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Mailbag: Fresno State (sponsored by Ragu) Edition

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Pretty sure that’s actually him.
Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Facts about the state of Fresno, and bulldogs.

  • Fresno county was once part of Mexico. When it was ceded to the US after the Mexican-American war in 1848, one of the conditions was that we’d never try to give it back.
  • Fresno has its own unique fog, called “tule fog” that’s named after the tule grass wetlands, and typically forms in the wet winter months.
  • All raisins produced in the US are produced within a 60-mile radius of Fresno, which is also 50% of the entire world’s annual production.
  • Fresno county is the #1 agricultural producer in the US, and has been for nearly 50 years.
  • Reputed to be the most corrupt politician in Fresno history, Joseph Spinney held the mayor’s office for a mere 10 minutes.
  • If you took all of the trash/recycling/compost/etc. bins in the city of Fresno and lined them up side by side, they’d stretch all the way to San Jose, which is 146 miles away.
  • In 2016, Fresno was the 34th-largest city in the US by population.
  • The Fresno State Bulldogs are the pride of Fresno, at least according to some.
  • Bulldogs suffer the highest rate of airline deaths of any dog breed, due to their inherent respiratory issues.
  • Over 80% of bulldogs are born by Cesarean section birth due to their large heads precluding a “normal” birth.
  • Bulldogs were originally bred for bull baiting. The wrinkles around their faces were beneficial in keeping flying blood from entering the dogs’ eyes.
  • Bulldogs are not good swimmers, and frequently drown.
  • “Bulldogs” are the most popular mascot in college athletics; the teams from 15 different schools are known as such.

Moving on.

Roll Tide

Would washington win 6 or 7 games if they played in the SEC?

UWDP: Both are probably pretty good guesses. With an eight game conference schedule, six is probably the floor if the Huskies played in the west, and seven if they played in the east. But that east record certainly depends on who Washington played inter-divisionally. With a schedule like Georgia’s (no Alabama, and no LSU), the real Dawgs could easily roll into the championship game 8-0.

Thanks for stopping by, Roll Tide.


One year after a College Football Playoff season... while it was still Montana, I expected to see the stadium a little more full, little more rocking. Will FS bring more fans? Also, how's UWDP doing this season (viewers, comments)? Again, compared to expectations after such a succesful year?

UWDP: First, credit to Montana fans. They came over in good numbers, and were loud.

I never really thought to get a good feel for how full the stadium was, but I was actually fairly surprised that it wasn’t more empty. Far more fans than I expected to start the third quarter, and the student section was pretty good at kickoff and the start of the second half; especially so when you consider that school doesn’t start for another couple of weeks.

It was Montana. Announced attendance was just under 68,500 (which is tickets sold, not the number of people in attendance, but still....). Only two games last year did better - Stanford and USC.

Anyone else notice how well the “Go” “Huskies!” chant worked before the game? Not perfect, but a big improvement.

Chris and/or Ryan probably have better numbers as far as traffic at the dawgpound, but I think it’s gone up the last year or so, and is one of the most popular college sites on SBNation.


Why are people in Washington so passive aggressive?

UWDP: I don’t know, Joe. Why do you think it’s so?


Name one thing you and Landon are currently disagreeing on.

UWDP: “Everything” is a copout, but the closest single thing I can give you; it’s a long list. If I had to give you just one, it’s the amount of internet money he owes me for all of his gambling losses. In the millions. Upon millions.


I was very impressed by the accuracy of the predictions of the Husky fan base in your "Picking the Pack, week two" article. My question, Is are Husky fans concerned that the offense does not seem to be playing at the same level they were playing at when UW defeated Colorado in the PAC12 championship game? And should you be concerned that 1-11 Fresno St. scored more points on Alabama than UW did three games ago?

UWDP: Yes, the same way that Duck fans should be worried that Nebraska scored more points against Oregon last week than the ‘Huskers managed against Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, and Maryland.

This is like a 4/10 on the “Flame Effort” scale, ducky.


Thinking about moving, I'm romanticizing being an out-of-state fan, is it going to be as beauitful as I assume it will be?

UWDP: Do you enjoy going to games? If so, the answer is “no.”

Where anyone lives is a personal preference, and I’m sure you could find something “better” than the Puget Sound area. Lots (and lots, and lots, and lots...) are worse. Way worse.


Any injury news on Sample and the others who had to leave the game last week? Thought I say Pettis and someone else got a little dinged up too. Will they all be back by the Colorado game?

UWDP: The only way we’re going to get any definitive information is if an injury is season-ending, so that we haven’t heard anything like that can be considered good news.

I think Adam Jude speculated Drew Sample would be out a few weeks. I have heard nothing (either way) about Pettis missing time.

That doesn’t answer your questions, but I don’t know anything. We’ll have to see on Saturday.

Lucas Shannon

Hey Brad, do you think the Huskies recievers have had a tough time getting open so far this season? I think that's an assertion that has been made by fans (myself included at times) this season, and wanted to see if you seen the same thing so far this year.

UWDP: Yes, they have at times, but I’m not sure it’s been the biggest issue the passing offense has faced in either game thus far.

Against Rutgers, Jake Browning faced a lot of pressure, especially early in the game. He was able to find time and receivers off and on throughout the night, but he took a lot of hits in order to do so (and not just the violent shot on the sack-fumble on the second series).

Against Montana, Browning just didn’t have his best game as a Husky, even though his final stat line was impressive. Too many times, he simply held on to the ball instead of just throwing it to a guy that was either going to break open (anticipation), or maybe a little less open than what Browning was hoping to see. He also stared down his receivers some on Saturday - during his drop back, a quarterback is typically supposed to be using his eyes to manipulate the coverage, not watching his receivers, and wasn’t as quick as he usually is to come off his primary read to a secondary receiver.

I think the excessive time he had in the pocket wasn’t really a good thing on Saturday, for the development of the offense. I suppose it’s good work for the receivers and QB on improvising once a route breaks down, but the timing in the passing game got little work, and that’s more important at this point in the season. Browning is unlikely to have five or more seconds in the pocket consistently again this year. I also think the success he had running is potentially fool’s gold. Browning has always been pretty effective using his feet, either to buy a little time in the pocket, or to pick up a few yards. I certainly don’t want him to think his legs are a viable tool, though. If my choices for the remainder of the season are for Browning to run five times a game (knowing that he’s probably going to pick up at least 20 or 25 yards on those carries), or to run zero times a game, I’m picking the latter.


Husky stadium: Seat/section with most bang for your buck? View, scenery, subjection to the elements, convenience, etc

UWDP: Totally subjective question, so I can really only give you my perspective. I don’t care about being out in the rain (the sun and heat in early September games is actually much worse), and once the game kicks off, the only scenery that matters is what’s happening on the field. My ideal seats are on the 50, in the first few rows of the upper deck on either side. It’s a great perspective to see pretty much everything as a play unfolds. I’m almost there now (row three on around the 37-yard line), so there’s not much I’d change. Might look into the individual seats (instead of benches) on the south side next year, but am not willing to move very far up or away from the 50 to get them.

Husky football for me is like a monster truck show - We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge (you’ll have to imagine the correct voice while you read that).


Do we know why the Seattle Times and KJR have severed the relationship letting Times writers speak on the KJR airtime?

UWDP: A lot of speculation is that KJR personalities have been very critical of the coverage the Times (particularly Geoff Baker) has given to the two potential new Seattle arenas - remodeling Key Arena vs attempting to build Chris Hansen’s SoDo project. The Times (e.g. Baker) has shown a lot of anti-Hansen, pro-Key bias (driven by a pro-Port of Seattle leaning) while KJR mostly runs from neutral (fair process) to pro-Hansen, so it’s certainly possible.

And on that issue, I’m a big Sonics have, and always have been. I’m not anti-hockey by any stretch, but I just don’t really care about it either way. I think an NHL team at SoDo is a great thing, because it helps facilitate the arena being built. And the sole reason that arena even exists as a concept is to eventually secure the return of the Sonics. The NHL at Key Arena is a much different proposition to me. That’s a project that exists to make money for an investor/operator. It’s possible that the financial arrangements at Key Arena, with an NHL team already established, won’t be appealing for one of the three parties necessary to bring back an NBA team (OVG, a prospective NBA franchise owner, or the NBA itself). If even one of those parties isn’t satisfied, no team comes, and the Sonics don’t return.


2 games in this year vs 2 games in last year, if the two husky teams played, which would win?

UWDP: The 2016 version wins, in overtime.


UWDP Estimates game: Average age of regular participants? Percent that purchased season tickets? Percent makeup of alcoholics? Percent non-alumni? Percent spies from other teams? (I've enjoyed having Ravenous Ute and Duckitect)

UWDP: Man, I don’t have any idea. Sometimes I think I can get a pretty good idea of a poster’s age by what and how he or she writes, but I find that I’m off (and frequently by a long way) if the truth actually comes out. I’d guess the average is probably around 45 years old.

I don’t get the feeling there are all that many season ticket holders, but again, I could be way off. Same with alumni - no idea.

Clinically diagnosed alcoholics? Self-diagnosed? Spouse-diagnosed? Husky-induced?

I personally enjoy having good posters that are fans of other schools come around. It’s a lot more fun than sitting around and agreeing with everyone.

Scooby Breath

How much do you believe that the lack of pass rush so far could be the coach not showing their cards to the PAC-12 against a weak OOC schedule?

UWDP: If the defense was simply sitting back and not blitzing, I might agree that the reason was a schematically vanilla approach. But that’s really not the case, as linebackers and defensive backs are coming pretty frequently (although a fair percentage of those blitzes are related to the run defense).

The Huskies have used very liberal substitution patterns on defense the last few years, and the start of 2017 is no exception. Maybe that changes, but I doubt it.

One thing to point out is that the defense has experimented with more different looks so far than they likely did in all the snaps of 2015 and 2016 combined. We’ve seen three new looks already from the front seven.

  1. The Huskies ran a few snaps with three true defensive tackles in the game (eschewing their traditional base nickel package) in 2016 (the first series of the Stanford game, and then off and on against Alabama). This year, though, they’ve kept the outside linebackers tight to the formation in the traditional “stand-up defensive end” alignment. This makes the defensive a 5-2 “Okie” for the most part.
  2. The second wrinkle on this is the five man line, but with a nickel back. There are two defensive tackles, and the Buck outside linebacker moves inside in a three or four-point stance. One of the inside linebackers replaces the Buck on the outside (on the line of scrimmage), leaving only one linebacker in the middle. This was the front the Huskies used when Rutgers picked up a big gain on 3rd down near their own goal line.
  3. Against Montana, the Huskies showed a three man front out of their nickel look, with no outside linebackers standing up on the line. To do this, they had to defensive tackles, and the Buck slid inside in a three or four-point stance as a down lineman. The other outside linebacker mostly worked in coverage, and was typically off the line and back at the snap. The defense blitzed an inside linebacker frequently out of this look to create the four man rush.


Area you'd like to see the most improvement during Fresno State game?

UWDP: The running game, particularly blocking on the line. Not just the results, but the execution.


Did we have anyone grade out well from a pass rush standpoint? Although we dominated, I have not been impressed with the pass rush. We should be getting 5 sacks minimum vs. an over matched Montana. The development from our rushers has been slow, particularly Benning in his 3rd year..concerning?

UWDP: It hasn’t been great yet, no. Benning Potoa’e has had good snaps and bad snaps, like the rest of the pass rush. I’m at least as concerned that Greg Gaines and Vita Vea haven’t done more at this point - the ability of the two down linemen to generate pressure and disrupt the running game is critical to a defensive scheme that runs so much nickel.


Do you like what they are doing with the Zone and drinking? How long will we have to wait for in-stadium drinking? Sections with drinking allowed?

UWDP: I don’t have any real opinion. The issue is actually people heading to the parking lots at halftime, not the Zone. The obvious solutions seems like not allowing people re-entry if they leave, but that means a lot of people that slowly make their way back in the third quarter simply won’t come back at all.

I don’t know how long it’ll be until beer is just sold in the stadium. I don’t have a strong opinion about it either way, but some people do (on both sides). lt sort of seems like we’re seeing a “soft” opening of it right now - the amount allowed in the stadium is slowly increasing every year.


Is Tedford going to help J Smith with the game plan this week?

UWDP: Jeff Tedford’s offenses have always been pretty similar to what Chris Petersen does. While I know that a lot of Husky fans think Tedford’s familiarity with Jonathan Smith gives Fresno some small advantage on Saturday, the corollary is true as well.


Did Troy Williams graduate or lose his starting position?

UWDP: Troy Williams lost his job to your namesake, Tyler Huntley.

Heading in to fall camp, I’d wager most Utah fans thought uber-recruit and Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman would win the job.

Huntley is quick to pull the ball down and run, and he’s not a very big guy. From what little I’ve seen of Utah thus far, he’s taking more “big” shots than you want to see your starting QB take.

Jimbo McDawg

Brad your a smart man with a good eye, what are you going to bring looking for out of the run game for UW this Saturday? What are your expectations for UW's run game this Saturday?


The running game has been less than impressive so far especially against inferior opposition. The experienced offensive line was supposed to be a strenght this year. Whats happening ?

UWDP: The issues with the run game are very similar to what we saw at the start of the 2016 season.

Even though there are a lot of returning starters on the line this year, success in the run game depends on five guys all consistently doing their job correctly. One mistake can make the whole thing look discombobulated, and like there are massive breakdowns when only small ones actually exist. That’s where the Huskies are right now - on any given play, you’ll have four guys doing there jobs correctly, and one guy making a mistake.

It’s a lot closer than it looks right now, just like it was last year.

Process over results on Saturday (although I’m nearly 100% convinced the results will follow...). Five guys working in concert, like a ballet of elephants.


That pick six was PI, right?

UWDP: Yes, it was. But that doesn’t change the fact the ball never should’ve been thrown on that play period, much less to Pettis given the coverage he was facing.

Here’s the play.

It looks like a run-pass option, and Montana’s linebackers are off the ball (not showing blitz). The best decision here is to hand the ball off to Salvon Ahmed on the sweep, and have him follow the pulling center Coleman Shelton on what looks like would have been a nice gain. The cornerback over Pettis is showing press coverage, and is slightly shading Pettis to the inside, which makes the slant a tough throw on this play.

Pettis is a much better receiver than Montana’s DB is a corner, and he’s probably going to win that matchup to the middle of the field most times. But Browning’s wasn’t the correct read on the play.


While watching the game between UW-Montana, the announcers, Guy Haberman and Chad Brown kept pronouncing Ahmed's name "Ahk-med." Can someone please tell me if that is how his name is actually pronounced? It seems incorrect to me. Any clarification would be great.

UWDP: I’m fairly certain that /OCK’-med/ is correct. And the first name is /suh-VON/.


Wins, for me, have become less satisfying now that I expect one each week. Suggestions on how to love it again?

UWDP: I don’t know how to fix your complacency, Ragu. Nor my own. Ask Alabama fans.


A lot of the shine has come off Jim Mora down at UCLA since he was in contention for the UW HC position. Folks see them perennially under achieving and I have a feeling many would also say that Rosen is making Mora look good so far in two games. What would it take from him in order to be legitimately seen as a good HC again?

UWDP: The easy answer is “wins.” And probably some (several) without Rosen, to show it’s sustainable.

Jim Mora certainly knows the game of football well enough, but I think he lacks the “small things” that make a good football coach (almost all of us do). Watching the way he handles things at UCLA, I just don’t think he’s the “adult in charge” of UCLA’s program the same way Chris Petersen is up here. That’s a high bar for sure, but hopefully you get the idea...


I'm just not impressed with our entrances as much ever since we lost 'Til I Collapse'. The Beware of Dogs is a nice touch but the purple smoke?

UWDP: It’s 476th on my list of concerns surrounding Husky football, just ahead of uniforms.


Games you're DVR'ing this week?

UWDP: Besides the Husky game, Oregon State at WSU if I don’t get to see enough of it before I leave for the Husky game, Clemson/Louisville, Stanford/San Diego State, and Cal/Ole Miss.

Jon May

I'm all questioned out until a quality opponent is upon us, is that the sign of the coming Husky apocalypse of college football?

UWDP: That, plus Ragu thinking moving out of state is a good way to improve his “Husky fandom” experience.


Where has your brother been?

UWDP: He’s either lost or locked himself in his bathroom and can’t figure out how to get out again.


With UW he now experiencing success, is OC Smith an attractive hire to anyone besides Peterson.

UWDP: Sure, but just about any other offensive coordinator job is a lateral move. Jonathan Smith isn’t likely to leave for anything but a head coaching job, and unless he wants to go the “small school” route, I don’t think it’s in the near future.

On the other hand, I could see he and Chris Petersen mutually deciding at some point that a change of scenery is in both of their best interests.


Not to be a downer: at what point do we sound the Lubick alarm? No truly promising #2 candidates have emerged. Our undersized WRs are not getting separation against low-level competition. Hamdan had an immediate impact, am I being too finicky about Lubick? Thanks and Go Dawgs!

UWDP: For me, not even close to today. First and foremost, the sample size is waaaaaay too small to draw any sweeping conclusions. And, as already mentioned, there’s blame to share throughout the offense for the ways the passing game has yet to fully “click.”

While the receivers certainly looked better under Bush Hamdan than they ever did under Brett Pease, I think you can make an argument that Hamdan’s most “immediate impact” was magically healing John Ross’ knee.


Will UW beat Fresno by more points than Bama did?

UWDP: If I was betting money, I’d say probably not.


Who do we know is injured and what, if anything, do we know about them (I heard one of the play-by-play guys say Levi got injured at Rutgers??)

UWDP: Levi Onwuzurike limped off the field early on against Rutgers. I thought he had a couple of snaps after that, but could be wrong. He didn’t play against Montana, so that injury could well have carried over. We saw Drew Sample limp off against Montana, and return in the second half in street clothes.

Chris Petersen will tell us guys that are out for the season, but won’t give information on guys that are out for anything less than that.

Jon May

Why does Chris Petersen think UW can have it all?

UWDP: Because the Huskies can, in fact, have it all. That doesn’t mean they ever will, or that they’ll even necessarily be all that close. But there’s nothing precluding it from happening the way factors might be at other schools. The biggest hangup is probably a local recruiting base.

If the Huskies ever do have it all, it’s going to be due to the man in charge.


Of the Top 10 teams (best chance to get to the championship), which coach do you like the best for X's and O's? I think that outside of Dabo, I'd go with Coach Pete.

UWDP: I don’t know near enough about a lot of those coaches to give this question a fair shake, and I think it’s also very tough on a macro level to discern the difference between a schematic advantage vs. philosophy, motivation, overall program management, etc. And of course, recruiting is a huge part of it all....

I know it’s sacrilege to many in Seattle, but I’m a huge Jim Harbaugh fan.

I’m not sure if I think there’s anyone that’s necessarily “better” than Petersen that doesn’t also have some huge built-in advantage (read: recruiting) Petersen doesn’t have. Yet.....?


Should we be worried about Oregon dismantling Nebraska?

UWDP: Oregon played a really good half of football, and a not-so-great half against Nebraska. I guess the Ucks dismantled Nebraska, but there’s still no “D” in Eugene.

whimpy Badger

Why did Wisconsin back out of OOC game for this year?

UWDP: I don’t remember exactly now. I think the B14G’s decision to move to a nine game conference schedule was a big part of it, but I could be wrong on that.


If you could bring back any current NFL dawg who would you wanna bring back and why?

UWDP: I’d gladly take any of the guys that graduated or left after last year. Elijah Qualls makes the depth on the defensive line simply incredible. He’s my 1A. Budda Baker makes a solid secondary great, even with the losses of Sidney Jones and Kevin King.


Marajuana. Do the players use it for pain management?

UWDP: Yeah. Pain management. And glaucoma.


How likely do you think it is that Jake Browning is deliberately avoiding throwing a bazillion touchdowns in order to deflect Heisman speculation and attention?

UWDP: Overwhelming odds this is the reason.


Thought we would see our 3rd team QB in the 4th quarter but did not? Who is 3rd on the depth chart and why no action?

UWDP: I was a little bit surprised as well, but more so that K.J. Carta-Samuels didn’t come in sooner. Browning played the entire 3rd quarter (and was still running the ball....yikes).

I’m sure the Huskies are going to do everything possible to redshirt Jake Haener, so if it’s a blowout situation, Daniel Bridge-Gadd will be the 3rd QB. If the Huskies actually needed their third QB to get extended action, it’s a little less clear. Probably still Bridge-Gadd, though. That’s just a guess, and Haener got reps ahead of Bridge-Gadd in team drills at the open practice on picture day.

All for this week. Enjoy the game on Saturday, and