Ask Coach Baird

Football season is over, but recruiting has just begun to heat up. Now is the time that Tyrone Willingham and his staff can sell his program and where he's going to take it. And now, onto the letters . . . .

From Ken in Charlotte, NC
: Wet my appetite, give me some names of the young kids coming up (or in) that will help the coaching staff turn the corner. Please address both sides of the ball.

A: EJ Savanah, Jr Hasty, Ben Ossai, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Chancellor Young, Marlon Woods, and hopefully Trenton Tuiasosopo, Nathan Flowers, and Chris Stevens. All caught my eye in practices and should all be fine players. I think the most exciting news is there appears to be room or spots to take up to 22 this year and the next. The frosh kicker Ryan Perkins has a really strong leg. All of these kids should be contributing soon.
From Travis Tresser, Seattle WA
Dear Coach Baird,
: I know using a 4-4 defense is something not really done in divison 1 football but with the Huskies linebacking core why not line up with eight in the box and rush at least six every single down. It still is the college level and there would be very few Qb's that could handle a constant blitzing. They would have to keep an extra back and or a tight end to block the rush off the edge and the secondary wouldn't have to worry about 3 and 4 reciever sets. I say blitz the OLB's and have meet at the QB. I mean the season is lost, why not pin the ears back and go on the offensive. A couple of big hits and a handful of sacks would do a whole lot to re-energize husky stadium.

A: Actually everyone uses the 44 when they walk or cheat their strong safety down into the box. I totally agree. Defenses are getting hammered so why not go on the attack? Of course, that is just me and my Lambo influenced background but nobody plays defense anymore, so why not be aggressive? Usually when colleges do it they are running a zone dog to get pressure, Good point.
From Bill Muench in HI
Coach Baird,
: I remember you talking about the old program we used to have where you used alumni as an extra set of eyes and ears for recruiting. Is that now banned or illegal under the NCAA even if the alumni do not make contact? There is a kicker here in Hawaii (Castle High School in Kaneohe) that has been kicking 50+ yarders and has no offers yet. I'd hate to see June Jones get him by default without the Huskies at least giving him a look-see. His name is Nick Rapoza, a 5-8, 150 pound senior. The coach at Castle is Nelson Maeda. I also heard a rumor here that the Huskies have penciled in a game here against the UofH Warriors, but haven't been able to see anything to confirm that. Enjoy your column...

A: I have also heard that the Huskies are negotiating to play in Hawaii and that would be cool. They already have a red-shirt kicker and I doubt they will be offering a kicker this year. Chris Tormey at the UW football offices will evaluate the situation though, I'm sure of it. I know they are on at least a couple of kids over there this year. It would be great to keep the pipeline going.
From Michael Haas
Coach Baird,
: What a heartbreaking loss in the Apple Cup. It is however maybe a fitting ending to a season filled with improvement, hope, and turning a program in a new direction. Next year I see us bowling and within four years see us in the national hunt. I for one am a diehard Husky fan who is excited that we now have a new president, athletic director and coach. Considering what Willingham walked into I think he did a heck of a job. I am very excited to see how the program does now that his recruits will be coming onto the field. These past two seasons have been a blip on the radar of Husky football and with our tradition I have no doubt we will be back within the next 3-4 years. My questions to you are what are the top three challenges facing Willingham and the Huskies over the next few months? I see the biggest challenges in recruiting, player's attitudes and fan support. I see many similarities to the Dawgfather taking over in the 70's. I will be at the game in Norman, OK next year and wish I could see every home game live. I for one will always be a fan and encourage all Huskies to keep the faith and show support. I think the most important thing for our team is to sell out our home games and bring back the 12th man on the field. I think that as much as anything has been our Achille's heel. There is no better setting for CFB than Husky Stadium and if I lived within 200 miles there is no doubt I would be at every game. GO HUSKIES!!!!!

A: I would think that teaching these kids to win is still the number one thing to accomplish. Winning will cure everything and is quite simply the key to the others - including fan support. That is the bottom line and it is obviously the biggest challenge with this particular group as they have not had much success. They easily could have won the Apple Cup if they believed they could have. Same was true of Air Force, UCLA, Oregon State, and ASU. Believe me they were in every one of those games and could easily have won any or all of them if they only knew how and believed they could. Winning breeds winning and that is the hardest mental block he has to attack. I too think it can be done and will be done. Norman is a tough place to play and that is a great program. Winning there would really establish this program again.
From Chris Lohman
Coach Baird,
: In your expert opinion, will Jake Locker definitely redshirt next year because of the emergence of Stanback and Durocher? And what will happen with Bonnell? I would hate to see either of these two scenarios come to fruition: 1. Bonnell and/or Stanback sit on the bench when they could be playing a number of other offensive, defensive or special team positions on this team in need of playmakers. 2. Bonnell transfers without ever really making an impact at the UW. Always good hearing you on the radio and reading your opines on DAWGMAN/Sports Washington. Hedges should have never let you and Lambo go. I don't care what her reasons or rational were. That's when the program really started to spiral downhill. I do think Tyrone will have some success. The level of success will be dictated by the caliber of athletes that he and the current coaches can bring in to the mix.

A: Thank you for the nice comments. We won't go into what Barbara was thinking. Already been there. The quarterback situation is still a dilemma and that is why both will probably stay there. I don't think it is fair to jake Locker to treat him like the savior but if he can compete I would go ahead and throw him into the mix. Bonnell knows this spring is going to be competitive and so does Johnny. I don't think Stanback has a lock but he is the returner and they will have to beat him out. It could happen.
From Jim Roma
Coach Baird,
: I love your Dawgman and SW columns and listening to you on KJR. It has killed me to watch the Huskies go through this bad time. I appreciate your optimism each week no matter how colored the glasses are you are looking through. I'm a lot like you in that regard. My question is about a current Husky player named Kyle Trew. My kids went to school with Kyle and I was looking forward to watching him play for the UW. I haven't seen anything about him this year. I thought he would be playing more by now. Can you tell me anything about his situation? And what is your opinion of his chances to be a good player? Thanks for all your input about Husky football. I love it!

A: Kyle Trew is still with the program playing inside linebacker. He has yet to hit the field and I'm not exactly sure why. He was more of a running back in high school than a defensive player and maybe a good fullback candidate if he puts on some weight. I watched him in practice and he doesn't really stand out so I'm really not sure when he'll climb the depth charts. He needs to decide this winter and spring whether or not he REALLY wants to play football. It's his time.
From Kenton Gringrich
Coach Baird,
: Washington has to be number one in one statistic in the NCAA. I remember back in the days of Don James, when kickers had to earn their position for a scholarship .I know times have changed. the Huskies have four. Does that bother you?

A: It doesn't bother me because I have no input to change it. I don't sweat those things I can't control. I really like Sean Douglas and really believe he will leave Washington as one of it's greatest punters ever. He is already number 2 and will average 44-45 next fall to rank him as the all-time best. I think Ryan Perkins has a really strong leg and I saw Braunstein hit a 60 yarder in the Arizona pregame although I'm still not sold on him because I question his team commitment. Both show great potential but that is cheap now days. We need results. The most critical need right now is a quality long snapper. I really believe Washington should hold a yearly spring kicking, snapping, holding camp and go after the best in their camp as at least walk-ons. 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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