Ask Dawgman 11/20

Thank you to those that took the time to write in letters. WOW, what a difference two weeks can make, huh? The emails have been much more fun to read lately thanks to a two-game winning streak. And now, the Apple Cup is here against #3 WSU. And now on to the letters . . .

From Eugene C
Dear Dawgman: What happen to that Jackson kid who has the same height as Reggie Williams as a receiver? I haven't heard too much from him after an outstanding game against Michigan. Why are the Huskies still recruiting wide receivers? They already got LOI from three. Thank for your great site.

A: Jackson is playing on special teams but is now not in the four wide-out set any longer after dropping some balls. Charles Frederick and Patrick Reddick are getting the reps that Eddie was getting earlier in the season. Washington isn't recruiting receivers, per se. They are recruiting athletes that can run. When you can get speed, you get it. Speed never slumps.
From Ivar Dawg
Dear Dawgman: I have long believed that in football, it's "What's up front that counts." RB's do not create running lanes, "O" linemen do. Corners and Safeties will be helpless if "D" linemen cannot pressure QB's. My question is: Is there strong emphasis by the present Husky Staff on recruiting linemen, both sides of the ball? They have obviously done a commendable job recruiting skilled position players. The 2002 season suggests to me that their successes on "Up Front" recruiting was not as commendable. Is this observation correct? If not, why not?

A: Washington did a fine job of bringing in OL last year. This year the talent is a little thinner, and the Huskies need tackle-types. Clayton Walker, Robin Kezirian, and Stanley Daniels are all interior guys. Nathan Rhodes was to be a tackle but his back may not let him ever play a down, time will tell. This year the Huskies are looking for more tackle types (long arms, taller), and there aren't as many of these types out there. Interior DL is an area they need help. Leon Drummer would've been a nice addition but he was Cal bound. When his grandparent passed away on his visit to Seattle, the Husky coaches knew that he was gone. Now they are putting the heat on Brandon Mebane, who could help a lot. He's not big but he's a phenomenal athlete.
From Big Al
Dear Dawgman: 1) Which of the freshmen this year that are being redshirted, will make the two-deeps next year?
2) What are the chances of getting Donte Nicholson to come back to UW from JC?
3) Do you see Cory Jones making an impact next year from what you have seen on the practice field? Keep up the good work!

A: I think of the frosh that are being redshirted this year, Clayton Walker, Kenny James, and Brandon Ala have the best shot at moving up the two-deeps. In regards to your second question, I think Donte will be a Dawg. The fact that he didn't commit to Oklahoma on his visit spoke volumes. He is looking at USC but I believe he'll wind up at Washington. The Husky coaches and the Mt. SAC coaches have a very healthy respect for one another. Cory Jones would make a nice linebacker in my opinion. I'm not sure he runs well enough to be a safety, but as a SAM he could be a very early contributor.
From Tyson Y
Dear Dawgman: Great site Dawgman! I won't dwell on this year I have moved on and want information about future Huskies that will prevent debacles like this year. So, how many scholarships does the UW have to offer this year? And of the top defensive players available this year who does Washington have a shot at? Mebane, Ellis, and Jackson appear to be monster D-lineman. Does Neu have a chance at bringing them to Montlake. Also is Donte Nicholson a lock to come to the UW. And finally how good of a chance does the UW have at the comer out of SFCC. Any other thoughts on good defensive players Neu and the Huskies are looking at would be welcome as well. Thanks for all the great work!!!

A: I love Washington's chances at Brandon Mebane. Lawrence Jackson, no way. He was either going to go to USC or FSU the whole time, and was just telling reporters anything he thought they'd want to hear, having fun with them. He finally revealed USC was his final choice. Ellis isn't looking at Washington to my knowledge. Nicholson is not a lock for the UW, he's committed to Rick twice, so the odds are pretty good. But Chris Solomona should be a lesson to not count any chickens before they hatch. The corner out of CCSF, Chijoke Onyenegcha, is very fast but I'm not sure how serious he is about Washington at this time. He is still listing them as of press time though.
From Aloha Mike
Dear Dawgman: The Huskies have been and always will be my favorite college team. I have, all year, been pulling what hair I have left out at watching what the Dawgs do or don't on third down. First and second downs, the Dawgs seem to play very well. When third down rolls around, they pull a DE and a LB and replace them with two DB'S. This is not working because they go from aggressive D to passive D period. They, the DB'S, can't cover with SIX DB'S so why don't the coaches play a straight defense and rush the hell out of the other team? What is to be lost? They are getting beat anyway.

A: I agree, when you wrote this note the defense was getting beat because they were thinking and reacting too slowly. The defense sure has turned it around the past three games. Nate Robinson has been a huge addition and Derrick Johnson has confidence that he hasn't had since his freshman season. It's been fun to watch, and the linebackers are now finding proper depth on their drops. I am really happy for Tim Hundley that his kids are executing his defense now. The front four got good pressure on Derek Anderson and Jason Fife. Let's hope they do so on Jason Gesser as well. As for the nickel package, it was fun to see Wilbur Hooks back there at free safety against the Ducks, wasn't it? James Sims is back for WSU, though.
From Duane
Dear Dawgman: My Husky roots go back to the early 1940s when I used to go under the fence to sneak in to Husky Stadium. I really enjoy your site. I check it daily. This year has been really frustrating. It seems to me that both of our lines are being out-muscled. When Steve Emtman was asked the secret of his success he replied that it was his leg strength. He did not come to us as a can't fail stud but developed his success while he was here. It is too late to do much this year, but shouldn't we be doing more to develop the physical capabilities of our players. Go Dawgs.

A: The offensive line had it's share of difficulties this year, but I'm not sure strength is the issue. I think it's more technique and health related. Against Oregon the OL looked much more in sync with the option thrown in. But this OL is not as physical as most Husky OLs, and part of that is due to injury. These guys are far from 100% healthy. On the DL, both Joshua Miller and Jerome Stevens are 400+ benchers and Terry Johnson is right there. Tui A and Manase Hopoi need to work on strength, but neither of them has extensive experience in the weight room yet, so give them time. I thought the DL improved each week this year, they really worked hard. Josh Miller has shown me that he'll be a force in the Pac-10 for the next two years.
From Jell-O Man
Dear Dawgman: It was nice to see Hooks on the other side of the ball. I told you before that Tui should be doing that. I wouldn't be afraid to try E.T. either. Last year in the Texas game, I wanted to see Reggie in there down the stretch on D. Remember Deon Sanders is a Pro Football Hall of Famer with 3 career tackles!!! I would love to see Carothers moved to L.B. He is the hardest hitter, and the surest tackler we have, but not a great cover guy. Beat the Cougs!

A: I remember your note about Zach moving back to defense. I agree with your assessment that ET would flourish at DB, he is such an amazing athlete. Carothers has played a lot of SAM linebacker this year, but many fans are underestimating his leadership in the secondary. He is the glue back there and the younger guys look to him for guidance. He's where he needs to be for the rest of this year, at least.
From Brenda F
Dear Dawgman: With Donte Nicholson and Dashon Goldson both safety JC players interested in Washington, is it unlikely Washington would take both of them? What are the redeeming qualities of each. Then Washington has had three verbals so far at receiver. Are they done at that position? Is it me, or does it seem like there aren't as many highly touted offensive lineman as they were last year?

A: Washington could easily take both Nicholson and Goldson, as they will be in different classes. Goldson is still another season away from earning his AA while Nicholson is due to sign this year. Nicholson is a bigger body while Goldson is lanky and quick. Washington is done recruiting receivers, per se, but they will continue to recruit kids with speed. If they are receivers, then so be it. There aren't as many highly touted OL this year, you are correct. But OL can develop late, so the key will be which coaching staffs can best project future talent out of raw ability in high school.
From Chris in Gilbert, AZ
Dear Dawgman: NOW THAT'S HUSKY FOOTBALL!!!! As I listened to my beloved Huskies over the internet and Bob Rondeau shouting "Touchdown Washington" it reminded me of the days of old. Where was this passion for the game a few weeks ago? I, like many others, have been very critical of the coaching staff this year with good reason, they have simply been out-coached and outsmarted most of the season. I still believe that changes need to be made in order for our DAWGS to be contenders next year. However, I think our demolishing of Oregon proves that a wounded DAWG is very dangerous one and that just maybe, this team and coaching staff realized what the HUSKY tradition and legacy is all about. You have to go out kick some a$$ and earn it. Gone are the days of putting the purple and gold on and just dominating the Pac-10. There are huge lessons to be learned from the Oregon game, and if utilized properly, this team can be very special next year. I believe the talent that was red-shirted this year can be a great help and after enduring a season like this one, lessons have been learned the hard way. Keep up the great work and GO DAWGS!!!

A: Thanks for the note, Chris. Go Dawgs!
From Brenda F
Dear Dawgman: Of the quarterbacks the Huskies are recruiting, who would suit the Husky system best? I'd like the Huskies to get one with ability to throw deep and run the option efficiently. What is the percentage of Washington landing Reggie Bush or Donte Nicholson?

A: For the UW "system", I like either Johnny Durocher or Richard Kovalchek. Durocher is a Oregon commit and will most likely stick with it, but he sure would look good in purple and gold. He's a great kid with a strong arm. The reports of his performance at the Eugene Nike camp are exaggerated – this kid is a winner. Kovalchek is a smart and efficient quarterback who appears very mobile. I'd love to see him here. As for the Dawgs' shot at Bush, it's very good if you believe his uncle, Darius Turner. I spoke at length with DT down in Beverly Hills and he says the Dawgs are a very real possibility for Reggie. As for Nicholson, I stopped giving odds for him after he switched to OSU on signing day when they thought they could get him in. All indications are that he'll either be a Husky or a Trojan, with Oklahoma also doing well recruiting him. If you held a gun to my head, I'd say Washington right now.
From Michael C
Dear Dawgman: As a long time Husky fanatic, I am a bit disappointed in the vicious attacks on the program by many fans and press. The PAC-10 is very balanced this year, and throwing in Michigan, the Husky's record is not that surprising. Remember, in recent years UW pulled out many games late that could have easily been lost, resulting in a record similar to this year's. However, it does appear that the team has a few obvious problems. First and foremost, it is clear that this is the worst run blocking (not much better in pass protection) offensive line in memory. But should this be a surprise? None of the current offensive linemen, other than the young Dan Dicks and to a lesser extent the injured Elliot Zajac, were highly recruited, and it is still a young line. Similarly, the lack of pass rush should not be surprising, as none of the current defensive lineman were highly recruited. The talk of "establishing" or "committing" to establishing the run is nonsense. It reminds me of Sonny Sixkiller's senior year, when Jim Owens insisted on running the ball for "balance", despite the fact that like this year, the Huskies are excellent in the passing game but horrible at the running game. After just watching the Raiders destroy the Broncos while all but totally ignoring the run, and watching Sixkiller's last year and this year being great disappointments, it is obvious to me that our only hope is to stop trying to do what we can't (run the ball), and rely almost exclusively on a varied passing attack. Cody must also learn not to force as many balls to covered receivers. The other clear problem is a poor defensive scheme against the pass. I believe we have the athletes to cover, but the scheme is clearly not working, and the defensive backs often look tentative and confused. Let the corners cover man to man aggressively, and let the safeties truly be safeties---cover the receivers deep if they get past the corner. The good news is that next year should be much better, with most everyone back and some excellent recruits beginning to play (I can only hope that Nathan Rhodes, our most important recruit, can come back from his back injury), and I expect a top 10 national finish, especially with a new defensive scheme. I believe Rick Neuheisel is one of the premiere coaches and recruiters in the nation, and I can only hope that all the overly negative talk does not discourage him and force him to consider leaving the Huskies for the NFL (Rick, PLEASE don't, most informed fans truly appreciate you.) Dawgman, I really respect your opinion, so please comment.

A: Your points are well taken, Michael. At the time you wrote this letter the Huskies were taking a beating in the papers and on the message boards. Vicious? Maybe, but nothing unexpected from a high-profile program that is used to winning. I do wish to contend your reliance on strictly passing. When you are that one-dimensional, it is an open invitation to sit in an 8-man zone that is three deep, meaning that your three-four receivers are always going to have at least two guys watching their every move. It makes life difficult for a quarterback to find open guys. Against Oregon (albeit it was a terrible secondary, perhaps the worst in the history of college football), Rich Alexis' ability to find holes and run for four-five yards on first down gave offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson many more options and plays to run. Suddenly the playbook gets a lot bigger. I'm not sure this team needs to change schemes yet. When they are executing, as they have been in the last three games, it works. When your cornerbacks have confidence and are turning around and making plays on the ball, it works. When your linebackers are dropping into the proper depths and giving the quarterback a small envelope in which to put the ball, it works. And when your defensive line can collapse the pocket, it all works exceptionally. Why it took so long to get it working is an issue that must be addressed, but I think it will be.

As for Rick leaving for the NFL, I doubt it. His contract with the UW is very good. The only types of jobs I could see him entertaining to leave here would be for coach/GM type jobs like Holmgren has in Seattle (for now).

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