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Mailbag - "Preseason Hype Builds" Edition

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Marriage is like a coffin, and each kid is another nail.

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Your weekly dose of useless facts, to make you more charming in social settings:

  • The world record for spitting a watermelon seed is 65 feet, 4 inches.
  • In the jungles of the Philippines, the yo-yo was first used as a weapon.
  • Texas is the only state that is allowed to fly its state flag at the same height as the United States flag.
  • The three most recognized Western names in China are Jesus Christ, Richard Nixon, and Elvis Presley.
  • There is a town in Newfoundland, Canada called Dildo.
  • The Boston University Bridge is the only place in the world that boat can sail under a train traveling under a car driving under an airplane.
  • In space, it's not possible to cry because without gravity, tears won't flow.
  • Speaking of crying, chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from doing it.
  • There are more plastic flamingos in the U.S. than real ones.  Many were found in my parents' shed, but that's a different story....
  • The crack of a whip is a small sonic boom, as the tip breaks the sound barrier.
  • Jupiter is bigger than all of the other planets in our solar system combined.
  • The common idea that humans only use 10% of their brains isn't true, as it's impossible to calculate the actual percentage due to the sheer complexity of the brain.
  • Hot water is heavier than cold water.
  • There are more psychoanalysts in Buenos Aires per capita than any other place in the world.
  • Lawn darts are illegal in Canada.
  • In 1992, 5,840 people checked into emergency rooms with pillow-related injuries.
  • The average woman consumes six pounds of lipstick in her lifetime.
  • Conception occurs most in the month of September.
To your questions, Dawg fans!

Kieran:

How key is Foster Sarrell a get for Coach Pete?

What are the top two things (one on O and one on D) the Dawgs have to do this year to win 10+ games?

UWDP: When one of the best players in the country is an offensive tackle that's grown up a little more than an hour away from campus (depending on traffic, and Meridian in rush hour can be a nightmare), he's obviously a priority.  In Sarrell's case, he's a 6'-6" 300 pound priority.  He's got the potential to protect the QB's blind side for four seasons at approaching an All-American level.

But that being said, I don't think he's a guy that makes or breaks this class, nor do I think signing him is emblematic of Chris Petersen's ability to recruit at a high level, specifically in the state of Washington.  So in that regard, I don't necessarily think he's "key" to this recruiting class outside of landing a special talent.  Regardless of his home address.

This isn't a preemptive "we didn't want him anyway" post, even though I think he ends up at Stanford.  I think that Petersen has done more than enough with his recruiting and subsequent development in his short time at Washington to have earned the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he's doing, and the sheer talent that he's brought in across the board is more than enough to mitigate missing on a single player.  Even if he is an immense local talent like Foster Sarrell.

As to your second question, the biggest factor on both sides of the ball is simply luck.  Fans tend to discount randomness in college football.  But a fortuitous injury situation for the year, and key bounces going the Huskies' way at key times....luck would be the biggest factor in winning more than 10 games in 2016 (and for all but a small handful of teams, that's always the case).  And really, that's a good thing - for far too long, even with the best of luck, the Huskies just didn't have the juice to win that many.

Outside of that, I'd say the biggest thing on offense is "efficiency."  Converting third downs and redzone trips into touchdowns is what's going to make an offense that's predicated on being efficient suddenly look "explosive" to fans.  On defense, I'd say it's similar; the Huskies very much play a bend-but-don't-break defense.  Frequently, they'd give up long-ish drives that didn't necessarily translate to points.  But it also didn't translate to the best field position for the offense when they'd make stops.  Forcing three-and-outs, keeping opponents well behind the chains...Those are the next steps for this defense.  Which is going to be great in 2016, by the way....

In 2016, the two units will feed each other.  Offensive production is going to make the defense's job easier, and vice versa.

The Cutter:

We hear that Kelsey Plum will throw out the first pitch at a coming Mariner's game. Is that true? Any details?


UWDP: Yep, Kelsey Plum is throwing out the first pitch this Saturday against the Angels.

HowlingHusky:

Where are we with numbers inside the program? For some reason I thought that with the incoming freshmen that the Huskies were a player or two over.

UWDP: With Myles Rice grey shirting and counting as part of the 2016 class, the Huskies took 18 new players in the last cycle.  With Dane Crane retiring due to injuries, the Huskies had 17 openings heading in to the 2016 season.  (For a primer, check out Kirk DeGrasse's article here, written at the end of 2015.)

It appears that you're correct, the team is one player over right now.  We'll have to see how that shakes out, but part of me is worried with the one player in limbo coming out of spring being Isaiah Renfro.  It's a good sign that he was at the final spring practice in uniform, even though he didn't participate.  More likely, someone dealing with injuries ends up stepping away between now and the start of camp in August.  Maybe more than one.

IHaveAQuestion:

Do we know what recruit Terrell bynum promised us would commit to UW within the month? Or was it one or the three that committed after him?


UWDP: I honestly don't know the answer, but with how connected these recruits are with each other due to social media, camps, etc., it could be anyone.  And the month isn't over quite yet.....

Hopefully, someone that knows more about this stuff than I do can step in and offer a little bit of information.

jstruitt:

We were a 6-6 team last year, and yet apparently this year is Rose Bowl or bust. What is a fair and legitimate goal for this team? 9 wins? 8?

UWDP: The standard during the Don James Era was to be competing for the Rose Bowl well into November.  To me, that's the realistic goal for 2016, although given that the front half of the conference slate is a bit tougher than the back half, the Huskies may have to be content to play the role of spoiler - not necessarily in the running without a significant amount of help, but one of the toughest games anyone has on its schedule.  A factor in how things finish.

With three home games out of conference - the toughest being a Rutgers team that finished 1-7 in the Big Te14n in 2015 - the Dawgs should easily open the season 3-0.  In conference, even with 5 away games and only 4 at home, this is a team that can and should finish 6-3 in Pac 12 play.  Yes, I know anything can happen, but finishing 5-4 (8-4 overall) would be disappointing to me.  It would represent treading water, going back to the 2009 season.  I wouldn't be jumping off the Chris Petersen Express, but the trajectory would be a concern.  I've said that 2017 is the year this team really breaks out on more than one occasion, but even on a highly flawed team, there's not a good reason this team shouldn't show an upward trajectory in 2016 outside of injuries.

Much more so than the final record, the record in conference is the indicator to me.  Even if the Huskies aren't yet in that top tier of the conference in 2016, they need to do more than just bounce along in the muddled middle.  6-3 is the key.

TahoedaWg:

Offensive line: how does our offensive line compare to the best o-lines of husky history?


UWDP: No offense to any of the current members of the line, buy my answer is "not favorably."  That's mostly because the Huskies have managed to put together some very, very good offensive lines over the years.  The high water mark for me as a Husky fan was in the early 90's when the Huskies placed a handful of players on various All-American teams led by Lincoln Kennedy, and then again in the mid-to-late 90's with Olin Kruetz and Benji Olsen.

Also, the line in 2015 was incredibly young and more about potential than actual play.  And there's a lot of potential on the roster at offensive line, and especially at the tackle spots that will be manned by Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary for at least the next two seasons.  Probably more than in the last 20 years.  While the rest of the offense (particularly Jake Browning) has some blame, the line gave up more than 30 sacks last season.  Even though the running game was solid, there was simply too much pressure allowed in the passing game.

Depth is an issue, because there are lots of guys that are going to be counted on that simply haven't taken snaps.  But there's talent, and the ceiling is pretty high for this unit.  I think it's going to be 2017 before people are really going to call the line a true strength, but I think people are going to be talking about how well they're playing by the end of this season.

Kamp81:

What role would Jeff Tedford most-likely have?  E.g. replace Smith, train Smith, other theories?

UWDP: The Washington Husky football coaching staff is full, per the total number of on-field coaches allotted by the NCAA.  For Jeff Tedford to join the staff as an actual "coach," someone is going to have to be let go.  There's essentially zero chance of that happening at this point.

So, if Tedford does work for the UW next season, it's going to be in some off-the-field role.  He could be a Quality Control Coach, like Bush Hamden was prior to his promotion.  This is usually a position for a young up-and-coming coach, not a veteran with significant head coaching experience.  More likely is that he's given some sort of "Consultant" title.  Tedford could assist with analyzing film and working with the offensive staff, but wouldn't be allowed to do anything on the field during practices or games.

Tedford has stated that he wants to get back into coaching, but I doubt that means as an offensive coordinator for Chris Petersen.  Or anyone else, for that matter.  I'd wager Tedford would take the head job at a lower-level school before he'd be a coordinator.

And even if he's willing to take that position, hiring Tedford would represent a major departure from Petersen's history in filling that position, which is usually filled by a young, up-and-comer type without substantial experience, and more importantly, without a system of his own.  Because Petersen is the de facto offensive coordinator for the UW Huskies.  His system is his baby, and it represents a huge part of the benefit he brings to the head job.

It's not impossible that history Tedford and Petersen share makes them want to work together, that Tedford is willing to be a coordinator again, and that Petersen is willing to cede ultimate control of the offensive to someone else.  But I don't think that's what's going to happen here.  Tedford is most likely going to use this opportunity (if it happens) to get his name back at the forefront of the coaching circle, and Petersen is going to use the knowledge that Tedford has about offense in college football to help his team as much as it can.  It'll be a short-term arrangement, and both sides will part in a better place than the one they started.

That's all for this week, folks.  If you come up with a good way to bide this long break between now and the start of real football news, please let me know.

GO DAWGS!!!!