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Mailbag - October Saturdays Without Husky Football Plain Suck Edition

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When I was younger, old people at weddings used to poke me and say, "You're next." Now, I do that to them at funerals.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Sweet, delicious, mouth-watering useless facts for your Thursday.

  • "Almost" is the longest word in the English language with all of the letters in alphabetical order.
  • The average #2 pencil can draw a line 35 miles long, or write approximately 50,000 words.
  • There is a city called Rome on every continent.
  • It's against the law to have a pet dog in Iceland.
  • Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left handed people.
  • Slugs have four noses.
  • The elephant is the only mammal that can't jump.
  • Some species of worms will eat themselves if they can't find food.
  • Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, and had only one testicle.
  • The Bible, the world's best-selling book, is also the world's most-oft shoplifted book.
  • A "jiffy" is an actual measure of time, not just an expression.  It's the unit of time it takes light to travel one centimeter - about 33.3564 picoseconds.
  • The lint that collects in the bottom of your pockets is called "gnurr."
  • The line between two numbers in a fraction is called a "vinculum."
  • You can get a fairly accurate estimate of the temperature (fahrenheit) by counting the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds, and adding 37.
  • If you type "52.22356, 5.11539" into Google Maps, you can see what is allegedly two people dragging a dead body into a lake.
  • A standard 3x3 Rubik's Cube has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible configurations.
  • Eight feet is the ideal height to drop a piece of toast and have it land buttered side up.
And now you know.  To the questions!

Huskies4Life:

So what happened to Jake Browning? All indications--especially in the game against Sacramento State and Utah State--are that he's the best freshman QB in the conference, but he didn't look that way against Cal, who probably has the worst defense of the three. Is there any hope for him? Or should we start looking at Lundquist behind that O-line?

UWDP: Well, Utah State's defense is better than Cal's but Sacramento State's isn't.  Not a chance.

Is there hope for Jake Browning?

A.  Yes
B.  No

I'm going with "A" here.

I like Jeff Lindquist.  He's far and away the better runner.  But he's just not a game-changer.  If you want to believe that his passing + his running makes him a better option than Browning, that's fine.  For me, what a QB can do with his arm is of far more value than what he can do with his legs.  Jake Browning is a good passer.

A true freshman playing behind an objectively bad (but subjectively, with a good amount of potential) offensive line, with a mediocre receiving corps, had a bad game.  It's going to happen.  That's not a surprise.  It's probably a bigger surprise that he's been as consistent as he has thus far.

Browning was off target in the first half.  For the first time this season, the opposition made him pay for his maddening habit of running backwards and wide in the face of pressure instead of stepping forward or simply getting rid of the ball.  He threw a bad ball to a wide open Dwayne Washington on a wheel route (although it might not have mattered - it didn't look like Washington ever saw the ball while looking into the sun) that would've gone for six, and he under threw and didn't properly lead Marvin Hall into the middle of the field with no safety in the vicinity that also would've likely gone the distance (but Hall did next-to-nothing to prevent the subsequent interception).  And on that last drive, for the first time in this young season, it finally looked like the moment was too big for him.

But there was actually a lot of good in that second half.  He was decisive.  He moved the team.  He was accurate, particularly to the tight ends.  Jake Browning is already a "pretty good" Pac 12 quarterback, and with an exceptionally high ceiling.  He had a bad game, but he isn't the problem with this offense.  And I highly doubt Jeff Lindquist is the answer.

costaricadawg:

Is it a wise coaching decision to run a play over again,if it has been successful early in a game ? (running play) I happen to believe O-Line blocking is easier on running plays. True ? I also believe an inexperienced O-Line would be more effective on running plays. True ? I'm "old School" but, I believe a run game (even if not very successful) sets up other plays especially the passing game. What do you think ?

UWDP: There are probably a couple of ways to answer that first question.  If a defense can't stop something, sure, it makes sense to keep doing it until they show they can.  But how many times do they have to stop it until it's proven?  One?  Three?  Five?  In other words, how many times do you go back to the same well (and how many plays do you waste along the way) until you're sure it's dry?  On the other hand, the element of randomness with play calling that keeps a defense off balance, so mixing things up is maybe the way to go.  Of course, that means missing out on what is obviously (to us arm chair quarterbacks) taking candy from a baby....

Every play that's called has an opportunity cost.

As for the run blocking, that's the old adage, and what I personally have always held to be true.  I still think it's mostly correct, but I'm less steadfast today.  Keith Gilbertson, who has forgotten more about offensive line play than I'll ever know, said that it's actually easier for linemen to learn how to become good pass blockers than good run blockers.  I was pretty shocked when he said it.  He didn't really expound on it, and the interviewer didn't ask any of the obvious follow-up questions to the comment despite me screaming in my truck for him to do so.

Every offense since the dawn of time would be better if its run game was a little better.  Same with its passing game as well.  "Running to set up the pass" used to be a truism, but it's not a universal in college football today by any means.  Being really good at something...that's what the Huskies need right now.

NUX84:

How bad did Oregon look against Utah? A. Embarrassingly Bad B. Horribly Bad C. Pre-1990s Oregon Bad D. Hahahahahahah

UWDP: E.  All of the Above.

The most shocking thing about that game was the fact that Oregon gave up.  They quit.

Ozdawg:

Given everyone...everyone, knew this year was a transition/rebuilding year. What is the appropriate level of expectation that people should have with individual games to determine satisfaction versus dissatisfaction?


UWDP: That's really a question that you're going to have to answer for yourself.

The problem I have is that it's a lot easier to dispassionately look at my realistic expectations for the season in July than it is in October.  Looking bad, inconsistency, losing, growing pains...I expected all of it to one degree or another this year.  It's tough for me to not be upset about it when I'm watching them play, though.

Compete.  Play hard.  Make the right football plays.  I don't really know how to be satisfied with losses in individual games, so I'm really trying to spend this season looking for the trajectory of the team moving forward.  Week to week, and toward 2016 and beyond.  It's hard to gauge "improvement" with a single sample.

I don't know.  If you figure it out, let me know.

EugeneHusky:

I was at the game and did not see the replay but it sure felt like the referees did their best to muddy the waters of an already ugly Husky performance. What did it look like, with close review, that they missed on either side?

UWDP: Bagging on Pac 12 refs has become "a thing" for fans, and it's gaining some traction in the media as well.  I think they deserve some of that reputation, but they really aren't as flag-happy as people want to make them out to be.  The five year average of number of penalties per game has them fourth among all FBS conferences, and just more than 1.5 penalties per game more than the conference with the fewest hankies on Saturdays.

Here's a truth - every fan of every team that loses a close game thinks their team got screwed by the refs.

The calls that didn't go the Huskies' way weren't all that egregiously bad.  I'm sure a Cal fan could point to several calls (or non-calls) that went the Huskies' way.

The two that I think were the worst were both non-calls:  1.  Cal's receiver blatantly pushing UW's defender to the ground on what turned into a 52-yard gain.  That was horrible.  And it continues the trend of offensive players being allowed far more latitude with contact than defenders are.  2.  Azeem Victor's cheap shot elbow to the head of a helmet-less Cal receiver.  Had that been seen, he probably would've been ejected from the game, and wouldn't be available for at least part of the game against USC.  I love the way that you play, Azeem, but there is no place for that.  I'm not going to be surprised if Chris Petersen elects to punish him next Thursday....

Andrew M Smith:

What do you make of Petersen et al recruiting in Texas? I have a vague memory from about 2000 of Neuheisel coming to Washington from Colorado and rather quickly learning it was a lot easier to get kids from California to commit to UW compared to kids from Texas. Will Petersen and company come to the same realisation?

UWDP: I look at this two ways:  Texas produces a tonne of football talent each year.  This staff has done a lot of work while at Boise to establish relationships with high school programs in the Lone Star state.  It's worthwhile to continue to cultivate them.  On the other hand, it's a question of resources.  The kids they're after aren't really Pac 12 or Husky fans, and there's also a ton of talent that comes out of California that's well aware of west coast football.  And most likely, the level of recruit that Petersen et. al. could pull out of Texas while at Boise State isn't really of the game-changing level that the Huskies need to spend the time recruiting.

Right now, it's amounted to a couple of sexy near-misses, and guys of the caliber that they could likely find in the Huskies' natural recruiting footprint.  Unless things start popping with a couple of high-level prospects, or a few lesser-regarded players really emerge on the field, I tend to think that recruiting in Texas is more something that will become a dabble instead of a staple, even for the coaches that already work that state extensively.

Godawgs17:

Two questions here: Should there be any reason to panic during this season at all, even with knowing that this team is young and is bound to have growing pains? Do you think that this team is going to be top competitor in the PAC-12 in next 2 or so years?

UWDP: If the Huskies go winless the rest of the season, I'm going to panic.  At least a little.  Probably a lot.  Definitely a lot.

I think they could be.  I think they have the potential to be very good on the edges of the offensive line, and I expect that Strausser will be able to find interior players to shore up the middle.  The defense has a pretty big window right now to continue to be good.  I'm concerned about the receiver position, but if they can develop into an even mediocre Pac 12 unit, the offense is going to be very sound.

I expect the Huskies to sort of sneak up on people in 2016, and be a team that everyone thinks will contend in 2017.

Rhaego:

Who will our next win be against?

UWDP: Bye U is going down on Saturday.

I really want to say Oregon.  I just have a hard time doing it.

Stanford.  The Dawgs shock the world at Tyrone Willingham Memorial Stadium.

(Oregon)

bigdave967:

What is an objective result that would make fans happy in terms of the offense by seasons end? Ranking in the top half of offensive categories? Run/pass balance around 50/50? 250 pass yds/200 rushing yds? I feel like we all, myself included, get caught up in subjective measurements that differ from fan to fan. What can all look at objectively and be happy about?

UWDP: Jake Browning's almost exactly on pace to average 250 yards per game.  For the team to average 200 yards per game on the ground for the season, they'd have to average almost 250 a game from here out.  That's not going to happen.

The Huskies aren't going to be in the top half of the conference in scoring offense or rushing offense.

You guys tell me.  But I'm willing to bet that the objective measures are going to be every bit as subjective as the subjective measures.  We aren't going to get a consensus.

DonorDawg:

Can we afford to make Beau Baldwin an offer that would be a significant bump over his current salary to be our OC (my guess is that he makes less than most of our position coaches, and a lot less than our coordinators)? Not knowing his personality, would he be a cultural fit with Petersen? Someone's gonna grab him after this season and I don't want to miss our chance at the best offensive mind to come out of Washington in a long time.

UWDP: Yes, they could afford to give him a raise to be the offensive coordinator.  I don't think he'd really "fit," though.  He's a lot more aggressive, and willing to live with risk, than Petersen is.  And even if Petersen was willing to live with that increased risk, or if Baldwin was willing to call a more conservative game, both of those guys are pretty proud of the offensive schemes they've developed.  I doubt Baldwin would want to come here to coordinate Chris Petersen's offense, and I doubt Petersen would scrap what he's done for over a decade to run Baldwin's attack.

Also, I'm not really sure that Baldwin's best move isn't to wait for a promotion to head guy at a smaller school as opposed to going the coordinator route at a big school.

SW-Husky:

Seems to me like every year I hear how young we are at a certain position. This is the fall back on why we can't compete. Are we ever going to recruit in a way that we can't use this excuse? I guess give CP 4-5 more years of recruiting to get a team that cant be considered young. Here is my biggest fear. UW gets fed up and fires CP who moves on and instantly creates a powerhouse.

UWDP: The odds are pretty strong that at least one position group is going to be young every year.  It's just really, really hard to start upperclassmen at all 22 positions, no matter how well-established a program is.

The defense isn't going to be young next year.  Lots of juniors, but probably only one or two underclassmen.  And they'll likely be there for merit.  Yeah, the offensive line will still have its share of youth next year.  With a lot more experience, though.

And experience + youth is really the problem, more than simply being "young."

2017 is the year the trend really stops.  Like I said, there might be a single position group that's young (I'm looking at you, wide receivers), but in all likelihood, it's because those young guys are playing due to their talent level.

The UW isn't firing Petersen any time soon.

Mikesbike:

When O line calls are being made at the line of scrimmage just before a snap, can you tell us exactly what is being communicated and how it gets communicated? Are there differences between what is being signaled for instance if the play calls for either a power or zone blocking scheme or a pass? How then does the change in the line call otherwise impact the play? Does it change what the running back is going to do for instance on a run call? In general what should a hack fan like me know about what is going on up there pre snap?


UWDP: I hope one or more of the guys that played some college ball on the line chime in on this one below.

One of the first things they call out is the defensive front - is the defensive line in an odd (usually 3 men) or even (usually 4 men) front?  They'll identify who there primary blocking assignment will be based on the play call.  They will audible their blocking assignments if the defense is showing blitz.

In short, they're identifying how they're going to block the play that's called based on the look the defense shows them at the line of scrimmage.

SnarlinDawg:

I was wondering why our DC Kwiatkowski adhered to a 3 man rush in 3rd and long situations, for so long and in the face of "0" results? I understand dropping 8 into coverage but with no pressure, Goff shredded the D every time except for a single occassion when Qualls wrapped him up. We were highly successful with 4 rushers but were ineffective all day long with 3. Great job by the Defense and I have enjoyed our DCs influence, just questioning this decision or at least not abandoning it earlier in the game.

UWDP: In fairness, Goff was pretty good no matter what look the defense gave him.  And I think the Huskies got pressure more than just once with the three-man rush, but I take your point.

It's just a matter of risk, really.  Cal throws down the field more than most Air Raid attacks, but really, a large part of their offense is designed around getting yards after the catch.  And it's designed around getting the ball out of the QB's hand quickly.  So, there's definitely some logic in maximizing your ability to cover, and to tackle really well.

Yes, the Huskies got more pressure rushing four, but the bulk of the big plays they gave up on Saturday were when they rushed four.

I'm a fan of being aggressive, but I also think there are guys on the line that can make plays all by themselves.

Randall Floyd:

I don't really know where to begin on this one, so I'll just go to the thing that pissed me off the most. One of the things we were able to count on with Sark was the above average ability of our wide receivers to block, fight for the ball, and generally appear interested in in doing the dirty work receivers need to do. It's been two years, and it seems like the receivers from Sark's classes have forgotten how do to it, and our young receivers seem completely averse to it. Honestly, the contrast, at least with my limited eye-sight, is stark, and that's putting it nicely. What gives?

UWDP: The blocking on the outside has been extremely disappointing.  Both the tight ends and the receivers.

The answer, I think, is "a lot of things."  The first is who Sarkisian had out there blocking.  Jermaine Kearse, Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith...Devin Aguilar would be one of the biggest receivers on this roster.  Even when these guys show the willingness to get out there and block, none are very capable.

And that willingness...I certainly agree on that.  That's the most frustrating thing.

Oregon, for years, had a bunch of receivers that were on the diminutive side that all blocked well.  The Duck coaches did a great job of preaching, "If you don't block, you don't get the rock."

Maybe it's coaching.  Maybe it's youth.  Maybe it's inability to do the job.  Maybe the talent level at the position just isn't what it should be.  Probably some of everything.

RP Steen:

Bradlo - We've seen them square off on the football field (with unfortunate results), but the real question that is burning for me is: Who would win if Jake Browning was pitted against Jared Goff in an ACA-sanctioned game of Cornhole? How about Chris Peterson vs. Mark Hellfrick? What say you? rp

UWDP:  You'd probably have to expect a true freshman mistake or two out of Browning - coming up way short of the board on a key throw, knocking Goff's hanger in, knocking one of his own off - but you can just see he's got a natural feel for the game.  Consistent scoring.  While Goff could have a round with four bags in the hole, I could also see him trying to be a little overly precise and ending up with quite a few skidding off the end of the board.

Browning takes it.

Petersen vs. Helfrich?  I don't know why you give me that question (with my best Willingham glower).  Everyone knows Helfrich is a choker.

NeuroDawg:

Do you think that Jake's underthrowing his receivers is a function of arm strength or that he still is not adjusted to the speed of the game at this level (i.e. misjudging how fast his receivers are running)?

UWDP: I think there's a little of both, but mostly his arm.  Browning is never going to have the strongest arm in the world, and is probably a guy that's going to need to be able to use his whole body to really drive throws.  And have really, really good anticipation on when to cut things loose.  He's going to get stronger, for sure.  But I highly doubt he's going to ever have "plus" velocity.

The things that he does really well, though, will continue to allow him to improve.

brent nelson:

I said it before and I will say it again, until we get another Olin Kreutz incident in the locker room, we can safely say we don't have an offensive line or coach. Coach Harbaugh already has the O line nasties locking into a crush you mentality at Michaigan. We all know what coach Harbaugh demands, and his attitude which was specifically on display when he shoved Detroit's Coach. Maybe we should do what Don James said, and go over to the UW Crew, and pick up their second string of national champs.

UWDP: Nothing says good coaching or good line play like teammates breaking each others' jaws with a good ol' fashioned locker room sucker punch.

I get your point about attitude, but that sort of garbage is exactly what we don't need.  What Harbaugh gets, what James got, is being able to toe that line without crossing it (I think Kruetz just got another personal foul called against him....).  Harbaugh turned Stanford into a bunch of bullies, but that was also a pretty cerebral group.  I doubt they'd be stupid enough to hurt their team by breaking one of their own...

Is your issue with Strausser or Petersen?

Lots of good questions in there, plus one from Darin.  Now, off to spend my Saturday in quiet reflection...

Go Dawgs!!!!!