Coach's Corner

It's finally August. We can stop waiting, because football is here. The Seahawks are already in camp and the Huskies are starting up. Oh, I'm a Mariner fan and all, but they are such a tease right now that I have to save my concentration for the football season.

I watched the British Open, Wimbledon, the World Cup, but really they just don't do it for me like football does. I admit I'm a football junkie. I'm just relieved that it's time for football.

This is always such a time of great anticipation. As a player and a coach, early August was always like laying out a jigsaw puzzle and trying to find the groups of pieces that go together. The routines of the game make the process a little more predictable but the fatigue factor has yet to set in. Once the freshness wears off, then the long grind to the first game begins. The beginning and the end of August are like years apart for players and coaches.

What an interesting contrast for the two local teams. One is picked to win it all, and the other is picked to lose it all. Everyone in the fan base as well as the media wants to predict the future. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asks me the question, "How the Huskies going to do this year, coach?" I answer exactly the same way, every time, "They're going to win the first game".

That's all you can concentrate on because seasonal predictions poison you anyway. If you're picked to be good, then anything short of perfect is failure and if you're picked to be poor, it just might become a self fulfilling prophesy. Best just to spend your time trying to win the first one and then go from there.

I know we play Oklahoma in Oklahoma in the second game but I can't even think about that until the Huskies beat San Jose State. I don't care what the score is, just open with a win. You have to take the attitude that you can win every game. This first one just seems so critical to me. Remember the Air Force game of last year in Seahawk Stadium? The Huskies let that one get away and with it went their season. They got pounded by Cal, and all of sudden their backs were against the wall. They never got it back.

What would be great is if the Huskies can have some surprises in their arsenal and be able to spring it on their first three opponents. No question, coming out of the non-conference schedule with, say a 2-1 record, would do wonders to help this team's psyche.

The Seahawks on the other hand are building in quite the opposite way. They just need to stay healthy and get the team ready to win an opener that comes with the luxury of 4 non-counters.

Everyone forgets who you played once the season ends in college football. All that matters is whether or not you have a winning record when it's all over. Oregon State has been sneaking into bowl games because they schedule correctly. Washington still schedules with a balanced approach to pre-season games. Play one real good team, one pretty good team, and one team you should beat. Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that San Jose State is the one team the Huskies should beat. That is precisely why they need to concentrate on the Spartans so they can get out of the blocks with a victory. This team needs to know what it feels like to win games. They then need to feel what it is like to string together a number of wins. Washington has not won three games in a row since the 2003 season.

An added twist is that the Pac-10 has finally decided to play everyone in their league. I think it is the right thing to do. This will be the first year that the league champion really proves it by playing every team in the conference. It used to be that a team could schedule 3-4 sure wins in preseason then only have to go 3-5 in league and they would still be bowl eligible.

I think that the Huskies will surprise a lot of teams this year because after the San Jose State game they will probably be the underdog in every game - until they prove they can win consistently, that's probably fair.

The fact that they don't have a bye is another unusual twist to this year's schedule. I always looked forward to byes simply to take a breath and regroup before playing more games. Besides it always gave you some extra time to work on recruiting.

So once it starts, there will be no breaks for twelve straight weeks. That is precisely why conditioning in training camp is so important and being careful to avoid practice injuries is critical. This is not a deep team and it will probably take three more recruiting classes like this last one before they are ready to withstand injuries.

I think this is where luck comes into play. In order to be good and consistently win games you have to be lucky to a degree. You have to expect to overcome the pitfalls that are part of the game. You have to handle set backs and understand that they are only temporary. The past two seasons the Huskies have melted whenever something has gone awry. Their mistakes seemed to compound themselves and the bottom would fall out when something bad would happen. If this Husky team is to be successful in the win-loss record then they will have to do a better job of handling adversity. If they throw an interception or lose a fumble, then they will have to just make a stop, or better yet, go get the ball back. No time to drop your head and worry about, "Here we go again". Winning will come with unwavering belief.

That is being built daily under Coach Willingham.

So looking ahead, I think the Huskies record will be 1-0 and from there we will travel to Oklahoma and try to get number two. That's as far as I care to look for now. Top Stories