Coach's Corner

So now we watch practices and wait for the season with the lowest expectations in recent history. Never before, or at least the last twenty five years, have the Huskies gone into a season picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference.

Are they really that bad? And if they are, then what are legitimate expectations for a team so lightly thought of?

You don't have to answer with your prediction right now, but it will be interesting to see just how understanding fans will be, should say, the Huskies actually finish 7th or 8th - Heaven forbid.

It will be very interesting to see how fans handle it if this team (that isn't supposed to be any good) does start losing. It can be tough to balance those expectations with the fact that we are talking about the Washington Huskies, a team that is always expected to win.

What I can tell you is that this team believes that they are better than pundits are saying. They will go into each game believing that they can win it, they believe they will have a winning season, and they believe they will go to a bowl game and win it.

The Huskies cannot take the low expectations by media and fans as disrespect, but rather just a reflection of their back to back 7-6 and 6-6 years. It makes sense. But the Dawgs truly believe that they are better than that.

If the Huskies can get out of the blocks and off to a winning start, then they can keep themselves in the hunt through out the entire season. They only need only to look across the state to see a team that has historically never gotten any respect. All that their cross state brothers have done is win ten games a year for three straight years, yet they too, are rated in the bottom half of the conference.

All of the Huskies focus is currently on Fresno State as well it should be. Make no mistake about the first game being significant to this team. The Bulldogs are not an easy opener and the fact that their Coach, Pat Hill, openly challenges the Pac-10 cannot be ignored. I had met him in Cleveland when I visited the Browns years ago and he openly admitted that he felt the Huskies were the premier program in the west. As a proud Husky follower, I think the past 25 years pretty much supports his assertion.

So what are your expectations for 2004? Mine are simple. This is still a great football program and they should still expect to be in contention every year. We as fans should expect them to win. We should also expect ourselves to help them whenever they play in Husky Stadium. We should expect them to prepare hard. We should expect a winning season and a bowl game.

That doesn't take away losses last year to Nevada and Arizona, and because they didn't win either of those, they failed to qualify for a bowl and thus we have low expectations from the pundits.

But don't forget that this team is still Washington. That doesn't mean they win just by showing up, but this team spent the entire off season learning what Husky football is all about. Now it's a matter of translating that knowledge, that work habit, and that tradition into a concerted effort on Saturdays. I expect that each time they run out of that tunnel, they will again realize they are a part of the great tradition of Husky Football.

This team is good enough to win more than they lose. They are good enough to beat anyone on their schedule and that includes the world anointed National Champions, the Trojans of USC. It doesn't even matter if the NCAA gives them back their best player, the Huskies are going to give them fits and if the stars align just right then this year's Husky team just might surprise everyone.

My expectations are high. I expect them to continue to improve. I expect them to play an attacking defense. I expect them to be solid in the kicking game. I expect them to run the football. I expect them to win on the road. I expect them to win the northwest. I expect them to play hard.

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