LETTERS TO THE PUBLISHER
From Bulldawg from DC
I keep reading your statement about fixing the running game. I truly believe that the tailback is as only as good as his worst blocker. I was at many Husky games and truly think it to be unfair that the criticism appears to go back to the running back and not the fullback, linemen as well as the quarterback. All of these positions need to execute properly. It is embarrassing when our tailback gets tackled in the backfield on any play between the tackles. This performance needs to improve and will based upon the speed and strength of Alexis and company. There is no reason that the trio of backs that we have cannot deliver a game-to-game performance. Based upon Alexis's complete absence in the Southern Cal game and our backs giving a total of 17 yards we cannot blame Rich. Let's go back to the basics of execution and give these kids a hole to run at the line of scrimmage.
Do you agree Dawgman? And let's go Huskies!!
A: A good tailback can create on his own to a certain extent, and can make a line look better to some degree. But you are right on, it is a team effort. The tailback, fullback, and offensive line have to all be on the same page an execute properly in order to be a consistent running team. Rich unfairly received too much of the blame in my opinion last year. All three areas must be addressed this spring.
From Sam Jizzo
Dawgman, what's up with all the rumors that seem to pop up every year about Neuheisel leaving for another coaching job? This time it's rumors about him leaving for the 49ers job in Frisco. What's the deal man? Can't we have a coach who isn't a subject of controversy? I still have faith in Neu to turn this team around from the past season. We're goin' to the damn Sugar Bowl, baby!!! But these rumors have got to go. And we know, rumors stem from some amount of truth.
A: I think having a head coach that is in the media and whose name is mentioned for NFL jobs is very helpful, to be honest. It brings attention to the university, and Rick can easily quell any rumors or concerns with a phone call or press conference. Being mentioned for NFL jobs is a compliment, not a distraction, if treated properly. I don't think he's going anywhere for a while.
From Doug M
As you said in many responses to the Ask Dawgman articles, we need to get the running game fixed. It seems our best running teams always had strong play from the fullback position (Conniff, Matt Jones, etc) to get the tough yards, catch the ball in the flat, and blast holes through the line. I know Zach T. is a tough guy, but he seems to still be learning the position. Do we have any help coming up the ranks, how about moving some of the depth at linebacker ? Corey Jones ?
A: Zach is still learning, very true. If you are looking for competition, I would keep an eye out for Ty Eriks if I were you. He may get more playing time. Also, Andy Heater seems very suited to the FB position if he's open to a position switch. He's pretty quick and a good blocker. I'd like to see Jones at OLB, the position he was recruited to play. There is not a great deal of depth there.
From Powder Wenatchee
With Carl Bonnell's status with the UW still up in the air, and Dennis Dixon still uncommitted, are the Huskies still looking at him? Is there a possibility that they could land him in a Purple and Gold jersey? With only a few spots open for commits, what side of the ball are the looking at to fill the remaining spots, O or D? Are the Huskies interested in Blake Wong from Hawaii?
A: Dixon is still on the board, until the Bonnell situation is resolved. I think the UW will try to get another DL. I would bet the house right now that the Huskies are going to get Wilson Afoa, and he would probably finish out their DL. Unless, of course, the coaches pull off a minor miracle and get Matthew Malele to come. I am not aware of any UW interest in Wong, other than as a walk-on.
Whatever happened to Chris Solomona? Did he play this year at Oregon? I didn't hear his name all year.
A: He redshirted for the Ducks this season. Next year when Haloti Ngata is on his mission, look for Solomona on the Oregon defensive line.
ADDENDUM: I received an email from "bengalduck", who informed me that Ngata announced, before his father tragically passed away, that he would forgo his mission. Also, that Solomona will be tried at defensive end.
From Udub Dawg
We need you as the voice of Dawg fans to clarify the Carl Bonnell situation. Who made the initial contact, Bonnell, RN, or someone else? After all the facts have been sorted out, it sounds like Bonnell's LOI is binding and he was not a recruitable athlete. Who is responsible for checking on the status of potential recruits, Chuck Heater as recruiting coordinator, RN as head coach, or some compliance person? I've read different scenarios where Bonnell could have 5 to play 4, 4 to play 4, sit out 1 year, or sit out 2 years, depending on when he enrolls at UW, whether Wazzu offers him a scholarship, or if they release him from the LOI. What is the most likely outcome from all of this?
See you at the recruiting banquet!
A: There is a compliance office at the University of Washington, but the grayshirt rule is very vague. Neuheisel initiated the contact over Thanksgiving, according to Bonnell. And Neuheisel had checked first to make sure it was OK to do so. Bonnell will likely sit out this year and enroll in the fall with all of his eligibility intact. I seriously doubt that WSU will "re-offer" him a scholarship. They don't want to mess with Carl's education, they just want to make sure all of the rules are followed. I would look for Bonnell to come in with the rest of this class next fall. Looking forward to seeing you on FEB 7th!
From AJ Dawg
Hi Dawgman. I'm back for my periodic "fix" of Husky info. We've heard that this is not a "great" year for DL/OL recruiting in state (or even the West Coast for that matter). Apparently next year will be better for line recruiting. Can you give us some names of OL/DL the Dawgs may look at strongly next year? Will Chancellor Young be a top target? Since we open this year on August 30th will that push the start of practice back another week? Thanks much.
A: Sure. On the OL, Bobby Dockter from Kamiak (who already has an offer from UW) and Aaron Klovas from Bethel are two to keep an eye on. Also Tyler Ashby from Ballard should be a great one. Defensively, Jordan White Frisbee from Inglemoor and Federal Way's Antonio Lindsay are the ones to check out in state. Chancellor Young looks like he'll be a top target on the west coast next season, Washington included.
From Jeff in Orange County
Thanks for the wonderful site. I check the site Dailey and sometimes multiple times to see if you added anything. I really enjoy your insight and the coverage of the team. You predicted the team will run the table next year after a big upset in Columbus. Please give me some specifics as to how this will be accomplished. Fix the dame running game? How will this be accomplished. Every week this year the team stated they needed a more balanced offense. They apparently were working on things with the line, which simply were ineffective. Will the coaching technique change or personnel change to accomplish a running game? I feel from your comments you think very highly of Rich Alexis. Please tell me what you must see in him during practice to support this. In games that I have watched him he appears to have limited instincts and lacks field vision. I feel for a team to compete for a championship the tailback has to be an exceptional runner. Last please comment on how the defense will improve. I personally do not believe in "the scheme" that Tim Hudley has provided the Huskies with. What do you think we need to do. Do you think Washington's current defensive style is capable of supporting a National Championship Team. I don't want to put you on the spot, but after watching the Purdue game I really need some tangible insight.
A: I think there will be some personnel changes, as well as some coaching changes, on the offensive line. They'll get it done. As for Rich, I've seen him run extremely hard when he's healthy. He does have trouble creating on his own, but if there's a hole to hit, he can hit it when healthy. His 4.45 40 is plenty fast enough – repeat after me – when he's healthy. I think you get the gist. Hundley's scheme works when executed properly. It requires the linebackers and safeties to trust each other in responsibilities. You saw how effective it could be when the linebackers are taking their proper drops and the safeties are staying home against the Oregon schools. It also helps when the pass rush gets there. I do think that the current 4-3 they run is very capable of winning, if executed properly. I think Phil Snow and Tim Hundley will get it figured out. Especially if that is augmented with a running game that is capable of keeping the ball out of the hands of the other team more, particularly in crunch time. With any kind of running game, the Michigan game doesn't get decided by 12-men on the field. The clock drops to 0:00 with Washington picking up just one key first down.
From Dennis G
In your last column you commented on the trash talking by UW players and its effect on Purdue's players. We also committed some senseless personal fouls. You said you think the players will learn the lesson. But, do you think the coaches have learned that lesson? As much as I try to root for other Pac-10 teams in non-conference games, I find it difficult to root for those which don't play with class on the field. OSU is a great example. The program was poor for years and it is great for our conference that it turned around. I'd love to root for them (as long as it doesn't impact the UW of course). But I find it so hard to root for that kind of team. The Fiesta Bowl vs. Notre Dame was embarrassing (or should have been) for OSU fans. Since then OSU hasn't changed. Oregon is almost as bad. I do not want the Dawgs to resemble OSU or Oregon when it comes to on-field behavior. So---do you think the UW coaches will prevent this sort of thing from happening or developing and learn from the Sun Bowl? I go to a lot of road games, so do you. Have you noticed how OSU, UO, WSU, Nebraska, and many others use their video screens and stadium announcers to generate crowd excitement? Some of the things done aren't in good taste and shouldn't be allowed. But many of the things done are okay, at least in my opinion. For example, showing highlights prior to the game of past games , particularly against today's opponent, is commonplace today. And it gets the crowd jazzed. We have "hello dawgfans". What do you think? Thx for the great site.
A: Yes, I do believe that the coaches will use the Sun Bowl as an example. I think that the senior leaders will take it to heart and pass it on down. I love your idea of using the big screen for more crowd participation. It can definitely be a tool, rather than a hindrance, if used properly. Nebraska's use of theirs is outstanding. By the time their team takes the field, you wouldn't believe how rabid that place is, and not an empty seat. Unlike Husky Stadium, which normally still has 15-20K people still filing in when their team is running out onto the pitch.
From Zach in Kirkland, WA
What is the current status on Brandon Roy? If is declared eligible, can he practice with the team and suit up for games, or does he sit until next year? What has happened to Charles Fredrick, has he given up the hardwood to concentrated on football only? Do you think Nate Robinson can take the physical punishment of two demanding sports for 3 more years....if he stays that long?
A: Roy is eligible now, and will probably start seeing a lot more minutes by the Oregon game. Frederick will sit hoops out this year and concentrate on football, but hasn't ruled out a return to hoops definitely. Robinson will likely concentrate on just one sport by the time he's a junior. My guess is that it will be basketball, based on how much he loves that sport. He feels it is his better sport, although football seems more likely as a profession (more jobs available, less of a drawback on being only 5-8). We'll see.
Why does it seem that the Huskies do not seem too concerned about the recruiting of more DL commits. Their problem in the secondary to me seems two fold: one being the inability to get pressure on the QB; and secondly, getting great play from the corners up to the part where they are supposed to make a PLAY on the ball.
A: I think your assumption is wrong. The Husky coaches have tried hard to land the top DLs on the west coast. They just haven't been successful at it in many cases (Mebane, Malele, Drummer, for example). That doesn't mean that they aren't concerned about getting solid DL guys. They went all out on these three in particular. However, they will bring in Jordan Reffett, Mike Mapu, and hopefully one more this year. Mapu is being brought in to address the very issue you outlined – pressuring the QB.
From Beefy Boy
I share the concerns of others about the attitude of this year's team. I liked the days when the player scored a touchdown and handed the ball to the ref. Celebrations were done back on the sidelines with your TEAM. My other concern is the ever-increasing feud with Oregon and others. I was embarrassed when watching the bowl game from Seattle and all the airtime devoted to the ANTI-Oregon antics by UW FANantics. When I lived in Seattle a few decades ago it was us vs. Calif. UW had a far better program than other NW schools so it was easy to be nice. Now that we on the same level as others it appears our fans don't know how to handle being sports. I hope it changes soon before major problems. Thanks for all your info.
A: Thanks for your letter. These are different times for sure. Kind of makes you feel old, doesn't it? Well, I can only speak for myself but I clearly remember Don James telling a player to "act like he'd been in the end zone before." It was in the early 1980s.
From JBART and JKOO
I was wondering about a few recruits that I remembered featured on the Husky wish list back in December, but that have seemed to fallen off the radar. The three I'm most interested in are the ones who could fill some immediate needs. Kevin Fain was originally a 4 star RB JUCO transfer, but it looks like his rating has dropped to a single star - any idea why? Christian Koegel looks like a solid punter/kicker. I know we have received a verbal from a punter/kicker prospect in AZ, so are we pinning all of our hopes on his development? I think this is an area we can't afford to NOT have a back-up plan, with John Anderson graduating, and Derrick leaving for the next two seasons on his mission. In Koegel's profile, it shows he's interested in the Dawgs, but has no offer. Can you shed some light here? My last question is about Chuck Jones (JUCO - DT) - he also looked pretty promising, and showed interest, but again no offer... I realize our needs at WR, but I think we may be putting a little too much attention there, and not enough at OL.
A: I let Chris Fetters answer your question and here is what Chris sez:
"Fain fell off the radar because they are now set at RB. With Durrell Moss, Anthony Russo, Louis Rankin, Derrick Bradley and Wallace, one of those players will certainly step up and be the RB of the future with Kenny James. And with punter, they've focused on Sean Douglas from Bellevue (Neb.) East. If they are sold on Sean and offer him, he'll be a Husky in my opinion. Mike Braunstein, at 5-8, is going to be a kicker only. With regards to Chuck Jones it looks like UW is putting all their eggs in one basket with St. Louis' Wilson Afoa, a 6-3, 260-pound DE. With Jordan Reffett around 280-290 now, Dan Milsten making big strides and Stanley Daniels moving inside, the Dawgs look to have a nice core group at the interior DL positions."
Hey Dawgman, I just have a few questions. First, why did Jackson leave, and does that leave 1 more scholarship open for a recruit or would it go to a walk on? Second, I had heard once, I believe from this site that Olin Kruetz didn't give favorable views on the Husky program to potential recruits. If that's true, what's did he say and if you know, why? Finally are there any requirements or restrictions for Walk-Ons? I've read about Mike Anderson and some 40-year-old punter guy, but do the have a serious age line they want to go by? 'Cause if not, I'm 22, 6'6 and 230 maybe I have a shot at something great!!! Probably not though, but keep up the great work I'm on the site at least 2-3 times a day.
A: Eddie never said why he left, but if I would be so bold to speculate, it would be that he wanted to be closer to home and felt that he would get to play more at another school. After seeing early action for the Dawgs last year, Jackson fell off the map. As for Olin K, it's true that he never really liked Washington. He loved the football program and Coach Lambright, but never enjoyed his experience at school in Seattle. As for walk-ons, if they are invited walk-ons, they are allowed to practice with the 105-man roster. Once the roster expands after school begins, then all of the other walk-ons join the team. I do believe there is an age restriction for college football. I thought it was 27-years of age, but I'm not sure. I don't believe that they allow 40-year-olds to play football in college. If you are 22 and have eligibility left, you certainly can walk on somewhere, provided you are attending classes. I wish you the best of luck.
From H Steele in Surprise, AZ
I have an observation regarding recent and present husky players. It seems to me that the huskies have not had players that I would consider "impact players" presently and in recent years. "Impact players" are those players that can significantly impact the outcome of a football game. Yes, they do seem to have quality players but few players are 'gamers." Players such as Tui, Cody and Reggie. I think that is the reason that when you look down the list of "all Pac-10" players you don't see many husky players. I can imagine what a Cory Dillon could have done with last year's Husky team. Do you see any of the present players other than Cody and Reggie that will be "impact players" on next year's team. H. Steele Surprise Arizona
A: I would consider Nate Robinson and impact player for sure. I also believe that Joseph Lobendahn will be an impact player. I thought he would be this year, but he had some troubles. He'll only get better and he was born to play inside linebacker. One other guy that will be an impact player is OL Clayton Walker. Yes, he's that good. He just needs to add some weight. I'm also very excited about what Brandon Ala can do as a pass rusher.
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