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Mailbag: “Woof, There it Is” Edition

WASHINGTON V BYU Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Wdawgincostarica: I’ve lobbied for our National Championship recognition.

Thanks for keeping it in our consciousness.

Question is,”How do we get the Washington A.D. on board?”

UWDP: It took 50 years to claim the 1960 championship, when members of that team were writing letters with nursing home return addresses. I hope we don’t have to wait that long for the 1984 team, but outside of fan interest places like here, I don’t get the feeling there’s a groundswell of support for it. I’ve even heard some Husky fans come out against it, but they probably don’t realize how many other teams claim any and all championships awarded by any polling body (count up the total championships claimed; it’s a lot bigger number than the total seasons college football has been played). Washington almost seems embarrassed to claim its history. I hope that changes, but I don’t expect it to at any point soon.

Ryan: 84 champs

UWDP: Yep.

Pycnapd: Did Keith Taylor have a good game? Or do we lack a LB that could cover their tight end?

UWDP: It probably wasn’t his best game as a Husky, but I don’t think it was as obviously bad as it might appear. Both pass interference calls were questionable. The interception bobble in the end zone was just an unfortunate play for him - it’s a 95-out-of-a-100 type of play, it was so easy, and he has pretty good hands.

Husky fans can and should expect good things from him the rest of the season, starting Saturday against USC. I don’t have any worries about him.

onewoodwhacker: It appears to me that the 2-4-5 our base alignment for 2019. But yesterday we saw a lot of the 3-3-5 too. Is that your assessment as well? And do you see us using the 3 DL more going forward?

UWDP: The Huskies have played a lot of three man fronts, but I don’t recall much 3-3-5, with three actual defensive linemen in the game. I saw it against Cal a few times, but I what I remember seeing against BYU was that front in their dime set, with one or two defensive linemen, and then one or two outside linbackers on the line, either in three-point or two-point stances.

I think we will definitely see lots of three-man fronts with dime behind moving forward, definitely. Especially against Air Raid teams. The Huskies’ greatest collection of talent on defense is at DB; finding room for the highest number of them on the field at any given time is a good thing.

UW2016: Will the husky secondary be able to cover the elite receivers of USC it will the d-line be able to generate enough pressure to disrupt things?

UWDP: Not on every single passing play, no. USC will complete passes against Washington’s secondary; as a fan, you should expect this. Sacks will be difficult to come by due to the quick-release nature of the offense, and the fact that Washington is likely to drop seven and eight people into coverage. If Washington holds the Trojan QB to something like 6.0 Yards Per Attempt, that’s a win for the defense, even if USC throws for 300 yards. If the Trojans are breaking tackles and turning short passes into big gains, that’s a problem. That’s how the Trojans would pull out the win.

GolfHoncho: Have you seen/heard OU HC Barry Switzer’s post game comments following UW’s victory over the Sooners in the Orange Bowl? If not, it’s available on YouTube. Paraphrasing here, but, he basically says the Huskies are the best team they’ve played all year and the best team in the entire country. Your thoughts?

UWDP: Yes, I’ve seen it quite a few times. I love it. He’s right, too. With the whoopin’ the Huskies doled out in the Orange Bowl that evening, there was little doubt who the best team in the country was. 1984 was just one of those years where the good teams all lost at the wrong time, and pollsters felt like they had to vote for BYU, even though some have since said they didn’t believe the Cougars were the most-deserving team that year. USC was a good football team in 1984; that wasn’t a “bad” loss per se. The loss dropped the Huskies too far (down to #8), and with only two remaining games, it was going to be difficult for pollsters to justify (to themselves, anyway) moving a team back up that quickly.


Dawgmanic: Did you watch the WSU UCLA game? That is a the quintessential couging it.

UWDP: The game started at 8:30 my time, so I actually fell asleep around half time. I didn’t see what happened until the next morning.

That was an ubercuog. It needs its own word.

gliderdawg: Great Title Name for this edition of “Call for Questions”.What motivated it? (That was a bonus question) “Real” Question” in 2-parts: A) What is the score if the 1984 UW Team had actually played BYU? B) What is the score if the 1984 UW Team played BYU in 2019? *Pretend this is in “Spoiler”: Answer: “Ask Backspindawg”

UWDP: What motivated it was good old-fashioned thievery.

The 1984 defense would’ve shut that BYU team DOWN. While the offense wasn’t the strength of the team, it did lead the conference in scoring, and the defense spent all season taking the ball away and putting the offense in position to score easily. 31-13.

The “games across eras” thing is so difficult. As sophisticated as BYU’s passing attack was in 1984 with Lavell Edwards and Norm Chow, it’s basically the baseline for what BYU (and all teams) have built on in the last 35 years. Washington’s 1984 D wouldn’t have seen anything like it, and wouldn’t have any real way to prepare for some of the concepts they’d see - imagine trying to defend an RPO with zero context for the concept. Those athletes, in today’s game, born 35 years later? They’d be just as dominant as they were back then.

Idaho-Portland Dawg: Thoughts on McGrew’s performance? Griese called him a situational back at best, but that seemed like a great audition as an every down back!

UWDP: Sean McGrew is definitely a situational back, as in “situations where the Husky offense has the ball.” He hasn’t proven that he offers much on defense yet.

He ran great. He doesn’t make mistakes in choosing holes, and he showed more power against BYU than he has to date. In terms of “running back skills,” I’d say McGrew is the best back on the team - seeing things, setting up blocks, patience, hitting holes, maximizing what’s available on every carry, etc. He looks a lot bigger this year, too - from reports, it’s not just the weight he’s gained, but he’s also reshaped his body a little bit as well.

I think Husky fans should feel pretty good about the running back situation this year and into the near future.

Mountain Man: UW had a chance to play byu in a bowl game in 1984, but chose the Orange Bowl. If UW had played and beaten byu in the holiday bowl -- i think UW would have blown them out had they played head to head -- would UW have won the title above a potential Oklahoma winner (over whatever team they would have played in lieu of the Huskies)?

UWDP: This was the calculus at the time. Don James thought no, and I tend to agree.

Thrashing BYU (which is what was going to happen) would’ve exposed them as frauds, and Washington would have been in the unfortunate position of devaluing its own efforts. Teams with more impressive bowl wins would’ve been in better positions to move up; remember that Oklahoma was #2 at the time, and had they won, no way a Washington win over a paper tiger BYU team (in a game that was played before January 1st, and hence forgotten by then) moves them up and over the Sooners.

Thrashing Oklahoma - that was the best way to finish #1. One poll saw this, the AP chickened out. Barry Switzer knew. Everyone knew. Especially BYU fans.

Mountain Man: Is there anywhere one can view computer rankings for years before computer rankings were a common thing -- basically computer rankings for seasons 2000 and earlier? I think sagarin started publishing his rankings around the late 80s. Is the any compilation of data from multiple models that looks back on earlier seasons? I’m particularly interested in 1960, 1984, and 1991.

UWDP: No idea, but if you ever find it, please let all of us know. Email it to me, and I’ll post it.

Starran: Surprisingly, I felt it was Utah’s strategy on defense which cost them the game. They didn’t follow BYU’s blue print. What will we do against the USC offense?

USC seemed to have found their old toughness and physicality against Utah. Is that something you think they can maintain against us and other opponents, or a one shot deal at home against a top team?

Montlakejake84: How “good” is USC? It seems to me we are rapidly closing the gap talent-wise with these last few recruiting classes. Are we now as talented or more talented? I guess I’m trying to decide how to feel about this game coming up.

UWDP: I agree that Utah didn’t have the right plan. What we’ve seen against other Air Raid teams is what you should expect Saturday - lots of dime and even seven DBs on the field, lots of dropped seven or 8 into coverage, lots of sound tackling. That’s the secret sauce for Washington’s defense in games against teams like this.

USC is inconsistent right now, so it’s really tough to predict how they’ll take what they did against Utah into the game against Washington. They didn’t gain any real momentum out of beating up on Stanford. And the BYU loss didn’t seem to take the wind out of their sails. Matt Fink is going to make his first start, and it’s on the road. The only answer I can give you is a boring “we’ll have to see.”

Washington’s roster right now, man-for-man, is better than USC’s. I’m not sure if that’s ever been the case before or not. You should feel quietly confident, like a mini-Chris Petersen.

King Husky: I’m worried about USC’s pass rush, this isn’t really a question, I’m worried about USC’s pass rush.

UWDP: Then I won’t answer. My working hypothesis is that Washington is stronger against an interior pass rush than one coming from the edges. USC’s defense is strongest up the middle.

OregonDawg: Time in the pocket allowed UW to pick BYU apart. Cal created pressure and limited our offense. Did we our QB protection package? Any prediction for UW’s offensive output against USC?

UWDP: Cal blitzed a lot, while BYU mostly rushed only three. Cal has an exceptionally talented defense, BYU’s is mediocre at best.

We saw lots of empty backfield formations against BYU, whereas against Cal, Washington kept backs and tight ends in to block. That was definitely a difference, but it was largely based on what the defense did (or wanted to do).

I think Washington’s offense is finding its groove, and USC’s D isn’t great shakes yet. I think the Huskies will get into the 30’s, move the ball in a balanced run/pass attack, and win comfortably.

RockDawg: Can you recount the starting DB’s for the BYU game and their alignment since McDuffie started at one CB and Taylor was rotated to cover Bushman. What odds that we similarly employ Taylor as the primary cover man on Pittman?

UWDP: Trent McDuffie got the start for Kyler Gordon at the left cornerback spot, but everyone else was the same as the dime looks we saw against Hawaii (with Keith Taylor playing the “X” boundary linebacker). He ended up on BYU’s tight end a lot, as did Elijah Molden, depending on BYU’s alignment. I don’t believe it was a concerted effort to follow Bushman with Taylor. I’d wager we see the same thing against USC, and Taylor and Molden will spend lots of time covering Michael Pittman, depending on where he lines up.

DawgsAndRoses: Why do we play BYU so often? Ten regular season games now. They’re known for their dirty play. We get little out of it, but help legitimize their punk program. Meanwhile, we’ve played San Diego State only three times. I’d like to see us play the Aztecs more often. And for a road game, who wouldn’t rather visit San Diego than Provo?

UWDP: BYU is a semi-legit program “out west.” There aren’t many of those that aren’t already in the Pac 12. They’re better than San Diego State, and the Aztecs probably aren’t going to just play in Husky Stadium; going to San Diego is an even more negative opportunity than going to Provo.

Fans going to games...It’s becoming a novel concept.

Jacob Eason: If that performance becomes my average for the rest of the season, do I declare for the draft after the CFP?

UWDP: Of course, because that performance as “average” is in the running for the best season in college football history.

At this point, you need to start getting fitted for a purple suit, and practicing your 1st round meet-the-commissioner hand shake, even if that performance winds up better than average.

Uwmillertime: What former UW QB would most closely compare to Eason?

UWDP: There have been big, strong-armed quarterbacks at Washington in my lifetime (Warren Moon, Chris Chandler, Cary Conklin, the Huards), and there have been accurate QBs (Keith Price, Jake Browning), but I’m not sure any had the combination the way Jacob Eason does. It’s early, of course. And the offenses those guys (the first group) had was so much different. I think some of them could’ve come close to showing Eason’s abilities, but I can’t say for sure, obviously.

Local: What attiebutes make this Petersen’s offense?

UWDP: The run/pass balance, the motion, the shifts, the diverse personnel groups and formations, and the very subtle differences in the diverse personnel groups and formations to get the looks the offense wants in the run/pass balance.

The culture of “team,” the blandness of quote, the consistency. The continuity, the cohesiveness. Other words starting with “c” as well.

Poulsbo Dawg: We ran the ball surprisingly well against BYU and one of the most interesting running plays of the game was at the 9:00 minute mark of the third quarter. Culp plays right tackle, Hilbers plays TE on the left side of the line next to Adams, and Otten is at fullback. Newton runs the ball right up the middle for a nice gain. Do you know if we’ve seen this formation out of the Huskies before? And what do you think Petersen/Hamdan are aiming for with this formation? (Speaking of Culp, he is a physically impressive looking TE. Here’s to hoping he can put it all together.)

UWDP: BYU’s rush defense is horrible, so I hope you weren’t too surprised.

That overloaded formation is called “unbalanced”. The Huskies usually run it once a game (from about this point in the season on) in the Chris Petersen era. It’s worked. mostly, when it’s allowed to catch the defense by surprise; it was a play the Huskies’ used at Utah last season on Myles Gaskin’s first TD run. The big key on that one was that the Huskies made the shift of the left tackle (Jarred Hilbers at that time) over to right tackle in the huddle, so it didn’t tip off the Utes as the team ran to the line of scrimmage. I didn’t notice the play you’re referencing in particular, but my guess is that it was the “god’s play” power run the team most frequently employs from that formation.

The little bit of deception really allows the defense to overwhelm the offense at the point of attack.

Kilby84: Am I crazy to think no one on the remaining schedule can keep us under 35 pts? I think the weather delay in the Cal game kept us from 30 which means no other defense should be able to prevent us from scoring around that number. I think we are running the table.

UWDP: I’m not sure the weather was the reason or not, but Washington inflicted many wounds in its own foot against Cal. And while Cal’s defense is very, very good, Washington played as big a role in keeping their point total down as did the Bears.

I agree, they can and will score.

BYU 1984: Has there been a less deserving “National Champion” than me?

UWDP: The 1990 “5th Down” Buffaloes may belong in the discussion, but I don’t think any team has done less than you have on its way to an entirely fraudulent “championship.”

BigNick360: Looking way ahead, it looks like there could be a good chance ESPN College GameDay comes to Seattle for UW v. Oregon. At this moment, there just doesn’t appear to be many other big match-ups that weekend. What is your opinion on having GameDay in town? Love it? Hate it? Indifferent?

UWDP: I think Gameday has become an entirely stupid show, and I never watch, but there are a lot of people that love it, and it’s good publicity for Washington’s program. I think it’s good when Gameday features the Huskies. I agree there don’t look like any better games that day.

If it’s here, I hope the fans that enjoy it get out and make Washington look good. For me, meh.

Otis: Is it possible for a team to throw 9 touchdown passes in a game and still lose? Pretty sure it isn’t; but, thought I’d ask anyway.

UWDP: Pretty sure it’s actually against the rules. It’s also against the rules to score 63 points in a loss, particularly in regulation.

Confused: Seems like the conventional wisdom here was that Joe Tryon was over his head, chronically out of position, overrunning plays, didn’t deserve so much playing time. So now that he’s suspended for targeting for a couple of half games, what’s with all the hand-wringing over his absence? You’d think people would be happy given all the criticism he’s received.

UWDP: He made mistakes that hurt the team, but he’s also a very talented football player that has shown, particularly the last half of last season, that he’s the best option at his position. A very good player, even, with tons of potential.

Beware the wisdom of the masses.

All for this week, Dawgs. Bring it on Saturday against the Trojans!