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Mailbag - "Another Thursday With Nothing to Do" Edition

I have a distinct feeling that babies will be born without umbilical cords in the near future. Everything's going wireless these days.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Game day edition of useless facts for y'all.

  • Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
  • 56% of your typing is done with your left hand.
  • There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
  • The national anthem of Greece has 158 verses.
  • The longest single syllable word in the English language is "screeched."
  • All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are set at 4:20.
  • Almonds are a member of the peach family.
  • Maine is the only state in the union with a one-syllable name.
  • A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
  • The full name of Los Angeles is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles Porciuncula," and can be abbreviated to 3.6% of that length at "L.A."
  • The male gypsy moth can "smell" the virgin female gypsy moth from as far as 1.8 miles away.
  • The microwave was invented when a researcher walked past a radar tube and the chocolate bar in his pocket melted.
  • John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.
  • Cephelacaudal recapitulation is the reason our extremities develop faster than the rest of us.
  • Spiral stair cases in medieval castles run clockwise.  This is because the attacking army wouldn't be able to use their swords in their right hands due to the difficulty in climbing the stairs.  Left-handed knights would have had no problems, but there were no left handed knights, because it was believed that left-handed people were descendants of the devil.
  • Hydrogen gas is the least dense substance in the world, and 0.08988 g/cc.  Hydrogen solid is the most dense substance in the world at 70.6
  • The airplane that crashed and killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper was called "American Pie."  Hence, the name of Don McLean's song.
You are now ready for the SAT's.  Good luck.

Any word on Budda Baker? I see him listed #1 on the depth chart, but I don't really trust those things...

UWDP: As well you shouldn't.  While there might be a big of gamesmanship in the depth chart the Huskies release, Chris Petersen really just doesn't want to give out any more information than he absolutely has to.

Since Petersen doesn't talk about injuries that aren't of the season-ending variety, all we're really going to know is that Baker is week-to-week, and we either see him on the field or we don't.  If the rumors of the dreaded "high ankle sprain" are correct, it's an injury that can take six weeks to fully heal.  And that's enough time to lose strength and proprioception (balance and joint awareness), which can leave the ankle susceptible to re-injury.  If this is what Baker is dealing with, it's something that could linger into November.

Against a team with a passing attack as potent as USC's is, it would be nice to have Baker out there today, but I don't know if a less-than-100% Baker is what the Huskies need.  And really, even if he's totally healthy, I don't think he's the difference between a win and a loss.  If Vernon Adams is fully healthy when Dawgs take on Oregon on the 17th, having Baker on the field becomes a much bigger deal.  If Oregon's QB situation is still as dreckish as it is now, I'd be willing to rest him until Stanford, when Baker's awareness in the back end becomes much more critical in defending the Cardinal's play action passing game.

Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, and Baker's injury isn't as severe as the rumors suggest.  But if it is, I'd rather have him fully healthy for the back half of the schedule than for today's game against USC.

Do we miss the swagger the Huskies had under Sark? I think I do.

UWDP: Maybe.  But it's tough to say if the Huskies actually had "swagger," or if it wasn't really just false bravado.  You're a big Harry Potter fan it seems - Does Draco Malfoy have swagger, or is that fake tough guy act really masking the insecurities of a scared little boy?

What the team really needs is confidence.  That's a tough thing to manufacture.  They need to see that what they're being taught, and what they're doing on the field on game days, is working.  With a team that's this young, they really need to have some success.  I think we're seeing it on the defensive side of the ball, even with all of the young guys that are playing big roles.  On offense, it might take that one game where the first drive leads to an easy, methodical touchdown for the line to really start to believe that they can consistently get the job done.  As bad as it is to play as many young guys on the line (especially at one time) as the Huskies do, the silver lining is that they are still used to winning when they're on the field.  Success can feed itself.

Do we have candidates for all PAC-12 this year? It is early, but I have Qualls, Jones and Baker as candidates right now.

UWDP: Elijah Qualls is probably the best bet to make first team on actual impact, but he might not have the stats to get there - he's on pace for around 45 tackles.  If his sack projection holds up (on pace for eight), he could do it.

Sydney Jones is putting together a great season.  He's already forced three fumbles, and has four pass break-ups.  But he might not have the interception numbers, and there are "sexier" names at the position in the conference.  Jones will be honored, but probably not first team.  Even though he may very well deserve it.

Baker will probably be recognized, but missing games is certainly hurting his efforts right now.

Azeem Victor is on pace for close to 120 tackles for the season, with double digit tackles for loss.  He'll be recognized on some level, as long as he can stay out of his own way.

Josh Perkins is on pace for 50+ catches and over 600 yards receiving.  I'd expect him to be at least honorable mention.

As much grief as Dwayne Washington has taken so far this season, he's on pace for around 1,500 yards from scrimmage and more than 15 TD's.  That would merit recognition.

With as many players as are given honorable mention status, other candidates include Keishawn Bierria, Kevin King, Siosifa Tufunga, Corey Littleton, Jake Browning, Korey Durkee, Cameron Van Winkle, and Chico McClatcher.

Why has the offense run so few plays? Slower pace seems part of it -- would speeding up a bit help the O a bit? Or has college D's caught up to the up-tempo offenses and it wouldn't matter?

UWDP: The slower pace is certainly part of it.  The bigger parts are: 1.  Turnovers.  The Huskies are turning the ball over on almost 20% of their meaningful drives (not including kneel-downs), and 2.  Inability to sustain drives.  The Huskies are very poor at converting 3rd downs thus far this season.  The offense isn't "explosive" in terms of generating big plays, and is really only moderately efficient.

I'm really not sure if increasing the tempo would help or hurt this offense.  I've grown to generally like playing fast, but as you mention, everyone is doing it now, so maybe slowing things down is being "unique."  With as many young guys playing at key positions, taking the time to make sure everyone can do the little things right (like lining up in the correct formation) makes some sense.  It gives guys some time to process information.  On the other hand, playing fast forces the offense to simplify to a degree (as far as formations, motion, pre-snap adjustments, etc.), as well as limiting what the defense is able to do, so there might be some benefit there.

It would create an absolute greater number of possessions, and hence, more plays.  It also creates more plays for the defense, though.

I could really go either way.  As this team gets more experienced (like next season and beyond), I hope they'll look to speed things up.  But I'm okay with the way things are being done right now.

Ben Nice:
Since I believe in the coaching staff, after 4 games and a bye week to self scout and reassess am I wrong to expect the Huskies to come out and play their best game to date and beat USC?
UWDP: Wrong?  Absolutely not.  For me personally, I can dispassionately evaluate the team in the offseason, but I can't remember the last time I walked in to the stadium or turned on the TV without that feeling that, "hey, we can pul this one out!"  Well, actually I can.  The Willingham Error.

I certainly hope that the staff put a lot of effort in to self-scouting the team.  I bet they did, but I also bet they put a lot of time into recruiting as well.  The thing with a young team is that progress isn't going to be linear, much to the chagrin of the fan base.  I really do think there's enough potential that things are just going to pop some game, and it could very well be this week.  I do expect the team to play better.  I'm not sure it's going to be enough to pull out the win on the road, though.

Are you concerned about the clap snap at all? I know there's a rule about "disconcerting signals" (i.e. intentionally messing with the snap count), but what would prevent a defense from doing some clapping of their own and claiming it's how their defense calls audibles or something like that? My big fear is that we end up going into a hostile environment and all of a sudden we need to switch to a silent count that we've probably barely prepared for.

UWDP: I think that Browning does a good job not being predictable with it.  You'll see him fake the clap a couple of times, or even have the team go on the second or third clap instead of the first.

The Coliseum holds a ton of people, but I don't really think it's a particularly loud environment.  And with LA traffic and a 6:00 pm kickoff, it make take a while to fill up.  If it does at all.

I don't think the team is unprepared to use a silent count.  It's not what they've done thus far, but I know it's something they do work on some.  Petersen mentioned as much this week.

As for the defense using claps to disrupt the offense, sure, it's a possibility.  It's something we'll have to count on the coaches managing during the course of the game, if it becomes an issue.

Let's assume that Jonathan Smith is an average OC. What would our record be if we had an above average to good OC? What about a great OC?

UWDP: This team isn't very far from being 4-0 with this offensive coordinator.

I think we've gone around and around on this here to safely say that people are pretty well dug in to their respective positions.  Lots of people think that changing out Smith for "Coach X" is the difference.  For me, I'm not convinced that the issues don't run a lot deeper.

And people have to realize - This is Chris Petersen's offense.  Jonathan Smith didn't design it, he just calls the plays.  I have a hard time believing that Petersen doesn't have a large impact in the game plan during the week.

I am getting married this weekend, on the UW bye week. Then will go on my honeymoon in Mexico where I will (finally!) be on west coast time to watch the USC v UW game on Thursday with no work on Friday! Greatest planning effort by a groom ever? Or dumbest lucky move by a grom ever?

UWDP: Dumbest lucky move ever, no doubt.  The question will be whether or not the new bride lets you watch a football game on your honeymoon.  If she does, you've got a good woman there.

I had the exact same deal with my wedding, but in the opposite way.  I managed to plan mine on the day of the Final Four.  We added an apology in the bulletin for doing that to everyone.

You'll have to let us know how it turns out, Dave.

Who wants to beat the other more? Do the Huskies want to beat Sark or does Sark want to beat the Huskies more? Or are there no feelings involved either way?

UWDP: It's pretty amazing that about half of the guys on the two-deeps for this game never even went through a single practice under Steve Sarkisian.

As much as I think Petersen is going to work to keep these guys on an even emotional keel, I think it's pretty likely that a lot of the guys that spent some time under Sarkisian (and the rest of the defensive staff in particular) are going to want to beat them.  And you have to think the 20-year olds are going to be a lot more emotional, playing in the game and all, than the 40 year-old guy on the sideline.

But I also think that Sarkisian is going to want to win this one pretty badly.  I think he'll preach this being "just another game" to his team and the media, but I really don't think that's the case.

Thanks for the questions.  I'm off to paint my face.