, I predict several years of middle of the Pac football. I have lived in Texas for the past 10 years and I can tell you we have no football team right now. If you want football Horns, OU, K-State, LSU, that is young gun coaching not Gilby. Sorry Sir!!!

A: I'm not ready to cast out Gilby after five games, sorry. But thanks for your letter. Cody has struggled this year, yes, but I don't think it's because of John Pettas' offense. I think he's suffered a bit from a dedication to the rushing game and because the offensive line has struggled to be consistent.
From Grim Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
Thanks for your site. Well the expectations (see the preseason Heisman predictions) for Cody Pickett, have proven to be totally wrong. Perhaps he isn't such a great quarterback after all when you put him up to the other QBs of Dawg's past. Yes, he can pass for a ton of yards, but with a pretty lame (literally and figuratively) offensive line that can't protect OR run block, it seems like Cody's limited mobility has become a liability. He does not run the option very well, and although he has reported 4.5 speed, he doesn't make people miss. The writers had reported that he was faster than Marques, but Cody doesn't add that incredible running ability that keeps defenses honest. In addition, Cody doesn't seem to pick it up in the big games and the big situations. I hate to sound like a broken record, but Marcus' heart and ability to step up and be clutch when it counted made him a special player and leader of an almost national champion. He wasn't the greatest passer in the world, but made completions when it counted. Cody is too similar to the Huards. Tons of talent, prototypical NFL body and arm, but zero heart when it came to the big ones. That being said, where are the Dawgs with the recruitment of playmakers like Rocky Hinds and Matt Tuiasosopo? How does the younger Tui's skills compare to that of his older brothers when they were at the same level. And do you think that Stanback has Tui like leadership and playmaking skills? Thanks for your reply.

A: I think comparing Cody to Marques doesn't really gain you anything because they are such different players. Marques was special for all of the reasons you state, and Cody is faster in a footrace, but Marques was certainly the more effective runner. Cody has more heart than you give him credit for. I don't think you have an appreciation for how painful it is to play a football season with a separated shoulder. If you saw the way Cody hobbles after games, you'd know he's got heart and he's as tough as they come. But your comments about Marques are right on, he was something special. Washington is recruiting both Hinds and Matt Tui, and Matt's skills are outstanding for where he is right now in his career. He's way ahead of his brother, and considered a better prospect than Hinds by most that have seen both players. Stanback is an incredible athlete, but I have no idea of his leadership skills. He could be special, we'll have to see.
From Brenda Fisher
Dear Dawgman:
Boy with all these minor injuries cropping up, O wouldn't mind seeing some healthier bodies play against Nevada and save some of the walking wounded for conference play. Instead of playing Toledo, Frederick, Sa'au, and Dicks. Sit them for this game and let less experienced players get significant playing time. That way when you do need someone, they wouldn't be so green. Also I'd like to see Coach Gilbertson do the same thing with Pickett that he does with Alexis. Let Stanback and Paus quarterback one possession each.

A: I agree that it would be nice to see the healthy bodies on the field. Trouble is, Washington cannot afford to rest anyone, and they just aren't that good yet. They need all of the reps they can get to become more consistent as the rest of the Pac-10 race unfolds. Wouldn't it be nice to have a blowout so the younger players could play? This team doesn't appear to have the blowout capability or mentality though.
From Purple Sabbath
Dear Dawgman:
I have a question about what I thought important recruits from the state of Washington. I look at Insiders database and I see that Chancellor Young number one school is Oregon and level of interest to the Huskies is medium. J.T. Diederichs and Jacob McKinney committed to Washington State. Matt Eichelberger's interest is Oregon and Oregon State before Washington. Can you please comment on that? I hear a lot of criticism about previous coach's recruiting, but he always was able to keep top talent in the state. Gilby said that he'll keep the same focus. Can we really continue keeping top state talent at Montlake?

A: It's very early, and those levels of interest can change a great deal, especially after the visits. Gilby will look to keep the top talent home for sure and his top three targets are OL Aaron Klovas, S Keauntea Bankhead, and QB Matt Tuiasosopo. If he gets those three and keeps the guys he's already got, his in-state recruiting gets an A+.
From Mike
Dear Dawgman:
After another complete collapse by the Dawgs, what is your opinion on the cause of such blowouts? I remember bad losses prior to the Neuhisel era (Colorado in Seattle) but these recent Dawg teams just roll-over at a certain point and show no ability to stop the bleeding. One answer is to say that the team is weak mentally which is a direct reflection of the coaching staff. Alternatively, the coaches are doing such a great job scheming that they hide the lack of talent on the field for the majority of the time but the lack of talent eventually shows up. As was the case with the 1988 team, Colorado's 3rd team offensive was more talented than our 1st team Defense. I personally see a glaring lack of talent especially on the Defensive side. C'mon a player who was a high-school tailback is our best option at Defensive End? Either way this program has fallen and shows no promise of getting up soon. The sooner we come to the realization that this team isn't even a shadow of its Don James' predecessors the sooner we can begin the comeback. Gilby talking about the "best 1st half we seen around here in years..." is an amazing quote for a coach whose team got slapped around 39-0 in the 2nd half. That 2nd half seems a lot more accurate reading of this team when added to the Sun Bowl collapse of last year. Keep up your good work.

A: Thanks for your letter Mike. I think the blowouts are a sign that this team has a fragile ego. When things go bad, they have trouble turning it around. They need to get tougher in that area, and they will.
From Brent B
Dear Dawgman:
Why have the Cougs been so good over the last 3 years and the Huskies have been the 2nd best team in the State? The only saving grace is that we have beaten them head to head the last 5 years!

A: WSU has had excellent recruiting classes in terms of evaluating and projecting talent, and then doing something with it. Robin Pflugrad is outstanding in talent projection and could be one of the best recruiting coordinators on the West coast.. And Bill Doba is picking up where Mike Price left off, heading for another 10-win season unless they stumble. He coaches defense and leaves the offense to Levenseller – a wise move. Washington State is solid on both lines while Washington's depth on both lines has thinned due in no small part to attrition and injuries. Of the 18 offensive line Neuheisel signed, only 10 are left. THAT IS TOO MANY.
From Mallory Smith 1965 UW Wrestler
Dear Dawgman:
The play calling in the second half of the UCLA game was, as Bill Walton says too often, HORRIBLE. Throw from your own end zone on the first play of the half. Quit running the ball when you are still ahead. Ignore your best player because you "want to spread the ball around." Barbara Hedges must go....Gilby bet in an office pool and Barbara gave him a four year contract. Hypocrisy! Barbara fired Nue because he got more press. Her poor sportsmanship at Miami was a greater embarrassment that the game...and almost as bad as Gilby play calling in the second half at UCLA. I am a UCLA grad but a letterman from Washington 1965.... I am sick about what has happened. Barabara should have stood up for Neu rather than help trap him. Perhaps, Babs and Miles Brand will start dating.

A: Thanks for your letter, Mallory. I think it's time to move on, Gilby is the coach. Yes, he made a mistake by allowing that pass from his own end zone to go into the game from the booth. Hopefully he'll learn from it. I'm betting that he will.
From Kahaluu Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
I've been reading a lot of positive and negative comments regarding this year's team and just wanted to add my two cents. First of all, I think Gilby is the right guy for the job, but that it is a little difficult to expect Rose Bowls and National Championships in his first year. Unless you are a Miami or Oklahoma just loaded with talent year after year it is unreasonable to expect 12-0 or 11-1 seasons every year regardless of who the head coach is. Granted, it will take time to truly evaluate how good Gilby is/will be. Look at Neuheisel. He was supposed to be the savior of the program but it basically degenerated on a yearly basis other than the Rose Bowl season. The real problem has been recruiting of linemen. We have not had a full class of offensive and defensive linemen for years now (a full class meaning at least 4-5 of each in each class). Our best teams have always had senior and junior dominated lines and that is the case for most programs. We don't seem to have any problems anymore getting good running backs, receivers, linebackers, defensive backs, etc. For whatever reason, however, our line classes have been rather small in numbers over the last seven or eight years and slim on truly mean and nasty types. One, two, or three O-linemen in every class is not going to cut it and we are only now seeing the true effects of this in the last couple of years and at times also this year. Running the ball is difficult if your linemen are still not fully developed and too many RS-Frosh and sophomore linemen have been pressed into service. Five years of weight training for a senior guard/tackle is a far cry from a second or third year linemen's strength. Coach Baird recently commented on the superior thickness of the Ohio State O-linemen and that is a reflection on full classes of linemen getting time to develop and rise through the ranks. I've also noticed that we rarely throw deep vertically. I'm assuming that this is because we can't give Cody enough time to sit back there and wait for the receivers to get 30-40 yards downfield. Again, this is a reflection on the linemen. Don't get me wrong, I think the world of the effort of this year's linemen and their improvement over last year but the problem is the depth and lack of numbers. For this reason I think Gilby is the right guy because he has started his tenure by signing up 4 OL's already. He quietly is addressing the main problem that plagued Nueheisel's recruiting tenure and this will pay dividends in the long run. Remember that this same thing happened to USC back in the 90's where they had similar bad luck signing O-linemen and it reflected in their sub-par performance at the end of the decade. However, at the end of the 90's they started to pick up more quality linemen and it is now paying off for them in the last couple of seasons. Granted, they still are no rushing powerhouse like they used to be, but their overall play has improved dramatically. I think we are currently in the middle of the same trend unfortunately.

A: Thanks for your letter. I like the way Gilby's class is starting out, BIG and MEATY.
From KRC in Bellingham
Dear Dawgman:
I was wondering if you know how hard the Huskies are recruiting Matt Eichelberger? This kid is by far the best player coming out of Sehome High (Bellingham) since Josh Smith. No slam on Graham Lasee, but Eichelberger has broken all the weight lifting records at the school and is reported to be great kid in the classroom too! The Cougar coaches are showing up each week to watch him play! Husky coaches going to let the Cougars land this kid like they did with Ferndale's Cody Boyd? Thanks for checking!

A: Washington is recruiting Matt. Scott Pelluer has been to see him play. I'm not sure how hard they are recruiting him, but they are definitely recruiting him.
From Dennis Greenlee
Dear Dawgman:
Some comments in reply to your Oct. 6 column. First, THE BAND (caps intentional). I go to a lot of road games. Almost without exception the home team's band is seated in an end zone. This allows the entire stadium to hear them. Our band is on the north side. The north deck never knows when they are or are not playing. Tough to get the crowd going when half the stadium doesn't even know they're playing. East end zone? Second, in reply to "No Name Given", I say "see ya later". Anyone can support a winner. The true test of fans is to support the team when it struggles. When the writer says he\she is going to switch to support the Cougs, it's very telling. Coug fans are famous for jumping on the bandwagon and then jumping off when the bubble bursts. They don't fill Martin Stadium and don't travel well. So the writer must have been a latent Coug all along. Finally, our fans must inspire the team first, not vice versa. Go to Oregon, Ohio St., Michigan, Nebraska, etc. and you'll see fans in a fever pitch and the team feeds off of it. It used to be like that on Montlake, but no more. UW fans wait for the team to do something great and then, maybe-just maybe--the fans get into it. Did you see the Cal fans during their USC game? When was the last time you saw that at Husky Stadium? No matter what we might think, we no longer have the best home field advantage in the league. Sadly, that honor goes to the dreaded Ducks. The truth hurts. An idea: let's use our video screen to show the best UW-UO highlights to whip the fans into a frenzy right before the game starts. Last year's game has highlights aplenty. Then maybe the fans can help our players. We need to support these kids and the coaches. The past 6 months have been difficult for them. The effects of this cannot be minimized. We're not going to jump off a bandwagon, heck, any Coug can do that.

A: You said it all when you said that the last six months have been difficult for the kids. Losing your coach the way they did, it is very tough. They need your support, bravo for your great attitude! It's much easier to be negative when things are going bad, so keep the faith.
From Drew
Dear Dawgman:
It seems that the Huskies have lacked a serious pass-rush from their front four for years now. The recent trend is to have athletic tackles in the middle,(Tripplett, Johnson, etc.), and slow, un-athletic ends trying in vain to get to the passer. When are we going to recruit to the opposite philosophy? I always thought it was a good idea to put mammoth run-stuffers inside and put the true athletes on the edge. Who can forget the dawgs taking a young combo of Issa and Tuaiaia and moving them to end? Nice move. Bottom line is that even the most mediocre programs can recruit faster ends on a regular basis. Maybe that will change under the new regime. Is Jordan White-Frisbee slated for tackle? He's huge and should be on the interior. Help me get a grip on this obvious misuse of talent and lack of a sound recruiting philosophy.

A: Washington lacks speed on the edge, which is why Ty Eriks was moved there. Jordan White-Frisbee is nearly 300 pounds, I predict OT or DT for him, but I could be wrong. The current Husky pass rush calls for the ends to crash the pocket and make the QB step up into Tank Johnson. It has worked better this year than last, but not when the offense leaves a TE in, like UCLA went did in the second half.
From Big Al in Vancouver, BC
Dear Dawgman:
What are the chances of the Huskies getting a commit from JC QB R. Jackson? Do you see Dashon Goldson replacing Newell or Benjamin at Safety next spring? Do you think that CJ Wallace and C. Simpson will get any reps this season at their respected positions? (not including Specials).

A: I don't see the Dawgs bringing in a JC QB, unless they whiff on Matt Tui and Rocky Hinds. I see Goldson definitely cracking the two-deeps, probably at strong safety. Wallace will get some reps by the end of the year at safety. Simpson probably will as well, given Roc Alexander's propensity to get dinged up.
From Joon
Dear Dawgman:
I just read your comments about the UCLA performance and you didn't answer a key question: Honestly, how good is this Husky squad? Please answer without the 'purple tinted' glasses. Awhile back, I wrote a letter during the Neuheisel/49er-gate stating I hoped for a guy like Gilby - UW lifer - to be head coach. Although I'm not thrilled about the circumstances, I'm glad to see it happened. But I just want to make sure that we have realistic expectations for our team. I'm tired of the preseason hype and lofty dreams that leads to the general disappointment in Huskyville throughout the year. Let's face it, we just don't have the best talent anymore. We can no longer get the best talent in the west coast with the proliferation of the Internet recruiting websites (like Dawgman) and the rise of the California programs. The Internet has made a hidden gem impossible because every recruit is posted on multiple websites and thus, we can't get these out-of-the-way prospects that few people know about. I remember reading the Seattle Times the day after the Huskies beat Iowa in 91 Rose Bowl and it stated that Don James went from Pasadena to Lompoc to visit the best RB in the west - Napoleon Kaufman. Lompoc is not exactly LA so in the pre-Internet days, UW was probably on more even ground with the CA schools. But now with the news stories overflowing, UW is behind the other CA schools in recruiting the best CA prospects because they prefer to stay closer to home. Ok, how about competing on facilities? Oregon. Academics? Stanford and Cal. Tradition? Try USC. Winning program? This is where Don James was consistent throughout the years, but it takes some time. It takes time to develop continuity in the coaches, system and integrity of the program. Without the deep talent pool that has blessed the Florida and California schools, Washington cannot compete consistently at a high level until we develop continuity in the program and have a coaching staff that is committed to 'growing old' with us. I think we have the committed head coach and I hope we can execute by 1) keeping our best homegrown talent at UW and 2) maintaining continuity with the best coaching staff so we can build a winning tradition for future years. Let's stop the over-inflated expectations and the hype machine that has surrounded the Huskies past few years and give Gilby a chance to build the program from the bottom - because that's where we are right now. It's time to call a spade a spade.

A: OK, I'll say it. This team isn't very good yet. No purple tinted glasses on that one, but I enjoy wearing those shades! And I do think this team will be better than they've shown so far. I also agree with you that the internet has changed recruiting, as you can no longer hide guys under the radar as easily.
From Bob
Dear Dawgman:
Why do you think Cody has been so inconsistent this year? Do you think it might be connected to why the Rainier Beach quarterbacks are looking so good? Do I think there is any chance you'll print this? NO! At least your buddies Hugh Millen and Ron Crockett won't have to worry about a NFL team wanting to interview Gilby for the head coaching job. Looking more and more like it's gonna be a long year.

A: Bob, why wouldn't I print your letter? I agree, Hugh Millen and Ron Crockett don't have to worry about the NFL hiring Gilby away, Washington is where he wants to be, not the NFL. I'm glad to hear that the RB quarterbacks are doing well. I think Cody has been inconsistent due to OL play, a renewed dedication to the running game, youth at receiver, and playing injured. How's that?

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