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Mailbag - To Bowl, or Not to Bowl Edition

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If you're cold, you should go into a corner, because they're 90 degrees.

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Your useless facts.

  • The word "slut" originally referred to a woman who kept an untidy bedroom.
  • Marilyn Monroe had six toes on one foot.
  • The average chocolate bar contains eight insect legs, and
  • Anything with less than 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate is deemed safe to eat by the Food and Drug Aministration.
  • A rhinoceros horn is made of compacted hair.
  • The youngest pope was 11 years old.
  • The youngest mother on record was five years, seven months old.  The father is unknown.
  • China has more English speakers than the United States.
  • The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and England in 1896.  Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.
  • The average person shares a birthday with approximately 9 million other people world-wide.
  • The longest word in the English language has 1,909 letters, and refers to a specific part of DNA.
  • You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than a poisonous spider.
  • No new animal species have been domesticated in the last 4,000 years.
  • Humans are born without knee caps.  They don't appear until some time between two and six years.
  • February of 1865 is the only month to not have a full moon.
  • The only 15 letter word without duplicating a single letter is "uncopyrightable."
To the questions, yo.

jwnewman:

Does Chris Petersen and Jonathan Smith have what it takes to win a Pac-12 title at Washington? What is this program's ceiling with the current staff?

Lucas Shannon:

Hey Brad, First off, what a disaster of a game. So frustrating to leave so many points on the board in the first quarter. Okay, enough venting, onto the question. So, some UW fans are starting to get worried that Coach Pete just ain't that guy, and point to his pedestrian 12-12 record start at UW as evidence that he may not be the answer. While I still find that sentiment to be a little ridiculous (though at this point I'd like to see him let go of Pease) there is one stat that does seems like a red flag, and that is that Pete only has two home conference wins under his belt during his tenure here. What, if anything should I make of that?

FedUPDawgFan:

At what point is do we as fans have to question if Chris Petersen is Dan Hawkins 2.0? We are a little over a year and a half into the Petersen era and although we've seen some good recruiting, the issues with the offense are so obvious even my Kewg friends don't even think it's funny anymore. Is this the year Petersen finally fires an assistant coach? If he doesn't fire Smith, should Petersen's seat start to get hot?

UWDP: And the rumblings grow louder....

I'm concerned about all of the things mentioned here, but not to the point that I don't think Petersen will ever win here at a level Husky fans will accept, or that he's "the next Dan Hawkins."  The home record against Pac 12 foes is disappointing, for sure, as are the results in general the last two seasons.  To be fair, though, the losses at home have mostly come to good teams.  And the sample size is pretty small, especially when you combine it with the other factors surrounding the Huskies.

Personality-wise, Chris Petersen is not real similar to Dan Hawkins, and that's a far greater predictor of success than the school preceding school of employment.  I don't know much about Colorado's football situation in the mid-2000's, but the way that team fell apart makes me wonder if the issues there didn't run deeper than just the head coach.  That's not to excuse Hawkins' results - he was terrible on the field and off.  If Petersen fails at Washington, it's not going to be because he came from Boise State, it'll be because he wasn't a good enough football coach at Washington.

This season was coming, folks.  We've been talking about it around here since 2013.  It wasn't really going to matter who the head coach was.  I get that people wanted and expected Petersen to mitigate it better than he has.  Especially since things went poorly last year.  I'm still at the point that I'm taking the long view, and that the lumps that this team is taking now are going to pay off on the back end.

I admit that I'm probably going to be concerned if the team still looks like this at the end of next season, but I also think the offense is a lot closer than most people to actually being pretty good.  Not the video game numbers that some teams put up, but an efficient, effective one that can put pressure on the opposition on its own, and really make the work the Husky defense does shine bright.

An assistant might lose his job at the end of the season.  It's possible that it needs to happen.  But if there are changes to the offense, I still believe they need to come at a level higher than Jonathan Smith or Brent Pease.

eddawg:

sigh...difficult losses for sure but what gives me hope are 2 things. 1) most knowledgeable huskies talk about their faith in the way Pete is building the program and 2) this year's youth/inexperience will be better next year while huge number of teams will be very different and much weaker next year (just look at the husky schedule and the key players teams will lose). Am I mostly thinking straight here?

UWDP: It's much more #1 than #2.  At least the second part.  All teams lose players every season.  The Huskies can't expect to rise in the standings simply due to other teams falling backward.  They've got to improve at a rate that's faster relative to the rest of the conference.

I think there's a solid core in place in the two youngest classes on the roster.  In the big picture, development over all has been better than average.  I think there's a quarterback in place that genuinely "fits" Chris Petersen's offense, and he's going to take a huge step forward once he's able to step away from the heat of battle and change his focus a little.  There's as much potential on the offensive line as there's been for two decades.

I'm not sure if the schedule is easier or more difficult next season.  The out of conference schedule is most definitely so, but in the Pac 12, they have four home games (against Stanford, Arizona State, USC, and Oregon State), and five road games (at Utah, Cal, Oregon, Arizona, and WSU).

Time to just be better than the rest of the teams that fill the muddled middle of the Pac 12.  2016 sounds like a good time to do it.

tualcoloop:

I think the excuse that this is a young team is running thin. It turns out this is a really good team that seems to under perform. When do you anticipate the switch turning on for this team in order to win some close competitive games?

UWDP: I know Husky fans are tired of hearing it, but this is a young team.  It's seemingly been the mantra the last decade.  But when you look at the two-deeps, it's the reality of 2015.  The experience they've gotten has been great, but the 11 weeks it's come in doesn't change that.

It's an inconsistent team that seemingly makes mistakes at the worst times, and frequently in bunches.  That's what young teams do.  They don't finish.  And it manifests itself as "not performing."

I expect it next year, and that's not just hope and wishful thinking.  The defense is going to be lead by an extremely salty group of juniors.  If the offensive line is breaking in more than one new starter, it's due to an infusion of talent and not necessity.  And those bookend tackles - one of whom has been playing o-line for just shy of a year now, and one who is eight-freakin'-teen years old - are going to have another offseason of learning to play the position at the college level.  As for Browning, I think a step away from the heat of battle is going to help him immensely.  He's going to be a very high level quarterback in 2016.

costaricadawg:

Am I the only one who is 'teetering' at the edge of the Browning band wagon ? Our defense is good enough to win games.Our offense has/is about the PAC -12 worst. Our offense is still a work in progress. This blog has been quick to be critical of OC Smiths play calling...very little has been written about Browning;s fumbles and interceptions. I know he was great in High School. I know too that he's not a rookie any more.(Spring and 9 games).Yes, he seems to have 'fire in the belly' so do players on the bench. Any one ?

UWDP: I think there are more than a few Husky fans that aren't as high on Jake Browning right now as they were after, say, the Arizona game.  I'm not in that camp.  I'm actually quite a bit higher on him.

For a true freshman quarterback playing behind a very green offensive line in a conference like the Pac 12, I think Browning's last three games have established a really, really high trajectory.  Yes, he's made huge, glaring mistakes that have negatively impacted the Huskies' chance to win two of those games.  But that's the nature of the QB position.  Every fan sees every interception he throws, sack he takes, and fumble he loses.  He's spotlighted on every single offensive snap, and his mistakes are the most obvious, and have the greatest affect on the game.

Like the rest o the offense, Browning is thisclose to breaking through.  Although I'd hoped it could happen this year, I didn't really expect it unless the rest of the offense could somehow grow up with him.  That's a lot to ask.

Are you saying you want to bench him?

dgdawg:

What'd we all expect with a true freshman QB at the controls?

UWDP: If we knew who was going to be starting at key positions this past offseason, most fans would expect the offense to struggle.  In the offseason, it's a lot easier to think with your head.  Once the ball kicks off, the heart leads.

Alex:

I'll ask an optimistic question. How does John Ross improve the offense next year? I feel a lot of #UDubtwitter was despondent at the long run prospects of the position yesterday but forgot we're playing without our best player from last year.

UWDP: The only remotely silver lining to Ross' injury was that it happened in the offseason as opposed to, say, game four.  He's going to have around 18 months to get fully healthy.

As to how he impacts the offense next year, we're going to have to see.  There's no doubt he can make plays none of the other receivers on the roster can make due to his sheer speed, but I don't think he would've been penciled in as "the best" receiver coming in to this season.  There are a lot of aspects of the position that he struggled with last year, so much so that he was moved to corner back in the middle of the season.

The biggest reason for optimism for me with regard to Ross is the fact that he put on 13 pounds.  At 5' 11" and 192 pounds, he's not really an itty-bitty guy like he was in 2014.  That's actually pretty solid.  Even if he loses a hair off that speed (either due to the injury or the added weight), he'll still have plenty, and the extra strength should give him an edge in beating jams at the line of scrimmage, in fighting for balls in the air, and in his edge blocking.

There are reasons to be optimistic, there's no doubt.

Forests3:

Have we any hope at receiver with our new recruits? Our recievers are average at best.

UWDP: Man, I don't know.  I have a lot of concern as well.

On the upside, Brayden Lenius has improved a great deal since last season, although I'm not sure how much of that is just do to increased opportunity.  With his size and his hands, he's got quite a bit of potential, especially if he can get more physical.  And Isaiah Renfro has seen his role expand as the season has gone on, and shown that he can play.

I would've liked to have seen more growth from Dante Pettis.  But he's still young, and has shown some untapped potential.

This is probably the position group that Petersen et al have struggled the most to land a future star, or to identify a hidden talent (at least one that could produce at a high level early).  Things are hazy at best for the 2016 class, but perception changes - dramatically - if the staff could manage to land a guy like Javon McKinley or Steffon McKnight.  And should he end up here, Zach Farrar out of Texas has the measurables to be that hidden gem type of player.

sadhusky:

We have had our new coaching staff for 2 years now. WSU has had their new coaching staff same time. Who had done the better job? I would argue that Mike Leach has blown Chris Petersons staff away on offense and overall game planning and execution while UW ha the edge on defense and gimmicky plays. WSU staff seems to have done much more with the talent they inherited than UW did. Your thought? And, will Chris Peterson EVER see the light and get rid of Pease and Choate?

UWDP: This is Leach's fourth season at WSU.  Even with the good record this year, Leach is still 19-28 in Pullman.

I'm not going to compare them, because it's a useless exercise, and the styles are so different.  But if I was going to do it, I'll wait until Petersen's fourth year, and compare it to Leach's first four.

Ozdawg:

Given the injury to Qualls has shown the need to keep rotational players in the middle, does UW really have any chance with Boss T or Rashard L? If not them then who. Also how great would it be to use Qualls (a former running back) as the RB in short yardage situations?

UWDP: Hopefully, someone that follows recruiting more closely than me will step in and provide an update with either guy, if there's one to give.  But right now, all signs point to Lawrence picking between Alabama and LSU, and Tagaloa probably a UCLA lean.  Things can change with a visit, and both will probably make it to Montlake.

Jonathan Kongbo is a real possibility.  He's playing defensive end now, but could easily grow in to the position.  And there are a number of other guys on the roster that could do so as well.

But outside of those three, and with a very small class, the answer might be "none."   I'd like to get one every year, but it's not worth reaching.


jhfstyle24:

The Huskies seem to be doing remarkably well in recruiting despite not getting the on-field results. If they don't make a bowl game (Which I consider likely), do you think that will have a major impact on recruiting? Also, why are top-tier receivers committing away from UW when a) There is instant playing time available and b) Our great young QB Browning has at least two years left?

UWDP: I don't think not making a bowl in 2015 would have a major impact on the 2016 recruiting class, although there's one highly-rated member that might look around a little more in Camilo Eifler.

Missing a bowl probably has a greater effect on the 2017 class, but again, I don't think it's too dramatic.  Recruiting is still mostly about relationships.

I don't know on the receiver.  It's still a small enough sample size that it could just be randomness.  And most of the top-tier receivers either A) committed before Jake Browning had shown much, and B) are committing to schools that have their own version of Jake Browning.  It's possible that Brent Pease is either a neutral or a negative in recruiting.  Someone else would have to speak to that.

gary:

Why does the o line continue to have problems staying on their blocks. Why do we have lineman who get beat time after time. Browning fumbled the ball against Utah after a new lineman came in for an injured player. I think it was no#70. He came in and on his first snap the apposing player ran right around him and made Browning fumble and cost us the game. This problem is on the coaches!! What are these lineman doing all week before the Sat game. STAY ON YOUR BLOCKS--PERIOD. IF YOU CAN'T-- DON'T PLAN TO PLAY

UWDP: If only it was as easy as simply yelling at them....

The Huskies have linemen that are getting beaten because they are young, or inexperienced, or both.  Kaleb McGary is a redshirt freshman that's been playing offensive line for 11 months now.  Trey Adams was in high school at this time last year.  There just aren't upperclassmen to fill their positions.  And arguably, the talent on the interior isn't at the highest level relative to the rest of the conference, but again, the guys that will likely take over those spots in the next couple of years are true freshmen right now.

Sure, the problem is on the coaches.  And the offensive line has improved a fair amount over the course of the season, which is also on the coaches.

Tailgater:

The specter of UW players failing to execute sufficiently to win games has risen again amongst some disgruntled fans. Coaches Petersen, Kwiatkowski, and Smith all suggested following the ASU loss that lack of execution and insufficient urgency in game preparations could prevent Huskies from winning the remaining games as needed to become bowl eligible. Obviously, we can see that what the coaches are saying in the media must be true since the Huskies have been losing more that they win, but my question is how can going public with their player's shortcomings be helpful? I think that this type of coach-speak to the media is making excuses for their team's lack of performance and it sounds to much like Tyrone Willingham to suit me. I don't doubt that Huskies need to work harder on the fundamentals of game preparation and focus in order to execute much better, but shouldn't talk about this take place only between coaches and players behind closed doors and not drug through the media? The lack of player execution speech always sounds to me like coaches making excuses for their "process" losing another game.

UWDP: Losing coaches can never say the right thing after games.  Because they lost.  And it's even worse when you lose more than you win, because you have to keep talking about losses, and the vast, vast majority of coaches answer the same questions the same way over the course of the season.  If they always answered with "it's a coaching problem," fans would be equally as upset.

I sort of agree with you - it does sound a little like Tyrone Willingham.  It also sounds like Steve Sarkisian, and Rick Neuheisel, and Keith Gilbertson, and Jim Lambright.  And fans like to gloss over the times these guys did say it was up to them to get the players to execute better.

The Huskies have lost six of 10 games they've played, Tailgater.  What would make those six post-game interviews palatable for you?

dawginparadise:

Looking ahead to next season (and who isn't!!), am wondering about potential coaching staff changes. So two questions...1) regardless of the criticism of OC Smith (and we have all taken our shots at him), I think he will be retained as there are signs of improved game calling/management. I get the feeling that Smith is a Coach Pete protege and Pete will be mentoring him until Smith gets his big break in the coaching profession. What's your take? And 2) I think we need a huge upgrade at WR and Coach Pease may be the odd-man out. Again your take?

UWDP: I pretty much agree with you on point one.  While people point to the lack of effort in running the ball against ASU, I thought Chris Petersen made it fairly clear that even if they were to run more, it wasn't going to be substantially so.  I believe he said "a handful more attempts."  Jonathan Smith was hired to do what Chris Petersen wants him to do.  And if he wasn't, Petersen would've had that changed by now.

It's tough to really say about Pease.  He's probably got the least to work with, but it's arguable that he's also getting the least out of what he has.  And the recruiting at receiver certainly seems to be lagging.  I don't know how much of that is on him, though.

I do agree there's potential to upgrade, but Petersen places a high value on continuity.

jdke:

Do you take b-ball questions here? If so, how much should expectations change after just one win?

UWDP: There was a lot to like about the way the team played last week.  Particularly how hard they battled inside against a team that was a lot bigger than the young Dawgs.

My expectations are already higher than what the media has for the UW, so I'm personally not going to change anything right now.  I want to see how things look in the Bahamas.

Benno:

That was a highly disappointing game. In your opinion, was it a failure of execution, poor play-calling, or complacency in the second half? I simply could not figure out what happened.

UWDP: All of those things.  Coaching, execution, some bad luck, Arizona State staying positive and making plays, and just not coming out after half time with very much life.  I don't know how that happens.  That was the biggest coaching deficiency to me, and not something that I can really remember under Petersen (the first half is a different story).

It wasn't just the second half, though.  Momentum swung big-time in the first half when ASU state scored.  And the Huskies failed to take advantage of some big play opportunities.

I don't really know, either.  Weird game.

Rhaego:

When is it ok to feel bitter about this season? Have we fans earned it yet?

UWDP: Why would you be bitter, Ragu?  Honest question.  Toward whom?  About what?

Disappointed, I can understand.  Not as sure about bitter, though.

Rhaego:
If we lose to the Cougars, Christmas is cancelled in my house. My poor cat won't get any toys. All booze and tears, no fun. Let's see... I need a question....... if we are 5-6 entering Apple Cup, who will want to win more? Will the Huskies want to go bowling or will the cougs relish the thought of locking us out?

UWDP: I don't actually know this to be true, but I'd wager the Cougars always want to win that game more.  Maybe I'm wrong, but the animosity seems to flow in one direction more than the other.

This year might be the rare exception to that, though.  The Cougs are locked out of the Pac 12 North based on tie breakers, so they're playing for bowl positioning and bragging rights.  The Huskies are playing to avoid a losing season, make a bowl, and bragging rights.  It won't necessarily mean anything on the field, but I think the Huskies are going to have a little more juice than will the Cougs.

Okay, just a few more words to get to 4,000 for this piece....Almost there....Almost there...Come on....And there we have it for another week.  It's time to take it to the Beavers.  One game at a time and all that jazz...With that, it's the 4,000 word plateau.  Signing off now.