Letters to Coach Baird

Well, spring is in the books and now we can all just hope that the off-season regimen will kick this team into gear. Some things were answered this spring and others were left open until fall to sort out. And now, onto the letters . . .

From Bruce Legas in Alaska
: Congratulations to the Dawgs on a great season. If you were coach Romar what summer "homework" would you be assigning the returning players? It would be a good guess that Dentmon, Brockman and Hawes will be starting for the Dawgs next season. Who has the best chance at the other two spots? Coach Romar has been insistent in not using fouls at the end of the game to help control small leads. It sure seems in the game with UConn that some late fouls would have eaten up almost the whole clock. Thanks for the great column.

A: Just watching as a fan it is obvious that Brockman needs to improve is mid-range jumper and scoring and Dentmon must continue to develop his three point shot. I would expect they will address all those individual techniques and skills with each kid. I am sure Hawes and Pondexter are going to be contenders to start and Appleby will be in the mix as he and Dentmon worked well together. When 4 of your top 6 frontline players were seniors there are lots of open spots regardless if you are a starter or not. I'm sure Lorenzo will be working hard to determine who his top 9-10 players are because you never use more than that anyway. I think he has plenty of talent to choose from.
From Brett Johnson
Dear Coach Baird,
: Hey coach, couple of questions. The two JC's, Palmer and Reece weren't eligible in the spring, any word on their eligibility for the fall? We really needed them to get acclimated in the spring, too bad. Also, Chancellor Young was a big recruit out of high school and has been on campus since this fall, how is he doing? Seems like the big fast receiver we need but nothing is mentioned. And Chris Hemphill, he is a 6'6 safety will speed but isn't used much, why not bulk him up a bit to linebacker or TE? A rush end with his size and speed would seem to me to make sense, we obviously lack speed on defense.

A: First of all Hemphill is taking full advantage of the fact that CJ Wallace has been missing practice. He looks great. Ashlee Palmer is expected to make it this fall. With Goldson playing corner, Hemphill is now the best safety on the team. You are absolutely right with regard to Palmer and Reece. I also think both will be here in the fall and both will be in the immediate depth. It was probably a stretch to expect them to be here academically in the spring so expect both to be major contributors come fall.
From Brett Johnson
Coach Baird,
: Hey coach, is O'Conner still be tried at DT? Any idea if Rosborough has lost weight and is in football shape? We really need big talented athlete's like these two to produce. Is White-Frisbee officially an OT? Seems like they try to move him every year and he ends up back at DT. How's his weight and foot, I am sure they are going to take it easy on him so he is ready for the season.

A: White-Frisbee is still on the mend and his body looks a lot better. He may not have lost much but he turned a lot into muscle mass. He runs regularly and is expected back come fall but I think they will leave him on defense where he has never really left. O'Connor has done a nice job with the change over and has gotten lots of reps because Jordan has been out. I think Rosborough too has done some work on his body. He is still huge but better toned and I think will end up being a pretty good offensive lineman by his 4th and 5th years. And that is pretty much what they were hoping for when they signed him. Big ones are projects. They take more time to roast though.
From Ivar from Vancouver, WA
Coach Baird,
: I just checked the Husky roster on my Web and came away scared. I don't see enough of the big, quick linemen who are capable of opening a running lane for our hb's or shut down enemy running lanes. It is obvious to me, at least, that Neuheisel was excellent when it came to recruiting the skilled O players. But, he did not attract the big kids who perform in the trenches. I was expecting Willingham to turn that around. I did not see a number of the prospects who will grow into players terrorizing Pac 10 opponents. Am I missing something here? I've always thought "it's what's up front that counts" in a football squad. We've had some excellent hb's in recent years. Not enough big, quick people to open a hole for them. And our D men in the trench have lacked that first step that gets them around defenders and onto the enemies qb.

A: There is a shortage of linemen but Coach Willingham is addressing that. They signed 4 offensive and 4 defensive linemen in this last class and if they do that for four years then they will have 16 on each side of the ball. It takes time to build a program just like it took ten years to tear it down. 4 different head coaches in 8 years will do that. There are some really good linemen in the program and they are developing well under this system. I think we are going to be as good up front defensively as we have been in years. Gunheim is getting better and better off the edge and when White-Frisbee should return this fall along with Eric Lobos. I like how hard Winter works and Anthony Atkins shows a nice low charge and once he gets into shape, he will be much better. Donny Mateaki looks the best he has and he should because he is a senior. Jordan Reffett is finally looking like he can help and Caesar Rayford has nothing but upside although I think it was a mistake to have played him as a freshman. Moving Jovan O'Connor over from offense looks to be a good move and Daniel Te'o Nesheim will grow into a player. Brandon Ala is up to 265 and will also help and I haven't even mentioned my favorite junk yard dawg, Wilson Afoa. That is a lot of depth on one side of the line, so I think they're better than you think. The Offensive side is a work in progress so we won't know how they play until they play. However, I think they will be a bright spot because Stanback will avoid many sacks thereby saving their bacon so to speak.
From Sylvester Jaime
Coach Baird,
: Just read your article of 4.12.06. Love your homerism. I am one, too. Also just read the article re Roy Lewis. Q. With Dashon moving to corner and the experience of R. Lewis, is corner going to be a team strong point? The Gold has shown he can bring the lumber and Lewis looks to lead with his play, can they be consider a top Pac-10 due as corners? Any comment on JWF's progress? Can Mateaki finally meet the lofty standards we have all expected? Like to read your comments, keep it up.

A: Don't forget - Matt Fountaine got some valuable experience to go along with Goldson and Lewis. In addition it looks like Murchison will also be able to help. Lewis and Goldson are a rare combo indeed although I think they would rather have their play in games determine how people rate them within the league. JWF is progressing and there is hope he will be joining the team in the fall. Donny Mateaki is showing his best to this point in his career but still needs to disengage and run to the ball better. He is stout at the point of attack and only needs to add pursuit to his game to become really good. I hope both are ready for this coming season because they are two powerful players.
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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