Let’s try an exercise.
Close your eyes. Think of the craziest person you know. I’m not talking “clinical” kind of crazy. I’m talking about the guy you know who in most elements of life is perfectly functional and competent. Except for that one thing.
With that one thing, he is completely irrational. Maybe it is sports. Maybe it is stocks. Maybe it is how he needs to tie out his checkbook every night. Maybe it is how he wants his socks folded. Or his towels. Or his underwear.
(Seriously, who folds their underwear?)
((Seriously, don’t answer that.))
You know that guy. In fact, you might be that guy...in a gender-neutral sort of way (hello, lady UWDP members!).
I freely admit it. I am a neurotic. That means that I have neuroses. In fact, I have many neuroses. Most (all?) of them are related to Husky athletics.
Hmmm, maybe that is why I write on a blog. But I digress.
By definition, neuroses (unlike psychoses) are manageable. They are mental challenges that are normally self-imposed (meaning, not related to disease) and that can normally be managed through therapy, whether self-administered or not.
Many sports fans have neuroses. This is not uncommon. Many tend to self-medicate as a form of therapy. This is also not uncommon.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve become aware of some new aspects to my neuroses. It used to be that I thought I was affected only by the typical things that affect Husky neurotics:
- Insane clock management gaffes
- Troubling horizontal passing plays
- Ridiculous opposition comebacks
- Absurd dropped passes and missed blocks
- Going for one when you need two
- Extensive losing streaks of any kind
This year was supposed to be different because, in Year 3 of the Chris Petersen era, those things that fed my neuroses were all to become things of the past. And after two games (and going as far back as the last three games of last year), those factors have all but been eliminated.
So, why is it that I woke up this morning feeling, well, neurotic?
And why is it that every time I turn on sports radio or open comment threads I sense the neuroses of other Husky fans?
I mean, WTF, people?
The Huskies are a top 10 team for the first time in about a decade. They own the longest streak in FBS of games scoring more than 40 points. They boast a top 10 national defense as measured in both gross and advanced stats. Their QB is the top-ranked passer in the world after two weeks. Their coaching staff is widely viewed as the most stable in the PAC if not the nation.
So, that’s great. Right?
If it is so great, why do I feel a sense of impending doom? Similar to leaving a four-month-old baby laying unattended on your bed while you take a peek at the score of the game on the TV in the adjacent room. No chance that she’ll roll off and slam onto the hardwood floor below. Right?
What? That’s just an example. I wouldn’t know anything about that. Look, she’s fine:
My read on Husky nation is that our collective neuroses haven’t gone away; they’ve simply evolved. We now are worrying about things like:
- offensive linemen recruiting
- performance of backup units
- punting prowess
- line blocking
- the run game
That we worry about these things are not signs of new neuroses. It is simply indicative of the fact that your neuroses never went away. They’ve simply evolved.
That’s right, folks. You all are crazy.
The good news here is that with a little thought and a little conversation, you can manage your neuroses without drinking yourself into oblivion (let’s leave that to Coug fans, who frankly have many more reasons to drink themselves into oblivion).
The trick is simply to take a breath and apply common sense thinking to whatever issue is applying pressure to your neurotic tendencies.
Let’s take the rushing attack as an example.
It is no secret that the lack of a 100-yard performance by Husky star Myles Gaskin in the first two games against sub-par opponents has wound up the segment of Husky fans most prone to neurotic episodes. They argue things like:
This top 8 team has a bottom 8 offensive line
Myles Gaskin ... great kid ... but this sophomore slump thing is as real as the Great Pumpkin
Damn, we suck. How can nobody see that? Fire Jonathan Smith
Look, I may well - ahem - be one of those guys who may have uttered one (or more) of those arguments in recent weeks.
But let’s step off the ledge for a moment and focus on the most simple of observations and explanations.
Let’s start with the obvious. Run blocking, while relatively simple from a concept standpoint, is something that takes a little while for offensive linemen to get in tune with. It is a common challenge in fall camp for coaches to simulate both game speed and game force when it comes to offensive linemen blocking defenders as they go downhill. The fact that UW has a couple of new faces in new positions on the interior complicates that fact.
Observation #2 is that the Husky rushing attack hasn’t been bad by any objective measurement. Gaskin has averaged about 4.6 yards per attempt in limited attempts. Compared to last year, that is about a yard less. Not great, but hardly a disaster, especially given that he’s had limited attempts (which limits the opportunity for the big plays that really boost YPAs). Under the circumstances of the first two games, this is hardly a catastrophe.
Finally, the most basic observation of all is the scoreboard. Washington is averaging 7.1 yards per play, second in the PAC and top 20 in the nation. They’ve done that despite amply rotating in backups and third stringers in both games as early as the second quarter. The bottom line here is that our opponents are giving us the pass with the idea of taking away the run. So, what are we doing? We are excelling in the passing game.
This game can sometimes look harder than what it is. For those of you that obsess on the complexities, John and Brad broke down the run game in very technical detail. If that helps your neuroses, than godspeed.
But I submit to you that it is more simple than what it seems. All you have to do is open your mind to the soothing sounds of reason and the troubles you feel will fade into the background. Let your face feel the breeze off the lake, your eyes see the wave of purple in the crowd, and your ears hear the wailing of the siren as the Huskies score again. It’s all good.
And, yes, go ahead and acknowledge that you are crazy. But, don’t worry. So am I.