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Mailbag - Post Season #1

The secret of success is to move from one mistake to the next without losing your enthusiasm.

Nice block.
Nice block.
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

A few useless facts:

  • In the arctic, the sun sometimes appears to be square.
  • Camels have three eyelids.
  • The average person laughs ten times per day.
  • A healthy human eye can distinguish between over 500 shades of gray.
  • The voice of the AOL file "You've got mail" was done by Elwood Edwards.
  • Americans are responsible for approximately 1/5 of the world's garbage.
  • Locusts are the most-frequently mentioned bug in the Bible.
  • Due to precipitation, K2 is actually taller than Mt. Everest for a few weeks each year, on average.
  • If the world experienced the same mortality rate it did in 1900, more than half of the people on earth wouldn't be alive.
  • The Romans used to make toothpaste out of urine.
  • Around 7 million cars are junked each year in the US.
  • Camel's milk doesn't curdle.
  • In 1933, Mickey Mouse received more than 800,000 pieces of fan mail.
On to your questions.  Better late than never.  Maybe.


How much more impact will John Ross bring for next year's team and does he have the talent to be a First team Pac-12 reciever?

UWDP: It's really tough to say what he'll be able to bring next season.  For one, he's coming off an ACL injury, and even though it'll be 18 months in the rear view mirror by the time the 2016 season starts, it's tough to forecast if he'll have all of that speed back, or if he ever will.  For another, he added 15 pounds to his frame, and that could also impact his speed some.

And in all honesty, and I'm not knocking Ross by any stretch, the only weapon he's really shown as a freshman and sophomore, was speed.  In abundance.  I'm not trying to put a limit on him, but objectively, that's what he's shown.  He isn't polished as a receiver, he's not a great route runner, and not much of a blocker.  And it's worth noting that even when he was healthy last year, the coaches saw more value in playing Ross at corner back than at receiver.  That could have been out of necessity, though.

That sheer speed makes him a weapon from just about anywhere on the field, no matter what.  And since he's had such a long recovery, it mitigates the injury effect to a large degree; it's a matter of how well he's healed more than simply having the time to get back to full health.

I'm optimistic about Ross in large part due to the weight he put on.  At 5' 11" and 192 pounds, he doesn't really fall in to that "small receiver" category as much anymore.  Even if he's lost a shade from his superlative speed, that added strength should help him in getting off the line, and in fighting for the ball in the air.  And if he's willing, as a blocker.

The natural (and logical) assumption is that Ross steps in at the slot for the departing Jaydon Mickens.  I'm not sure that Chico McClatcher doesn't provide a little more versatility there.  With the added size, Ross is actually one of the biggest scholarship receivers on the roster.  I really hope the coaches give him a look on the outside in the spring.

As for being first team all-conference as a receiver, I highly doubt it.  Five of the top receivers (by all conference selections in 2015) have eligibility left.  With a team that likely isn't going to pass as much as many others in the conference, nor run as many plays, it's doubtful that Ross is going to unseat any of those guys.  His best chance is as a return specialist.

Yet Another Paul:

What's the QB situation for next year? KJCS transfers and Lindquist graduates? Or do they really sell the "built for life" concept and keep all 4 current QB's?

UWDP: No one is going to be "forced" out.  I highly doubt that Jeff Lindquist elects to move on from football.  I think the only real question is if someone elects to transfer.  KJ Carta-Samuels is the most likely candidate, since he's a freshman stuck behind another freshman in Jake Browning.  It's possible that Tony Rodriguez sees that playing time is highly unlikely, and also elects to step down a level to in order to play right away.  I doubt both of them leave, though.  If all of them want to stay, the Huskies will have at least five QB's on the roster heading in to 2016.  Possibly six, if a certain high schooler a little ways north of Seattle shocks the world and stays home.

If I had to bet real money, I'd put Lindquist, Browning, Rodriguez, and Daniel Bridge-Gadd on the roster, and Carta-Samuels leaving.


Has someone ever tracked all the individual pac12 refs to identify which ones make the most errant calls, or if certain ones have biases towards certain teams? I just got done reading Freakanomics, and this seems like an intriguing case study. With instant replay it would be very interesting to start tracking two stats for individual refs: 1) how many blatant bad calls they have made (where both sides would agree it's a bad call), and 2) when a "grey area" call is made which team got the benefit of the doubt. After a season or two of tracking this you would have a very statistically/empirically valid assessment of how incompetent or biased each ref/reffing crew is. This would be incredibly valuable to Vegas odds setters and fans alike. Does this exist or should I go get a Kickstarter going?

UWDP: This would be a great doctoral thesis.  From just checking around, I can't find anything like that, although I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Vegas oddsmakers and serious bettors have compiled this sort of information (neither would make it public).  Kickstarter it is, for the rest of us.  As an FYI, you should read Super Freakonomics and The Evolution of Human Behavior.


Is Dwayne Washington still on the team?

UWDP: Yes, and Chris Petersen's "chronic leg injury" comment is cryptic to say the least.  Chronic for the year?  Chronic for his career?  I know a lot of people are down on Dwayne Washington following the Utah game, but he's a valuable weapon for this team, even though Myles Gaskin has cemented himself as the lead runner.  As a receiver, and a blocker, and a runner.  If he can hold on to the ball.


Can you tell us all about Guy Flaherty ?

UWDP: Guy Flaherty played for the Huskies in the early 1900's.  He played every minute of every game in 1906 and 1907.  He developed a severe case of boils on his arm, and missed all but the first and last games of 1908.  Even though he was too handicapped to play, he attended every practice, and performed manager and assistant manager duties in 1908.  Following the 1908 season, the senior class used the last $25 in the treasury to create a "Most Inspirational Player" award, and Flaherty was the unanimous choice.  The medal was named in his honor, and is the oldest in Husky football history.  Taniela Tupou was the 108th winner following the 2015 season.


Teaching old dogs new tricks: Should we expect improvements to all running backs next year as they learn from Gaskin on how it's done? (In addition to our O-line getting one more off season to increase strength and become more comfy in the system?) This is less of a question and more about applauding Gaskin...the kid is a great player (let's plays develop, turns losses into gains, carries people for extra yards, and my favorite quality is that he humbly gives the ball to the ref and trots off the field without doing some lame celebration after scoring) ... seems like a great example of how to play the game....his position can be tough on bodies, so does his success improve the play of others who can effectively take on some of his carries so he has a longer career?

UWDP: I - firmly - believe that you can't teach players the things that Gaskin does that make him a really good running back.  Over the years, I'm sure he's worked to refine his craft, but the bulk of his talent is innate.  He was born with it.  And that's true for just about every great running back, and every mediocre one.  Coaching matters, but it's mostly about winning the genetic lottery, and then maximizing it.

Having him on the roster certainly serves to foster competition, and that's a tremendous positive.  Guys on the roster that want to carry the rock know the standard at the UW for the next couple of years, and know they're going to have to work to maximize every bit of ability that they have.

I agree about just handing the ball to a referee after scoring.  To me, it's the best celebration in football.


Recruiting ? How many scholarships will be available this recruiting round ? Do we have a 'line' on any tall fast receivers ? Will D.Washington be ready next year ? (receiver?)


With the recruiting season being close to over, how many scholarships do they have left and who are they looking at?

UWDP: There are people far better equipped than me to answer this question, and hopefully they'll chime in in the comments.  Most of the big-time names have been floated out here fairly regularly.  And even though the Huskies' class is going to be relatively small and is mostly filled, it sounds like there might be some pleasant surprises coming the UW's way in the always-tumultuous final two months until signing day.


Seems we've ridden the emotional rollercoaster when it's come to talking about Chris Petersen and this coaching staff this year. One week, we're lauding him as the next coach to lead us to a conference title and the next week we're lambasted him as the next failed coach out of Boise State. Now with the regular season in the books, how would you assess the job he and his staff have done?

UWDP: Riding that emotional rollercoaster is largely the nature of fandom for most of us.  The highs are too high, and the lows are too low.

A lot of it depends on where you started prior to the season.  If you were one that had high expectations, the season was a disappointment as a whole.  If you shared the same Las Vegas predictions of four or so wins, then the coaching staff probably exceeded your expectations.  My prediction for the season was six wins, so the staff did what was about expected, but that was before I knew the Huskies were going to be starting as many freshmen as they did, and at as many key positions.  And even though the team about hit my expectations, they certainly didn't do it in any sort of way I would've predicted, other than to be inconsistent.

The work on the defensive side of the ball was pretty much outstanding across the board.  And even though a lot of people are really down on Jonathan Smith still, I think we saw glimpses of what the offense can look like when it's playing at a high level.  Not very sexy, but efficient, and effective.  Very quarterback-driven.

I've done my level best to avoid the rollercoaster this season, because a lot of us saw a moderate step back a couple of years ago, regardless of the coaching staff.  For me, I think 2015 is a very solid foundation.  I would've liked to have more success (duh), but the team can build on this.


Helton hired by USC...
__ bad news ?
__ good news ?
__ we'll see ?
Any opinions ?

UWDP: On the surface, it's a little bit of all three.  In the short term, it's good for the rest of the conference, it's relatively bad for USC (as they probably could've done better), and there's a lot of "we'll see."  To me, Clay Helton is largely a milquetoast hire.  He's got a solid but unspectacular resume as an assistant - with only three years as a coordinator, but no prior head coaching experience outside of a single game as interim head coach for USC in 2013.  Would USC have been better off taking the interim tag off of Ed Orgeron instead?

USC is still mostly USC in terms of recruiting, but it's a broken organization right now.  And that goes well above who's coaching the team.  First, even though the crippling sanctions are finally over, the Trojans are still feeling the effect, even if fans don't want to hear it as an excuse.  The same way sanctions followed the Huskies in the mid-90's long after they were "officially" over.  And just as importantly, Pat Haden has completely mismanaged the USC football program the last several years.  His hirings, his firings, his lack of transparency, his heavy-handedness....It's shocking to me that an alum as bright as Haden could be so bad at his job.


If the same Husky team that ended this season were to replay the full schedule, my sense is that they'd win 9 or 10 of the games (instead of 6). In light of that, how many wins is it reasonable to expect from them next year, with a year more maturity and a relatively easier schedule? I honestly think 10 wins would be a reasonable over/under to start the betting. Whatever it is, expectations going into next year will (reasonably) be the highest they've been in a several decades.

UWDP: I might not go quite as high as 9 or 10, but I certainly think they'd win more than six.  Even though they're playing a lot better in November (and hopefully December) than they did in September, I still think this team's biggest issue is the inconsistency of youth, and it probably would've bitten them somewhere along the way.

They're going to be better in 2016, no doubt.  The non-conference schedule is easier, but the conference schedule is more difficult, given that the team has 4 home games and 5 on the road.

If we're just talking regular season, if the over/under was 8.5, I'd take the over all day.  If it's 9.5, and I was forced to bet an amount of money I couldn't afford to lose, it'd be a tough bet either way.  The Pac 12 isn't a cakewalk, and the Huskies are still going to be counting on a lot of (now experienced) underclassmen on offense.  I feel safe calling it a nine win team in the regular season, but have a tougher time going with 10 wins.

Expectations are going to be pretty high, but they were pretty high heading into the 2013 season, and in 2010, and 2000 and 2001.  This might be the best chance to meet, or exceed, them, though.


I read where UW has faced the WSU back up in 6 of the last 7 Apple Cups. Do you think that it's because WSU exposes their QB so much over the course of the season with the number of passes they throw or is it related to a lack of depth on the line?

UWDP: It's both.  WSU's offensive line was probably the best it's been in more than a decade in 2015, but it was still nothing more than "average" for the Pac 12, and probably on the low end of that.  It was truly bad in the Paul Wulff era, as were the Cougs in general.  But when you look at the sheer number of plays they run under Mike Leach....That's a lot of extra exposure for their QB's.  In 2015, Cougar QB's threw the ball 685 times.  Husky QB's only attempted 362 passes.  Even though WSU doesn't allow an egregious number of sacks as a percentage of pass attempts, the absolute number is high.  Very high.  Tied for second-most sacks allowed in the conference.


Here's to hoping Steve Sarkisian gets his life back in order! AA can do wonders BTW. On that note, if he decides to get back into college coaching do you think he'll start in a lower pressure Mountain West type of situation and work his way back?

UWDP: I'd bet Steve Sarkisian does get back into coaching, but it's going to be a fair amount of time until he's given the keys to a college program at any level.

It wouldn't surprise me if he initially starts out as a quarterbacks coach in the NFL.  Regardless of what people around here think of him based on his time at Washington and his very public self-destruction at USC, the guy knows how to build quarterbacks.  And if he can show that he can stay sober while doing that for a couple of years, I could see him moving back to the college level as an offensive coordinator for another couple of years, and then maybe getting a shot as a head coach again.  But he's going to have to prove, for a long time, that he can stay sober while managing the rigors of coaching.  People love a redemption story, though.  If he wants it, and can handle it, I think he gets another head job again.


Way too early, but how about a preliminary 2016 Pac 12 Ranking?

UWDP: Here's one prediction:  Both the winners of the north and the south will have at least two losses, and the Pac 12 will be shut out of the playoffs again in 2016.  Half of the conference is going to be breaking in new quarterbacks next season.  It's likely to be another volatile season.

In the South, I think it's going to come down to the two LA schools, and I think that even with a new quarterback at USC, they have enough tools on both sides of the ball to win the division.  UCLA is second.  ASU and Utah tie for third, Arizona is fifth, and Colorado, which actually showed a fair amount of heart in a lot of their losses, is going to be better, but still last.

Although both will be breaking in new quarterbacks, Stanford and Oregon have to be considered the class of the north until someone knocks them off.  Stanford at least has a succession plan in place, while Oregon may go off the reservation again with another FCS transfer.  While Oregon's defense was truly bad in 2015, they played a lot of young players in the secondary that improved late in the season, and were probably the best team in the conference at the end of the year.  Stanford's losses on the offensive line are pretty monumental, but they've shown the propensity to reload there.  Stanford and Oregon tie in the standings, but the Cardinal get the nod by virtue of a tie breaker.  The Huskies are solidly third, and knocking on the door for the top spot.  WSU is fourth, Cal is a distant fifth assuming Jarred Goff leaves, and the Beavers are an even more distant sixth.


Are Howling Husky and UWdadVanc one and the same?

UWDP: Have you ever seen them at the same time?  Me neither.


Lauren Locker (nee Greer) is pregnant for the 3rd time. Prediction of how long until Jake gets snipped?

UWDP: I'll take a pass on discussing Jake Locker's junk.  But if there was ever a couple that should have an entire litter of future Huskies, can you think of a better one?

All for now, folks.  Make sure to check out the basketball game this afternoon.  As always, GO DAWGS!!!!