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Mailbag - Stanford Cardinal Edition

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The biggest problem with reality is that there's no cool background music.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As always, your useless facts.

  • One in two billion people will live to be 116 or older.
  • 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • If a statue in a park of a man on a horse has both of the horse's front legs in the air, the man died in battle.  If one leg is in the air, the man died of wounds suffered in battle.  If all four legs are on the ground, the man died of natural causes.
  • The term "the whole nine yards" came from WWII fighter pilots in the Pacific.  The strings of .50 caliber ammunition measured exactly 27 feet.  If a pilot fired all of his ammo at a target, that target was said to get "the whole nine yards."
  • The term "rule of thumb" came from an old English law stating that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
  • The cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II moves approximately 6 inches for each gallon of diesel fuel used.
  • In Cleveland, OH, it's illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.
  • The world's termites outweigh the world's humans 10 to 1.
  • Pound for pound, hamburgers cost more than new cars.
  • Heinz ketchup flows at a rate of 25 miles per year.
  • One teaspoon of honey represents the life's work of 12 bees.
  • Flamingos can only eat with their heads upside down.
  • The first internet domain name ever to be registered was symbolics.com on March 15th, 1985.
  • The human body is born with 270 bones.  At adulthood, it has 206.
  • It is physically impossible for pigs to look up at the sky.
  • The total surface area of a human lung is approximately 750 square feet, roughly the size of one side of a tennis court.
Learn them.  Live them.  Love them.

To the questions!

Lucas Shannon:

This is the place where I complain about clock management and our pedestrian offense, right?

UWDP: Indeed it is, Lucas, so let's GET IT ON!!

In House Solution:

Okay Brad this is the 3rd time I've asked you about Jonathan Smith my first question coming mid season last year. And while I respect your diplomatic responses to the masses about requiring hard data about Smiths failures, I am hoping last night provided plenty of the data you seek. Honestly Brad it's to a point where it's literally comical and I don't know what to do but laugh out loud. Let's put the innovative bubble screens to the side for a moment. The simplest measuring stick of an O.C. is getting a feel for the game and calling the most effective play for the situation. There are NUMEROUS examples of Smiths failure to accomplish that but I would love to hear your explanation about not running the ball. It makes me sick when it is more than obvious that Gaskin needs to get the ball. Forget the football analytics. Your rb not only breaks a 60 yd run and shows he's the only thing working....A few possessions later it's 2nd and 3 and he calls a pass. Fail. 3rd and 3 and you call a 20 yard fade. Fail. Brad while I have been exasperated with smiths play calls for a year and a half now I was willing to take an approach like you and be patient and be open to other factors weighing into his ridiculous play calls. Well after last night NO ONE needs any more data or examples. Doesn't matter what formations they were rolling out. Doesn't matter how whoregon's #'s against the run are. Doesn't matter how young our line is. Smith is way over his head. Period. Please tell me it smacked you in the face in the 4th when Smith was calling run plays when pass plays were NEEDED. So not only does he pass when a run is necessary....now he's running when he should pass!!!! And no I am not overreacting and have broken several games down play by play. But I really want your thoughts on one question so I'll let someone else provide you specific plays. (Even though that's not necessary) I brought it up months ago that we have at worst a temporary solution in house. Assuming Pete doesn't want to admit failure in bring in smith. Or he's such a loyal guy he doesn't want to pull the trigger. Or he doesn't want to fire a coach then find a replacement mid season. My solution at least for now is to promote Pease to OC. He's done it before and was successful enough to be hired away by Florida to be their OC. And yes his level of success at UF can be questioned can it get any worse right now? While someone like Kirk will point out he was let go by UF if he's good enough for the SEC and Muschamp he deserves a look here. Long term? Maybe not the first choice but it's a move that has little disruption to the team. It's not a coincidence that we whiffed on Fink and the 2 CAL QB commits. And we whiff on 8+ four star WRs on the west coast? McKinley...Harry...etc must have been laughing if they watched the play calling last night. Again Brad while I appreciate your diplomatic responses to "fire Smith" there is little room for diplomacy anymore. And there we PLENTY of examples vs Whoregon that he's in way over his head. I'd love your take.

(anonymous):

Need better offensive schemes. Lack of elucidenes in Browning footwork led to many bad passes and sacks. DB'so need to stay with their receivers and assignments.

Broadwayreps:

When will we fill the currently vacant OC coaching position? Will Pete take more responsibility for the Offense? Bubble Passes for a 1 yard gain, or worse, are getting tiresome.

T9ODawg:

Disappointed is an understatement, highly irritated. Is Bubble Screen Smith capable of getting the offense going?

DG05:

Fire Jonathan Smith, hire Tui as OC. Your thoughts?


UWDP: So, how 'bout that Jonathan Smith, guys?  Any thoughts?

Two things.  1.  The Huskies actually don't run that many bubble screens, regardless of anyone's perception.  That's mostly a non-point, but that play isn't the "problem" with the Husky offense.  2.  Number of upperclassmen on offense starting or getting significant playing time:  6.  Number of guys in their first or second seasons in the program starting or getting significant playing time:  11.  You can call youth an "excuse" if you'd like to.

That being said, the Huskies' offense isn't very good.  11th in scoring in the conference, 11th in total offense (8th in yards per play), 11th in both rushing offense and yards per carry, 8th in passing yards per game (5th in yards per attempt), and 8th in passing efficiency.  Thank you, Oregon State.

So, just wondering.....Has anyone figured out a way to differentiate between play calling and execution yet?  No?  Okay.

I, like everyone in the stadium and watching at home, wanted the Huskies to feed Miles Gaskin on that 3-and-out drive after Gaskin's long TD run.  Here's a tip for anyone that doesn't yet know.  If the linemen are run blocking (moving down the field), and Jake Browning throws a pass, then the play called had a run or pass option, and Browning, through both pre- and post-snap reads of key defenders, has made the decision to throw the ball.  On 2nd and 3 on that drive, Browning made the decision to throw instead of handing off.  You can blame Smith for not forcing the run, or blame Browning for not just handing it off, but the read on that play was correct based on what Oregon was doing defensively.  Things just didn't work out.  On third down, the Huskies definitely were working to get Jaydon Mickens matched up on a linebacker through formation and motion, and it worked.  I don't know if Mickens made a read to go deep, or if that was the actual design.  And nobody really can say for sure if that route was the primary read, or if Browning saw a matchup he thought he could exploit for a big play.

The drive that bothered me almost as much was the one before Gaskin's TD run.  It went incomplete pass, Gaskin rush for 9, and then a Stanford-esque power formation with Lavon Coleman getting stuffed for no gain on 3rd and 1.  That wasn't what this team does.  That was just being too cute.  That one is on Smith for sure.  Run your damn offense.

After the Cal game, Chris Petersen said something to the effect of "We need to be more stubborn with the run."  After USC, he said something like "We stayed stubborn with the run."  Stubborn?  Really?  Is running the ball some sort of necessary evil?  I know that's not what he meant., but if you look at called runs and passes last Saturday, and move QB scrambles to the throw department, the Huskies had 39 passes and 23 runs.  Some of those were reads at the line of scrimmage by the QB, but that's still not the best ratio, even though the Huskies were down pretty big relative to the offense's ability to score most of the game.  While Oregon's defense is much worse against the pass than the run, it's not a good run defense by any stretch.  There's some logic in a game plan that attacks the defense's biggest weakness, and maybe the loss of Dwayne Washington to injury impacted the play calling some, but it's disappointing that Gaskin only got 18 carries on the night.  Even without that long run, he was still averaging close to 5 yards per carry.

It's certainly easy to pile on Jonathan Smith at this point.  I keep coming back to one thing, though - this is Chris Petersen's offense.  He's well aware of the game plan, and he hears each and every play call during the game.  At any point along the way, he could simply lay down the mandate that the Huskies run the ball, or move faster tempo-wise, etc.  (And make no doubt about it, after finishing the 2014 season in the top 20 of FBS teams in adjusted pace of play, the Huskies are dead last in the country this year.)  The Huskies hired him to be the head coach and not just the offensive coordinator, but he's first and foremost an offensive mind.  While he says that he wants to let his assistant coaches do their jobs, if he's not providing all of the value to Husky fans that his experience and expertise can, then he's doing this team a disservice.  I've said before that there's a high likelihood that someone could step in for Jonathan Smith and run Chris Petersen's offense better than Smith does.  But I also think that there's a risk that doing so could be starting down a path of diminishing returns, and that the issue is actually with the design itself.  I also think that there's a fairly high likelihood that Petersen thinks Smith is doing a good job.

So, now we begin the annual "Throwing Out of Names."  Brent Pease coordinated an absolutely fabulous offense in his one year at Boise State in 2011.  He also had the benefit of Kellen Moore at quarterback.  And it was before Petersen made the decision to heavily utilize the one-back spread out of the shotgun or pistol - it was a much more west coast-based design.  At Florida, he coordinated to abysmal offenses under Will Muschamp.  Even though the Gators went 11-2 in Pease's first season, it wasn't on the strength of the offense.  Florida was a team in turmoil at the time, so I don't "blame" Pease for the offensive deficiencies, but at the same time, nothing that he did provided any sort of benefit to the team.  He'd be stepping in to a similar situation here.  I don't know why it'd be realistic to expect anything different.  And really, his work with the wide receivers has been underwhelming....

Marques Tuiasosopo is a Husky Hero.  He's never coordinated an offense; he's less experienced than Smith.  While he'd be a benefit as a recruiter, and a motivator, it's on the job training.  It's an interesting thought, but a tremendously risky reach at this point.  I'd love to eventually get him back here, and he's shown some positives as a QB coach.  But he's still really green.

A midseason change isn't going to happen.  A post-season change is probably less than a 50/50 proposition.  Fix the offense, Petersen.  And from now until the end of time, when you have 4th and 1 from the opponent's 39, YOU GO FOR IT!!!!

That is all.

2003husky:

Did Chris Petersen ever have to fire any coordinators at Boise? I'm worried that he is too nice or proud to make some tough decisions with his personnel if the writing is on the wall at seasons end. I think J. Smith is learning on the job and MAYBE turns into a good coordinator down the road, but if it isn't clicking by the end of the year do you think Peterson will make the tough decisions or just ride it out and hope that the young coordinator grows with the young players? If not, how bad would it have to get and for how long until he tries something new?

UWDP: To my knowledge, Chris Petersen never fired a coordinator at Boise.  Several left to take higher-profile jobs, though.  I'm not sure how many position coaches he actually fired, to be honest.  It's a small number.

The closest thing Petersen ever had to firing a coordinator was not bringing Robert Prince along with him when he was given the Washington job.  Instead, when given the keys to the Washington program, Petersen elected to promote Jonathan Smith.  If you believe in Petersen, that's a fairly strong statement.

In all honesty, I don't think Smith is going to lose his job at the end of the season.  Heads will explode if he's retained, I'm sure.  I'm not sure how I'll react.  To me, this is a lot like the Nick Holt situation here in 2011.  While it was easy to call for his head, I put more of the blame on Steve Sarkisian.  And that's what I'm doing here.  It's on Petersen to get the offense fixed, whether it's with a new coach, a new offense, or player maturation and development.

The Huskies are going to need a much better offense to win the amount of games I think we all expect Petersen to win in the near future.  If the team doesn't win, Petersen himself is going to get fired.  He knows this.

JDUB2354:

On Oregon's 2nd scoring drive, why do we accept the ineligible man downfield penalty after the incomplete pass? I would think you would want 3rd and 7 instead of 2nd and 12, the fewer down opportunities for Oregon the better especially with the yardage. I would understand if it was 3 and 5 or fewer. Next play was an incomplete pass and then on 3rd and 12 the 29 yard completion. Seemed like I big turning point.

UWDP: I completely agree with you.  And I'm pretty sure that Petersen was set to decline the penalty, but Jonathan Smith got to the officials first and told them to accept it.

If I had to guess, the reason is that Oregon was getting fairly close to two-down territory, and the coaches figured that, with the Husky defense, they'd be able to hold the Ducks and force an obvious punting situation.

Yeah, it was a big turning point.  For sure.

costaricadawg:

Seems like lots of disappointed fans on this blog...ask a question of all of us. With 1/2 of the season over,how is this edition of UDub doing ? As expected ? Less than expected ? More than expected? Hopeful the next six games ? Pessimistic the next six games ? One thing to eliminate ? One thing to embellish ?

UWDP: I'll give you mine, and then we'll see where everybody else stands below in the comments.

Record-wise, it's fairly close to expected.  But I didn't expect to see a true freshman at QB and left tackle.  The offense is less than I'd hoped, and the defense is far more.  I'm incredibly optimistic for the next six games, both because this team is on the steep part of the learning curve, and because I've never walked in to the stadium or turned on the TV without managing to convince myself that the Dawgs can win (even in the Willingham Error).

While I don't really think the team needs to get to a full-time hurry up offense, I'd like to see them pick up the pace.  Yes, I know that that would likely put the defense on the field more, but the offense is just giving itself so few opportunities.  I'm not really sure how much benefit the team is actually getting from all of the shifting and motion.

Run the ball.  And just get better.

Dawgmanic:

Was it me or was the duck's offensive line strategy to just hug our defensive linemen and hope that they didn't called for holding?

UWDP: Yeah, the officials could've called holding against the Ducks a lot more frequently than they did.  And while there were a couple of calls late in the game, the Ducks had already established fairly early that they were going to dare the officials to call it.  A couple of those Vernon Adams broken plays on 3rd down were pretty obvious.

But to be fair, it wasn't as egregious watching the replay as it was live.  It still happened, a lot, but some credit has to go to Oregon's offensive line.  And I hate to blame officiating - it was bad all around.  Again.

stewak:

UW has played well in the last three years against Stanford. What, if anything, can I look to for comfort that we can make it 4 years in a row? They have been demolishing teams lately, and I'm afraid we are going to make it three teams in a row they've hung 50 points + on.

UWDP: I thought the team played very well defensively in 2012, and made three opportunistic plays on offense - Bishop Sankey's long TD run, Kasen Williams' catch and run TD reception, and Keith Price drawing Stanford offside on a designed hard count for a critical first down late.  I thought the team played great on both sides of the ball in 2013, but special teams really let them down.  In 2014, the defense was again very good, but the offense was absolutely terrible; if not for Stanford's own lack of offensive firepower keeping the Huskies in the game, the Huskies never really had a chance.

If teams make mistakes, Stanford can blow them out of the water.  If they don't, and you have a sound defense, Stanford's very conservative nature will do a lot to keep the score close, even if the game isn't as competitive as the score would make it seem.  That was the case in 2014.

Washington is going to have to stay patient, especially with the running game.  3.5 yards per carry is a good game.  And no matter what, the Huskies can't get behind big early.  Stanford will be more than content to play keep away and punt the ball.

Stanford's offense is much more explosive this year, but they've mostly made their hay against mediocre (or worse) defenses.

Benno:

If Browning is out for the Stanford game, who would you rather see? KJ Carta-Samuels or Jeff Lindquist? KJCS seems to the clear #2 in Petersen's depth chart, but Lindquist has more experience.

UWDP: Whether Browning is able to go or not, my answer is "the guy that gives the team the best chance to win."  That's pretty much the same as it is every week.  There are things I like about each of the three QB's, but I really don't consider myself to be "a fan" of any one of them over the other.

I honestly thought that Jeff Lindquist was going to win the job heading into the season, in large part because I figured Chris Petersen would be loathe to start a true freshman.  And while some contend that it was only the ankle injury that ended up breaking the tie between Lindquist and Browning, I don't believe that's the reason Browning is still the starter.  And as you mention, KJ Carta-Samuels is the #2, according to both Chris Petersen and Jonathan Smith.

Some people think that Lindquist hasn't been given a fair shake because he's not one of "Petersen's guys."  I don't really think there's any truth to that.  Lindquist, by every conceivable measure, personifies "OKG."  But for the second straight season, he's been usurped as the backup by a younger player, because the other has practiced better.  I'm not going to speculate on what that means about Lindquist.  I just don't think the coaches are going to favor one player or another based on who recruited them, especially when the guy in question has shown that he's willing to do just about anything asked of him to help the team.

Ben Nice:

If Jake Browning misses the Stanford game and KJ Carta Samuels moves the ball, scores points, and the team wins, is there any question as to who the QB is going forward?

UWDP: Wow, I don't really know.  It probably depends on the way Carta-Samuels is able to get the job done.  If he has wild, hair-on-fire success in the same way that Marques Tuiasosopo did against Nebraska in 1997, I don't think so.  That sort of thing isn't really sustainable.  But if Carta-Samuels comes in and shows mastery of the offense, both in execution and in getting the team out of bad plays and into good ones, then it's very possible.  At the very least, I think it would earn him bona fide playing time in the next game, and not just being brought in to run a specific package.

I think the same thing would be true for Lindquist, if he ended up starting.

gltaylor:

How did we get here? Why is it taking so long to dig ourselves out of this rut? Why did we get into this rut in the first place? Why was Tyrone Willingham ever hired? Why can we beat a top 25-ranked version of every team in the Pac-12 besides Oregon? I get what the "Take off the purple tinted glasses" post was trying to say, but we are not Vandy. We are not Wazzu. We are not Illinois. We have a legacy of winning championships, both conference and national titles, and we have a legacy of of excellent football, and we are way passed due for getting back to business.

UWDP: Do you want the 4,000-word answer?

In a nutshell:

1.  President Bill Gerberding wanted to de-emphasize football, which eventually led to Don James resigning.
2.  Barbara Hedges neglected Husky Stadium, and then mangled the firing of Rick Neuheisel/hiring of Keith Gilbertson.
3.  Without a sitting president at the UW, the Board of Regents hired one William Tarleton "Todd" Turner, who had recently managed to downsize himself out of the Athletic Director's position at Vanderbilt.
4.  Turner, who had long and openly coveted Lionel Tyrone Willingham, finally has an opportunity to hire him after the latter is fired at Notre Dame.  A president of the university has been identified at this point (Mark Emmert), but isn't officially on the job yet.  Emmert either approves of the hire, or at least does nothing to stop it, as his first act as president.
5.  Amid the backdrop of racism (that also followed Willingham from Notre Dame), Turner elects to fall on his sword in order to save Willingham's job; the actual disease (Turner) is eliminated, but the symptom is allowed to fester for another season.
6.  Scott Woodward bungles the firing of Willingham.  It was (or at least should've been) crystal clear that the team was better off with no coach than with Willingham allowed to remain on the sidelines and in the locker room.  0-12 happens.
7.  Steve Sarkisian is hired, and immediately restores life to the program.  But he's never able to get over the hump, and leaves for USC.
8.  Chris Petersen is hired.  While he doesn't immediately provide the boost his record at Boise State might suggest he should, there appears to be a solid foundation being built, even as some fans begin to lose patience with an exceptionally young team that is struggling mightily on offense.

Oregon has been as good as Washington has been bad.  As much as I want to beat the Ducks, I'm not going to hold what happened 12 years ago against Chris Petersen.  He's 0-2.  He needs to win, but I think some people put too much weight on this one game.

If the choice for the 2016 season was to go 11-1 with a two-point loss to the Ducks in Eugene, or to go 7-5 with a 30-point win, I wonder how people would vote.....

For me, that one win doesn't do much for me during the offseason.

Winning is all about hiring the right coach, and giving him the tools to get the job done.  I think Petersen is the guy.

OsidePup:

Is this the game that the Dawg's finally get off to a good start in the first QTR.

How many points will it take to come home with a win from our visit in Palo Alto?

Best guess on the over/under point totals for the game?

UWDP: I'd expect the team to start off pretty slowly, to be honest.  I don't think either team is going to take a lot of risk until the situation demands it.  I think both of these coaching staffs are more than happy to punt the ball back and forth until somebody makes a mistake.

It's tough to say what would win this game.  I never would've guessed that 17 points would've been enough to beat USC or Boise State, and I would've thought that 27 would've been a loss against the Ducks.  It's looking more and more like the Husky defense is that good, and the offense is such that it wants to shorten the game.  Stanford is more than happy to play the same way.  So, I'm going to say that as long as the Huskies don't make more than one critical mistake, that 22 points will win this game.  If they do, things could easily snowball and it might take 40.  Let's say 35.5 points on the over/under.

Rhaego:

Does a Pac12 team make the CFP? If so, which team?
UWDP: If Utah wins out, I think they're in.  If they lose, a regular season game, though, I don't think there's any chance even if they won the conference championship.  While the win against Michigan is looking better than it did at the time, their win over Oregon has lost a lot of its luster, and unless UCLA somehow gets its mojo back, the Utes don't really have any other opportunities for any impressive wins.  So they can't lose.

Stanford might actually have the better chance.  If they win out, they'll have wins over Oregon and USC (mostly meh), Cal (probably meh), Notre Dame (good), and likely Utah (good).

The winner of Ohio State - Michigan State is probably in, as is the winner of Baylor - TCU.  Probably the same for Alabama - LSU versus SEC East Champ Florida (likely).  Any of those win out and they're probably in (LSU for sure).

Unless it's Utah winning out, more than just a few things would have to go the Pac 12's way.  Florida State and Clemson would both have to lose, and one would probably have to lose twice.  The selection committee would probably have to want a surging one-loss Stanford team that just knocked off undefeated Utah in the conference championship over a one-loss (and probably second representative) from the SEC or Big 12.

I could easily see the conference getting shut out this year.

eddawg:

so assuming most of the offense takes steps forward for the next year (o line bigger/stronger/more experienced etc) the group I think I worry about is the receivers. Do we have the playmakers to gain seperation and /or be physical in going after the ball when we look ahead to next season?

UWDP: It's probably my biggest worry as well.  There might be the requisite speed at the position on the roster (I really don't know), but there are a lot of guys that don't offer much of a physical presence, either to block or to fight off aggressive defenses.  Lots of guys that fit that possession receiver mold.

It's the one position group that Petersen and staff have yet to really "hit" on in recruiting.  Hopefully they can make a late surge on someone in this cycle.

It's a group that's going to need a tremendous amount of development from within.  In the weight room in particular.  And a bunch of guys are just going to have to decide to be better blockers.

That's all for this week, folks.  Time to cut down a Tree.