So far on the The Best F#@&ing Countdown Ever (Gabey Lucas’ title is in fact catching on), we’ve drafted an offensive and a defensive player from an opposing Pac-12 team, picked a former Husky from the past 16 seasons, and attempted to improve the UW squad with fictional stars of the big and small screens.
Today we jump back into the time machine and return to the glory days of modern Washington Husky Football: the early 90s. More specifically, what if we could select one offensive player from the undefeated 1991 team to transplant onto the 2016 Husky Roster? The ground rules are: choose the player based on how he performed in 1991. For example: Mark Bruener went on to become one of the best Husky tight ends ever, but in '91 he was just a freshman with five catches all year long.
Let's get crackin':
Aaron Pierce, TE 6'5" 255 (1991 stats: 23 rec, 280 yds)
Yeah, great idea, Copernicus. Just what the UW offense needs: another tight end. True, the Huskies have players galore at this position, but from what I have seen they do not have an Aaron Pierce: big, fast, and a ridiculously great blocker. In fact, Pierce was such a supreme blocking tight end that he was the 69th overall selection in the 1992 draft despite modest statistics. Today's game features tight ends racing past linebackers on passing plays and crushing them on running plays; Pierce was built to play in this era. From a personality standpoint, this New York Times article from 1994 screams OKG. The Huskies have some TEs that could be an Aaron Pierce, but Aaron Pierce already was an Aaron Pierce. Chris Petersen would love Pierce, and he would make the offense better instantly.
Billy Joe Hobert, QB 6'3" 230 (61% comp, 2271 yds, 22 TD/10 INT, 146.1 rat, 5 rush TD)
What is this? A certified villain corrupting all of our precious OKGs? Awww, come on, y'all; Billy Joe aint nothin' but a good ol' boy, or as an unnamed friend of Don James once said: "He's just such a rascal...but a good rascal." Yes, Billy Joe took a $50,000 loan from the father-in-law of a friend, then reportedly spent the $50K on cars, guns, stereo equipment, golf clubs, and entertainment. While the loan itself was not illegal, the fact that he had no payment plan or collateral for such a sum is what raised red flags and got him kicked off the team, and eventually led to investigation of the UW program and NCAA sanctions. Yeah, he did a stupid thing. He did a stupid thing with huge consequences, but man, we really need a solid backup QB.
I wavered back and forth between Hobert and fellow '91 QB Mark Brunell. Both showed the ability to come off the bench and play fantastic quarterback. Brunell would have been my choice had he not suffered a knee injury in the spring game that year. Even though he healed by the fall and played in the third game, Jake Browning's backup must be durable, even if just a little stupid.
Mario Bailey, WR 5'9" 165 (62 rec, 1037 yds, 17 TD)
Bailey was simply a great college wide receiver. His size prevented him from ever making it in the NFL despite being a 6th-round draft pick, but his ability to get open and catch the football would be an asset in the college game even today. When you consider that five of the top 10 receivers in all of FBS last season were 6'0 or under, the myth that a pass-catcher must be 6'4" 220 to dominate at the position is just that: myth. Bailey owned DBs, especially during the 1991 season when he reeled in a school record 17 touchdown receptions. He did it in a variety of ways, sometimes burning his defender and ending up wide open downfield, sometimes making a tough catch in traffic and somehow breaking tackles and staying on his feet as he pinballed off defenders. Put him in the slot, line him up outside, just get Mario Bailey on the field for the 2016 Dawgs and watch him produce.
Lincoln Kennedy, OT 6'6" 325
How good was Kennedy? So good that he won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10's premier offensive lineman in 1991, then again in '92. Kennedy played both left and right tackle during his Husky career, walling off the side he occupied with his nimble backpedal in pass protection. On running plays he plowed, pulled, chopped, and did whatever he needed to do to dominate. The mammoth Kennedy had such great feet and hands that he was almost never beaten. Once he engaged a defender, the play was essentially over for that player.
The Verdict: Lincoln Kennedy
The Huskies' offensive line outlook in 2016 is potentially very good, but still uncertain. Kennedy is a known commodity. The former All-American and 9th overall NFL draft pick could be plugged in at either tackle position, and instantly the Huskies' O-line would be considered one of the best in the Pac-12. He was that good; a "lockdown" tackle if you will. The Huskies' offensive line in 1991 was incredible. Besides Kennedy, the group featured center Ed Cunningham and RT Siupeli Malamala, both 3rd round picks in the '92 draft. But if I can only have one offensive lineman from the 1991 team, it's Kennedy for sure. Besides Steve Emtman, Kennedy is probably the next best overall Husky from that era.