LETTERS TO THE PUBLISHER

Thank you to those of you that submitted questions for the "Ask Dawgman" column. It's been a while since I've been able to get to my mailbag, and I apologize for the procrastination and for those letters that were lost. We are now two weeks into the season and I like this team. A lot. And now, on to the questions – don't sweat it being Friday the 13th . . .


From Shannon S
Dear Dawgman: Great web site, thanx for the awesome effort. My question is about Gilby. The combination of Rich Alexis and Paul Arnold is one that could prove to be one of the most fearsome and productive the Pac-10 and the country have seen. The key factors being an offensive line coached and skilled to maintain a ground attack and an offensive scheme that has faith and passion in the run. I think Coach Gilberson lacks this, can you give me some solace that this talent (the likes of which we haven't seen since Napolean) isn't lost on pass hungry Gilby?

A: Thanks for the note Shannon. I think Gilbertson would prefer to run the ball, in all honesty. One of his staples of the 1991 championship season was running the same running play over and over at someone until they stopped it. I think he'd love to give Alexis 25-30 carries a game if the defense allowed it. The current offensive line has not proven to be able to run the ball with consistency yet, however. And with the athletes Washington has at receiver (Arnold included), it's very difficult to not look to those horses and ride them. If a defense sits in nickel (5 DBs) and dime (6 DBs) packages all day and dares Washington to throw, I'd bet you'd see a steady diet of Alexis off-tackle. Gilbertson is one of the best in the business and coordinating an offense and getting it to attack a defense's weakness.
From Sean B
Dear Dawgman:
What's all of this that I've been hearing about injuries to key Huskies? And with half of the publications siding with U-Dub and half with WAZZU, will we suffer with our weak schedule, playing Wyoming, San Jose St, and etc with the power ratings?

A: Washington has had the injury bug for a couple of years now, very true. However they are not the only school to be afflicted by it. Stanford has lost their top two tight ends for the year. The main injuries that have hampered the Dawgs so far have been to Cleman (hamstring) and Robbins (knee), but both should return before Pac-10 play begins. As for the weak schedule, it normally wouldn't cost the Huskies anything, because normally one or two Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top 10. This year there aren't any up there just yet, but that could change. Victories in conference against ranked teams count for a lot, and make up for any foreseen "cupcake" factors.
From Desert Dawg Darek
Dear Dawgman:
I absolutely love this site. Down here in the desert (Arizona) there are quite a few Husky fans and we revel in your site. How is Isaiah Stanback doing? Do you think he will beat out Paus by the time Pickett leaves? I seemed to get the indication that Brandon Ala was more ready than Donny Mateaki, does that seem accurate? One last note, Clayton Walker will be the best O-lineman of the class--guaranteed. I saw him play and he is the next Benji Olson, absolutely nasty on the run blocking. Thanks again for the great info, keep it coming.

A: Thanks for writing Darek, and I'm glad you enjoy the site so much. Isaiah Stanback is doing well. He is swimming in knowledge right now, a bit over his head, which is exactly what you want to see in a true freshman. His arm strength and speed are very exciting to watch. Sacking this kid is a little bit like tackling Walter Payton in the open field – VERY TOUGH. I think he and Casey Paus will wage a nice battle, and both bring different tools to the table so both will likely play. Brandon Ala has been a nice surprise. He could probably play but the decision to redshirt him has been made, and for good reason. The DL needs to build quality depth. Mateaki and Ala will both play a great deal next year, Mateaki at the big HUSKY end and Ala at the small Husky REB end. A friend of mine that was an NFL pro scout shares your comment about Clay Walker. He watched our films of the linemen and said Walker was the best, and could be the best recruit in the class when all is said and done.
From Eld7373
Dear Dawgman:
What happen to Simi Renyolds from Skyline? I thought he was coming to play football and baseball. Great web page you do a nice job!!!!! Thank you

A: Simi was one of the late added walk-ons that joined the team after the Michigan game. He starred in both baseball and football at Skyline, a very versatile athlete. He was not on the roster when the season began because of the 105-player limit that is imposed until after the first game or until school starts, whichever occurs first.
From Rod G
Dear Dawgman:
I LOVE YOUR SITE. THAT BEING SAID, WHY ARE YOU WOEFULLY BEHIND ON THE HUSKY HOOPS SCHEDULE? YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE LAST YEARS RESULTS MUCH LESS THIS YEARS SCHEDULE POSTED. THAT'S A LITTLE EMBARASSING DON'T YOU THINK? I GOT THIS YEARS HOME SCHEDULE IN THE MAIL FROM THE UW BUT THAT'S IT. I THOUGHT I COULD RELY ON DAWGMAN FOR THE WHOLE THING. YOU POST 5-6 YEARS OF THE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE BUT NOT ONE OF B-BALL. MUST BE A REASON. PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

A: Sorry Rod. I have no excuse or reason for you, other than we've only put the current basketball schedule up on our site to date. I can tell you that basketball schedules tend to change much more frequently in the out years than football schedules, so it is more difficult to keep them straight. This year's hoop schedule was recently changed and we'll try to keep on top of those changes. Here is what we know so far: Men's Hoops Schedule Thanks for writing about improving our coverage, we'll do our best.
From Chris P
Dear Dawgman:
Wow! What an absolutely heartbreaking way to lose a game (MICH). Let me start by saying I think that we are in for a great few years with this group of young Huskies. They played their hearts out and it was obvious as the game went along that the UW was the better team. I can't help but to think about when Miami lost to the UW two years ago and how it motivated them to becoming a better team and then they ran off a string of victories, which to this date, they have yet to lose. Do you think this loss will motivate this Husky team to greatness as it did to Miami? I think the UW has the talent to be National Champs next year and do some real great things this year. I love your web site and keep up the great work.

A: Great question! I think that the Michigan loss could very well motivate this year's team. They slept through the first half of the SJS game but rebounded nicely. I agree with you, that this team is one year away from a national spotlight. Just look at the talent and the amount of underclassmen in the two-deeps. Once that becomes seasoned (IE: next year), it will be an amazing outlook. A senior QB, a senior TB, depth at WR, depth on the OL, only one senior on the DL this year, depth at safety, and more experience at CB because they all return. I know I shouldn't look ahead like that, but I can't help but peek at 2003. That being said, this year's team has enough talent to win the Pac-10. Next year's team will have the talent, experience, and depth to go to a fantastic bowl, maybe an NC shot.
From Concerned Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
Even during an ugly performance by the Dawgs in the first half of the SJS game, Derek McLaughlin's punting performance stood out like a sore thumb. He once again awed us all with five punts averaging 35 yards per attempt. My question for you is whether you think he is our best punter available, and whether we are recruiting someone that can kick the ball for positive yardage?

A: Derek is the best punter, hands down. John Anderson is an outstanding punter as well but with a sore hip flexor, it's best not to overwork him. I have faith in Derek McLaughlin. He was the first Husky punter to average over 40 yards per punt in a long time. Former Husky punter Ryan Fleming told me that Husky stadium is by far the toughest venue to kick in because the wind in the stadium swirls so much, and to average over 40 per boot is an incredible feat. Give him some time. I believe he will leave for his Mormon Mission soon, and we will miss him. A lot.
From HoganFord
Dear Dawgman:
I talked to you before about this! What a waste for (Zach) Tui!! I believe he was in on less than 10 plays against SJS. He's too good of athlete to not be on the field. I know Ty Eriks can block, why not try Joe Toledo at the fullback, I know he can knock people on there asses! Plus he would fit into are passing game well. 12 men on the field won't mean a thing, unless were 11-1. Then it will haunt us!! GO DAWGS!!!

A: I like Zach right where he is. He has good skills and his instincts look very good on offense (last week's fumble notwithstanding). I think he adds a dimension to the offense that is important, once the Huskies start getting the ground game kinks out and running perhaps some more option. Eriks can block as well, and he can run, too. Toledo is great where he is. His block in the Michigan game is what set Rich Alexis free on his 59-yard scamper. I agree with your assessment of the 12-men penalty – it doesn't hurt the Huskies at all unless they win the rest of them. That would be a nice problem to have, no?
From Nick S
Dear Dawgman:
I had a question about Bye's and scheduling. Who sets up the schedule and who determines where the BYE will be in a given year? Does Rick have a say in when these occur?

A: The schedules for football are set up by the athletic director, who usually asks for input from the head coach. They are set years in advance, sometimes up to 10 years. The bye weeks come when you can fit them, and of course you would love to have them right before big games. However it doesn't always happen that way because you are always not only juggling your own schedule, but also that of the other schools you are trying to schedule.
From Will Hargrove
Dear Dawgman and Softy (Dave Mahler):
Guys, a number of positive and negative comments about the (Alabama Crimson) Tide today. I appreciate the positive comments about Bama football and Tuscaloosa, and can live with the redneck comments. If I seemed a bit sensitive about the Alabama probation, I am! (Just as my Husky friends STILL are about the early 90s Husky probation--and rightfully so!) First, I do feel that Ed Cunningham should have his facts straight about the punishment. There is a big difference between 30 and 21 scholarships. More importantly, I think you should understand the screw job Bama got. You be the judge on whether or not there were "some dark things going on down there" (Ed's words today on KJR). The bowl ban made Bama the FIRST school in 69 bowl-banned schools to receive such punishment when there was NO "lack of institutional control". In effect, the punishment was handed down over 2 rogue boosters--one who paid a player, another who paid a coach to get a player to Bama. Not ONE single employee of the school was sited. The centerpiece of the NCAA case was the testimony of a "secret witness"--the use of which is against the NCAA by-laws. Both Beano Cook and Chris Fowler have openly stated that Bama got a raw deal. Why? Because in 1995, Alabama's FIRST time in history before the NCAA, Bama stood firm rather than working with the NCAA. After the penalties were handed down, Bama appealed and became the FIRST school in NCAA history to win an appeal--cutting the punishment from 25 to 12 scholarships. Additionally, a faculty member, Tom Jones, sited in the NCAA findings sued the NCAA for defamation of character and won over a million dollars in federal court. The NCAA was pissed that somebody would actually stand up to them rather than taking it in the ass. The only reason BAMA was on probation when these recent findings came to light was because in 1997 Bama self-reported a BASKETBALL violation and fired the assistant coach. The NCAA decided to use this to screw Bama for the 1995 fighting. Bama has appealed the recent punishment and probably will take this to court should they lose, as the NCAA is breaking their own rules. All this to both get the facts straight and give you some insight into a still unfolding story. Compare this to what is to come out of the Michigan hoops story where 4 players received over 800K. Interesting to see the politics and ego within the NCAA. Softy, to give you some insight into non-redneck Alabamians, you have an open invitation to play the Montgomery Country Club on me. I'm home every Christmas thru New Year's.

P.S. Love the fact that you mentioned Troy St and Alabama St football and forgot Auburn!

A: Thanks for sharing your views on Alabama's punishment, Will. I appreciate you took the time to write. And does the invitation to Softy extend to me as well? Softy doesn't golf (very well, at least), but I do.
From Mike – US Army UW fan
Dear Dawgman:
What do you see happening in the future with Cooper and Lobendahn? Right now, they're obviously duking it out for the #1 slot at the WILL backer position. Next year, I can see one staying there and the other most likely taking over for Mahdavi. Do you think there's a possibility one of them could move to either the SAM or REB spot especially with Ellis' knees and the fact that the projected starters in both spots are seniors?

A: I think Lobendahn at MIKE (strongside) and Cooper at WIL (Weakside) is very likely in 2003, after Mahdavi graduates. Lobendahn could definitely play some SAM, but I wouldn't move Cooper from inside. He's a natural there. Another SAM LB to keep an eye on in the future is Scott White. Coaches are pretty high on him and he's redshirting this year.
From Texas Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
I've recently been transplanted from Bremerton to Addison, Texas, so I am lost as far as the Dawgs go. Three questions: 1)Is Braxton Cleman going to back up Alexis or is it going to be Singleton? 2) How does Junior Coffin look? 3) How is Zach doing at fullback duties like catching the ball, etc? Thanks Dawgman.

A: Braxton and Chris will both back up Alexis. Cleman has had a history of bad luck with health so Singleton will need to be at the ready. Cleman is the stronger blocker of the two and has more experience, but Singleton is more fleet of foot. I would guess that in a one-back set, Brax would get the nod because of his good hands and blocking, whereas Singleton might get the nod in a two-back set because of how fast he is. Junior Coffin has climbed the depth chart since the season began, and earned praise for his performance in the first two games. His emergence is allowing the coaches to redshirt Mateaki and Ala, a real benefit in the long run. Zach is doing great at fullback. His hands have improved a great deal and since he's just a sophomore, his future looks very bright.
From Texas Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
Why is it that we have not been strong like the old days in the secondary? There has to be some good ones out there. The Dawgs keep talking about a QB a year, we have a ton now. Why not concentrate on DB's? Look at WSU last year and the Ducks this year, so we know they are out there. Coach Neu has to cut his buddies loose if we are as bad as last year. I still puke every time I think of that sad display by the secondary against Texas.

A: Washington hasn't had many seniors in the secondary for a while. Because of injury, transfers, and baseball, the Huskies have very young and thin numbers back there. The nice thing is that they all return next year, and if they can get Donte Nicholson out of Mt. SAC JC, they'll be set for next season. Both Sims and Benjamin are getting better with every snap. It was unfortunate that the staff couldn't land Jabril Wilson out of CCSF last year, he would've helped, and Grady Sizemore should be back there right now as well but he got $3M to be a baseball player instead. Jordan Slye is one to keep an eye on at safety next year and might bring even more to the mix back there. And of course you realize that a huge key to good DB play is pass rush up front, an area that was anemic against Texas in the second half. I think that will be shored up by Kai Ellis, and in future years if Mateaki, Ala, Lasee, and Hopoi keep improving at the rate they currently are.
From Gene H
Dear Dawgman:
In recent years we haven't had an RB that could hit the corners quickly, or so it seems. R. Shehee was the last that I can remember that could get around the corners consistently. Do you suppose it is because Shehee had superior blocking and present era blocking isn't as good or was it all Shehee? Do any of the new crop of RB's show that they can hit the corners as quickly? Thanks for an excellent site by the way.

A: Thanks for the kind words, Gene. Shehee had an amazing knack for looking like he was going to take it between the tackles and then bounce it outside. It was pure instinct, and pure speed, that allowed him to do this with great regularity. The back that probably has this skill (but is still honing it) is Chris Singleton. He is very fast and has the ability to bounce outside like Rashaan did. Rich Alexis is beginning to show a knack for cutting back inside on sweeps when there is nothing there. Watch what he does on pulling-guard plays. He's getting better, showing much improvement over last season. Shelton Sampson can run faster than just about anyone on the offense, time will tell whether or not he has the natural instincts of a running back. He gets to learn this year while redshirting, which is a great thing for both him and the team.
From JY Pear
Dear Dawgman:
Why upgrade Husky Stadium when we have a viable option at Seahawk Field? I have gone to games for 40 years and the stadium needs upgrading from the shape it is in. Upgrading would cost a lot and the site lines and ugliness of the structure would not go away. There are so many bad seats at Husky Stadium and the place is so dated, a remodel will not fix that. We have a great stadium we could go to. To replace Husky Stadium would cost $500M+ to be at the level of Allen's Palace. Why create something that is still ugly with upgrades. Recruits have referred to Oregon as Nike-ville. We would still be a long ways from that. We better get with it, do it the right way, and we can do it now. I have read your site from when I first got a computer, 1996 I think. What difference a few years make in technology! You were a pioneer then - had that garage band feeling. Really cool. Keep it up, but I really like grunge.

A: Seahawk Stadium is amazing, the cream of the crop for sure. It could've been built where Husky Stadium currently stands, or at least a remodel of the current Husky Stadium could've happened, but was turned down by the voting public in the area. I agree that a renovation of Husky Stadium would be costly and to do it right would require a large amount of demo and rebuild, but the most attractive reasons of doing it that way is that it would still be on campus, and still on the shores of Lake Washington. Those are two huge attractions that always must be considered. I'm not sure that Seahawk Stadium, as beautiful as it is, would capture that same school feeling of playing games on campus. Thanks for following our site. I loved your "grunge" reference. I prefer to think that our site has followed the "REM" model, where we started out rough, and have now honed it to a more refined product, but haven't lost our edge. I guess that could be a "U2" reference as well. The photo of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant on the cover of this article is for you, my friend. Long live Led Zepp, and God Bless Bonzo.
From Go Dawgs PA
Dear Dawgman:
I have heard some people talking about remodeling Husky Stadium and I was just wondering what you think about tying in the upper levels at the West end? I'm sure they could sell the tickets. Keep up the great work and GO DAWGS.

A: If they do tie in those upper levels at the west end, it seems to me that they would need to bring the field closer to that end. As it is, the seats in the "fun zone" are over 100 yards away from the action. It is far from a good sightline to a football game. If they did close that end of the stadium in, I would hope that a corresponding movement of the field to the west would also take place so those seats would at least be close enough to the action so that binoculars wouldn't need to be handed out to everyone. Still, some folks would buy those seats if the Huskies continue to win, that's demand. Thanks for the note, and GO DAWGS!


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