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Mailbag - Absurdly Late Kickoff Edition

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All the Hawaiian Husky fans will enjoy a nice 6:00 pm kick. Lucky them.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Your weekly dose of useless facts follows below.

  • "Typewriter" is the longest word using letters from only one row of a keyboard.
  • The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds.
  • Some lions mate over 50 times per day.
  • Two thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.
  • On the Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament Building is the US flag.
  • Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister.
  • There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.
  • A rat can last longer without water than can a camel.
  • A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.
  • On average, 12 newborns a day are given to the wrong parents.
  • If you place liquor on a scorpion's body, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.
  • The first product that Motorola was attempting to develop was a record player for cars.
  • If you raise your legs slowly and attempt to lie on your back, you won't sink into quick sand.
  • It takes more calories to consume a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.
  • Charlie Chaplin once took 3rd place in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  • The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.
And there you go.  On to the questions.

deltron2

I expected this year to be tough, but the lack of offensive development (and regression as Browning has looked worse the further into the season we get) is concerning. And this doesn't seem just a young o-line/qb issue. Permutations of this offense have failed since 2012 at Florida, Boise State, and now UW. This isn't all Coach Smith. What gives? Is it coaching? The system? I need answers!

UWDP: This, to me anyway, is the real question.  It's not about Jonathan Smith, it's about Chris Petersen.

First off, I have to say that I don't really agree with the Jake Browning "regression" narrative.  I think it's more about the mistakes that he made early in the season, but got away with, are catching up with him a little as the season wears on and the consistency of the competition improves.  I'm not even totally sure I agree about the lack of offensive development.  Again, it's partly about the level of competition, but I'd have to say that the offensive line is better today than it was against Boise State.  I suppose you can argue that "lack of progression is regression," and I'm not sure how I'd counter right now...

I've harped on this a ton, but a big part of the issues with the offensive are in opportunity rather than production.  The average gained per play took a pretty good hit after playing Stanford, but prior to that, the Huskies were 7th in the conference.  Yes, yes, that's mediocrity personified, and that ain't good.  But even getting to the NCAA average of number of snaps per game adds around 70 yards to the total offense per game.  That doesn't help all that much right now, but when you consider that the Huskies really only play one more "good" defense in the last five games of the season, it's not unreasonable to project a finish to the offensive production that's similar to what we saw in 2014.

The offense isn't truly "broken" right now as much as it's plagued by consistent execution.  On a given play, 8 guys will do their jobs just fine, but the 3 that break down kill the play.  That isn't to put what we're seeing on the players, because eliciting performance is the essence of coaching.  But it's where that "youth" argument comes in....

But I honestly wonder about the design of the offense, at least a little.  Boise State underwent what I thought was an odd transformation when the brought Robert Prince in as the offensive coordinator in 2012.  Gone was the fullback, gone was the QB under center, and in their places was an offense that looked eerily similar to what the bulk of college football was (and is) running - the single back spread at pace, with the QB either in the pistol or the shotgun, with some form of read as the base for the running attack.  Maybe it was the loss of Kellen Moore to graduation, maybe it was the influence of Prince, and maybe it was the natural "updating" of the offense by Chris Petersen.  I don't actually know, but what we've seen the last four years from Chris Petersen-led teams at Boise State and Washington just doesn't seem like the offense that I envision from Boise State.  And in that regard, the game against the Broncos this year was something of a surprise.  I largely expected the Brian Harsin-led Broncos to trot out that old 2010 Petersen offense.  Instead, they looked.....exactly like the Huskies.  Almost like it was an intersquad game.

I have a tough time reconciling all of the data right now.  The design of the offense looks nothing like the one that gave Petersen the reputation he built at Boise State.  Maybe, like I said, his reputation was built on the back of one of the greatest (and underappreciated) QB's in college football history.  (And as an aside, the day that Kellen Moore no longer has a job in the NFL, he's hired as QB coach - he's destined for big things there and beyond in my mind.)  But as you correctly point out, this offense as it's currently designed, has failed at numerous stops the last few years.

In all honesty, I like hearing that Petersen said Stanford is the model.  While some might consider it boring, plodding football, it's actually so different from the current norm as to be truly unique.  I think there's some value to that (how many football games has Air Force or Navy won on talent?).  It's an approach that fits Petersen's uber-conservative nature.  It's a model that can work here.

And let's make no mistake, Husky fans.  Chris Petersen has hired exactly one offensive coordinator of four that had any experience coordinating an offense.  Every hire has come from within.  This is Chris Petersen's offense.  He might not call the plays on game day, but he's the de facto offensive coordinator.

Lucas Shannon

How am I expected to deal with the fact that WSU is the best team in Washington? I didn't sign up for this!

UWDP: It's no fun looking up at the Cuogs in the standings, but it's worth noting that they've played the softest portion of their schedule in the first half of the conference schedule.  They've improved, no doubt, but the toughest part of their schedule is in front of them.

There's been a lot of Cuog love around here, and it's largely based on beating an Oregon team with a black hole at QB.  They'll be bowl eligible heading in to the Apple Cup, but probably not much beyond that.

The Huskies are the better team.  I'll eat my crow if the Dawgs lose to Arizona, but I'm not real worried about that.

dingleberry

Is Jeff Lindquist really so bad that he has gone from the #1 QB going into the summer to not even be allowed to throw a pass in 7 games...why even embarrass him on punt teams and a dumb QB run once a game? Give the kid a chance!

Dawgmanic

First off why did we have the back-up quarterback who cant throw, throw it? Next, if they wanted to throw it so much why did they not start Linquist? And lastly, if our ground game got us points why didnt we run the ball more?

Rhaego

Did CP play KJCS over JL to keep KJCS from transferring?

UWDP: I really wonder what Husky fans would be saying about Jeff Lindquist if he was from Santa Monica or Salem instead of Mercer Island.

I like the guy.  It's really impossible not to.  But I find it impossible to believe that he's intentionally being held back based on who recruited him or some other factors not related to giving the team the best chance to win.

There's never been a depth chart released with Lindquist on top; there's been the parsing of words by commenters here and elsewhere that are largely based on answers from Petersen or Smith on questions directly relating to Lindquist.  The closest thing was the "slight lead" comment from Smith in the summer.  But a "slight lead" isn't close to being insurmountable.

As fans, we have next to zero data points for the team outside of that one spring practice and the games to date.  I was far less impressed with Lindquist than most here, as he did his damage with the #1 offense against the #2 and #3 defense.  He had the best showing, but it was largely by design.

I honestly think that this staff wanted Lindquist to win the job.  He's the oldest, he's the most experienced, and he's a sentimental favorite.  But I don't think anything he's shown to date put a hold on the job, and the coaching staff reacted accordingly.

Ragu presents a plausible theory here - that playing KJ Carta-Samuels was done to keep his interest in the program.  That's possible.  But coaching for upside isn't a sin, and I really don't think the delta between he and Lindquist could've been so great that Petersen would've sacrificed a real chance to win in order to minimize the chances of Carta-Samuels transferring.  Odds are he's gone after this season.

mossyrockfan

Please tell me the Huskies aren't destined to be a perennial middle of the pack team - as they have been for the last decade plus. Is the young talent currently on the roster good enough to elevate them into the top tier? Can Coach Petersen keep them at or near the top? I can't take many more years like this.

A Dawg Adrift

Poseidon's wrath at Odysseus cursed him to wander for 10 extra years while trying to getting home from the Trojan War. For UW football, the football Gods have kept us from our rightful place for at least 12 and counting. When will the football Gods' wrath be spent? When can we return home?

UWDP: Yeah, years like this suck.  The big green one.  The difference between this year of sucking and previous years is that there legitimately seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel that's not a train.

I believe in Jake Browning's potential.  There are a couple of throws he might never have in his arsenal, but he could match or even exceed Keith Price efficiency-wise.  I think there's as much potential on the offensive line as there's been in a decade, maybe more.  And I think that true freshmen at positions such as running back and receiver can make a much bigger impact than they did even a decade ago.  Even if they aren't on the roster right now, or in the next recruiting class, they can be here in time to impact the Huskies in the near term.  Losing Travis Feeney and Corey Littleton is a blow, but there's enough talent and depth to let Husky fans breathe easy about the defense for the next few years.

I didn't have particularly high expectations for this season, but I do for next year, regardless of what happens with the state of the offense (which is actually quite a bit more efficient than the production numbers would have you believe - outside of 3rd down conversions).  It's a team that I think can and should win 9 games in the regular season, and be in contention for the Pac 12 North late into the year.

stewak

Call me crazy! I think we can go bowling still. Beat Arizona, Beat ASU or Utah, Beat Oregon State. Voila! Are my purple tinted glasses a bit too dense? Or is there hope for the season yet?

UWDP: It's pretty amazing to watch the twists and turns of fans as the season unfolds.  Just read the comments here - way up after Utah State, high on the abilities of Jake Browning, reasonably content with the state of the offense, to calling for heads after Cal, to believing a corner was turned after USC, to wanting Browning benched, Jonathan Smith publicly beheaded, and the early rumblings of "that Chris Petersen....He just ain't the guy."

Normally, I find myself squarely in that camp, but even before Petersen ever coached a game here, lots of people were predicting this dip on offense coming.  And before fall camp, with the uncertainty at most of the positions on the offense, I decided that this year was going to be about the trajectory of the program as much as the results.  Maybe more.

I wish the offense was playing better.  I wish the team was more aggressive, particularly on fourth down.  But I can see the method to the madness, even if it isn't pretty.  Sigh.

Yeah, I can see three more wins.  Utah's defense is genuinely good, but the only other defense that the Huskies will face that's even in the top half of the country is Arizona State's, and it's barely there at 62nd.  And I've been waiting for Travis Wilson to unravel the way he did against USC and to a lesser extent Cal.  I don't know exactly which three teams the Huskies will beat, because they could easily  win one they shouldn't and lose one they shouldn't, but I can see them.

UWdadVanc

I know that it is not unique to UW, but what's with all of the season-ending knee injuries? (Lost Brandon Beaver last weekend, to go along with Quinten Pounds, Austin Joyner, David Ajamu, and John Ross.) Plus, what's going to happen with the secondary now that they are down to just 4 scholarship safeties (Baker, Clay, McIntosh, and Turner)?

UWDP: I'm sure everybody associated with football in any way - player, coach, team doctor, and fan - wishes he knew the answer to that question.  Especially with how many of them don't involve contact of any sort.

I'd say the simplest but least enlightening answer is that the human body hasn't evolved to be as fast or strong as these guys are, or to move as forcefully.  We really shouldn't be playing football.

I don't think it's unique to Washington, either.  It's not information that's readily available, though.

If he's healthy, Kevin King can play safety.  But those four guys can count on seeing a lot of snaps over the next five games.

nux84

One of my greatest concerns about this team is its ridiculously slow starts offensively. We've scored an average of 1.4 points in the first quarter of all games INCLUDING Sac State. By halftime, we have scored an average of 8.3 points. In every loss, except Stanford, we dig ourselves a hole by halftime, then mount a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful comeback attempt in the second half. Should I . . . A. Be more frustrated by the lack of first-half offensive production, or B.Be more encouraged by the fight-to-the-end mentality?

UWDP: Both.  Equally.

The Huskies have found different ways to be largely inept in the first halves of losses.  Against Boise State, it was the complete lack of any semblance of offense, period.  Against Cal, it was turnovers.  Against Oregon, I think the tone was set (the wrong way) when Petersen didn't go for it on 4th and 1 from Oregon's 39 on the first drive.  Stanford was just a bludgeoning.

I don't know why the offense can't get anything going early.  It's especially frustrating because those first fifteen plays are scripted, and the team should be completely comfortable with them before they're even called.

Benno

Lets move past the fire Smith section. Based on what we have seen on offense, what style of offense would be beneficial for the players we have? I personally like a pro-style offense, but it seems like the game is moving on from this. It seems to me that a single back with 3-4 wideouts would work well, where players are given space to work with. What else do you see as working?

UWDP: Well, the single back with 3-4 wide receivers is one of the most common formations for this team.

When I think of pro style, I think of more play with the QB under center.  And if Stanford is the model for the Huskies, as Chris Petersen indicated, then there might be some value in putting Browning under center.  At least some of the time.  There's some benefit to the play action components of the offense, as the QB has a chance to hide the ball from the defense.  And there's also some benefits to certain aspects of the running game.

At this point, there might be some value in just being "different" than everybody else.  And as an aside, did anybody actually ever think that Stanford's offense would be "unique?"

Pescador Paul

When will it be time to seriously question whether Petersen is cut out to be the Husky football coach?

SW-Husky

Not convinced that next year is going to be the huge improvement everyone seems to have. If so CP get added to the list of BSU coaches that can't win. Do we move on?

UWDP: I'm a little surprised to see this stuff already, at a year-and-a-half into the Petersen regime.  Wait, I take that back.  No I'm not.  This is what we fans do.

Certainly not yet.  With each year, though, you can get a clearer view of a coach's trajectory.  And by year three, you probably have a better than 50% idea of which way a coach is going to go, but I wouldn't put it much over 50%.  Maybe 60%.

Like I already said, I expect this team to be pretty good next year, and it won't really matter.  For me personally, this is the first hire since Don James left that I actually like.  I didn't mind neuheisel, I understood Sarkisian and Lambright, and I hated Gilbertson and Willingham.  But I'm all in on Petersen.  I don't think we have a choice.  With those other coaches, I was a lot more willing to slash and burn in the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.  But it's largely lead to 15 years of perpetual rebuilding.  As easy as it is to think the "next guy" can come in and work with what's already here, the odds are that he's going to tear it down again in order to build it his way.  Really, that's as it should be.

Everybody's free to have their own opinions on this.  I don't think there's anyone that actually wants to see Petersen fail.  At least here.  He's going to get a minimum of five years.  I find being in a perpetual state of frustration to be, well, frustrating.

RBinOR

Should we consider changing our team name to the "Washington Gaskins"? Seriously, as I watch our games, there is no reason for a defense to respect our offense outside of Gaskin - and even then, much of what he achieves he himself makes happen by bouncing things outside and generally being patient/opportunistic. What can our offensive coaches do to inspire our WRs and TEs to work harder, to commit to blocking, to perform? Apparently a full-ride scholly isn't sufficient motivation.


UWDP: I don't know how much of it is physical ability and how much of it is coaching (technique and motivation), but I tend to agree with you that the effort isn't what you'd hope to see out of either group.  Maybe we're wrong, and it's not being able or knowing how to do it.  The technique certainly isn't great a lot of the time - lots of guys coming in flat-footed and straight-legged.

There are lots of guys on the roster that need to get physically stronger, but aside from that, I think it's something that's correctable.

medweebdawg

Why take Gaskin out on a 3rd and 1? Instead, play went to Lindquist-Wildcat (with M.Hall going offsides)? Gaskin didn't look tired. And if anything, leave him in and call a play which he can "rest" on. Why take your most dangerous weapon off the field?

UWDP: I don't have a good answer.  But if I had to guess, it's because that call was still in the scripted portion of the offense.  It was the 15th play, so likely the last one on the script.

If that's true, I don't really know what to think.  I heard Mike Holmgren talking about his script on the radio recently.  He said he wouldn't deviate from it no matter what the situation might dictate.  I thought that was interesting.

Stanford had already stuffed Gaskin on a 3rd and one.  If the Wildcat package wasn't a scripted play, then I can see the argument for moving away from your tendencies.

Rhaego

If this Husky Season had a theme song, what would it be?

UWDP: I'll throw out some options, you can decide:

For the offense:
Hurt, by Nine Inch Nails
In the Ghetto, by Elvis Presley
What's Goin' On, by Marvin Gaye

For the D:
Bring The Noize, the Public Enemy/Anthrax version (you could substitute "Slam" by Onyx here)
Run, by Pink Floyd
Burn, by Ellie Goulding (I kid)


UWRosebowl

Do we have a timetable for Brownings return? In your opinion, how much of the offense is straight from Pete and how much is from Smith with Petersen's blessing?

UWDP: Rumblings are he'll play Saturday, but I don't actually know that for sure.

The offense itself is Chris Petersen's entirely.  What we see on the field each game is from Jonathan Smith, ostensibly with Petersen's blessing, because if Petersen didn't like what he was seeing, he has the power and the ability to change it at any time.

I'm not a Jonathan Smith fan at this point, but I really don't have much conviction in that opinion.  I think Petersen is the de facto offensive coordinator, regardless of what he says about "letting assistants do their jobs."  Because if he's not, then Petersen is a fool for hiring him upon taking the Washington job.  Smith fits with the majority of the hires that Petersen has made for the offensive coordinator position - ostensibly bright young football minds, but no experience coordinating an offense (aside from Smith's stint at Montana, only Brent Pease had any experience prior to being hired by Petersen).


nux84

My question is about the stat known as YPA - yards per attempt. I don't recall, in my 45-plus years of watching football, that this stat was even mentioned until recent years. YPA always puzzles me. Does it include attempts that are obviously throw-aways? What about sacks or other broken plays that were obviously supposed to be pass plays but end up categorized as running plays - are these plays considered attempts, even though a pass is never thrown? I guess my question is this: what are the benefits of looking at YPA vs. YPC yards per completion (which has its drawbacks , as well)?


UWDP: Yards per attempt includes all passes thrown.  It's just total passing yards divided by total passing attempts.  In college, sacks count as rush attempts, and are deducted from the rushing total.

The reason it's become popular is that is has a stronger correlation with winning than any other passing statistic out there - stronger than passer efficiency rating, yards, TD's, or yards per completion.

RP Steen

B-Lo: With this year's incomprehensibly (for mere mortals) brilliant Stanford offense, has David Shaw delivered God's Greatest Gift to all of mankind? If so, is this evidence that Coach Shaw's inconceivable genius has an other-worldly source? -rp

UWDP: I believe you mean Saint Shaw, and yes.

Tailgater2

The Husky defense seemed flat and a bit hang-doggyish at the start of the Oregon game and are now performing through the event at Stanford like their belief system may be slipping away. With the Husky offensive production continuing to flat-line or worse, has Petersen lost the defensive side of the ball also?

UWDP: Wow, I don't agree that Petersen has "lost" the offensive side of the ball in the slightest.  And against Stanford, I thought the defense looked tired and physically whipped at the end of the game, not like they'd given up.  It was a banged-up defense that took the field last weekend.  They didn't play their best game.  But I don't see any real evidence of the players giving up.

That's it for today.  Happy Halloween, all.