I was checking the message boards over at Dawgman and was surprised to see some pretty harsh criticism of Jake Locker and Kavario Middleton by a couple of self proclaimed experts who went to practice on Saturday.
If any of you thought that a team coming off an 0-12 season was going to look like a championship contender after the third spring practice of spring I feel very sorry for you. This team is headed in the right direction for the first time in six years but it is going to take some time to put it all back together.
I have had quite a few friends report back to me what they have seen at practice and it mirrors what I am reading at Dawgman to a certain extent. What some people are leaving out is a growth curve to measure improvement by.
Jake is going to have his good days and his bad days at this point. He is adjusting to a new offense and this is really the first time he has ever received coaching from real QB coaches.
Sarkisian and Nussmeier are going to make this kid as good as he can potentially be but it will take some time. I imagine the Jake you are seeing right now won't resemble the Jake you see in fall camp.
That goes for all the other players on the squad too. The tempo and teaching has improved and every person who I have talked to including some very good HS coaches from the area that have watched the drills have come away impressed.
We saw some incredible results in the first four months of workouts. Those results also show how far the conditioning level had fallen under Willingham. Even though the numbers have improved they are still a year and a half away from where they need to be from an overall conditioning standpoint.
I think some of the experts might have a better time at practice if they focused on the teaching that is currently going on rather than the immediate results. It is going to take some time for the kids to absorb that teaching and turn it into positive things on the field.
QB just happens to be an area where there is a lot to teach, absorb, and put into action. The guys that are ripping Jake Locker on day three just don't seem to be able to grap that.
Kavario Middleton has been suffering from the flu so that has had a significant impact on his performance. One person close to the situation told me he should be home in bed but the kid wants to be on the field absorbing as much as he can.
When you open the door to practice you open the door to personal criticism. Willingham feared it and tried to shield his team from it. Sarkisian on the other hand likes the environment and thinks his team will benefit from it because it makes them practice harder when there is an audience.
A good friend of mine who was at practice on Saturday who has been observing Husky football for over forty years told me that the practice may have been one of his all time favorite Husky experiences.
He raved about the coaches and the way they get after it. He said they aren't kidding when they say they have put together one of the best coaching staffs in the country. This guy has seen a lot of practices in his time and he feels that what this current staff is doing is really impressive.
He thinks Sarkisian is an incredible hire and while he isn't saying yet that we should forget about Don James he thinks Sark will achieve in the same manner and sooner than you think.
The key for any new coaching staff is getting the current players to buy completely in to what they are trying to do. It took Don James a little over two years to get to that point. Sarkisian seems to be ahead of that curve right now.
The true judgment will come after spring ball is concluded. How many of these guys will stay in town all summer? How many of them will continue to work as hard as they are now when they are under their own supervision?
Summer workouts have been a joke for almost a decade. If Sarkisian can keep the attention of this squad over the summer this team may surprise a few opponents this fall.
My advice if you take in a practice is to focus on the teaching that is going on out there. It's too early to focus on the big picture because they are still putting it all together and that work will continue into the fall.
WSU is trying to nail down a quick hire to succeed Tony Bennett and keep the attrition of an excellent recruiting class in check. Most people are betting on PSU coach and ex UW assistant Ken Bone to get an offer this week. Utah State's Stew Morrill and UAB's Mike Davis have also been interviewed along with former Phoenix Suns coach Terry Porter.
No rumors out of Seattle U yet after the surprise departure of Joe Callero. His resignation surprised me because I didn't think he would consider leaving the Puget Sound area. The Cal Poly job pays approximately $180,000 per year so Callero is getting a pretty big raise. San Luis Obispo is a pretty nice place to live too.
That opens up the question of who will be the next Seattle U. coach. The papers brought up the name of current UW assistant Cameron Dollar who is more than ready to take control of a program of his own. I personally don't think the job pays enough for a Pac 10 assistant to be interested.
If Callero was pondering a move he left at the right time. Wins won't come as easy over the next couple of years against a full slate of division one teams. The challenge of playing without a conference and the lack of the possibility of an NCAA tournament bid for four more years id pretty challenging.
Kudo's to an old friend
Seattle native Fred Couples is playing some pretty good golf early this year and was leading yesterday in the Houston Open until he faded on the back nine. Fred is 49 years old and this is probably his last year of regular play before heading off to the Senior tour which he will dominate.
Fred is in great shape for the Masters and I wouldn't put it past him to make a run at Tiger and the title in Augusta. The big problem for Fred over the last decade has been a bad back. It is pretty tough for him to hold up for four days in a row with all the walking.
I walked the course with him at Mount Tremblant near Montreal a number of years ago during a practice round and it takes quite a bit of stretching during a round to keep him from tightening up. Put Freddy in a cart and he is going to do some damage on the Senior Tour.
Fred has had a fantastic career and at one time was one of the top five in the world. I always wonder what he could have done if that back had stayed healthy.
Here's to you Freddy and best of luck in Augusta!