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Mailbag Week #3 - Untitled Edition

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I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Up first, of course, are your useless facts.

In ten minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world's nuclear weapons combined.

On average, approximately 100 people die from choking on ball point pens each year.

35% of people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

Women blink almost twice as much as men.

The main library at the University of Indiana sinks almost an inch each year, because when it was designed, the engineers failed to take into account the weight of all of the books it would hold.

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

The average lifespan of a Major League baseball is seven pitches.

Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the factory workers in Malaysia combined.

The "dot" over the lower case letter "i" is called a tittle.

The volume of the moon is almost exactly the same as the volume of the Pacific Ocean.

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

A cockroach can live nine days without its head before it starves to death.

A male praying mantis cannot copulate with its head attached to its body.  The female initiates mating by ripping the male's head off.

You're smarter now.  No need to thank me.

To the questions!!!!

Caldawg:

Why don't we see more browning throwing verticle routes early in the game. These bubble screens are irritating to watch.

2001husky:

The long sideline screen passes that J. Smith has called last year and this year have generated frustration for many fans. My question is this, what is it supposed to look like when done correctly? Is the Idea that someone like Mickens is going to break a tackle from a crashing corner with no blockers? Are there supposed to be blockers that are just always lined up incorrectly or missing blocks? With Sark these plays were blocked well and had recievers in pairs or bunches and generally worked. But the Smith version where we throw the ball 20+ yards across the field to a lone receiver just hasn't worked. The defender has all the time that the ball is in the air to crash down on a receiver who is not even moving and has no blockers. Why are we calling this, and what have we been doing wrong to make this an effective play?

UWDP: First off, the Huskies have thrown at least three different types of these long horizontal passes.  The first is the bubble screen, which is thrown to the inside receiver (or a player coming across the formation in motion) on a two-or three-receiver side.  It's the play you see where the receiver catches the ball moving toward the sideline.  Second is the tunnel screen.  This is the one where the outside receiver catches the ball moving back toward the quarterback, and is designed to get to the inside shoulder of the blocker.  The third version is when the quarterback simply throws a quick pass out to the receiver.  This can be a called play, but it's often a sight adjustment made by the quarterback and receiver based on the defense's alignment.  Anybody remember that 33-yard TD Kasen Williams had against Stanford in 2012?  Keith Price saw numbers he liked, got the ball to Williams with the quickness, and Kasen did the rest.

There very well might have been others, but these are the three I know for sure they've ran so far this year.

When the screens work correctly, you have a receiver with the ball that has to beat a trailing defender (the guy that's  covering the blocker) in order to pick up a decent chunk of yardage.  It's not necessarily designed to be some huge gainer every time it's thrown; as has been mentioned more than a few times around here, it's basically an extension of the running game.  Five yards is a good gain.

One thing that I liked about the way the Huskies ran this play quite a bit in 2013 under Steve Sarkisian was the use of rocket motion (where the receiver is coming across the formation at full speed prior to the snap, and loops wide behind the QB and running back) to the two-receiver side, which got the ball to a receiver already moving at a high rate of speed, and against a shifting defense adjusting to the motion.  Or, to a tight slot receiver who would begin moving to the outside at the snap, with a little momentum when the ball arrived.  Under Jonathan Smith, this play is frequently thrown to a stationary receiver.  It's an easier pass to throw, and it can still work, but the receiver is at a dead stop and still has a man that he's going to have to beat.

Part of the issue with these plays the last two years has been the blocking by the receivers.  In 2013 with Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith on the outside, it was exceptional.  This year, the tight ends in particular haven't done a great job, and the young guys in Dante Pettis and Brayden Lenius just aren't as physically ready to do it.  The guys with the ball need to do a better job of setting up their blocks as well (I'm particularly thinking of the holding call on Lenius on the final drive against Boise State - there were a lot of yards if he'd taken that ball toward the middle of the field, where it was designed to go).  And lastly, as the play has become more and more common throughout the college football world, I think defenses are better keyed to stop it, short of having an ultra-dynamic weapon at receiver that can turn a little play into a huge one largely on his own.

The Huskies' first pass against Boise State was a little dump off to Dwayne Washington.  Against Sacramento State, it was a post to Jaydon Mickens for over 20 yards.  I'm not sure we actually have a trend quite yet.

DG05:

Why haven't we seen Jeff Lindquist play yet?

Gliderdawg:

First, I've been impressed with Jake Browning in his first 2 performances,with a few caveats...but, as we head into week 3, I'm wondering if we might see Jeff Lindquist play some QB this week? Or was his ankle injury more serious than originally believed? My hope is that he can come back 100% and bring much needed depth at the very least...any rumblings?

UWDP: Well, we have seen Jeff Lindquist play.  He was the personal protector on punts against Sacramento State.  So, while the ankle might have been the reason he didn't play against Boise State, it wasn't bothersome enough to keep him off the field in a role that could be filled relatively easily (versus backup QB) in a game the Huskies simply outclassed their opponents.

The most viable conclusion at this point is that Lindquist is simply the third string quarterback.  If the reason KJ Carta-Samuels got the backup reps against the Hornets was Lindquist's ankle, I'm not sure why you'd risk him on special teams.

Lindquist might - no, will probably - see the field as a quarterback this season.  And the coaching staff knows far better than I do - they might have thought that the risk of aggravating the ankle was lesser as the personal protector on punts than in taking the snaps once the game was settled.  It's also possible that the coaches want to see Carta-Samuels face real action to see what they've actually got with him, with Lindquist being a much more known quantity.  Maybe the decision to make Carta-Samuels the backup was made to keep him interested in sticking around after this season, given that Jake Browning appears to have a stranglehold on the job for the foreseeable future, and the Huskies don't yet have a QB on the books for the class of 2016.  Maybe Carta-Samuels is just better.

Rhaego:

Did the offense or defense take a bigger step forward during the Sac State game?

UWDP: I don't take a lot out of the game last Saturday, period, but given the relative performances of each unit against Boise State, I don't know how you couldn't say it was the offense.

I'm really, really pleased with the way the defense has played thus far this season.  For the last six quarters of football we've watched, this is as fundamentally and assignment-sound a Husky defense as I've watched for over a decade.  It's still a small sample size, but there are a lot of reasons to have high hope for this year and beyond.

The offense was anemic against Boise State.  The offense got yards and points against Sacramento State.  I suppose that's a step forward.

MakerMark:

Not a lot of runs between the tackles have worked this season, even in the Sac St game. This is going to be a huge concern in pac-12 play with the strength of the DLs the Huskies will face, and the speed of the defenses catching runs to the outside. It seems like these types of runs will be needed to get the run-game going, and keep the passing game working. Is it correctable on the OL?

UWDP: Outside of some freelancing by the backs, not much of the running game has actually worked, period.  If we take out Carta-Samuels sack-fumble from the stats, the Huskies rushed for 239 yards on 35 carries.  That's 6.8 yards per carry, which is nice.  The problem is that over half of those yards (137, to be exact) came on three plays.  One of those was a fly sweep to Chico McClatcher (29 yards).

It certainly wasn't all bad, but at the same time, I have a hard time saying the Huskies actually established any sort of running game on Saturday - they "out-athleted" the Hornets much more than they "out-executed" them.

It's certainly correctable.  You have to keep in mind that the starting left tackle is a true sophomore.  The starting right tackle is a redshirt freshman.  Both guards are seeing their first extensive game action.  The center is in his first year at the position.  This is an inexperienced group.  They need to get a lot better, but much of that can (and will) only happen with time.  It might not all happen this season, though, and Husky fans should probably keep that in mind.  The trajectory is the important thing this year.

RBinOR:

Good win last weekend, but it's tough to gauge progress versus FCS talent. One thing we can objectively observe is our continued slow starts. This seemed to be an ongoing issue last year and both games this season. This will kill us against good opponents. Do you have any idea why we're so slow out of the gate? Pre-game Red Bull required or what?!?

UWDP: In fairness, I'm not sure how slow the start actually was against Boise State, versus never really getting going at all.  The defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, and the offense picked up 26 yards and a first down, and flipped field position by punting to the Bronco's 8-yard line (sadly, that drive was the second longest the offense had all night, and the longest until the final one of the game).

But man, I sure wish I knew.  One of the things I really hoped we'd be done with as Husky fans was having to hear about coming out "flat."  That kills me.  For 2014, I'm willing to write it off as part of the culture change stuff in the program.  The start against Sacramento State was a little troubling, though.  Maybe it's still part of the whole shift.  Maybe it's an ongoing problem.  Maybe it's just football.  It actually happens to all teams, not just the Huskies.

Ben Nice:

With the emergence of Myles Gaskin and the coaches looking to find ways to get Chico McClatcher touches, where does that leave Coleman and Cooper in the running game mix if Washington,Gaskin, and McClatcher are going to get their touches weekly?

UWDP: Most likely, on the outside looking in.

Deontae Cooper has been a little banged up - he apparently hurt his ankle a couple of days before the Boise State game.  If he can get healthy, there's probably some room for him in the offense.  But even though he's got another year after this one if he wants it, signs seem to point to this being it for him.  And you can't blame him.

I like a lot of the things Lavon Coleman can do, but when you watch him run, he's missing a gear or two compared to the other backs on the roster.  With Washington coming back next season, with the emergence of Gaskin and McClatcher, and with the newcomers for 2016 in Sean McGrew and possibly others, it wouldn't surprise me if Coleman elects to move on after this year.  I don't have any information to suggest that, and by no stretch am I wanting to run him out of the program, but unless a Washington education is more important than that last little bit of football he'll get to play in his life, it might be an option he considers.  Since he's already redshirted, that probably means stepping down a division.

jstruitt:

In the name of all things purple and gold, when will the athletic department realize how simple it is to fix the now broken "GO....HUSKIES..." chant? It's never been the same since the remodel and for one OBVIOUS reason: The students, being on the north side, are essentially the arbiters of the "GO" section of the chant. What made it so great was that it was the north side shouting first and the south side responding in kind, giving it that oh so satisfying delay that made it that much more momentous. But now...with the students in the end zone (but still the arbiters of 'GO'), its gotten messed up. It's far, far, far to quick and just doesn't have the same sound and resonance and rhythm. And its simply because it's the students (in the west end) shouting go, while the entire north/east/south side responds "HUSKIES." But what is so infuriating about it is how simple of a problem it is. Just change the goddamn signs used by the cheerleaders or however else they command the fans to chant so that it's the NORTH side yelling 'GO' and the SOUTH side responding 'HUSKIES.' The north half of the student section will have a sign from the dance team with GO and the south with HUSKIES. Maybe it will be confusing at first but c'mon, these are college kids at a great school they'll get it soon enough. I'm a student and I would be more than happy to tell my peers what is going on. Have an announcement made over the PA or something. ANYTHING. IT'S THAT SIMPLE AND I WANT MY GO HUSKIES CHANT BACK.

UWDP: Sound travels at 1,126 feet per second, so that means the eastern extents of the "HUSKIES" reply to the students "GO" are hearing it almost half a second sooner than the ones on the western extents.  And the students hear the reply of the western extents almost a half second sooner than the one from the east, which as you mention, throws their timing off.  When you multiply that slop over three or four rounds of the chant, you can see why it becomes the muddled mess it is, as opposed to the old design when the sound would meet opposite sides of the stadium much more uniformly.

You're right, for it to work, physics says that it's going to have to be on a visual cue, and divided north and south to ever actually work.

I'm not sure cheerleaders holding signs is going to work, because it requires people to see them as opposed to hearing the chant, and quite frankly I know I'm not really looking for that sort of thing during the game.  But the UW spent millions of dollars on this big fancy scoreboard.  It'd be pretty easy to utilize it in the way you suggest.  Print up a flyer and hand it to fans as they enter the stadium, explaining what to do.

On a side note, how cool would it be if the fans could divide the stadium north and south, with one half all dressed in purple, and the other half all dressed in gold?

(Yeah, I want it back, too)

JerDawg:

I see that Utah State is pretty physical. Do you think our O-line will protect Jake enough for some downfield throws again? How about the match-up of our receivers with their corners?

UWDP: Utah State is pretty physical, but an even bigger issue for the line is that they like to blitz.  A lot..  The o-line is going to have to deal not only with their base blocking, but also adjusting to things as they change on the fly.

More than anything, I'm interested to watch how much time the line will be able to give Jake Browning in the pocket, and how able Browning will be to step up in the face of pressure instead of peeling wide.  I know a lot of people are going to hate to hear this, but I expect to see the horizontal passing game featured a fair amount, especially early, with the downfield concepts opening up around those plays.

The Aggies' secondary is good, but I think that their pass defense is more about the pressure they generate than playing lock down coverage.  If the line can give Browning time - a 48-font if - he'll have receivers to throw to.

I could see this as a game that favors Dwayne Washington over Miles Gaskin some as well in the running game.  It could very well be tougher for the line to zone block against the blitz than to run power right in to the teeth of it.

guyfella:

what happened to all the good recruits Sark brought in? why is the majority of the team so young now? I understand there was a little attrition, but it seemed like they were in the top 25 in recruiting 4 or 5 years in a row? what happened to all that talent?

UWDP: There wasn't just a little attrition, there was a ton of it.  The class of 2011 - the redshirt seniors on the roster - has six players left (out of 24 signed) - four are starters.  Three left early for the NFL if you include Marcus Peters.  Two were JC guys that played out their eligibility.  Two played as true freshmen and completed their eligibility.  One took a medical retirement before this season.  The remaining ten all went by the wayside at some point or another.

There are 11 players left (out of the original 23) from the class of 2012.  Six are starting.  Two JC guys played out their eligibility.  One left early for the NFL.  The other nine all moved on for one reason or another.

The class of 2013 has already lost 7 players, out of 23.  Five of the remaining 16 start.

Out of those 70 guys that should make up the three oldest classes, 26 left for reasons other than exhausting eligibility.  That's a lot.  It's still mostly Sarkisian's guys that make up the starters, but the retention rate at the UW just wasn't that good.

GU1966:

Play calling has been a contentious issue for a year but it also appears that a part of the problem is a seeming inability to make adjustments on the fly (see the bowl game and BSU). This includes changes in blocking assignments, alignment, personnel changes etc as well as play calling. How much do you think this has contributed to the offensive issues we've seen?

UWDP: Hmmmmm.....I don't really think the issues against Oklahoma State last year were that similar to Boise State this year.  Against the Cowboys, the Huskies just weren't ready to play the game on either side of the ball in the first half.  Against the Broncos, a young, inexperienced offense just couldn't get untracked against a veteran and fairly talented defense.  I really don't think the play calling was the biggest issue in either one.

Assignment failures were definitely a huge issue against BSU on offense.  At pretty much every position.  I'm sure there were schematic things the offense could've done that would've been better than what they did do, but again, I think the far greater issues were in execution than in simply doing things a different way.

Blues247365:

How soon until both Kaleb McGary and Trey Adams are starting? When's the last time UW had two young tackles this promising?

UWDP: At the same time?  Since neither one of them is starting right now, the safe prediction is 2016.  It could certainly happen this year, though.  McGary could end the season as the starter, but if Adams does, it's probably due to injury.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seemed to me that McGary played more snaps than Matt James against Boise State, but that James played significantly more against Sacramento State?

I'm really, really excited for both of these guys, but it's important to remember that it's about their potential right now far more than their actual play.  So, for the second part of your question, the answer is a lot more recently than you'd probably think - I'd say 2011, when Erik Kohler was a true sophomore and Micah Hatchie was a redshirt freshman.  Those guys were both big-time recruits, and fans expected them to anchor the edges of the line for years.  It never materialized, though.  I'm not suggesting that that's what's going to happen to either McGary or Adams, but a lot of things can change between today and when those guys are ready to reach their potential.

ElvislovesUW:

What do some of the higher rated teams do differently than us for moving the ball down the field earlier in the first quarter? (pre scripted plays; variance of tempo; establish the run earlier; open up playbook; be more unpredictable; mental toughness; physical dominance; discipline; take what defense gives us; get ball into hands of our playmakers) Perhaps give actual examples from teams such as Ohio State, Alabama, TCU, Texas Tech, Baylor, LSU, Florida State, Oregon; is it their OC that makes the difference?

UWDP: One thing that all of those teams have is significantly more experience on the offensive line.  They've also had a lot more continuity with their coaching staffs (only Ohio State is really close; Oregon's transition to Mark Helfrich was in-house and about as seamless as a change can be).  And frankly, the majority of the teams that you list are simply more talented than Washington.  That makes everything easier.

Look, I get that fans are looking for some sort of magic button to push.  It's almost never that easy, though.  All of those teams might have better offensive coordinators.  I don't really know.  But I'm fairly convinced at this point that whatever issues the Huskies have, they run a lot deeper than the guy calling the plays.  Jonathan Smith might very well need to be replaced.  But even though people here (and elsewhere) have been given the opportunity to show how he's the weak link in this whole thing, nobody has come close to being successful without simply resorting to a results-based analysis.

Thanks for all of the good questions folks, and if you've got one that we didn't get to this week, feel free to resubmit before the Cal game.

GO DAWGS!!!