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Mailbag: The Iggles Edition

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Jacob Eason-Locker shows off his athleticism on another designed QB run.
Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here’s a few useless facts for you.

  • Cats can’t taste sweet things.
  • The longest words you can type using only your left hand are “tesseradecades,” “aftercataracts,” and “sweaterdresses.”
  • The fingernails on your dominant hand grow faster than your non-dominant hand.
  • A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time, equal to the amount of time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum (approximately 33.4 picoseconds).
  • There is only one state capital in the US without a McDonald’s - Montpelier, VT.
  • A Michigan State University research team found that roller coasters can assist in passing kidney stones, and that the rear of the coaster is far more effective than the front in this regard.
  • $10,000 bills were printed by the US treasury between 1945 and 1969. They were discontinued due to lack of use.
  • Mulan had the highest body count of any Disney character, claiming 1,995 lives during the movie (1,994 were killed by an avalanche started by Mulan).

Questions.

Haener: Is Haener leaving good for the program?

UWDP: Good for the program? Of course not. The Huskies now enter the season with precisely zero quarterbacks that have taken a snap in a game at Washington, and with a backup that hasn’t even gotten serious practice reps. I think the Washington offensive line is good enough to keep Eastern from getting much legitimate pressure on Jacob Eason, but football is a strange game, and all it takes is one pulling guard stepping on Eason’s foot, one bad plant foot in the field turf, one follow through on a pass that lands his hand against a defensive lineman’s helmet, and the Huskies’ conference title hope (and beyond) rest on the shoulders of Jacob Sirmon, or Dylan Morris. Instead of Jake Haener.

Joey pepperoni: Is it ever so foolish of me to want a chico fly sweep on the first play?

UWDP: I’d love to see Chico McClatcher have a huge senior season. He’s one of the legitimate explosive play making threats on the UW offensive roster. With a new QB, a new starting running back, and a seasoned offensive line, there’s a lot of logic to establishing the straight-ahead running game. So sure, bringing McClatcher around is a great bit of subterfuge for the opening snap.

Hey, it’s a lot better than coming out in the wildkitten.

RunningFaster: Coach Petersen mentions execution (or the failure to execute) a lot during press conferences when the team has lost. Your film study has also shown that to be an issue at times.

Considering how frequently execution is mentioned, what is the key issue? Is it failure to perform relatively simple tasks at the right time, or a failure of the coaches/QB to communicate what needs to be done? Or is it a case where the coaches are asking the players to do either too many things or things beyond the mental or physical capacity of certain players?

UWDP: It’s probably sort of all of those, with varying amounts of each at different times. But I’d say that the primary culprit is your #2 - failure to perform relatively simple tasks at the right time. I’d add that “simple” is relative, too; in almost all cases there’s a someone (or multiple someones) that are physically diametrically opposed to the performance of said tasks. The Huskies run an offense that puts a premium on execution, and most plays require about 80% or higher performance from all 11 guys to succeed (that’s an arbitrary number). Even a single failure, like a missed assignment due to not recognizing the defense, physical failure, etc. can turn an otherwise successful play design into a complete mess that looks like a horrible play call. Or, a guard hustling to the second level block of a linebacker, or a receiver, running all 20 yards to block a safety, can be the difference between a mundane gain of three and huge play.

It’s possible that the UW offense incurs some mental overload, that players have to think too much and that that prevents them from just playing “fast.” Chris Petersen may have alluded to this in his Rose Bowl post game press conference when he discussed simplifying the offense. Or, he may have meant something entirely different. We, as common fans, probably really won’t be able to tell; all we’ll know is that the offense looks better, meaning it was obviously simplified and the play calling from Bush Hamdan has improved, or it won’t be better and the offense still sucks and Hamdan is on the hot seat.

RunningFaster: When was the last time UW had a team with both so many unknowns and yet with such a high potential ceiling?

What is the realistic floor and the realistic ceiling, based on current roster/depth chart and barring injuries to key personnel?

UWDP: In a lot of ways, this team is like the 2016 version of the Huskies. On offense, the answers were really only obvious with a little hindsight (the explosion of John Ross and Dante Pettis). There’s a similar sort of anticipation and anxiety around the unit this season as well.

Defensively, frankly, the Huskies have just earned the benefit of the doubt with the coaching staff they have in place right now. I expect the UW to lead the Pac 12 again, and be in the conversation for “Best Defense in the Half of the Country That Doesn’t Play Defense Like Our Boys in the ESS EE CEE Do, It’s a Grinder of a Schedule.”

If we discount injuries and the like as you suggest, I think the floor and the ceiling are pretty close together. 9-3 to 12-0, but injuries are a reality, and the floor certainly drops a bit. We just can’t forecast them right now.

fredbenson: Is it now better for the PAC 12 to fall to rock bottom in national perception in order to speed up the exit of Larry Scott rather than to muddle along with him still in tow until the next TV negotiations begin?

With ‘zona crapping the bed against the Rainbow Warriors the other night, unless the zeroes beat Auburn AND the the rest of the conference powers through the early season NC schedule, the weak PAC narrative will be set in stone long before Stanford and USC play ND.

UWDP: As much as I dislike Larry Scott, I really can’t blame the perception problems of the Pac 12 at his feet. At least solely so.

As you say, a narrative has been created, and will be perpetuated until the conference does something big and good. I don’t think the reason the narrative began is Scott’s fault, though. By objective measures (like Sagarin’s conference ratings), the Pac 12 has largely been in the middle of the Power 5 conferences during the playoff era. If you watch ESPN, though, that’s certainly not going to be your takeaway. Is it because Scott spurned ESPN when it came time to create the Pac 12 Network? “I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, so I’m not going to answer that one,” he said while nodding his head in the affirmative.

Husky fans, you need to want those ducking fu......those fuc.....the ducks to beat Auburn this weekend. Swallow the bile, because it’s best for Washington that sister teams of the Pac 12 (sisters like those ducking...ducks) win for the whole conference.

KPreston: Why so many QB transfers? Is it entitlement? Are coaches making promises? It seems like any roadblock and a QB is gone

I think this has been the norm in crowded QB rooms around the country, and Washington’s QB room is getting more and more crowded each year.

We also need to remember that, while two transfers looks like a lot, a huge part of the reason it happened is two-fold: one, Washington brought in its own transfer in Jacob Eason, and two, the Huskies brought in two highly-rated QBs in a single class with Colson Yankoff and Jacob Sirmon. That’s most definitely not the norm. One was bound to go, and really, needed to go.

Big Johnson: Will all UW QBs be expected to pooch punt or was that a Browning thing?

UWDP: I personally hope UW QBs are spending extra time practicing going for it on fourth down instead of punting, period. But I think if the starter can manage the pooch kick, expect to see it. If the QB simply can’t execute it, we won’t.

Little Johnson: According to recruiting rankings, CP now has a more talented roster than he has ever had. Does it feel like that’s true?

UWDP: When you think back on the last few recruiting classes, the amount of talent Washington has signed makes me giddy. When you look at the current two-deep roster, though, it’s a reminder that most of that highly-rated players are still underclassmen.

It probably seems like Husky fans have heard the refrain of “we’re a young team, be patient” since the mid-90’s. It’s at least a little bit true today, still. But it’s not about getting to .500 or such miserly “goals” as it was in the 2000’s, it’s about “perpetual playoff contender.” That’s a nice place to be.

Darin Johnson: Described a satisfactory outcome.

UWDP: Obvious dominance that shows up in the line of scrimmage moving in the Huskies’ favor each snap on both sides of the ball; rushing for close to 6 yards per carry; the game feeling “over” by the Huskies’ third score; a minimum of 24 points at halftime; moving the ball without needing blown coverages, missed tackles, or sheer physical dominance to do so; walk-ons seeing lots of snaps. 38-10 or so, hopefully more.

starrman: How capable is our new backup GB to step in if Eason goes down?

UWDP: No idea. I’m assuming it’s Jacob Sirmon if it’s a minor injury, although there are reports that the gap between he and Dylan Morris isn’t huge, and that may change if we’re talking the whole season.

Neither has taken a snap of college football. Sirmon has all of the same physical tools that Eason has, but he’s never been accurate. Morris is very much a Jake Browning clone.

I’d be worried. I think both have talent, but both are very young, and we just don’t have any proof of what they could potentially do in a real game.

Midas Fireball: The tea leaves say we will see more (successful) explosive plays this year. Do you concur, how so and who will finish with the most helmet stickers?

UWDP: I hope the tea leaves are correct. I know a lot of Husky fans think the lack of explosive plays was the fault of the former QB, I tend to lay a higher percentage of the reasoning at the hands of the receiving corps. I was hoping we’d see a depth chart filled with new names, but we have to hope that new coaching and another year of development turns the existing squad into a more well-rounded, dynamic, consistent force.

The running game will turn in more big plays, not because the backs themselves are better, but because the offensive line should be really good. And there’s a lot of luck involved in turning a 25-yard run into a 75-yard run. The Huskies turned in lots of the 25-yard types last year, but just didn’t break off as many big ones. I really don’t think that was a symptom of anything but luck.

Idaho-Portland Dawg: The Pac-12 is the worst power 5 conference in CFB. Why? How do they fix it? And, much more subjective, do you believe that UW has the caliber and pedigree to lead the Pac-12 on the national stage? Or does the Pac need USC to be considered legitimate?

UWDP: It’s not the worst, actually. Even with Clemson winning titles, it’s still usually above the ACC, and usually the Big 12 as well. Don’t buy into the hype, I-P.

There’s two issues here - on the field, and perception. The way to fix both is to win some games that “mean” something in the national conscience. Games like those damn fowl against Auburn this weekend (which brings us back to the intelligent desired outcome of that game, Husky fans.......).

Washington hasn’t done enough to carry the standard on its own yet. At least in terms of perception. As much as it might pain Husky fans, a good USC even for one season legitimizes the whole conference.

Sometimes, life sucks. This isn’t actually one of those examples, but you get the idea.....

Pescador Paul: Is this the year a Chris Petersen coached Husky team actually wins a game that they are not expected to win?

Like USC in 2015, you mean?

The Huskies will probably be favored going into every game this season, right up until a potential playoff birth or bowl game.

fredbenson: Does Petersen bring in another QB in this class? If Eason leaves after this year there will be only 3 QBs in the room next year too.

UWDP: I can’t really see it working out too well to bring in someone else at this point. There’s no realistic candidate with the pedigree to merit an offer at this late date, and it would really just guarantee another transfer at some near future.

Eason leaving means he had a great season and the team almost undoubtedly did too. It’s a good problem to have.

Oregon Dawg: I’ve never seen USC recruiting look this bad and there seems to be a dark cloud hanging over USC football right now.

What’s your over under on USC wins/losses that cause Helton to be fired. For me, 8 wins is not enough, it has to be 9+ for Clay to keep his job.

UWDP: I’ll take your word on USC’s recruiting. I don’t really know much about it, but what little I do doesn’t sound great.

USC seems like a school that’s sick from the head all the way down. There’s just no good news coming out of there. They’re at the point that if the AD needs to fire Clay Helton, it may cost the AD his job as well.

It’s still the flagship coaching job in the Pac 12, though. Hiring is largely luck. If USC manages to strike gold if Helton is fired, then this will all be a blip on the radar, and the narrative will quickly turn to how great the Trojans are.

Otis: I recently read an article referring to Jimmy Lake as “heir apparent” to Peterson’s job. Is he being groomed for that position? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Peterson to go anywhere. I just had never heard anything like that and wondered if there was any truth to it.

UWDP: No idea. I’ve never heard or read that. If you can link the article in the comments, I’m sure Husky fans would love to read it.

Her Johnson: What’s it like moving from corner to Safety? Think Myles Bryant move was a good idea? Is it about putting all the best DBs on the field?

UWDP: This moves Myles Bryant to the boundary side of the field (where the Rover lines up) instead of the wide side (where he lined up as the nickel back). It probably minimizes the amount of man coverage he’ll play. The defensive staff uses enough dime that they’ll still be able to blitz Bryant if they so choose (since they can mix up personnel). I really don’t think it’s a huge leap; I think Bryant is a great football player.

I think it was about getting Elijah Molden into a starting role (and hence, the best DBs onto the field). There had to be some shuffling. If you had asked me ahead of time, I would’ve forecast Bryant to the deep safety spot instead of Rover, but I can certainly see the logic keeping him more involved in the running game and as a blitzer/rusher.

Tomahawk18: If healthy all year, what do you think the ceiling is for Eason? Possible stat line?

UWDP: I think this is far more a function of who steps up in the receiving corps. If guys are healthy and respond to the new position coach and the like, I think we can see a stat line very much like Browning’s year in 2016: about 65% complete, 8.5-9.0 YPA, about 3,500 yards, over 30 TDs, 10 INTs.

IsIsiaiahtheMessiah?--IT4: As an outsider to college football, I’m curious to hear about how coaches and teams preserve playbook secrecy. Given his track record of keeping everything under wraps, I would think someone like Coach Pete would go to great lengths. How does one prevent, for instance, a QB transfer like Yankoff from sharing potentially crippling intel (on his former team)? And do cases of “leaks” or “traitors” ever come up?

UWDP: Even more than a player transferring within a conference is assistant coaches switching schools within the same conference, which happens every single year.

For the coaches, I honestly wonder how much of it would be one of those unwritten rules, where you don’t want to burn a former employer who could very easily end up being a future employer. Maybe there’s actually a bit of honor among thieves....

Opposing coaches pretty much “know” Petersen’s playbook, by watching film of the Huskies (even without knowing specific terminology). It’s actually not a huge secret how and what the Huskies do on offense and defense. Yes, there are accusations of play-stealing, knowing audibles, etc. every year. Maybe it’s stuff that provides a slight advantage, but I tend to think it’s gamesmanship that gets overblown.

Bark Twice if You’re in Seattle: Do you support the Turnover Salmon?

UWDP: If we’re talking about a real salmon that’s brought out of an ice chest each time a player takes the ball away, and that player gets to hold it above his head in celebration, then I absolutely do. If it’s a fake fish of any kind, then I’d need to see it first. But probably not.

That’s all for this week, folks. Tune in next time, when guest mailbag host Ragu takes the reigns and answers all your questions with the style and panache we’ve come to expect from our favorite UWDP commenter.

GO DAWGS!!!!!!