Thank you to those of you that submitted questions for the "Ask Dawgman" column. Also a big thanks to those of you that subscribed to either Sports Washington magazine or Dawgman.com's Total Access, as we had record highs for both this month. For this, Husky fans, we are eternally thankful to you. And now onto the letters . . .

From Aloha Mike
Dear Dawgman: You took your sweet time answering your column. Your being as busy as you are you are forgiven. Last week at the SJSU game, the Dawgs took their sweet time to get going also. The question is why won't the Huskies play instinctively rather than structured defense? The second half against SJS the linebackers were dropping back into the short passing lanes. They weren't doing that the first half because, according to coach Neu, they were playing zone. Seems that with the talent that the Dawgs have they would be much better playing instinctively. What do you think? Great site!!!!! Please answer more quickly this time.

A: Thanks for the note Mike. Washington was experimenting with their zone drops against SJS, and didn't do a very good job at stopping third down in the first half. They'll get that figured out, they have nice speed back there and it will pay dividends. The linebackers have been more aggressive through the first two games of this year than they were last season, in my opinion. I think it only gets better from here. Marquis Cooper and Joe Lobendahn make an awesome 1-2 punch at the WIL inside linebacker spot. Both are sure tacklers and will play big roles as the season progresses. Jafar Williams is a solid, if not spectacular, SAM linebacker who doesn't make many mistakes. Greg Carothers looks good in nickel at the SAM as well. VERY GOOD! They'll buckle up their zones, which will allow more blitzes. Idaho won't be huge test but Cal and USC loom, and both of those certainly will be. PS: You let me off the hook and forgave me way to easy for my tardiness in my last column (grin).
From Dodger Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
As a Husky fanatic since the late 50's (my brother and I literally cried listening to the radio broadcast when Navy hit that field goal), I take issue with your plea for more fan noise. Call me a purist, I just don't like contrived fan support, whether the pleas come from you, the coach, or from players on the sideline. I was one of the ones booing the team at half time, I admit. But I did it because I hold the team in high esteem and expect more from them. They're big boys and can take it. My question: Why do the coaches continually run the ball on 2nd and 1 going for the first down? It drives me nuts and reveals a lack of confidence on the part of the coaches. Show some imagination! Take a tip from the great Johnny Unitas who just passed away on 9/11- part of his secret was that the other team had no idea what he would do on 2nd and 1, (or 3rd and 1, for that matter), but he usually passed the ball.

P.S. I love this site.

A: Thanks for sharing your views about crowd noise at a football game. That particular topic really polarizes fans in an interesting way, and I appreciate hearing all viewpoints on the subject. As for running the ball on 2nd and 1, I think that part of that is to make sure the clock is still grinding away. Rick Neuheisel has a knack for winning games where his team has won the Time Of Possession stat, and running the ball keeps the clock running. Also, this team knows that it can throw on anybody, and where the improvement must come is in the running game. What better time to work on the run when you only need one yard? Thanks for the note on Johnny U, God rest his soul. He was an amazing story, from the sandlots to the NFL in Baltimore.
From Scheryl L
Dear Dawgman:
How is Nate Robinson doing? I see he is back on kick returns but is yet to get the ball. What about putting him at cornerback?

A: Nate is doing well. He is the one of the few true freshman that will probably not redshirt this season, and has been moved to cornerback where he is in the three-deeps.
From HRdharberg
Dear Dawgman:
I have heard Neuheisel comment on doing a major remodel of Husky stadium to get the track out of there and putting in more seats. Seeing recently how Oregon has stepped up their commitment toward building a powerhouse football program and how Ohio State was able to remove their track and add 30,000 seats, I believe it is time for Washington to get dead serious about this stadiums future. It is time to think boldly, remove the track, lower the field, Get seats closer to the field, enclose the east end if need be, and get a plan in place about the west end stands. No doubt they would be too far from the action, and would need a complete replacement. There is not one reason why this stadium should not hold 100,000 fans and be the most intimidating place to play in the nation!! Find a way to get it done!

A: Lowering the field will prove difficult because of the water table. That alone could result in cost overruns. Getting rid of the track can be done if a new facility can be erected for track somewhere on campus. There isn't a great deal of room but they might find some. However building something that houses 100,000 fans would be VERY difficult to do on campus. There just isn't enough parking, and there is already a cap placed on the number of parking spots that the campus is allowed. They are at that cap already, so it would require a significant investment into the Metro Bus system to accommodate the additional people. Rick Neuheisel likes the fact that Husky tickets are not easy to get, and doesn't think the stadium needs to be much bigger. The one thing the stadium will get sooner than later is luxury suites. Those are money makers that the school cannot ignore.
From Rod G
Dear Dawgman:

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. 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. Thanks for writing. Here is the link: Husky Hoops info.
From I Pihl
Dear Dawgman:
Actually, this is a response to Derek Johnson's "Open Letter". Indeed the season is just underway. And, better things are to come. No doubt about it. Yet, it has not been what you could call an auspicious beginning. Not with a bummer of ending to the outstanding effort in Ann Harbor. Not with the "sleep walk" through the first half of the SJS game, either. "Better things are to come." I wrote it. See above paragraph. The second half of the SJS game suggested it.

However, I am not terribly impressed with our running game. No team in the country has a better passing game, but the rather questionable Running Game only invites opponents to "stack up" against us. And, that would be only disastrous as we get to the Pac 10 part of our schedule.

Surely, you have noticed: Arizona Schools, Southern Cal and Northern Cal Schools, as well as those Oregon Schools are not looking to be of the "chopped liver" variety. Not for a moment will I at this date believe that any Pac 10 School will be unscathed by their Pac 10 encounters. The power clearly appears to be in the NW corner of the Conference. WSU stumbled the past Saturday, but tell me what team will decide to take the Cougs for granted? Oregon continues to be magicians on the field. Oregon State has the outstanding Defense. California looks to be the predator hiding in the weeds. USC and UCLA are showing the prowess of outstanding recruiting and coaching to match. And, the Dawgs have that potential of Offense that every other team will covet.

What's my point here? Well, let me put it this way. The Dawgs have been favored for a Pasadena appearance. A bunch of improvements both in the running game and on the D-side of the game will convince me that the prognosticators were "in the ballpark."

I have been a long time believer in the proposition, "It's what's up front that counts." That is true for both sides of the game. In that regard, I see some real potential for the Offensive side of the ball. But, I have less of confidence that the Defensive side of the ball can come up to it for this year.

Nothing would please me more than to be proven wrong, here. I grew up within a mile of Husky Stadium. On the Sand Point Highway. Didn't miss a game as a growing youngster. The late 30's was a time when the Huskies were courting fans for the future. We would, as kids, walk to the turn-stiles, back in through them and be waved on by ushers into the North end seats. Before the game began, we had seat choices on either east or west sidelines. No problem.

I and my wife (raised in Oregon) are Tyee members. Something of payback for those early years is underway. Believe it, we are "Woofer's." Season Ticket holder "Woofer's."

"Dawgman.com" is daily on our Internet quest. We are looking for great O and D line recruiting. Great skilled people are important. They don't mean a whole lot without those big, quick "O" people up front both protecting and opening running lanes as well as those big, quick "D" people shutting down the opposition.

Them's our thoughts. Sorry about the length of them.

A: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and your history with the program. Your thoughts about "It's what's up front that counts," are shared by many I think the Husky defensive line is closer to being good than you think. I may be wrong, we'll see, but thanks for your insightful letter. I enjoyed it.
From Trev
Dear Dawgman:
I love your site. Living in Arizona I hear to much of this U of A and ASU crap. Oh ASU and U of A are god. When was the last bowl game they went to??????? Anyways what is the deal with recruiting this year. I see numerous pac-10 and national powers have up to 12-13 verbals already. UW has 4???? Plus OREGON got our #1 in state QB prospect. Damn Ducks and there a(*&^% coach. Granted he would have never seen the field until senior year(STANBECK).Anyways I would love to know you opinion and any rumors to future verbals.

A: Washington looks like they will wait a bit this year before jumping into the recruiting boat on some players. I think you'll see fewer early verbals this year, to be honest. But I think you'll be very happy with the class Rick Neuheisel brings in. He knows what he's doing, and he's very good at it. The two players from in-state that I'd like to see commit would be Derrick Bradley (speed!) and Kyle Trew (potential). I like both of those players a lot, although both are injured. Bradley may be done this year, we'll see (ankle).
From Brett
Dear Dawgman:
I must admit I'm a huge Husky fan, and I enjoy your website, but I'm probably one of your more realistic fans. I don't think that Rich Alexis is the next coming of Nip Kaufman, or even Willie Hurst. He has no burst into the hole, I was at the Michigan game and I've never seen such a marginal running game in my life, and it was a direct reflection of the tailback position, not the line, the fact is Alexis needs more room to maneuver. If he's the best we have to offer than we need to do a better job of recruiting.

A: I like the improvement Rich has shown from last year to this year. The offensive line still has to open the holes for Rich, but I think he's getting better at creating things after two games. I am not ready (far from it!) to write of Rich Alexis. He doesn't have Willie's instincts nor Nips' speed, but he is a hard worker that continues to improve.
From Steve
Dear Dawgman:
Great Site!! Can't get enough Dawg info living here in Quackland. My question relates to a post (9/13 around 8pm) I added about our defensive coordinator. What is Hundley's and RN's relationship? Would RN make a change if things didn't go the way of being "The FSU of the NW"? And how is Lambright's relationship with the program and is Lambright's return as a defensive coordinator a far off Holy Grail search type of situation? Great Site man, keep up the good work and congrats on your success.

A: Tim Hundley worked with Rick Neuheisel at both UCLA and Colorado and came to Washington with him from CU. Neuheisel would make a change if he felt it necessary, yes. That is what a head coach gets paid to do, make the tough decisions. Jim Lambright is no longer interested in coaching, he's having way too much fun relaxing and enjoying his farm in Snohomish County. Hundley is working with one new coach (LB coach Cornell Jackson) and one less coach (Chuck Heater moved to coach RBs and Bobby Hauck now has the entire secondary), so he's got a pretty full plate this year, but I expect that the best is yet to come. Look at the numbers on defense, they are all still pretty young. I think Tim and his staff will get it done. There has been improvement from game one to game three.
From Ol' Dawg
Dear Dawgman,
I love your site because it quickly gets me up to date with one of my favorite passions in life. Supporting Husky sports. I have done so for over 45 years now. I am an ardent fan, season ticket holder, and graduate of U of W. However, I have a question that could be perceived as negative by some fans regarding Husky Fifth Quarter after football games.

My friends who have had the opportunity to travel and attend other campus after game events have exclaimed that there is no comparison. Ours is shabby and it seems like it is getting worse.

1) Pandering by cheerleaders to buy raffle tickets, "for a summersault or a flip." I find offensive.
2) No more purple cups to squander and take away to office, den, or deck.
3) Food service:
Long lines (used to be 2-3 serving areas) with one serving area. Food doesn't even look appetizing anymore??? (used to have cold cuts with dressings and potato chips and dips and a variety of hot food items) Used to have a variety of deserts with cookies and cakes (now pre-packaged Grandma's cookies-Yuck!). Cheap wine.

Ambiance: My thinking this was to be a Husky lair where Ol' Dawgs could talk about the past, rejoice and weep with the present in the confides of a premises that would encourage that but now just seems only just another mediocre money maker. No zing or zest.

They used to have an entertaining MC to call out raffle tickets, make jokes, and interview the coach. Now it is short and sweet get out of here as quickly as possible.

One great thing is I love that coaches and their families sit amongst the fans. That part is really good! But it seems to lack color. Husky highlights of the past (Like Oregon reshowing again, again, again of Wheaton's interception run) - even way back. Humor, banners, husky highlighted music in the background. There is tons of stuff that could be done for minimum cost and still liven the place up. CAN WE DO THAT?

A: Thanks for sharing your opinions on the 5th quarter. I have not attended one of those functions since the early 1990s so I'm afraid I cannot offer you any comparisons, but I can tell you that Nebraska has an amazing game day atmosphere and a million things to do if you are a Cornhusker fan. I was impressed by their game day atmosphere and environment. Your best bet is to write a letter or email to the UW Alumni Association in regards to the 5th quarter and other functions you feel that could be improved. Good luck.
From Inmetals
Dear Dawgman:

A: Nathan has two bulging discs in his back that required surgery. He will attempt to reenroll at Washington either this winter or this spring. He went home to have the surgery so he is no longer in Seattle. When we last spoke with Nathan he was understandably down, but very intent on returning.
From Pat S
Dear Dawgman:
I'm an alum that bleeds purple and gold, but I am not convinced that Rick and Gilby are getting it done on either side of the ball. I don't want to talk about the defense this time because it goes without saying that it needs improving at almost every position, but I have a concern about the offense that most fans don't see.

My concern is Gilby's play calling, especially in the Michigan game. Here are some examples: When the Dawgs had first and goal from the 8 late in the second quarter at Michigan, Gilby ran 1 predictable off tackle run, then a pathetic attempt at an option play with no pitch man and no tight end releasing (there were no options). It almost looked like a broken play or a sad attempt at a naked bootleg. Then Gilby (after a time out) called for a corner route against one of the best defenders in the country for Reggie Williams, which is a play that historically hasn't worked for the Dawgs more than about 10 percent of the time. Of course, then the field goal was blocked and Michigan regained the momentum coming into the next half. The Dawgs had a chance to score 21 unanswered points and stun Michigan by the end of the first half. It could have destroyed Michigan's confidence because other than 2 big plays, Michigan was really getting dominated in the game. Instead they let Michigan regain their composure and the momentum allowing them back into the game. When the Dawgs needed 1 first down with under 2 minutes in the game to win, they played conservative and punted. The rest is a debacle of errors that need not be mentioned. The play calling was the difference in the game as far as I'm concerned. Against an aggressive defense, the opposing offense is supposed to run traps, screens, counters and draws. A mixture of these plays keeps the defense off balance and also allows your speed guys to get behind the defenders and stretch the defense all over the field. Which in turn opens up the running game late in the game when you want and need to control the clock. The kids played their hearts out in Michigan, but the play calling in my mind was the biggest factor in the loss. It was just a matter of time before the Dawgs finally lost a close game because they couldn't slam the door on the other team or convert on a needed extra point. What's your opinion on Gilby's play calling?

A: I trust Gilby. He is well thought of by his peers and is one of the most respected coordinators in the country. If he sees a weakness on a defense, he'll expose it better than anyone if he's able to. Washington's inability to run late in the game against Michigan did hurt, but I understand the logic of trying to make Michigan use up their time outs, and you have to trust that your offensive line can get one first down in crunch time. They didn't get it done at Michigan but they may learn from that and get it done down the road in a tough Pac-10 contest. Thanks for your note, Pat.
From Mike
Dear Dawgman:
First: This is the greatest website in all of the land and I find it only appropriate that it covers the greatest school in all of the land. I'm not sure if this is something you can speak to or not but I'll give it a shot. After languishing on the football ticket waitlist for four seasons I've finally become the proud owner of four seats. I made a small donation to Tyee and ended up with seats three rows from the top on the five. Not great, but not a problem. However, while tilting a few before the SJSU game I met a guy who just decided to get season tickets. They are on the thirty about 20 rows from the top. Great seats. Apparently, he bought his tickets only after the UW placed an ad in the Seattle Times sport section about a month ago.

My question: Did the UW really need to place an ad to insure a season ticket sellout? Is this a sign of a growing apathy towards the program? Should I be bitter? Should I curse this guy and the ticket department as I negotiate my sightline through the support beams?

Your guidance is always appreciated.

A: Ticket demand is still high by every measuring stick I've seen. Apathy hasn't crept in yet to my knowledge. I believe the season ticket base is still over 60,000 and growing. That was interesting that the person you mentioned was able to get such great seats on such short notice. But this person probably had to kick in a rather sizable Tyee donation to get those ducats. Keep that in mind before any bitterness comes to you. Enjoy your seats, Mike.
From Ryan
Dear Dawgman:
I was wondering when do you think the coaching staff will come to their senses about utilizing their running backs. I mean Rich is a good player but I have seen better. (IE: Kenny James!) I watched this guy a couple of times while he was in high school and he really has the talent and the skill to go out and make an immediate impact. Do you think he get the opportunity to go out and show what he can do this season? I just hope the staff realizes it soon, because if you let talent like that sit for to long, it either loses it bite or it goes somewhere else???

A: I think Kenny will have a great career at Washington, but I know that the coaches were hoping to redshirt him. In all fairness, Rich should only be a sophomore and this should be Willie Hurst's senior season, but neither of them got to take a redshirt year to develop physically and learn the system. Kenny may have that opportunity and I hope that he is afforded that. I do think he'll be outstanding, but I also believe that Rich will be just fine back there. Especially if Braxton can get healthy and spell him a bit. Brax is a threat as a receiver and makes a nice change up, and Chris Singleton is faster than both Brax and Rich. I hope that KJ can redshirt, in all honesty, even though it would be very fun to watch him do his stuff in a game.
Dear Dawgman:
Are we wasting a years eligibility for Nate Robinson? The draw call last week with 36 seconds left in the first half, with one timeout, left was terrible!!! I heard Gilby left the box with 5 minutes remaining in the half?? Who was responsible for that play call??? Also Cody should be calling the play while they're moving the chains, not when they get them set!! Something positive in the 3 games is lack of penalties. Get the young offensive line jelling for the running game and we will be tough. GO DAWGS!!!

A: Gilby always leaves the box, as do all of the coaches, early enough so they can be in the locker room for halftime. The visiting coaches do the same. I would wager that either Axman or Neuheisel made the call if Gilby was on his way down to the field. I think Nate is not being wasted, I think he's doing fine on kickoffs, and I hope he gets a shot at corner because he is a difference-maker.

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