Andrew Berg: A lot can change in a little bit of time during Fall Practice. Even before games are played, little developments can have a big impact on our perception about the season to come. With that in mind, give me your feelings about where we are headed into the year. How do you feel about the Boise match-up week one? How confident are you in the team overall with fall practices almost done? What are your expectations for the season?
Gabey Lucas: Pretty confident, but it feels similar to last year in as far as there being things that I’ll be tense about until given proof of concept about those things improving. It’s just that the things in question are very different from last year and the magnitude of improvement necessary is too
Andrew: Any specific areas, or is it more generally the “will the defense defend” question?
Gabey: I mean cornerbacks of course, but also the big overall thing is our tackling needs to be improved across the board
Jeff Gorman: My main “concern” is the mentality of the team. last year they took people by surprise, but this year everyone will give UW their best shot and want to win. targets on their back, etc...they are talking an extremely confident game before the season and I feel like UW typically hasn’t had the best years when they come in with huge expectations. the counterpoint to all this is that they were good last year, and everyone is coming back.
I’m also hoping to see improvement in the pass defense. based on personnel it should see at least noticeable improvement, but who knows if it will be enough with all the QBs we face this year
Gabey: Also true Jeff
Andrew: Going from nonexistent to not very good is still improvement. To be fair, the guys who would’ve been helping were out or playing hurt, to a large extent.
I’m very curious about Muhammad. Once bitten twice shy after Perryman, so I remain in wait and see mode. But I’m at least intrigued.
Gabey: Yeah exactly my thoughts there too
Jeff: As we saw with the offense, dramatic turnaround is certainly possible. And Muhammad seems like an upgrade.
Gabey: Dramatic turnaround is possible but that was more about how backwards jimmy lake’s offense was and how that squandered an absurd level of talent that just had to have a basically normal offensive scheme
There are plenty of guys on this defense who i am excited about, but nobody whos “oh we got jmac and rome and polk and penix just hanging around” plus theyre still running the same scheme. I still think they can improve — and that they dont have to dramatically improve for it to have big effects on this team — but they arent going to be “dramatically” better based on that logic because they have neither of the two factors the offense had when they improved dramatically
Those being absurd levels of wasted talent and scheme change
Andrew: It will forever be tragishambolic that a version of this team with both Rome and McMillan was so utterly hopeless in the passing game.
Mark Schaefer: Thanks Jimmy!
I’m with Gabey here, I’m confident, I’m excited, but there are certain things about this team that I can guess at but I just don’t know for sure! Offensively, I’m super excited to see Mike, Rome and Jalen again, as well as Dillon Johnson. But I think with Cam being out, it’s going to be tougher for the run to get going.
Defensively I think Jabbar Muhammad will bring a lot, but I don’t know how the rest of the secondary will look. Linebackers should be better, but what remains to be seen is if the tackling can improve, also I hope Goforth can make plays. Obviously ZTF and Trice being back at the EDGE will help with continuity. Ale being a DT is a question mark but I would think he’d do okay. O-Line has a lot of questions but I think as the season goes on, they’ll gel. Grady being at kicker is going to take some getting used to and we don’t know how accurate he is. As you pointed out Andrew, high expectations typically haven’t been the greatest environments for the Huskies to thrive in, but with so much talent and so many veteran leaders, and the scheme for them to thrive, it’s going to be fun! In conclusion, I’m excited, if a little bit nervous about the upcoming season!
Kirk DeGrasse: The point about the mentality of the team is an interesting one. The talk about championships within and surrounding this team could be a sign of bloated egos, but it could also be a good sign of expectations and leadership. I’m going to date myself here, but I remember the end of the 1990 season and that off-season and how that team talked.
They knew they had blown a chance at a National Championship with their loss to UCLA late in 1990, and they knew they had the talent to compete at the highest level, and they didn’t shy away from expressing that belief. Rather than being all-talk, it represented the leadership and expectations within that team: they knew they were good and they were holding everyone on that team accountable to reach their potential which was an undefeated season and a National Championship.
I don’t know that this team has quite that same level of talent that the 1991 team did, but they are clearly talented and have excellent coaching on the offensive side of the ball. They need the OL to be a reloading rather than a rebuilding situation and the deep stable of RBs need to not only meet Tualadaddy’s production but if possible, exceed it. And Penix - for as amazing as he was last season - needs to avoid the (few) head-scratching throws he made last season that contributed to losses at UCLA and ASU. The bigger questions obviously are on the defensive side: is the scheme sound? Are they well-coached? Do they have the talent?
I think it’s reasonable to argue that absent the horrible luck of a rash of injuries at their weakest position last year (DB), they stand to improve. I also think it’s reasonable to conclude the talent level is higher across the board on the defense, with the possible exception of EDGE.I’m feeling pretty damn confident in this team. While I think an undefeated regular season is unlikely given a slate of games vs. USC, Oregon, Utah and Oregon State (not to mention a highly motivated WSU), I don’t find the idea completely absurd either. Playing for a chance at the (probably) final Pac-12 Championship is definitely reasonable, and with it a shot at the CFP.I think Boise State is good enough to make this team sweat on Saturday, but ultimately I think Washington’s talent edge prevails, and if that championship talk amongst the team was indicative of real behind-the-scenes leadership and accountability, they should win going away. I’m choosing to be optimistic until proven otherwise.