Ask Coach Baird

It's time for's new feature. Coach Dick Baird will now open up his mailbag and answer those questions that were sent in by Husky fans this week. Sorry, Softy. Your email didn't make the cut. But thanks to the other Dawg fans that wrote in to Coach B. And now, heeeeere's Coach Baird!

From RWJ
: This last year the dawgs lost out on two high profile in state players mainly because Oregon was more aggressive in their recruitment and offered these two players earlier than the dawgs did. This year there are some very good players available in state. Will the dawgs learn from last year and get on these players and offer them early or will they go about "evaluating" them and then decide to offer or let them go somewhere else? Thank you.

A: Yes, the Ducks did jump some kids early and that helped them - at least with regard to the quarterback. However, to speed up your evaluation process and not be sure about a prospect can be just as bad as missing someone. I saw the QB in question and had concerns with regard to his mobility. I can understand wanting to wait and see the kid in camp and get to know him personally. How Oregon was able to do that without breaking contact rules is tough to imagine. Whatever, I never worry about the kids who got away and only concentrate on the ones you get. Early commits have always scared me .
From Taft
Hi Coach.
: Really glad to be able to ask you questions directly. I have two.
1) How will Phil Snow impact the D schemes? Last year, we obviously couldn't pressure the QB rushing four; our blitz packages were largely predictable and ineffective, and we frequently got burned deep as well being extremely vulnerable to the short crossing routes.
2) What will the coaches actually do to create a running game? Last year was the *worst* in Husky history where we ended up being rated 117th in the Nation.

A: Taft, Phil Snow will add one more good mind to the defensive pool and will probably use more "man" blitz because he likes the three returning corners. This will allow six to seven guys to attack the quarterback as well as putting eight to nine in the box to stop the run. I think we will be more aggressive because of the man coverage ability.

The running game will be back next year because of the Cozzetto-Emtman influence .

From Joel Mentzos
Coach Baird,
: I've been a long time Dawg fan and find it amusing that when coach Rick does something wrong other long time Dawg fans come calling for his head. Don't you think people should take a step back and see things for what they really are. Rick knows he messed up a little bit and admitted it. I'm in support of the coach and think that people should chill out and just forget about it. Things are looking good in the future and Go Dawgs!

Also, I was excited as I've been for a long time when Louis Rankin became a dawg. For his size and weight and having 4.35 speed in the 40, do you think he could be the best running back we've had since Napoleon Kaufman? I know those are big shoes to fill and they are two different types of backs, but what do you think?

A: Joel, Staying loyal is tough for fans because there is so little you can do to change things. I agree with your attitude. People need to keep things in perspective and certainly the media is the worst at doing that. Coach is still improving and learning all the time on the job. He will only get better. Firing a coach at this point would be stupid and could set the program back years.

As for your running back question, there will never be another Nip. Rankin looks like a great pick up but only time will tell if he can elevate his game to this level. I too am excited about him becoming a Husky but will have to see the 4.3 speed to believe it. That is really fast and if so why doesn't he have corresponding track time? Maybe he is legit speed and hopefully he will be as good as Napoleon some day. If he is, we definitely will run the ball better. Hopefully he is also as good of a person as Nip was. He was top notch in that department .

From David Johnson
: The only thing that I would ask the Coach is, are we going to beat Ohio State?

A: Dave, I think we will definitely give them a run. I also think it will be one of the biggest wins in Husky history if we pull it off. The last time we went there we thought we had a great shot of beating them because we had more team speed. When we got to the stadium they obviously hadn't mowed the lawn for two weeks. It slowed us down a lot but not as much as Big Daddy Wilkinson, their monster defensive tackle. We had beaten them in Seattle the year before and they were ready the next year. What I can tell you is that the scene in Columbus will not intimidate the Huskies. That is why they keep score. Don't miss it, because it will be one of the great openers in college football this year, and in Husky history .
From Mike OV-Dawg
Coach Baird,
: As a Dawg Fan now living in Tucson I really appreciate the Dawgman site. I have been to every game the dawgs have played in Arizona for the last 4 years. Living here I have met a lot of Cat/Devil fans, the UA people are of course quiet and humble as they should be. The Devils (as there called here in Tucson) are getting a little more boisterous but can be handled. My problem is the one Buckeye I play tennis with/against. Our matches are getting pretty ugly and as August approaches there only going to get nastier. My question is, can that offensive line really pick it up to the point they can give Cody a chance to look down field? I know were going to dedicate the spring to running the ball but we're going to see a lot of 3rd-and-eight at Columbus, can we protect Cody? Before I talk myself into a corner I need a little reassurance. Good luck with this new gig as the Ann Landers of Dawgdom.

A: Mike, like you I am anxious about the Buckeye game. Personally I think it's stupid to schedule it and even worse that we don't have a warm up game. However, I really believe that if you are to beat a great team like them then it's better to have them early. I wouldn't say much to your tennis pal just yet, because they're pretty damn good and have a lot of guys back from a team that just won the national championship. I think we will run the ball a lot better than did WSU last season when they played them. I also wouldn't miss it cause it may be the greatest upset in the history of Husky football. Of course if things don't go to script, we could get killed just as easily. That is why I wouldn't talk too much smack. Yet .
From Scott Williams in Yakima, WA
Dear Dick,
: I'm a new subscriber to but a longtime Husky supporter. I've got a couple of questions. 1. I believe I read somewhere that Steve Emtman will be assisting Pete Kaligis in the weight and conditioning program. What do you see as the potentially greatest impact that Steve could have here? As Rich Alexis apparently played injured a good portion of last year, it was hard to assess his development at TB. In your opinion is Rich at his best position at TB or would having him play in space as an H back better suit and utilize his athletic talents?

A: Steve Emtman will definitely be working specifically with the football team and will make an instant impact with regard to toughness and conditioning. Rich Alexis is still a young back and probably should have been redshirted as a frosh. Missing spring will definitely hurt him but he should be right in the hunt come fall. Although a senior, he really is still just a puppy when it comes to football in experience. He would benefit greatly if we had the option of toss sweep to get him outside and stretch the defenses. Vision is really his major short coming and that is why missing the spring hurts him by missing the reps. Hello to Scott, one of the old Husky Hunters!
From Chuck B
: How much of an impact will our new O-Line coach have? Do you believe he can make this a better O-Line than his predecessor? Thanks for becoming a part of the Dawgman team, this is very encouraging for us long time fans.

A: It's really unfair to compare coaches and their approach to the game. I can tell you that Dan Cozzetto is really a tough, hard-nosed, no nonsense coach. His lines at ASU were always mean and nasty and they really came off the ball. Last year coach Myers' kids pass blocked all the time so they rarely got to work on coming off the ball. I really believe we will become one of the best rushing teams in the conference because of Dan. Thanks for the encouragement, it's nice to be part of the Dawgman team. These guys are so positive for this program, and they do a great job.
From Steve in Boise
: It is good to see your "tell it like it really is" articles in As in the Neuheisel article so many of us get caught up in the negative "mediafication" of situations that we fail to realize the positive implication of a situation - in this case, having a head coach well thought of enough to warrant consideration for highly visible coaching positions (not saying his present job isn't).

After reading all the opinions about the balance of talent in this year's recruiting class, do you feel this class of 2003 will show enough talent to compete for national championships and lead the Dawgs to Rose Bowls in the upcoming years? Also, do you feel too much attention is being meted out by both WSU and the media on the issue of Carl Bonnell and grayshirting? By the way, it was great chatting with you during the Friday pregame at the Ypsilanti Marriott.

A: It takes an extreme amount of luck to win a national championship. All the cards need to fall in place and the ball needs to bounce your way when you need it to. If the Huskies can pull the big upset in Columbus then they have a chance – you take them one at a time. And let's face it - until you lose, you're still in the hunt. I personally talked with WSU Coach Bill Doba and it's his compliance people and administration that simply want a clarification on the "greyshirt" situation. He agreed that it doesn't make sense to keep a kid who doesn't want to be there. He has no problems with the release and if they'd really have wanted him they wouldn't have made him pay his own way as a part time student. My interpretation of the rule is that if you don't enroll fulltime with your signed class that you go back into the pool and are a recruitable athlete again. On a side note, how's the skiing at the Valley?
From Bob Henderson
: There is no question here. Just MANY BUNCHES OF THANKS for your very nice article on our coach. I agree, wins on the football field will cure this "problem" in a hurry. I really appreciated your stance during the "emergency husky honk meeting" on KJR. You were a breath of fresh air. I don't listen to KJR any longer (because of the radio show on 2-11-03---what good did that do "Softy" and Hugh?) , so I am very pleased that I will get to read your articles online. Please take good care!! I wish the best for you always!! Oh, I've gotten to know Jim Lambright ,"over the years". We almost always golfed with him when he came to Bellingham for the "coaches tour" . We wound up hauling a lot of firewood to his house before the spring games. He is just a fine man and I hope he is doing well. columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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