Mike Pitzler: Where do you get the game video? I watched the replay on Fox through Infinity, but it was hard for me to try to replay individual plays, or slow it down.
UWDP: Sometimes John Sayler records it, but usually from youtube; there’s a channel called “Husky Archive” that usually has the game video up, with commercials and halftime edited out. Sometimes it lasts, sometimes it gets taken down. Husky Archive has tons of games up, if you just want to watch some during the offseason.
Mossyrock Fan: Who are the young players on the offensive line who will show up next year and contribute to UW’s run to the Pac 12 title? Also, who are going to be next year’s star inside linebackers?
UWDP: These are probably the two million-dollar questions heading in to 2020. Matteo Mele has played a fair number of snaps at center when Nick Harris has been injured. He’s been “okay,” meaning he’ll probably get the first snap come spring practice, but I wouldn’t say the job is sewn up for the opening game. Tackle - both tackle spots - are even more difficult. It’s possilbe that both of the starting guards move outside to tackle next year, with Luke Wattenberg at left tackle (he played there quite a bit in 2017 after Trey Adams got hurt) and Jaxson Kirkland at right. Then it’s a matter of finding two guards from the collection of large men on the roster. Henry Bainvalu could start at one of the tackle spots, he’s been in the depth chart at both at various times. Victor Curne is currently the backup at right tackle on the depth chart, but he seems to more have a guard’s build at only 6’ 3”. And I wouldn’t put a ton of stock into the depth chart as a predictor....
Jackson Sirmon and MJ Tafisi have played the most snaps as backup linebackers, so they probably get the first snap at the first spring practice. Again, neither has exactly excelled, so Ariel Ngata will likely get a continued look there, Eddie Ulofoshio will contend, and then there will be a handful of talented, entirely inexperienced redshirt freshmen (Danny Heimuli, Miki Ah You, Josh Calvert if he’s healthy, Alphonzo Tuputala) that are all going to get long looks and lots of opportunities to demand playing time.
Luvhippo: As a fan, what are some positions to watch closer and what am I looking for? When a play goes south, I would like to try and understand what happened. Then I can coach knowledgeably from the couch.
UWDP: As great as coaching from the couch is, seasons like this one clearly show that being able to coach from the internet is far more valuable.
As fans, we tend to watch the ball. Partly because that’s where the action is, and also because that’s what TV shows us. But it’s not very instructive.
Look at the formations pre-snap. How many receivers are there? Are the DBs lined up close enough to shake hands (indicating bump-and-run coverage)? Is the defense showing blitz? How many deep safeties are there? Is there a running back? Two running backs? Shotgun or under center?
After the snap, follow the line of scrimmage for a second. This is where you can usually (but not always) see if the play is a run or a pass (based on what the offense line does), the type of running play (zone vs power) and the point of attack (left or right, inside or outside, etc). You’ll see guys getting beat in passing blocking in that first second that might indicate a sack, and lots of the penalties that are called throughout the game. You’ll see lineman that are setting up screens, by brush blocking a defender and then heading down field. There will be confounding factors like play action, but you’ll start to be able to see keys that tip this off, like linemen that are showing run blocking, but are clearly making zero effort to take their blocks beyond the line of scrimmage. When you get the chance to see a play from overhead or from behind (an “all-22” angle), you can watch how pass routes develop, like crossing receivers, and how routes are meant to compliment each other, and how the “shell” of zone coverages develop (meaning, guys dropping to the deep third of the field in a Cover 3, or two deep safeties each covering half the field in a Cover 2, or a single deep safety patrolling to help out the man coverage underneath him) as the routes progress.
It takes practice, and it’s all a lot easier to do in person, when the camera doesn’t shift from one shot to the next during the play to follow the ball.
Gu1966: Bush Hamdan appears to be an above average recruiter, an average game planner and play caller and below average at making adjustments, in other words he’s “just okay.” It seems unlikely but not impossible that he will rise to the elite level. His contract runs through Jan. 2021, so at the end of this season does CP 1) Let him go and find a new OC. 2) Give him a raise and extend his contract as a sign of confidence or 3) No raise or extension, sending a clear message that he must improve.
Starrman: My read on the problems our offense had at Oregon was the coaches not making correct adjustments when they needed to. What in your opinion does do the coaches need to do to get the offense to be more consistent?
UWDP: It’s funny, because when Hamdan was coaching the Falcons and in his first year back he was a “great recruiter” given the credit for signing Terrell Bynum and doing the heavy lifting for Austin Osborne and Marquis Spiker, and of course he was a “huge upgrade” over Jonathon Smith as a play caller.
As the QB coach here, he’s brought in Jacob Sirmon, Colson Yankoff, Dylan Morris, Chase Garbers, and Sam Huard. That’s pretty far above average, if you ask me. And of course, that’s if you credit guys to specific coaches, as some here do. Up to you, I honestly don’t follow any of it that closely.
I don’t know how to assess play calling, separate from execution. Far smarter football minds than me say it’s impossible, and I find it’s disingenuous for me to suggest I “know.” I put very little stock into “adjustments” as well; to me, it’s simply the current buzzword to describe “playing well.” Momentum is a fickle thing, and gaining it or losing it at half time or during the course of a game seems like a far more likely explanation than “adjustments” that not one person that touts them can ever even remotely quantify.
I don’t have strong feelings about Bush Hamdan one way or the other. I don’t find him to be significantly different than Jonathon Smith, and I think the next guy, if he leaves or is fired, is going to look just like him (and Smith, and Bryan Harsin, and every OC Petersen has ever employed) - young, intelligent, coachable, malleable. Without an offense of his own.
Play calling doesn’t correct dropped passes or missed blocks or overthrows. To me, those are obvious and easy things to improve the offense. Focusing on one bad wildkitten call or an empty set on 4th and short is missing the forest for the trees. The running game is solid right now. Simply doing the easy things, mostly in the passing game, adds a win. Adding a bona-fide playmaker, or two (like the 2016 team), and this is a different team, perception wise. It doesn’t take a seismic shift to move from “inconsistent,” “struggling,” etc. to fairly dynamic. The offense is actually significantly better than most fans seem to believe. So is the whole team, really.
iadawg: Seems like the Dawgs are losing too much on offense (3OL, 2WR, TE?, QB?) and a lot on defense (2DL, 2LB, 1DB, LO?) for there to be so much optimism for next year. I understand there is a lot of new talent on the roster but doesn’t this year’s struggle on defense show us what too many newcomers can do to output? What am I missing?
UWDP: The Huskies didn’t just lose starters after the 2018 season on defense, they lost high-level football players. All conference guys. Greg Gaines, Ben Burr-Kirven, Taylor Rapp, Byron Murphy....Hell, All-American guys. Not to knock the current seniors, but they aren’t that type of player.
Jacob Eason is a hinge point, if he leaves the calculus totally changes. Trey Adams is a bona fide loss. Hunter Bryant as well. I think the rest of the guys on offense, though, they’re imminently replaceable. On defense, I’ll take sophomore Sam Taimani and Tuli Letuligasenoa, plus redshirt freshmen Jacob Bandes and Faatui Tuitele over senior Benning Potoa’e and Josiah Bronson. Maybe that’s foolish, but I’m doing it 10 times out of 9.
It’s getting to be time for young talent to step up and take over this team. I’m optimistic it happens in 2020.
ATotalWimp: We’ve seen Jacob Eason’s ceiling as a bigger arm-ed Jake Browning and his floor as a more immobile Jake Locker, sometimes whip-lashing between the two in the same game. Is it fair to say that Eason’s biggest challenge is finding some kind of consistency in his performances?
UWDP: I believe that it was CoachB that most succinctly summed up Jacob Eason - he’s a talent amplifier. I think that outside of a throw here and there (like the pick six against Utah), he’s actually been remarkably consistent this season. Until Oregon State....
I’m projecting - massively - here, but I think he’s gotten to the point that the lack of team success got to him. He was pressing against Oregon State - trying too hard to be too precise; he had that body language of a guy that was trying to will throws to slightly different spots after the ball left his hand. He was opening up his shoulders in kind of a dart-thrower way, which frequently causes those high and behind throws we saw. It wasn’t lack of effort or concentration, but a guy that was fighting muscle memory of how to throw an accurate football instead of using it to his advantage like he has all season. I think he’s done things the right way, but it has led to four losses, all of each which had long stretches of failure that weren’t necessarily in his control.
Frankly, he’s a guy that needs better weapons to have that consistency. He can’t do it himself.
dawgincostarica: What are the defensive stats for the first 9 games (total defense) ?
How badly do we need to stomp Colorado and Wazzu to again be the best in the PAC - 12 ?
UWDP: The team was sort of upper-middle of the conference prior to the Oregon State game, and is now mostly 3rd behind Utah and Oregon. By the counting stats. The team took a huge jump in defensive FEI with the Oregon State game, from around 40 up to 26th. Not great, but respectable for a “down” year.
No chance of catching the conference leaders.
Oregon Dawg: Should the Pac 12 pull the SEC card by reducing our conference games by one. Simple put, parity is killing us. Imagine if every pac 12 team added another win (and subtracted a loss) to their schedule. We would start the year with more teams being ranked. Yes there would be more blowout game, so the conference would have to focus energy on a few key match ups each week. But, I’m tired of making the good fight and saying we play a harder schedule. Nobody cares. Recruits don’t care, polls don’t care, TV rating don’t reward it, and we ultimately lose money in the bowl system by not having a final 4 team most years. The SEC has shown they make more money doing it the easy way. Flip side: the main loser would be the season ticket fans and overall stadium revenue. But if the conference were more relevant and we had 2 teams in the top 10 each year (and one in the top 4) then our conference would make up for those loses with improved merchandise sales and bowl revenues. Am I wrong?
UWDP: Money comes from TV and ticket sales/donations, not bowl appearances. I certainly understand what you’re saying, but the SEC has money because its TV contract positively dwarfs that of the Pac 12. If your argument is that conference perception is why the SEC has the TV money they do (and the cascading effects of all of that), then you could be correct. I think sheer population base, and the fanaticism of that base, is the difference. Fact is, fans on the west coast don’t case as much about football as those in SEC/ACC country do.
There are precious few football opportunities per year. I’m not in favor of giving one of them up for, say, Sacramento State at 11:00 AM on a September Saturday for an incrementally higher chance the conference puts a team in the playoffs. The “fix” is far more complicated than the schedule, so far as I see.
Denver Dawg: What do we need to see from the defense these last two games to give us fans the confidence that they will return to the level of dominance they displayed in 2016-18? The level of competition won’t be great, so will there be questions regardless of performance?
UWDP: The team performing like they did Friday against the Beavers would be nice. It’s not realistic though, that was a performance that doesn’t appear to get the appreciation from a segment of the fan base that it actually deserves. It was dominant.
Personally, no matter what happens, I’m optimistic based on the underclassmen in huge roles that are playing high-level football right now (and not just in the Oregon State game). Cam Williams, Asa Turner, Trent McDuffie, Tuitele, Taimani, Laitu Latu,...it’s a long list of guys that are getting the taste of playing well, together. Add in some key vets, and really, this is a group that’s more likely to put some young inside linebackers in position to succeed than it is a group that’s going to be held back by young inside linebackers.
Kshama Sawant: Take the coaches’ salaries and distribute them to the people!
UWDP: I say take the people and distribute them to the coaches’ salaries.
Rodera Dawg: Who’s been calling for Lake’s head? That’s the last thing we should do. We’ve sent so many defensive players to the pros and still keep restocking them. I don’t see this as a down year because many of the kids are new and the defense seems to be improving with each game. Anyway, who do they think we can replace Lake with?
UWDP: That was obviously a joke. No one has actually been calling for Lake’s head. But there has definitely been a growing, vocal portion of the fan base that has been pulling the bloom off the rose with regards to Lake, as in he’s obviously not as good a coach as they thought. Same with Chris Petersen, Bush Hamdan, pretty much every coach this year....
BigW: Assuming (wishing) the only players that depart after this season, are graduating seniors. What could our team look like next year???
UWDP: Really, really good. Sky’s the limit good.
TopGundawg79: Why, in gods green earth would any Husky fan, doubt Jimmy Lake? I mean, seriously? The great artists can only work the tools and the medium they have at the time. Football is a team sport. What do you do, as a artist, when the tools to create and execute your vision are not available?
UWDP: Fans gonna fan, it’s what we do.
Dawgoner: Looking forward, if Coach Pete doesn’t fix the offense, who goes, Sam Huard or Coach Pete?
UWDP: Neither one is close to going anywhere.
jega: “When will both Washington Co-DCs, Coaches Kwiatowkski & Lake, respectively, overtake Oregon DC Andy Avalos, as the PAC 12 Conference’s # 1 Overall Defense?”
UWDP: Congrats on keeping up this schtick far longer than anyone else reasonably would. I genuinely can’t believe it’s still keeping you entertained.
Bullsfan12: What % do you give UW to win out?
UWDP: This is one of those exercises that surprises lots of fans - even if the Huskies have an 80% chance to win each of the next three (including a bowl against an unknown opponent), that’s only a 51.2% chance to win out (.8 X .8 x .8). That’s what I’ll go with.
Darin Johnson: I’ve been mulling in my head: how much of the defense recently is Pete Kwiatkowski, Jimmy Lake, Christ Petersen, and “other.” If you can get within ten percentage points for each of those four, I will buy you an ice cream bar.
UWDP: First, that’s a bit overboard with the Petersen worship.
Second, by “recently” do you mean good the last few years, or bad like the downturn this year? I’ll assume the former.
35% Kwiatkowski, as the architect of the defense. 20% Petersen, as the figure head of the program, in terms of recruiting appeal. 25% other, such as luck, the strength and conditioning program, other coaches. 20% Lake, who is a great recruiter and the ego and swagger of the defense.
Darin Johnson: Did you see Brock Huard’s tweet about how Jacob Eason reminds Brock of himself in his last year at UW? Pressing, no fun, etc. I thought that was spot on. Didn’t you?
UWDP: Did this actually happen? I didn’t see it if it did. Yes, it’s just about exactly right. It’s the same grind that caught up with Jake Browning and Keith Price (in 2012) as well. I’d wager it’s actually more common than not, with QBs of teams in this win/loss range.
Darin Johnson: Hugh Millen said there are no receivers currently playing at UW who would be drafted in the first three rounds. “Even Hunter Bryant?” “Yes.” He points to a serious lack of technique. (It’s not clear how the young guys fit into this.) As usual, Millen is very convincing -- although he has taken hold of this issue and isn’t letting go, so it’s hard to say how, say, the play of the OL factors into things. What do you think? If one is “he’s got a burr under his saddle” and ten is “he’s nailed it,” where does Millen’s Lament about the receivers fall in terms of explaining the passing game problems?
UWDP: Two separate questions in there. I think he’s 100% correct about the receivers, including Hunter Bryant (who is a good playmaker, but not really a great receiver, especially at his measurables). But that doesn’t explain all of the issues involved with the passing game. Hugh Millen WILL NOT criticize Eason, and not that Eason is a “problem,” but he’s also not perfect. And the line...
I think the receivers are by far the biggest issue with the passing game, and by extension, given what the staff wants to see from the offense as the overarching principle (“balance”), the entire offense as a whole. Whatever is second, is a very distant second.
Rocket Scientist: What happened to advanced stats? Not so much the rage anymore, eh? Remember when Sark was coach and some folks liked to talk a lot about the Huskies advanced stats?
And how are the Huskies advanced stats looking these days?
UWDP: I have no idea where you’re getting this impression. I still quote them fairly extensively, I don’t really know about others.
The advanced stats (Sagarin, FEI, FPI, SRS, S&P) pretty much all say the Huskies are a top 20 team. In many instances, the best team with more than two losses out there.
I question whether or not you’re actually a rocket scientist. Actually, there’s not much question.
Ocean Man: What bowl do you predict the Huskies will play in this season?
UWDP: One that I’ll watch, but will struggle to remember the name of within 12 months’ time. Probably something soutwestern-y.
Rhaego: I come before you humbly..... I humbly come before you... I don’t know which I should use. What’s your philosophical take on players coming in and making an immediate impact, and fans wondering why the player wasn’t played before? Sure, we haven’t been at practice, maybe the Nacuas and the Ofaloshioo’s of the roster didn’t prove themselves worthy until the practice before the game, we won’t know. But we see the receivers and linebackers struggle mightily through so many of games in this season of extreme toiling. And the second we see snaps or starts handed off to someone else, it seems like they were already superior than the toilers. Do you see reason to both have faith in the coaching staff but also doubt their ability to assess talent?
UWDP: I think the baseline fan assumption, that “Player X was ready to contribute JUST LIKE THIS all season long and the coaches have held him back” seems less likely than the idea that a player, especially a young one, has improved over the course of a season, the “game has slowed down,” he’s taken advantage of opportunities, cliche, cliche, cliche...I think the notion that there’s incompetence or nefarious intent in personnel decisions is largely a laughable assumption for fans to make.
Have you ever played team sports, Ragu? Have you ever seen a guy that suddenly just “gets it” and becomes a force? With true and redshirt freshmen, that’s a far more likely explanation. It happens regularly. There are examples on the current team.
The whole idea that this is happening “the second these guys get snaps” says that you aren’t paying attention to the snaps that have proceeded the successful ones. That goes for Puka Nacua, Ulofoshio, etc.
Assessing talent is pretty integral to the job of the coaches. Each might have a relative strength or weakness among the members of the staff, but as a whole, it’s too big a part of their job to think they can’t be good at it. Considering how little information is available to fans, it’s pretty arrogant to think we’re better at it.
Rhagu: What is the one thing you want to see most against Colorado to instill confidence for apple cup + bowl + next season?
UWDP: The young guys on the defense continuing to play fast and assignment-sound. No question.
Rhaego: Will a coach get fired or move on at the end of this season?
UWDP: I’d wager no. Given your extensive knowledge of assistant coach evaluation techniques, how much will this lessen your confidence heading in to 2020, and lower your enjoyment of the offseason?
Raygeaux: Is there an assistant coach floating around out there on your radar that you think could make an impact difference for next season?
UWDP: Almost like there’s a theme here....
Ben Nice: When Junior Adams was hired, he was touted for his player development, with Cooper Kupp among his former players to speak highly of him as a positional coach. With such a high baseline of talent to work with, what are the main reasons that the WR position continues to be inconsistent in its performance and seemingly not improve throughout the course of the season?
UWDP: A high baseline of talent? Do we actually know this to be true? I don’t know either way. I think there are some highly-rated recruits, and we started to see the emergence of Puka Nacua prior to his getting hurt. There’s certainly limitations among the upperclassmen.
It’s possible you’re starting from a false assumption, or at least one that needs to be adjusted.
Alfred E. Neuman: What is the best question that has been asked in the mailbag that you have not answered?
UWDP: I typically answer 90% or more of the questions that people submit, the ones I don’t answer are usually personal about someone on the board (not usually me) or inappropriate on some level. There have been a handful of the latter over the years that have been good.
Otis: What’s Eason’s GPA. Ok, that’s probably confidential. My question has to do with his intelligence. I remember back in the 80’s (crap that makes me sound old!) a friend stated confidently that Vinnie Testaverde would never be star NFL player, this came after Vinnie tore it up in college. I asked him why he thought so. His answer was simple- he isn;t smart enough for the NFL. I found that interesting because, up until then, I had judged the ceiling of a quarterback based on physical and athletic attributes. l hadn’t really thought about how smart a guy has to be in order to succeed at QB. So, is Eason another Vinnie? He’s got the size. He’s got the athleticism. Does he have the IQ? Given the choice, I would guess Peterson plays a high IQ average ability quarterback (Browning anyone?) over an athletically and physically gifted middle IQer. If Eason is indeed a middle IQer, where does that leave us going forward? Praying he gets drafted? Terrified of who replaces him?
UWDP: I completely agree that intelligence is correlated with success in college at QB and in the NFL for sure; it’s part of the reason that the Wonderlic is part of the NFL combine. There have been scores leaked over the years that at least seemed like they “explained” part of why a QB flamed out. The bust rate in general is incredibly high, so it’s dangerous to read too much into that, of course, and a high Wonderlic is obviously no guarantee of success.
All that being said, I really don’t understand the notion that Eason is struggling this season (Oregon State, yes) or that he’s a problem with the offense. I’d say it’s a case of the people around him letting him down, not an issue with Eason himself.
I really haven’t heard him speak all that much. But he’s never struck me as someone with an issue upstairs.
PurpleReign4Ever: What is the name & artist of the intro song on Andrew and Gabey’s Podcast?
All for this week. Nice to get a mid-November bye, two weeks after and early November bye....