Ask Coach Baird

Well, it was a brutal beating the Dawgs took at the hands of the ducks. Now they have the nation's top team, the USC Trojans, lining up opposite them. How fun will that be? It could be a lot of fun if the Dawgs take the right attitude. And now, onto the letters . . . .

From Allan Hamilton
: My question concerns the offensive line. It is obvious that the guys that were recruited by a certain coach that will remain nameless because I can't stand the guy are not doing the job upfront. I remember the days when Husky lines used to beat teams up and wear them down. We also had guys like Benji Olson, Olin Krutz and Lincoln Kennedy who were skilled but also a little nasty as well and would knock the snot out of you. All I see now are guys who look like they should be playing in the WAC instead of the Pac 10. Are any of the linemen that Coach Gilbertson recruited from last year of even Coach Willingham ready because it is obvious these guys are not cutting it? What do you think are chances are of getting Steve Schilling? He looks like he could move right in and start.

A: The offensive line had their hands full with Oregon's front and the pressure on Stanback was obvious. They are mostly seniors and because of that the younger kids haven't really gotten on the field.. It's hard to evaluate the youngsters until they become battle tested but there was not a lot of emphasis on recruiting linemen during the Neuheisel era. Consequently there is a lack of depth and the players they have are trying their best but not getting the push. I really think there is a change over from passing to running and it will take time for that unit to develop as run blockers. I know it starts up front but really they as a unit are no worse than any other unit on a developing team. There is a lot of work to do everywhere.
From Bob Griesel
Dear Coach Baird,
: I always enjoy listening to your opinions -You never hold anything back - I watched Fox Sports the other night and Chris Fetters was the featured guest responding to high school players and current recruiting - His comments re the Huskies that although the quantity isn't there yet, the quality is at the top - It's been pretty quiet lately re recruiting - Is there anything to report or is this a quiet period for the recruiting staff?

A: I am confident that they are in strong on a lot of really good players and it doesn't bother me a bid that nobody knows how they are doing. I am not real big on ratings or other people's evaluations. You take the kids who you think will fit in and develop into good players. It also depends not always on who you want, but who you can get.
From Rick
Coach Baird,
: I just listened to on the honks... You talked at length about your experience as recruiting coordinator in those great years. Here is my question. We have what appears to be a great start on the recruiting trail. Verbals being verbals, how much good or bad, will the record of this years team effect these players and the hope of getting others this year? How do you possibly get the big kid from Bellevue to appreciate the need for him to stay home and get this program back on track?

A: I think Steve Schilling must realize that he can set himself up for life in this town by taking advantage of the Husky connection to living in the northwest. Plus, I really think his parents want to see him play and that far out weighs any reason to leave. I believe the Dawgs will have a real nice class this year and it will become the foundation for the rebuild.
From David Marquis in Wilsonville, OR
Coach Baird,
: I just wanted to comment on all the talk out there about how there is a lack of talent on this Washington team. I'm not convinced that it is a lack of talent problem. If you go back and look at some of the previous recruiting classes, most if not all are rated in the top 25 in the country and most certainly in the top tier of the Pac-10. Now is it a talent issue or simply a development issue? I think with all the coaching changes and various other distractions (to say the least) that many of these kids simply didn't have the time and energy put into their development. How many kids stuck around during the summer to work-out the last few years? Not many from what I understand. I think that Washington has talent, it is just going to take time and training to develop these guys to the next level. On to my question. If you want to get a program up and going in a hurry, it would seem that going to the JC ranks to fill needs would be a priority (look at what Tedford did at Cal). Is this something that Willingham will do to make us more competitive next year? I know that we will be losing quite a few linemen next year and with it appearing that we are often undersized, this seems like an area to address. Thanks for your thoughts and keep up the great work.

A: First of all I agree with you on the talent issue. It really doesn't make any difference how good or bad their level of talent is, they ARE who you have and you can only help them to get better. I would guess they try to get about 6 JC kids with the hope that they could get two starters and four of them admitted to school. I really think they need about 4 ready made to compete players by next year, then have 24 the year after that. The year after they will finally have developed the proper depth to the program. It's a process to which you have to give some time.
From Jim Roma
Coach Baird,
: I love your comments and insight to Husky football. Can you tell me anything about a Husky player named Kyle Trew? He had a nice run back of a kickoff last season and I haven't seen him since. He plays linebacker and special teams. I really thought he would be playing some defense by now. He is a great athlete and hits hard.

A: Kyle Trew is indeed a linebacker but I think a developing one. When they signed him I felt he was a real good high school running back with potential to grow into a fullback. That is how I saw him so am not surprised he is still down in the depth at linebacker. He is still learning and growing into the position. I think he and Trenton Tuiasosopo need to make big moves this coming spring and really need to be ready to compete to play. Then we'll know if he can help. Lots of kids develop at different rates.
From Patricia Lund from Longview
Coach Baird,
: It seems that the better defenses that I have seen come through Husky Stadium have tacklers that play as though they were coated in Velcro. In those defenses the defender gets in position, breaks down and takes on the ball carrier. Very seldom are those defenders running at the ball carrier as he runs at them. Quite often in those defenses, one tackler tackles one ball carrier. How far do you think we are from having that type of defender playing for the Purple and Gold?

A: How long? I would guess about two to three years to tell you the truth. The defense is improving but has some obvious holes. They took two steps forward and three steps back against Oregon. It's a process of understanding concepts of coverage and pass routes along with developing better pass rushers. I really think the Huskies play decent run defense. They appear to be better tacklers against the run. I will be surprised if they don't sign at least ten defensive freshmen in this coming class
From Scott Williams
Coach Baird,
: I love your over-the-top optimism! We miss you over here in Yakima! I have a question about recruiting. When you, as coaches and recruiting coordinators, are looking for cornerbacks do you find that it is better to scout and recruit players who play that position in high school or do you look for the best all-around athletes, bring them in and then teach them the position once they're in the program? I am truly excited for Husky football for the first time in 4 years! (That is no slur on Gilby, who really took one for the team and the program. I hope he's doing very well after his hip replacement.)

A: Really good to hear from you and again thank you for all your past support of Husky Football. No question the University of Washington really needs an instant increase in the quantity and quality of cover corner type athletes. If you want a kid in your depth right away then he really has to be a big time running athlete when he enters your campus. Otherwise take three fast high school corners or running athletes who could develop in a year and play for you their second and third years in the program. At this point I would have to rate cover corners as the biggest need for the program. I always liked to recruit kids who played the position in high school. Being on an island takes a special sort of kid. Whatever their philosophy, it is obvious there is a need at corner. But, realistically, there are needs across the board. Hang in there, we will be back.
From John Young in Kirkland
Coach Baird,
: I appreciate the fact that Paul Allen saw fit to install the video replay screen in our Husky stadium. Being a 40 year season ticket holder, it was really a nice addition. My own personal view of watching a game is, only after I have watched the play from my seat, and something unusual has happened, will I turn to the screen to see the replay. Over the past couple of years I have become very irritated over the fact that the moron who works the video, for whatever reason, does not always have recorded the most recent play. In addition to that, they never seem to replay those controversial plays that interest everyone the most. Why is that? Is that a school policy to not show anything that might upset the referees? Keep up the good work.

A: Although I can't disagree with you, obviously I'm in no position to change anything. I would suggest you send this same message to Chip Lydum at the UW. He is a straight up guy who will tell you exactly who makes those decisions. I worked with Chip a long time and promise you he is good people and will address your suggestions. Love the depth of your watching experience, Keep using the instant replay, but I too think they could really improve the actual football relays. Thanks.
From Gene Hilt in South Prairie
Coach Baird,
: Can you talk some about the psychology of the game? For instance, the dawgs are improving each game but how many more losses can they sustain before they give up???????? Thanks for your insights. I like them.

A: The psychology of the game couldn't possibly be explained in a reply email. However, if you are referring to the mindset of losing, yes that is an incredible struggle. Certainly, the Huskies need to learn how to win. Any game will do and the sooner the better. After all, that is why you play the game. It's a funk that hangs over you. Have faith though that Coach Willingham will get it turned around. It may take a little while though. 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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