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UW Dawg Pound Mailbag - Bowl Selection Edition

You've got questions. We'll pretend to answer them.

This man is on fire.
This man is on fire.
William Mancebo/Getty Images

Let's dive right in.

ElvisLovesUW asks: Who are some of the players we will get to watch in the upcoming bowl game that we normally don't hear much about but will be important players in 2015?

Brad: In the game?  Probably not many, until the Dawgs get up by 3 or 4 touchdowns.  Until that point, the rotation on the field will mostly look like any other game this season.  But what a lot of coaches do is use the first portion of their bowl practices in the development of the young guys, and only start working on game-specific planning.  Much like a bye week.  So players that don't get a lot of reps outside of running the opposing team's plays in 11 on 11 situations on the scout offense or defense can get a significant amount of time working on the UW offense and defense with a more intense eye from the coaching staff.  It's a time that the players that are redshirting can get a lot of work, and that guys that play only on a limited basis, or that are expected to have significant roles next season get extra work.  And when you think about it, a guy that redshirts on a team that goes to four bowls in his first four seasons might get around 60 extra practices.  That's a lot.  Almost half an extra season, not to mention the added film and weight room work that's going on.

It's also a time that coaches often use to make any position changes that they might have an eye on for the next season.  I believe it's when Dwayne Washington made the full-time switch to running back in 2012.  Maybe Kaleb McGary makes the move to the offensive line?

With Chris Petersen as the head coach, the problem that we all have as fans is that we aren't going to be privy to much of what is going on, just as with the regular season.  All we can really do is hope for the occasional nugget of information.

Ben Nice asks: What is the logical and rational reasoning as to why Danny Shelton did not win the Defensive Player of the Year?

Brad: I wish I knew.  To be fair, Scooby Wright had a tremendous season at Arizona.  153 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, 14 sacks, and 27 total tackles for lost yardage.  Those are pretty amazing numbers.  And anybody that watched the Wildcats play knows that he was the heart and soul of that defense.  He made big plays at big moments.

But the design of the Wildcat defense, and most defense, really, is such that the guy in the middle is the most apt to make plays.  He's in the best position, and the line in front of him is tasked with keeping offensive linemen off him so that he can run free and pursue.  Arizona's coaching staff blitzed Wright frequently, and allowed him to freelance to an extent.

It's a fairly widely accepted fact that team success plays a pretty significant role in  the Best Dual-Threat Quarterback in Ameri - I mean the Heismen Trophy.  I don't know if that's the case with other individual awards, but I can't help but think it's a factor in voters' minds.  And the truth is that Danny Shelton - through no fault of his own - didn't have the same level of team success that Wright did.  I've heard other people say this, and I believe it's true:  If the Dawgs had pulled out that win against Arizona, Danny Shelton would be your Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year.  He was the best player on the field that day on either side of the ball, and that win would've been his signature moment.

As much as I feel Shelton has been snubbed in the early releases of some All-American teams, and in the conference DPOY, I know he'll be able to wipe away his tears with $100 bills in a few short months when he's one of the top players selected in the 2015 draft.

You had one hell of a season, Mr. Shelton, and a great Husky career.  We will carve your name in the Hall of Fame to preserve the memories of our devotion.  Bow down to Washington.

misterwaterfallin asks: A big topic of conversation leading up to bowl selection was the amount of extra practice time that a bowl affords a program, and the so called "15 practices". I don't believe the teams are limited to this, so is it usually favorable to play a later bowl like the Dawgs? Obviously you have Christmas to contend with, but playing on the second gives you a lot more freedom in that regard compared to a 12/20 bowl for instance.

Brad: Different coaches have different philosophies on how to use bowl practices, and how many they're going to use.  Playing a game later in the bowl season certainly allows Chris Petersen and his staff more flexibility, for sure.  And for a team in the first season with a new staff, these additional practices probably have more benefit for the long-term development of a program than they would at a mature program like Alabama, for instance.  The time off is also beneficial to get some guys that might be a little banged up back to full health.

There's certainly a danger in over-doing it, though.  The Huskies will have more time off between the Apple Cup and their bowl than they did from the start of fall camp to the Hawaii game.  The last thing you want to do is spend a month beating your own team up.  And trying to do too much can be monotonous, and perhaps cause a team to lose its edge.

While we aren't going to hear a lot of details of practice, I'm willing to bet we'll hear a practice schedule in the coming few days.

CostaRicaDawg asks: Can recruits be invited to Arizona for the Cactus bowl ?

Brad: The game itself is during a recruiting dead period, so the coaches can't have much contact with recruits.  But it wasn't uncommon for recruits to visit practices under Sarkisian, and I'd be willing to wager that Chris Petersen would allow them to come in and watch as well.  It'll be on their own dime, though.

Maybe somebody else can add more here?

Grungedawg writes: "He tried to strangle a coach on the sidelines," one scout said. "Then they let him back on the team and he did it all over again. Try selling that to your head coach." (end of quote from link)

Brad: Quite a few questions about this one, stemming from a Green Bay Packers-centric blog post a few days ago.  Here's what we know to be true:

And that's it.  Marcus Peters was in fact kicked off the team.  Beyond that, we have an unnamed scout that "knows" the truth about what happened with Peters during his time here.  If this actually happened the way it's being reported, does anyone else find it a little bit strange that this is the only report of it?

I've no doubt Peters didn't get along with the coaching staff.  But I seriously question the contention that he attacked a coach on the sidelines (Of a game?  And nobody saw it?  Or practice?  What's this all about?) in any sort of "strangling" fashion and was then let back on the team.

Did he bump a coach?  Did he push a coach?  Did he put his finger in a coach's chest while questioning his parentage at a high volume?  Maybe.  Did he lace his fingers around a coach's throat, serve a one-game suspension, and then be welcomed back to his starting role?  I'm going with no on that.  Not under Chris Petersen.  Not under any coach, really.

OregonDawg asks: It appears that the huskies are going to graduate many good players on defense and the O line, and lose a few to the NFL draft. Should husky fans expect a down year next year (or rebuilding year). This year we had to replace many skill players, Qb, Rb, TE, and WR. I do not think the replacements equal the previous players in talent. Do you believe Miles can become a top QB in the Pac 12 and will Washington solidify himself as the starting RB?

Brad: My opinion, based on the roster on paper, is yes.  But the game isn't played on paper, and the biggest "plus" Chris Petersen has going for him is his ability to squeeze the most potential out of the players on his roster.  And at least for me, it has to do more with what my expectations were for this team heading in to this season.

Really, "down" and "rebuilding" are relative terms.  The 2014 team simply wasn't that great.  Even with all of the talent in the front seven, the Huskies didn't have a world-beating defense.  They were good - probably the best the Dawgs have had in a good long while.  But the inexperience on the back end probably held them back some.  That young secondary will have to be a strength next year, and the play of guys like Sidney Jones and Budda Baker should give most Husky fans hope that it will be.  It's going to come down to guys like Elijah Qualls, Will Dissly, Joe Mathis Keishan Bierria, and Azeem Victor taking a big leap forward for the defense to stay in the game.

Offensively, I admit to being very scared about the state of the line.  Particularly at the tackle spots.  All I want for Christmas is for Tim Socha and Chris Strausser to be miracle workers....

The bar wasn't set as high in 2014 as I expected it was going to be when I looked at this last offseason.  The out-of-conference schedule is definitely more challenging, but there's no reason to think that with a year of growth from the young skill position players on offense and in the defensive front seven (almost all of whom got some pretty good experience this year), the 2015 Huskies can't exceed the 4-5 record the 2014 version did in the Pac 12.

caGDawg comments: I saw some serious complaining this year but I think overall it was very successful. A first year staff, new Qb, loss of one the UW's most productive RBs in history and they finished with 8 wins. I contend they should have 10. The Az game speaks for itself, and Im convinced if Miles played against ASU in Seattle, UW wins.
Sark did allot for the program and was the right coach at the right time...but I think Coach Pete is bringing focus and discipline back to the program... frankly something that lacked under Sark. If recruiting goes well.... i fully expect this to take off.

Brad: So, let me ask you a question.  The team won 8, but should've won 10.  How does that make the season "very successful?"

I'm not complaining.  As I, and others, have said here on a few occasions, I pretty much hit the reset button on expectations after the Georgia State game.  As much as I wanted the team to win every game in 2014, I'm taking a longer view on this season.  It's a success if we look back on it in 2016 and 2017 and see that it was a very necessary first step that this program had to take under Chris Petersen to build a foundation of long-term success.  It's a failure if we look back on it in 2016 and 2017 and see that it was another year largely floundering in mediocrity that leads to Husky fans talking about firing yet another coach.

You (the royal "You") can define the success or lack of in 2014 however you see fit.  Lots of people here and other places like it have argued the varying degrees for quite a while now.  I agree with your take on Steve Sarkisian, but the fundamental differences between he and Chris Petersen are great enough that 2014 on the micro level is much less important than 2014 from a macro view.

ladawg asks: Can we learn anything about the Dawgs season by comparing what happened to UW with what happened to Texas? (new coaches, new systems, slightly disappointing seasons)

Brad: The best person to answer this question is Redmond Longhorn, who is the only person I've ever come across that is equal parts Husky and Longhorn.  But from what I know about Charlie Strong, he and Chris Petersen seem to share a lot of fundamental similarities.  Both are highly intelligent, highly disciplined, highly principled men that have an immense believe in their convictions.  From what I know about the Longhorns, Texas fans probably share the same amount of surprise that Husky fans have at the state of disrepair of the respective programs.  The level of culture change that both Strong and Petersen believed to be necessary seems to cause the same shock in Austin it did in Seattle.  And the majority of both fans seem to have bought in to the process.

Both programs are at the same point in their development with their new coaches, so I'm not sure what the Huskies can really learn from Texas.  But there's no doubt they're on parallel paths.  It'll be interesting to see what happens to each in comparison to the other down the road.

HUSKY57 asks: How many pro teams employ a BUCK linebacker?

Brad: There's no universal definition or role of a "Buck" linebacker.  For a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, their Buck is a run-stuffing hole-plugging weak side middle linebacker that  is responsible for play calling, pre-snap alignments, and audibles.  For others, like the Huskies, the Buck is a pass-rushing outside linebacker that can occasionally drop into coverage.  For others, the Buck can be the inside linebacker on the strong side.

If this question is in regards to what role Hao'uli Kikaha will have in the NFL, a lot of it will depend on how fast he really is.  He's got the potential to either be a pass-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 or a weakside defensive end in a 4-3.

alx asks: If UW wins in the Cactus bowl, our record against winning teams will still be 0-5. Will a positive result change the way team is thought of in the Pac-12? Is a win against OK State going to change the way you look at Coach Pete's first season?

Kirk: A win in the bowl game won't really change the pecking order of the Huskies within the Pac-12 - it won't change a 4-5 record there.  But 9-5 certainly looks better than 8-6, and it's always nice to head into the off-season (and the final leg of recruiting) on a positive note.  And while Oklahoma State is having a rebuilding year, the name does still carry some level of caché.  It won't have a major impact on the view of this season, but it's part of the bigger puzzle.