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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Oregon at Washington

OregonDawg: Whittingham makes more out of less talent than any coach in the Pac-12. What does he do that the Peterson should follow. Is he considered for the USC job should they make a change?

UWDP: I think Utah consistently overperforms as a defensive football team, and can usually run the ball well, but struggles to be the sort of dynamic team that can move from being a 4+ loss-per-season team (during the time Chris Petersen has been at Washington) to something beyond that. I think he’s the epitome of maximizing wins through stability and consistency (even though he can’t keep an offensive coordinator for more than a season).

I like Kyle Whittingham, and I think he’s a good coach. I think that fundamentally, he and Chris Petersen are very similar people, and that that character is the biggest “value-add” that either brings to a football program. There are certainly going to be small things that Whittingham does better than Petersen does (like this crazy-good job Whittingham does of finding these really big, really talented, and exceptionally fast running backs that he keeps finding out of nowhere), but generally, Petersen is better in the big-picture things that make them both successful coaches. Recruiting, staff retention, winning, program-building....

Highdesertdawg: Odds of Eason (please, please, please) returning next season? Explain your answer.

Dawgoner: Does Eason stay or go? IF he goes, are we looking at another rebuilding year in 2020?

UWDP: They’re low, and getting lower with each passing week. There was sort of an “unknown quantity” aura around Jacob Eason that existed at the beginning of this season, given his history at Georgia and then transferring here. I think the expectation in terms of the NFL tilts a bit toward “bust” when a guy transfers due to being beaten out by a younger player. Graduate transfers avoid that stigma to the same degree, I think, given the success of Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Gardener Minshew of late.

Fact of the matter, though, is that the guy can flat play the QB position, and he’s proving it more and more each week, and shredding a good defense against Oregon like he did probably fully opened any remaining eyes to how good he is at throwing the ball. He has weaknesses, certainly, but they’re the type that without a year-long coronation that some QBs get, will keep him from getting drafted #1 overall, not from going in the first round. Which he will at this point, no doubt about it.

That being said, the difference in the value of the first contract between the #15 pick and the #5 pick is like $12 million over the life of the contract, so coming back to improve his stock isn’t insignificant in terms of money and statistically, most QBs drafted don’t get that huge second contract.

But odds are better he’s gone than that he comes back.

If he leaves, things are really unsettled heading in to 2020. Jacob Sirmon is the backup right now obviously, and he probably takes the first snap with the first-team offense in the spring, but if I was betting money, I don’t know if he’s the guy I’d put mine on to take the first snap next September.

dawginparadise: I see that the Utes have cracked the top 10 this week. Question for your crack research team...what is the Dawgs all-time record versus top 10 conference road teams when the Dawgs are unranked? I would assume it is underwhelming.

Follow-up question: what is the Dawg’s all-time record coming off a bye-week?

UWDP: There’s probably an easy way to get this information, but I unfortunately don’t know what it is. Anyone that can answer the question in the comments below, please do so, and let us know where you found out.

Beating around the Bush: The offense has flipped a switch since the second half of the Arizona game... Has there been a difference in play-calling or personnel that accounts for this do you think, or is it simple execution??

Montlakejake84: Did our offense finally turn the corner vs Oregon? 31 points vs that defense was pretty encouraging even if the defense couldn’t get one last stop when they needed to.

UWDP: I don’t think there’s some huge schematic shift, because there were some different things that the team did well against Arizona versus against Oregon. In think in both, we saw probably the best six quarters we’ve seen from the offensive line all season. Jack Westover has been a great addition as the second blocking tight end. The game plan, to attack the edges of Oregon’s defense in the run game, last week was excellent. I think Jacob Eason played with more confidence than he did certainly against Stanford.

I think an inconsistent offense has put together some good plays. I hope it’s a sign of improvement, and not just the “up” part of their inconsistency. Looking at some other trends during Petersen’s time at Washington, though - it seems the offensive line in particular really picks up the running game later in the season than you’d expect it to happen. The second half of the Arizona game and then the way they played against Oregon - if that’s the new normal, we could see a really dominant-looking offense to close the season.

Mountain Man: Glass is half full (UW is conceivably 2 plays away from being 7 - 1, with just a pair of 4th quarter meltdowns in very winnable games costing them the inside track to the pac12 north title and a top 10 ranking.) Or, the glass is half empty (this team chokes in the 4th quarter, doesn’t have the playmakers at crunch time, and is being exposed for being truly mediocre.) In your opinion, which is closer to accurate?

UWDP: They’re both equally true, and I think that’s the case when you have an inconsistent team. Washington has basically been a 9-3 team in the whole Chris Petersen era (about what they were under Don James), and those teams rarely find a “chalk” way to arrive at that record. Usually there’s an upset win, or loss, or two of each, or both, or whatever, in getting there. Because they’re inconsistent.

I won’t say I “expected” to lose any given game this season (or last), but my “expectations” have been in that 9-3, 10-2, heaven forbid 8-4 range. So, that means a certain number of losses.

For those that want to complain about my “standards” or whatever, that’s fine. I don’t actually care. This isn’t a coach or program that was set to take the express elevator to the top via money or recruiting. Doesn’t mean that I don’t think they’re heading that direction ultimately, just that I think the realistic, permanent path is longer than some, I guess.

RockDawg: Brad, How about giving us your grades of the coaching staff based on what we’ve seen to date this season

UWDP: As I alluded to above, this season is sort of at the lower end of average right now. Fact is, it’s almost impossible to separate the players from the coaches. Otherwise, you’d have to say that Jimmy Lake is a worse coach than he was last season, or is at least doing a worse job. I find the former to be fairly preposterous, and the latter, well, outside of the results of the players, I’m not sure how I can pretend to actually know anything about anything other than the 8 data points I’ve seen on Saturdays.

I’m not happy with very much that’s happened this season, but I’ve seen the who, what, when, where, why, and how of being at this point, and I’m mostly okay with the trajectory of things moving forward. Everybody gets a “C” at this point.

UWRosebowl: Will we win or lose? What will the final spread be?

UWDP: Win by four.

Mountain Man: It feels like we’ve been in a downward trend each year since 2016. The defensive and offensive stats would appear to back this up. Understanding 2016 was an outlier, I’m still troubled by the declines year over year in 17, 18, and now 19. Is this a truly troubling trend or is the data set too small to get too uptight yet? Follow up...feels like next year had better be a trend reversal or the natives are going to get (even more) restless.

UWDP: The data set is small, and the range for each season is large. I think we’ve mostly seen the same season repeating itself each of the last three years. Four, really. The team is at a plateau. A conference championship-level plateau. The same one that fans said was all they really wanted when Petersen was hired - to reach Don James’ level of success.

It’s fine to want to take the “next step,” whatever that means. It’s interesting to look at how few teams have ever really done it, and what the process actually has been when it’s happened.

Talking to a single native can be interesting. Get too many of them together, and too often, it just turns into poo-flinging.

Gu1966: At this stage of the season and after a bye, might we see less of Manu and Wellington and more reps for the young inside linebackers? Utah is a tough running team with Moss but is the differential between the starters so great that going younger with an eye toward the future that much of a liability?

Otis: 2 questions: Is there any chance we start seeing inside linebackers, who are red shirting, get on the field? How could they be worse than Manu? If Calvert doesn’t get injured, are we undefeated right now? Ok, that’s 3 questions

UWDP: Utah’s offense is similar to Oregon’s in that it’s built by setting the tone with its offensive line, and its running game. Tyler Huntley has been surprisingly efficient this season, but he wasn’t enough to overcome a substandard rushing effort versus USC. I’d expect to see the Huskies use a front similar to the one we saw against the Ducks - three defensive tackles, two outside linebackers, and a lone inside linebacker. If you read Max’s awesome article about snap counts for the season, you’d see that that look took Kyler Manu’s snaps to a season-low 21, less than half of his average. I think it’s a look that puts an even higher premium on the play of the lone inside ‘backer. No matter what anyone thinks about Brandon Wellington’s play thus far, I don’t think anyone could realistically argue that Jackson Sirmon or M.J. Tafisi took advantage of the opportunities they were given to seize a starting role, or even more reps than they were getting.

This is a team with a senior class that’s playing to win 10 games for a fourth straight year. You absolutely play the guys that give the team the best chance to win, full stop. Maybe true freshmen could be better than Manu, but he’s not even close to “as bad as it gets” at all. I think Josh Calvert has a lot of potential, but I think he’d be worth exactly zero wins right now. That says nothing about him. But c’mon....

Mountain Man: Do you guys take article requests? If so, how about a “Therapy Thread “? It feels like negativity has engulfed the season (myself included). Does anyone have it in them at this point to craft an article that maybe lays out a thoughtful global perspective (hopefully positive) to try to help us through an exceedingly frustrating season thus far?

UWDP: It seems to me that there’s at least one “therapy thread” per week, at least in the comments.

It seems to me that what you’re talking about has been said a number of times. There’s some debate, everyone agrees we’re all on the same side ultimately, then the next game comes along, We then either feel better or worse based on the results, and tell each other how we feel in the weekly therapy thread (in the “Instant Reactions,” a “Dots,” both, something else, all three, etc.) and then move on the the next win or loss.

Right now, the first bit of cool fall weather has been mitigated by the fires of “We need to...” season. It’s an annual tradition among football fans, beginning sometime between mid-September and early November, and punctuated by a lot of fist-pounding-on-the-conference-table arguments and non-specific, incongruous statements starting with “We need to.” Run the ball more, run the ball less, blitz more, blitz less, simplify the playbook, get more creative, fire Coach A, hire someone like Coach B, bench Player X, start Player Y, recruit guys like Prospect C, stop recruiting guys like Prospect Z, and the list of obvious cures and solutions that the idiot coaching staff can’t seem to see just goes on and on.

The negative tone is set for the season, just so you know. For a large contingent of people, positive results (even in every remaining game) at this point will only be a negative, used to accentuate what was lost when the team didn’t beat Cal, Stanford, and/or Oregon.

Yes, it’s been a frustrating season. And it can stop there if you so choose. I see a lot of really impressive building blocks that have played some good football at times this season. If some leaders emerge among them, with the talent on the roster, they’re the backbone of a good run in the next few seasons.

Conspiracy Nut: After watching the WSU game, what is the probability that the officials are at least subconsciously favoring oregon? We know they are just plain bad, but sometimes it seems like something nefarious is going on.

UWDP: It’s not zero, but it’s pretty close to zero.

I wonder how easy it would be for the officials to decide before a game that they were going to actively favor one team with their calls, and not make it completely obvious.

Mountain Man: Can you maybe take a minute to explain what the mods consider “trolling” and what it takes to get banned. I won’t name names, but it seems there are a few *uck visitors and supposed Husky “fans” who only show up when something bad happens for UW to make repeated jabs and/or are clearly just pot stirring. Can you share a glimpse into the banning process? Is there discussion? Do folks get warnings? Is there a double secret probation list?

UWDP: I don’t think there’s a well-defined process for banning someone. At least, not that I know of. I think there’s been a little bit of discussion about banning someone at times, but it’s very infrequent, and I don’t think the moderators are actually some sort of cohesive team with lots of communication the way that some people seem to think.

My own personal philosophy is to err on the side of not banning people or deleting posts to the extent possible. My impression is that’s the general take of most people that moderate on this site. I don’t know who actively moderates, to tell you the truth. But you aren’t going to see people get banned for opinions very often, if at all. You also need to keep in mind that you thinking things are “jabs” or “clearly pot stirring” are your opinions of those interactions, and some aren’t going to agree with you on that characterization. The goal is not to squash dissent, and it never has been. There isn’t quite the hierarchy of posters that many would like to see, which means that Husky fans and visiting fans largely have the same rules.

Benno: The husky defense has been great since CP arrived. However, it seems like teams are understanding how to attack the group, and are better at grinding out wins. Is it time for the coaching staff to change things up and attack offenses more? Or is this years defense suffering from youth and the fact that there isn’t a game changing player stepping up as in past years?

UWDP: I think it’s possible that opposing teams have identified a fundamental flaw with Washington’s scheme, but when you look at the players that have been here the last few years (Guys like Elijah Qualls, Vita Vea, Greg Gaines, Sidney Jones, Keving King, Budda Baker, Taylor Rapp, Ben Burr-Kirven, Keshawn Bierria, etc.) and who’s filling those roles this year, it seems like we have too many variables that have changed to think we can make much of an assessment either way. My feeling is the pieces are going to be there pretty quick, and we can, at the very least, eliminate some of the variables.

Mt Dawg: I think Hamden is a terrible play caller He has been calling plays thinking that Browning is behind center all season Way to conservative !! Our RED zone results reflect his play calling..run run run ...field goal Eason can make the end zone throws so let him Hamden talks about being “aggressive “

But his play calling is just the opposite Hamden has hand cuffed our offense all season long Our 3rd down conversion rate of 35% is keeping our defense on the field Is Peterson so loyal to Hamden that he is blind to what’s going on with offense Hamden is a new at OC and it shows with his predictable play calling Time to make a change....now!!

UWDP: A good example of “We need to...” season right here. I thought the more common refrain with play calling was that we need to “just pound the ball,” not throw more?

No offense to Mt. Dawg, but this is the more emotional side of the season. The pseudo-logical side is just as common. and probably more persuasive to those not fully convinced one way or another in any given argument.

DawhsFan12: Given we lost a lot of our Defense to the draft last year, isn’t it kind of silly to be upset with a 3 or 4 loss season?

UWDP: No, I don’t think it’s silly, or wrong, or whatever, to be upset about losing games. It sucks. I think the direction one takes with that unpleasant emotion is more important, and up for criticism or praise.

GoDawgs!: On a scale of 1( not at all) to 10 (very much so) how ridiculous is it to call for firing Coach Petersen?

UWDP: I personally think it’s about a 37. Thankfully, there are very few people actually doing it. But I think it’s going to be harder to turn the tide of discord than some people might. I’d put it like this: If the Huskies were 10-2 and North Champs, there’s a likelihood that Chris Petersen’s approval rating would actually be lower than it is right now.

ColoradoDawg: Is there a reason for the lack of creativity on offense??? If I, sitting on the couch, know what play is coming on 4th and 1 at the end of the game, then shouldn’t the Oregon defense? Is it time for Bush to be replaced?

UWDP: Tell me - what play did the Huskies run on 4th down at the end of the game, ColoradoDawg?

2014 coaching class. Is Peteresn valedictorian?: Looking back at the 2014 coaching class. I mostly included power 5 schools and mountain west as usually Pac 12 schools pull from them.

Charlie Strong to Texas (fired)

Steve Sarkisian to USC (fired)

James Franklin to Penn State (Record 52–21) * 9–4/ current 8-0

Bobby Petrino Louisville (fired)

Bryan Harsin to Boise State (Record: 58–16) * last season 10–3 / current 6-1

Dave Clawson to Wake Forest (Record 34–36) * Last season 7–6/ current 6-1

Bob Diaco to UConn (Fired)

Craig Bohl Wyoming (Record 34–37) * Last season 6–6/current 6-2

Derek Mason to Vanderbilt (Likely fired Record 26–43)

Dino Babers to Bowling Green but moved on to Syracuse

Jeff Monken to Army (Record 38–33) * last season 11–2

and Chris Petersen to Washington (record 52–24) Last season 10-3/5-3

Now records don’t necessary tell you who’s doing the best job but I would think that Franklin at Penn State has to be at the top of the class but he had the best situation compared to all of these coaches. (Penn State was on sanctions but they got it mostly reduced and most of their scholarship back unlike USC.) Anyways I would like to know your thoughts compare to Petersen coaching class

UWDP: That’s really interesting information, thanks for putting it together.

Really, it’s Petersen, Franklin, or maybe Bryan Harsin. In all honesty, there’s zero chance I’m taking the Boise State coach that’s doing worse than the guy that really got the machine rolling.

You can make a strong case for Franklin over Petersen, but I’m not the guy that’s going to do it.

Starrman: We seem to own primarily passing teams even if they have a mobile quarterback. We can’t stop the run. What are our chances of stopping Utah, and how do you think our offense will fair on Saturday?

UWDP: No doubt that the Huskies have struggled to stop the run this year. I think they showed that their heavy front has potential to make hay, and Utah’s passing attack is less dynamic than Oregon’s. We could see less nickel than we’ve seen thus far from the defense (for the last several years, really).

I think the offensive line is the unit that made the biggest strides recently. If that holds true, Washington still won’t score a ton, but could get enough (like 21 points) to “outscore” the Utes in a defensive battle.

AUS*Dawg: Coach Pete said there were 5 plays in the Oregon game that if executed better could have led to victory. Which 5 plays?

UWDP: Here’s five:

On Oregon’s 2nd-to-last TD drive, the ducks went for it on 4th and 1 from their own 34 with two minutes left in the 3rd. The Huskies should’ve had it stopped for no gain but missed the tackle.

Same drive, 4th and 3 from the Washington 36, Trent McDuffie completely loses his man when the receiver starts to go in motion, then turns back to his original spot (McDuffie continued sprinting across the field).

Oregon’s last TD drive, 1st play: Josiah Bronson has a great rush on Justin Herbert and has him dead to rights for a big sack. Bronson jumps on a pump fake, and Herbert slides past and completes a pass for 20 yards. Instead of 2nd and 18 from their own 22, Oregon is 1st and 10 from midfield.

Washington’s field goal drive in the 3rd quarter: on 2nd and 12, there’s a mixup between Jacob Eason and Hunter Bryant. Instead of converting that long 2nd down, or setting up 3rd and short, Washington can’t convert on 3rd and 12 and have to kick.

Washington’s last offensive drive, Nick Harris simply loses track of his man and gives up a big sack on 2nd down. It was a “no excuse” play. Harris just messed up. Eason and the offense were actually moving the ball well at that point.

ProsserDawg: In your opinion what player has been the most underutilized in the red zone on offense so far this year?

UWDP: I’m certainly one that would’ve guessed that Hunter Bryant was going to be a huge weapon in the red zone this season. He’s been closer to non-existent there.

The team doesn’t have a go-to......anything down there. Play, player, anything. It’s tough.

All for this week.