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Mailbag: “On a Mission” Edition

George Orwell’s Dystopian Novel 1984 Tops Best Seller LIst, Publisher Orders Additional Printing Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facts about BYU, Cougars, and other stuff.

  • BYU has the largest collegiate ballroom dancing program in the world.
  • Room 3241 of the Wilkinson Student Center is reserved from 1 PM until evening for all of the Muslim students to use for daily prayers.
  • 65% of BYU students are multilingual.
  • BYU is regularly listed as one of the “Worst Party Schools in the US” by publications that compile such lists.
  • Female BYU students are allowed a single piercing per ear under BYU’s honor code. Men are prohibited all piercings.
  • Shoes are to be worn at all public campus areas, and shorts for both men and women are to be knee-length or longer.
  • Mixed gender overnight camping is strongly discouraged, except when required as part of an academic course or as authorized as a ward activity approved by a bishop.
  • Cougars are the second largest cat in North America. However, unlike other large carts, the cougar cannot roar. It does, however, purr like a house cat.
  • Cougars can jump almost 20 feet high.
  • The first LDS temple was built in Kirtland, Ohio in 1833. As of 2012, there were 136 temples constructed around the world, with 15 more being built, and another 15 being planned.
  • Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed while in jail in 1844. Before his death, Smith passed on the power to become a prophet to Brigham Young. The facts surrounding his death remain unresolved, and won’t be addressed here.
  • BYU has never “won” a national championship in football. Not ever. Ever.



I know this question makes me the grumpy old guy, but can we get more of the band during timeouts?


I attended the game and was relatively pleased with the football on the field...but since the theme of this question submission is the “unimpressed “ edition here are my gripes:

1) what the h*ll is up with the in stadium programming in the 4th qtr? With a one score game, 3rd down, and UW on defense they play “Purple Rain” (super slow low energy song) and half the stadium falls asleep since it’s 11pm. Next break they do some service announcement for section 126 and get them hopefull that they will win a prize...what’s their prize? An old lady walking around with a recycling bag :/. Next break...a service announcement about stadium code of conduct. All this in the 4th qtr of a singe score game. Almost comical what a wet blanket the whole thing was. They basically did everything they could to put the home crowd to sleep...just strange.

2) it is IMPOSSIBLE to get a hotdog from the vendors at halftime and be back in your seats by the start of the 3rd qtr. I timed it and the average concession transaction took about 4 minutes...that means if you are ~5 people back in line you are not going to see the 2nd half kickoff. Please give the vendors some enticement to not just phone it in...I’m sure they don’t make much but it is just painful to watch the apathy and wasted revenue. I don’t even bother anymore, and I’m not the only one.

UWDP: And just less of that music in general.

I get the choice of the music isn’t made with “me” in mind. But even taking that into account, it seems like there are certain musical elements that are at least sort of universal for songs at football games. Tempo, tone, volume, etc. A lot of the music might be fine in a different setting, but it doesn’t strike me as “pump up a crowd” football music no matter what.

I don’t understand the need to fill every single down second with some sort of music or sound or noise. But I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to be at a football game without it. And I hate when the music is playing while the PA announcer is giving information.

Yes, more band. And while you’re at it, if you’re going to pipe the band through the PA system, figure out a way to account for the delay between hearing the sound coming through the speakers and the delay of the sound traveling from the actual band. It turns the whole thing into a garbled mess.

Game day right now is a series of swings and misses as far as I’m concerned. I can tune most of it out, but it’s just annoying.

There’s a number advertised during the game that invites you to call or text with concerns or comments. I texted my thoughts about the music but didn’t hear back. My brother texted similar thoughts, and actually had a “conversation” with someone about it during the North Dakota game.

I hadn’t really thought about the programming in the 4th until you mentioned it, 2003. Outside of Purple Rain, that is. Um, what? A slow jam? You serious, Clark? But you’re right, completely tone deaf. You know what I’d like to see on the board? Replays. Of EVERY. PLAY. Highlights from other games. “On This Day in Husky History” montages. Stuff like that.

I get what you’re saying about the food, but do my level best not to eat any of it.

I h8 commentators

Can we spend some more time on this site discussing the relevance of the baseball shift on college football defense and tactics? I thought this important topic was finally broached at the level of discussion it merits by the commentators of Saturday night’s game, but we have devoted very little coverage to it here.

In all seriousness, can we please get a new era of commentators in televised sports that don’t feel it is necessary to vomit at the mouth for 4 hours. Either contribute to the viewing experience or shut up and let us here the atmosphere of the stadium.

UWDP: See above - it’s like the TV version of the in-stadium game day environment. I totally agree. Just try shutting up, guys. See what it’s like.

Have you ever watched those old games on ESPN Classics? The change isn’t really for the better.

Poulsbo Dawg

If you could change anything about the way Petersen runs the program, what would it be and why?

UWDP: More national championships.

Actually, I’d love to have more access. But not if it’s something Chris Petersen is forced to do.


BBK has been great....but the flip side of that coin is that the other LBs have been pretty mediocre in at gap assignments, QB pressures, and TFLs from my vantage point. With how much ASU ran the ball Bartlett was MIA most of the night (with the exception of one nice pass breakup) I right to criticize or do you see it differently?


We really need a TRUE Inside linebacker that can stuff the run BEHIND or at the line of scrimage,not 4-5 yards down field!Was the 20(?) Tackles that impressive?


Do you see BBK’s 20 tackles as a “stud effort”, or does it worry you that other people weren’t making those tackles? Or both? ANNND when Landon gave the game ball to Gaines, was that reasonable or attention seeking?

Jake Frowning

BBK is a stud... I guess that isn’t a question.

UWDP: Tevis Bartlett didn’t have a huge game statistically as you say, but I thought it was probably his best game playing inside linebacker. And I don’t know that there was any rotation at either of those two spots, which might be a first in the Petersen/Kwiatkowski/Lake era. Jake Wambaugh and Kyler Manu had played a fair amount in the first three games, but I don’t remember seeing either of them outside of special teams.

Ben Burr-Kirven was all over the field. He’s really fast in pursuit, and he’s a good tackler. Some fans complain about the lack of big hits and stoutness from him, but inside linebacker in Washington’s defense requires a tremendous range of lateral pursuit, and you just aren’t going to see very many guys much over 225 pounds playing the position. Yes, 20 tackles is impressive. There’s a reason that it hasn’t been done in over 20 years at Washington.

Jaylen Johnson is basically playing an outside linebacker spot - the one that Benning Potoa’e and Ryan Bowman shared last year. The “field” linebacker, to the wide side field. Potoa’e and Ariel Ngata are playing the spot that Bartlett played last season - the “boundary” linebacker, to the short side of the field. With the lack of the huge defensive tackle rotation the team had last year, this gets more size up front, but sacrifices some of the versatility the team had the last couple of years.

You’re correct that we aren’t seeing a lot of the fancy plays out of those guys. Read this in case you missed it the first time around, and it’s going to give you a pretty good reason as to why it’s difficult for it to happen.


Why isn’t Ryan Bowman getting more PT?

UWDP: At this point, it looks like the coaching staff has Ariel Ngata running ahead of Ryan Bowman, mostly in pass rush situations.

Keep in mind that it’s pretty early still, and this is the first time in a few years the coaching staff has really had to change anything on the defense. I think there’s still a little bit of feeling things out going on with the rotation. It wasn’t until about this point last year that Bowman started getting the majority of the snaps at one of the outside linebacker spots. Things are going to evolve a little bit more, I’d guess.


Is the offensive line the reason Gaskin is looking less effective this year than last or is he playing injured?

UWDP: Myles Gaskin has never started the season fast. In 2018, he has as many 100+ yard games through the first four as he has had any other season. One, matched in 2015 and 2017. In 2016, he hadn’t had a 100+ yard game to this point.

Victoria husky

Why is the prevailing opinion of the state of the UW union, ostensibly one of dissatisfaction, disappointment and surprise . Are the masses being collectively duped and the ‘eye test’ and confluence of puzzling on field evidence just part of the journey?

UWDP: The two-part answer:

  1. Expectations, particularly in regards to style.
  2. A coach that doesn’t give a damn about them.

There’s some nuance involved, but that’s when we start using words like “entitlement” and “get over yourself.”

I don’t really think we know the ceiling of this team right now. I’m not suggesting it’s national title or playoffs, just that we really don’t know it.


So should we be worried for BYU? I have confidence that this game will be a convincing win for UW but part of me is nervous just since every game this season except North Dakota has been everything but comfortable.

UWDP: I get that Utah and Arizona State weren’t the blowout, play-the-backups-all-fourth-quarter trouncings we’d like to have seen. But was there a point in the second half of either one of them that you thought the Huskies had a realistic shot to lose the game?

I didn’t. Neither was the perfect win we all love. But both of them, to me, felt like Washington was just holding the other team at arm’s length and playing out the string. That’s not saying they stopped trying to score or anything like that. They were, and they failed to get it done most of the time. But they weren’t in a realistic position to lose. When ASU scored to cut the lead to 7 at the end of the third quarter, the Huskies marched right down and scored a TD. When the Sun Devils scored late in the game, the Huskies killed the clock. At Utah, it was a comfortably uncomfortable 14-point win. At no point was Utah in the game in the second half.


Is it going to be a 4th quarter “our starters are still in” all year?

UWDP: Yes, but it’s intentional. Several starters complained that they didn’t get enough playing time to earn a letter in 2016, and there was a team-wide vote to make sure that didn’t happen again.

Our Pass Rush

Where have I gone? How can they find me again?

Hawai’i Husky

Why Don’t we Burn Joe Tyron’s Redshirt and Rush him in Rotation in both Sides to Get a Legitimate DE Rushing the Passer???

UWDP: Just like Johnny Unitas’ haircut and the azaleas blooming at Augusta National during the Masters, we can count on a “UW Spring Football Breakout Star” being created by media and fans that gets tons of mention throughout the spring, summer and fall camp, only to be less a factor than some feel they were lead to believe once the season starts.

Joe Tryon earns the ignominy for 2018. It’s too bad, because he’s a young guy that’s getting his feet wet with some valuable snaps that are hopefully going to pay off over the next few years. But he’s not “the guy” yet. As far as pass rushers go, in the opinion of those that matter (the coaches), that guy is Ariel Ngata.

Washington just doesn’t commit a lot of resources to rushing the passer. There aren’t a ton of blitzes (and it seems like it’s down this year so far, but I have no actual data to back that up), and much of the pressure is actually coming from rushing from the dime package we’ve seen featured at times (including heavily against Utah).

Read Coach B’s link above about the Front 6 of the Husky nickel defense. Those guys have a very difficult job in terms of creating a rush.

Oregon Dawg

Is it time to let go of my anger over the 1984-85 season?. Come on, BYU beat a 6-5 Michigan in the Holiday bowl and played a weak schedule. We took down Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, enough said.. That’s biggest screw job in NCAA Football history and it’s not even close. And our stupid administration won’t claim the title because we’re too proud or something. For all the young huskies, we have 3 national FB titles.

Screw my question, I’m still mad. And I still hate BYU.

UWDP: I’m not letting go any time soon, so I’m certainly not going to coach you to try to do it.

You touched on the biggest problem with the whole thing - the real problem is with Washington’s refusal to claim its history. If you count up all the national titles in football claimed by all schools around the country, you’re going to come up with a number that’s a lot bigger than the number of seasons college football has been played.

Alabama definitely has its share of dubious titles. For example, they were awarded the final #1 ranking from the UPI poll at the end of the regular season in 1973. They then went on to lose the Sugar Bowl to Notre Dame, who was awarded the AP final #1 spot, after all the bowls were played. Die hard fans might not recognize the Crimson Tide as champs for 1973, but the school claims it, and it’s generally an accepted part of history now. Alabama in fact claims over 900 national titles in football, including the next 773 straight.

It took Washington 50 years to claim the title from 1960. It’s disappointing that the players from that team were old men before their school gave them their just desserts.

Washington Huskies, your 1984 college football National Champions. Want to really put a thumb in BYU’s collective eye? Announce it prior to this Saturday’s game. Unveil the banner at halftime.

Unimpressed is right

That performance won’t equate to a win @Oregon or against Stanford. Talk me off the ledge of our impending 9-3 season.

UWDP: It could very well end up being a 9-3 season.

If you’re jumping because of that, see comments about: expectations, fans - from above.


I watched BYUs first three games. The performances against Cal and Wisconsin were wildly different. I don’t think BYU is as good as the outcome of Wisc. Implies. If you’ve watched any of the games or highlights, do you have any insight? Any indicators on how BYU might be suited for or ill-matched with UW?

UWDP: BYU is tough, scrappy, gritty, hard-nosed, blue collar, etc. The type of back-handed compliments media and fans give a team that win games they shouldn’t necessarily win. They’re the perfect reflection of their heart-on-his-sleeve head coach. I don’t mean that as an insult.

BYU gave the world an exciting college football Saturday by winning in Madison a few weeks ago. It happens multiple times a season. It’s part of what makes college football the best game on earth.

BYU doesn’t have a very good offense; they can neither run nor throw consistently. They made a few key plays against Wisconsin and had luck on their side with the Badgers’ field goal at the end. They’re going to have an exceptionally difficult time moving the ball against UW’s defense. On the other side of the ball, BYU has size up front, but not the same athleticism on the line as Utah or Auburn. By S&P, BYU’s defense is very similar to ASU’s.


Do you happen to know how many times our defense actually touched Manny Wilkins? On one hand. Were we just intentionally dropping a bunch into coverage or were our blitzes ineffective?

UWDP: The defense didn’t blitz very much, and they didn’t provide a ton of help outside of the front six to combat the run. What they did instead was almost completely smother any chance of throwing the ball to a couple of dangerous receivers. Manny Wilkins averaged less than four yards per pass attempt. That’s incredible.

I like watching sacks. Does it actually matter that the defense didn’t hit the quarterback, though?


the OL play is mystifying - decent v auburn, poor v n dakota, terrible v utah, good v asu. any ideas why? random variation? something schematic? something about the utah d line’s footwork that left our guys grasping at air?

UWDP: I don’t really know the answer, but it seems like it’s probably a combination of things. A couple of new starters and a new guy making the line calls at center, maybe some new protection schemes, possibly just taking some time to gel...

The line, just like the running game, has not “started fast” the last few years. We lamented the lack of success running the ball, even in 2016. That year, explosive plays in the passing game masked deficiencies, though.

There might’ve been some overly-inflated expectations, too. That doesn’t excuse anything, but I don’t think this was going to be a world-beating unit.

The good news about the Utah game in particular was that the mistakes were mostly mental. It was about blowing assignments, not being physically overmatched. That’s correctable midseason, and we started to see it against ASU.

Someone not as cool as you

Can we be unimpressed, but just be like “meh, not bad?”

But really, it seems like the offense is on the cusp of being really good. We have seen flashes of it, we know what Gaskin can do, Jake finally had the performance fans (and I am sure coaches) have been demanding of him, and the receivers are showing what they can do. I feel like all that is really missing is for the offensive line to gel and stop making the mental errors that they have had. Do you think this is true, and if so when do you think it will happen?

Darin Johnson

Why is this called “unimpressed” edition? I’m not sure I came away from the ASU game impressed, per se, but I wouldn’t call myself unimpressed, either. The defense was excellent, rendering the best receiver in the Pac-12 a non-entity. The pass protection was much improved. In the first half, when the Dawgs were still throwing, Browning looked very good. What are we making sadface? I’d prefer not to have given up that last touchdown, but otherwise I’ll take this win.


I know expectations were through the roof this season, but I’m completely baffled by the negativity of the Husky fan base lately. We are 3-1 with two PAC 12 wins and rank #11 in the country. Are we overly dominate? No, but I think people need to have some perspective. It wasn’t all that long ago we were just hoping to get to a bowl game. Even DJ had the occasional 7-4 season. I’m enjoying this season. Why can’t the rest of my Husky friends?

UWDP: I think this is it, pretty much exactly. I think we saw a boringly effective Jake Browning when he has some time in the pocket, which is great, and the receivers are showing that they’re better than fans expected, most notably with Aaron Fuller and Ty Jones. Cade Otton was a weapon finding holes all over ASU’s secondary. And I fully expect Myles Gaskin is going do his thing the way he has his whole career.

I think the ASU game was a step this team had to make. I wasn’t unimpressed with it in the slightest. We can obviously hope for the style, but if anyone who wasn’t alive or wasn’t a Husky fan at the time wants to know what the Don James Era was like, then welcome. This is it.


How many times did ex-BYU and Chicago Bears QB Jim McMahon break the honor code while attending BYU ?

UWDP: Per day?


BYU has two of their QBs that have gone on to later win an NFL Championship. Which college programs have more than that? How many others have won two?

UWDP: I had to look most of this up, and I’m just sticking with Super Bowls (not all NFL Championships prior to that era).

Alabama is tied for the lead at three (Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, and Bart Starr).

Tied with.......Purdue. Never would’ve gotten that it a million years. Len Dawson, Bob Griese, and Drew Brees.

Notre Dame has two (Joe Theismann and Joe Montana), BYU has two (Steve Young and McMahon), Stanford has two (Jim Plunkett and John Elway)

Big surprise to me that, with all the good QBs it produced, the University of Miami has none.


UW’s D is stacked and most of their stats look great. Why are they so bad on 3rd down (91st in the nation)?

UWDP: I’m not going to freak out too much about being 91st right now due to it being a small sample size, but even with that, Washington’s 3rd down D has fallen well below what you’d expect to see given how well they’ve performed overall the last 3+ years.

I don’t have a good answer. I wish I did.

Darin Johnson

Hugh Millen said Savon Ahmed makes him ask the question -- just ask, now, he’s not saying how he’d answer -- Is Myles Gaskin the best running back on the Huskies? I know my answer. What’s yours?

UWDP: My answer is yes, Gaskin is the best. It’s one thing to show flashes of greatness on a few carries per game, and another to do it over 20 carries, game after game.

But I definitely take Millen’s point. The big takeaway for me is that at least in terms of front-line talent, the Husky running game is in better shape next year than I would’ve thought. Salvon Ahmed is showing that he can be an every down back, not just a slash, figure-out-a-way-to-get-him-the-ball guy.

Darin Johnson

A comment and a question, and I’ll take your comments off the air.

I’m already on record as being “not unimpressed” by the win over ASU, but I have to say I thought the Sun Devils’ defense was awful at times in terms of tackling and getting off blocks and general effort.

The expected-points calculator says you should pretty much always go for it on fourth and 1. Would you have gone for it on fourth and 1 from the 50 with 2:50 left in the third quarter and seven-point lead?

UWDP: First, you’re going to take my comments however I choose to give them to you.

Second, that one bugged me. Chris Petersen should’ve challenged it, and then he should’ve gone for it. He also should’ve gone for it in the third quarter, on the 4th and 2 at the ASU 12. I don’t think of that as a “field goal drive,” it’s a “throwing away four points” drive.


Why are the sleeves on the Huskies jerseys black? Does this make any sense?

Why are the numbers on the shoulder pads black and why don’t they match the white numbers of the front/back of the jerseys?

Okay, real question: Will Adidas make good, classic unsullied purple and gold uniforms next year? Are you optimistic about the switch away from Nike? I would be more sad about moving away from Nike if they didn’t pollute our otherwise fantastic uniforms will all the black nonsense.

UWDP: Adidas has created some of the worst abominations to college football over the last decade, but also some really sleek, simple classic designs the last two or three years.

I don’t know how old your are, but here’s my general advice I’d give to anyone:

Count on hating the jerseys. Plan for it. You most likely will. That way, you can only be pleased if and when the new design exceeds your expectations.


Who improved the most on the offensive line this week?

UWDP: It’s hard to know who was actually responsible for some of the free rushes we saw against Utah last week, so I’m going to go with “the interior of the offensive line - Nick Harris, Luke Wattenberg, and Jaxson Kirkland.”


Jake stepped up into the pocket a lot more this week. Do you think his struggles to do that are a flaw of his that the coaches have to always correct or is it more a product of seeing ghosts because of mediocre or inconsistent line play?

UWDP: It’s impossible to step forward when the rush comes right up the middle, so that wasn’t an option against Utah. But it’s always been a struggle of Browning’s. Once it wasn’t corrected for last season, the book was pretty much written on it - it wasn’t going to get fixed.

His running around is maddening, and always has been, but for as much as fans want to rip into him for it, he actually doesn’t take that many sacks, and never really has. Whatever.

Running from phantom pressure is no bueno, though. I’m not going to give him a pass for it “because he’s taken a beating over his career” or anything like that. He didn’t do it against ASU, so that’s great. He had great protection.

The other thing he did on Saturday was, when he did run wide, he did it by stepping in front of the outside rush from the opposing defensive end instead of spinning around it and going deep. That’s a huge improvement.


Seems like Jake Browning spent more time under center during the ASU game

Thoughts on why?

UWDP: I don’t know, but I’ve missed seeing it this year. I thought keeping him under center was a really big part of the success of the offense (particularly the running game and the play action passing game) the last two years. I don’t know if the shift back to the shotgun is a Bush Hamdan move, or if it’s Petersen, has to do with the changes of the offensive line, etc. But I really don’t “love” it. I really hope seeing him under center against the Sun Devils is a harbinger of things to come.

Nick Harris needs to get some velocity on his snaps if they stay in the gun. Those things are really sloooooow.

How many words can you make out of “unimpressed”?

press, pressed, seed, dress, resume, men, mind, dime, dump, sun, I’m, nip, sip perm, peed, speed, need, reed,

UWDP: priss, prim, imp, uni, drip, derp, rip, rep, rim, run, rum, remiss, miss, sim, dune, prime, primed, preen, prune, pruned, ruin, ruined, mine, mined, deer, pun, peer, piss, mire, mired, pine, pined, sipe, muni, reme, rime, messe, mese, messed, mesed, mess, rimed, esse, impress

I’m sure there are several more.

SoCal Dawg

Its definitely not this year, or maybe next, but when do you think UDub will have enough talent and depth to really compete with Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State?

UWDP: Do you mean compete with them, or actually win? Because they can compete with those teams right now. They belong on the same field, they aren’t likely going to get blown out. But they don’t have a high likelihood of getting the win.

So I don’t know what fans actually mean with questions like this. “Have a 50% chance or higher of winning?” That’s probably not ever going to happen.

Jon May

Who the hell found Gabey and what is the backstory? She is incredibly fun and a great story she knows her some football!

UWDP: I honestly don’t know. It happened while Chris Landon was running the show. He could probably give a better answer. Or better yet, Gabey her own bad self.

It’s awesome having her around. Everything you say is true. Great writer, hilarious, huge fan, and knows what she’s talking about. She keeps trying to quit, but luckily she signed a long-term contract and the lawsuits aren’t settled, so she’s stuck for now.

Is it an advantage?

Does BYU, Utah and Utah State get advantage with having older players as nearly half or a quarter of their team. Most of their kiddos go on mission trips. I am sure that their athletes workout during that time. It’s like getting an extended grey shirt. What are your thoughts?

UWDP: It’s not like the Mormon church sends the football players to do missionary work at Gold’s Gym as far as I know. They get sent all over the world, and it’s likely not going to be a place with weights or people that know anything about football. Guys lose weight all the time because the nutrition isn’t the same as it is at a university training table.

Yes, they’re older. It might work out sometimes. But I really don’t think it’s some sort of massive advantage. Taking two years off from football isn’t a good thing.

All for this week.