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Mailbag: “A Tribute to Larry Scott” Edition

No, not really...

Pac 12 Championship - Utah v Washington
One All-American Husky sandwich, hold the Ute, coming up!
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A Pac 12 Championship collection of useless facts.

  • The closest relative to the elephant is the manatee; scientists believe the elephant crawled back into the sea to become the manatee
  • Kiwi birds are blind and hunt by smell
  • The national religion of Scotland is Presbyterianism
  • Johnny Carson was born in Norfolk, Nebraska
  • Elephants walk on tip-toe, because the back portions of their feet are made up entirely of fat, with no bone
  • “Toki doki kuruma de kayotte imasu” means “sometimes I commute by car” in Japanese
  • A H I M O T U V W X Y are the symmetric capital letters in the Roman alphabet, and i l o t u v w x are the symmetric lower case letters (although a case can be made against the lower case t)
  • Common thought is that it takes at least seven shuffles to properly “mix” a deck of cards
  • The Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish) can lay up to 5,000,000 eggs at one time
  • 2 and 5 are the only prime numbers that end in 2 or 5
  • According to the state constitution, every male over 18 is considered part of the Arizona Militia
  • Switching letters at the beginning of words - for example, saying the “Scag of Flotland” instead of “Flag of Scotland” - is called ‘spoonerism’


What has to happen for the offense to become as dominant as the defense is?

UWDP: If you mean a unit that scores around 45 points a game, while the defense still gives up about 15, then we’d be talking about becoming Alabama. So, a tremendous step forward in recruiting (which maybe implies some changes in the coaching staff in order to get there).

It’s not realistic to expect it on a yearly basis, and being dominant on one side of the ball is a tremendous accomplishment as long as the Huskies have on D. I think the realistic ceiling is that this could be a program that hits those marks once or twice under Chris Petersen, but is perennially a top 20 team in both.

I’m also of the opinion that Washington’s offense in 2018 is better than a lot of Husky fans, though, and what we saw was the ultimate in risk mitigation.

Denver Dawg

Plain and simple: Is this team good enough to beat Ohio State?


So far, the vast majority of popular media is giving UW the chance of a snowball in hell against tOSU. Give me three reasons for optimism from a UW perspective.

LiveinHothAK - earthquake edition

I’d love to see the dawgs win a bowl game, but just like the last few years the huskies are (most likely) going to be overmatched from a talent standpoint, and playing them away from Husky stadium where they are at their best. How does CP slay a giant finally as a Husky coach?


Will UW’s Offense be able to exploit enough holes in the OHIO defense to score enough points to win? And if the defense shows out and does not allow many explosives from their QB, what form of attack will the offense use to confuse the Ohio date defense? Can we keep it close and lean on them in the fourth Quarter? Their D seems vulnerable.


Ohio State has a very good offense. What do the Huskies need to do to effectively shut them down so we have a much better chance in a low scoring game?


Besides just having a bunch of 4 and 5-star guys who are bigger and faster than most of players the Huskies have faced so far, I am curious what to look for schematically from the Buckeyes. I know this year they’ve had to pass more than usual, but diving deeper than that, what do they generally try to accomplish and how do you think they will attack the Huskies in Pasadena?


It looks like tOSU’s defense has some holes in it but can the Huskies muster enough offense to take advantage?


Now that it’s set in stone, what’s the serious prognostication for our chances Vs. tOSU? I always have faith in the defense to keep it close, but do we have enough offense to keep up? I was a little surprised we did so little vs Utah but maybe that was by design. Score just enough then keep the ball away from their offense. Will our power running game work? Please, give me some vision on this one oh wise sage!

And again, thanks!!!! Love all you guys do here!

UWDP: Yes, absolutely Washington can win this game. This is a well-coached Husky team that does what the coaches want them to do, on both sides of the ball.

Ohio State’s offense is fantastic, top 5 in the nation by advanced stats. But even with the little mini-surge near the end of the season (mostly propelled by a huge game against Maryland), the Buckeyes aren’t a great rushing team. In fact they’re fairly mediocre. The have the potential to hurt the Huskies on the ground, no doubt, but that isn’t how they’re built to beat teams. The big worry there is that quarterback Dwayne Haskins has run with more intent the last few weeks. He’s not a dual-threat QB, but he can be effective, and quarterbacks that can move have a decent rate of success against the light box the Husky defense plays. Husky fans that watched only the Ohio State vs Michigan game might have an unrealistic view of the Buckeyes, when just under 50% of the completions went for 20 or more yards, but the Buckeyes aren’t actually a big-play team generally. But they’re incredibly effective at sustaining drives, which, coupled with Washington’s defense’s willingness to cede yards but not points, could very well mean this side of the ball will come down to red zone execution. The Buckeyes are what I’d call a “power spread” team; you’ll see lots of multiple wide receiver formations, but the run game is more inside zone and power (or power-read), with an attempt to be physical. The passing game is a lot of single-read Air Raid principles similar to what Oklahoma runs, but Haskins probably doesn’t force as many throws down the field as Kyler Murray does with the Sooners.

I don’t think there’s actually a “secret” for Washington’s defense in stopping the Buckeyes; it’s a matter of doing the job the same way they’ve done all season. I don’t expect any sort of different looks or rotations, just a really sound group of players, at their healthiest. One thing to watch might be the rotation at the inside linebacker spot next to Ben Burr-Kirven - as DJ Beavers and Brandon Wellington have gotten healthier and more comfortable, Tevis Bartlett’s snaps on the inside have gone down, and he’s gotten the looks as a designated pass rusher that Ariel Ngata was getting at the beginning of the season.

Defensively, Ohio State is “pretty good,” which is something of a surprise considering how well they recruit. They mostly thrive by creating turnovers or negative plays and forcing quick three-and-outs, but teams that can stay ahead of or even with the chains and pick up that first 1st down are apt to continue to move the ball. The Buckeyes look a lot like Colorado, or Oregon, or Stanford on defense. I think the most interesting thing to watch is how much trust the coaching staff has with the Washington wide receivers. The matchups say that the lean on their running attack, which means a lot of the three tight end look we’ve seen the last two years and only one wide receiver on the field at a time. I think that puts a lot of pressure on Hunter Bryant to be a play maker and a star.

The rankings, the records, and the recruiting might say Ohio State has a huge advantage. I’d say the Buckeyes have had far more than their fair share of close calls this season, and more luck than a team this good should need to be 12-1 right now. They deserve to be favored, but this is a good matchup for Washington.


Sure the coaches would loved to have punched in a few offensive touchdowns against Utah. But every realistic person knew this could be a low scoring game that might turn on a big play or two. How much does the offensive output reflect - in addition to the limitations of the kicking game - a very conservative approach not just going in but as the game progressed? As in, there is offensive hope for the Rose Bowl, right?

UWDP: I absolutely think that Chris Petersen coached to let his defense win this game.

I think it became pretty clear early on that Utah didn’t have the offensive firepower to consistently move the ball against Washington. The longer the game went with Washington tied or leading, the more reliant on creating (and later, forcing,) a big play the Utes became.

Washington sort of played footsie with being aggressive offensively into the second half after Utah tied it up in the 3rd quarter by running the ball, with a well-timed pass play thrown in. After this drive, and Byron Murphy’s subsequent interception-for-touchdown, the Huskies had what felt like a really secure lead, and the Washington offense went to the three tight end looks we saw most of last season. In the 3rd and 4th quarters, the Huskies had two drives that consisted of 31 plays, gained only 125 yards, and netted zero points, but took over 17 minutes off the clock and put the game on Utah’s redshirt freshman quarterback.

Yes, touchdowns would’ve been better. WAY better. To anyone that wants to say that Washington’s offense was ineffective and ugly, the latter is definitely true and the former is at least partly so. Largely so, even. It was also playing winning football, given everything that went into the game. I’m okay with it.

What’s up with kickers?

Does Petersen make things over complicated when it comes to his offense and special teams? We didn’t play any offensive freshman and players are often saying that it takes a long time to learn our play book. I think Sark had this same issue the first two years he was coach here. Then he dumb it down.

The reason I bring this up is because I don’t understand why our kickers aren’t good. Sadly having poor kicking game isn’t new for Petersen; he lost two or more conference championship because of a kicker. Utah seems to always have a good kickers. I think their head coach helps special teams.

I don’t know anything about kicking techniques but do you think similar to our offense that our kickers can possibly be overwhelmed/ over thinking things? To me it doesn’t make sense because it’s more than one kickers (walk-on & scholarship players) with the problem over Petersen tenure.

UWDP: The narrative that Chris Petersen lost conference championships due to his kickers comes down to like three kicks (I think?) that were his only conference losses of each of those years (I could be wrong on some of that, I’m totally going by memory). Yes, they were all very short and makable. But that’s a lot of weight to put on three plays, against the probably 100 or so that were made while he was the head coach there.

Do you remember the huge miss by All-American Chuck Nelson against WSU in the Apple Cup in 1982? Most Husky fans do, but almost no one remembers any of the 30 in a row he’d made prior to that one.

I wouldn’t overreact to small sample sizes, and don’t try to make create patterns where they don’t exist. There’s no coaching the kickers to do anything but put the ball through the uprights.


Time to go to 8 team playoff. Higher seed hold home field advantage... Agree?

UWDP: Only because it’s a necessary step to get to the big playoff. Either end the playoffs entirely, or finally get around to the FCS model of Winter Mayhem that will be the biggest, best, most popular event in the entire month of December, without a close second.


I don’t care for a defensive game when UW plays but why is it called a ugly game when other conferences plays defense besides the SEC? I think in 2011 when LSU beat Bama 9 to 6 the media praised about how tough defense was in that conference. Yet our offensive players are supposed to feel about their performance? And they should feel bad about their performance. But overall the medi should give credit for two great defense battling for a championship. Utah has a formal head coach calling their defense.

UWDP: Nobody west of the Mississippi plays defense (or even real football for that matter). This is pretty common nolidj.


What needs to happen for the PAC to have relevancy again? At least we need to win more than half the bowls. What else?

UWDP: Winning games is the slow trickle that changes it. That’s going to take time. Maybe the worst part about this is that a lot of football fans - even Pac 12 fans - seem to believe that this is the way it’s been forever. That’s not the case, by any stretch. Nor is the gap as big as some want to make it....

The quickest perception change would come from the media. And really, it’s a little bit surprising how much ESPN in particular has worked to knock down the worth of the Pac 12, considering all of the millions of dollars it paid to broadcast its games....

1 Highlight

Hilbers’ availability is important since I believe Adam is still a risk to ‘re-injury. PC seldom discusses injury status. What is your assessment?

UWDP: Since, as you said, Chris Petersen doesn’t discuss injuries, it’s really hard to know how healthy Trey Adams is, so it’s definitely important to have Jared Hilbers ready to go.


Are we there yet?

UWDP: No, and if you kids won’t shut up, I will turn this car around and we will go home!

John Coalson

Will Christian Caples’ phrase from his most recent article in The Athletic (“every game a brawl”) become the war cry for these Dawgs as they prepare to meet the Buckeyes in the Grandaddy of them all? I hope so!

UWDP: If it does, this tattoo I got will make a lot more sense.

Xs and Os

As I was watching some of the TX/OK game on Saturday I got to thinking about how much of what I was seeing was really good offenses or really bad defenses. Everyone always makes fun of the Big12 for not playing defense and the whole “basketball on grass” thing. I find it hard to believe that they can’t get quality DB recruits in Texas or Oklahoma on par with what UW has been getting nor that they are unable to attact quality defensive coaches to those types of schools (this is not to say that JLs or PKs are a dime a dozen). I wonder if there is more to it than the general tropes. Receivers from both teams were regularly wide open with no defender within 5 yards of them. Where do you fall on this topic?

UWDP: I really don’t have a great idea, but I kind of think that there are lots of things at play.

Take a look at Oklahoma - Mike Stoops was the coordinator there under his brother Bob in the early 2000’s, and the Sooners had some really good defenses. Good enough to get Mike a head coaching job at Arizona after only a few years. When Mike went back to Oklahoma under his brother and then Lincoln Riley, his defenses really struggled.

I think that talent is important, and the ability of the defensive coordinator to scheme, and the position coaches to implement and teach...I think culture is hugely important; the Huskies had great defenses under Don James with Jim Lambright as the coordinator, but Lambright couldn’t sustain that (and yes, I know, sanctions) or even come real close.

I think Texas’ defense is “okay.” But I think Oklahoma’s is terrible. They just make so many mistakes. Little stuff. Mental stuff, that takes guys out of plays. I don’t think it’s a shortage of talent at all.


Jaylen Johnson hardly played in the championship game it seemed. What was up?

UWDP: He was injured. I don’t have any idea how badly.


What is causing UW’s struggles in the red zone? (play calling? execution? personnel? other?) Can it be “fixed” for the Rose Bowl?

UWDP: I think there have been a lot of things. The running game loses much of it’s ability to run the stretch plays that have been staples this season. To make things worse, Myles Gaskin has been banged up since at least the UCLA game, if not before, with some sort of right arm issue, and Salvon Ahmed had some sort of slight knee injury as well. The passing game hasn’t been dynamic or particularly creative in the red zone, and the best options the second half of the season down there have been tight ends and running backs. Over the last six games of the 2018 season, Washington wide receivers combined to catch a total of four touchdown passes, with two coming in the red zone. Hunter Bryant and Chico McClatcher would’ve been nice additions to the team as playmakers near the goal line.

“Fixed” for this season is a relative term, and the truth is that all the Huskies need is to have a better game, regardless of any sustainability in how they manage it. Yes, it’s not like this is a fatally flawed or broken offense. It should be better able to utilize Hunter Bryant’s abilities. And hopefully, this next month lets the team refocus a little, add some new things, and find some of the old ones that seem to have worked better earlier in the year.

Pac12 Championship

What’s the chance the location of the Pac12 championship moves to a different location on than Santa Clara? Would you favor the best team hosting? Would you favor the same location each year (e.g., Vegas)? Would you favor a rotation around the conference at stadiums that are large enough to not be filled just like Levi’s (see what I did there?) -- e.g., Seattle, Santa Clara, LA, Phoenix, Denver (minus any of the foregoing with winter weather issues)

Kitty Rainbow Laser

The Pac12 title game as an event/spectacle is a joke. It’s an embarrassment. A stadium at best 35% full for our “showcase” event of the season. It is yet another black eye for a conference that already looks like Rocky Balboa after his worst defeat. With this in mind, what are chances of having the title game moved back to the division winner with the best conference record (or historical tie breakers if necessary)? This year there almost certainly would have been a 100% full Husky Stadium -- loud, electric, and fun. That’s a hell of a lot better look for the conference as a product than Larry “clueless” Scott is putting out there currently. Might they change back to that model -- top division winner hosts the championship game? Anything we can do as fans to push for this change?

UWDP: I can say that the Pac 12 attendance in Santa Clara has been bad, but that’s about all I can say with any sort of confidence.

I think the attendance would’ve been good if it had been at Husky Stadium last Friday. Or at Century Link. I don’t think Las Vegas is the cure-all that many do; I think the issues with people not making the trip center more around short notice and shelling out for the trip so close to Christmas. It’s not really a good “vacation” time of year in general, there’s just too much else going on.

It’s probably better-attended on a Saturday than Friday at 5:00 PM, but going up against the SEC, B14G, or Big 12 game, I’m not sure the ratings don’t suffer.

It’s convenient to cast blame at Larry Scott, because he deserves some. The TV networks that shows it, too - they don’t give a flying rat’s patoot about the people actually attending. But, fellow Pac 12 fans, the fact of the matter is that we deserve some blame, too. I personally made zero effort to attend, and I’m obviously not alone. I read a lot of people on this board making the same decision. You could pit any two SEC games in any town in SEC country, announce that kickoff was at 4:00 AM three hours ahead of time, and you’d have more than 35,000 people there. We don’t want our own TV network, either; I wonder how many Husky fans have chosen to keep DirecTV rather than switch to a provider with the Pac 12 Network....

2003 husky

What’s your projection for browning post college? (Mine says a couple years as a backup in the NFL or starter in CFL and then a grad assistant and eventually one helluva coach somewhere, maybe really good. I’d love him back on the staff at UW with his work ethic, experience, and competitive nature). Thoughts?

UWDP: If he actually wants to try and live out the life as a professional football player, then yeah, he’ll probably be able to manage a few years out of it.

Coaching is a tough life. I don’t know if I think he’s a natural fit for it one way or the other. With Marques Tuiasosopo, you could see how his enthusiasm would lend itself well to him as a recuiter, but I don’t see those same sorts of things with Browning necessarily. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, when he’s done as a player, he just decides to do something else with his life and be entirely done with football.


Getting to the Rosebowl is always a successful season in the minds of any true husky fan (the negative tone every year at the Seattle Times can buzz off for all I care, as the reporting UWDP is significantly better - pardon the aside). What I am curious about is what offseason event do you think swung this season towards a 10+ win/ Rosebowl appearance the most? 1) Gaskin returning for a senior year, 2) Kwiatkowki’s selflessness to keep Jimmy Lake for more year(s), or 3) Greg Gaines staying for a senior year? (Mine would be #2 but I think there are valid arguments for all three).

UWDP: That’s funny, that’s the one that I’d say had the least impact.

As much as I love Myles Gaskin, and as important as he is to the offense, I think the Huskies simply cannot run the system they do defensively without Greg Gaines here this year. He’s the only guy that fits the bill as a true two-gap run-stuffing defensive tackle, and he played just shy of one bazillion snaps this season, all while staying healthy. Or at least relatively so. And it was the defense that played the largest role in the team getting to the point they are right now.

All three were positive. But Gaines.


Is there a word or phrase to describe how this regular season went? It wasn’t a “lost season” given the ending, but I had playoffs on the mind entering the year and that went out the window by October. Maybe this year was a “resilient” season? Redemptive?

UWDP: I think that there are more than a few fans that feels some amount of disappointment for not making the playoffs. I thought that was on the highest range of “likely possible outcomes,” so I didn’t really think it was going to happen. On the other hand, I probably would’ve said that a 9-3 regular season was on the lowest range of “likely possible outcomes that include a conference championship,” so it’s not like things were totally peachy, either.

I don’t really see the conclusion of the season as redemptive, although I see your point. Really, it’s the way most seasons work out. In 2000, the Huskies had to have Oregon State beat Oregon in the Civil War in the last week of the season in order to make the Rose Bowl (which obviously happened), for one example.

Resilient is probably understated enough to work.


Which school is the designated home team for this ‘19 Rose Bowl? Does the home team choose the jersey color they’ll wear or must they wear their dark ones?

UWDP: I believe Ohio State is the home team for the game. I imagine that means they’ll wear their red jerseys.


Do you know enough about Larry Scott and/or the PAC12 financials to comment on whether he should be fired?


As an upset fan can you point me to a contact method for the “PAC-12 CEO Group” aka Larry Scotts bosses? Has UW President come out and commented on anything?


What do you make of the Canzano pieces?

Why aren’t more people fed up with Larry Scott? It feels like diehards are ready to fire him but casual fans have no perception of how bad a mess the Pac-12 is.

UWDP: While I’d like to think I understand all of the details, I’m sure I don’t. The series that John Canzano wrote about him and the myriad articles that Jon Wilner has written the last few years have been very damning. It’s hard to know how much of the conference’s current financial situation, and the issues fans have with the TV networks, the perception of the conference, etc. are actually his fault, how many simply qualify as “the way things are in reality,” and how much is poor overall direction and management of him by his bosses - the Pac 12 university presidents. And when you look at the fact that the finances of the conference athletics, and the largesse of Scott’s office were known to the presidents and they still elected to give him a 30% raise, well, I tend to wonder if the bigger problem in all of this isn’t actually Scott’s bosses, and if Scott is just a symptom.

If Scott is fired, and the presidents hire someone new to reign in the rampant spending, that doesn’t close the gap between the Pac 12 and the SEC, B14G, etc. Not close. The Pac 12 has a revenue problem that isn’t solved short of expanding the conference network. Getting DirecTV on board probably means renegotiating all of the current deals for less money. I don’t how that would all work out.

Fire him for that video to his employees announcing his raise. What a doosh. The thing about him is, I don’t think fan angst or outrage matters one bit here. UW’s president Ana Marie Cauce hasn’t said anything as far as I know, and I doubt she will, and I really don’t even think she should. Scott works for her, and there’s no accountability to fans (to be clear, I’m not complaining about that). I don’t have any idea how we know how the people that matter feel about his job performance, or how much they measure results. And like Jordan says, most people just don’t care.


Can you talk about the Rise of Joe Tryon?

UWDP: He was a raw recruit with upside, but had a lot of work to do. He saw very few snaps early in the season and would get pulled pretty quickly (presumably for making a mistake), but saw a huge spike in playing time in the second half of the season. It seems like things sort of “clicked” for him. Maybe it was the speed of the game, maybe it was recognizing assignments, maybe it was confidence. Whatever the reason, he’s become a guy that’s heavy in the rotation at one of the outside linebacker spots, and it seems like he’s going to be a fixture there.


Haskins and Co vs UW Secondary & Jimmy Lakes: Who has the advantage in this matchup?

UWDP: Ohio State throws the ball to a lot of people. There are seven receivers with 20 or more catches on the season (and another with 19). 12 different players have caught touchdown passes. There isn’t an All-American-type guy leading the group, but this is the deepest group of the receivers the UW has seen this year. By far. Probably the best quarterback as well.

Washington’s secondary is very good, but offense almost always has the advantage on any given play. The Huskies can get the win if they can force the Buckeyes to have to put ten or more plays together in order to score, because that’s when the odds of two unsuccessful plays out of three, plus a gain of less than 10 yards on the third play, tips to the Huskies’ favor. It’s the formula that’s worked pretty much this entire season, especially given the lack of pass rush the Huskies have been able to generate. And on that pass rush, this would be a great game for someone like Joe Tryon, Ryan Bowman, Benning Potoa’e, Levi Onwuzurike, or anyone else in purple and gold to just have a monster game rushing the passer.


If you could ask Santa to bring you one thing for Rose Bowl, what would it be?

UWDP: Four receivers a-leaping and three ends a-rushing. I don’t care about the partridge.

p&g blud in nevada

First rose bowl attended was 1981 , next rose bowl will be 2019!!! Fellow son of a Viking, Mr. Johnson, look for the Norwegian Flag near the tailgating. I am supplying the Lutefisk and the Lefse. You bring the Krumkake. For the buckeye nation feel free to stop by for some free, all you can eat, Mexican style Krumcaca !!!! SKOL, Bro.

UWDP: Man, this question shows how bad traditional Scandinavian foods are.


Why isn’t there a name and trophy for the Washington/Oregon rivalry game? This makes no sense. Many fans care about it just as much as the Apple Cup and it’s often a more important game than the Apple Cup. Many fans hate Oregon much more than they hate WSU. This seems like a huge missed opportunity. I mean, the Apple Cup is brought to us by Boeing. Wouldn’t both schools benefit from a rivalry game brought you by Amazon?

Who wouldn’t like rooting for the Huskies in the Battle of the Columbia every year? There should be a spot for the Columbia Cup right next to the Apple Cup.

UWDP: I don’t know why there isn’t, but there sure should be. A duck fan had the best idea I’ve read about this many years ago on the old dawgman boards (I think). I can’t remember his name for it - maybe it was the Columbia Cup. But it was for “All the Marbles,” and the trophy was a bag of marbles, with a purple marble for each Husky win, a green one for each duck win, and a black one for each tie. Writing it out now doesn’t seem that spectacular. Maybe he was just a way better writer than I am.


Controversial Question: Would UW have been better this year with Gardner Minshew at the helm?

UWDP: I don’t know if that’s controversial or not.

Minshew’s route to WSU is a really cool story. He represents every reason the grad transfer rule is such a good idea. And what he did in his lone season was fantastic.

I think he has the physical tools to run Chris Petersen’s offense, and the way Mike Leach talks about him suggests he’s definitely smart enough to get it. I think there was an unquantifiable aspect of “right place, right time” in his decision to go play at WSU, because frankly, there was absolutely nothing to suggest he had the abilities to do what he did in Pullman.

It’s interesting that Browning’s passer rating and adjusted QBR are both pretty much the same as Minshew, despite Minshew obviously having way more passing yards and touchdowns. Cougar fans (and apparently, Husky fans) love Minshew because he was the guy taking snaps in a season the Cuogs exceeded expectations. For Husky fans, Browning was the QB during yet another season that didn’t quite meet the mark.

Maybe he would’ve been better. I don’t actually think the difference (outside of the counting stats) is actually as great as you do, I bet.

But don’t worry, Ragu. You get a shiny new QB in 2019, and you can give him too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses, and learn to hate him more the longer he’s a Husky.

All for this week, Dawg fans!