Coach's Corner

I paid a visit to campus and had some good chats with the players and coaches. What I can tell you is, don't kid yourself into thinking that the players at Washington don't expect to win every game next football season. The program is built with the total expectation of winning each and every game. That's not arrogance, nor is it over confidence.

It is just the way you have to think.

Wanting to win each game and believing you can win each game is a big differentiation.

I know many of you are thinking, "How can the Huskies really expect to beat USC or The Ohio State University much less teams like California or Oregon?" The simple answer is that this particular group of kids believes in their system and their ability to compete with anyone on their schedule.

This will be the third spring of the third year for the third system (follow that?) that this group of seniors will have learned. They along with the rest of the team walk, talk, and look like they understand the importance of work ethic, accountability, and toughness. All of requirements are demanded by this current system.

They believe that their hard work will be rewarded. Most of the players on this team only know this system, and that is a good thing. Continuity counts, especially when it comes to understanding expectations and belief, and belief counts especially when it comes to winning.

Sure, they know they have one of the toughest schedules in the country but they know that they can't do anything about it. They also know they have stood toe to toe with the Trojans and will someday beat that team. Why not this coming season? That surely has to be an important measuring stick for this program and system.

When the Huskies beat USC again, then they will have taken a major step to being "back". That won't be an easy game because the Trojans are always so talented, but then again neither will any of the other games.

The Huskies are liable to be picked to lose almost every game again this year and will be predicted to finish somewhere between 7th and 10th in the Pac-10 for the 2007 season. The team would be best to expect that from others.

But it's what they expect from themselves that counts. Husky fans may have a tough time admitting it, but Washington is currently considered a second tier team in the Pac-10 until they prove otherwise. They will need to do it consistently over a number of years and while they are at it, they should win a Rose Bowl.

Win each game first. That is the way they are being taught. I really believe they are expecting to win the next game, the 2007 opener in New York. They will have to travel all the way across the country to do it, but that is exactly what they expect to do.

After visiting with players and coaches in recent days, I can tell you first hand that they don't want to be "close" anymore. They want to finish the deal and win. They are thinking that way and preparing that way.

In order to win the close games, they have to continue to eliminate their mistakes – an area that they improved tremendously last year. They also know they have to finish games in the fourth quarter - that alone cost them 4-5 wins last year. They could have won at Oklahoma, USC, California, or against ASU with a big play or two at the end. They laid an absolute egg for Stanford, and that cannot happen again.

Think about it, had they only won two of those games, they would have been in a bowl game.

Now they've spent the winter months working hard with these things in mind. The players also really helped out in recruiting and their selling of themselves to recruits was based almost entirely on their belief system.

There is no question some of the newly signed players will have to step up and play critical roles this coming season. They bought into the belief system during recruiting and many obviously chose Washington because they believe that they can help immediately. The kickers are obvious contributors but there are some great running athletes in the incoming class and I can see them having to contribute simply because of the need for speed. There could be as many a six or more true freshmen or first year players playing for this team, and there are a number of redshirted-freshmen who are going to surprise many Husky fans.

Everyone knows about Jake Locker but he has some other team mates who also preserved a year of eligibility last season. Guys like J.R. Hasty, Matt Mosley, D'Andre Goodwin, Cameron Elisara, Matt Houston and especially De'Shon Matthews. All will join Donald Butler and Paul Homer, both who played as true freshman this past season. There are some excellent young linemen as well in Cody Habben and Ryan Tolar who should bolster the depth there.

I think Butler is really going to be a special linebacker and Homer now looks to be over 250 lbs, looking like a true fullback type blocker.

These kids have been paying the price. They believe in the hard work it takes to become winners. They expect to win each game and they are being taught to keep their focus on that next game on the schedule. They don't want to talk about their record for the season, they don't want to talk about USC, or Boise State, or Oregon.

They are only thinking about beating Syracuse.

The Huskies travel about as far as they can go to the east for the first game and about as far west as they can go for their last game. In between they will play and expect to win against their own conference plus two teams that ended their regular seasons undefeated.

And yes, they expect to win each of those games. They are preparing for that in mind.

They would be wise to ignore how the "experts" predict they will do, where they will finish, where they will win and where they will lose. What is more important is their belief that they can play with and beat every team they will play - when they play them.

There is no reason to accept others opinions. They need to only believe in each other, believe in the task at hand, and make the plays necessary to give them one more point at the finish line.

Eliminate their mistakes, create mistakes by the other team, and finish, finish, finish. It's what is expected. Top Stories