The talk on the street is that Washington was hitting and tackling in practice during the bye week. There were supposedly fights, big hits, skirmishes, foul language, bad comportment, and Ty didn't step in to break it up. If you weren't looking closely you would have sworn that it was a Don James style practice. This week it is back to business and we probably won't see this again till maybe the next bye week or till they name a new coach.
The question I have is why haven't they been doing that the past four years? They should be hitting and tackling every week in practice at this level. It is the only way the young kids are going to get better. It also happens to be the way Pete Carroll built his program at USC. The Trojan practices which just happen to be open to the public and media are just as entertaining as the games.
Hopefully we see some improvement in tackling on Saturday because Stanford is going to run the 230 lb Gerhart at the young UW line until they prove they can stop him. Toby is a good North/South type of guy but if you shut down the middle and string him outside he loses his effectiveness. Gerhart is similar in style to BYU's Harvey Unga. UW can't let him pick up eight yards on first down. If they do that it slows the game down for Tavita Pritchard.
Speaking of Tavita Pritchard the Huskies need to disrupt the timing of the Stanford offense by putting some pressure on him. Putting him 3rd and long type situations is ideal because with a little pressure added he is prone to making mistakes. Keep an eye on Stanford reserve QB Andrew Luck. If Pritchard doesn't get it going early this may be his coming out party. The freshman from Texas may just be what Harbaugh needs to throw a changeup at the Washington defense since everyone knows the defensive backfield has played like a sieve the first three weeks.
On offense Washington needs to figure out who they are. The UW spread offense isn't working well because this is really an "I" formation type of team. We saw Washington give its strongest performance last year against Cal when they switched to the "I". Hopefully Washington will run right at them from the get-go and get the run established early. A big rushing day means Jake Locker can settle down and not run around like a chicken with his head cut off. It also probably means a Husky victory.
The Washington players have to be feeling some pressure going into this one knowing that the season and their coaches career hang in the balance on Saturday. Stanford on the other hand is going to be loose. They have nothing to lose going into this one. Washington can do itself a big favor by jumping out to an early lead and putting the game away early like they did last season. I don't like UW's odds if it is a close game in the fourth quarter. If it comes down to winning with the kicking game UW is going to be in trouble.
We keep saying that each game is the biggest of Willingham's career, but this one with no exageration is his biggest game. If his team can win he stays alive to keep fighting during a stretch of three more winnable games. If he loses and starts the season 0-4 you can post the obituary of his Pac 10 coaching career on Saturday.
Quote of the Week - Tyrone Willingham
"We have a very good conference and it's been good for a long time, but in a lot of those years, the champion has had one loss (and) we've got ours already. There's no room for us to error. ... Everyone would say across the country, (USC) seems to be the clear leader. Other than that you could say maybe anyone could emerge in those other spots. We'd like to be in one of those spots."
Tyrone, go out and win four in a row and give the powers above something to think about.