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Mailbag: “Firings and Benchings Will be Delayed One More Week” Edition

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US-WESTMINSTER-DOG-DAYTIME SESSION Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

And if you kids don’t SHUT UP, I’m turning this car around and we’re all going home.

Bazmataz: 2 fullbacks and qb sneak from 1st and goal pls.....

UWDP: That goal line series most definitely isn’t going to go on the Huskies’ Greatest Hits record, but anyone that thinks Dylan Morris is the Dawgs’ best short-yardage back, stand up and be counted....

There were lots of things that can work in short yardage, including that quick-hitter to Jack Westover. Or a QB sneak. There are four backs that I would most definitely want to see carry the ball over either of those two (Kamari Pleasant, Richard Newton, Sean McGrew or Cam Davis), and the goal line can be a great place for play action as well.

Bad place to get bogged down. But I don’t look at Morris and think “short yardage pile-mover.”

London: McMillan hauls in the next sure TD right? So excited to see him start catching those because he got behind Arizona like 5 or 6 times

UWDP: One of those deep balls looked like it absolutely needs to turn into a catch, and a touchdown for the good guys. The other looked to me like a good defensive play; the defender raked his arm across Jalen McMillan’s and prevented him from fully extending to the ball.

I’d say he needs to make those catches starting with the quickness, but more for him than for me (or you) the fan, because I’d hate to see drops become “a thing” for him. Even if it’s just an incorrect or only partially true fan narrative, I’d hate for drops to become something that hurts his confidence, and then his development.

For right now, I’m focusing on the fact that he’s getting open deep. Pretty consistently. That’s a good sight to see from a Husky receiver.

GU1966: Nacua dropped another easy crossing pass, Jalen McMillan dropped two catchable balls making about six plus in two games for all the receivers. Do the young “explosive” receivers get fewer reps in favor of those that show better hands like Bynum?

UWDP: Yeah, like with McMillan, it can seem like drops become contagious. I really think it’s mostly a fan thing, though. We remember drops, it seems like our team always drops more passes than their team, and at key moments, too (just like the officials always have it out for our team, but that’s a different discussion....).

Terrell Bynum is a starter, so it’s not like he’s being passes over for reps. Puka Nacua has dropped two passes as a Husky that I can think of, it just so happens they both came this year. I think he’s earned a bit of latitude, though.

The drops aren’t fun to watch, they’re emblematic of every drop we as Husky fans can recall in our career as fans, etc. But I don’t think we need to start panicking quite yet. Maybe next week we can start revoking scholarships.

UW2016: How do we get Spiker and Osborne more involved/can/should we?

UWDP: I’m sure there are a handful of Husky fans that believe the coaching staff is somehow holding Marquise Spiker and/or Austin Osborne back, or choosing to play other people in front of them for some reason other than talent and playmaking ability. I’m not one of them. I think those guys have a golden opportunity in front of them to seize playing time and their places in Husky lore, by doing the things they need to do in practice. There really isn’t one receiver in front of them that has a stranglehold on a job by virtue of consistent, great play. It’s up to them to earn the time.

The other thing: these guys are two games into their sophomore seasons. Maybe they were overhyped, maybe they’ll never make it as Huskies. But s’far as I’m concerned, it’s way too early to be writing them off just yet.

Benno: Any recommendations on where I can get some crow to eat? I wasn’t impressed with Morris’ first game, but was quickly shut up with this past game. Throws under pressure, deep passes, timing throws, he answered my questions. What can we reasonably expect to see in his next game?

UWDP: I think Dylan Morris has had two very sound games to start his Husky career. He’s been poised, accurate, and he’s managed the games very well. He keeps his eyes down the field in the face of the rush, he’s accurate, and he’s a better athlete than one might initially think. I don’t really think he’s done anything out of the ordinary just yet. He’s found the correct receiver, mostly, in the context and flow of the offense, and without big glaring mistakes. For me, I expect to see more of the same. Doing a good job of making the simple plays, and taking a chance or two when the odds move slightly to his favor.

Dawgmanic: Even though the apple cup is cancelled can we still count it as victory?

UWDP: I am.

DawgFan: Do we have a RB1 or is it by committee?

UWDP: I’d say that right now, three different guys have been given extended auditions to stake a claim at the lead job, and no one has shone at that moment. On the other hand, each has excelled at different times while in the role of second.

Maybe Cam Davis gets the next shot to make his case. Maybe he takes the job. In an absurdly small sample, he seems like the most complete of the four backs that have seen action.

And maybe, we see a team that simply rides the hot hand the next three (or two, or one, or none) games in 2020, and go through this again next year, but with some newer, younger talent also ready and able to demand some reps....

Denver Dawg: By my calcs, Arizona had 61 yards of total offense at the end of the 3rd quarter, and was trailing 37-0, so any criticism of this game is purely piling on. But, that being said, do you think Morris will improve on the deep ball as this season progresses? Thus far it’s the only aspect of the offense that has been wholly unsuccessful.

UWDP: Yeah, that’s about as dominant a 17-point win as you could hope to see. While I don’t “blame” Arizona for continuing to play and trying to score, I certainly hope none of them feel too good about that “strong finish” Saturday night.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really think Morris has done a bad job throwing the ball deep this season. Those passes aren’t completed at a high rate, even against air. And really, he’s thrown catchable passes the majority of the time. On a few, the defense made the play. On another few, the offense just didn’t. I agree “the offense” hasn’t been successful, but if you break it down to the individual level, I think Morris probably grades higher than anybody else on the team on those plays.

Confused fan: Is our offense actually good or is Arizona’s defense really bad? Is it possible Donovan may end up being a better hire then moorhead?

UWDP: I think both parts of your first question are true, but that Arizona’s defense is bad is more true. Arizona isn’t an overly talented defensive group to begin with, and it’s implementing a new scheme under a new coordinator in 2020.

I think Washington’s offense has shown itself to have some good pieces to work with this season. When you consider that there’s no offensive line starters returning at their same positions (the two returning starters have both moved spots), the line made big strides from week 1 to week 2 (admittedly against not-very-good competition).

For those that pay attention to these sorts of things, Washington’s offense is currently ranked #19 in offensive FEI, after finishing 2018 and 2019 in the 40-ish range. I’d hasten to caution fans that there’s still a lot of football left to be played after only two games, but, y’know, 2020 and all....

Jen: How does a road trip to Michie Stadium on Sunday sound?

UWDP: It sounds long. 2,910 miles from Husky Stadium to be exact, a 44 hour and 27 minute drive. Thankfully, it’s only 2,173 miles from my house, so I will be there much earlier.

Lupe: The ultra-conservative and predictable “pound the rock” approach for the OSU game can be risky and give the other team a chance to steal the game. If we had attacked with the same balanced and aggressive way we went after Arizona, the OSU game would not have been close. When the receivers start catching those shots down the field, this team will be unstoppable. Anyway, great to see some balance, imagination, and aggressive play calling.

UWDP: Most games look more imaginative, balanced, and aggressive when you’re up 37-0 going in to the 4th quarter. There was definitely more passing this past weekend than against Oregon State, but as far as the actual passes being thrown, it’s very difficult to tell how much of the difference was the play call versus the decision that Dylan Morris made as far as to who he was going to throw the ball. Either way, no denying that the success rate against Arizona was a lot higher in the passing game.

Ball Coach: Play action with crossers. Linebackers are committing to the run, and we saw what receivers can do when given space (Puka!!!). I don’t know how to solve Morris’s deep ball issues other than time - but running go’s without a PA to set it up, looked like it mess with his timing.

It was exciting to see the heavy use of man coverage this game, which I wish they let the young pups run more of in the 4th. I’m still confused as to why Asa Turner looks a step slow. He wasn’t beat up this game, but in game 1, he struggled to keep up with TE’s in man coverage - unless that changes - his best utility may be as a box player only.

UWDP: There were definitely some really obvious examples of linebackers getting sucked up by run fakes, only for Dylan Morris to hit someone (it seemed like it was Cade Otton most often, but Nacua and Terrell Bynum both made some plays) right in the hook zone. Very nice stuff.

I didn’t really notice Asa Turner getting beat due to a lack of speed necessarily. I remember him being slow to react once (like he was looking into the backfield) and turning the wrong way once. Can you give an example?

mmeggs: Several times during Saturday’s contest I saw the Washington quarterback actually move forward, *toward* the line of scrimmage, as he was surveying the field and looking for an open receiver. In doing so he seemed to actually gain *more* time as his blockers pushed oncoming rushers *past* him in some kind of judo thing that uses the rushers’ momentum against them. At what point does Donovan remind him that the appropriate action in those situations is to move backward, possibly combining it with some kind of spin/rollout move that takes away about half of the field and turns an 8-yard throw into an 18-yard throw?

UWDP: The bye couldn’t come at a better time in terms of getting this “stepping up RIGHT AT THE DEFENSE” thing fixed. I’m sure Donovan will be harping on it in film study this week, and I can only hope we see Morris scrambling out of harm’s way in the near future.

Rhaego: If you had no idea that 2019 Huskies and 2020 Huskies had different coaches, and you watched the games, would you be able to tell there’s a slightly different coaching staff?

UWDP: When you look at all of the personnel changes, if I didn’t know better, I think that’s where I’d say the differences are more likely to lie. The offenses are genetically very similar, and the differences are mostly subtle.

Ragu: How many times were you wrong in last week’s mailbag?

UWDP: Somewhere between “none” and “a lot.” Probably none.

Ragu: Those were the best unis ever. Is it heresy to wish our colors were purple and black?

UWDP: How were they different than the last dozen or so times they’ve worn black?

Yes, it is. Jeez.

Rhaego: What do you think about setting up a mailbag sweepstakes, where the winner gets to hang out with you over a zoom call during the next game?

UWDP: That sounds like something where we all come out of it worse off in the end.

Ragu: Are you sad about the apple cup? Who would you prefer to schedule in Wazzu’s place?

UWDP: It’s frustrating, but it’s not a real football season anyway.

BYU would’ve been fun. Anyone from the Pac 12. Or Big 12. Or B14G.

Rhaego: How about some word association? Say the first word that comes to mind when you read the supplied word/person:

Donovan

Lake

Newton

McGrew

Pleasant

Morris

Jonathan Smith

Larry Scott

UWDP:

Donovan: Bob Dylan wannabe

Lake: Jimmy

Newton: Juice

Pleasant: Not really

Morris: Phillip

Jonathan Smith: Nick Holt

Larry Scott: Michael Scott

Brad: How great is it to hear the players talking on the field this year? One of the few upsides to the covid year

UWDP: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Some of the NFL games are even better.

I’m actually surprised we haven’t heard more stuff that wouldn’t normally make it past the censors....

IsIsaiahtheMessiah?—IT4: From a coaching perspective, what’s the key for Coach Hop salvaging this year’s basketball team? Allowing them to compete in the Pac-12, the national level, etc?

Don’t mean to be a downer, but from our general scarcity of high level talent, it seems like this year may be another down one. Nevertheless, looking forward to the gradual rebuild, to be sure.

Thanks Brad. And go Dawgs!

UWDP: I think the biggest thing is to keep expectations in check for us fans. This isn’t a national-level team in any way right now. Not really. It can be competitive in the Pac 12, but I think that’s in large part because the conference isn’t great.

I think Mike Hopkins early success on the floor and as a recruiter is going to hurt him this year, probably even more than the last half of last year, when the burgeoning pandemic probably helped take some attention away from the proverbial cliff the team fell off. Losses of talent to the draft, some disappointing recruiting results, and then having to depend on Quade Green coming off an academic suspension, and the uncertain future of Naz Carter....

Yeah, it could be tough. The unimaginative answer is that Hopkins gets some guys to overachieve, that this is the best “team” that he puts on the floor as the Husky coach. Max Vrooman’s excellent series about the team is a must read.

There’s still Quade Green, who’s a phenomenal shooter. Jamal Bey should benefit from not having to play with the ball in his hands so much. Hameir Wright could take a step forward as a senior, simply by being less erratic with the ball. J’Raan Brooks provides a viable 3-4 offensive player. Raequan Battle is a guy that could take a huge step. And maybe Nate Roberts fills rebounder/rim protector void inside....

Lotta pipe dreams, for certain. It’s not likely to be a great season, but mostly depending on what you “think” this team should be doing in year “x” of any coach’s tenure. If Hopkins is the right guy, the best decision is to just be patient this season, and hope Hopkins can show what a great developer he is. Or, if you want, you can just this season to get your pitchforks finely sharpened.

All for the bye week.