Thank you to those of you that submitted questions for the "Ask Dawgman" column. The mail is coming in fast and furious now. Thanks for those that took the time to write. This Saturday's game will tell us a lot about where the season will go. Having said that, I'm on record right now as saying that Cody Pickett could be the best pure passer to ever wear a UW uniform. And now on to the letters . . .

From Earl B
Dear Dawgman:
Great Site!!! How are the players recruited in 2002 doing thus far in the program? Are they growing or stagnating?

A: The guy on the OL to watch in this class is Clay Walker. He's a beast. Robin Kezirian seems to have a nasty streak as well and is doing great. Injuries to Stanley Daniels, Donnie Mateaki, and Nathan Rhodes have benched their progress. I love what Kenny James can do. On defense, I absolutely LOVE Brandon Ala. That kid is strong and is a natural at getting up field. He's also pretty darn thick so he'll be at 250 pounds in no time. Nate Robinson and Matt Fountaine appear to be solid talents in the secondary for years to come. Jordan Slye is working at safety but I'm not sure he'll stay there. I could see him at OLB or TE as well, he's still skinny right now. Shelton Sampson is so fast, I hope that he finds the field. Anyone that can run like that needs to be on the field learning, whether it is at corner or TB.
From Josh in Alaska
Dear Dawgman:
Cody Pickett puts up huge numbers every week but is not winning games, he seems to take a long time to make decisions, and often makes poor ones. You don't see him laying out passes in front of his receivers like Palmer was doing to us, often you see our receivers stopping and going back to catch his passes or try to bat them from a defender, which is a total waste of the best talent the Huskies have, fast receivers. Is this how the coaches are drawing up the plays, or is Cody just not putting the ball where it should go. I want to know why Barton never gets a shot to infuse something to this team, not just a couple minutes but maybe starting the second half, when Pickett isn't getting them in the end zone. Who cares about how many records he breaks if he can't score. Maybe bringing in Barton will help raise the competition level at quarterback.

A: If Pickett were removed from this offense, it would suffer. He is the engine and his poor choices are usually out of either competitiveness or the fact that defenses know that he has no running attack and they can drop seven into coverage. He knows that he has to do it himself, and his throws have to be perfect sometimes because it's very difficult to find space against seven defenders. Pickett is the best pure passer I've ever seen in a Husky uniform. Yes, he makes mistakes, but he also throws a pretty ball, has a rocket for an arm, and I have yet to see a better quarterback in the college ranks this year than our own #3. I love Taylor Barton, he's a great kid and solid QB, but this is clearly Cody Pickett's team.
From Richard Pelto
Dear Dawgman:
One of the problems resulting from so much Dawgman access to so many people is that any gap between expectations and reality creates such emotional furor that common sense (maturity?) is often lost in the shuffle. Most fans care deeply about sports because of the need for the highs of victory that are so sweet after the lows of defeat. But most fans seem to have little understanding of the large number of variables involved in football. In any one game there can be 2200 potential mistakes made by your team alone, and that is not counting all the variables involved in health, injuries and preparation for a game. So immediate "answers" are called for after each succeeding loss, and a few "scenarios" answers seems to satisfy this need without awareness that a few adjustments may only bring the illusion of a fix. Imagine the needless agony of the Nebraska fans now, and the heat brought on the revered but aging leader of Penn State the last few years. But the past has shown that the best course for people who truly care about football is continue waving your voodoo charms, and have a little faith that luck, more knowledgeable coaches than you, and all the factors that make a quality football program, will someday bring the kind of string of victories we relished just two years ago. I still vividly remember the 1969 season (1 win, 9 defeats), and I remember even more vividly all the wonderful victories and successes the program has known since then. Be patient.

A: Thanks for sharing your thoughts Richard.
From Paul from Bulldog land
Dear Dawgman:
Hey Dawgman thanks for all the good responses on your site. Really appreciate the feedback. My question this time for you is, why are the huskies having such a hard time pressuring QBs? In all 7 games this season, the opposing QBs have picked our secondary apart. Palmer had a field day this past Saturday and probably due to lack of pressure from the frontline. Do you think that our pass defense will ever improve this season so that we can salvage some kind of respectability? Thanks again for your feedback.

A: The quarterback pressure isn't as bad as it seems, after looking at the films. It's when a quarterback breaks contain that the Huskies get into deep trouble. Then they tend to be more tentative, once a QB has gotten outside the pocket and outside the DE. Pressure from the DL has not been consistent, to be sure. But those guys have improved every week in my opinion. Randy Hart is doing a fine job with those boys. I think the defense will go to a more man-to-man this week. We'll see how it pans out. Also, in the nickel, pay particularly close attention to the cornerbacks. You may see a surprise, or you may not.
From Mike
Dear Dawgman:
I think it is time to bench Newell. He is not getting back in pass coverage, and we keep getting beat deep. USC had two passing td's of over 40 yds. Who is the true FS, Evan Benjamin or James Sims Jr. Also, could one of them be converted to corner. We lack a shutdown corner (how about Reggie at db) lol, I wish. Is there anyway we can get Cooper, Mahdavi, and JoLo on the field at the same time. JoLo is a stud in the making, and Cooper has been all over the field this year. Thanks...Love the site

A: Jimmy played excellent against USC. That was his best game as a Husky in my book. On the long TD to Williams, it was confusion between Cunningham and Carothers, and on the Colbert bomb it was man coverage with Nate not getting a good jam at the line. Neither was Newell's fault. Your idea of Sims at corner sounds great to me, he's very fast and as athletic as they come. Getting Lobendahn onto the field would require moving Madhavi off, or moving Cooper to SAM. There's no way you move Cooper from WIL, he is the best tackler in the bunch and has been all over the field, as you said.
Dear Dawgman:
Hey, I was wondering if Craig Chambers was going to get some playing time as a freshman or if he was going to redshirt?

A: Way too early to tell, as he is now just completing his senior season. An ankle sprain has hampered him, so hopefully that won't bother him at the UW. It shouldn't. I always hope players redshirt but if he's good enough, he'll play. He'll have to compete with Reggie, ET, Eddie Jackson, and Justin Robbins next year, but since they rotate in up to six WRs, his chances are pretty good if he learns the system.
From Charlie
Dear Dawgman:
Since we are in such desperate need for defensive backs, how about Shelton Sampson? I understand he is a great athlete but #4 at tailback. Is there a consideration to move him to shore up our pass defense??? Please give a look forward to the defensive backfield of 2003.

A: I would love to see Shelton at corner. Anyone with that kind of speed, let's see it on the field. If he cannot beat out Kenny James, Rich Alexis, and Chris Singleton next year, I would love to see him given a shot at corner. Especially if Roc Alexander's torn labrum doesn't heal properly.
From Jerry B
Dear Dawgman:
What is the status of Nathan Rhodes & Stanley Daniels?? Thank you for your informative column.

A: Nathan Rhodes is back in California to have surgery on two bulging discs in his back. He hopes to return to school this winter and participate either this spring or next fall. Daniels underwent shoulder surgery to repair a pre-existing condition and will be back in the spring.
From Bill Bolstad
Dear Dawgman:
Since the huskies can't do much on our offensive line to block or make holes for our running game, why can't the coach get rid of all of the three hundred plus pound guys, and put in lighter guys around 260-270 pound guys so we get rid of big, clumsy, and awkward for guys that can have faster footwork, and able to keep up with the defensive line trying to come around the end, and the defensive line is usually be about 240-250, so we would have enough bulk to withstand the onslaught of the defense, and who was the running back that broke off a long run of recent. I have two more question if the coach doesn't seriously improve by next year obviously a major amount of husky fans are going to want the coach gone, so let's say theoretically he gets fired around the same time coach Spurrier gets fired from the Redskins would we go after him, and do you think he would come over to this climate, and my last question is why didn't we go after coach Rick Pitino when he was looking for a job, because obvious just like Spurrier their names alone could seriously bring in the talent without having to try all that hard.

A: 270-pound linemen are fine if they can handle 300-pound defensive tackles. Also, I don't think the answer is to abandon the run altogether. It's OK to commit to being a passing team, but you have to at least augment that type of attack with other threats or defenses will kill it. I think the current OL does a marvelous job of protecting Cody for how often he throws. By the way, Steve Spurrier would never coach at Washington. Why? Because his ego wouldn't let him go back to the college ranks fur under $4M per season and he'd never get it here. I think that is moot, though. Rick will stay here and I think next season will be an amazing one, I really do.
From Aloha Mike
Dear Dawgman:
After watching the Steelers on Monday night, I am totally convinced that a steady diet of BLITZING is the only answer for the Husky D. Pittsburgh put the fear of God in Manning and rendered him ineffective by knocking the stuffing out of him. He had some good passes but for the most part he couldn't hit a bull in the okole with a banjo. I watch many many games a week and the teams that seem the most successful are the ones that seem to let it all hang out on defense.

A: You may see a more aggressive approach to stopping the pass and getting after the quarterback on Saturday. A QB that has to react to a pass rush is certainly more apt to make mistakes. The question is, does Washington have the athletes in the secondary to allow them to bring the house against ASU? And can they still stop the run? I think we'll find out on Saturday because the zone defenses have not worked to date.
From Disgusted Dawg
Dear Dawgman,
Why haven't we offered Kurt Ware? His brother is a great, if under-utilized, TE for us and exactly the type of physical football player that we need more of. I'll admit that I haven't seen Kurt play, but on paper he is a specimen to say the least, and the other offers he's received seem to indicate that he can at least play the game. It's like a slap in the face to the whole Ware family. I am mystified by everything that Neu is doing right now. I second the motion that Randy Hart is the only coach doing his job.

A: They haven't offered Kurt yet because they are still evaluating him. It is still early. You never offer a kid before you are sure that he is the guy you want at that position. There is a distinct pecking order when it comes to recruiting, kids know it, and coaches know it. You have to trust the coach's evaluation process and not read the recruiting hyperbole, mostly written by folks that don't play football. Either that or you hope to bring in a new coach that has an evaluation process that you do trust.
From NatPat
Dear Dawgman:
How do you think defensive end Manase Hopoi is doing for his first year on the field? Is he improving? Do you see future improvement?

A: Manase is doing well for a first-year player. He gets dominated by bigger, stronger guys because he isn't as strong as he's going to be and has to rely on technique for just about everything right now. He is best when moving up field right now. Just wait until he gets another year of weight training under his belt, he's going to be very good.
From Charlie M
Dear Dawgman:
What would it take to get Bob Davie has Defense Coordinator?? Would he even consider it??

A: Would Davie take a DC job after being the head guy at ND? Maybe, if the cash was right. It might take $400K base though, and that is more than any coordinator in the Pac-10 makes by a fair margin. There is no question that he ran some great defenses at ND, as Dick Tomey did for Hawaii and Arizona.

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