Coach's Corner

Like most of the rest of you, I couldn't help but visualize Jake Locker doing all same the things that Mark Sanchez did in the most recent Rose Bowl. Sanchez's performance and demeanor were both impressive and if Steve Sarkisian had let him throw even more in the second half he probably would've had over 500 yards and a couple of more touchdowns.

As it was, that offense and what they were asking Sanchez to do looked perfectly suited to Locker. Can't you just see him bootlegging out either way with a run/pass option?

Regardless, I've never rooted harder for USC since I was a little kid. After not winning a single game this year (not to mention all the rest of our miserable Seattle sports year) I know they weren't wearing purple and gold, but just because of coach Sarkisian they were my team for a day.

Somehow I felt that "we" - the Huskies, that is - were part of the victory. Knowing their offensive play caller, who was spectacular, would be calling plays for us was as uplifting as anything in this past football season. I was pumped watching the first half just thinking about the possibilities for the Huskies' offense of the future.

Now, I realize we don't have the same level of talent that the Trojans do, but I want to point out that we never really did even when we were pounding them during the 80's and 90's. We never really beat USC on any kid in recruiting unless he just wanted to get out of Los Angeles. We recruited the same west coast kids they did, realizing they could only take so many and whenever they got a commitment we would go to the next in line and use it against them. They were still getting first choice, but we always positioned ourselves to get one of the next in line.

The point is, they have always had better players; we just wanted to be a better team. Coach Don James (and later, Coach Jim Lambright) made it clear that the team we had to beat in this conference was the Trojans. That was the measuring tape then, and it certainly applies now as they are clearly the best program in this conference - if not the nation. And as far as I'm concerned the Huskies will never really 'be back' until we can consistently beat SC again.

That said, taking a coach or two from them only makes sense and I hope coach Sarkisian brought a lot of other things with him: Start off with the Trojans' expectation for winning. I hope he brought that attitude, that swagger, and that intimidating approach that the Trojans show on both sides of the ball. They play to win and not to lose. They expect to win. Please tell me he brought that with him. Our players have missed that most of all.

Now I'm not talking about some of their arrogance, because sometimes I think they over-celebrate to the point where they are insulting their opponents. I've seen it in all their games and when the scrubs have an orchestrated dance it only demeans them and the game. Leave that in LA, but bring please bring all the fundamentals that make them such a wonderful team to watch: Things like throwing and catching the football well on offense; filling running lanes by safeties and linebackers on defense and strong tackling in open spaces especially by the secondary; strategies like exploiting matchups on corners by going right at big cushions and using double moves; things like having your quarterback look off safeties before going to the backside.

On defense they would slant their line one way and immediately scrape their linebackers the opposite direction. Wow, it was fun to watch how they filled running lanes.

How about using Kavario Middleton the same way they used their tight end? How about recruiting some big wideouts? And while you are at it, throw in a dependable kicker and punter? How about not letting another UW legacy like Taylor Mays leave this state?

Maybe coach Sarkisian could also bring back the concept of red-shirting freshmen so you can have nine senior starters on defense like USC did this year. How about bringing back a walk-on program that can produce kids like Clay Matthews? Hey, since we are spitballing here, I'd like to see us recruit and turn out more NFL prospects. The Trojans have had more first round picks then we have had total picks over the past eight years. Come to think of it, we don't even have draft choices anymore and that used to be one of our greatest selling points with recruits.

I want our kids to look like theirs.

I like the fact that they reportedly practice hard. From what I understand, they really compete in practice and every pro scout I've talked to tells me that is why they compete so hard in games. I hope coach brings that practice intensity with him when he starts this spring. The Huskies were below average tacklers and that was probably a direct reflection of their lack of contact in practice. Common sense tells you that if you bring it in practice, you'll bring it in games. Let the offensive linemen work on low, or chop blocks like they do at USC.

Above all, please keep your hands-on approach to the quarterback and the offense. The love shared between Sanchez and coach Sarkisian right after the Rose Bowl victory pretty much said it all. They had a special bond and their ability to communicate in games was obvious, as it was with every other quarterback he has coached. Go ahead and hire an assistant, but please bring that special feeling to the next kid.

Jake Locker had to be impressed and excited by what he saw during the Rose Bowl. He now has an opportunity to develop into an NFL prospect, something that wasn't happening under the previous staff. No question he was learning the game, but he still hadn't become an efficient passer. In fact, that was still a major question mark as to his professional future. Now he has two years to learn from someone who is a true quarterback coach and played the position in college and the pros.

Enough of the shotgun spread option game. I'm so sick of watching that fad sweep through the game of college football. Bring in the running game that Cal has been using, together with the wonderful mix of plays that USC ran so well. Let's play real football again where we rely on good defense, a solid kicking game and a balance of run and pass on offense.

Whatever, bring in all the secrets of Pete Carroll's system - especially recruiting, and I know that will take us back to the Rose Bowl. Did you notice the statistic during the broadcast about which teams have won the most Rose Bowls? The Huskies rank right behind USC. They will be in that game again, and that has to be the goal.

Certainly this Rose Bowl was a positive reflection on the hire of coach Sarkisian, and I feel a contagious excitement every time I run into another Husky. It's so great to have hope again. I can't wait to see who he brings in with this class, who will fill out his staff, and especially what happens in spring practices.


Dawgman.com Top Stories