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Mailbag - Late to the Table Edition

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There's something about flying a kite at night that's just plain unwholesome.

Chris Coduto/Getty Images

A useless fact or two....

  • Reindeer like bananas.
  • The pop you hear when you crack your knuckles is a bubble of gas bursting.
  • In 1778, fashionable women in Paris never went out in blustery weather without a lightning rod attached to their hats.
  • In 1969, Larry Lewis set the world record in the 100-years-and-older class of the 100 meter dash of 17.8 seconds.
  • The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum.
  • The literal translation of one common Chinese traffic sign is: "Give large space to the festive dog who makes sport in the roadway."
  • You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV.
  • It's against the law to doze off under a hair dryer in Florida.
  • It's against the law to slap an old friend on the back in Georgia.
  • It's against the law to play hopscotch on Sundays in Missouri.
Let's hear it for the south.

To the questions.  The questions, I say!

Dawg4ever:

Atewe is redshirting this year.  What kind of player do we expect him to be next year (starter, rotation, not play, defensive, all around, etc)?  If he is part of the rotation, do we expect him to be the first big off the bench or behind Dime or what?

UWDP: It's a little difficult to project how he's going to fit in the rotation, since both he and Sam Timmins will be joining the team in 2016-17.

Atewe is playing a position of need, but it's probably important to keep who he is in perspective.  He's big, and strong, and he's athletic, but he hasn't played any real basketball in two years.  And he wasn't a very polished player offensively the one year he did play for Auburn.

Assuming he buys into what Lorenzo Romar expects his players to do defensively, which is a prerequisite to seeing any sort of playing time, then it's probably safe to project that Atewe will be a guy that will be counted on primarily to defend some of the stronger bigs in the conference (the ones that have really hurt the Huskies this year),  He might block a couple of shots, and pick up some points with work on the offensive glass.  As much as anything, he's five more fouls to protect Marquese Chris, Timmins, Malik Dime, etc.

He's a rotation guy.  Somebody that will probably average ten to fifteen minutes a game, give or take.

Dawg4ever:

I've heard Timmons is in school and redshirting.  I'm confused because I thought he was part of next years recruiting class.  He could be an early enrollee like in football.  But is he anticipated to redshirt next year (2016-17) or be available to play in November 2016?  If he plays, what kind of player do we expect him to be?

UWDP: My understanding of this is that, even though he enrolled in the middle of the school year (and midway through the season), his eligibility clock has started.  So, he has five years to play four.  2015-16 is his redshirt season, and he's a redshirt freshman with four remaining years beginning in 2016-17.  He's technically available to play right now, I believe.

Timmins has played some competitive basketball in New Zealand.  He's physical, he's got good footwork on the block, and he's got good touch in the mid-range game.  He's an above-average ball handler and passer for a big.  It's tough to forecast how he'll match up athletically with the conference, but he should definitely add low block offense almost immediately next season.

Godawgs17:

What new dawg from this signing class are you most excited to see in action?

UWDP: Good question.  I think around half of this class will end up seeing the field in 2016.  If Isaiah Gilchrist or Byron Murphy (should Murphy end up at corner) see significant time, it's going to say that he's a pretty special player.  Same goes with Brandon Wellington and Camilo Eifler at outside linbacker.  But the guy that I think can add something that this team is really going to need moving forward is Levi Onwuzurike.  Just an incredible combination of size, strength, and speed.  I won't be surprised if he ends up redshirting in 2016 (nor if he played, really).  But the thought of Benning Potoa'e and Onwuzurike setting the edges for the defensive line.....

Shudder.



Ryan in Maryland:

Will UW take a step forward in recruiting this year?

UWDP: I have to say first that probably my biggest worry when Chris Petersen was hired at Washington was his ability to recruit top level talent.  With the talent that he's added to the roster to date (both highly rated by the services, and undervalued guys like future All-American Sidney Jones), and the fact that each class has been better than the one before, that worry is rotting in the ground.

Subsequent steps forward start to get tougher, given the level Petersen has reached to date, so a "step forward" in 2017 is a relative term.  And with what will likely be another small class in 2017, I doubt it amounts to a top 10 class in scout.com or ESPN's ratings - the Huskies just won't have the absolute number of bodies to get there without an absolute kill shot of a class.  That could happen, but it's less likely than not.

Yeah, I think there will be a step forward.  But I think it's going to be more about addressing needs on the roster, and showing future recruits from the state of Washington that the Huskies are the destination for local big-time talent.  If the Huskies land their top targets from in-state, and add a special player at wide receiver and defensive tackle, then the class of 2017 is a step forward, even if the rise in rankings on recruiting sites is modest.

Grad and Dad:

Ok, now is the time to start looking forward to spring ball.  There are going to be several very interesting position battles that will begin in just a few months:  outside LB, buck, safety on defense and center (perhaps actually guard), in line TE and slot receiver on offense.  I would like to see separate posts on each of these battles in the next few weeks,  (there will be some interesting depth battles as well, that can be included in the series).  So lets start with one:  Who will take the starting position at center, and if it is a current starter (Shelton?) then what would be the ripple effect.  And which of the redshirts (and at what position) will be able to compete for PT this year?

UWDP: I have a hunch that you just might see some of this talked about around here in the very near future.....

Patent_dawg:

I have seen a lot of preseason hype for our chances to end next season not only ranked, but in contention for the Pac 12 title.  The hype seems to be based on our stout D, the growth of our young O, another year for the players to grasp their systems, and key young players on O staying healthy (since our depth is still unproven) -- can you impress us all by given your way-too-early, pre-spring-camp, pre-fall W/L predictions for next season, and also some key story lines?  (To readers:  I'm also curious to see your predictions in the comments ... set the table for bragging rights.)

UWDP: Yeah, I think you've hit on the main reasons for optimism for the 2016 season.  For your way-too-early predictions....

  • 9-3 in the regular season.
  • Sydney Jones is a 2nd team All American (but leaves for the draft at the end of the year), and Budda Baker is Honorable Mention (and stays).
  • Two offensive linemen are 2nd team All Pac 12, and two more are Honorable Mention.
  • Isaiah Renfro leads the team in receiving yards and TD's.
  • Jake Browning is the 2nd-most efficient quarterback in the conference, but at least one Husky fan continues to call for Jeff Lindquist to get the starting nod.
  • Elijah Qualls is 1st team All Pac 12.
  • The Husky defense begins to get the national recognition it deserves, and comes up with a better nickname than "Death Row."
  • Those pesky losing streaks to conference foes - one ends, one doesn't.
  • An NFL team courts Chris Petersen in the off-season.


Rhaego (Ragu):

It seems to me that RPI has inflated our vision of both the Pac12 and our Huskies. Other indicators like BPI and Ken Pom tell us that we have a bunch of solid, but average teams. Does anyone make it beyond the round of 32 this year?
UWDP: Yeah, I kind of agree.  The top of the conference looks less and less strong with each passing week.

On the other hand, this just looks like one of those years in all of college basketball when parity reigns throughout the country.  I haven't seen a single team this year that isn't flawed.  Even highly so.

A lot of getting out of the first weekend is going to be based on seedings (and game locations) and matchups.  But it's mostly just about being hot at the right time.  There's enough basketball left for that to happen.

I'm wagering two teams from the conference make the Sweet Sixteen.


Rhaego:

Likelihood that Murray goes pro this year? (I think it's very unlikely) If not this year, when?

UWDP: Just when you think the bloom is off that particular rose, he has a game like he did tonight against Stanford....

Unless the Huskies make the tournament and Dejoute Murray carries the team on his back to some crazy run, I think your right.  But I also think it's going to be a closer decision than a lot of Husky fans, apparently.  There are holes in his game, but the potential he has is undeniable.  If he came out, even if he didn't have a first round grade, I highly doubt he'd get passed over by 30 teams in the draft.  Somebody is going to fall in love with him, and think he's got the staff to get Murray to realize all of that talent...

Assuming he stays for his sophomore year, I think that's going to be it, barring an injury that causes him to miss the entire season or to not be healthy enough to work out for teams when the season ends.  Even if his game stays static, I don't think we'll see him for a third year.

1happyhusky:

There has been plenty of positive attention and love given to the Dawgs for the 2016 season. While I remain positive (happy, even?), what are some of the concerns that you see going into next season?

UWDP: Well, injuries are always a concern.  Either in the form of "a lot of them," or to key players.

Beyond that, to me, the biggest questions for the offense are on the line and at wide receiver.  I think there's a lot of potential on the line, but it still has to be proven.  And as much as fans don't want to hear it, it's a young group, particularly on the edges.  Those guys still have to go out and prove that they're more than just "trajectory."  And even though four starters return up front, I won't be the least big surprised if we see more than one new face out there come September as the staff looks to get its best five players on the field.

I'm much more worried about receiver.  The team has the requisite number of bodies at the position, but there hasn't been more than the briefest of glimpses that this unit can be even an "average" Pac 12 corps.  Yes, they're still young, almost across the board, but my fear is that the line progresses, and the receivers become the limiting factor for the offense.

The defense is solid across the board in the first 11 at most spots, and there's pretty good depth here and there.  But I'm not sure if we totally appreciate how big the losses of Corey Littleton and Travis Feeney truly are, especially since their effectiveness was increased by the fact that they were both on the field at the same time; they were almost interchangeable, and that fact made the defense much more versatile than it would've been with only one of them.  Replacing those guys is going to be a bigger task than many think it will be.

The last thing that could derail 2016 - at least the expectations that are developing for 2016 - is if the rate of progress just isn't as high as fans and "experts" are projecting.  Things could improve without the results in the win/loss column following as fast as we expect.


highdesertdawg:

Any insight on Tua Tagovailoa and whether there is mutual interest in him coming to UW?  Dude is a flat-out baller, but I haven't seen much in the way of Purple and Gold love thrown his way.

UWDP: Hopefully someone that follows recruiting more closely than I will step in on this one.  There's mutual interest, but it seems like most of the buzz around Tua Tagovailoa of late has to do with the LA schools - UCLA and USC.  From the highlights I've seen of him, he's a playmaker, and he throws a pretty accurate ball, but he's got a loooong way to go with his footwork and his delivery.

It seems like there's more talk with fellow 2017 QB prospect Tristan Gebbia and the Huskies right now.

uberhawk2003:

Does Coach Romar have difficulty coaching defense? It seems like we have seen these issues with his previous teams. Could he simplify it?

UWDP: I'm not sure what you mean by "difficulty."  There's no doubt that his best teams (and this year's team) are predicated on defense, and that Romar demands a lot of effort from his guys on the defensive end, but I don't think he lacks the ability to "coach" defense.  In fact, I think it's his strongest suit.

The Huskies play defense aggressively.  And like with a football team, breakdowns lead to spectacular results - in the worst way possible.  When you take a group of freshmen whose basketball identity has been built entirely on the offensive end, and then demand that they do something new, things aren't always going to go well.  Unless you start with a defensive-minded high school player, a lot of guys take a year or two to really "get" the mental demand of playing defense for 40 minutes a game.

Rhaego:

Will we start filling the stadium again if we win a lot?

UWDP: My working hypothesis is that if the team wins, the fans will come.  And I think it's true, but part of me wonders to what degree.

I graduated from the UW in 1998.  Even though the team was six years removed from its last real success (outside of renting Corey Dillon for a year in 1996), there was still a waiting list for season tickets.  Today, the team is far more removed from any real winning, but more importantly, fans are being disincentivized to attend games.  Everybody has a big screen HDTV with multiple camera angles and replays of everything that happens.  With the number of games on, it's easy to take a quick peek during timeout or at halftime of other action around the league or country.  And every single game is now available on TV.  Then, there's the issue of kickoff times, and even what day of the week games are going to be played.  Attendance is down all over the country; it's certainly not unique to the UW.  Things are trending the wrong way as well, as schools like Alabama and Michigan struggle to fill, and to keep filled, the student sections, as being at the game just isn't the same priority it once was.  Future season ticket buyers are just plain drifting away from watching the game in person...

Yeah, the stadium will sell out more if the team wins lots of games.  But I fear that Husky Stadium will never be the home field advantage it once was.

Thanks for reading, folks.  Enjoy your Sunday, and GO DAWGS!!!!