Letters to the Publisher
From Anthony F
Dear Dawgman: 1.) Who do you think we'll end up playing in our bowl?
2.) In your opinion what contributed to Washington's turnaround in the last three games this year? The big win against Oregon State was totally unexpected. Then, to win big the next week at Autzen was amazing. What do you think did it? Change in attitude? Change in coaching, etc?
3.) Next year do you think either Pickett or Reggie have a shot at the Heisman?(allowing for East Coast bias). Who has the better chance? Do you think Washington will mount a publicity effort for either one?
4.) Do you think RN's NCAA problems are finally behind him? Is there anything coming down the pipeline that we all should know about? Any pending "investigations"?
Thanks for a wonderful site. Gotta go now cause my wife's chewing me out for being on Dawgman again! Merry Christmas.
A: 1) I think Washington will play Pitt in the Insight Bowl, but of course, that's just speculation. Pitt is very good, and should've beaten Miami this year on the road.
2) The turnaround came when Nate Robinson was inserted into the starting lineup, and when Rick Neuheisel had a meeting with his team to tell them that the attention to details and discipline would be intensified. It was a change in preparations. Players that were late to meetings were no longer just spoken to, they were asked to leave. Mistakes in drills at practice were not tolerated. The drill was stopped and rerun and if another mistake happened, the player was yanked from the drill. It worked. I address this in the next issue of Sports Washington.
3) I think either Cody or Reggie will have a very legitimate shot at the Heisman. I think Pickett would have the better opportunity, as that award lends itself well to quarterbacks that pile up huge stats. Expect the UW Athletic Department to have a campaign.
4) RN's problems will never be behind him, because he is a smart guy that many in the NCAA feel may be too smart. If you look at the violations he addressed in December about his tenure at CU, most of them were not breaking the rule, but rather violating "the spirit" of the rule. Those that make the rules get very pissed about that kind of stuff because it makes them look stupid. I would expect that they'll be on Neuheisel for as long as they care to be.
Tell your wife that there are a lot of worse sites on the internet that you could be surfing. See if that buys you any additional time on our page. Thanks, and happy holidays.
From Ron S
Back in October when the Huskies were reeling, I sent you a note complaining about the coaching at Montlake and asking about potential assistant coaching changes in the off-season. Many others were wondering the same thing. I know first hand that some ex-Husky players, and local high school coaches were also questioning the style of coaching at UW. Well, I'll be the first one to commend and congratulate Rick Neuheisel and the staff on the job they did to turn it around. To Rick's credit, when it got tough, he didn't get defensive and whine, he just got the Husky defense and offense going and won. To go from 4-5 to 7-5 with two big road victories in very hostile rival stadiums was potentially legendary. Especially if next year the winning ways can continue. My question now is given the earlier problems followed by the November turn around, do you see any changes looming on the staff? I know that Steve Axman may leave for a head coaching job, but what about other coaches. Has saving the season saved some guys their jobs, or could there still be staff changes after the bowl game? Thanks for all your efforts.
A: There is no doubt that a lot of the pressure was relieved after the UW ran off three impressive wins in a row and restored what Husky football was all about. Still, I do think that you will see some attrition on the staff. My guess is you'll see one or two coaches leave for other jobs. I won't speculate which ones, as that is not fair, nor is it fair to assume that their leaving is a result of something negative. I mean, Tom Williams left for Stanford and Tony Alford left for Iowa State and both received pay raises and increased responsibilities at their new jobs.
From Sam Jo
Hey Dawgman, I was wondering what you thought of the Dawgs' outlook for the 2004 and future seasons. I know that next season is supposed to be OUR year with so many players returning, but what about the following seasons? Do we have the manpower to fill the needed spots, with quality players, that the departing players would leave behind? It would be a downer to have a great 2003 campaign and then just fall to the wayside the following seasons...Much like Oregon did this year. Thanks.
A: What you are really asking about is whether or not Neuheisel and his staff have evaluated talent and recruited well enough to fill the holes. I believe they have, but next year will go a long ways in determining that. You really need to see a players play in the system for one or two seasons before you get a feel for how they may help. After Cody Pickett leaves, it will be a battle between Paus and Stanback for the job. Neither one has Cody's skills to this point, but one of them may explode next year. Quarterbacks particularly make the biggest strides as they get more reps. Paus has had more reps to date, thus he is more accurate and comfortable. Stanback will undoubtedly be more comfortable after another year behind Pickett. The keys in 2004 will be how well the QB position plays, and how well Clayton Walker, Robin Kezirian, Brandon Ala, Donny Mateaki, Tui Alailefaleula, and a JC guy or two develop. A TB will need to step up, too. If not Chris Singleton, then Kenny James. I doubt the Huskies will fall off too much, because I like the talent in the program. Oregon fell off because some bad recruiting years caught up with them.
From Grim Dawg
I just read your Ask Dawgman column and stumbled upon "Josh's" letter. Mostly, I applaud your measured response to his comments. It was shameful that he would condone such actions as the bottle throwing that went on during the Apple Cup. I believe that he is deeply disturbed and misinformed. He first points out that the Husky season record is sub par and therefore not a justification for Husky fans to be on the field. Also, he mentions that the Martin Stadium crowd is closer to the field secondary to a lack of track facilities. According to Josh, these are reasons to throw bottles at players, press and fans on the field. I hope that isn't the type of logic that they are teaching at Pullman. In a related note, I am very disappointed with WSU and the authorities regarding their inaction in disciplining and perhaps prosecuting fans throwing bottles. I haven't heard of any of this going on and therefore presume that nothing is being done. A few years ago in an NFL game in NY, fans threw snowballs and many were prosecuted, fined, barred from the stadium. They used video and still photo footage in identifying the offenders, and I have seen multiple photos of students in clear view offending in the same way. Isn't a snowball a more benign projectile than a glass bottle? It is assault, pure and simple. These so-called fans are adults. All over 18, and should be subject to disciplinary action. Otherwise, inaction is tantamount to telling people that it is okay to act like hooligans.
A: I believe that the bottom line is that security in Martin Stadium must be improved. I wasn't even searched on my way in, nor was I required to open my laptop computer. If searches are conducted, some will get through but most of the bottles would be eliminated, in my opinion. Video cameras have been used at sporting events for the purposes you mention, but I still think prevention is the best method. If you don't have a bottle, you cannot throw it.
What's the chances of Paul Arnold getting drafted?? if so what round?? If not do you think he has a chance to get invited and make a NFL team.
A: Paul didn't tear it up this year, so I'm not sure many teams would be willing to take a chance with a draft pick on him. However, his size and speed will certainly earn him invites to NFL camps. He's 6-2, 205, and runs a 4.4. That's enough to catch interest.
From TD Brown
What happened to Donte Nicholson? He is now a ASU commit? What did the Dawgs do wrong in recruiting a guy who had previously committed to them? The same thing happened last year with the DE who went to Oregon and the lineman to Oregon State, Lockhart I believe it was. Who are we left recruiting at Safety? probably nobody who could make and impact like Donte correct? Thanks, love the site.
A: Nicholson is going to be a Sun Devil. It is a great opportunity for him, as they have three safeties in their base defense (3-3-5). Chris Solomona was a tough loss last year. Brandon Lockhart was not really re-recruited by Washington, however. But the losses of Nicholson and Solomona are tough. Washington has youth at safety in sophomores-to-be James Sims and Evan Benjamin, as well as Jordan Slye, who is redshirting.
From Doug M
I love the emergence of Derrick Johnson this season. He is an inspiration, battling back from his injury and some tough games, to being named 2nd team All-Pac 10 and coming up with some HUGE picks. This coaching staff has moved a lot of players to new positions every spring and fall. Who do you suspect might be changing positions in the future?
A: I think you may see someone move to OT, an area where the Huskies are a little thin. Both Ben Bandel and Joe Toledo are big enough, have long enough arms, and run well enough to put on weight and give WT a shot. I also wonder where Shelton Sampson's 4.3 speed can be best utilized. If it's TB, so be it. But what if it's at CB? Greg Carothers also looked pretty good at SAM in the nickel situations. Will he get a more permanent look there? We'll see. Washington still needs some young interior DL, if they don't get help from JC this year. You might see Stanley Daniels tried there, or perhaps Mateaki if he puts on some weight.
From Michael G
There does not seem to be much to complain about in 2003. It was a great pleasure to witness the "re-birth" of Husky football the last three games of the 2002 season. That being said, my comments and questions have to do with an important, albeit seemingly non-glamorous position of the place kicker. John Anderson provided some of this year's most exciting plays, both for those kicks he missed, and those he made. We were witness to just how important the kicker can be. The other spots on the team seem to get the lion's share of fan interest, but I'm a fan who would like to know more about the kicking prospects on the horizon for the Huskies. In your opinion, how much emphasis/effort does the coaching staff place into recruiting place kickers? Who are the kids you think are targeted? Thanks!
A: Washington will attempt to fill Anderson's shoes with Michael Braunstein or Evan Knudson. Braunstein is coming in on full scholarship so the commitment to him is definitely strong. Washington also is looking at a punter from Florida that you'll hear more about soon.
From Chris P in Gilbert, Arizona
Even though the Huskies managed to salvage their season by 3 great wins at the end of the year the question still remains, will Neu be making any coaching staff changes after the bowl game? Although the players stepped it up, it seems to me that our defensive schemes are very plain and defenses pick them apart. I would love to see a young, hungry and aggressive d. coordinator come in and light the fire under the tremendous athletes we have. Do you see us making a change and if so, who would be some candidates? Also, although it's just under a year away, do you think will we beat Ohio State? It's never too early to start hyping this one up especially because I'll be there in person. GO DAWGS and I hope to see them at the BOB Dec. 26th. Happy Holidays to all Dawg fans.
A: I think there will be some attrition on the staff, my guess is one or two coaches leaving for other jobs. As far as defensive schemes being plain, I disagree. When run correctly, the Husky defensive schemes were nearly impossible to run against and when the QB was pressured, it was a thing of beauty as the secondary picked up their play. I think the game against Ohio State is HUGE, and yes, I think Washington will win that one. I am predicting that they will run the table in 2003. I have been for two years now. Have a very happy holiday, Chris.
From Old Sam in Anaheim, CA
I have been a "Dawg" fan since 1937. I have enjoyed your great column for the past several years. You're doing an excellent job, please keep it going. Over the years our "Huskies" have had their "ups and downs," much like life. Neither seems able to always assure us a winning season. In the down times, loyalty and lean years should coexist. The past decade or so has been very good to us "Husky" fans and we should appreciate it. I totally agree with you and your comments concerning the disgraceful fan conduct following this year Apple Cup Game in Pullman. Not all football fans disgrace their school, their team and themselves following a painful defeat. Looking back several years when the Huskies had just defeated a favored Nebraska team on their home field in Lincoln, Nebraska. Not only was the home team beaten but also a long undefeated home field record was broken. What did those avid "Husker" fans do? Instead of throwing bottles as the Washington team left the stadium, they stood up and applauded the "Huskies" for their outstanding game. Class is class. Some fans have it, some can't even spell it.
A: Thank you for your letter, and happy holidays to you.
From T and A Neal
Great stuff Dawgman. It seems recruiting this year is drastically different from the past couple of years. Maybe the lack of a big name. I have multiple recruiting questions for you. 1) Do you think we have been successful so far with the '03 verbals the UW has received? 2) Doesn't it seem as if more top rated recruits this year are not putting us in their top 5 as in past year's? Why is that? 3)Do you think the limitations the NCAA put on Rick are hurting this year's class? 4) With the opportunity to compete for a Pac 10 Championship next year, don't you think there would be more interest from Junior College guys? I look forward to your thoughts. Thanks.
A: It's too early to say whether the Huskies are doing well with verbals or not, as they have taken a different strategy this year. They are going for the home run in December. The team that has been amazing so far has been USC, but given their red-hot season and their belief in Pete Carroll's system, it's understandable. Neuheisel's inability to hit the road this year will hurt, there's no doubt. That's what he does best. As far as JC kids, Washington is getting interest and they are now getting visits from some defensive linemen, which they need. It was a shame that they lost Donte Nicholson, however. He would've helped very quickly.
From Ted K
What is your feel on the recruiting of both Defensive and Offensive linemen? I know we have Berglund and Garcia and I hope they turn out to be monsters for us, but they were not high on the radar screen in recruiting. Are their any beefy DT's that we have a good shot at? Do we still have a shot at B J Vickers and if so would we look at him as a WR or S first when he comes in? We have a lot of WR types already coming in and his size and speed would look good on the defensive side of the ball. Thanks for your time and I love the "Ask Dawgman" section. I wish more people would ask questions because it is great to get other ideas, opinions, and questions that I didn't know or think of. It broadens all of our Dawg knowledge. Keep up the great work.
A: The DT's that the Dawgs are high on are Brandon Mebane and Mathew Malele. I believe they'll get Mebane, who's a little undersized but will grow. He really can run and reminds some of Larry Tripplett. There are a couple of JC kids they are looking at as well to fit in the defensive trenches, like Donyell Booker.and Doug Langenfeld.
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