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Mailbag - "This Space for Rent or Sale" Edition

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If you're one of those people that lives by the adage that "anything is possible," try slamming a revolving door.

Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Useless facts are, or course, useless.

AND CORRECT, SO DON'T BOTHER CHECKING THEM!!!!

  • Mozart wrote the song "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" at the age of five.
  • Weatherman Willard Scott was the original Ronald McDonald.
  • Virginia Woolf wrote all of her books while standing.
  • Albert Einstein didn't speak fluently until age nine. His parents thought he was mentally retarded.
  • Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, was afraid of the dark.
  • You can sail all the way around the world at 60 degrees latitude.
  • The earth weighs approximately 6,588,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons.
  • Deborah Winger did the voice for "E.T."
  • In most advertisements, including newspapers, watches are shown displaying the time 10:10.
  • On the ground, a group of geese is a gaggle. In the air, they are a skein.
  • "To Ensure Promptness" was later abbreviated to "T.I.P.", and is the reason behind the practice of paying above the value of a service.
  • The scene where Indiana Jones shoots the swordsman in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was Harrison Ford's idea, as he needed a bathroom break.
  • A snail can sleep for three years.
  • If the population of China walked past you in a single file line, the line would never end at their current rate of reproduction.
  • The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
To your questions.

bowdown15:

There's been a lot of talk this off-season about the state of QB affairs down in Eugene and what effect it is going to have on the Pac 12 North and potentially Pac 12 championship. My intuition is that, frankly, it's not going to matter: the d*cks are just not going to be able to match the power of Falk, Stanford's depth, and UW's Browning-Gaskin-Defense axis. I'm not saying that the d*cks are going to go 1-4 in the North, I just think that there's a lot going on for other teams that is going to outweigh (i.e., defensely) and outshine (i.e., offensively) them. What are your thoughts, inclinations, and conclusions on this discussion?
UWRosebowl:

Not really sure what team the ducks will field this year, but I am calling the win in Autzen.  28-21 DAWGS.  How do you think that game will play out and what is your prediction for the type of team the ducks will be?

arkMay elfrichHay isyay ayay ediocremay oachcay

UWDP: Since I'm the one answering these questions, you guys are going to be forced to indulge me on something for a minute.

Something I've been thinking about for awhile now...I don't think the 4-3 defense (or any of its variants) is as successful in defending modern spread offenses as the 3-4 is, without the benefit of superior athletes at key positions. I think too much speed is sacrificed for size, and there are too many guys stuck playing near the line of scrimmage to cover the horizontal aspects of offenses today. The 4-3 can most definitely work, but it is very reliant on an uber-disruptive interior lineman.

Oregon had a better-than-the-numbers-suggest defense under Chip Kelly, as Nick Aliotti enjoyed something of a renaissance. But I think there's an argument to be made that it was in no small part due to Kelly's insistence that Allioti dump his favored 4-3 in favor of a 3-4.  That's obviously only one example.

I suppose the best evidence is the fact that very few teams run a 4-3 anymore. Most run either some type of hybrid, or a more true 3-4.

Brady Hoke has had great success as a defensive coordinator. He utilizes a 4-3 Under, which is the same alignment that Nick Holt ran; successfully at USC, with enormous talent and depth on the defensive line, and unsuccessfully at Washington with much less to work with. He's aggressive out of it, using a lot of zone blitz looks. But Oregon doesn't have that disruptive interior lineman, or at least hasn't shown one yet.  I think the Oregon defense, which was "bad" last year, is going to struggle again this year. Maybe just as much. They'll have flashes and make big plays, but I think they're going to give up even more than they make.

Okay. Whatever, you say.

Oregon's got issues in 2016, and as UWRosebowl hints at, one of the bigger ones might just be that their incredible string of internal hires at the head coaching position has come to an end. It's premature to expect the Ducks' demise in 2016, as they still have probably the best running back in the conference in Royce Freeman and talent left over from a handful of good recruiting classes, and one should note what they did to conference champion Stanford on the Cardinal's home field, but their momentum seems to have stalled some.

Oregon had 3 phenomenal years of quarterback play with Marcus Mariota. But the other way to look at it is that this is their fifth season of failing to develop absolutely anybody but Marcus Mariota. Vernon Adams was very good last year, when he could stay healthy. I'm not sure they can strike two years in a row on the FCS transfer at the position, and the fact that they've had to is a major chink in the armor.

We'll see.

pax imperia:

Latine quaesita ponatur ?

UWDP: Any language is fine.

Darin Johnson:

Vegas is picking the Dawgs to win nine.  If you had to bet the money you put in a safe-deposit box and didn't tell anyone but your wife in case you are ever kidnapped by the mob and you made her swear never to tell but I found out about it when we all had margaritas two summers ago, would you take the over or the under?

And a quick follow up: of the nine expected wins, which games do you think the Huskies are most likely to pick up an unexpected win and loss?

UWDP: That's a lot of money we're talking about here, as I'm fairly certain I'm going to be kidnapped by the mob any day now.

First off, I have to qualify "9 wins" I s'pose. For me, it doesn't include a bowl game either way, because there's just way too much uncertainty around who that'd be. So it's nine wins in the regular season, with one left to play.  For the sake of this question, I'm going to have to assume Vegas (and you) are assuming the same.

I'd probably take the uninspired bet and go "push" at 9. At 8.5, I'd take the over all day. At 9.5, I'd probably go under. But since it's June and I'm fully buying in to the hype right now, I'd be really tempted to take the over. The only reason I wouldn't is because of the five road games the Huskies have to play in the Pac-12.

The way things are setting up, it's tough to find "expected" losses. The teams with the highest odds of being favored against the Huskies are probably Stanford, USC, Oregon, and Utah (in that order). I'd say getting Stanford early, and on a Friday night gives the Huskies the "best" shot for an unexpected win of those four. But that's not to say I'm predicting losses to the other three.

I think the Huskies will actually be favored against the Utes, but I think that's one that could sneak up on them. Either there, or in Pullman. Which would really suck.

(anonymous):

What are our chances with Alex Forsyth?

UWDP: It sounds like he wants to stay in Oregon, but there are others out there that know way more about recruiting than I do. Hopefully, one of them will chime in.

DropTheHammer9:

Any Sark sightings? Do you think he'll be able to return to coaching at the D1 level right away or is a lower tier (and lower pressure) gig more likely? Also, what was the deal with Sark and Bellevue? Bad relationship with those coaches?

UWDP: Somebody posted a relatively recent picture of him (I honestly have no recollection of where I saw it). He looks a lot better than he did on the sidelines against Washington last year. Good for him.

He's most likely not going to start out with a head coaching gig at any level. No one is going to take a guy that has yet to show he can run a college program and stay sober and hand him the job. At one point, I believe he expressed interest in an NFL QB coaching role. That'd be a good place for him to start. If he actually wants to get back to coaching at the college level, then a couple of years as a QB coach, followed eventually by a promotion to NFL offensive coordinator, might be the best way for him.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean about Sarkisian and Bellevue High School.
Ron:

Who is the best overall Husky Definder?

UWDP: This is a tough question to answer it, because there are so many different ways to approach "best overall." If it's the best combination of run and pass support, the conversation is largely limited to linebackers that cover and safeties that play the run. If that's the case, it comes down to Azeem Victor and Budda Baker. I'd give the nod to Baker, narrowly, because besides being a really good athlete, he's shown that he's got a really high football IQ in the back end of the Husky defense.

If the question is the best player at his position, it's All-American Sidney Jones. And the margin is pretty good. Jones is absolutely lights-out in coverage, he's physical, and he's willing to make plays around the line of scrimmage in the instances he's asked to do so. If Baker was 15 pounds heavier, and stronger, it might be him. But right now, it's Jones, and he's going to be a wealthy man next April.

Rhaego:

Of the big Pac-12 out of conference games, which wins will the Pac-12 secure?

UWDP: I guess I get to arbitrarily choose which ones count as "big."

9/3: Two of the best non-conference matchups occur the first weekend. UCLA at Texas A&M got more intriguing when Aggie poached Noel Mazzone to be its new offensive coordinator. I expect a fairly high-scoring game, with A&M pulling out a close one. Alabama takes out USC in a game that's closer than expected. Arizona beats BYU.

9/10: Arizona State outlasts Texas Tech in a sloppy win. Utah pummels BYU. Virginia plays Oregon, and no one really notices. WSU and Boise State should be a fun game to watch. In the end, I think the Broncos win a shootout.

9/17: UCLA pounds BYU (which drops to 0-3 against the Pac-12). Colorado travels to Michigan and wishes they hadn't. Texas wins at Cal. Oregon going to Nebraska...I'd love to pick Nebraska, but unless they've suddenly found a quarterback, I don't think they'll win.

10/15: Stanford falls at Notre Dame.

11/26: USC beats Notre Dame at home.

jstruitt:

Can someone explain to me why we are as confident in our O-Line this year as we seem to be? Feels like the past two years have had a lot of plugging and pulling, and our best players are still pretty young. I'm confident we have  a good line building  but why are the expectations that it will finally be a bulwark this year? Maybe I just don't pay attention enough or know enough about football.


UWDP: It depends on your expectations.  I don't expect them to be a bulwark this year. That doesn't come until 2016. I've said this before - I think they'll be "decidedly solid" this year from the get-go in anonymity, and by the end of the year, people will have started to take notice how well they're playing.

The offensive line has rising to the level of mediocrity at times the last decade plus, but for the most part, that's about as positive an assessment as you can give of them. I was watching parts of the Boise State game from last year this week - man, the line was bad that game. They got a lot better by the end of the season. With a bunch of really, really young players manning most spots.

Like you say, they'll still be young next year. But Kaleb McGary will have two full offseasons playing tackle. Trey Adams will have had an offseason with in the strength and conditioning program. These guys are talented players that are going to be a lot less raw in 2016.

If it feels like you've heard this talk about improvement before, it's because I'm sure you have. I think I personally said it as recently as 2014. So I find it tough to blame anyone that's in the "wait and see" mode. There's also the facts that I really don't think the line is quite at the talent level it ultimately will be under Chris Petersen, and that depth is a major issue - one or two injuries and all bets are off. But what makes it different right now, to me anyway, is that we've actually seen some development. We've seen some progress from guys during the course of the season, and from one season to the next.

RBinOR:

If you hit the fast forward button (ok, so I'm old), what's your take on the PAC-12 North standings in 2016? 2017?


UWDP: 2016 is going to be an interesting year for the trajectory of the North. I know a lot of people have seen Stanford win for long enough that they're just ready to assume it's the new normal. This year will be big in that regard, as they've got to rebuild much of their offensive line, but without the same level of raw material they had the last time they did it. Unless they use a bunch of true freshmen, which is what they did last time. And it worked out pretty damn well.

Anyway...

Conference and overall record, but not specific wins or losses for 2016:

Stanford: 7-2 (9-3)
Washington: 6-3 (9-3)
Oregon: 6-3 (8-4)
WSU: 4-5 (6-6)
Cal: 2-7 (4-8)
Oregon State: 2-7 (4-8)

And 2017:

Washington: 7-2 (10-2)
Stanford: 6-3 (9-3)
Oregon: 6-3 (9-3)
WSU: 4-5 (6-6)
Oregon State: 4-5 (7-5)
Cal: 2-7 (3-9)

I don't think the Pac-12 is going to have a playoff representative in 2016, and if they have one in 2017, I don't think it comes from the North. For a lot of years, there was power at the top of the conference, and a big group that made up the muddled middle. I think there won't be a dominant team for the next few years, but a handful of really good teams at the top with a smaller middle class. Nationally, the conference will be perceived as "down."

HowlingHusky:

How important is recruiting in Utah? Does it take away time from Texas, Arizona, California? I get that it's Malloe's former territory so there should be some immediate dividends, but are they making it a part of their recruiting footprint...in the long term or a stepping stone?


UWDP: The number of high school players from the state of Utah signing scholarships with FBS teams is on the rise. There were always a fair number that signed with the local schools (Utah, BYU, and Utah State), but the last four or five years have seen a definite uptick in the number of guys heading to places like USC, Stanford, etc. The Big Ten has gotten into the Beehive State as well. There are more players in the scout.com top 300 than there were a decade ago, and more depth beyond those first three or four players. It remains to be seen if this is a permanent trend, or just a blip on the radar.

Unless there are more hours available for recruiting then the Husky coaches have been utilizing, then yes, it does take away from time in other areas. Probably not enough to make a huge dent in the efforts in those other states, and also probably worth the time if the talent is actually there. And since Utah is now part of the Pac-12 footprint, it naturally becomes part of the UW's recruiting footprint.

Each recruiting class is a years-long investment. The coaches are pretty well aware of just about every potential athlete available by the time Letter of Intent day rolls around, as you well know. Chris Petersen and staff are certainly going to leverage the relationships Ikaika Malloe has in Utah in the short term. If the talent level remains worth the effort, they'll continue to do so. But I also think he's a good recruiter in general, and they're going to utilize his abilities in Washington, and California, and Oregon, etc.

Thomas Henry:

Are the dawgs at 85 scholorship limit or do they need more attrition?  is KJ staying even if he falls to 3?

UWDP: I think they're at 85 as it stands right now.

I would've guessed KJ Carta-Samuels left after 2015. I'm glad he didn't. I also think it gets less and less likely he leaves each subsequent year.

Unless Tony Rodriguez beats him out this year, he's got a pretty firm grasp on the second string. Unless Jake Browning is lost for the season, I'd wager Daniel Bridge-Gadd is going to redshirt.

Lstarbuck:

Play by play breakdown of our first drive against Rutgers?

UWDP:

Offense:

Ross, John kickoff return to the 32 yard line
Gaskin, Myles rush for 6 yards to the 38 yard line
Browning, Jake pass complete to Daniels, Darrell for 12 yard to midfield
Gaskin, Myles rush for 8 yards to the 42 yard line
Gaskin, Myles rush for 7 yards to the 35 yard line
Browning pass incomplete, intended for Ross
Browning pass complete to Pettis, Dante for 23 yards to the 12 yard line
Gaskin rush for 12 yards, touchdown

Defense:

Rutgers, rush for one yard, tackle by Victor, Azeem
Rutgers, pass incomplete, broken up by King, Kevin
Rutgers, pass incomplete, broken up by Jones, Sidney

Rhaego:

Why am I hearing rumors about ASU/UA leaving for the Big 12 from my BYU fan of a father and not this blog?

UWDP: Because BYU fans are notorious rumor-mongerers.

There was an article written in January speculating about it. A couple of other people wrote articles speculating about it, based on the first article.

There's no financial incentive for the Arizona schools to head to the Big 12. Do you think Texas and Oklahoma are going to give up money to the Wildcats and Sun Devils? Me either.

Sport697:

The defense hype, is it real?

UWDP: It's not just hype, it's actual results. The Washington defense is good. Like, really good. One of the best in the country.

In 2015, the Huskies' defense was the best in the country by FEI. It was #9 by S&P. It was very, very good last year, and the core were sophomores. Even with the losses of Travis Feeney, Cory Littleton, and Brian Clay, it should be better in 2016.

I think there are two issues that explain why some Husky fans haven't fully embraced the defense as yet. One, the play of the D didn't lead to as many wins as any of us would've liked. But only allowing 16 points to Boise State, 26 to Oregon, and 27 to Utah and Arizona State should've been few enough to pull out the wins. At least some of them. Against Utah, the offense allowed on TD on a fumble return, and set the Utes up with two more TD drives that covered a grand total of 25 yards. Yeah, I know - If "ifs and buts" and all of that...

The second is that the defense under Pete Kwiatkowski isn't really very sexy. Husky fans probably think of dominant defense as what we saw in the early 90s, and back in the 80s. Taking the ball away seemingly at will, surrendering small yardage totals, and multiple blitzers setting up camp in the opponents' backfields. This defense is actually pretty conservative. It's a low-risk, low-reward style. It's bend-but-don't-break. It's willing to give up yards, but not points. But the Huskies are just really good at what they do, they've got talent to generate negative plays and turnovers out of that safe style, and Kwiatkowski has been very good at getting the most out of the times he does go into attack mode. The Huskies play a very physical brand of defense in a pretty "base" set.

The hype is real. Enjoy it in 2016.

All for this week, Husky fans. If you'd like to purchase the title for the next mailbag, fax me a check for $250.