Thank you to those of you that submitted questions for the "Ask Dawgman" column. It was a brutal Sun Bowl, and certainly there is a lot of work to be done this spring. But you know what? I believe that the 2003 season will be a special one. Call me a homer, call me a blind, but just don't call me late to dinner . . .

From Riz
Dear Dawgman:
I was looking at the Stanford web site, and was trying to locate Mark Anderson, a TE/DE that the Huskies were recruiting several years ago, I could not find his name anywhere, what ever happened to him? I believe he was out of Montana.

A: Mark tore up his knee and was forced to retire from football.
From Greg S
Dear Dawgman:
Is Nate Rhodes going to suit up for UW anytime soon or will back trouble keep him out for a while. My second question is will Brian Morrison be a Husky or a Bruin, I heard about two months ago that he wanted to go to UW? Thank you Dawgman, I get all the UW news I need from your website, since eastern Washington is so stuck on WSU.

A: Rhodes had major surgery to correct a spinal condition. Whether he plays or not depends on how well his body responds to the surgery, and how much potential danger he would face. His legs would go numb at times, and hopefully the surgery will allow him to have great quality of life. Football is very much a question mark, but he hopes to return. Brian Morrison is not going to be a Husky to my knowledge. Thanks for the kind words.
From Big Al
Dear Dawgman:
1) Is Owen Biddle a Senior or Junior? GoHuskies.com says senior, game-day program(s) say Junior? 2) With the loss of Arnold, Reddick, and Hooks @WR, how do you see Justin Robbins and Craig Chambers fitting into the Huskies plans next season at Wide Receiver? Great job Like Always!

A: Owen is listed as a senior because of his walk-on status, but I'm certain that he has another year of eligibility available to him. Justin Robbins could be huge with the loss of Reddick as the go-to guy across the middle. Chambers is an incredible talent, we'll see how quickly he can show his hands and route-running abilities. He was hampered by an injury most of this year. The guy on film that looks the smoothest in those departments at first glance is Bobby Whithorne. Don't rule out Jordan Slye getting a crack at that role as well.
From Josh in Alaska
Dear Dawgman:
The way things are going, by the time you read this there will probably 25 commits to Washington, what happens if Reggie bush or Dennis Dixon want to be number 26 or 27? Do some lower rated players that have been offered feel more pressure to commit sooner when the class starts filling up as fast as it is currently, for fear of losing their offer?

A: If Washington can get a player that they feel can help them, they won't turn him down. That means they'll sign as many as they can and work the numbers out after the fact (grayshirts). Bush is USC bound and Dixon could be off the board now that Bonnell is in the fold, but I understand your point. Some players will feel the pressure to commit when numbers get tight, yes. Dash Crutchley did that last year.
From Earl B
Dear Dawgman:
Any ideas on why the Dawgs have been perceived as being soft over the last several years? I will admit I have noticed that our teams aren't as physical now as they were during the Don James era.? Any comments would be much appreciated. Example we seem to get pushed around a lot on both side of the ball. At first I thought it was lack of depth coming of the Jim Lambright years but this tendency seems to persist even now. I for yearn for the physical teams of the Don James era that Husky ball.

A: Washington is perceived as soft because they haven't been able to run the ball since Marques Tuiasosopo left. Smash mouth is winning the war in the trenches, and to put it bluntly, the Husky offensive line has lost those skirmishes. On defense, they stop the run well but have been susceptible to playing soft zones or getting thrown over the top. It is true, Washington teams don't' seem as physical as they were under James or Lambright. They have been built more for finesse the past couple of years.
From Charlie C
Dear Dawgman:
I'm having trouble with the Huskies' recruiting strategy. It seems to me that they made offers to too many mid-level prospects, especially those that fit the WR/RB/DB/Athlete categories. Now that so many of these have committed (they now have 22 of 25 spots filled), and there are several others with offers who seem to favor UW (like Louis Rankin, BJ Vickers, Devon Stearns), there isn't enough room to take on some of the higher level prospects still out there.

A: I don't think that Washington considers the athletes that they have offered scholarships to "mid-level." They may not be tops in their categories as ranked by recruiting services, but that doesn't really figure into it for football coaches. Numbers are nice but it all boils down to whether or not the kid can play football, or whether or not he can learn. I think they'll get Rankin, but it is my understanding that Vickers would probably be a grayshirt candidate, as he has some grade issues. Still, they will take him if they can get him, he's a fast guy. The only lament I have is that there isn't a great deal of beef in this class, but they'll address that next year when the perception is that there will be more of it, and higher quality, in the high school ranks.
From Digits
Dear Dawgman:
The only number that seems acceptable for the UW to retire is #25. Curtis Williams was forced into early retirement of not only football, but also life. The retiring of his number would symbolize that tragic dichotomy. He gave his life to UW Football, the least the program could do is respect him by retiring his number. Do you ever recall any suggestions of retiring #25 for CW?

A: I'm not aware of any plans to retire that number, no. I agree with your sentiment though. I would love to see #25 retired and hung above Husky Stadium in honor of Curtis and his family.
From Oly
Dear Dawgman:
Why would a player of the stature of Carl Bonnell greyshirt for the Cougs and leave open the possibility of someone else recruiting him again. Wasn't he the 2nd rated QB in Washington last year. I think he will be a nice fit for the Huskies.

A: I think WSU thought it was a safe bet since his brother was already on the team. Turns out it wasn't so safe and Washington added to their depth at QB with a nice pick up. Bonnell was the #2 rated signal caller in the state last year, you are correct.
From Chris P in Gilbert, AZ
Dear Dawgman:
I am wondering why we are recruiting so many Wide receivers and cornerbacks this class? It seems to me we need to beef up the O line and the D line. I know we still have a ways to go in recruiting, but do you think this class is a little top heavy in these positions? Husky football is successful when we can control both the lines and I don't see a real commitment to improve these spots. Have a great new year and I look forward to another informative year on your site.

A: Yes, this class lacks balance. They will have to address that next year. Luckily for the Huskies, they have good young depth on the DL, and have picked up three more OL this year to go with the three good ones from last year. Washington is going after guys that they feel can help them, regardless of position. Balance would've been nice, but it's not going to be there this year. They may close with a couple of JC kids to address it, but next year for sure they'll have to consider more beef.
From Andy T
Dear Dawgman
It seems to me that the results of the Sun Bowl game had a lot to do with the coaches forgetting about what worked during the last three games of the year, and instead going back to what did not work in the middle of the season. Why did the coaches play our slowest tailback (Braxton Cleman) the entire first half of the game, without rotating Rich and Chris Singleton? Both of these guys possess more speed, so as to give the team a little better chance to establish the run. By the way where is Chris Singleton? Is he in Rick's doghouse? I know we did not have the ball much in the second quarter, so it limited our chances to establish the run, but we did not seem to be too focused on trying to establish it at the beginning of game. We came out throwing. From the start Purdue never had to even worry about defending anything but the pass. On defense in the second half we started using the dreaded zone coverage with a three-man rush. Why do you think the coaches would go back to this scheme when this strategy has not worked all year? Our players struggle mightily with this coverage. I think Purdue converted over 80% of its third down conversions in the second half. This game showed us all that the same issues that plagued us earlier in the season are still with very much alive, and need to be fixed before we have any shot of winning a PAC 10 championship. At this point I don't feel very confident about the Dawgs fixing these glaring weaknesses in time to be a serious Rose Bowl contender next year. What do you think? Thanks and Happy New Year.

A: Purdue did rip the eight-man zone to shreds with underneath stuff. I'm not sure that the linebackers dropped correctly, as the gaps were way too big. It didn't work, that's for sure. I feel very confident that the Huskies will turn this around. Even more so, the running game needs an enema. A rushing attack will allow more margin for error, provide time of possession and the ability to grind the clock a bit, and will cover up more weaknesses. I think that should be priority one, fix the damn running game. Happy New Year, and thanks for the letter.
From Big Al in BC
Dear Dawgman:
1) Will Dashon Goldson be available in the spring or does he have one more year at JUCO? Also, do you envision him at Safety or Corner? 2) It seems that the UW coaches are desperate to fill the DE position vacated by K. Ellis, with a LARGE group (Mapu, Mateaki, Lasee, and various recruits) of players. Who do you see or envision replacing Kai Ellis at that position? Great job and go Huskies!

A: Goldson will need to matriculate with his AA degree. He is a year short of doing that. He would be a safety. I think Brandon Ala and Mike Mapu will replace Ellis. Both are noted pass rushing specialists.
From Montlake Dawg
Dear Dawgman:
After watching the Huskies' shameful loss to Purdue, it seems that the major difference between how the Huskies played this season was their pre-game attitude. The Dawgs respected Michigan and played very well in Ann Arbor. They didn't respect their next three opponents, played very poorly and only won because those teams were so bad. During Pac-10 play, the Dawgs rarely took their opponents seriously and lost games that they should have won - Cal and UCLA come to mind. When they learned that the Beavers didn't respect them, and they came out with something to prove. The same attitude prevailed at Oregon and Pullman: the other team talked big, and the Dawgs played hard and won. Unfortunately, the Huskies reverted to their old cocky ways before the Purdue game and disrespected the Boilermakers (Reggie's ridiculous flexing during the pre-game press interviews comes to mind). A 17-point lead was all it took for the Dawgs to feel that their smug feeling of superiority was justified. The successful teams are those that CAN talk, but choose to let their play and the FINAL SCORE do the talking for them. I don't remember the Dawgs talking trash before or after games during our Championship season. The question is, why does Rick let those kids get so cocky and complacent before a game (traits he seems to share)? If the kids learn to respect their opponents before, during and after each game next year, I'm confident we'll have a much better season.

A: Washington's national championship team didn't talk a great deal of smack, but they sure thought it. That team KNEW that it was going to humiliate whoever they faced. Hopefully the Sun Bowl experience will be one that this team can learn from. Neuheisel can only talk and coach so much, the attitude and leadership must come from within the team. The seniors on next year's team must make sure that their guys know what can happen, and what is expected.
From Adam
Dear Dawgman:
Hi, and thanks for everything you continue to do with the site!

Pathetic...is there any word more appropriate to describe the performance in El Paso? As I watched the game, I was appalled by the lack of self-control on the part of our team as we racked up personal fouls and other costly penalties, essentially taking ourselves out of the game...I almost felt like I was watching a Lambright-led team all over again! My greatest frustration with sports today is the taunting and showboating that goes on after routine plays...and then I hear the Purdue players speak of idiotic acts like Reggie Williams flexing his biceps in their direction at a Sun Bowl banquet. Does Reggie forget that his team, which was picked to contend more for the Rose Bowl than the Seattle Bowl, just finished 7-5, losing to such stellar programs as UCLA and Cal, and barely squeaking past Arizona? I thought Coach Neu had finally "gotten it" when he cracked the whip at the end of the season and ran off three straight wins. From someone who was there, what happened, other than Cody falling on his face, the O-Line providing zero protection and opening no holes, and a bunch of defenders whiffing at countless tackles? Thanks for letting me gripe...now the important stuff: recruiting. Where are the Hogs in this class? It scares me to see only three O-linemen. As other recruits go, with Mebane gone to Cal, what are the realistic chances of landing any?

A: A balanced running attack may have helped Pickett find his rhythm. That got exposed (again). As for recruiting, look for the Huskies to make a hard push for defensive ends Dwight Stephenson and Rob Lewis, and they'll still work on Brandon Mebane. I don't think that one is over, but I really thought the UW had a very good shot at him. A JC lineman may be in the works as well.
From WS
Dear Dawgman:
First off, I love your site. Dawgman.com is what all college internet sites aspire to be. My question: With the poor performance of our offensive line play. More specifically, opening holes for our tailbacks and getting some sort of push. Can this be attributed to the change in weight training principles? If I recall correctly Neuheisel fired Bill Gillespie because of the amount of shoulder injuries we had at the time? And then there was talk about having the players workout differently; lifting lighter with more reps? Can this be the reason our linemen are not getting a good push off the snap? They don't have the strength to push d-linemen back? Thank you and GO DAWGS!!!

A: Neuheisel never really said why they fired Bill, so that is left to speculation. The training has been changed a bit, but I don't think that is why this offensive line had trouble. I think it had more to do with confidence, health (Bachert had a bad shoulder all year, Newton had a bad ankle), and a commitment to be a good running team. This team clearly had the mentality of passing, and I think it didn't allow them to find any sort of identity as a running team. That needs to be addressed. The guys up front are strong enough and good enough athletes. You don't have to be able to bench press a house in order to open a hole. Quick feet are worth a great deal more than a 500-pound bench press. Of course guys like Olin Kreutz had both, but he was not your regular lineman. For 2003, the Husky linemen have to want to run the ball, and to have their coaches trust them enough to run the ball behind them, and they have to be able to trust a back to find the holes when they open.
From Jake
Dear Dawgman:
Purdue was able to do exactly what the Dawgs haven't shown all year. Have a balanced attack that relied on both running and passing the ball. The lack of a running game against the Boilermakers certainly made the defense only have to defend one aspect of the game...which they did with very good success. Is there any reason to believe that the running game will get back on track next year? I know we only lose one starter on the O-line, but will the additional year make that big of a difference? The real test will be Ohio St on August 31st, and without a running game against them the results will be unfortunately predictable. What can possibly spark the run game to take pressure off the Picket to Williams connection? Lastly, when looking at what Ohio St. returns, the game will be a whopper. I counted 6 defensive starters graduating for the Buckeyes and most of the offenses returning for next year. What are your thoughts on the game other than it being a pivotal barometer for the Dawgs.

A: Absolutely correct. If Washington shows up in Columbus with no rushing attack, they'll get throttled. Do I think the Huskies can turn that around? Yes. I think that they have to spend this spring committing to the run, finding the best five OL that can get it done, and find a tailback that can hit the holes when they are there. I think they'll do all of that. Gilby is the best offensive line coach in the country, and he'll help out in the trenches. With the experience up front and a senior quarterback and tailback, there are no excuses. If Alexis cannot stay healthy, then someone had better be ready to step up and take his place. Kenny James, Chris Singleton, Shelton Sampson, all unproven but all with an incredible opportunity. It's a tall order to open on the road at the defending national champion's house, but it's a terrific opportunity. The Dawgs should've beaten Michigan in last year's opener, and I had predicted them to lose. This year, I am predicting a Husky victory behind a rebuild running game and a senior leader at quarterback. Call me a homer but just remember where you read it first, either way….
From Dana S
Dear Dawgman:
What is going on with the QB situation? Unless Durocher has a change of heart it looked like it was Dixon or bust. Then Carl Bonnell comes out of the blue - at least to me. About all I know of him is that he was the 8th rated QB on the west coast last year, seems to have been passed over in favor of Stanback last year, and had an excellent winning percentage as a high schooler. How does he fit in the depth chart and is he a scrambler who can run the option like Stanback or is he more of a drop back passer? Is this a signal that the coaches expect Dixon to sign elsewhere and have given up on Durocher? Finally, do you see any further significant defensive line commitments?

A: Carl will redshirt in 2003, but will be able to participate in spring 2002. It's a nice thing for him and for Washington, so he'll have a year and a half under his belt when his eligibility clock begins. His signing probably means that Dixon is no longer in the picture. Bonnell is an athletic type quarterback that looked good outside the pocket. On the defensive line, I think Washington would like to get verbals from Dwight Stephenson, Chuck Jones, and OL RJ Willing. If Willing comes, that may allow them to try Juan Garcia on the defensive line. Stanley Daniels from last year is going to work at nose tackle in 2003.
From Sam J
Dear Dawgman:
What are your thoughts on Derrick Bradley possibly playing RB? I know we have Alexis, James, Singleton and possibly Sampson at the position, but with Bradley's speed and talent at RB, I'd be hard-pressed to keep him out of that position. In recent seasons we've had big, power backs (Hurst being the exception) that are bruisers. I think a Napoleon Kaufman-type, quick and shifty, would complement our offense incredibly. I haven't heard too much of Sampson's ability other than how fast he is, and I thought James was also a bruiser-type back. I mention this because of the success of many quick, shifty backs this season.

A: I think Derrick could get a look at tailback, no question. He's fast and he makes things happen. If he can beat out Chris Singleton and Shelton Sampson as that "speed back", he'll get playing time. Singleton has a ton of speed but hasn't gotten many carries to date. Sampson is a sprinter still learning the game. Bradley could compete at tailback, sure. He's about the same size as UCLA's Tyler Ebell, and he had a solid season.
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