Ask Coach Baird

Three games and this Husky team is looking good. 2-1 and maybe turning the corner and heading to a bowl game. It's an exciting time to get behind this group and make some noise! And now onto your letters . . . .


From Wayne Anderson
Coach Baird,
: Well,,, I will simply state that I along with hundreds of other Husky fans would like nothing more that to see Isaiah do well, including he himself. He's such a good person it hurts to see him struggling. When it come's to the pros he'll most likely not be a QB. At 6'3 and 215-20 what a wide receiver. It's a sensitive area but would you cut loose and answer about this? Now our DB's and safety and the pass defense. We so often get beat and we don't even know the balls been thrown or if the QB has broke out of the pocket and is running the ball. I said it before and was coached on counting from the snap and I back peddled 1 and two and three and four and always keeping the receiver in front of me or not letting him get by me and watching the QB as long as possible so as to know where the ball was and what was going on. At four and five the QB more than likely has thrown the ball, broke the pocket or been sacked. Once you've turned your back on the line of scrimmage you are running blind to what's taking place. Why can't or don't we teach this or a comparable philosophy?

A: The Isaiah Stanback debate will probably continue well after he leaves the UW. What a kid can potentially do at the professional level is of no concern to college coaches. You put your best players on the field to help your team win and sometimes it's even at positions don't end up playing at the next level. Stanback presents such a difficult match up problem for defenses because of his speed that it forces a change of philosophy and strategy. You need to account for his speed and running ability. Brian Habib played defensive tackle for us years ago then went on to a ten year career as an offensive linemen. Look at Seneca Wallace for the Seahawks. As good as athlete as he is, you would think he should be a receiver full time, However, his speed value at quarterback is so important that they continue to play him there. As far a defensive back technique is concerned I know it is frustrating to fans when the defender doesn't look back for the ball, but when you're running as fast as you can just to keep up, then all you want to do is stay with the receiver. Try running forward while looking back. It is difficult to do and even harder to twist your body for even a peak. Basically when you are pursuit position then all you're trying to do is keep up and to do so you need to maintain your body position at it's ultimate speed position. Most of the time the defenders are looking at the receivers face and his hands when they have their back to the quarterback. He has to turn in order to see the ball and his hands have to come up right before the ball gets there. That is why communication is so important. Players on the sidelines are even instructed to yell "ball" when the ball is in the air. Other defenders try to do the same thing just to warn the defender that the ball is almost there. Because speed is so important at the receiver position, it is even more important at the defensive back position. Once a receiver turns on his jets then all you are thinking about is getting on your horse and riding as fast as you can. Corner is one of the hardest positions to play and requires your very best athletes. Counting can get you in trouble on a double move route. So can looking too soon. If the receiver looks to be running a deep post route and the defender is more concerned about the quarterback then he can be beaten badly if the receiver suddenly converts it into a corner route. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. The most important thing is to be in good position and go up with your hands inside his at the last second. I just telling you it is one of the hardest things to do in football because it is being done at maximum speed. Hope that explains it a little.
From SylvrDawg
Coach Baird,
: This question comes after the Oklahoma game. I was at OU and saw the game. I believe I can assess talent and players with the ability to become elite. That said, can we get an honest assessment re IS? I like the guy as an athlete and believe he thinks he can get the job done, but I cannot see it happening. His decision making, instincts at the position and ability to make the critical decision under pressure are just not there. If TW stays with IS, then I believe UW is doomed to be a 500 team at best. When does a coach admit he has made the wrong decision? When does a coach pull the plug? I know it is not an easy question and that those who elect to stick with IS can argue with staying with him, but my question is really more basic, if he is not the guy, when does TW know it and make a decision to go another way?

A: Coach Willingham and Coach Lappano both seem to think Isaiah Stanback is their best quarterback and because they see them everyday they probably have a better basis for making him their starter than anyone. Certainly Isaiah struggled in the Oklahoma game but pretty much won the next game himself when his receivers couldn't catch and his runners couldn't run. The coming game will do a lot to prove they are making the right decision. It is easy to sit in the stands and judge, especially at the quarterback position but the job is his because he earned it. He won't lose it until he either gets hurt or is so bad that Coach Willingham simply says to go with the next guy in line. Isaiah's running ability puts him in a complete different category as far as quarterbacks are concerned. This team is not real gifted with high end speed but they have it at a very unique and difficult position to defend and that is at quarterback.
From Walter Cave
Coach Baird,
: It's been a long time. You may not remember me but I will always remember you. I played for you when you were at Olympic college. I saw you on the Husky Honk show the other day. What Happened to those curls? There's no way you, a coach, Linebacker tough guy from WAZZU had a perm? Tell me it ain't so? Anyways coach you look good. I just wanted to say thanks for the great times and your positive influence you had on me. The best backhanded sports related complement anyone ever gave to me was from you. I was a hot head always getting in some kind of trouble and not going to class. You took me aside and told me "Cave if you would only pull your head out of your AZZ...You have the talent to go as far as you want." Hearing many people call you a great judge of talent made your comments mean even more to me. I went on to play major college football for Western (OK not so major- I feel pretty confident our team at Olympic would have beat Western). I had four picks at out first spring game (A few of those were gifts but they count right?). Well coach there was one thing you did not tell me and that was, "Cave if you would only pull your head out of your AZZ... -and if you had stronger Achilles tendons." Yep – snapped my Achilles and I was done. I just wanted to say thank you for being such a great coach. I moved around so much growing up I had more coaches from Pop Warner through Western than most people and you were at the top. I remember the first time I met you at the start of two-a-days. I drove all night from Cali and people directed me to your house in Bremerton. I pulled up and your yard looked like a camp ground. Tents all over. You had some players that were from out of town camping at your house till they found housing. A not so good memory was during a game you and I had a altercation on the sideline. You and I went at it for a minute (mostly me). You told me I was off of the team and to get off the field. You called me into the office after the game. I fully expected you to kick me off the team. I was devastated because football meant the world to me. Well coach you had every right to dismiss me but you sat me down calmly and told me there was no room in your program for disrespect for coaches. You told me if I apologized to the team at the following team meeting you would allow me to stay. At the team meeting you had me up front with you and I could not believe what you did. You addressed the team by saying "Walter and I have talked about what had happened on the sideline of the game on Saturday. We have agreed we both owe the team an apology." You turned to me put your hand on my shoulder and allowed me to apologize. You shook my hand and said "This is over, lets move on." Coach, that meant the world to me. I walked into the meeting with the weight of the world and you took some of the blame when I felt it wasn't yours to take. Your apology to me and the team was beyond fair and was totally unexpected. To this day I still have the ultimate respect for you as a coach and a human being. You are truly a quality person. I have followed you from the time you were hired at UW through all the Hedges BS (Thank God she's gone huh?). and even now. I am proud to have known you coach. I love your work with Dawgman. Good Luck. No response is needed.

PS: I have pulled most of my head out of my ass!

A: PUBLISHER's NOTE - Dick Baird chose to respond to this person privately. The email was shared because I (Dawgman) felt it encapsulates why we all feel Dick Baird is so special, and we feel lucky to have him here on Dawgman.com.

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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