ASK COACH BAIRD

Here come the Ducks, Dawgfans. Washington blasted them last year in Autzen, and if you don't think the Ducks want to revenge that game and post-game celebration, you're crazy. The Dawgs will be limping into this one, but Gilby will have them ready. And now, on to the letters . . .


From Vino Orsley
Coach,
: I believe a missing ingredient to the "D" has been Hopoi (at least in terms of sacks). And I know with his numbers from last season, he wasn't going to surprise people. But other than better preparation by other teams, why do you believe his sack total is down?

A: I agree. They need more pressure out of Manase and I think he knows that. Watch for Johnson to move back inside to stop the run then maybe move him outside once in a while to rush.
From Aberdeen Dawg
: I appreciate all the good coverage you and the rest of the Dawgman staff have been giving all of us die hard fans. I have one simple question I hope you can clear up for me. Why has Washington shown a reluctance to use Cody out of the shotgun? I realize this year we have run the ball a little better but in games where we are getting shut down on the run and the d-lineman are constantly in Cody's face why not go to the shotgun? Please clear this up Coach!

A: Shot gun is just a philosophy. Remember at lot of a quarterback's job is pre-snap reads. When in gun you have to take your eyes off the defense to see the ball. It limits considerably many run options. It is harder to time up timing routes. There is a higher chance of fumble. Those are the reasons many coaches chose not to use it. They have it in and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see them use it someday with Stanback because he is the running back. I think the answer though is they really do not like the shotgun.
From Phil R
Dear Coach Baird,
: You mentioned recently that approximately 30 players quit the program during the Neuheisel years. Is this an unusual percentage? If so, what do you attribute it to? Is there some way of assessing character in this regard during recruiting? We seemed to recruit a lot of "athletes" during the past four years. Pac-10 football is played at an awfully high level. How much of being a good player at this level is athleticism and how much is football instincts and determination?

I enjoy your columns and work on KJR.

A: I think a good rate of attrition is one kid per year for 5 years. So that if you sign 25 then 20 are still in the program all the way through. 6-7 can happen because kids quit for all sorts of reasons, but over 8-10 is not very good and means you probably didn't ask enough tough questions, like, "Will he ever quit?" As for your second question, good players can be either instinctive or athletic, but great players have both.
From Tom Colby
Dear Coach,
: Well coach, first things first. No, I did not smoke dope nor drink when I asked questions in the last week section. Remember, that was written before the outcome of the Oregon State game was known. Anyway, I forgive you. I realize you are a Dawg, but don't forget so am I. Husky football and season ticket donations and Tyee donations have been in our family since 1959. Anyway, it really does hurt to see the program sink so low. Here are my questions for you this week after the USC game:
1. How long do you see this program having to struggle and go through the transition stage we are in now before things can write itself and we can compete once again with the top programs in our conference, especially USC?
2. From the best information you have, does this staff plan to aggressively go out and recruit speed, regardless of how many stars or lack thereof an athlete has coming out of high school? This is where the Cougars have destroyed us of late in getting kids who have a passion for football and have so much speed it is making a difference!
3. In your opinion, where are our three main recruiting priorities for this staff for next year and the year beyond?
4. What contributed to our woeful recruiting of athletes that lacked speed? Is it recruiting mistakes, or just miscalculation on what we thought the kids could do, especially at linebacker, defensive end, an in line play?

A: First of all I was kidding and know you are die-hard. I appreciate that. How long the transition will take depends on many variables. Most notably how much the current true freshmen and red-shirt freshmen classes develop. They are in transition right now and they have only been in it for three months. They will probably never have the same quality of athlete that USC does. We never have so I would not be surprised if it ever happens. As far as speed is concerned, I'm not sure I totally agree. Do they have a Napoleon or a Reggie Bush type speed? Probably not but there is some excellent speed on the UW. Shelton Sampson was a state champ, so was Reggie Williams, so was Roc Alexander. Cooper can really run for a linebacker and ET is pretty swift. Stanback and Bonnell can really run as quarterbacks. I think Rankin has some big time speed as well. I think they need more speed at tight end and defensive end and another running linebacker like Coop. Two safeties that can run and hit. The same thing everyone else wants, really. Three keys to this year and every year are speed, size, and balance. (8-12) OL/DL.
From Alan Kaselj
Dear Coach,
: After watching the USC game live and then on tape, I feel the Huskies not only got beat by a better team but they also got out coached. Offensively, USC was able to get the ball to their backs without the HUSKIES making any type of adjustments. Defensively, the HUSKIES didn't find ways to get Reggie the ball 2nd-half when USC started to press-him. What do you think Coach? Obviously execution had a lot to do with the result also, but I feel the coaches also need to be held accountable.

A: Every time you lose it goes on everybody. Not any group, certainly not any individual, not the offense, not the defense, not anybody. Everybody. Three fingers are pointing back at you. Believe me there is not a coach alive who when his team loses, does not take personal accountability. Nobody wins when you lose. There is no such thing as playing good and losing.
From John Young
Dear Coach,
: With our football season getting close to the end, shouldn't the coaching staff give some consideration to getting game experience for the backup quarterbacks. We will lose our senior quarterback and yet his back-ups are not getting playing time at this position. I realize that most games are not decided till the end of the game, however, in case of the last game (USC), I thought that with the score what it was, and the way our team was being dominated, what better time to get Paus or Stanback in for a few plays to gain game experience. Not every game allows you this opportunity, but when it does, at least build on next year's players. If we don't, I truly believe there will always be doubt as to whether or not our next quarterback will have the skills (not experience) to be a winner. Other teams do this, why not ours?

A:. I think this is Cody's team and the only other quarterback who will play will do so if he gets hurt or the Huskies get way ahead. As long as you have a chance, and the Huskies did, right up until the Trojans two long passes to their backs. As long as you're in it you go with the starter. Stanback has been getting a lot of reps at wide receiver so he probably has a limited book anyway and they need to red shirt Bonnell. Paus is the back up and understands his role. We are not close to the end. We have only started the second half of the season.
From Bobby Sue Carothers
Dear Coach,
: I love your comments! Your thoughts on Owen Biddle were great! He is a great kid and deserves everyone's respect.

A: You need to know that your son is also one of my favorite kids on the team. He is so much like I was at his age, it makes me laugh. He is one of the real positive leaders in the program and think he and I will become better friends someday simply because we think alike. I would have loved to have been his coach. But I would have made him a linebacker right away so that he would have to play for me all 4 or 5 years. You did good, Mom. He is a quality, tough young man.
From Mike
Dear Coach,
: I just read Coach's Corner and I agree 100% that the Dawgs played their best and showed great intensity against a team with an obvious advantage in talent/athletes. Watching Reggie Bush was amazing, it's too bad we couldn't get him in Purple and Gold. Also, Owen Biddle has been great to watch. It's too bad the guy doesn't a 4.5 40 time to go with the effort. I'm looking forward to the Oregon game and seeing the Dawgs go 4-0 the rest of the way. Since you're the eternal optimist, what do you consider the odds for beating WSU? They've looked good so far but I'm wondering if they're overrated at all.

A: Reggie Bush reminded me so much of Napoleon it is sick. He was stupid not to come here and play on the turf. He is so much faster than he is on grass. As for Owen Biddle, he is who he is. You know you're going to get it all. WSU is too far in the future. Can't think like that. Got to go one at a time. That's how you win. Beat the Ducks this weekend. Period. End of story.
From Steve Reudy
Dear Coach,
: I saw your comments about the UW walk-on program going away. Can you explain why this is happening? Is this a UW thing only? A PAC-10 deal? Or are all schools facing the same issue as us.

A: It's all part of title nine. It has to do with number of participants. They have put a 115 lid on the football team. My answer would be to add Women's JV programs in soft ball and soccer. Then you can have more spots for men. Simply add a 50 woman drill squad and you could also get your numbers up. Football should get 25-30 spots a year to use their specials on whether it's a scholarship or a walk on.


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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