Ask Coach Baird

<b>Editor's Note:</b> Dick answered all of these letters prior to the egg the Huskies just laid in Palo Alto. Dick's email box had some errors, so a bunch of letters went by the wayside, kind of like the Husky rushing defense. It is going to be a long season, Husky fans. Here are Dick's replies to some of your letters.

From Chris Lohman
Coach,
: I am a loyal fan of my DAWGS and know that this year will be a difficult one in terms of wins or losses no matter how the quarterback issue plays out. I very much hope that Turner and Emmert give Gilby at least one more full year to turn the ship around. We do have a nice core of young, hard working guys. If they do fire Gilby, would Pat Hill be a candidate? I really like his "chip-on-the-shoulder" mentality. Our team and this football community need to see more of that style from the program. Oh how I miss Lambo sometimes (and you too!).
A: Your letter really reflects the same concern that all of us have. We want the program to be back top where it once was but it isn't so we have to be patient, but we have none. We all want the Huskies to win. There was no quit in the team last game and hopefully they will get over the top and a win would be huge for everyone. I appreciate your kind remarks about Jim and myself but I don't think there is a place there for either of us. We know what it takes but I think we're both a little long in the tooth.
From Jack Sonnichson
Dear Coach Baird,
: After watching Gilby hobble up and down the sidelines a couple of weeks ago, I am wondering why he didn't have his hip operation during the spring and summer? My 86 year old mother had her hip replaced a couple of years ago and from the time she had her operation to the time she was up and around in less than 6 weeks. Didn't Peter Jacobson have a hip replaced during this last golf season and was back playing within 6 weeks or so? With all that's at stack, I'm beginning to wonder if there is anyone out there that truly wants this job.

A:It's pretty obvious that Gilbs needs a new hip and has set a surgery for right after recruiting. The NCAA and the Neuheisel law suit has really made it almost impossible to get it replaced this off season. It hurts to watch him limp but he is a grinder and he will tough it out until then. Yes, there is someone out there who wants the job and he already has it. Unfortunately, it's a very tough job and there has been a lot of damage done to the program over say the last decade. I can claim responsibility for some of it. What I do know is that there are some very good coaches on this current Husky staff and if given the chance they will get this turned around.
From Josh Shaver
Coach Baird,
: Paus has been in the program for 3 years and has an unconventional throwing motion which seems to negate his height advantage, and Stanback has been around for 2 years and he looks extremely awkward whenever he throws, both seems to be inaccurate as well. They were both highly rated recruits so either they both were never that good, or they haven't been getting very good coaching in Montlake. Please Comment.

A: I agree with you that both seem to have peculiar flaws for being so highly rated. Paus went 42-2 in high school in Illinois and won a lot of games despite his strange delivery. Stanback never won in high school so really was just a raw physical recruit. And when you are breaking old habits it is really difficult to have immediate results. Such is exactly the same for winning. The whole program is simply in a funk and it will take time to correct. They need to get a win. Change takes time, but nobody has much of that when it comes to losing.
From Thomas Colby
Coach Baird,
: 1. Good coaching helps to transform athletes into players. I mean Casey Paus has been in the program for four years. Still throws sidearm, has terrible delivery. Why can't Pettas, Gilby and others seem to correct this? At what point will good coaching help this young man turn the corner?
2. I think we have overestimated our talent pool in the D-line. We have got kids playing here who can't seem to shed blocks, get any kind of measurable push, and penetrate. I mean we practically know what the Bruins are going to do and still can't stop it. I know Snow, Tormey and Hart have decent pedigrees and have been successful in this and other programs, but we still are way too vanilla, soft, and seemingly react way too slow. Why is this?
3. I think Dickey is doing pretty well with the O-line and it shows. I give him props here, but what seems to be the problems with our wide receivers in that they can't seem to shed defenders and get into open space? Again, is this coaching, poor technique, slow speed, or did we just flat goof on recruiting some of these guys outside of E.T.?
4. The message boards, internet sights, and football wags have Gilbertson fired real soon. Maybe he doesn't survive the season. I hope this does not happen because it will spell doom for the team for the rest of the season and it will ruin recruiting, if recruiting isn't already ruined after this poor start. Realistically speaking it looks like a 1-10, maybe a 2-9 season ahead. I hope not, but I just don't think the talent is there and coaching seems to be getting tougher for this staff. In your opinion, where do we go next, and most importantly what adjustments do we make as a staff to turn this season around? Can it be salvaged somewhat and how can the sad state of affairs continue for this once proud and storied program? Tedford seemed to do it at Cal in one year with a 1-10 team, Meyer did it too at Utah, why can't Gilbertson? Your thoughts please on these questions about the status and future of Husky Football.

A: First of all I have to admit that I am not a big follower of the message boards here on our site simply because they are way too negative for me and everyone who has never coached has all the answers - and it's always "coaching". Establishing a work ethic program takes time and unfortunately when you lose, you run out of time. Let's take your points one at a time. Changing the delivery of a kid who has thrown that way for years is about the same as trying to take a pigeon-toed kid and telling him to walk with his toes straight ahead. It has become a pattern of habit and even though you try to change the motion, it just goes right back. I should have been considered during evaluation, not when you get him in the program already. I liken it to a golf swing? It's not smooth and perfect like a pro, and no matter how hard you try to correct it, you just end up with your old swing.
The defensive line looked real good against Fresno but I agree that against UCLA and Notre Dame they had difficulty getting off the blocks. Randy Hart will be working hard on fundamentals which he always does, and they will get better as the year progresses. I don't think they are soft and vanilla, but there is not one senior among them. Recruiting better players like White-Frisbee doesn't hurt, either.
The wide receivers too are young and even though they signed 6 two years ago, none of those have stepped up. Face it, ET is the only one with any real experience and no one is stepping up and filling the void.
I ask you this. If the Huskies had won their first two games, which they very easily could have, would there be this much negativity or would we all just be fooled by the winning? Washington will get better and the wins will come. Appreciate your concerns, Tom.
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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