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Mailbag - "Cold Chill of Autumn" Edition

Football. It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings. It's why we're here to sing....Football. Saturdays in the snow, referees' whistles blow, weekend warriors toe-to-toe...Football.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Just a few useless facts....

  • The state of Texas has its own power grid to avoid dealing with the federal government.
  • 93% of the Great Barrier Reef is damaged by corral bleaching.
  • The microcontroller inside a Macbook charger is about as powerful as the one in the original Macintosh.
  • If Michael Phelps were a country, he'd rank 35th on the all-time list of gold medals, ahead of 97 other nations.
  • "Pocahontas"  was a nickname meaning "naughty one" or "spoiled child."
  • The best way to neutralize the heat of spicy food is to eat sugar.
  • It took Apollo 11 four days, six hours, and 45 minutes to reach the moon.
  • The White House held its first 4th of July party in 1801.
  • According to author Kenneth C. Scott, the original Independence day was July 2nd, but congress didn't accept Jefferson's declaration until the 4th.
  • According to Guinness World Records, the oldest person verified by original birth is Misao Okawa, a 115 year-old Japanese woman.
  • Approximately one in four injuries to athletes involve the wrist or hand.
  • In Thailand, kite flying is a professional sport.
  • During the one hundred days of the opening ceremony of the original Olympics in 80 A.D. at the Colosseum in Rome, over 5,000 animals were killed.  Included among them were elephants, lions, tigers, elk, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and hyenas.
  • Chuck Norris is immune from heart attacks, as his heart isn't foolish enough to attack him.

Jon May:

Does Petersen/Smith take the training wheels off of Browning and allow for a more traditional cadence or do we see more of the dorky hand clap system?
UWDP: You'll have to explain the correlation between cadence and level of offensive sophistication, because I don't see it.  In fact, I don't think it exists.

Every team uses some sort of silent or signaled snap count, especially on the road.  Under Steve Sarkisian, Keith Price used the very common heel lift to signal the center to bring his eyes up and snap the ball, usually about a second after Price's foot sign.  The problem with this is that it was largely based on timing, and the defense could time it as well as the offense.

The hand clap is a better signal for a couple of reasons.  For one, it isn't based on timing, so the center can keep his eyes forward on the defender throughout.  The defense can't time the count either, as Jake Browning used fake claps fairly well to keep the defense honest.  The sharp sound of a hand clap carries fairly well, and it's very distinct from the sound of the QB's voice.  The offense isn't likely to confuse voiced audible or fake audible calls with the slap of hands.

I don't really have any problem with the hand clap, especially versus the foot signal that a lot of teams use.  I certainly don't think it's any type of sign that any part of the offense is being held back or dumbed down.  Make no mistake, the Huskies' offense is extremely complicated.  And it was in 2015 as well.


What's the story behind Troy Williams leaving UW and how do you think he will do at Utah?

UWDP: There may very well be people that know more about the relationship between Troy Williams and Chris Petersen behind the scenes than I do.  But as far as I know, Williams left because he felt that he wasn't going to get a lot of playing time at the UW moving forward.  Part of that is likely due to his performance against Arizona State at Husky Stadium in 2014, when Williams turned the ball over 3 times on his own.  It's too bad if that one game was the deciding factor, simply based on the absurd conditions that night (in case anyone forgot, the wind gusts exceeded 60 miles per hour that night).  I think it was based more around the fact that Williams is an aggressive quarterback by nature - a "gunslinger" - and wasn't doing what Petersen and Jonathan Smith wanted to see in practices in taking care of the ball and making the decisions the coaching staff wanted to see.  Like the majority of college football players, Williams wanted to see the field as soon and as often as possible, and he didn't think the best opportunity to do so was going to be at Washington.

Troy Williams has a tremendous arm.  He's strong and accurate, and can make every single throw in the game.  If he demonstrate a complete understanding of the Utah offense, and the coaching staff can either reign in his instincts to trust his ability to put the ball in very tight spots consistently, or learn to live with the risk he may engender, I think Williams will be successful at Utah.  I'm looking forward to watching him, even if I can't go as far as to wish him success.

Pioneer Square Husky:

Which player deserves the most credit for coming to and/or staying at the UW during the dark years starting with Keith Gilbertson until Chris Petersen became coach?

UWDP: The most obvious answer is Jake Locker, who chose Washington over virtually the entire conference plus a handful of national programs.  But I'm not sure it's the "most" correct, as he actually committed to a program that at best was perceived to be heading toward a better end, and at worst was an unknown (anyone that says they saw 2008 coming back in 2005 when Locker committed is a liar).

The highly-rated guys that signed on in the class of 2008 - guys like Everrette Thompson, Kavario Middleton, Chris Polk, Senio Kelemete, and Alameda Ta'amu - probably deserve at least as much credit, because they boarded a ship that was far less stable than the one Locker did.

Any of those guys would be good choices, and sentimentality probably swings the vote to Locker.  I'm going an entirely different direction and picking Keith Price.  He was very nearly lost in the shuffle of the coaching change between Willingham and Sarkisian, knew there was a talented incumbent in front of him, and also had to at least think that Sarkisian was going to look for some "better," or at least a better fit for his offense, with the quickness.  Price stayed committed, and didn't transfer out with the ballyhooed signing of Nick Montana, who many believed was the hand-chosen heir apparent for Sarkisian's offense.  Price went on to become one of the best and most under-appreciated QB's in Washington history.  Realistically, it would've made the most sense for him to never have played a down here.....


What's the best way to get through this final week plus until football?

UWDP: Medically-induced coma.


How are we going to score our first TD of the season; run, pass, punt return, kickoff return, field goal, interception return, fumble recovery/return??  That's it, no other choices. And why do you support your answer (in 1612 words or less) so we all will be convinced.?

UWDP: Uh.....field goal as the first TD, Oside?

The Huskies will either get the ball first, or force Rutgers to punt on the first drive of the season.  Regardless, the first drive will be scripted, as the first 15 plays of every game are.  It'll go like this:

Jake Browning pass complete to Dante Pettis for 8 yards
Myles Gaskin run for 5 yards
Gaskin run for 18 yards
Browning pass incomplete
Browning pass complete to John Ross for 16 yards
Browning pass complete to Darrell Daniels for 22 yards, touchdown


still cover recruiting? I have yet to get a straight anwser...... this is the third mailbag ive asked. We havent gotten a recruitment roundup since Jun 12.

UWDP: You've gotten the straightest answer that I can give you, which is that I don't know.  I'm sure someone will put something together as soon as it can be done.

If you're looking for recruiting information, in all honesty, there are Husky-related sites that focus on it a lot more avidly and with greater detail than we do here.


Best name on the roster.

UWDP: Duke Clinch or John Clark if you're a fan of short, hard-hitting names like I am.

Van Soderberg or Cameron Van Winkle if you're a member of the country club set.

Coleman Shelton if you don't need a first name.  Matt James if you don't need a last name.

Jaylen Johnson because we're obviously related.

All-American Sidney Jones has an exceptionally nice ring to it.


Playing out the completely useless "what-if" scenario; Would Troy Williams be entering his 2nd year as a starter at this point if he had stayed at UW?  What were his chances of getting a "clean slate" with Coach Pete and beating out Browning last season?

UWDP: It's possible.  He'd passed Jeff Lindquist on the depth chart midway through the 2014 season, earning the starting nod against Arizona State.  But whatever the reason, he didn't see the field after that game, and as I mentioned before, I have a hard time believing it was solely based on his performance given the conditions that evening.

I don't think Chris Petersen is punitive in his handling of the personalities on his football team, so I have to believe the reason that Troy Williams transferred out of the University of Washington program had to do with the he believed he was best suited to play the quarterback position versus the way that Petersen wanted him to look.

Troy Williams certainly had the physical talent to beat out Jake Browning in 2015.  But I think there was simply a fundamental difference or set of differences between Williams and Petersen that led Williams to seek a fresh start.


Let's say the huskies end the season with one loss to either Oregon or Stanford or USC. Which of those scenarios (if any) would put us in the Pac 12 championship game? Which would put us in the CFB Playoff?

UWDP: The easiest answer to both questions is USC, as it doesn't require other losses by any other team.  In fact, the best-case scenario involves minimizing the number of losses for everyone.  Including USC enjoying an undefeated regular season.  And a #1 ranking heading in to the Pac 12 Championship rematch...

If the Huskies lose to USC but beat Oregon and Stanford, the UW and one of those teams (say, Stanford, who also beats Oregon) will tie for the North lead at 8-1.  UW will win based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.  After losing to USC in the regular season in the third overtime following an egregious non-review of a KJ Carta-Samuels (who was in the game after Jake Browning was ejected for targeting) touchdown run that even USC players and coaches conceded should've given the victory to the Dawgs, the rematch with 7th-ranked Huskies and USC would be set, with a Husky win meaning the Pac 12 would almost assuredly get two teams in the college football playoffs....


Three husky fans walk together into Husky Stadium on Sept 3rd. One is a nihilist, one is an existentialist, and one is an absurdist: What are each of them thinking?

UWDP: The nihilist would be contemplating the treatment of his philosophy in "The Big Lebowski," the existentialist would have his head buried in Ayn Rand's "Fountainhead," and the absurdist would just think that everyone spending all of the effort and money for a football game was simply absurd.


How worried should we be about the Offense's performance at scrimmage?
Rick Anacaona:

The Husky O line was totally unable to block the D line in Friday night's scrimmage.  Is the O line that bad or the D line that good?

UWDP: We'll all have to set our own level of "worry" based on the defense dominating the offense throughout the fall.  For me, I fall into the "not that worried" category.  Here's why:

  • The defense is exceptionally good.
  • The defense knows all of the plays the offense is running at this point in fall camp.
  • It takes longer for offenses to gel than it does defenses, particularly with offenses as complex as the one the Huskies run.
  • The offense is concentrating on running its own plays, not scheming to beat the UW defense.
  • The defense is exceptionally good.
  • This is the best defensive line the UW offensive line will face all year.  And the defensive line knows the offensive line calls, the plays that are being run, the cadences, the audibles, etc.
  • The defense is exceptionally good.
Patently Purple:

Chris Laviano was just named as the starting QB for Rutgers, at least for their first game. What does Signore Laviano bring to the table?

UWDP: You can count on Chris Laviano to bring a green salad and an appetizer - frequently a seven layer dip.  At least that's what he usually brings to my table.

Statistically, Laviano enjoyed a fairly strong first half of the season in 2015 before really struggling late in the year.  He's a pocket passing quarterback now put into an offense for which he isn't the ideal fit, as new Rutgers coach Chris Ash would rather have a true dual threat running the offense.  From what I can glean, he's more game manager than playmaker (7.32 yards per attempt is fairly mediocre), and the Scarlet Knights will need the players around him to step up substantially.

Laviano struggled at times with the criticism he received as a quarterback in 2015, but his teammates have praised his leadership and increased work ethic this summer and fall.  Ash gave him a fairly mild endorsement as the starter for the Washington game.

For Rutgers to win on the 3rd, Laviano is probably going to have to have the game of his life as a Scarlet Knight.

From the Text Line (meaning someone that has my cell phone number):

How do you feel about the athletic department not only forcing those of us who like to bring in a pair of rain pants, rain coat, sweatshirt, and potentially some items for the kids being forced to carry them in a clear plastic tote bag that (let's face it) feels an awful lot like a purse?  Is this going to stop the terrorists and other evil-doers?  Is this how we beat the Zeros and end the streak?  If so, I'm all for it.  But if not, then I'm forced to chalk this up as taking away another piece of sensible liberty that I enjoy.  Also, what do you plan to do with that sweet UW backpack you bought a couple of years ago to use for game day?

UWDP: I feel just like you do, although based on the comments from this article, I may in the minority around here.

I hate that I'm going to be inconvenieced, if even slightly, by such a worthless "security" measure.  My enjoyment of UW football games will go down because of this.  Not much, but there's simply no positive here.

I think my backpack is going to the Museum of History and Industry, and will be part of the exhibit with the Husky helmet car.


One team that we do not play this year that Huskies should root for.
One team that we DO play this year that we should root for in every game apart from the one that they play us?

UWDP: The Huskies should root for UCLA and Colorado to go undefeated.  Preferably Colorado, as there is more cross-pollination with recruiting with the Bruins right now.


Here's how I look at every single football game that has ever and will ever be played:  I always root for the Huskies.  When the Huskies are playing, that's obvious.  When they aren't, I root for the outcome that most benefits the Huskies.  With most football games, like in the NFL, high school, pee wee leagues, etc., there's no benefit either way, so then I root first for a good game, usually followed at some point by finding an arbitrary rooting interest once the game has started.  But I can almost always find an outcome in every college game that is "best" for Washington.  Even between two FCS teams.  There might be a lot more than six degrees of separation, though...

So I can't actually answer the second part right now, at least for me personally.  Other than to give you a non-specific "whatever outcome most benefits Washington," and then just apply that to every game.


Troy Williams named starting QB at Utah.  Looks like another game in the loss column?  They have a great defense and we have a pipeline QB.

UWDP: In all honesty, 57, what's a "pipeline QB?"  I don't know what you mean.

If Troy Williams and Jeff Lindquist were vying for the starting job here at Washington, who would you want to get it?

Running Faster:

Many of the predictions I've seen on the 'pound don't project much more production out of Jake Browning than what we saw last year, with the exceptions of an uptick in touchdowns and a decrease in interceptions.  Considering he threw for almost 3000 yards last year and the receiver with the most yards had around 700 (I don't remember Mickens' yardage and am too lazy to check it), he clearly spread the ball around a lot.  Is it particularly far-fetched to think he'll have at least one 1000-yard receiver and at least a couple others with 500+, while still hitting 8-9 receivers per game?  I'm predicting he'll eclipse 4000 this year.  What's your take?

UWDP: Part of the reason I don't think Jake Browning is going to have mind-boggling video game-type stats at the University of Washington is that he's coming pretty close to maximizing the number of opportunities he's going to get each game.  Increased production is going to have to come from improving his efficiency.

Browning averaged almost exactly 30 pass attempts per game in 2015, on a team that averaged 70 offensive snaps per game.  Maybe the tempo increases some, and maybe the improved efficiency of the offense adds more plays.  Realistically, they aren't going to get more than 75 snaps per game.  Realistically the ceiling for the number of attempts is around 35, because a more efficient QB = a more efficient offense = more scoring = more running in the second halves of games.  Kellen Moore never average 35 passes per game at Boise State, as a point of reference.

But let's go with 35.  And let's say Browning is healthy for all 13 games (assuming no additional games, like the conference title game, or playoffs).

13 x 35 = 455 attempts.  Browning averaged 8.03 yards per attempt, which is a solid number.  To get to 4,000 yards passing he'd have to average almost 8.8 yards per attempt.  That's a pretty big jump.  Certainly within the range of possibility, but substantial.  For reference, Andrew Luck finished Heisman runner-up twice.  His YPA in those years were 9.0 as a sophomore, and 8.7 as a junior.  Luck's TD percentage those two years was close to 9%.  Kellen Moore had an absurd number as a senior - 9.8%.  If Browning were to get to even 7%, he'd have 32 touchdowns at that number of attempts.

So really, the only way the numbers go up in an absolute sense would be for the Huskies to play a lot of really fast-paced, high-scoring games - neither of which is likely with this defense and this coaching staff - or to play an absolute greater number of games.  With Browning healthy for all of them.

You're right that Browning spread the ball around fairly well, as seven guys averaged one or more catch per game, and nine different players recorded touchdown receptions (and you're correct on Jaydon Mickens, he finished with 692 yards).  Getting a thousand yard receiver is going to come with staying healthy, and getting his yards per attempt up to 8.5 or so (that right there would've gotten Mickens over 1,000 yards).  I don't think the numbers you're suggesting are unreasonable for the receivers by any stretch - Josh Perkins was over 500 yards, and Dante Pettis was at 414.  He easily would've surpassed 500 yards, and Brayden Lenius would've been at 430 yards.


when will we see balance? it occurred to me that this year 3 Defensives players are pre-season All-PAC12 and next year we are likely to loose  that talent yet we will likely see 3 offense players as pre-season ALL Pac12, Browning, Gaskins, Adams... When will we see All Pac 12 Hype from both sides of the ball?

UWDP: The Huskies will almost assuredly end up with two first team all-conference defenders (Budda Baker and All-American Sidney Jones), likely a third (Azeem Victor), possibly a third (Elijah Qualls) and within-the-realm-of-possibilities a fifth (Jojo Mathis, Kevin King, Greg Gaines, are names that could be there).  If the offense has even two, the Huskies will have won the North (I'd say Darrell Daniels and Myles Gaskin as the most likely).  A third probably means winning the conference title (Trey Adams or Jake Browning) and a fourth would mean the playoffs (also Trey Adams or Jake Browning; dark horses of Kaleb McGary and John Ross).

The offense won't match the defense at the end of 2016, but will entering 2017 (both because the offense will be better and the defense likely won't be as highly represented - on the preseason lists).


Poach a coach: Let's say an AC doesn't perform up to snuff this year *COUGH SMITH COUGH COUGH COUGH* who would it be and who should replace him (either internal or external)?

UWDP: Do you want me to say Jeff Tedford?  Because it sounds like you want me to say Jeff Tedford.

I'm not going to, though, for the reason I've given several times.  If Smith is fired, history suggests his replacement will look an awful lot like the past hires Petersen has made.  Who all look a lot like Smith.  Young, without an offense of their own, and looking to be mentored.  That's Petersen's M.O.

Tyler Ragu:

Let's say Vegas is right, what are our preferred three losses?

UWDP: Unfortunately (in my opinion), there are certain losses that Husky fans will not suffer.  One rhymes with "Schmoregon."  I think that's shortsighted in the grand scheme of things, even though I absolutely want to beat the Ducks with every fiber of my being.

It comes down to this - would you rather beat the three best teams on your schedule, at the expense of suffering three losses to teams the Huskies should beat?  Or would it be better to win every game the Huskies should win, but not beat anyone better than they are?

Lose to the team that wins the North (and the Huskies come in second in the division), lose to the team that wins the South, and the team that comes in second in the South.

Would you suffer the ignominy of losing to Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State, followed by going 9-0 in the conference with a birth in the championship game?


What conferences will represent the four CFB playoff spots? Any duplicates?

UWDP: My guess is that you'll see the winners of the SEC (Alabama), the Big 10+4 (Michigan), the Big 12-2 (Oklahoma) and the ACC (Clemson) in the playoffs.  No doubles, and no Pac 12.


Who has the better fanbase (Quality over Quantity): Sounders, Mariners, Seahawks, Husky Football, Husky Basketball?
Actually, the one I just submitted about the fanbase, RANK THEM! Much more drama.

UWDP: Define "quality."


Average amount of submitted question/responses to the mailbag each week? What percent are from me?

UWDP: It's usually around 30 questions.  You're usually around 25% of them.  This particular week is your high water mark, at almost 50%.


What is your all time favorite Husky football game?

UWDP: This is a tougher question to answer than I thought it'd be.  Different games stand out for different reasons.  I have a list, not a single favorite.

The first game I have any vivid memory of attending was against Cal in 1984.  I remember there was no upper deck across from us (so we were obviously on the south side).  The game was a blowout, but it was really fun to watch the defense.

I remember watching the Michigan game earlier that year on TV.  I kept the Sports Illustrated article about the game for years.

USC in 1990 was great.  I sat with my brother in the student section (he was a freshman at the UW, I was a high school sophomore).  That was the first truly dominant performance against a good team I ever saw in person.

The 1991 game against Nebraska was fantastic to watch, as the Huskies just dominated the Cornhuskers late.  The home game the next year was very memorable as well - the first night game in Husky history.  It took forever to get home that night.

The Whammy in Miami in 1994 was part of a boondoggle college weekend that also involved a Nine Inch Nails concert, a huge party later that night, and throwing some frozen fish into the pool of the one frat house that had one.  After the game, my roommates and I stood on the roof of our apartment building while the whole U-District went crazy.

I was at the win over Stanford in 2000, which was bittersweet.  The game was set to be a disaster until the final 22 seconds.

I was at the UW wins over Oregon and WSU in 2002.  Those were both fun times.  I missed the Huskies dancing on the O Eugene, but did manage to get onto the field in Pullman with the rest of the Husky fans.

Beyond those, and really even including those last two because the team was so mediocre, it all just becomes relative.  The Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska was fun, but partly because it seemed like the Huskies were turning a corner.  But they weren't.  At least not yet.  The win over Boise State in 2013 has a similar attachment - it just isn't as big in hindsight as it felt at the time.


What will be the biggest surprise when the 2-deep is released next week?

UWDP: One of the biggest surprises is probably going to be the lack of surprises.

Here are a couple of predictions (but I don't have a ton of faith in them):

  • Andrew Kirkland and Shane Brostek will be listed as OR, and Kirkland will get the first snap on the 3rd.
  • John Ross will be listed as an OR at two receiving positions, but will start on the outside (not in the slot - that'll be Chico McClatcher).
  • Psalm Wooching and Tevis Bartlett will by an OR, but Wooching will get the start.
  • Tony Rodriguez and KJ Carta-Samuels will be listed as OR at the backup QB.  Carta-Samuels will get some kneel-down snaps at the end of the game.
That's about all I've got.  Anyone else?


How many offensive snaps before Browning attempts a long ball to Ross?

UWDP: Seven.  Second offensive drive.


What score must the Huskies get against Rutgers to avoid a total meltdown on this site given the ramped up levels of hype and it is, after all, the first game when weird things happen?

UWDP: Unless it's 49-0 or something like that, some people are going to find room to complain.  Either the defense gave up too many points, or the offense didn't score enough....And then it just opens up the floodgates for people to nitpick things to death.

I expect the Huskies to win, and I expect it to be fairly comfortably.  But without a couple of non-traditional scores or some serious help from Rutgers, I don't expect to cover a spread that's approaching four touchdowns some places.  There's no value in bludgeoning Rutgers, either.  On either side of the ball.

The defense has had a lot of success the last few weeks going up against an offense it knows inside and out.  But the coaches need to see how well the guys handle stress and the unknown.  Offensively, the whole unit needs to see some success running the Huskies' offense (as opposed to a game plan that specifically looks to target where Rutgers is weak, but doesn't necessarily translate to the future).

I think the score is going to be in the neighborhood of 38-21.  It won't be as sexy as I'd like to see, but this is still a team that's building.  Redlining the engine isn't going to impress anybody.

Tailgates and Road Games: Why have very few people signed up for my road game organization spreadsheet? How do we insure that road games and home tailgates are well attended and double the pleasure, double the fun?

UWDP: Probably because you created a road game organization spreadsheet.  That's something Chris Landon would do.

I hope the guys that put together the UWDP tailgates last year do it again (hat tip in HowlingHusky's direction).  Or that someone else steps up.  I didn't attend any last year, but definitely will this year if they happen.

Did you guys know there's a real football game tonight?  I can't wait.