Hi, it’s me. I’m here to talk to you about something we all experience: being obsessive and borderline crazy.
To be clear, I’m not complaining; this isn’t exclusive to Husky fans, or even college football fans, or any other sports fans... pretty much, human beings are kinda neurotic, and it turns out that sports fans are primarily made up of human beings (and the occasional confused dog). Ergo, what are we to do if not never shut up about our collective hyper-fixations?
In other words, here’s my candidates for “shit we won’t shut up about until we’re sick of it” this season:
Everything about the offense
I mean, isn’t that a given for UW fans post-Sark? What do we do here if not dissect the offense like obsessive compulsive anxious rescue dogs?
Even just typing this, I procrastinated two hours since the last sentence (not even joking) because I’m already tired of it.
But of course, no matter how over this topic we get, there’s pretty much no world in which we don’t continue to talk in circles about it anyway, myself included. Will it look like 1997? Will Dylan cook? Will the running back carries be divvied up satisfactorily? How many tight ends is too many? Is JonDon secretly a genius? Which offensive lineman are we glaring at today?
Anyhoo, you know how it is.
This isn’t so much ZTF himself so much as all the details around him. When’s he coming back? Why not sooner? But if he does come back sooner, then what if it’s too soon? How’s his achilles gonna hold up? If he comes back later than we expect, why were we getting primed for his earlier return? What about if and/or more likely when, upon his return, he doesn’t immediately return to his mega-dominant form? “Oh no,” some will surely say, “I guess he’s doomed and/or he was just a flash in the pan we overrated! And don’t call me Shirley!”
If he superhuman-ly is able to A) return to the field sooner than later and B) not lose a beat, then we’ll inevitably freak out about his draft status and how he’ll probably declare early and we’ll have never gotten him for a full, real football season, all while he’s playing right in front of us and we should probably just appreciate him right now, dang it.
Meanwhile, once he returns, any loss for the Dawgs where the defense is less than dominant (this is of course hypothetical, as Washington will go 12-0 this and all seasons) will begin with “Well how did ZTF do?” and if the answer is less than the God-like, then well of course we’ll be discussing that ad nauseum.
Pretty much, every week until the return of ZTF, we’ll be talking about the return of ZTF. And then every week after the return of ZTF, we’ll be talking about ZTF, and how he played, and if he could’ve played better, and what’s his immediate future, and if he’ll get All-Whatever accolades despite not playing a full season, and where he’ll get drafted, and and and...
Eddie Ulofoshio notwithstanding, there’s already consternation about the inside linebackers and has been since *checks watch* Ben Burr-Kirven graduated. (And, frankly, there hasn’t been 100% satisfaction from the fanbase regarding the inside linebackers since Azeem Victor was in peak form, in the middle of 2016.) Until Jackson Sirmon is either A) improved in both quickness and anticipation or B) someone supplants him, that will continue to be the case.
Then throw in the fact that Daniel Heimuli, who certainly would’ve rotated in from time to time, tweaked his knee, Alphonso Tuputala was injured in spring, and Josh Calvert and Miki Ah You left the program... yikes.
But the title of this isn’t “position group you’re most anxious about,” it’s “storyline you’ll want to lobotomize yourself over by December” — and the only thing I’m looking forward to less than the anxiety over the linebackers’ depth and lack of speed is the sheer amount of words that will be spoken or typed about this unit, well past the time when we’re bored of it but can’t stop going in circles discussing it anyway.
Hell, in our writers’ group chat we already have a pseudo-moratorium on arguing about the inside linebackers because many months ago we’d already gone over every single argument and detail and fault and merit possible to mankind. There is simply nothing more to be added to the conversation until something changes, but you bet your butt we will keep having this conversation anyway.
This isn’t a knock on whether your thoughts, or my thoughts, or anyone’s thoughts on the linebackers have merit. I’m sure for all of us — save a handful of fans with the intellectual limits of a fusilli — whatever we have to say will be, at worst, somewhat valid. It’s simply a bet that we’ll all be very, very tired of those thoughts come the last weekend of November.
Wanting to replace one of our starting safeties with the third safety off the bench
I can guarantee this will be a main topic of discussion after at least one game. (Or at least, if it isn’t, then we’ll all be in a very good mood come December because that means things have played out quite well for the least certain of UW's defensive backs.) If everyone’s favorite player is the backup quarterback, the circumstances can certainly arise for everyone’s second favorite player to be the third safety. Because there’s not too much leeway to screw up in that last line of defense. And when you do, people watching don't require special football knowledge to know that you just messed up.
My gut is that this will particularly be a topic of discussion regarding Cam Williams, if Mike Vorel and Christian Caple are to be believed that he and Julius Irvin were looking most likely to be the starting two safeties by the end of media-viewed fall camp. Even though he's a grade younger than Irvin, such is the curse of having been an on-and-off starter from his first game at UW.
This feels in some ways like a perfect recipe to be talked about a whole lot: five genuine candidates for two spots (Williams, Irvin, Dom Hampton, Asa Turner, and Alex Cook). One presumed starter who we know well including the facets of his play that need to improve. Multiple behind the top two, Turner and Cook, whose skillsets (both not huge liabilities but also not impact players) we know. And one — Hampton — who has a huge ceiling.
My bet? The first moment Williams does something not great, the Hampton-clamoring begins. And who even knows what strengths and flaws Irvin will show in real games, but he'll get a longer leash from the fanbase's graces. The situation that would end up most sickeningly poured over, however, is something that so help me God I hope doesn't happen — equally because it would signal a less-than-great status for the safeties as because we'd collectively never shut up about it: Cam Williams and Julius Irvin start. Williams plays okay-not-great, and Dom Hampton takes over. Who then, despite being a freak who establishes some much-needed physical dominance, leaves something to be desired in coverage.
And then the factions form.
Oh the horror.
Message boards of Team Williams vs. Team Hampton will square off with the militant self-righteousness usually reserved for medieval religious wars. Somehow even the people you agree with will be insufferable. By the end of it, all but the most zealous (read: psychotic) of Husky fans will be admitted to hospitals across the nation with rebar sticking out of their frontal lobe, baffling trauma physicians everywhere. These frontline workers will eventually realize their patients were just trying to self-lobotomize after going nuts from the Washington Safety Wars of 2K21. It will be utterly macabre.
So uh, yeah that's an option.
What topic will we pour over until we go crazy this year?
This poll is closed
Zee Tee Eff
Inside linebacker grievances
Nope, I really have no clue.
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.