We've been doing a lot of talking about our coaching staff lately. Even though this would probably be better suited after the Apple Cup, I thought it would be interesting to see what fans think of each member of our coaching staff.
Sark has done a great job getting the program headed in the right direction, the question is can this exact staff get us to an elite level in all phases of the game? I know that Sark has played up the fact that we have had the exact same staff all three years, but there comes a time when you must evaluate if the job is getting done or not.
The simple truth is that Sark didn't have a lot of coaching contacts when he was hired at UW. He was a first time head coach, hiring his first ever coaching staff. It would be blind luck if he managed to get a perfect staff his first time around, at a school that had just gone 0-12. It's not a knock on Sark, but I think after three years it's time to reassess the staff and see where improvements can be made. Coaching jobs at the UW, under Sark, are far more attractive than they were three years ago.
There is only one reason I'm taking the time to write this up, I want to open up discussion among our faithful readers and see what YOU think about the staff. Here's what I think, I'm looking forward to hearing what the Husky faithful think, so have at it!Head Coach - Steve Sarkisian: Grade B+
Overall I am very impressed with Sark, there are obviously areas in which he is learning on the job, but he seems to have all the necessary tools to return the program to an elite level. He has made great strides with our offense, he is great with the media and boosters, great recruiter, and has done well keeping the team off the police blotter. I'd like to see him get more involved with the defense and I'd like to see more consistent performances from the team, my biggest question: can he make the tough call and make changes to his coaching staff to improve the program.
Defensive Coordinator - Nick Holt: Grade D
The man of great debate, he has the pedigree, has the fiery attitude, has the bald head, but is he getting it done? If the season were to end to today, the UW defense would statistically regressed each year under Holt. Each year under Holt's leadership we have given up more yards per game and more points per game. The only area I have seen improvement is turnovers, but I wonder if it has come at the cost of making more tackles. I can't stand it when a player misses a tackle because he only went for the strip and didn't wrap up. Here's a great article with more stats to prove we are consistently regressing on defense: http://kcpelton.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/quantifying-nick-holt/
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach - Doug Nussmeier: Grade B+
Nussmeier is hard to quantify given the current set up of the staff. Sark is known for his offensive prowess and he calls the plays, so that leaves us fans making a lot of assumptions on the part of Nussmeier. To be completely honest, I don't think a fan can honestly evaluate him (but that never stopped us from trying) What I do know, Keith Price has exceeded all expectations, period. As a QB Coach he gets an A, he's getting far better production out of the QB's then any of us could have dreamed. Even after a few bad offensive performances, the offense is still the bright spot on this team, I'd give him a B as coordinator, but I freely admit this is greatly influenced by the head coach.
Linebackers Coach - Mike Cox: Grade B -
Last year Mason Foster was a stud, Victor Aiyewa made great strides in his transition to outside linebacker, and Cort Dennison has been a steady anchor to the unit over the last two seasons.The young guys had a rough start to the season, but most of them seem to making great strides and have bright futures. Over his three seasons at UW the LB corp has been the best unit on a poor defense.
Offensive Line - Dan Cozzetto: Grade B
It's hard to get a real feel for Cozzetto. When he took over we had a bunch of lazy, out of shape, bums playing offensive line. Now we are extremely young, starting three second year players, one senior and one junior. Early in the season the line was doing great, but we've been pretty bad against top level opponents. I think Cozz is a very important part of the staff, with all the young high energy recruiters, this staff NEEDS an old grizzly veteran like Cozz.
Wide Receivers - Jimmie Dougherty: Grade C
I find the receivers to be a real mixed bag. I love the improved blocking by the group, but it's maddening to see your star senior dropping 3rd down passes that hit him in his hands. Dougherty has been blessed by having talent and depth, but there have been way too many drops that should have been an easy catch.
Secondary - Demetrice Martin: Grade D & Jeff Mills: Grade C-
These poor guys has been cursed with "not enough bullets", but now that we have more experienced DB's this season, we still haven't seen any improvement. Starting the season with Richardson, Trufant, Fellner and Parker, I would have guessed the young Parker would be the weak point. Turns out he has been one of the better players. I think the safeties (Mills) are doing better than the corners (Martin), but neither position is up to snuff.
Defensive Line & Special Teams - Johnny Nansen Grade: D / B
The defensive line just isn't cutting it, no pass rush, no pressure, no stopping the run. I haven't seen enough development out of upper classmen, the younger guys have potential, but I'm not sold that Nansen is the guy to get them to an elite level.
Special teams has been a mixed bag, but is definitely improving. Our return teams are doing much better, our kickers and punters are quite good, even the coverage teams are showing nice improvement. If I were Sark, I'd pull Nansen off the d-line and let him focus on special teams.
Running Backs - Joel Thomas: Grade A+
It's hard to tell how much is the awesome talent we have at RB and how much is coaching. That being said, I haven't seen anything to complain about, even the young guys do a great job of holding onto the football, we just haven't had to worry about our RB's fumbling and for that I give Thomas full credit.
Strength and Conditioning - Ivan "The Terrible" Lewis: Grade B
Everybody loves "Ivan The Terrible", but lately I'm starting to reassess my thoughts. Year three is when we are suppose to see the pay off from all the time in the weight room, but have we seen it? We still don't match up with the Stanford's and USC's of the world, even Oregon's d-line pushed us around like rag dolls. That being said, we are still quite young on both lines, so not everybody has had enough time under Lewis. I wish I could see weight lifting stats on guys like Schaeffer, Kelemete, Thompson, Ta'amu and other upper classmen, that could tell us soooo much more about the job Lewis is doing. Either way, the team has come along way in three years and there is a lot of work ahead. I'd also recommend a lot more plyometrics and/or bring in a speed coach (consultant) to improve the overall team speed and explosiveness.