Dawgman UW Football Op-Ed

3-19 for the past two years means that you have a lot of work to do. Coach Tyrone Willingham is attempting to put in that work, and is in it for the long haul. When you consider that his five year contract is practically guaranteed, he has the type of security to know that he can keep the big picture in mind without paying too much attention to what the folks in the seats are yelling.

He's likely going to get his full tenure to try and turn around the good ship Husky.

But if you look at the immediate window, e.g., 2006, you realize a few things. First and foremost, not a lot is being expected out of this Husky team by the folks that cover the Pac-10 for a living. Washington is almost everyone's pick to finish in the cellar. Again.

So how do the Huskies avoid finishing near the bottom? Or, dare I ask, how does this Husky team become competitive enough to get over the hump and get six wins this season? If that isn't achievable, at the very least, how does this Husky team remain in every game long enough to possibly steal some wins in games they shouldn't probably win?

I see it coming down to four keys, one being related to team chemistry and attitude while the other three boil down more to individual performances.

1) This team must believe. - How many times over the past two years have you seen the Huskies come out of the gate ready to play, and then something bad happens? A bad turnover, an interception, or a blown tackle leading to a long touchdown? That's not so bad, but the way this team has reacted to those ill-fated gaffes has been alarming. They have hung their heads and you can almost feel the atmosphere in Husky Stadium going from "We're playing with these guys," to "Here we go again." Washington needs to believe they can win. When you believe that, it is much easier to roll with any adversity that happens and make good things happen. This team has little margin for error so it may require some luck as well, but belief is probably the most important thing that this team can do to change it's chemistry from that of a bunson burner explosion to that of a team that is learning how to win.

2) This team cannot have any offensive line injuries. - This is perhaps the thinnest offensive line in 30 years at Washington. The front line guys are even questionable in terms of Pac-10 proven skill. The guys with the most experience, Tackle Chad Macklin and Guards Stanley Daniels and Clay Walker, are not being projected as all-Pac 10 types. But they are the best this team has to offer, so they absolutely have to remain healthy. Center Juan Garcia and weak tackle Ben Ossai have yet to play a Pac-10 down, and they will be starters. The depth behind them is razor thin and lime green. Any injuries to this unit and the offense becomes a major liability.

3) Jordan White-Frisbee needs to be healthy. - Washington has one bona fide NFL player in their starting 11 on defense, and it's this guy. CJ Wallace might make it with his hitting ability but he might be a tad undersized for the NFL. White-Frisbee has the potential (and ability) to take over games and become a dominant force that teams will find trouble running away from…..IF he can remain healthy. The coaches have brought him along slowly, smartly, and by all indications he is doing well and moving fine. Fingers crossed.

4) Marcel Reece needs the football in his hands. - Reece was brought to Washington to give a lethargic offense big play capability. He is 250+ pounds and has already shown that he is plenty fast to hurt defenses, and no one is going to arm tackle this beast. Flares, outs, wheel routes, I don't care what Tim Lappano calls, but Isaiah Stanback has to find a way to get this big stud the ball 10 times a game minimum. He'll open up more of the field for Kenny James and Louis Rankin, and Isaiah himself, because the corner and linebacker will be worried and shaded toward the big fast guy in the slot, licking his chops to catch a ball and put a hurtin' on the safety in the middle.

There are plenty more things that need to happen, but in my book, those are the four main keys to the Huskies becoming competitive in 2006.

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