Letters to the publisher

Thank you to those of you that submitted questions for the "Ask Dawgman" column. It was a brutal October. Now with the three northwest schools remaining, we will really see how badly this team wants it. Don James instilled the "Win the Northwest first" ethic back in the 1970's and it's held up pretty well. It will be put to a serious test for the next three weeks. And now on to the letters . . .

From DP McDawg
Dear Dawgman: You are still number one, after spending four years on your site(s). You recently addressed Husky football shoulder injuries and I wanted to ask that you consider another perspective. Is it possible that equipment or certain contact drills used by the current staff may have something to do with this problem? I only ask because freshmen, who haven't been in the program long enough to blame it on the conditioning/weight program, are also having problems with their shoulders. Compare to other Pac-10 schools.

Thanks and keep up the good work (Moni too).

A: Equipment is standard across college football. It must adhere to safety standards. You would most likely see similar injury statistics across the board if it were equipment related. I believe it is a combination of:
- more athletes playing sooner in their careers than ever before
- kids lifting weights at an earlier age and not being taught correctly
- bad luck

Washington has had so many, though, you have to wonder if it was their conditioning program. We'll see if Pete Kaligis' program is more shoulder friendly. Give it a year or two and we'll have a new set of control data.

From T -rev
Dear Dawgman:
Do you ever feel the downfalls of intimately knowing a program? Run of the mill fans (myself included) usually aren't nearly as conscientious as we think we are. Were never short on our precious narratives on how things are but they don't always paint the best picture of reality. I know that I was not satisfied with the prevailing wisdom of the day when Neu was with Colorado. People seemed to have a myopic memory with respect to the glory days under the McCartney regime.

I'd like to make a few observations: Neu left the U of Colorado with 70 returning scholarship players, over forty of which made last years run...I think that Neu has gotten more mileage out of Washington than Barnett has with Colorado. I watched a spring game at CU once when Taylor Barton was at the helm. I was really impressed with his efficiency and precision. I would have liked to see him get an opportunity behind an experienced O-line; I think he would have kept opposing defenses honest. I like Cody but at times he seems like a slinger, he's had great success so it's hard to second guess.

A: Thank you for your note. Barton is very accurate, true. But this is, was, and always has been, Cody's team. I appreciate your insights to Neu's years at CU.
From Hoganford
Dear Dawgman:
I thought we played are second best game of the year against UCLA. (Michigan first) and we lost both. I have been on the coaches asses as much as anybody, not the case against UCLA. Cody takes care of the ball better, we punt better, and we win by more than 21!! Lets win the next 3, win the Northwest, help the recruiting, and go to Las Vegas!! Keep up the good work. GO DAWGS!! THE ORIGINAL JELL-O MAN!

A: Thanks for the note, jell-o man. I also enjoyed the defensive effort against UCLA. It was a solid effort.
From BJA
Dear Dawgman:
My question concerns the o-line. Why are Zajac and Barnes considered the leaders of the line when neither of them has the experience or tenacity of Newton? Newton isn't a big talker but seems to go out and do the job when it comes to blocking his man. Very seldom does anyone get away from him. Any chance of a new o-line coach next year? I think Meyers lacks leadership qualities.

A: Barnes is considered the leader because of his presence on the field and the fact that he is a two-year starter at the most difficult position on the line, and just a RS-sophomore. Newton is pretty quiet, and laid back. I like Nick and it's too bad his ankle has been giving him trouble this year. I hope he can have a monster senior season next year. am pretty certain that Neuheisel will make some changes in the off-season but I won't speculate who until the season is over.
From Big Al
Dear Dawgman:
Great job keep up the good work! I noticed Tim Galloway in the game a lot against UCLA. Are they putting him in more often to get him ready for next year or because of Mahdavi's play? Also, what has happened to Chris Massey? Has Nate Robinson clearly beat him out to earn a starting nod? Lastly, has UW been able to find a replacement for their game with Navy in 2003?

A: Galloway played because he's been coming on in practices. He does need more experience if he is to be the heir apparent at MIK linebacker. At corner, Nate has beaten out Chris Massey. Robinson is aggressive and makes plays on the ball, which hasn't been the case for all of the corners this year and last. He is also a very confident young man. Navy has dropped off the schedule for next year but no replacement has been named.
From Bo Jo
Dear Dawgman:
I have been a Husky fan since 1963 and endured the good and bad times. Last week I sent an email stating the entire coaching staff should be fired. Your response was "a tad rash" and another Husky fan said foolish be patient. OK, I just watched the UCLA homecoming game on TV. 4 picks, 4 big drops on good throws, a 4-yard punt, a missed 40-yard field goal, and another loss. It is true that the coaching staff should not be entirely to blame and maybe I was a bit rash in my frustration. But it seems that when we need a big play we end up with dropped passes, poor kicking, poor special team play, and forced passes into double and triple coverage, and most of all poor play calls. We telegraph a lot of our play calls, you can see it before it happens. I am trying to be patient but a team that was rated # 9 in the country and # 2 in the PAC 10 with a 4 and 5 record soon to be 4 and 8 I have serious doubts on where we are going. Yes, we have youth, inexperience, and injuries but so does WSU. This will be my worst holiday season without my Huskies in a bowl game. I know, there is light at the end of the tunnel, I just do not see it. I certainly hope that something can make me feel better about the future of Husky football, I have my doubts. I will not give up.

A: There is no doubt that the coaching has not been up to par this year. It can't all be poor execution, which would be too coincidental with the amount of things that have gone wrong this year. I am not advocating firing them all, however. But staying home for the holidays this year would definitely send the message that change is needed. Neuheisel knows this and I believe will take appropriate action. Thanks for your note.
From Brenda F
Dear Dawgman:
No matter how well the Huskies play, they just come up short. Initially I thought Leon Neal was full of it when he said the Huskies would not win another game this year. After losing to USC, ASU, and UCLA, I'm am thinking Leon was prophetic in his comment. Is it just me or did the Huskies run well against UCLA? The Huskies didn't run enough. Suppose the Huskies lose against OSU, should they start playing younger inexperienced players who are not redshirting? My thinking is once the Huskies are no longer in a bowl picture, they should get inexperienced players more time in games. Currently the Huskies are turning the ball over more than they are forcing turnovers. That has to change.

A: Yes, the Huskies did run well against UCLA. Chris Singleton proved to be the best runner on the team and will hopefully prove it again against OSU on Saturday. Should the Huskies start playing younger players in their final two games if they lose to OSU? Absolutely, but not at the risk of unnecessarily burning any redshirt years. That would be a shame. And your point about turnovers is right on. That is killing this team.
From Chris P from Gilbert, AZ
Dear Dawgman:
All right all right. This time I won't dwell too much on the negatives. Reading a past letter to the publisher past Husky greats like Andy Mason, Chico Fraley, Dana Hall, Hillary Butler, Tommie Smith etc. were mentioned and it made the hair on my spine stand straight up because those guys were straight up STUDS and played true HUSKY football. That was UW football at it's finest! My question is how much do these past Husky greats have to do with the current program and do they ever address the team and let them know what the Husky football tradition and legacy is all about? I have to admit I have been very negative in my letters to you but I assure you that I bleed purple and gold in both good and bad seasons. The problem as I see it is that this team is lacking a definite leader and they have lost all confidence. I don't think the team is that far away as long as coach Neu makes the appropriate changes this off-season and we can establish a running game. By all accounts, we should have 2-3 young studs at RB next year and the OL can't get any worse, right? Our Husky nation needs to stay strong and it's great that so many of us are so pissed because it just shows the tradition that our football program has and that is one of excellence and the boys from the Palouse, although they are having a great season, could only dream of having such a tradition. GO DAWGS and keep up the great work.

A: Many former players do keep in contact with the program, but the only ones that really visit practice often are Greg Lewis and Steve Emtman, and that's because they are local. Warren Moon has addressed the team. Neu even brought in former Laker Magic Johnson one day to talk to them. Your point about leadership is duly noted. There don't appear to be any Tui's on this team, but maybe that isn't fair. Tui was special. This team needs to find it's own identity, for sure. Thanks for your letters.
From Ted
Dear Dawgman:
I have not heard much on the recruiting of a kicker and a JC punter. Will they be asked to walk on, are they being offered scholarships and who are we looking at? It is nice to see that the D line is getting better but I still think we need more bulk in the middle. Maybe the line is wearing down late in the game taking on heavier lineman. I think Terry Johnson would end up being a high draft pick if he was playing DE. What are our chances on getting the DL from Calif. (Jackson)? My last question is about David Lewis from Bethel. I heard that UW is worried about his speed, but he seems to always know where the ball is and what to do with it once it is there. Can we afford not to get this playmaker?

A: Kicker Michael Braunstein is being recruited, and current walk-on Evan Knutsen has an accurate leg. I agree with your assessment of Johnson at DE, he seems suited there because of his speed and instincts to get up field. Lawrence Jackson is most likely going to either USC or Miami, I don't think the UW is even on his radar. David Lewis is very much still on the recruiting radar, and seems interested in the UW.
From Craig D
Dear Dawgman:
I'm a rabid Dawg fan and love your website. Rick is a great recruiter. Is he a good head coach? You seem to believe (along with many others) that because he is a smart guy, he will turn this thing around. But this seems like blind faith when history has no record of him turning things around. Also, I seem to recall when Gilby first joined our program that he was able to turn the O-line into something spectacular within a very short period of time; why is it taking so long this time? Finally, I'm not buying the argument that we can't run because we have a young, inexperienced line. They were even younger last year, and they just don't seem to be improving. Wouldn't you expect a rookie line to have tremendous improvement between their first and second years? This is the power part of the learning curve.

A: I do think that Rick is a good head coach, I won't change that opinion because of one bad year. Of the eight seasons he's been a head coach, he's done pretty well. We'll learn a lot more about how good of a coach he is in how he deals with this adversity. The OL did look better against UCLA, you have to admit. Singleton hits the holes well and there were some to hit on Saturday. Dan Dicks seems to give them a spark at guard. But your point is well taken, this OL has under-performed in a big way when they've faced a good defensive front.
From Mark in Edmonds
Dear Dawgman:
Thanks for the answer regarding a question I asked you in your last "Ask Dawgman' column regarding RN's ability to turn it around because of his intelligence. These are the things that give me doubt about our Head Coach. Help me out here please, I appreciate your site and am looking for another perspective to give me hope. 1)Washington has given up an average of 26 points per game under RN. Their defense has never been good under him. 2)Other than the Defensive line, what area has improved since the home game last year against Michigan? 3)Their Special Teams have been largely ineffective haven't they? How many blocks (fg, punts)did the Huskies allow last year? 12? How many did they have? 3. 4) Their organizational skills speak volumes this year. Say no more on that subject. 5)RN says he didn't see this coming. How could he not? They gave up 32 pts a game last year. 6)Not listening to the other Coaches about the need to go into the opposing teams venue the day before the game to get a feel for the stadium. grass, where is the wind coming from, does the field have a crown to it? That to me is absurd. How does a kid envision the success that he is going to have if he doesn't see what the ambience of the stadium is going to be like? 7) If RN were that intelligent, wouldn't he have made some changes in his staff? I mean 26 points allowed a game for 4 years is not intelligent. is it? And he was doing that with a veteran defense, so please don't mention the youth. Thanks Dawgman. Great site. I appreciate your time! By the way, the way RN handled the Curtis Williams situation, he can stay as long as he wants. I just don't think he is a very good football coach.

A: Thanks for your note Paul. I do think Rick Neuheisel has a bright young football mind and pays extreme attention to detail. None of that has shown itself on the field this year, unfortunately. Are changes coming? I believe they have to be. Especially if the team doesn't show marked improvement over the next three weeks. The special teams killed them all year, but never so bad as they did against UCLA on Saturday. It was woeful. For the final three games, two are very winnable. OSU has a redshirt freshman QB, Oregon's secondary is the worst one I've EVER seen, only WSU looks like the Huskies would need some breaks to win. That is how I see it, and how this team responds over these games will tell us a lot about the coach, or whether or not he's lost this team already.
From Paul in Bulldog land
Dear Dawgman:
Well Dawgman it's more of the same. It's been a frustrating season so I'm going to vent. After this past weekend I'm out of words for excuses. I just don't know where the Dawgs will go from here. How can a Bruin team with a back-up freshman QB and a freshman TB come in to Husky Stadium and beat us? It's been a very disappointing season and all Dawg fans out there are feeling the same thing I'm feeling. I know you've probably answered or seen the same questions over and over again week-in week-out. You recently answered a question regarding the Purple Reign and the Purple Haze defenses of the past. You went into detail regarding their success. One in particular is the speed of the athletes that played in those defenses. From what I've seen with our defense last year and this year, it seems like our DB's have the speed to support the pass rush it's just a matter of knowing when to turn around and make a play on the ball. I saw it last year in the Holiday Bowl with Chris Massey where he was step for step with the WR's but never turned around to make a play on the ball. I saw it this year in the Michigan game and USC game. Do you really think that with our current athletes on defense that a 4-6 scheme won't work? Are our LB's that slow compared to the great LB's of the past ie. Chico Fraley, Jaime Fields and DE Andy Mason that we can't go back to that scheme? In the early 90's we also had Dave Hoffman and Ink Aleaga. Both LB's weren't as fast as the other 3 mentioned above but there's one thing Hoffman and Aleaga had: HEART. Those two guys played like there was no tomorrow. I remember Ink breaking his leg and came back in that same season to play. If anybody that has some heart this year would be Zajac. We need more of the Hoffman's and the Aleaga's to win at this level and right now we don't have them. The team needs to play like there's no tomorrow. Play aggressive and attack the ball. This has been lacking last year and it has been lacking this year. We've become so passive that other teams don't respect Husky Football anymore. We've become so reactive that offenses know they can throw the ball on us at anytime on any given day. I just don't know anymore but there's one thing for sure, most Husky fans want our current Defensive Coordinator fired and find someone who can instill some aggression and fire in these young men so that we can start playing REAL HUSKY FOOTBALL!!! Thanks Dawgman for your site. It gives us DAWG Fanatics a place to vent. You have a good day.

A: I don't think that the 4-6 would work in the Pac-10, not without an Emtman/Jones/Rodgers type pass rush. Those guys could bring the fear of God with just three, which made the rest of the defense that much stronger. Thanks for the letter, and you have a good day as well, my Husky friend.
From Dennis G
Dear Dawgman:
I know Gilby is something of an institution at the UW. He is a reputed offensive genius. This year our offense has the best overall set of skill players in school history. Yet our offense doesn't look to me as though it's being coordinated by an offensive genius. I know we're putting up yards. But the lack of deception and creativity in the overall scheme, particularly on the sure-pass downs, has me baffled. By design they rotate receivers every play causing Reggie to be on the field on only about 2\3 of the plays--max. Do you think the offensive scheme is "vanilla"? Or are the players not as good as we thought? Why isn't deception used more given all the weapons we have? As usual, thanks for operating a great site.

A: I think the lack of a running game has really hamstrung what Gilby can do. He is by far the most "pissed off" looking coach after the games, so he is not enjoying himself this year by any stretch. I don't know if he is being overruled on his play calls or not, so I wouldn't place all of the blame on him for the lack of offensive fireworks. Defenses are putting eight in coverage against his offense. Rotating Reggie in and out is appropriate. At times it's good to watch from the sidelines for perspective. I think they are using him about right, and it forces defenses to change up what they are doing (doubling him every down).

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