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Mailbag - 'April Heatwave' Edition

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Phyllis Diller once said the reason that women don't play football is that you'd never find eleven of them willing to wear the same outfit in public at the same time.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

  • The value of Pi was "officially" rounded down to 3.14 from 3.14159265359 on December 31, 1999.
  • The amount of memory required to run WordPerfect for Windows 95 is greater than all of the memory needed on the space shuttle.
  • The most common name in the world is Mohammed.
  • The average North American will eat approximately 35,000 cookies in his lifetime.
  • Mount Olympus Mons on Mars is three times the size of Mt. Everest.
  • Most toilets flush in the key of E flat.
  • Speaking of toilets, on average, 40,000 Americans are injured by them each year.
  • The fine for whistling in Utah on a Sunday is up to $1,000.
  • According to "science," it takes 142.18 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop.
  • It is illegal to eat oranges while bathing in California.
  • If done perfectly, a rubix cube can be solved in 17 or fewer turns.
  • More bullets were fired in the movie "Starship Troopers" than any other movie ever made.
  • 60% of electrocutions occur while talking on the telephone during a thunderstorm.
  • The name of the woman on the statue of liberty is Mother of Exiles.
  • On average, 3.6 cans of Spam are consumed each second.
  • On average, there is a systematic lull in a conversation every seven minutes.
  • The buzz from an American electric razor is in the key of B flat; they're in the key of G in England.
  • The world's record for keeping a lifesaver in one's mouth while keeping the hole intact is 7 hours, 10 minutes.
To your questions!

80sIMADawg:

How are those wide receivers and tight ends looking?  How about KJ--how has he looked compared to last spring?

Olddawgie:

What  positions will the receivers be playing this fall?
From the comments from the coaches it sounds like Ross may be playing outside and McClatcher  may play both inside and outside.  Daniels is going to see some time running at the wide out positions per the tight end coach.  It looks like Bacellia plays in side most of the time?
Where do you think everyone ends up this fall?

Midwest Dawg:

Everyone is talking about the receiving corps as a position that needs to step up. While true, I think it ignores the necessities to have a good or great corp. However, a good receiving corp needs receivers to do different things. We could have ten John Rosses but I don't think that would make a good receiving corp. We need a possession receiver, slot receiver, big receiver, blocking receiver, YAC receiver, etc. Obviously these will overlap but I want to get a sense of what do we have? What do we think we have? And what do we not have?
Rhaego:

How's the QB depth chart looking through the first dozen spring practices?
OsidePup:

Which backup QB gets the most reps in the Spring Game scrimmage - KJ or Rodriguez??
(Anonymous):

From the look of it, our Fall receiving corps appears speedy and talented yet undersized. McClatcher, Ross, Renfro (well now maybe or maybe not Renfro), and then Baccellia if he makes the big jump in improvement. I may be leaving out another prime example. But given this sort of outlook, I'm curious as to what our best strategy could be in terms of offensive scheming. How does having this kind of arsenal at hand affect play-calling in the passing game? And on the flip side, how significant is the potential loss in terms of outside run blocking?
gliderdawg:

I'm seeing (actually "I'm guessing") the likelihood that there will continue to be many new players seeing time in games this year. We've had a lot of talk about the passing game and the WR's and TE's...if we continue to label guys like Darrell Daniels as a TE, (I call him a hybrid), what do you expect the passing % split between the TE's and WR's to be for the season? ( *Hint: I'm not going to be shocked if it's close to 50/50 due to the glut of capable large catch-radius TE's/Hybrids potentially breaking out.)

UWDP: Based on the very limited information available to any of us from spring practices, here's what we know thus far:  1.  The three receivers in what we might forecast as the Dawgs' base formation (although that is largely a misnomer - they really are "multiple" enough that they don't have a true base formation) have been Dante Pettis, John Ross, and Chico McClatcher.  2.  In terms of number of catches, the 2nd-leading receiver (Brayden Lenius, 26 catches) and 4th-leading receiver (Isaiah Renfro, 13 catches) have missed most and all of spring ball, respectively.  3.  Tony Rodriguez's reps have been in the rise with the second-string offense, while KJ Carta-Samuels' have decreased.  4.  Darrell Daniels and Drew Sample have gotten most of the reps at tight end with the first-team offense in 11-on-11 drills.  5.  Of the new names at receiver, Andre Baccellia and Quinten Pounds have been mentioned most frequently.  6.  John Ross has taken a lot of reps as an outside receiver.  7.  Chris Petersen has said that the receiving corps as a whole needs to step up and show improvement.

What we don't know:  Anything, really.

We don't know if John Ross has played split end (X receiver) or the flanker position (Z receiver) that has largely been occupied by Dante Pettis the last two seasons.  If you go solely by football "norms" for body types for each position, Pettis would be at X and Ross at Z.  But we aren't given that info.  Again, going by the "norms" of how you'd use the talents of each of those guys, you'd want Ross at the X, the deep threat, and Pettis at the Z as the possession receiver.

What those two guys are doing is mostly meaningless, because there are two key cogs that aren't playing at all right now.  If both Lenius and Renfro are healthy and on the roster, it shouldn't surprise anyone of Ross ends up at the slot position (Y receiver) manned by Jaydon Mickens the last three years, with Pettis back at the Z and Lenius and/or Renfro at the X.

It's all just a guess right now.  And it might not really matter; with the number of formations the Huskies use, with the amount of motion they use, and the different personnel groupings they use, all of the receivers are going to have to be able to play multiple positions.  Things get even more complicated when you add in the hybrid tight end/receiver types like Darrell Daniels, who may line up along the line in scrimmage, split out wide, or fill the slot in successive plays.  Maybe on the same play, depending on the looks Jonathan Smith and Chris Petersen want to give the defense.

Personally, I very much like the notion of Ross as an outside receiver, whether X or Z, because it allows the Huskies to have both Ross and McClatcher on the field at the same time the most amount of time possible.  While Ross doesn't have the prototypical size for the X, he's up to 196 pounds at 5' 11", so he's really not a "little" guy anymore.  And he's a lot bulkier than Pettis.  It would certainly remain to be seen if either of them could handle the blocking responsibilities of playing the position.

I don't want to sound like I'm down on Lenius in any way.  Even though he's a junior, he's still relatively young in terms of football experience, and his size portends an upside that nobody on the roster with any experience really has.  He also made a handful of spectacular plays in 2015.  But the Huskies need to get their best receivers on the field as often as possible.  What Lenius did in 2015 shouldn't guarantee anything (and that holds true for everybody); there should be a lot of competition at all of the spots into fall camp.  Smith and Petersen are certainly going to design plays and looks to get the ball into their playmakers' hands, but there really isn't going to be an offensive design based around personnel - the personnel is going to have to make the design work.  And while I agree with gliderdawg that the tight ends are always going to be important in a Chris Petersen offense, I don't believe they'll approach 50% of the catches.  Probably more like 30%.

I'm really glad - and surprised - that KJ Carta-Samuels is still a Husky.  But I love the fact that Tony Rodriguez is pushing him for the backup role even more.  Carta-Samuels has the physical tools, but he's still a very raw player in terms of what a QB does in a Chris Petersen offense - one year running the scout team, and one year getting backup reps in practice.  The competition is good for everyone.  As to Oside's question about reps in a spring game, this sort of competition is exactly why coaches don't really have one.  With as few official practices as allowed in the spring, maximizing coaching reps is more beneficial than a fake game fan show.

Rhaego:

Was the Daejon Davis decommitment expected? Is this a sign that recruits are losing faith in Romar?

UWDP: It certainly wasn't expected by me, but I'm not the guy that would necessarily know as well as others around here might.

I don't want to read too much into a single data point, but it's not good news when a local talent decommits heading in to his senior season.  Maybe we should just take him at his word, that he wants to go through the process a bit more and still has the Huskies as his first choice.  But I don't know.  Even though this is much more a statement about Davis than it is Romar in my mind, it's the sort of thing that certainly doesn't help the coach if Davis ends up elsewhere.

Atomic Dawg:

Will Coach Pete double down and take two DTs this year?

UWDP: I think he needs to, no doubt.  I love the potential of Marlon Tuipulotu to eventually be a guy to fill the athletic tackle/big end spot, but with the amount of true 3-4 the Huskies run under Pete Kwiatkowski, having a bevy of the run-stuffing space-eating nose tackles that can actually do a bit more than just anchor down the field turf is at a premium.  I like Greg Gaines and Vita Vea a great deal, but behind those two sophomores, the Huskies don't really have another one on the roster, short of building one out of a guy like Ricky McCoy.  Strictly going by names and sizes, they need a hypothetical guy like Popo Aumeve or Noah Elliss in this class - a guy that's already carrying 300+ pounds and is content to eat double teams play after play.  Maybe somebody that follows recruiting can chime in on that....

JoeinWSea:

Rumors abound that Lorenzo Romar is to blame for the viaduct closures beginning on the 29th. Meanwhile Chris Petersen oversaw light rail to Husky Stadium and it's been wildly successful. Don't you think it's time to make a change?

UWDP: Are you sure it wasn't Jonathan Smith instead of Lorenzo Romar, Joe?  I heard Petersen had to build the light rail so that Jonathan Smith could find his way to work.

Andrew M Smith:

The hype train is rolling at mag-lev speeds. My neighbor has said me he has already bought airfare and a hotel next to Levi Stadium for the pac-12 championship game Dec 2nd. I didn't get the impression he was joking.

Help me temper expectations for my neighbor and others. Give me a few reasons why we should not go totally overboard on our expectations for 2016.

UWDP: I'd like to invite your neighbor over for a friendly game of cards.

Here are my top reasons to temper those type of expectations:

1.  Five conference road games, and only four at home.
2.  The offensive line.
3.  The wide receivers.
4.  Depth at key positions.
5.  The Pac 12 is a tough conference.

My expectations for the team are pretty high for 2016.  I think it's a team that should win 9 games in the regular season.  With an unusual amount of good luck, it's a team that could win the north.  By that, I mean something like what we saw in 2000, with fewer games lost due to injury, a key bounce of the ball here or there, and some late season help from other teams in the conference (thanks again, Oregon State).  And talent, of course.

It's tough to win on the road, though.  Autzen isn't hospitable to the Huskies.  Utah will be tough.  Cal could be a trap.  Strange things happen in Pullman.  All of those games are winnable on their own, but winning the north means taking at least two of them, plus a win in the desert, plus beating Stanford and USC at home.

There's talent on the offensive line, but it's still a young group.  Most likely, they're a year away from really being the consistent, positive impact we want to see.  It could happen, but I'm betting on progression over dominance.  Same with the wide receivers.

I expect Jake Browning to miss at least one game, because it's far more common the starter misses one than remains healthy all season.  Especially with an average offensive line.  What if he misses four games?  What if Gaskin does?  What if they both only miss one, but it's the same one?  The Huskies could probably weather part of that, but it wouldn't take an extraordinary amount of bad luck for injuries to hurt this team.

I'm trying to account for what I'd consider to be an average amount of luck, both good and bad, in my expectations.  Winning the division is betting on a wild card in 2016.  I hope your neighbor is right.

Ozdawg:

Is it just the year of experience, or is there anything else that makes you think the OL will be good enough to push the team to the next level?

UWDP: Talent.  There's more on the line than there's been in an awful long time.

But I don't really think the line is going to be good enough to push the offense to the next level on its own.  I think that happens in 2017.  What I expect, though, is that at the start of the season, the line is improved over the 2015 version, but still not without its flaws.  But by the end of the season, people are going to notice the improvement over the play in September, and you're going to start to see these guys playing with a lot of confidence and a little bit of swagger.

This is a really young group still.  But there are a lot of guys that have gotten experience beyond their years, and there are more raw tools to work with for a coaching staff that's just better than the ones that have been here going back two decades now.

Ragu:

I had a bad dream last night. Seriously. It involved the Zone. Can we be done with the Zone? I'm telling my guests ahead of time that I will not be attending the Zone. Has any progress been made about just allowing the whole stadium to drink? We will fill more seats once they do.

UWDP: No, we can't be done with the Zone.  As much as many fans hate it, there are a lot more that enjoy it.  And quite frankly, the issues with it are dramatically overblown.

The Zone holds 2,500 people.  At halftime, even if it's at capacity, and that many more people are waiting to get in (which is never the case), It.  Isn't.  The.  Problem.  With.  Attendance.  Ever look at the parking lots at halftime?  Ever look at the backs of people simply walking down the street, away from the stadium?

There are people that buy tickets, simply to hang out in The Zone all game, just like there are people who buy tickets simply to spend their Saturdays hanging out all afternoon in a parking lot, mostly listening to really bad music.

I've been in to The Zone once, other than just cutting through on the way to my seats.  I'm not going, either Ragu.  But it's a false dilemma to suggest that fans' (using that term somewhat loosely) only options are to A.  be in their seats, or B.  Be in The Zone.  Fans aren't coming because the weather is too nice, or the weather is too bad.  Or their kids have soccer games.  Or traffic sucks.  Or tickets are too expensive.  Or the seats on their couch with their 65" HDTV's that are also showing 8 other games are just better.  Or, it isn't worth it if the team isn't winning enough.

Winning will turn the game into an event, and will do the most to help attendance.  Closing The Zone will have negligible impact.  You can't force fans to go to games, you have to make them want to be there.  Like with cool things such as bongo cams and Chevron car races on the jumbotron.

SoCalDawg:

The UW Athletic Department is reporting an operating deficit and anticipates ongoing budget issues in the near future. How can it possibly be justified to hire an AD from within (Jen Cohen) who a) has no experience running an athletic department at any size institution much less a Power 5 school and b) was a key player on the staff that put the department into the red for the first time in decades?

UWDP: I don't think Cohen's presence here during the time a rather small deficit was accrued invalidates her as a candidate any more than being a member of the department when Chris Petersen was hired makes her appealing.  But in your own words, if she was a key player in running up the debt, then she was also a key player in renovating the stadium and hiring Petersen - you don't get to choose the points that she's been at the forefront versus the ones she's just been a cog in a bigger machine.  She's either been a large part of the athletic department, or she hasn't.

As for the debt, it's a bit of a concern, but it doesn't really bother me a ton at this point.  There are lots of ways to juggle accounting to shows profits and losses when and where you want them.  It's certainly not a good thing, but the number as a percentage of the operating revenue is pretty small.  Obviously, the situation needs to be corrected, but I'm not ready to make a mountain out of it yet.  Certainly not the factor to discredit Cohen at this point.

I'm more than fine with "continuity" breaking all ties between two potential candidates, and maybe even being a tipping point, but I hate to see it as one of the premier arguments to simply pass the job off to Cohen - it smacks of laziness to me.  At least a little.  Realistically, not one single UW fan would endorse her if she wasn't already here.  On the other hand, I don't like mandates on certain levels of experience, either.  That's the sort of thing that inbreeds the nepotism that's so prevalent in the coaching ranks.

I can make the argument to myself that Cohen has served an apprenticeship at the UW that makes her more qualified to run a program on her own than if she'd been running a lower-revenue program that relies on a significant amount of institutional subsidization for funding.  There are people much closer to the program than I am that think she's a great candidate.  It's highly unlikely that she's the "best" candidate out there, but it's also unlikely she's the worst.  I get that that's an entirely wishy-washy answer.

Raising money for winning programs is significantly easier than raising money for losing ones.  That's why the far more important criteria in evaluating a potential AD is the hiring and/or firing of coaches.  The football program is pretty stable.  Men's basketball really isn't.  I'm much more worried about that.

GU1966:

Petersen seems to know that he needs an offense that is close to the efficiency of the defense in order to compete at the highest level. However, the offense has not even been average and, based on spring reports, is still lagging. What will Smith have to show in order to keep his job? Does he need to be top five in the Pac12? Can he continue if the Huskies are in the bottom half of the conference again?

UWDP: Defenses being ahead of offenses is pretty common in spring.  And let's keep one important factor in mind - part of the reason the offense is struggling is that it's going up against the UW defense every day.  That makes life harder on any offense.  I think it's a positive.  The offense is getting reps against one of the best defenses in the country, day in and day out.  That's a great way to get better.

I can say with a fair amount of confidence that raw numbers aren't going to be a big part of Chris Petersen's evaluation of his offense or Jonathan Smith's performance.   Efficiency is much more critical, and the offense was more efficient than many fans seem to believe last year, especially at the end of the season.  Not great by any stretch, but better than people seem to think.  Fairly average, actually.

That Smith only got a one year contract extension when most other assistants got two years may very well have been Petersen putting Smith on notice that the offense needs to improve, as many fans seem to think.  Or, it might mean that Petersen is so pleased with Smith that he knows he's going to have to give Smith a significant raise in order to keep other schools away, and it's easier to do that on a one-year deal than two.  I'm not actually suggesting that's the case, just that fans tend to read into these sorts of situations....

I think there are a ton of reasons not named Jonathan Smith that the offense wasn't all that good in 2015, and 2014 as well, for that matter.  The biggest for me (as always) is that this is Chris Petersen's offense, and Jonathan Smith is mostly a figure head as the offensive coordinator.  There are almost undoubtedly people that could come in and run Chris Petersen's offense better than Jonathan Smith does, but the notion that replacing Smith with Coach X is the key to suddenly lighting up the scoreboards is nearly laughable to me.  My guess is this:  If Jonathan Smith is replaced after the 2016 season, it will be because Jake Browning didn't take the step forward this year that Chris Petersen expects.  If Smith is retained, it'll be because Browning gets significantly better.  It's the role of QB coach that's going to determine Smith's future employment, not his playcalling.

Well, that's it for today, folks.  The deer and elk absolutely wreaked havoc on my yard the last six months, so I'll have to settle for watching the spring action on TV in between replacing broken sprinkler heads and supposedly "deer-resistant" shrubs that were eaten back to tiny nubs, and filling the six inch deep gouges in my lawn from 600 pound animals sinking in it during periods of super saturation.  Hopefully, you'll be able to make it out to Husky Stadium to check out the action.  If you need any wardrobe advice, my suggestion is purple.

GO DAWGS!!!!!!