Thank you to those of you that submitted questions for the "Ask Dawgman" column. Sometimes it's fun to read the message boards, and other times it's fun to be out of town when they explode with emotion. I was glad to be in LA when the storm hit Dawgman.com. And now on to the letters . . .

From Mike
Dear Dawgman: First off, I love your site. It's the best way to get information on the Huskies. I have a few questions. What is wrong with our secondary? I personally think it is the corners, I think they safety's are playing fine. Also I think they should play Singleton more, even if he's not that great at picking up the blitz. Alexis just isn't very good anymore. It looks like instead of juking guys, he's just trying to run them over. Finally, are they going to redshirt both Kenny James and Shelton Sampson, or do you think one them is going to play?

A: The secondary is confused, to put it mildly. The zone drops look pretty good until two receivers run routes in the same area. Also, I'm not sure that everyone in the secondary is picking up the signals in the huddle. At USC and against Arizona it was clear that the safeties and corners were not on the same page. Rich Alexis was benched against USC, it will be interesting to see how he responds. I still believe he can be a great tail back. Singleton was given six carries against USC before the run was abandoned altogether. He hasn't had much of a chance to prove what he's got, but I'm a big fan of his. He's very fast. Kenny James and Shelton Sampson will redshirt if there are no injuries in front of them.
From Dodrio2
Dear Dawgman:
Great site. Rich Alexis and Braxton Cleman lack explosiveness and vision. Based on practice performance, do James and Sampson have "it?"

A: James is a between-the-tackles back like Hurst was, only a bit faster. Although Kenny is not a blazer like Shelton is. Sampson doesn't have James' instincts or hands, but he is VERY FAST. Both will redshirt this year unless injuries occur.
From Eugene C
Dear Dawgman:
Since Rick Neuheisel is grounded until May, 2003, can he recruit from the phone long distance at the comfort of his on-campus office? Would this be consider a recruiting violation? Long distance phone call is certainly cheaper than an airline ticket and traveling expenses, but not as personal as an in-house visit. There are many way to skin a cat and those NCAA fat cats make it hard for high exposure recruiter like Rick to work effectively for the Huskies.

A: Neuheisel can recruit all he wants by telephone during the allowable periods. It is no violation to place phone calls during the allowable periods, nor is it a violation to accept phone calls from recruits. He'll just be doing much more to close the deal when recruits come on campus for their visits.
From Ron S
Dear Dawgman:
I have a severe reservation as to the quality of coaching that is currently going on at Montlake. Let's face it, Cal out coached us, and Arizona exposed our weaknesses that haven't really gotten any better this season. Brent Myers is in over his head and has simply not been able to teach the O-Line any type of run blocking technique, and this has gone on for two years now. Under Gilby, a young O-Line quickly improved, but not with Myers. Chuck Heater has totally failed to coach Rich Alexis the fundamentals of how a tailback runs in traffic, protects the ball, cuts against the flow and catches a pass. Bobby Hauck's secondary is still confused as to what they are supposed to do on the field, still can't tackle and are still getting picked apart. Hundley's defensive schemes are always being beaten, and no game time adjustments are successfully being made to fix it. I'm tired of Neuheisel and his staff making excuses about a "young" secondary and an "inexperienced" tailback. That's what got Lambo in trouble. We haven't gotten any get better when and where we need to, and that's on the coaches not the players. We lost to Cal, and then couldn't improve the running game against the worst run defense in the PAC-10, and the secondary played mostly a soft and porous zone against Arizona. Randy Hart's D-Line is the only unit that has shown real improvement this year. I hope we turn it around, but I just don't have confidence in this staff to do it. Being tough, practicing hard and hitting is not just the Don James legacy, it's the Husky Football Legacy of the last 45 years. Jim Owens brought this to the program in the late 1950's and it continued through Lambo. Don't forget that we went to the 2001 Rose Bowl with Lambo's seniors. Without better quality on the staff next year, I'm afraid to say that we're getting close to being just like USC and UCLA of a few years ago. We could end up with a lot of great high school talent that is wasted, doesn't get better, and can't win the big games. USC is now back to contention only after wholesale changes with the coaching staffs and attitude. Does Neuheisel really understand any of this, and what are the chances of Rick changing and improving the staff with and more quality in the off season?

I really enjoy the site. Thanks to you and your staff for all your hard work.

A: All I can tell you is that Husky fans, particularly the ones with the big wallets, will not tolerate losing football. You cannot fire the players so it is the coaches that feel the heat. I am certain that every coach you've named above is now feeling the flames that are burning after a 1-2 opening to the conference schedule. I have said all along that next year would be the season that the UW would compete for a possible NC, but I never imagined that this team would not be able to run the football. I never imagined ANY Husky football team that couldn't run the football. It was just unfathomable. Will Rick make changes? If it doesn't bounce back this year, I believe that he will.
From Brenda F
Dear Dawgman:
Outside of Kai Ellis, who else is providing a pass rush without having to blitz? Why don't they put the best defenders on the field regardless of class? I noticed Ngata is playing at defensive tackle for Oregon. I cannot feel confident about the Huskies for the rest of the season until the defense plays better.

A: Josh Miller is playing some good football inside, in my opinion. However, pass rush has been a problem and definitely turns the heat up on the secondary. I believe your comment about the best defenders on the field regardless of class is a great one. If I had my druthers based on what I've seen at practice and at the games, I'd go with Ellis and Ala on the ends, Miller and Johnson inside, Cooper inside all the time (best LB, don't dare move him), Mahdavi inside on run packages and Krambrink inside against the pass, Carothers at SAM, Johnson and Nate on the corners and Newell and Benjamin at the safeties. Newell played very well against USC, I think the Arizona game gave him confidence.
From Paul in Bulldog land
Dear Dawgman:
I'm still trying to figure out if it's the O-line or is it Rich Alexis or Braxton Cleman. I know Alexis is only playing his 4th year of organized football and Cleman has had injuries. My question for you, do you think that by putting in Kenny James in the back field, will he improve our running game?

A: It's both the OL and the running backs, as well as the fullback. This team cannot run the ball, or at least if they can, they have not shown it yet. Kenny James is someone to look forward to as soon as next season, but I don't think he can solve the current woes on the ground. Redshirt him and build depth at TB. Next year's OL will have Clay Walker challenging for time, he's that good. That could be a shot in the arm on the interior.
From Dennis G
Dear Dawgman:
Great site. I think we have a coaching problem. USC's athletes aren't 20 points better than UW's. Arizona's and Cal's don't come close. Carson Palmer dissected us while feeling next to no pressure. I think this is because of the scheme not because of the playmaking of the opponent. It is excruciating to watch. Did the defensive coaches learn anything from the Cal and Arizona games?? In a third and pass situation, our corners are 7-8 yards off the line of scrimmage and we bring nothing to the quarterback. We get beat on third and long all day. We don't go at the QB until the fourth quarter when we're forced to. Whatever the defensive coaches and Rick think they're doing, it isn't working. I think nothing will change until Rick has the nerve to cut loose his buddies. All but Hart have to go. Thanks for letting me vent.

A: Thanks for the vent, Dennis. This team can stop the run better than anyone in the conference but there are certainly breakdowns in the secondary that need to be fixed. They have two more "should win" games left on their schedule with OSU and UCLA, neither of which has a very experienced QB. Time is running out and the stakes will get higher and higher if the losses mount.
From Joon
Dear Dawgman:
After watching another loss this past weekend, I'm wondering about the quality of coaching and player development. Coach Neuheisel has landed top 20 recruiting classes every year at UW (top 5 two years ago) yet we're not even a top 25 team. Isn't it troublesome that we're able to bring in highly touted players that don't live up to their potential? Guys like Roc, DJ and Carothers in the secondary had solid performances as freshman, but have not shown significant improvement since then. I know they've suffered injuries but then others should be able to step up - yet these guys continue to be our starters. Either the hype is just that - hype - or the players are not developing better skills and improving their techniques. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to think the issue is the latter. Our coaches are clearly successful at the recruiting part of the job, I'm just hoping that they can be successful at the actual coaching part too. Am I way off base? What do you think?

A: There are a lot of people that are asking those same questions – are the Huskies getting better? Are the players improving? DJ is still recovering from his foot injury and you now know that Roc was playing at much less than 100%. Carothers is the best safety on the team when it comes to run support and I do think he has gotten better at tackling, mostly because he is much more healthy. Has this team improved since the Michigan game? No. But all it would take is one big win on the road against ASU to get the ball rolling again.
From Gil D
Dear Dawgman:
I read the article in the Orange County Register that mentioned your site, and that a coach of a private school was angered that someone told you guys that he recruited (illegally). It referred to Durrell Moss. What were your thoughts on this?

A: I read the article, and was in LA at the time it was written. Chris Fetters and Durrell's coach spoke early that morning and all is cleared up. They handled it properly, off-line over the phone, and there were no hard feelings. It's all good and our story was fine. The funniest part was the "Chris Fetters was unavailable for comment" part in the OCR. I loved that, making it sound like Chris was big-leaguing the reporter. It wasn't really a big deal, but I admit we are very flattered that the Orange County Register subscribes to us and used our article as a topic for discussion in their newspaper. They have a large circulation, and even my Uncle who lives in Orange saw it. Pretty cool. A Husky coach joked to me Saturday morning about being mentioned in a paper down there, that he really knew that we had "arrived" when the Cali scribes are mentioning you by name. It was a pretty funny experience, but it's over. Moss is a Dawg, and I think he could play safety.
From Digits
Dear Dawgman:
While I came to the conclusion that the 2002 Huskies are a relatively (compared to previous Husky squads) mediocre football team as I stood on the Husky Stadium sidelines of the Arizona game with my uncle, after the SC game I now suspect that they may be a bad football team. My question is when do you see things becoming drastic? Everyone knows the saying and I'd say these are drastic times for the program. When will Neuheisel stop with the catchy phrases he uses to camouflage completely undisciplined football and lay into his team Gil Dobie style and let them know they are disgracing the Husky football tradition?! Are there any 2002 Huskies that you can think of that actually practice and play with this sort of "nastiness" and will emerge and LEAD this team as past Husky legends have?! (i.e. Emtman, Tui., Sixkiller, Kreutz, Garcia, etc.) GO HUSKIES!!!

A: Things are at the drastic stage, Digits. The holy grail of the program the non-losing season string, is at stake. Neuheisel will never go on record and rip his staff or his team, he'll do that behind closed doors. Don't be fooled by his coach speak to the media, he's laying down the law as best he can when the cameras aren't on and the pens are not present. Anthony Kelley, Ben Mahdavi, and Jafar Williams have to step up and be the senior leaders of the defense now. On offense, Pat Reddick and Paul Arnold are seniors but neither is really vocal. I think if Paul were to light into someone (which would be out of character for him), it might have an effect. But there are no current players on the roster that I'm aware of in the mold that you described with your list of former players. Emtman and Tui were unique, and Kreutz and Garcia were just flat out mean.
From Chris from Gilbert, AZ
Dear Dawgman,
I love your site! I'm always on it and it keeps me up to date on all things UW. That's it for the positives. As for this year's football team, I thought the loss to Michigan would propel them to greatness, however, it is just the opposite. I don't know if they have truly re-gained their confidence after this loss. Their coaching is pathetic (mainly their defense). It's one thing to get good recruits but you have to coach them and motivate them and quite frankly this team never plays up to their ability. In the 4 years since Neu has been here his teams constantly find ways to keep the game close instead of blowing out the teams they should dominate. Things need to change and this team can't live off of past UW tradition, it needs to create it's own tradition. Don't get me wrong, I bleed purple and gold, it's in my blood with my grandfather, John Wiatrak, being an All-American at the UW in the 1930's. I wish the fans at Husky Stadium had the passion that I show for every game and I wish the coaches, especially Neu, would wipe those cocky smirks off their faces and get down to coaching some real UW football and if they want to continue to make excuses they should leave the program and get some coaches in there who bleed purple and gold just like me! Thanks for letting me vent, I feel better now. See you at Sun Devil Stadium.

A: No charge, Chris. Hopefully things will turn around quickly. It must be fun for you to look back at your grandfather's career with pride. That's very cool, indeed.
From Kev
Dear Dawgman:
Wow the USC game was pathetic. My question is wouldn't you think that a top flight RB (ie Bush) would love to become a Husky because of our extreme need of one. Also why does it seem that other teams get up more for playing us than we are to play them. It's almost lackadaisical. Do you believe we have a shot at a bowl?

A: Washington has a very legitimate shot at Bush. I visited with his uncle while in California, Darius Turner, and he believes that there is a very real shot at his nephew. Do I believe that Washington can go to a bowl? Sure. Two more wins are all it will take, and it will take this team's best shot to earn those at this point. If ASU lets down and Washington surprises them, then who knows what looms ahead? As far as the lack of emotion you asked about, all teams get up to play Washington. That is all part of the deal, and part of why kids want to come here. You are usually the biggest game on anyone's schedule. Hopefully that will remain the case.
From Arctic Wolf
Dear Dawgman:
I have seen a few people downing our D, Running game and Coach Neuheisel. I also read the post of the month in SW. The Pac 10 is not the league it was under James/Lambright. Up to this point (Oct 18, 02) there have only been 4 games in the league won by 16 or more points. There are no patsies in this league. Under James/Lambright there were a few. This is the best league top to bottom. I will be one of the first to admit there are some problems. I was one of the happy ones to get Coach Neuheisel because he is a offensive coach. I don't want to say anything bad about Coach Lambright except I hated those purple helmets. He also didn't seem to recruit very well. Neuheisel is a good coach and I think he has us going in the right direction. There are some problems but those problems can be fixed. I really wished people would get off our cover guys. As for the defense it all starts in the trenches. If the down linemen can't get pressure, hurries, and hits on the QB. Your going to get picked apart. Its when you get the QB thinking of other things that a blitz gives the QB something else to think about. You look at the greatest defenses in the history of the NFL or NCAA its the guys in the trenches that made them so good. Miami was so good on D last year because of the pressure from the down linemen. That also goes for a good running game its the guys in the trenches. The biggest problem for the football team this year is youth and lack of experience. I live in Arkansas and I do get to see a lot of the games through satellite. I love UW and I have purple blood in my veins. Why is it that our Defensive linemen don't get their hands up or jump in the air when a pass is about to be thrown? Are we just being man handled by the O-line or is this something not being taught? It would help if they could Knock down some passes. I would like to see us pull out some of the FSU plays that they ran with Dunn and Warrick. I think ET can be used in this way. Its a known fact that ET was being compared to these players coming out of high school. What are your thoughts on this?

A: Randy Hart teaches his guys to get their hands up. Terry Johnson. Jerome Stevens, and Kai Ellis have batted balls down. First you have to get close enough to the passer to do it, however. That seems to be the problem. As for ET, I'd love to see him used more. He is the most exciting player on the roster in my opinion, for his ability to break open a game at any time. I would not trade any return man in the country for him, and he'll only get better as a wide receiver.
Dear Dawgman:
Could you clear up the deal with Dashon Goldson. Is he a prospect this year (as he is listed in the prospects for this year) or doesn't he have to finish with two years of JC like everyone else? How is the recruiting for Donte Nicholson coming along? Is he a shoe in or is he going to OU like everyone else out of JC (or transfers) that are any good? Also is the kid named Carey for Olympia that is going to OU any good and why the heck did we lose him?

A: Goldson is a prospect but will need a JC degree in order to matriculate to UW. Nicholson is a definite UW target but Oklahoma is doing a fantastic job of recruiting him. He's listing them as his leader now, but since he didn't commit on his trip, all bets are off. Washington can certainly use him, as they could've Jabril Wilson last year (Tennessee). Jordan Carey is a solid player, yes. Oregon got his commit very early, they offered and he accepted, well before the UW had turned up any heat on him. That happens. In recruiting it's always best to focus on who you got, not who you didn't get, my reference to losing Wilson to Tennessee notwithstanding.
From John D
Dear Dawgman:
Last week (vs Ariz) was the worst defensive plan and execution I have ever witnessed by a U-Dub team. Why are they (whoever they are) waiting till the last 3 plays of a game to make substitutions? If Arizona does a better job of clock management we don't get that ball back... Reading some of the other comments, it looks as though we are all saying the same thing... Coach Neu needs to make changes now. It's real hard to find any positives with this "D".

A: Washington's pass defense is struggling mightily, that is no secret, but the run defense is very good. If you are looking for a positive, that is it. However, the win over Arizona was only a temporary lull in the storm if Washington cannot win at least one road game this year to ensure a winning record. ASU appears to be the best shot, since they are red hot and feeling good about themselves after a rare road win at Oregon, they'll let down. Right?
From Aloha Mike
Dear Dawgman:
I still don't like the ZONE. I think the defense should play MAN and get in the receiver's jersey and play more physical. The Huskies' opponents are doing it to them so why not do it back? Thanks or as they say in Hawaii "mahalo."

A: I'm inclined to agree with you, except that you have to make allowances for young corners. Nate and Sam will need some help until they get their feet wetter. I would rather see the Huskies simplify and go into a pop warner over-under zone. It's vanilla but I'm not sure it would give up as many big plays because of it's simplicity. However, you had better be able to get to the QB or he'll pick it apart. Get your four best guys to rush the passer and have the others keep the plays in front of them. I'm sure the run stopping would suffer with the safeties no longer "in the box", but that is why I'm not a defensive coordinator in the Pac-10 (grin). Would I want Tim Hundley's job? No thanks. Way too much blame when things go wrong.

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