Ask Coach Baird

Two more games left in the season and then the school will undertake a coaching search. This time I feel that they have the correct administration to ensure that the Huskies will get a coach that will stick around and end the coaching carousel that this job has become. And now onto the letters . . .

From Allan Hamilton
: Do you think that the new coach will go out and get a JC quarterback to possibly start or be a backup next year. I think from games I have seen that I agree that given the chance and time to develop that Carl Bonnell will be a good quarterback. But if he gets hurt I certainly am not very confident in the other two? What are the chances that Stanback will move back to receiver? I think he was pretty effective there. Thank you.

A: I think it is critical to go out and find the best JC quarterback in the country and convince him to come in and play at Washington. They need another kid right now at that position anyway so I really think signing two is necessary and hopefully one of them is an older transfer and one is a high school kid. There is no question the Huskies suffer at the most critical position on the field. They are in a desperate need to upgrade that position and maybe a new position coach will be able to spark something out of either Bonnell or Stanback but it really looks like they need to consider taking a JC transfer.
From Phil UW 72
Dear Coach Baird,
: Gilby has stated publicly that Carl has not played because a) he has been injured, and b) he has not practiced well. Hugh Millen questioned Bonnell's work ethic. It seems Bonnell has been healthy for the Oregon and AZ games. Why did Gilby say he was injured? It seems that Bonnell is good enough in practice to earn a starting nod earlier in the season. Why is he all of a sudden not a good practice player? Another poster has stated that Bonnell's work ethic is solid. I value your opinion a lot, and you have stated on several occasions that Bonnell is hands down our best QB. You made that statement after having watched Bonnell practice several times or more. What is Gilby doing ignoring Bonnell; no worse, publicly questioning his work ethic? Coach Baird, is Gilby a man of his word? Because if he is, Bonnell should not lose his job to injury because Gilby says his QBs don't lose their job if injured. Will Gilby show some character himself? So what is going on?

A: I'm not sure what has happened with Carl Bonnell but he will obviously get his chance this coming off season and next spring. I talked with both Carl and his father the last week and told them to be positive, work hard and be ready when called upon, no matter what the current situation. He will get his chance with a new coach and new quarterback coach for sure. I really don't understand why he isn't the quarterback right now, but then there are a lot of things I don't get about this particular team. As far as his work ethic is concerned, that is a total crock. He is very much a team player and very much a hard worker and very much a quarterback. I just know I saw him play considerably in high school and there was no question he was a winner and team leader. He was clearly a better player than Stanback at that level. It wasn't even close. Paus is obviously their favorite guy to lose with, go figure. But it seems pretty clear that the team struggles with any or all of them at quarterback.
From Daniel F
Coach Baird,
: Coach, who are your top three choices to replace your good friend Gilbs? I know it's not an easy question, but now that it's inevitable, who would you like to see take the program over?

A: My top choices are Gary Pinkel (Missouri HC), Jeff Tedford California HC), Scott Linehan (OC Minnesota Vikings), and Chris Tormey (current UW LB coach), and in no particular order. I really think it would be great if the new coach had some familiarity with the culture of Washington football and the recruiting base in the west. All of these men have that, and would be good fits here.
From Still a Dawg fan
Coach Baird,
: Coach, This team got worse as the season went on. I know part of that is due to injury, but how do you think the continual downslide could've been prevented? That is what the head coach is paid the big bucks to do, no matter how difficult it is, right? What could Gilby have done differently? Thanks.

A: It's very difficult to pinpoint any one thing when a team spins out of control. It is really a combination of many different factors at the same time. It ultimately goes back to recruiting and evaluation, but it's obviously coaching, playing, and maintaining the positive expectancy of winning. These kids don't expect to win and that is a major hurdle to get over. They aren't trying to lose but at the same time don't know how to win. They don't handle adversity worth a damn and every time something goes wrong they collectively fall apart. They have played everyone tough right up until adversity strikes then they have simple caved in. I really think it is mental as much as anything. They lack the collective mental toughness to get through the tough times during a game when it always hangs in balance. That is why I admire the decision of Gilby to step aside and let someone else try to convince this group of kids that they indeed can win. The current staff doesn't have the answers - otherwise they would have used it by now. They also have no real play makers on the team right now simply because they are more worried about screwing up. They have had no returns for touchdowns this entire year. Not one punt, not one kickoff, not one interception, not one fumble taken back to the house. While at the same time they literally serve them up to their opponents. At this point they can't even score touchdowns.
From Dave F
Coach Baird,
: Why would a coach not try to correct a throwing motion like Casey Paus's? The Arizona linemen weren't even rushing him, they were just following his eyes and then jumping up where he was going to throw the ball. It was embarrassing. Why didn't Pettas or Axman or Neuheisel or even Gilby try to change his motion? Don't they owe that to the young man?

A: You bring up a very good question with regard to the Paus throwing motion. First of all, it's amazing to me that nobody noticed it in his evaluation. And second of all what is coaching all about if it's not to correct basic fundamentals? I can't believe what went on. I have heard the "he always has thrown like that'" answer but to me that's a cop out because he clearly has a sidewise delivery. The fact that he has a flying elbow is what the defense keys on. Besides leading the nation in interceptions we must also lead in knocked downs, which is a major part of which can be traced to the quarterback's delivery. Face it, he tips off his throw and it gives the defense a jump on both ends of the throw. I'm like you, I don't understand why it has not been corrected. Not good. 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 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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