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Post Spring Mailbag #5

Questions and answers as we wile away the days to the start of practices in two months....

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Pamela Anderson is Canada's Centennial Baby, being the first baby born on the centennial anniversary of Canada's independence.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

Donald Duck cartoons were once banned in Finland because Donald doesn't wear pants.

The placement of its eyes on a donkey's head allows it to see all four of its feet at the same time.

Leave your other interesting facts in the comments section.


Coach Pete had his greatest success with an offense featuring a blocking fullback. What was his rational for abandoning it in favor of a single back spread? Did this coincide with a change in offensive coordinators?

UWDP: Did they actually use a fullback that much?  I'll take your word for it, but that's really not my recollection of Boise State football between 2006 and 2012.  I always think of them as being a one-back base offense that primarily ran 11 or 12 personnel.  And when they did go 21, it seems like it was a slot back in the backfield with a true running back as often as it was a fullback.  I could very well be remembering it wrong, so anyone, feel free to correct me.

They obviously ran a more "traditional" offense, though.  And they used a fullback far more frequently than the zero times a Chris Petersen team did in 2013 and 2014.  But just like the Huskies since about 2002, the Broncos mostly ran a "spread" attack in those early years.  Just not one that was centered around the zone-read rushing attack, and not one run at a fast pace.  Which is what I think you mean.

Yes, it coincided with a change in coordinators, when Brett Pease was hired away to run Florida's offense and was replaced by Robert Prince.  But it's not like Prince sneaked this past Petersen.  Petersen bought off on the idea, and probably because he felt it was the evolution of college football, the same way Steve Sarkisian did here in 2013.

It's maybe worth noting that Petersen's replacement at Boise State, Bryan Harsin, who coordinated those Boise State offenses from 2006-2010, has also adopted some of the zone-read looks with the Broncos, although from a traditional huddle.  It really doesn't look like Washington's offense, but you see a lot of pistol formations, and at least the look of a zone read between the quarterback and the running back.


Which game in which he Huskies will be an underdog (say greater than 4 point underdogs) will the Huskies win this year for Coach Pete's first signature win?

UWDP: Is it just going to be one win this year?  I'm not so sure.

If you want to consider Boise State a "signature win," then opening weekend is a pretty good shot, as the Huskies are as large as 12-point underdogs as of right now.  If you're someone that thinks that first "big" win has to come against a team in the Pac 12, or at least a traditional name, then here are some possibilities:

October 8th at USC:  The Trojans will likely be a good team in 2015, and the spread will almost undoubtedly be greater than 4 points regardless of records.  Both teams will have long weeks to get ready for this Thursday game.  USC has tough matchups against Stanford and at ASU prior to this game, and with a 6 pm weeknight start in LA, the home field advantage might not be so great early on for the Trojans.  It's also possible that Sarkisian gets a little too caught up in the emotion of the game and has his team over-hyped.  But when you get right down to it, USC will probably be too much offensively.

October 17th, Oregon:  After a big intersectional matchup against Michigan State, the Ducks take on Georgia State, have a bye, then Utah, Colorado, and WSU prior to heading to Seattle.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  On the one hand, the lack of competition could cause the Ducks to lose their edge following that big win in East Lansing, or the lack of competition could create some false confidence and answers to the questions following a tough road loss.  And really, the Huskies are going to beat the Ducks again, it's just a matter of when.  On the other hand, the Ducks bring Royce Freeman, Thomas Tyner, a deep group of receivers, and a tough defensive line into Husky Stadium.  Unless they all trip and fall into a mirror in the locker room prior to the game...

October 24th at Stanford and October 31st against Arizona are both possibilities, but not givens.

November 14th at ASU:  Not only will the Huskies be playing on the road, but the Sun Devils are showing signs of being a consistent player under Todd Graham.  Even so, ASU could easily have four losses heading in to this game.  They could just as easily be a top ten team.  The Huskies have struggled in Tempe for some time now, but that's going to change at some point.  Why not 2015?


I've just experienced my 1st Rocky Mt. Hail storm - pellets the size of marbles. Which brings up the question of weather conditions.

Does Troy Williams.only start last season in a wind-blown monsoon qualify for a spot in the top ten? What was the absolute worse weather the Huskies have ever had to play in? Have the Dawgs ever had a game suspended by weather? Have they ever ended up with negative punt yards for a game due to the weather? Most important and memorable win in bad weather?

UWDP: I've been caught in couple of those while camping in Montana.  Thankfully, I haven't lost a tent as of yet.

For some that have been attending games longer than me (around 30 years), it might not., and I stress "might."  For me personally, it definitely does.  From the standpoint of absolutely crazy weather that affects the way the game is played, nothing I've seen at Husky Stadium approaches it.  The monsoon game against Arizona in 2013 when nearly an inch and three quarters of rain fell was another one that would qualify as adversely affecting the game (but in the Huskies' favor).

The most miserably cold game I can remember was my first Husky game ever.  Actually, I remember little about the game, other than using any excuse under the sun (bathroom, concession stand, souvenirs, etc.) to get my seven year old body out of my seat.  I don't think it was actually that bad in reality, but things grow much more grand over time.  Especially when they happen when you're seven.

Oregon State in 2005 was one of the worst I can remember.  Not the coldest game by any stretch, but one of those 39 degree November afternoons with steady sideways ran and a constant wind that just cuts right into your soul.  That, and the game was absolutely horrible, with the Dawgs losing 18-10 behind six Oregon State field goals.

These days, with gore-tex and the like, it's much easier to deal with wind and rain than heat.  Sitting in the first few rows of the second level on the north side, on metal bleachers pressed body to body, there's just not much you can do on a hot September afternoon to cool down.

I can't recall a UW football game being postponed due to weather, but maybe someone else can help me out there.  The only postponement I recall was the 2001 game against Miami due to the 9/11 attacks.

I'd argue that the biggest win that the Huskies have had in inclement weather was probably against USC in 1981.  Wind and rain forced the closure of the Evergreen Point bridge, and may have had a role in USC misplaying a kickoff late in the game that Washington recovered.  That win was paramount in the Huskies winning the Pac 10 that year and heading back to the Rose Bowl where they blanked Iowa 28-0.

What are the worst weather games that you all can remember?

Husky Napes:

What do we know about this walk-on from Gonzaga hoops? Is he an OL? Could he provide some depth in the paint as a 2-sport walk-on?

UWDP: Connor Griffin was an all-state wide receiver in Oregon coming out of high school in 2013, and had football scholarship offers from Portland State and Northern Colorado.  He elected to enroll at Gonzaga, and made the basketball team after impressing Mark Few during an open tryout.  At one point, he said that his plan was to play basketball for four years, graduate Gonzaga, and transfer to a school with a football program to play that sport with his fifth and final season of collegiate eligibility.  After realizing how much he missed playing football, and seeing his trajectory on the Gonzaga basketball team (88 minutes in 29 games his first two seasons), he elected to speed up that process.  He'll enroll as a preferred walk-on looking to earn minutes at tight end.

I don't know if he intends to walk on the basketball team as well, but at 6' 4" and 225 pounds, his size doesn't really project him as an interior player.


I'd like to know more about the role Bush Hamdan will play as Quality Control coach of the offense. What are his duties, and how will he factor in to Chris Petersen's vow to improve the offense?

UWDP: While we don't know specifically how Chris Petersen will utilize Hamdan as a quality control coach. the typical duties of that position are to serve as an assistant to the position coaches.  It's a job that includes hoursandhoursandhoursandhours spent watching game film, both to scout future opponents and to self-scout the team.  He may have a role in game preparations and developing the game plan as well.  And while he can't recruit directly, he can serve as an analyst of prospects and in creating a recruiting strategy.

(This next part is entirely my speculation, so it, along with $4.75, will get you a cup of coffee....)

Petersen certainly expects Hamdan to add value to the team, but I think this hire was as much about grooming Hamdan as it was improving the team in the short term.  Since there's no actual coaching of players, quality control coach is very much an entry level position.  It's a means of learning as much about being a coach in as short an amount of time as possible.  Instead of having him gain that sort of experience in the bumpy road of working his way up through the ranks of position coaching and low-level offensive coordinating, Petersen has identified a guy that he thinks has a bright future in coaching and would like to groom him himself.  I would not be the least bit surprised to see Hamdan named a position coach for the Huskies in the very near future, whether for the running backs, receivers, or the quarterbacks.

(speculation off)


In your opinion, who do you think are must gets for the Huskies 2016 and 2017 in the state?

UWDP: While I think Petersen and staff will keep recruiting Jacob Eason up until the bitter end, I'd guess that ship has sailed, and Eason will end up at Georgia.

Aside from him, the Huskies have already gotten commitments from two of the top players in the state for the 2016 class in Brandon Wellington and Taylor Rapp.  The Dawgs are continuing to look at cornerback Isaiah Gilchrist, and I think it's just a matter of time until defensive end Amandre Williams commits.

For 2017, the biggest prospect in the state (figuratively and maybe literally) is Foster Sarell.  He's an offensive tackle with offers from the basically the entire Pac 12 as well as programs like Alabama, Michigan, and Nebraska.  He's going to be tough to land, but would be a great addition to the UW.  As to the rest of the class of 2017, only cornerback Salvon Ahmed and offensive tackle Henry Bainivalu currently hold offers, but expect that to change starting this summer.

I'm hoping that some of those more versed in recruiting than I will chime in in the comments below....

Grad and Dad:

Every year when summer comes to an end, every college football team in America proclaims: great summer in the weight room, we got stronger and quicker, and faster. No duh... But how much difference can a elite strength coach actually make. Take The Trees, seems like they produce an unusual number of monsters, year in and out. So the question is, how much of a difference can Tim Socha make for dawgs. I know he is a bit old school (throw the free weights around) but he emphasizes functional and combination lifting. It seems he also has a track record of taking under recruited (and undersized?) boys and turning them into men. I like what I've seen so far.

UWDP: The answer here is "a ton."  Not only in what Socha can provide in strength training and nutrition, but also in that he's the coach that can have the most interaction with the players during the offseason.  He's the one true year-round coach.

I still remember one of the first interviews with Socha after he was hired, talking about remodeling the brand new weight room to get rid of the machines and replace them with free weights.  That was a major "what in the HELL?!!?" moment with me in regards to Ivan Lewis (and Steve Sarkisian).  Free weights provide a much more realistic lift, and more functional strength than a linear machine will replicate.

What a lot of young players don't realize is that what's done in the kitchen is much, much more important than what they do in the weight room.  Probably by a factor of 3.  The rule change that allows a year-round training table is critical in this regard, but teaching 18-year olds what to eat and what not to eat can be difficult.

Stanford's training program is a unique beast, focusing on injury prevention as much as anything.  This is a great read focusing on Stanford's injury rate under head strength and conditioning coach Shannon Turley.  I know it's Bleacher Report, but this is also pretty educational.  Of particular note is that freshmen don't get to touch weights for the first three weeks in the program, and All-American tackle David Yankey could barely bench his body weight.  And nobody cared.  If you have six minutes to spend, this video is cool.

Darin Johnson:

Let's bet $8,462.91. What odds will you offer that the Huskies will:

Reach the Pac-12 championship game?
Have five or more Pac-12 wins?
Six or more?
Pass for over 2,500 yards?
Have two OL first- or second-team all-conference?
Be in the top three in the conference in rushing yards?
Be in the top three in the conference in total defense?
Have two front-seven first- or second-team all-conference?

UWDP: Oddly enough, that's the exact amount of money I just found under my couch cushions.  Go figure.  For me to have to bet that amount of money, I'd need the following odds:

Reach the championship game?  40:1

Win six or more:  3:2

Pass for over 2,500 yards:  Even money

Have two OL first or second-team all conference:  50:1 (yeah, lower than reaching the championship game....)

Be in the top three in the conference in rushing:  10:1

Be in the top three in the conference in total defense:  20:1

Have two front seven first- or second-team all conference:  15:1

What about the rest of you?


Is there any way we will be able to watch the Henly Regatta live ?

UWDP: Subscribe to the Henley Royal Regatta Youtube Channel.

Thanks for the questions, folks.  And feel free to provide your own answers below.