4-1 headed to Los Angeles

Washington in three weeks has gone from possibly dangerous, to outright dangerous, and now downright scary. They have won three games in a row for the first time in a while, they have done it in a variety of ways, they have a Pac-10 road win under their belts, and they will carry with them to Los Angeles a ton of confidence and no fear.

Washington is 4-1.

That is not a misprint. The offense is finding ways to put enough points on the board when opportunity arises, even without a rushing attack over the past few weeks. The defense still gives up chunks of yards, but no longer the big plays that used to plague them over the past two seasons.

In short, this Husky team is finding ways to win, and they believe in what they are being taught. They trust their coaches, and they trust each other. Coaches get way too much blame when something goes wrong and way too little credit when stuff goes right. It's just the way it is. I crack up every time I read on our message boards about how bad Kent Baer is. Does the average fan realize that Kent Baer has about 4 seconds to assimilate all the data in front of him (down, distance, opposition tendencies, opposition personnel), make the defensive call and schematic, and then communicate it down to the field? The rest of that time is spent on the sidelines by the coaches receiving Baer's call, putting together the right personnel package, and then signaling it down to the field to the defensive huddle, making the proper substitutions, and then having the linebackers, defensive backs, and defensive lines all read the defensive call and get aligned.

So when bad stuff happens, there are a lot of things that could've gone wrong, but of course the coordinators take the blame. And they know how it is. I just wonder sometimes if folks realize how silly the blame game can be. It's probably not important so I'll move on.

I'd like to give credit to Baer, however, in calling more aggressive schemes consistently over the past two weeks. It's obvious that his kids are getting it, and that he trusts that they know what they are doing now. He is willing to be more aggressive because he now trusts them that they know where to be and how to play in certain schemes. It's a thing of beauty, and the more aggressive front seven helps make a pretty thin secondary look much better. Well done Coach Baer.

And how about the games that Tim Lappano is calling? He is putting his kids into positions where they aren't being asked to do things that they cannot do. Let's face it, this Husky offensive line has no depth, all five starters go the entire way. That would wear down the best of lines, yet this Husky line, when you compare it to the great lines of the 1990s, is downright average at best. But Lappano is calling plays that work for them, and OL Coach Mike Denbrock is getting the most out of them. It is not a flashy offense, and it isn't consistent, but they aren't making any big mistakes, which is allowing them to stay in games and when they click, they are taking advantage of it by executing big plays.

And what can you say about Sean Douglas? Best punter in school history, that's what I'll say. With the offense playing somewhat conservative but not making mistakes, Douglas is pinning the other team back and letting the defense step up and keep the opposition from hitting the back-breaking plays. Going the long field can lead to mistakes, and Washington has forced its share of those from opponents.

It's been a total team effort to get to 4-1.

And the fans are back! From a publisher's standpoint, I'm seeing an interesting trend. Fewer and fewer "trolls" from other schools are hanging around the Dawgman.com message boards. Instead, opposing fans are posting things like, "Way to go Huskies!" or "Congrats on the turnaround, beat USC!" A far cry from the "You guys suck" and "Coach Willingham is terrible".

And I've seen more of our subscribers visiting than I can remember. A lot of our subscribers tend to just hit the stories, and some of you subscribers and/or registered members may only visit the boards once a week, but I took a screen shot of our premium board Saturday evening after the win over Arizona. It was 11PM, yet the numbers were staggering. Here is what I saw:

That's insane, but it's what winning has done. This team is 4-1, 2-0 in the Pac-10, and feeling extremely good about itself. They now know that they can win, that they can beat Pac-10 schools, that they can win away from Husky Stadium, and that their coaches are not going to put them into positions where they won't have a chance at success. And they can look over at the sidelines and see a coaching staff that believes in them.

And the Husky fans are returning. A crowd of 6-7K filled Bank of America to watch the game on closed circuit, and the momentum just keeps building. The fans are firmly behind this team. They have been waiting for three long years for something to cheer about, and now they have it.

And now the Huskies take their confidence and newfound pride back on the road to face the mighty USC Trojans. USC is one win over Texas last year from being the greatest football dynasty in the history of College Football. Make no mistake - this is a team that has been on top for close to four years now, no small feat. They are the measuring stick not just for the Pac-10, but for the entire country.

But they have looked rather ordinary this year. The talent is there, but injuries and distractions may be taking their toll. Arizona played them pretty well and Washington State played them downright even for a good portion of the game. USC got a couple of favorable calls and made a couple of big plays – which is what great teams do.

Washington will be walking into the lion's den, as the Trojans have people sitting up and looking at them as mere mortals right now as opposed to the dominating monsters they have been recently. USC will want to show the LA faithful and the television audience that they indeed deserve their lofty ranking and deserve to be considered with the great teams that preceded them.

But this Husky team is downright scary. They believe, they execute, they make adjustments, and they know how to win. Someone has to beat USC, and I believe it will be this year. With Oregon looking unstoppable on offense and Cal now clicking on all cylinders, and both still looming on the Trojan calendar, could the Trojans overlook the Huskies?

That would be a major mistake against a confident, scary opponent.
Other Dawgman Editorials:
UW now dangerous foe
Games 1 through 3 are crucial
Patience with Big Ben
Watch the young linebackers
Four keys to being competitive

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