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Mailbag - "Twiddling Our Thumbs" Edition

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Has anyone else noticed that "The Los Angeles Angels" baseball team translates to "The The Angels Angels"?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

People say you aren't very interesting.  I'm here to help.

  • Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of their place of birth.
  • "Obsession" is the most popular name for boats.
  • On average, the most popular smell of Americans is banana.
  • If you were to spell out numbers, you'd have to get to 'one thousand' before first using the letter 'A'.
  • 3.9% of women claim to not wear underwear.
  • Human flatulence is composed of approximately 59% nitrogen, 21% hydrogen, and 10% dioxide.
  • "Evaluation and Parameterization of Stability of Safety Characteristics of Two and Three Wheeled Vehicular Toys for Riding" was the title of a $230,000 government-funded research project to study the various ways children fall off bicycles.
  • Meteorologists claim that they're right approximately 85% of the time.
  • In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital suspended several workers for wagering on when patients would die.
  • You'd explode before you'd suffocate in outer space due to the lack of air pressure.
  • Mike Nesmith's (the guitarist for The Monkeys) mother invented White Out.
  • 6 people worldwide have died from moshing.
  • A study by Canadian scientists determined that chickens lay the most eggs while listening to pop music over any other genre.
  • The storage capacity of the human brain exceeds four Terabytes.
  • In Vermont, the ratio of cows to people is 10:1.
  • Due to surface tension, any free-moving liquid will form itself into a sphere in outer space.
  • The average American looks at eight houses before buying one.
  • In the average lifetime, a person will walk the equivalent of five trips around the world.
  • "Koala" is Aboriginal for "no drink."
  • The first contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by the ancient Egyptians.
If you still aren't interesting, don't blame me.

To your questions, yo!

Rhaego:

Give us your crack at the final PAC12 standings this season.

UWDP: Let's start in the South.  I think the two odds-on favorites heading into the season are UCLA and USC, the latter due almost exclusively to sheer talent.  I've no idea what to expect from Clay Helton as a head coach, and the QB race to lead the Trojans is wide open.  USC also might very well play the toughest schedule in the nation, which includes road games in the conference at Stanford, Utah, Washington and UCLA.  The first two of those open up the conference slate, and it's not impossible the Trojans could be 0-2 right out of the gate, and have three losses for the season before the calendar even flips to October.

The Bruins have two things going for them:  An experienced, talented quarterback returning, and a conference schedule that doesn't include Oregon, with a plurality of the toughest matchups at home.  There's rebuilding to be done on the offense, and the Bruins have to prove that they can avoid losing games that they should be able to win.

If both of those two teams fail, Utah seems like the most likely to fill the void due to what should be a very good defense.  But the Utes aren't going to be a favorite, and would likely back their way into the division title should they win it.

In the end, I think the South comes down to the USC-UCLA game to end the season.  I think Helton and the Trojans will be much more reliant in the running game, and the Trojans' offensive line and running backs take the division.  But it wouldn't be surprising if the eventual South champion has 3 losses in the conference (and if that team is the Trojans, the Pac 12 championship game could realistically feature a team with five regular season losses.)

Things are pretty murky up north as well.  Probably more so, really.  Stanford returns the most dynamic offensive player in the conference on offense in Christian McCaffrey, but loses its QB and much of its offensive line, which has served as the backbone and defining trademark the last several seasons for the Cardinal.  Defensively, the Cardinal should be better, but this was a shockingly mediocre unit in 2015.  And while a lot of people feel Stanford has done enough to merit the benefit of the doubt with its abilities on the offensive line, I'm not necessarily in that camp.  I think it's far more likely that the Cardinal captured lightning in a bottle late in the Harbaugh era, and then managed to recruit a singular incredible class early on under Shaw that served as the backbone the last three or four years, than it is that Stanford has actually created a system that coaches and develops linemen at a rate that far exceeds the national norm.  And Stanford's recruiting on the o-line simply hasn't matched that class of 2012 the last several years.  I think the Cardinal will be more than fine at quarterback, but an offensive game plan that is only slightly less risk-averse than not wearing a belt and suspenders simultaneously will cost the Cardinal in 2016.  Again.

It's easy to look at the biggest question of our really good friends down in Eugene as being at quarterback; I disagree.  I think it's the entire defense - one that was abysmal in 2015.  And loses a lot of players heading in to this season.  The biggest weakness for the Ducks on D was in the secondary, but it was an exceedingly young group in 2015, and not necessarily without talent.  The Ducks hired Brady Hoke as the new coordinator in the offseason, and I'm really interested to see how a dyed-in-the-wool 4-3 guy works out in the Pac 12, when virtually everyone else has gone to some form of 3-4 to combat all of the versions of spread offenses played in the conference.

Royce Freeman can be the Great Equalizer for the Ducks offense, but the entire left side of the line plus the center will be new.  I'm not sure if anyone saw how the backup center worked out for the Ducks last year....The quarterback situation is, well, just wow.  Maybe the Dakota Prokup is a healthy band-aid, maybe Travis Jonsen lives up to his recruiting hype.  Or maybe the Ducks have really lost their mojo under Mark Helfrich, and RBinOR can go back to living in the belly of the beast with pride.

And maybe the Ducks don't actually deserve to be mentioned with the favorites.  Probably not, even.  But as bad as they were last year without Vernon Adams, they were as good with him.  I'm not ready to write them off, until "it" actually happens.

Should either of those teams falter, our very own Huskies are just a little bit more ready to fill the void than are the Cuogs.  And by little, I mean a lot.  Washington will have one of the best defenses in the nation, and a still-young offense returns more than just a little bit of talent.  There are too many holes (and my scars I carry with me) for me to call the Huskies a favorite, but this team is ready to take a step in 2016.  Enough so that it could slide into the division title, if no one else can seize it.

In the end, I think the winner of the North has two losses at least.  And as a whole, the conference is shut out of the playoffs (Playoffs?  You kidding me?  Playoffs?!!) again.  Of course, this whole answer means two teams go undefeated, and meet for the title next January....

Brettj1203:

A lot of high praise coming in for UW football in preseason polls. Personally, would rather come into the season ranked lower and have a disrespected mentality for the players to "over perform" expectations. When (if ever) was the last time a Chris Petersen led team entered a season with this type of expectations and how did they perform?

UWDP: If the Huskies are going to be able to play that underdog role with regards to what the media says, this is the last year it's going to happen.  And while I think there's some validity to the notion of being "disrespected," I think it's a lot less of a factor than what the coaches do to prepare them for the season.

Boise State entered the season with high expectations on a regular basis under Chris Petersen.  Much higher than this edition of the Huskies, in many cases.  I'd say Petersen met or exceeded expectations in five of his nine seasons, at a bare minimum.  Only once did he really "fail."   That's a pretty solid track record.

HatedHusky:

Is The Pursuit series going to continue?  We need to be fed during the offseason!


UWDP: I'm sure it's going to continue, but it's something that's come out during the season the first couple of years.  It'd be great if they kept it going during the offseason, but it'd probably struggle a bit more for content.

Rhaego:

Considering how informed/educated Husky nation seems to be, what's with all of the homers? Where did the sense of rationality and reasonable expectations fly off to?

UWDP: I know you're a jaded cynic, Ragu, but I take it you're fairly young as well.  Probably the only time the Huskies have had "expectations" that wouldn't rightly be considered pie-in-the-sky in your time as a fan was 2013, no?

It's not being a homer to expect this team to be pretty good, Ragu.  It's got all of the makings to do so, and no flaw so fundamental to its being to keep it below expectations.

And really, you're going to have to define your terms here.  What's "homer" mean to you?  What are reasonable (and hence, unreasonable) expectations for 2016?

OsidePup:

There are positives to be said for the head coach to assign one of his top assistants to be the head man on game day management. (The head coach of the Bucs has made this decision.) There is so much other stuff happening during the game that someone other than the head coach may be more on top of it to make critical decisions at key times than the head man.  Should Coach Pete assign that responsibility to another of his top assistant coaches?

UWDP: I guess the answer depends on where the head guy thinks he adds the most value to the team on game day.  For some, it's offensive or defensive play calling (as is the case with Dirk Koetter at Tampa Bay).  For others, it might be the management of the overall process, including making these sorts of decisions.  I'd say Petersen falls most into the latter category, and you aren't going to see him give over those types of decisions to someone else.  I think he's going to get the input of the people around him he trusts, but ultimately, he's going to be the guy to ultimately make the call.

But this is for the really big stuff; although Husky fans probably hate "The Chart" after the Arizona game in 2014, most coaches have something similar to consultant for many things that happen during games.  Especially with regards to clock management, when to go for two points versus one, etc.

Olystubbie:

Who r the next to commit?  Best guess

UWDP: You're asking the wrong guy here.  But since I'm just guessing, I'll go with a QB.  I think it'll be Chase Garbers.  I think Jack Sears has a little bit more upside, but Garbers is more polished right now.

Rhaego:

Utah and Washington are both dark horses... sort of.. to win their divisions. 1. Would you consider them dark horses at this point? 2. Will Washington or Utah have a better season? 3. Will they meet in the championship game? 4. Does that mean we should be blasting Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' out of our Subarus until September?

UWDP: Look, I already answered this for you.

Yes, I think they're probably both dark horses.  I'm not sure who will have the better season, but I think the Huskies will be the better team.  Actually, I think the Huskies have the better season, simply because of the JV non-conference schedule.  At least Utah has BYU.

No, they won't meet in the championship game, unless it's in the stands.

You're free to listen to Katy Perry whenever you'd like.  We're not here to judge.  At least not to your face.

As an aside, does anyone else find it interesting that Troy Williams ended up at Utah?  It's very possible that he just didn't have a lot of options coming out of JC.  But if he did, I've got no idea why he'd leave one of the most conservative coaches in the Pac 12, in order to play for one who's even more conservative?

UWdadVanc:

I see in a lot of reports that UW is returning 8 starters on defense. But they lose Littleton, Feeney, Tupou, and Clay; that makes 4 starters, and there are 11 players, so it means 7 returning starters. Are all of those writers that bad at math, or am I missing something?


UWDP: There's probably a few factors.

1.  Some are that bad at math.
2.  Some do no or very little research when preparing write-ups for non-nationally relevant teams like Washington.
3.  Some are writing toward a particular angle ("The Huskies have an unappreciated defense with tons of experience returning") and include guys that only had a start or two in order to make a story sound better.
4.  In this particular case, the most likely is that people are including Greg Gaines, who started 6 of the 13 games in 2015 and is slated to start along side Elijah Qualls on the line in 2016, as a returning starter.  That's probably a fair way to handle it, too.  Gaines played enough on necessity and merit to be considered a starter, in my mind.

Grad and Dad:

Might be fun to speculate a bit about the OL.  Seems like we are set at Tackle and Center, with Trey, Kaleb and swingman Andrew, and the great reports about Coleman and Matt, but several things about the guard situation puzzle me.  A brief analysis of spring weights indicates that Jake dropped 12 to 284,  Shane 20 to 285, and Michael 17 to 285 (while Jesse gained 3 to 314 and Henry up 3 to 290.)  Now assuming these changes do reflect body changes, it seems odd to me that your upperclass guys are shedding that much weight.  Also, IIRC, Coach S has said he likes his guards to be on the bigger side.  Couple that with Coach Pete also talking about playing some more power, like the tree .  It seems like we would be undersized for that as it stands (although we could bring in a heavy package with 260 and 275 lb TEs who can catch).  I really no almost nothing about the inner workings of the OL.  What do you experts think?

UWDP: Since there aren't any experts champing at the bit to answer, I'll take a stab.

One thing to keep in mind is how much weight can fluctuate for guys this big, this young.  It could be as much as 10 pounds in a single day, depending on when they ate and drank last, or worked out hard.   Or dropped a big deuce.

I've heard Socha and Strausser say that about the guards, but at the same time, you need guys to be playing at the "right" weight for each player.  It's possible that they decided they weren't getting the mobility out of the older guys while playing at higher weights.  It's also possible that the staff has decided that as the offense has evolved over the years, they're willing to sacrifice some size in order to increase mobility.  It's also possible that one of the reasons that the guys in question weren't as highly-rated as the younger guys is that they genetically weren't built to carry as much weight.

I'd say it's probably a combination of a few of those things.  The younger guys are probably still trying to build themselves the "right" way.  The older guys are working to maximize what they're able to do.

Rhaego:

Which of these happen? Browning surpasses 3,200 passing yards. Gaskin surpasses 1400 rushing yards. Both?

UWDP: I'd take the over on Myles Gaskin and 1,400 rushing yards, as long as he stays healthy.  Every day of the week.

Jake Browning is a little big tougher.  He could have a far superior year and still not throw for 3,200 yards.  In the end, I think the team is going to need him to do it, and Chris Petersen and Jonathon Smith have a strong desire to be able to throw the ball.  If Browning plays 13 games, he needs to average fewer than 250 yards per game to get there.  History says he likely misses at least one game, so he'd need to average 267 in 12 games to do it.  I think he does it.

Jake Browning ran for 35 net yards in 2015.  Myles Gaskin attempted no passes.  Which is greater in 2016, Jake Browning's rushing total, or Gaskin's passing total?

Husky in Oregon:

When will the new recruits arrive on campus and will they immediately be able to jump into the weight room and the playbook? Who are they allowed to have contact with?

UWDP: I believe they have the playbook already.  There's something called the Bridge Program for new student-athletes that starts when the summer quarter begins.  That's when the new guys can show up and begin working in the strength and conditioning program, and other "voluntary" summer practices.  And with the NCAA rules changes a couple of years ago, they're allowed a certain amount of contact with the on-the-field coaching staff during the summer as well.  But it all gets going with the Bridge Program.

Olyrunner3:

Can the Huskies be in the College football playoff talk this and the next couple of years?

UWDP: I guess that depends on how you define "in the talk."  It's possible that they make the playoffs at some point, for sure.  Statistically, it's not likely.  I guess I'll use the old definition Dawg fans used about Don James and the Rose Bowl - the Huskies were in the conversation into November.  That doesn't necessarily mean they were a favorite, or even controlled their own destiny, but they were a factor.

As currently constructed, the playoffs are a lot more exclusive than the Rose Bowl ever was, so that isn't even a fair comparison.  And while I love to watch any and all college football I can, I'm not necessarily a fan of the playoff system as it stands today.  Things might be different if I were an Alabama fan, I suppose.  To me, my first goal is always going to be to win the conference.  After that, things will take care of themselves.

Rhaego:

Who leaves early for the NFL after this season?
UWDP: Say goodbye to:

1.  All-American Sidney Jones.  This one falls into the "foregone conclusion" category.

You can probably say goodbye to:

1.  Budda Baker.  I think he needs to have a really, really good year since he's not ideal size, but I think he's going to have a really, really good year.

There's an outside chance you'll need to say goodbye to:

1.  Elijah Qualls.  He's going to get a shot to put up much bigger numbers in 2016, since he'll see fewer double teams.  I doubt he's on NFL radars much right now, but if he really breaks out, he could be gone.
2.  Azeem Victor.  I love Azeem Victor.  But inside linebackers are drafted all that highly, which is good news for Husky fans, as Victor won't be poised to make a ton of money by leaving early.  The bad news is that Victor won't be poised to make a ton of money even if he stays.  If Victor becomes a playmaker as either a sack guy or takes a big step forward in coverage, he could decide there's no point in coming back.

I think the Huskies dodge a bullet, and "only" end up getting the secondary gutted following the 2016 season.

Rhaego:

Top 5 Huskies accountable for touchdowns this season, in order, and how many each. Go.
UWDP: I'm not going to count passing TD's.

1.  Myles Gaskin, 17
2.  John Ross, 8
3.  Dante Pettis, 6
4.  Chico McClatcher, 6
5.  Lavon Coleman, 4

RunningFaster:

Last preseason, most national prognosticators--and even many fans--had a rather pessimistic view of the Huskies' chances in 2015.  The team outperformed most preseason expectations, and now much of the talk is how the team is a legitimate Pac-12 North contender and possibly even a dark horse playoff team.  I recently rewatched the '91 season on YouTube, starting with the 90-91 Rose Bowl.  While the style of offense differs significantly from the 1990 offense (run-heavy option led by a running QB), much of the current feel of the conference and our strength of defense, coupled with the confidence in the QB and run game, give me the feel of the 1990 season--high expectations, but I don't expect Keith Jackson to be predicting a national championship in the first game of the season.  So, what are your thoughts on how this upcoming season compares to the late 80s/early 90s feel of the program?

UWDP: I don't think it has all that much to do with preseason expectations, but I think there are a lot of similarities to the feel of the program today and that of the one in the 80's and 90's.  It has almost everything to do with the current head coach in comparison to Don James.

I'm not talking about on-field success, because it's not fair to either man to compare the 18 seasons of one of the greatest coaches in college football to one that's been here two years.  But in looking at their personalities, their temperaments, their leadership styles and abilities, their intelligence, their skills at dealing with people, and their competitiveness - these are very similar men.  They run very similar programs.  Not identical, but very similar.

I think every Husky fan knew something special was brewing in the fall of 1991.  I don't know about the rest of you, but 1990 caught me by surprise a little.  Even with the way the table was set at the end of 1989, and especially after the two lackluster wins to open the season.

I'm not ready to predict a run like that, today.  But I do expect (reasonably so) a significant amount of progress in 2016, and I think that Petersen has the potential to eventually build something like that here.  Now that I think about it, why not 2017?

That's all Dawg fans.  Thanks for the questions, and GO DAWGS!!!