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Pre-Fall Mailbag Part 1

As the weather cools and the leaves begin to change color, our minds turn to the start of fall camp. Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

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First, the useless facts.

If you yelled for eight years, seven months, and six days, you would produce enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

The human heart produces enough pressure when pumping to squirt blood 30 feet.

One ton of space dust and other space debris falls to the earth each day.

Orville Wright was involved in the first ever aircraft accident.  His passenger, a Frenchman, died.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia means fear of Friday the 13th, which occurs one to three times per year.

Banging your head against a wall consumes 150 calories per hour.  Reading this website does as well.



What's more important to success on the offense this year: improvement in QB or OL? Kind of a chicken and egg question, but curious to get your opinion as I feel it's OL.

UWDP: Yes, there's a bit of chicken-or-the-egg to the question because the two are so intertwined.  I tend to agree with you.  I'm a proponent of winning football starting with the positions closest to the ball on each side of the line of scrimmage.  On defense, that means I'd want top-flight tackles over top-flight ends, ends over linebackers, and linebackers over safeties.  Cornerback is the exception, because I'd put them right behind tackles.  And of course there are individual player exceptions - every team in the NFL would put a premium on a guy like Earl Thomas at safety, for example.

On offense, unless you're talking about a generational talent at quarterback, I'd start up front again.  Line, then QB, then running back, then receiver.  But while I believe that formula is the one to win consistently, it usually takes a star at the QB position to win a championship.

The Huskies, by their offensive design, need to be able to successfully run the ball.  Better quarterback play would most definitely assist in that end, but a line that could generate three yards on any given play, even if the defense knows what's coming, would help even more.

All that being said, I'm going to cop out and say that both need to get much, much better.

Which unit on the team that is generally considered to be a weak link going into this year the one that may surprise and be a strength? On the same lines which unit will start to look like a traditional Coach Pete unit in that it is disciplined and performs collectively above what you would expect from the individual parts?

UWDP: The perception is that the Huskies are going to be pretty weak in lots of areas in 2015 - both lines, quarterback, and receiver in particular.  Based on what little information we have from spring practices and what we saw last year, I'd say the unit with the best opportunity to pleasantly surprise is the defensive line.  Elijah Qualls showed ability as a redshirt freshman last season, and is a very talented player.  Assuming Jojo Mathis steps in for Hau'oli Kikaha as the Buck linebacker, he has flashed well in his first two seasons, and appears to be stepping in to a leadership role as an upperclassman.  Will Dissly was something of a surprise last year to be playing as a true freshman, but showed potential, and was singled out in just about every practice report from the spring.  Not to mention his efforts in the spring scrimmage.  I'm still of the opinion that if either (or both) Greg Gaines or Vita Vea show to be serviceable nose tackles, that the best thing for the the line would be to move Qualls to the strong end position to allow him to be more playmaker than hole-filler.  We'll see, I suppose....

As to the second part of your question, we have to hope it's the offensive line.  With a year and a half working with Tim Socha and doing things the Chris Strausser way, the line should be a more fundamentally sound, consist group even if the new starters aren't as talented or experienced as the dearly departed from 2014.  If they can really gel as a unit, they could well perform above their individual talent.


Seems like the debate about where UW needs to land in the pecking order of Pac12 recruiting ratings is not going to be put to rest anytime soon. Is there a productive way to evaluate UW's recent classes relative to those we are trying to catch (Oregon, Stanford, USC, UCLA, ASU)? In other words, how do we weed out data like Nick Montana who boosted avg star ratings but flamed out and get to the actual results over the last 5 years or so?

UWDP: There's at least as much art as there is science behind answering a question like this.  Especially so when you factor in a coaching change in the middle.  The thing with recruiting rankings is that while they are statistically predictive, the correlation between "recruiting" and "winning" is strongest at the macro level, but begins to break down on the micro level, so trying to weed out the Nick Montanas (that every team has) doesn't provide a ton of value.  And while it's entertaining to follow, the whole thing is sort of reductive when you get right down to it.

That being said, here are a few links that are worth reading.

This first one shows that the Huskies recruit slightly better than they actually perform on the field.  But look at how far Oregon and Stanford outperform their recruiting rankings.  And apparently UCLA and USC are where talent goes to die (but again, there are coaching changes at both schools that conflate this).

This next one is mostly about the first article, but there are lots of really good links in it.

Dave Bartoo at has created a whole site based around the predictive abilities of recruiting rankings.  It's interesting stuff.

The other part of this is which way causation runs.  It seems intuitive that good recruiting leads to winning.  But look at Oregon - there recruiting has picked up once they started winning.  Same with Baylor.


I know Romar has been a strong proponent of the high post offense (as of late). With his limited success in that offense last season, do you think he'll change it up?

UWDP: I doubt it.  With the athleticism of the plethora of freshmen on the roster and the lack of an interior offensive threat, there may be a little more freedom to create, but with Brad Jackson still on the staff, I think the base will still be the high post.  And when you look at what went wrong in 2014-15, with injuries, Upshaw's dismissal, and maybe a lack of chemistry, it's tough to put too much blame on the offensive scheme.  And while I know that a lot of people are really down on the high post offense, I still maintain that the reason for the Huskies' decline is mostly on the defensive end of the floor.  With Romar as the head coach, this is a team that (I believe) will always be fueled by what it does with its defense.

I think it'll be interesting to see who ends up at the high post, and how much scoring they can get out of that position.


How can a non season ticket holder, but DIE HARD Huskies fan score tickets to the opener @ Boise St?

UWDP: The secondary market.**  Prior to making tickets available to the general publc, Boise State University made extra tickets available to its season ticket holders, and they could buy as many as they wanted.  They sold out in about 36 hours.  And as aside, a single game ticket through the UW was ninety-effing-five dollars.  By far the most I've ever had to pay for an away game.

Look at the prices here on stubhub. Best of luck to the guy that thinks he's going to get $1,200 a seat for this one game.  And the cheapest - still $155.

**  Brad's super sneaky way to get better tickets at the same price or less (that's not actually all that sneaky):  Buy a season ticket to Boise State football.  They start at $155.  Sell the remaining  five games for ten bucks apiece.  A lot of Nebraska fans did this for the 2010 game up here.

TyroneWillingham2016 (and others):

Do you think Austin Joyner will be redshirted? Do you think that at some point he may be utilized in the same way that Petersen used Shaq this past season: at his primary position in the defense but also as a running back for certain games? Do you think he could eventually be mainly used as a running back if there is less depth at that position down the road versus at Cornerback? I think that out of all of the 2015 kids Joyner is the most electrifying. Browning may get the most attention out of the incoming 2015 class but I think the gem of the 2015 class is Joyner. When you watch his tape he plays with heart, athleticism and instincts that you simply can't teach or find.

UWDP: I bet he'll see the field at some point this season.  Even with as many bodies as the Huskies brought in to play corner in the class of 2014, you just aren't going to be able to keep bona fide talent off the field at that position in the Pac 12.  And I agree with you, he's a very talented player.

I highly doubt that he's used as a running back this year, if ever.  For one, Joyner seems pretty set on playing corner.  Two, it's going to be tough enough to learn the ins and outs of one position at the collegiate level, let alone two.  If that experiment is ever realized, I'd wager it'll be down the road.  The same way it was with Shaq Thompson.


I've been to Eugene and I'm not impressed, how much does the city play into recruiting?

UWDP: This is really a matter of the recruit deciding what the factors and their priority are in choosing a school.  I'd guess that the city is down the list a ways after the football, campus, and academic criteria are weighted.  There are lots of schools located in cities that wouldn't rate as "Most Desirable Places to Live" that seem to recruit pretty well....


What is your best guess on the football depth chart before training camp?

UWDP: Here's my best guess for the first team snap:

LT:  Jake Eldrenkamp / Andrew Kirkland

LG:  Dexter Charles / Dane Crane

C:  Siosifa Tufunga / Dane Crane

RG:  Shane Brostek / Jesse Sosebee

RT:  Coleman Shelton / Kaleb McGary

WR:  Jaydon Mickens / Chico McClatcher

WR:  Dante Pettis / Marvin Hall

WR:  Brayden Lenius / Isaiah Renfro

QB:  Jeff Lindquist / KJ Carta-Samuels

RB:  Dwayne Washington / Lavon Coleman

TE:  Josh Perkins / Darrell Daniels

DE:  Taniela Tupuo / Jaylen Johnson

DE:  Will Dissly / Benning Potoa'e

NG:  Elijah Qualls / Greg Gaines / Vita Vea

Buck:  Jojo Mathis / Psalm Wooching

LB:  Travis Feeney / Scott Lawyer

LB:  Corey Littleton / Sean Constantine

LB:  Azeem Victor / Keishawn Bierria

FS:  Budda Baker / Brandon Beaver

SS:  Kevin King / Ezekiel Turner

CB:  Sidney Jones / Austin Joyner

CB:  Darren Gardenhire / Naijiel Hale


How much is a failure to recruit position groups (OL for Sark and WR for Coach Pete, from the very limited sample size of this year) is on the assistant coach? on the head coach?

Or is there bigger issues (such as type of offense or culture)?

UWDP: It depends a lot on how recruiting duties are allocated on the team.  Under Sarkisian, the state of Washington was divided up into regions, with a coach assigned to each region.  And when the Huskies missed out on the local offensive line talent, it was a linebackers coach who was assigned to the south Puget Sound region and may not have adequately done his job (depending on who you believe).  At the same time, Dan Cozzetto was a crusty curmudgeon who continually berated and cussed out his players, on a staff full of high-fiving, chest-bumping players' coaches.  That might not have played well with offensive line prospects who watched members of the line being led by their face masks and forced to run sprints as punishment, while the rest of the team played games and took water breaks.  You'll notice that very few recruits ever mentioned Cozzetto's name as a reason to come to the UW....

I don't know much about Brent Pease, and maybe somebody more versed in recruiting can talk about his prowess there.  But even if he's not an ace on the staff, he seems to be competent at the very least.  And as a coach, he's a fairly mild-mannered guy that fits the "teacher" mentality of most every member of Petersen's staff.  He might not be the reason a recruit chooses the UW, but there's nothing about him that suggests he's the reason a recruit won't choose the Huskies.

The sample size is small enough this year with the wide receivers to still fall under the heading of "randomness."  And there's still a ways to go in this recruiting season.  While it's a worry that the Huskies don't seem poised to sign a stellar wide receiver class this year even though it's an area of need, there's just not enough information to say what the problem is, or if there's actually even a problem.


How comparable are the 2014 and 2015 Huskies to the 1999 and 2000 Oklahoma Sooners? 99 was Stoops first year at OU and went 7-5 then went 13-0 in Stoops 2nd year. Although going undefeated in 2015 is unlikely, if Lindquist has a productive season do you Washington winning 9 games?

UWDP: It's not the connection I'd immediately make, but why not?  The key similarity is the coaching factor - Stoops (although unknown at the time) is a very good coach.  So is Chris Petersen.

With 13 games counting a bowl, sure, nine wins is possible if Lindquist has a big year.  And the offensive line steps up.  And the receivers play well.  And the defensive line reloads.  And the secondary grows up in a hurry.

There are enough questions that for me, I have a tough time rationally forecasting that many wins.  But I also think the Huskies have the best coaching staff they've had since Don James retired.  There's going to come a point that the Huskies have to start achieving on the field again on a consistent basis.  Why not 2015?

Thanks for reading, folks.  Please remember to spay or neuter your ducks.