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Mailbag - 'Time to Fertilize the Fieldturf' Edition

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During any argument, there are two moments we should all hope to avoid. The first is the moment we realize we are wrong. The second is the where we realize the person we are arguing with is actually a mirror.

astroturf
First for your reading pleasure, a collection of useless facts and possibly made-up truths.  You decide which is which, and then let me know.

  • Honking horns for newly married people is an old superstition to ensure great sex.
  • Dr. Kellogg introduced Kellogg's Corn Flakes in hopes it would reduce masturbation.
  • The sperm of a mouse is actually longer than the sperm of an elephant.
  • In medieval France, unfaithful wives were made to chase a chicken through town, naked.
  • The female Black Widow spider eats her mate during or after the course of procreation.
  • In ancient Babylon, the cure for impotence was to eat the heart of a male partridge.
  • When a Hawaiian woman wears a flower over her left ear, it means she is not available.
  • The only nation beginning with the letter "A" and also not ending with the letter "A" is Afghanistan.
  • The sentence, "The rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed." contains the nine different pronunciations of "ough" in the English language.
  • The verb "cleave" is the only one in the English language with two synonyms that are antonyms of each other:  "adhere" and "separate."
  • The shape of the collenchyma's cells and the bubbles in beer foam are the same shape - they are orthotetrachidecahedrons.
  • Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.
  • Cats have around 100 vocal sounds.  Dogs have about 10.
  • Blueberry Jelly Bellies were created special for Ronald Reagan.
  • The first song played on the Armed Forces Radio Network during Operation Desert Shield was "Rock the Casba" by the Clash.
  • Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king in history.  Diamonds - Julius Caesar; Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts - Charlemagne
To your questions.

(Anonymous):

Can you give us a few names who you think might be close to committing? Also... the inevitable question... what is the status of the recruitment of Foster Sarrell?


UWDP: As of this writing, the closest sounds like Terrell Bynum could commit tonight.  Other than that, there are people out there far more knowledgeable than I on recruiting, and hopefully they'll chime in.

As for Sarrell, you can count me as one that thinks he ends up at Stanford.  And I'll have a tough time blaming him.  I don't think it's a statement about Petersen's ability to recruit, or any sort of "fence" around the state of Washington.  Sarrell is a guy that can pretty much name his school when it comes time to play college football, and right now, Stanford has pretty much every advantage possible over the UW for a prospective offensive lineman.  Better overall program, better reputation for developing linemen, better academics, and the willingness to play talented guys right out of the gate.  Washington offers proximity, and that's about it.  Frequently, that's enough.  But in Sarrell's case, I just don't get the feeling that it's going to be a big enough plus to sway him toward the Dawgs.  It sucks, but it's the way it goes sometimes.

(Anyonymous)  (again):

Suppose Browning is lost for the season to injury. Who do you think we'll beat (assuming they're at full strength)? (My take - Idaho, Portland St, Oregon State. Utah and Cal might be close too.)

UWDP: The beauty of a great defense is that it can keep a team in every single game.  And as the last two versions of the Husky D have shown, score points on its own.  Even enough to win if the offense takes a knee on every play.  Here's a scary thought (for opposing offenses, that is) - the defense is going to be better in 2016, even with the losses of a couple of key players.  It's finally going to be made up primarily of upperclassmen.  Here's an even scarier thought - it could be even better still in 2017, if the NFL can keep its grubby mitts off our players and the rest of the country doesn't poach the coaching staff.

Even without Browning, this team should win all of its non-conference games.  It should beat Oregon State.  And if Browning was lost for the entire season, it's not unreasonable to think there wouldn't be a complete void at the QB position.  There's enough there to pull out at least a couple of the swing games on the schedule - Cal, Arizona, and/or ASU being the most likely to me.

ATotalWimp:

Got any good prop bets for the Football Spring Preview?


UWDP: Here are some:

Passing yards for Jake Browning:  o/u 3,150
Passing TD's for Jake Browning:  o/u 23.5
Rushing yards for Myles Gaskin:  o/u 1,550
Rushing TD's for Myles Gaskin:  o/u 17.5
Most yards by the leading receiver:  o/u 700
Most TD's by the leading receiver:  o/u 5.5
Interceptions for Sidney Jones:  o/u 4.5
Defense average sacks per game:  o/u 2.99
Sacks for Jojo Mathis:  o/u 11.5
Total points for leading scorer:  o/u 100.5
Kickoff or punt returns for TD's:  o/u 2.5
Kickoff or punt returns for TD called back for penalty:  o/u 0.5
Total sacks for the defense:  o/u 37.5
Average yards per play allowed by the defense:  o/u 5.25
Total defensive takeaways:  o/u 28.5
Total defensive TD's:  o/u 4.5
Derisive comments about Jonathan Smith from backspindawg:  o/u 1,543,498,775,363,275,355


dawgincostarica:

Yeah,Brad,
What differences  do you see this Spring as opposed to the past two. I wonder with this year's expectations of more victories than in the past ...coaches,players etc behaving any different ?

UWDP: Do you hear that?  Me neither.  That's the sound of "nothing" (at least nothing of any real substance) coming out of the UW's spring practices.  Just the way a guy like Chris Petersen likes it.....

This spring seems like the first one that Vanilla Petersen has completely under the type of control that he really wants.  And make no doubt about it, Vanilla is a control freak.  Like every successful coach.  Gone is all of the repetitiveness about "buy-in" and "culture" in every interview with every player and coach.  In its place instead, is genuine buy-in and culture.  See, unlike a lot of control freaks that want to micromanage every single aspect of every single minute of every single day, Vanilla wants to build the foundation and then let it grow up on its own.  Organically.

In case anyone missed it, Chris Landon had a good write-up here.

The theme of this spring is "Business as Usual."  For the players, the coaches, the fans, and even the media.  This is the first look into what a mature Chris Petersen Program looks like.  Hopefully, the wins follow this fall.


ElvislovesUW:

I noticed a lot of stretching during Spring practice;  what type of conditioning can the players do to help prevent injuries to joints like the knee and shoulder?

UWDP: It's tough to say for sure based on the short little snippets we get to see, but I'd be willing to bet that Petersen is type of coach that knows the proper way to warm up is with dynamic stretching - raising the core temperature of the muscles prior to exertion - is far more beneficial to performance and injury prevention than the static stretching that most of us over the age of 35 or 40 went through when we played sports.

For the types of things you're talking about, though, the bulk of the work is done in the weight room.  While you can't prevent all of the injuries associated with football (the human body simply wasn't designed for the violence of tackling on a regular basis, or to jump and cut the way these guys are able to), strengthening the muscle groups around the ligaments and tendons in knees and shoulders, and doing what's possible to strengthen the ligaments and tendons themselves, is the biggest key.  That work began shortly after the final gun of the bowl game, and will continue into the fall.

GeddyT:

There was a lot of pre-spring hype for walk-on receiver Jamon Jones.  Not that I was expecting to be reading that he was inline for a starting spot or anything, but I realize that I haven't read or heard his name mentioned at all so far this spring.  With such a prototype frame and a decent amount of buzz, I kind of figured we'd hear about it every time he does something even remotely promising in practice.  So was that just a bit of false hope?

UWDP: Yeah, there was some hype here (maybe other places as well, but I didn't really catch it) for Jamon Jones.  Our resident high school football guru noted that he was a guy that could make some noise based on his size and athleticism, and it kind of took off from there.  Probably in a way that Onewood didn't really intend; he was mainly offering his insight on a kid most of us didn't really know, and the people that trust Onewood built it up more than it should.

In fairness to Jones, there are in the neighborhood of 80 guys involved in spring.  You don't really here all that much about the majority of them.  The people that report on practice mostly feed us what we want to hear (or at least what they think we want to hear) - how tightly Jake Browning's shoes were tied, which side Elijah Qualls parted his hair today, Jojo Mathis' take on the recent democratic caucus, etc.  A more mundane play by a star or name player is likely to get mention, but the exploits of a little-known walk-on would have to be fairly spectacular to merit mention.

Jones is young, he's new to receiver, and he's a project no matter what.  I don't think there's any false hope with a walk-on, ever.  Redshirt freshman.  It's important to keep that in mind, no matter what.

TheDawgPen:

If you had to choose one thing...be that one position group, one aspect of UW's X's and O's, one personnel shortcoming that will keep UW from winning the Pac-12 in 2016, what is that one thing?

UWDP: For a number of people here and elsewhere, I think the answer to this question goes something like "Jonathan Smith.  Next?"  I'm not really of that mindset, since I think Smith is largely doing Chris Petersen's bidding as the offensive coordinator, and really, I've come around to the notion that the offense is boring, predictable and overly cautious almost entirely by design.  The endgame is a team that can move the ball and score enough points to win even though the defense knows exactly what's coming.  (As an aside, hat tip to Crazidawg, who held fast to this notion of the Stanford Model and took a lot of ish from me about it.  You were right.)

A lot of commenters here have made it clear that they don't want to hear about "youth" anymore, but youth+inexperience is the reason for me.  Not necessarily in the first 22 guys on the field, but throughout the depth chart, particularly on offense.  We all lived with the growth of freshmen (redshirt and true) last year, but the guys behind them were also largely underclassmen as well.  I don't want to assume the worst, but we really have no idea what we've got in the backups on the offensive line, for example.  If the Huskies were to lose a couple of starters there, it's a scary proposition.  There's talent in the wings, based on recruiting rankings anyway, but no experience.  With the liberal substitutions on defense last year, it's less the case, but I'm not sure how well the Dawgs could weather losing, say, Azeem Victor and Budda Baker at the same time for an extended period of time.

The depth is getting better.  Way better.  But there are a lot of guys the Huskies could have to count on that are simply unknown quantities right now.  I suppose that's the same for just about every team, but it's magnified with a staff and a system that are still wet behind the ears.

McKinleyville:

What are the local rumors about Timmy Lincecum? Any interest at all from the Mariners? That was one serious surgery he had, I hope he can come back.

UWDP: There are a lot of teams that reportedly have had some interest in Tim Lincecum.  I don't really know if the Mariners are one of them or not, but maybe somebody who follows baseball more closely than I can provide some information.  But no doubt, that injury casts some serious doubt on his ability to be a starter again in the major leagues, and he doesn't seem very interested in a bullpen role at this time.


onewoodwhacker:

Has anyone from the UW Dawg Pound applied for a UW Press Pass? What has to be done to get one?

UWDP: I don't really know if anyone has or not.  But I don't think any or the managers or writers here at the 'pound is really trying to make this a "news" site; it's a place for you fans out there to talk about Husky tiddliewinks and the like.  The UW athletic department really doesn't want to give credentials to blogs.  And I don't know which of the volunteers here has the time to actually make having a press pass worthwhile.  For me, I go to games (and would go to practices, if I could) to watch, not to take notes and write about what I see.

UWdadVanc:

Are there any positions that appear to be up-for-grabs?

UWDP: It's kind of weird to think, after the last several seasons, but there really don't appear to be a ton, at least among the first string.  Part of that is a side benefit of being such a young team; the Huskies just didn't lose too many players off the 2015 squad.  There just hasn't been much shuffling yet thus far this spring, even at the open positions.  Some guys being out for the first half of spring probably plays a little in that as well.

That's not to say things won't change over the course of the summer and into fall though.  And there's definitely going to be competition behind the first string, when the class of 2016 makes it on campus, plus the progression of the younger guys in the past couple of classes.  There's talent waiting in the wings, and at some point, the light is just going to come on for at least some of them.

On offense, with Brayden Lenius and Isiah Renfro missing spring ball, John Ross has been working as the split end.  Personally, I hope he stays there, as it puts a guy on the outside that can stretch the field vertically, and allows Chico McClatcher to take the spot vacated by Jaydon Mickens.  While it makes the receiving corps small across the board, it puts the most playmakers on the field, and could really stress opposing defenses.  If (when?) Lenius and Renfro come back, the alignment could change, and Ross could end up back in the slot.  That's going to be a battle worth watching.  Regardless, the battle for the fourth and fifth receivers will be one to watch.

Also keep an eye on the right guard position.  Shane Brostek's career really hasn't gone how many would've imagined it when he committed back in 2012, and position changes early in his career, as well settling on the type of build the coaching staff wants him to maintain probably haven't helped.  He's been starting all season, but Jesse Sosebee was one of the primary backups last year, and should push Brostek through the fall.

There's a much more liberal substitution pattern on defense, so starting matters a lot less, but I don't think the defensive line is entirely settled as of yet.  If the staff sees that Greg Gaines and Vita Vea can man the nose tackle spot, it allows Elijah Qualls to move outside and really utilize his athleticism.  If Qualls ends up back at the nose, then there's a battle for the tackle spot Qualls has occupied this spring, and opens things up for Jaylen Johnson or Damien Turpin to take that spot, and Benning Potoa'e to get into the mix.  At linebacker, things appear to be pretty set, but again, lots of guys are going to play, and the pecking order gets more interesting when Brandon Wellington and Camilo Eifler arrive in the fall.  Those two, plus Byron Murphy and Levi Ownuzurike are the wildcards in the incoming class that could really change things.

Grad and Dad:

Ah Spring, so many questions and so few real answers, as we learn things mostly through inference.  I am interested in how the 16 D will evolve from the past two years.  This staff has shown that they will adapt to the talent available.  It seems to me that this years group will be much more physical, but perhaps not as quick off the edges as last year.  Four guys over 300, Qualls (and others?) moving out to DT,and some really big bodies at DE and buck, just to name a few reasons.  What type of D do you envision, and who do you think the key new contributors will be?

UWDP: Well, if spring is any indication, the defensive front is going to be a lot bigger than it has the last two seasons, as you mention.  I think that's a good thing, as they've been a little on the small side for what you really want in sum out of the guys on the line in an odd front.  The line should be much more stout against the run, and able to collapse offensive lines, making the rare blitzes that much more effective.  It should also provide more free lanes for the outside linebackers to get pressure when the Dawgs bring four.  The front seven will look the part of a true 3-4 in 2016.

You're also correct, they aren't going to be replicating the speed of Travis Feeney, or Corey Littleton for that matter.  The hope is that they can replace those guys with more complete pass rushers; guys that can do a little more than just rely on speed.

I'm not really sure who the "new" contributors are going to be, as almost everybody in the two (and even three) deeps is back from 2015.  I look for much bigger things from Jaylen Johnson as his role expands.  I loved his pursuit out of high school.  Of the true newbs, we'll see how much Justiss Warren sees the field, and how many true freshmen see snaps.  I wouldn't be surprised if Camilo Eifler and/or Brandon Wellington do, and if Byron Murphy plays defense, he may as well.  Kentrell Love and Isiah Gilchrist could, too, as Austin Joyner works his way back from his knee injury.

Grad and Dad:

Speaking of the D, some offseason body changes were eyeopening to say the least. Azeem dropping 13 to 227!  What?  Do you think this is concerning or certain headaches for opposing RB and QB?  How about Jaylen up 25 to 285, but Benning up only 1  to 271?  Will these two battle it out for the starting DE?  How about Jojo Mc, up 8 to a very solid 206. Will he be a downhill terror at SS ?What say your crystal ball?

UWDP: With a lot of these guys, their weight can fluctuate a good five pounds a day depending on when they're weighed.  If Azeem just ate a big meal and needed to drop a deuce, he could be 235 in a couple hours' time last year.  And if he just got out of the gym and was due to eat, he could be 232 in that same time period this year.  I'm not saying that's necessarily the case, but it's very possible.

Jaylen Johnson has always had a big frame.  He's definitely packed on the weight, and by the looks of things, it was done as a concerted effort to simply get bigger (it's not all muscle).  That's fine.  As for Potoa'e, 271 is plenty big for the places he's going to play.  Tough to say if he changed fat to muscle (not that he really looked like he had much), or the staff wanted to change the type of muscle he had to maximize quickness over strength (or whatever), but I don't think the lack of change is a cause for concern.  208 is a good-sized safety.  That's awesome.

I don't know about you, but I feel pretty good about the current strength and conditioning program.  I think these guys have a plan.


Ozdawg:

Does anyone have any insight on why or how Najee Harris made it on to campus.  Was he just in Seattle or did he come up just to visit the team?

UWDP: Najee Harris lived in Seattle for several years, and still has family in the area.  That was how the Dawgs got their foot in the door.  While it sounds like he liked what he saw, this is a long, long, long, long, long shot.