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Mailbag: “Cal is Too High” Edition

Washington v Oregon State
I wonder when Brad is going to post another stupid article.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images


  • The combination of an exclamation point and question mark is called an “interrobang.”
  • A group of pugs (the dogs) is called a grumble.
  • Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster’s first name is Sid.
  • The groove located above the center of your upper lip (and below your nose) is called a philtrum.
  • The scientific term for “brain freeze” is sphenopalatine ganglioneurolgia.
  • It’s impossible to hum while holding your nose.
  • You are more likely to die from a falling coconut than a shark attack.
  • Lake Superior contains enough water to cover all of North and South America one foot deep.
  • Horses don’t breathe through their mouths.
  • A pony isn’t a baby horse; that’s a foal.


If Notre Dame wins out, would jump a 1 loss conference champion?

UWDP: It could happen, yes. A lot of it still depends, of course. But as things sit right now, Notre Dame would have wins over NC State, Miami, and USC who are all ranked, plus a Stanford team that may or may not be back in the polls by the end of the season. If Georgia was to go undefeated and win the SEC, it means that Notre Dame’s only loss is by one point to a (probably) top two team.

Way too many “ifs” in there. But it’s possible, yes.


I'm impressed by 23 and 17. 23 also had a big block on 8's last punt return. Not a fan of him demonstrating the skill but 98 had a great tackle. 98 keeps getting better and better

UWDP: It’s tough to point out the “weakest link” on the defense right now. Jordan Miller and Tevis Bartlett are both playing well, as is pretty much everyone in the (very deep) rotation. Will Dissly has always been a pretty good blocker, but I’ve been really impressed with how well he’s caught the ball. His seam route against Oregon State was a thing of beauty. Really wish he had one more year....


Who gets drafted? Early NFL entrants?

UWDP: Of the seniors, Azeem Victor seems very likely to hear his name called at some point. Keishawn Bierria may as well, but he isn’t having a great statistical year. Coleman Shelton could. Dante Pettis is going to be an interesting one - there’s no doubting his ability as a punt returner, but he doesn’t exactly have the size the NFL wants at receiver. And frankly, I have a really hard time telling exactly how fast he is. He never gets caught from behind, but he also doesn’t appear to have knock-your-eyeballs-back blazing speed. Part of it is that he’s one of those guys that doesn’t really appear to put much effort into moving fast. He’s going to be drafted, but I’m not sure how high.

Vita Vea qualifies as a “physical freak” and is as good as gone. Trey Adams is the next most-likely candidate, and after him, I’d say it’s Myles Gaskin. I don’t think Jake Browning leaves.

Heisman candiate

Describe a Pettis Heisman season

UWDP: Six punt returns for TD’s and an average per return over 15 yards. He’d also need to be an equally dynamic kick returner, which isn’t going to happen. On offense, he needs 95 catches for 1,800 yards and 22 TD’s, plus running for three or four more, and passing for at least a couple more. He’d also have to valet park all of the cars at Husky Stadium without accepting tips on Saturdays, sing the national anthem before each game, fix the “Go!” “Huskies!” chant, arrange a deal between the Pac 12 Network and DirecTV, permanently shut up Steven A. Smith, and bring an NBA team back to Seattle.


Who will be in the 2-deep at QB in 2018?

UWDP: I think Jake Browning will be the starter, but K.J. Carta-Samuels will be playing elsewhere. The goal will likely be to redshirt both Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff, so the battle for #2 will be between Jake Haener and Daniel Bridge-Gadd. My money is on Haener, but without much conviction. If Browning was to go down with a season-ending injury, all bets are off with redshirting the freshmen.


Why no PI calls in the first half?

UWDP: The refs apparently didn’t hear my whistle.

There was actually one pass interference called when Jake Browning looped the ball up to Brayden Lenius, and a defensive holding - basically the same thing - when Lenius dropped a seam route. The most obvious one was missed, though.


1 vs 2 in the Apple Cup? Top 5 match up? Top 10?

UWDP: The earth would slip off its axis if a team from Idaho and a team from Alaska were #1 and #2 heading in to the final weekend of the season.

Odds are that neither team is undefeated heading into the Apple Cup. I’m hoping for a Top 10 matchup.

Next Oregon State coach

Lake or Smith?

UWDP: Neither.


How were USC and Penn State able to overcome their respective sanctions so quickly? Especially in comparison to the Huskies slow climb back from the early 90s

UWDP: Better recruiting, mostly. Penn State had some luck with James Franklin, but mostly with Trace McSorley becoming a big-time player Saquon Barkley’s family electing to live in Pennsylvania.

USC is USC. They’re rarely the lessor talented team when they take the field.

Respectless in Seattle

Is the argument, “The AP voters on the East Coast don’t get to watch West Coast night games” valid anymore? Don’t these voters have DVRs? Even if they do, would they have time to watch all the recorded games before their vote is due? Basically, how does all this AP poll mess work?

UWDP: Not only that, but almost all AP voters have jobs on Saturdays that keep them from being able to watch many football games period, no matter where they are being played.

I don’t really have a good answer for this that’s shorter than 5,000 words. Personally, I really don’t worry about polls that much. I’m generally aware of where teams are ranked, but it doesn’t go much further than that.

Why not?

Can you set up next week's mailbag to start during this week's game so we can ask questions in the moment?

UWDP: Sure. But if anyone asks about a specific play, you need to provide the time on the game clock.

Offense nonsense

Is the team's offensive efficiency a big deal? What other type of offensive characteristic would you trade offensive efficiency to have?

UWDP: Yes, I definitely think it’s a big deal. I think it’s the most valuable characteristic of Chris Petersen’s offense, and probably the one he values the most. Efficiency based on execution is consistent, and repeatable from week to week and season to season. That doesn’t mean Petersen doesn’t value extreme athletic talent, but that it’s going to work within his system, the way that John Ross did last season.

If I was a coach, it’s what I’d work to maximize as well, so I wouldn’t trade anything straight across for efficiency. You obviously need playmakers and talent, but I wouldn’t want to be a coach that had to make a living by landing the “it” quarterback every couple of years. Thus far, no coach has made a career out of it. Chris Petersen is “system” in every single thing that he does as a coach, down to the most minute detail.


Where can we find the game day media guide for depth charts and statistics?

UWDP: has a pretty good one each week. Here it is for Cal.


So it seems the talk is that if there are 5 undefeated Power 5 teams at the end of the year, UW is outside looking in. If that happens does the Pac 12 do anything about it? Do we take the Rose Bowl and go home? Or do we just stomp our feet, throw a fit and end up just taking hit and talking about what might have been?

UWDP: In the history of college football, there has never been a season that five teams currently in the Power 5 conferences have finished unbeaten (and untied). The closest was in 1973, when five were unbeaten, but two (Michigan and Ohio State) tied each other, which couldn’t happen today.

It’s not going to happen in 2017, either. There is way, way, way too much football left to be played to even consider it as a realistic possibility.

There hasn’t been a single undefeated Power 5 team since the 2013 season.


What were those horse-poo offensive play calls in the first half of both recent games? Why couldn’t our dawgs just run over the sad and weak beavers? Coach Pete rescues the hapless Smith at halftime two weeks in a row and then dawgs roll. Without Super-Ross it’s clear that Smith is a garbage OC. Can we hope he FINALLY gets canned this week? Please give me hope.

UWDP: Hope away. I’m fairly certain Jonathan Smith will be physically removed from the press box prior to the second quarter on Saturday.


Why did the cougars upset make my nipples hard? Does Mike Leach have an inferiority complex towards CP?

UWDP: I’ll never question where people gets their appetites.



Has A Victor been tried at OLB or Buck. Could the play of BBK allow Victor to play another position?

UWDP: Azeem Victor has definitely seen some snaps as a designated rusher, typically when the Huskies run their five man front in passing downs.

Victor has the talent to play outside, but he isn’t really big enough to consistently be an edge-setter against the run. I think the coaching staff would rather have the depth on the inside with all three rotating through, and then use Victor situationally outside.


Weak schedule situation - UW is one of the farthest travel destinations, crossing timezones, unpredictable how good they'll be any year: Is the difficulty scheduling other decent P5 opponents taken into account?

UWDP: Taken into account as far as what? Fans are concerned?


Slow starts seem to be a long term problem. Why? Same QB same players different results each half. I would think that only leaves coach(es) responsible. Are scripted plays the problem?


Another slow start to a game by the Husky offense. Can this be chalked up to playing down to the opponent, or are we seeing some real structural issues with the offense? Against a team that can score some point this could become a problem in the future.

UWDP: Long term meaning what, exactly? Multiple years? This year?

They certainly weren’t an issue last year. And people seem to forget that it wasn’t until the Stanford game that anyone had any real confidence with this team. People generally seem to want to create trends out of small data sets. The Huskies have played so few meaningful games this year that it could still very well just be randomness.

For Oregon State specifically, it wasn’t a breakdown of any one unit, or the playcalling, etc. There were a number of small mistakes happening throughout the offense that just kept it from working. It’s small stuff, not something endemic or structural. It obviously needs to be corrected, but whether an offense dominates in the first half or the second isn’t really relevant. When it happens in the first half, fans naturally assume it would’ve continued in the second, but the team “played conservative,” “took its foot off the gas,” etc. Maybe that’s true.


Cal seems to have been exposed as an pretender after the Oregon game. What are the things they can do to take advantage of the Huskies? Or are they going to drop off after their hot start?

UWDP: Cal got some mileage out of beating teams with some name recognition that aren’t actually very good this year. They’re a much improved team over 2016, but they still aren’t “good,” and will avoid another last place finish in the Pac 12 North only because Oregon State is completely lost in the wilderness.

Cal might be able to make a big play or two on offense, but they just don’t have the talent on either side of the line of scrimmage to win a 60-minute game against Washington.


Do you know why on the participation report they note some players numbers using a letter? For example 0H represents the #8

UWDP: I think it’s a transcription error, or a program glitch. “H” is the 8th letter of the alphabet.

Randomly selecting the Colorado game:

Nick Harris is 5F. He’s #56. Check.

Elijah Molden is 0C. He’s #3. Check.

Brandon McKinney is 1A. He’s #11. Check.

Quentin Pounds is 2A. He’s #21. Check.

Sean McGrew is 2E. He’s #25. Check.

Kamari Pleasant is 2D. He’s #24. Check.


Does it irk you when people pronounce Washington as "Warshington"?

UWDP: What I wonder is do those people do it for all Washingtons, or just the state?

George Warshington?

Warshington DC?


Where would u rank Gaskin as a RB compared to the last 3 great huskies runningbacks Polk, Sankey, Dillion?

UWDP: Tough question to answer. Another one that would take 5,000 words, and even after I was done, could possibly be swayed to put any of them in any other spot on the list.

  1. Corey Dillon
  2. Bishop Sankey
  3. Myles Gaskin
  4. Chris Polk

I hate putting Polk fourth on that list. I’d hate to put Gaskin fourth too.


What are the issues,financial and otherwise, regarding the terrible start times for our Huskie's football games. Two time zones away, I'm up after midnight.That's tough on an old geezer !

UWDP: Money, and that’s it.

The Huskies are now good enough that ESPN and Fox want them in prime time slots, but they haven’t really played any games that merit the prime slots throughout the day. And the truth is, they might not get one all season. Even if the Apple Cup pairs two undefeated teams, it would be going up against Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Florida State, Ohio State-Michigan (already set for 9:00 am), and a few others that aren’t nearly as good a game as the Apple Cup would be, but that are regionally more attractive (in the networks’ minds). Maybe that gets a 12:30 slot. Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s 7:00 pm.....

It’s an East Coast world, and we’re just livin’ in it.


The Washington football program has really been building something special the last few years. The national media seems largely disinterested. I live in LA and no one really knows how good the dawgs are. Is this a good or bad thing?

UWDP: It’s a bad thing, but I really don’t think it’s actually all that important. Washington’s recruits are on the west coast, they know about the Huskies, and they can watch them on TV if they choose. That matters.

If Washington was ranked 22nd because of lack of awareness, that would be one thing. It’s obviously not hurting the team in that regard.

It’s mostly pride. I think the Huskies are @#$%ing awesome, and I want everyone else to, too.

Who's House? Prego's House!

Having a thousand yards this early in the season is just ridiculous. Is it sustainable? Or is Love going to be a battered puddle of goo after a few more games if they ride him this hard? We all saw McCaffrey deal with injuries last season when he was the only thing going for the Stanford offense. Does history repeat itself with Love?

UWDP: What’s really wild is how few carries Bryce Love has. He had a lot against UCLA (30) and quite a few against ASU (25), but neither is actually some insane number. And he had 13, 17, and 13 in his first three games. That thousand-plus yards has come on only 98 carries, putting him on pace for only 235 in the regular season. I think he’ll go well over that, but he’s not likely to average more than 23 or so carries per game.

He’s a good back, but he’s not going to continue to average over 10 yards per carry, something that’s never happened by any back with over 100 carries in a season. He’s going to come back to earth, and it’ll start this Saturday against Utah.


Sticking with the Stanford questions....why cant they recruit quarterbacks that can play at an acceptable, or even average, PAC-12 level?

UWDP: They actually recruit QB’s at an extremely high level - three on the roster that were top 10-ish at the position in their class, and another one coming in next year.

They don’t appear to develop quarterbacks very well, they struggle to recruit talented receivers in an acceptable quantity, and most importantly, have a head coach that is more conservative than the Catholic church.

King in the North (a.k.a Prego)

Does the USC loss at the hands of the Cuogs bring the hype machine to a grinding halt?

UWDP: For the time being, yes. We’ll see if it restarts this year, or if we have to wait until 2018.

Prego Prego Prego

In watching PAC-12 games this year I have been somewhat distracted by the number of players getting mention at other schools who I recognize as being one time Husky recruiting targets or commits. I'm looking for that "one quick sure fire trick you wouldnt believe works as well as it does" for getting over the envy I have of these folks who spurned our beloved Huskies to go elsewhere. Tips?

UWDP: I’d suggest watching the Huskies. They’re a really good football team.


Can you update the status on some injuries? Do you feel like we'll see Byron Murphy back in time for the 70regon game?

UWDP: I wish I knew. I wouldn’t count on seeing Byron Murphy against Oregon. As luck has it, the Huskies have a few other pretty good options at corner, though.


According to Browning the Beavers grabbed and held our receivers often in that game. Will future opponents try to do the same knowing the officials are reluctant to keep making the same call?

UWDP: Oregon State’s secondary has played pretty physically against Washington the last few years. The Beavers have also entered each game with a “nothing to lose” mindset, so penalties really don’t hurt all that much. In a closer game, those penalties (and Oregon State was called for a few) have a greater effect. I don’t think there’s magic in toeing the line. It really didn’t work for Oregon State.


You're the mailman. This is a blog full of dawgs.... See what I'm getting at?

UWDP: I consider myself more like a rock star or famous actor that takes the time to personally answer my fan mail.


Which conversation was more productive: Kneeling or guns?

UWDP: I’d say we did an equally good job of resolving both issues.


% chance we make the CFP now.

UWDP: 27.33333333%


1 team that is good to solid this year that will be bad next year, 1 bad team this year that will be good next year. (PAC12) For the love of God, not Cal or Beavers.

UWDP: UCLA looks like they’re heading for a hot mess in 2018.

It’s tough to say who has a chance to take a step next season, until we can see some more games.


If you had to go to grad school at any of the OTHER Pac12 schools, which would it be and why? Could be online, but you have to make them your B team for fandom.

UWDP: Probably Cal. Good school, and I just don’t have anything against the Bears. I almost went there as an undergrad, too.


Will we figure out the wide receiver situation by the end of the season or is that always going to be a bit of a let down until we get different personnel? WHERE HAS TY JONES BEEN?

UWDP: Things get better when Andre Baccellia is healthy. He’s not necessarily a game-changer, but he’s a starter. That means something.

I’m not nearly as worried about the receiver situation as others. It’s not ideal, but it’s also still evolving. Guys aren’t really dropping an obscene number of passes. The quarterback needs to just throw the ball.



Which big corporation most reflects the culture and fans of Husky nation?

UWDP: Microsoft. People would like to believe it’s some big, zany, madcap company that breaks all the rules, but it’s really only slightly less stuffy than any other big company.


Give us some of your general assumptions or perceptions on the demographics of UWDP. Don't dodge this question like you did last time. Just give your general sense on male/female, income, weight, body hair, gun ownership, liberal/conservative, age, etc. It'd be fun to debate.

UWDP: At least 97% are male or female.

100% would like more income.

The combined weight of all of the readers of this article is either more or less than 16.18 tons. Or, exactly 16.18 tons.

Every single one is covered from head to toe in hair, as it’s one of the criteria of us being mammals.

I don’t own a gun, but assume that everyone else is packing in order to feel safe around me.

Threads over the last few days make politics obvious for any commenter involved.

Median age is 43.

Your turn.

Oside Pup

UW rushing defense is leading the conference. Therefore I expect the Dawgs to hold the Bears to fewer rushing yards from scrimmage than the damn Ducks. Am I being realistic?

UWDP: Completely. Over/under is 7.5 net rushing yards for Cal, while the game is within 24 points.

Prego has added sugar. Ragu has added high-fructose corn syrup. Classico Tomato & Basil has neither and is inexpensive. Don't be an idiot.

How's it going?

UWDP: Good, thanks. You?

Those scantron forms where you had to shade in a bubble for each letter of your name must’ve been hell for you as a kid.

Prego for ever

Do you ever get tired of answering all of these questions (especially the more inane ones) or is it fun and exciting like opening a box of chocolates each week?

UWDP: It’s like a box of really cheap chocolates, where each one is filled with rotten dust.


I'm having trouble with writers placing what appears to be little value in placekicking. I see the kicking game as very important. After a touchdown, a missed extra point often shifts a little momentum the other way. A missed field goal shifts a lot more of the momentum the other way. The defense views a missed field goal as a win. My question is who do we have to take over kicking duties and are they any good?


There are two parts of the Dawgs' game that concern me. 1) lack of consistent and reliable place kicking. 2) beside Pettis, our receiving corps appear to be inadequate right now. I understand there were a few times Browning held onto the ball too long. But the receivers also appear to lack the ability to separate from the defender. 2b) the lack of a pass rush is also a concern. Albeit, OSU had multiple quick setting plays and that contributed to 0 sacks against them. They've been able to get some pressure in previous games, but not consistently.

UWDP: While I wish the UW’s place kicking was better, I’m not the one to pick up the mantra for you, Otis. Bad teams need good kickers because they kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. The 1991 team had one of the worst kicking games I can remember - they missed 6 PAT’s and were only 50% for the year on field goals.

There are obviously situations where field goals are critical. Odds are overwhelming that the field goal is necessary because of other, missed, opportunities earlier.

Coaches kick instead of going for it way too often.

Expect Van Soderberg to get a real chance this week. Hopefully, lots of PATs and kickoffs....

I’m not sure how much I buy the “lack of separation” bit. It’s happened at times, but I can’t think of an example in the first two home games that everyone was simply blanketed at the same time. And we just aren’t afforded the opportunity to see on TV; unless someone has been at the last two (away) games, I just don’t think that’s the biggest issue. I’d put 1. Not adjusting when the protection breaks down (the mental clock that says “come back to the ball” after a certain period of time, instead of just continuing to run down the field; 2. Reading defenses - knowing when to stop in zone coverage, or keep moving in man, and 3. Browning just throwing the damn ball.

I’m not sure about the pass rush. They’re making quarterbacks uncomfortable, which is good. But they definitely aren’t finishing plays. And that includes the guys in the middle of the line as well as on the edges.

thom gunn

it appears the Huskies don't fake much -- is this right and why not?

UWDP: Fake what? Kicks?

Ball fakes on play action? I’d say there’s a ton of that.

What do you mean?


Why is U W not offering Gee Scott. Will this be Jacob Eason all over again with UW offending local player by not moving on him soon enough?

UWDP: He’s a sophomore. I’d wager the UW coaches know who he is. They’ve probably talked to him. I see that he’s highly rated, and has good size. It’s more than two years until he signs with anyone. I have a tough time being worried that the Huskies are “too late” right now.

All for this week. Bring your sleeping bags on Saturday.