Dawgbytes - 9/1

Don James used to make a season prediction, put it in an envelope, seal it, and then open it after the season was over. Current Washington Head Coach Keith Gilbertson used to do the same thing early in his head coaching tenure, but his days of being Karnac are no more. Who can blame him? You might have an easier time predicting the weather for Sunday's tilt between the Huskies and the Fresno State Bulldogs.

"Most of the time I was really good, but there were a couple of times where I really missed," Gilbertson said Wednesday. "I haven't done that for a while. So much of it now is day to day. I've gotten away from it. We have goals, daily goals, short-term goals and long-term goals. For the most part it's deal with the matter at hand and then worry about tomorrow tomorrow."

Back in those days of pigskin prognostication, Gilbertson wasn't used to seeing a Fresno State team so deep and so talented. In fact, when Keith was an assistant at Utah State in the late 70's and early 80's, he saw a much different Bulldog. "A lot has changed since then," he said. "We were playing them at a little stadium downtown, but the've built a brand-new stadium since and now have good facilities. They've won a lot of games, beaten a lot of ranked opponents. They've won some big games on the road. That's how you get it going."

It seems hard to believe that there actually is a game going to be played in a few days, especially with the extra lag day and slower buildup than normal. Gilbertson's seen it in his team, but expects the funk to subside in short order.

"I thought last week there were some flat spots, which is natural," he said. "The game still seems like a long ways away and you get into the 18,19, 20, 21-number of practices ... I didn't think yesterday was as crisp. There were some things that were really good, but others that weren't. I think today it'll start dawning on them that it's really here."

One thing that doesn't have the coaches too worried is the various position battles, including the one between Stanley Daniels and Tusi Sa'au at right guard and the right tackle position battle between Ryan Brooks and Rob Meadow. Gilbertson said Wednesday that all will get their fair share of time on the field.

"They are all doing a good job," he said of the offensive linemen still competing for a start. "We'll try to get them all equal snaps during the game.

"Sometimes it (starting) is a bigger deal to them than it is to us. If we think you are 1A and 1B, you're a starter to us regardless of who went out there first."

One expected starter that will not get the green light Sunday is Joe Toledo. The 6-6 tight end from Encinitas, California, is considered 'very questionable' by Gilbertson, moving Jon Lyon into that position. Dash Crutchley will now be in the two-deeps. Toledo may still play, but it's a day-to-day evaluation.

"Everyone else is ready to play," Gilbertson added.

The team will go full pads today and tomorrow, with no pads on Friday. "We have our little day-before-the game routine we do," Gilbertson said when asked about what's planned for Saturday. "It's different."

The extra day will give Gilbertson a rare perk: time to watch some football on TV. "There's two games tomorrow, so I'll get to see some games," he said. "A lot of times at the hotel I'll watch the early Saturday morning game that's on ESPN."

Speed Kills: Gilbertson on whether or not his team is faster than they were last year: "I think we are a quicker, more athletic team. Are we fast, as in fast, fast? No. But we are quicker and more athletic. We have improved that aspect of our team and it's something we will always try to improve through recruiting and our off-season work."

Kicking the Rotation Around: Anthony Russo and Sonnny Shackelford were listed as the two kickoff return men Monday, but Gilbertson said today that Charles Frederick, Anthony Russo Derrick Johnson and Shelton Sampson all are in the rotation and Shackelford 'could be'. Frederick is stil the number-one punt returner.

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