Ask Coach Baird

One final home game Dawg fans – one last chance to send these seniors out on a positive note after a very tumultuous four or five years in the program at it's darkest time. Come on Husky fans, let's cheer them long and loud on Saturday! And now on to the letters . . . . .


From Mike Bolin
Coach Baird,
: Saturday on the pre-game show it was great to hear from Coach Lambo. I especially liked the comment asked about what kind of defense was played while he was linebacker coach. Is the Husky defense an attack type of defense NOW? If not, why? If not, will they get back to that type of defensive attack? I liked the comment that back then the defense would dictate to the opponent how the game was played not the other way around. Why is the defense so tame now? Please tell me that that is the way that the Husky defense is headed. Thanks, Aloha.

A: The defense currently being run by the Huskies has an attack element to it and the only reason we don't see more blitzing is we really don't have the type of athletes to do it with. That is about as honest as I can get. We simply don't have enough good coverage type people to play straight-man coverages. That forces them to use more zone dogs and other types of pressure to put heat on the quarterback. I know Coach Baer really likes to crowd the line of scrimmage but is reluctant to give up the long bomb given our secondary. In order to do what Lambo did you really have to have two separate defenses and mix them so the offense is guessing all the time. I don't know if we will see that sort of approach again for a while. By the way, I see steady improvement on the defense and that is critical to winning games down the road.
From Bill in Puyallup
Coach Baird,
: It seems at times like Rankin hesitates too much in the backfield. With Kenny hurt this past weekend, we only saw Rankin carry the ball. Why isn't Sampson getting any carries?

A: As long as Kenny James is hurt I think you will see Rankin getting the majority of the carries. I would love to see Sampson get a shot because I think he is a hard worker and deserves a chance to play again before his career is over. He is a great character type individual who will do well if given a chance. He is waiting and willing, and I don't have a good answer for you as to why he didn't see the field this year.
From Lane Bailey
Coach Baird,
: In a March 2003 article you espoused of the damage done to the football program when the Husky Hunter's was disbanded. What is blocking the return or re-creation of a program like the Hunters? Having read the NCAA bylaws, Article 6.4 (page 49) covering Institutional Control states that the athletic department would have to keep a pretty tight reign on things……and that rule (in and of itself) might make the prospect of organizing local volunteer supporters less desirable than might be otherwise. Booster clubs made up solely of supportive volunteers exist at LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas…what is it that they do to instill control that we're seemingly unwilling to consider? Granted…in the absence of a formalize booster program, USC may have shown that a self-policed booster organization may indeed be a necessary component to maintaining control. Always a fan of Washington, and Dick Baird – Lane Bailey, Husky Football 1977-82.

A: I agree with you! I see no reason why you shouldn't organize your boosters and thereby have more institutional control because then you could get out the rules in meetings, handouts and mailings. Such Alumni would obviously include all your ex-players, particularly those who are involved in coaching, the volunteers would not and could not do evaluations but they could wear purple to high school and JC games and any alum whose kid is a prospect as well as high school administrators who are Washington graduates. Find out about kids who are quality kids that you have a connection with. Work all the legal avenues to persuade kids to come to Washington. I would not be so presumptuous to even suggest structural changes for the way they currently do things, though. I believe we have a great coach and he has a system. I'm personally more interested in getting better players. That is the most important thing for this program. They need more, and more talented players.
From Larry Hubacka
Coach Baird,
: I'm a long time Husky fan and season ticket holder. I can live with our growing pains, barely, but for the sake of me, why doesn't coach Willingham try Johnnie Kirton at running back more? Stanford would be a good game to try. If it doesn't work, fine. But where are mired, what harm will it do?

A: It's going to happen.
From Rick Ryen
Coach Baird,
: Greetings from Kitsap County. Prior to attending the UW I earned my AA at Olympic College -- I believe when you were coaching the mighty Rangers to a #1 national ranking correct? Thank you for all the information you provide us football fans, and even greater thanks Coach for all that you've done for student athletes and our community throughout your years as an educator. It has appeared to me that both our offensive and defensive lines have been physically dominated just about every game this year. I feel like the kids have put forth a much improved effort and that they have been very scrappy this year (both improvements). However, it still looks like we are getting physically dominated on both lines. I think it is hard to make judgments about Bonnell as a QB when he is unable to set up and throw due to pressure 75+% of the time, and I feel essentially the same way about Rankin -- people criticize his dancing around, but most of the time there isn't much of a hole for him to hit and he's often dodging D-linemen in the backfield. My questions...In your opinion has the lack of success of our lines been primarily due to a lack of physical talent (power/strength), or due to a lack of learned skills & techniques? If it is due to a lack of strength, are there skills the players can learn to offset their physical inferiorities? Coach in the event that we still don't have the beef to win the line of scrimmage next year are there scheme changes the coaches can implement to make better use of the talents our players do have?

A: First of all thank you very much. Second of all, I am not the one to be evaluating the kids - that is the job of the coaches. I do my evaluations strictly for the benefit of Dawgman and his thousands of subscribers now. I think the offensive line has struggled more as the season went on. They should come out and absolutely try to run the ball every play as far as I am concerned. Run, punt, and play defense. Keep running until you find the right schemes and then run some more. Both lines are better than they were last year and the year before that. They lose two senior guards and really need to bring in a full freshman line on both sides of the ball. Sign the big local grown kids who will develop in 4-5 years, find more tough guys, kids who really like to hit. Recruit track kids who prove they can run. Recruit big safeties and move them up to linebacker and big linebackers and move them up to D line. That is how you upgrade speed. Find running athletes at all positions. They already know this. They are trying to do it right now.

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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