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Your 2014 UW Husky Offensive Preview

Hey readers, long time no write! New content here has been next to non-existent for a while, but college football season always inspires The Good Guys. I can’t promise the inspiration will last, but we’ll at least get the season started right.

With Seahawk fever now a permanent Seattle epidemic, the Huskies aren’t getting a lot of attention yet.  I don’t know whether that will change at all, but they deserve some buzz. This team has the potential to be the best Husky squad since the Tui-led Rose Bowl team. That’s not saying a ton, and this team has questions, but there’s the chance of something special on Montlake.

I debated what type of preview to write, but I think I’m going with a good old position-by-position write-up. While a lot of these players have been around, some of the focus is shifting from the departed offensive stars to lesser-known guys. I’ll start with the offense tonight. Here we go!

Quarterback

Most fans would say this position is the key to the Huskies season, and it’s hard to disagree. I don’t know that the Dawgs need elite QB play this year, but they need an unproved guy to be dependable and reasonably mistake-free. Who the QB will be is still somewhat in doubt. Jeff Lindquist gets the opening start in Hawaii. He’s big and athletic with a good arm but next to no experience. There’s no reason he can’t be effective, but game action is the only true determiner. Lindquist narrowly beat out freshman Troy Williams, who has maybe the biggest arm and most potential of the group, but the least experience. Should Lindquist struggle, Williams could see some time. Hopefully more likely, he’ll see mop-up duty in Hawaii.

Lurking behind these two is Cyler Miles, suspended for the opener for his off-season shenanigans. The common assumption is Miles will take over week two, but I don’t consider that a fait accompli. Miles brings a bit more experience and excellent running ability, but he’s generally considered to have the weakest arm on the roster and missed all of spring practice. Should Lindquist impress at Hawaii, it’s no given he’ll lose the spot just because Miles is available.

Running Back

Replacing Bishop Sankey is impossible, but the Dawgs have the talent to maintain an elite running game. Dwayne Washington will get the first carries. He’s taller for a back and fast, but runs with a good amount of power and violence. Fumbling issues held him down early last year, but he recovered to log the most yards of any back besides Sankey. His time as a receiver should theoretically be of benefit in the passing game. RS freshman Lavon Coleman has garnered raves since arriving in Seattle. He’s a big back with star potential.

Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier are still around and should see plenty of carries. I’ve never been a huge Callier fan, but he’s a dependable change of pace from the bigger Washington and Coleman. It’s hard not to continue to hope for Cooper to regain everything he was rumored to have before his injuries. If he were to do so, he could easily take over the starting job and be one of the best in the conference. More likely, he’ll get a decent share of carries but not quite have the burst to be a star. No matter what, he’s one of the great stories of perseverance the Huskies will ever have.

Shaq Thompson looms in the shadows, awaiting the day the Dawgsignal summons him to the offensive backfield to deliver justice and retribution to Ducks and Bruins alike. 

Receivers

This is a talented and fairly deep group, but how dominant they are could depend on how effectively Kasen Williams returns from last year’s injury. He’s not yet at full strength, but he’s close enough to play this week. Kasen’s size and experience is needed as a counterpoint to the speed of Jaydon Mickens, John Ross and friends.  Mickens matured into a go-to receiver last year, and he could be a monster in 2014 if he can diversify his game a bit. Ross is the most electric player on the roster and could make a huge jump himself. There are capable bodies behind the three, but a breakout or two would be welcome.

Tight end is a little hard to figure, due to Austin Seferian-Jenkins departure and questions as to how a new staff will use the position. Josh Perkins showed himself capable of making big catches a year ago. Michael Hartvigson has never had the impact many expected, but he’s valuable as a blocker and might catch a few more passes this year. Darrell Daniels is easily the most talented guy here and one of the better athletes on the team. Hopefully he can translate all that into football skills. If he can catch the ball, he could be huge as a bigger threat to complement Kasen. 

Offensive Line

For the first time in a long time, UW is deep, talented and experienced on the O Line. Six guys have extensive starting experience, and there’s some young talent behind them. Tackles Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva are dependable if unspectacular. LG Dexter Charles, the lone junior starter, has been considered an awards candidate in waiting since his freshman year. Colin Tanigawa supplanted Mike Criste at C this fall, potentially a good sign since Criste was a solid starter all of last year. That move could be largely about getting mammoth James Atoe into the line-up at RG. This line might not be as dominant as some of the great lines of Husky days past, but they should be better than anything the Dawgs have had lately. Count me as one who believes the coaching change could have a huge effect here too, both in performance and recruiting. Dan Cozetto’s lines never seemed to reach their expected level, and new guy Chris Strausser is renowned as a teacher.

That’s enough for tonight. Defense is next in a day or two. Go Dawgs!

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Who Are These Dawgs? (Defense)

2014 signing day has come and gone and went surprisingly according to plan for the Washington Huskies.  Coach Petersen had about 2 months to put together a class (although almost a whole month of that was a quiet period).  In those 2 months, Coach Pete brought in 24 players.  All but 3 of those were not committed under the old staff.

The 2014 class was ranked 35 by Scout.com and 7th in the Pac-12.  As far as transitioning from coach to coach goes, this was a very strong class.  It addressed needs in the secondary and provided quality depth to an already talented team.

Later in the week, Matthew is going to look at the recruits who will be on the offensive side of the ball but we’re going to start off by looking at the defense.

Before I get into specific players, I’ll try to break it down by positions.  On the defensive line the Huskies signed 5 guys who will start there.  There are 3 guys who will definitely start as ends (maybe 4) and 1 that is destined to be a tackle.  After signing 4 linebackers last year, the Huskies only added 1 this year.  The secondary is really where the Huskies added guys.  They signed 7 guys who will be in the secondary, 3 at safety and 4 at corner (probably).  The secondary class was ranked in the top 5 in the country.  The Huskies could run a 4-2-5 (5 secondary guys) in the future, and this class lends itself to that.  It also fills a huge hole in what was a position group that lacked depth.

I’ll take a quick look at each player on the defensive side.  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will get to them.  I’ll list the players by position group.  Along with a short profile of the commit, I’ll give a percentage chance that he plays as a true freshman.  This is my guess.  I don’t know that much.  Please don’t take it too seriously, I just thought it’d be a fun exercise to add.  Here we go!

DT Greg Gaines – Gaines is a big 300 pounder out of California.  While he’s 300 pounds, he’s only 6’1″ so he’s very large.  I’ve often wondered if a huge defensive guy like that may benefit from being shorter because the offensive linemen have a harder time getting under their pads.  The old staff was recruiting taller guys, and really seemed to push for that type of body type.  The new staff may do the same, but there wasn’t quite the emphasis on it this time.  Gaines was rated as a 3-star prospect and had offers from Colorado, Iowa State, Boise State, and Fresno State (as well as some smaller schools) according to Scout.  Gaines has a chance to play right away because there aren’t a ton of guys similar to him on the roster.   Chance he plays as a true freshman:  40%

DE Jaylen Johnson – Johnson also comes from California and is a defensive end.  Jaylen was long committed to Boise State but is one of the players Coach Petersen persuaded to come to Washington.  Johnson may have been one of the most hotly recruited prospects that decommitted from Boise.  Johnson is listed at 6’3″, 240 lbs.  He is reported to have offers from most Pac-12 schools including Oregon and ASU, as well as TCU Vanderbilt and Northwestern.  Johnson may be the furthest along of any of the defensive ends.  That alone may be reason why he plays this coming season.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  40%

DE Kaleb McGary – McGary is 1 of 4 four-star recruits to sign with UW.  As last as 2 weeks ago, it didn’t look good for the Huskies but the allure of being close to home proved to be a huge factor for McGary, as he lives in Fife.  McGary is full of potential.  At 6’8″, 280 lbs., McGary could easily become a left tackle.  He’s going to start out on the defensive side of the ball, per his own request.  McGary obviously has the type of body you want on your football team.  He’s a great athlete and, if coached up, could become a star.  While he is fairly raw right now, McGary was a huge get for Coach Pete and staff.  He chose UW over Wisconsin, WSU, and OSU but could have gone anywhere in the Pac-12 (Nebraska also offered).  Because of his body type, he could play right away.  He could really develop during a redshirt season though, especially if he switches to the offensive line.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  60%

DE  Shane Bowman – Upon his arrival, Coach Petersen made Bellevue High School a priority.  Most Husky fans couldn’t agree more with this decision.  Bowman was a commit to Oregon State before he flipped to UW.  He was one of Bellevue’s most important players on their state championship team.  Bowman has a high motor and comes in at 6-4, 240.  He will probably add some weight to that but may be more of rush-end than the others mentioned thus far.  Because he isn’t that big, Bowman will probably need a season to redshirt.  The hope is that he turns into the next Scott Chrichton.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  15%

DE Will Dissly – The last of the defensive ends comes from Bozeman, Montana.  Dissly is an under the radar kid, but he dominated in his High School league and has some impressive film.  He was named as an honorable mention on the Parade All-American team.  Dissly could possibly see time as tight end, but I imagine that he’ll stick on the defensive side of the ball.  Dissly is seen as a project but, then again, so was Mason Foster.  Dissly lives in a portion of America where there isn’t a lot of scouting so it’s harder to know what you have.  From what I know, I would guess that he needs a year of seasoning before he breaks on to the field.  Never underestimate Montanians though.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  10%

LB Drew Lewis – Drew is another one of the Washington prospects that signed, in what was a down year for in-state talent.  Lewis played safety in high school but will start out as a linebacker at UW.  He played as Eastlake High School (and has a little brother who could be just as good, if not better).  Lewis was listed as a three-star prospect with offers from ASU, Pittsburg and Oregon State.  Lewis visited USC a few weeks before Signing Day but never received an offer.  The old staff loved him but couldn’t find a way to work around their limits at USC to offer him.  While Lewis looks like an exciting prospect, he is pretty raw, as well.  The team has lots of depth at linebacker so I don’t think Lewis will probably see the field this year, despite being a very good athlete.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  15%

S Budda Baker – I think most people know the story of Budda.  I was entirely serious when I wrote that sentence and read it again and laughed.  Budda was the top-rated prospect in Washington and is an incredible talent.  He’s explosive and strong.  His frame is often compared to Earl Thomas, as he is 5-10, 180.  He is a sure tackler and his speed plays really well at the safety position.  We will probably also see him on the field on offense from time to time.  When he committed to UW (after decomitting from Oregon) he said the coaches had talked to him about having an offensive package for him.  Offensive package is another one of those terms that could have a very strange meaning.  Budda is the crown jewel of this class and is the highest profile recruit the Huskies have landed since Shaq Thompson.  He could have gone anywhere in the country.  Budda is likely to play as a true freshman, as the team is low on safeties and Budda is a top-end talent.  Chance he plays as a true freshman: 95%

S Jojo McIntosh – Jojo is another one of the DB’s who could play right away.  He’s from California and was a commit to the UCLA before the two sides parted ways.  McIntosh didn’t waste much time before committing to the Dawgs there after.  He’s a 3-star prospect and is projected to be a safety.  He had offers from Boise and Wazzu, as well.  I’m excited to see what Jojo will bring to the team.  He’s also the second player named Jojo on this team.  That’s pretty exciting.  I think he stands a pretty good chance of playing right away because of the depth at his position.  The same goes with all of the safety prospects.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  45%

S Lavon Washington – Washington is the lowest rated safety of all the prospects (again, according to Scout) but he may have the most impressive offer sheet with offers from ASU, Cal, Fresno, and OSU. aside from Budda.  Lavon committed to the old staff at UW but seems to be one of those rare kids who actually commits to the school.  Washington is 5-11, 180 and was also a receiver in high school.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  40%

CB Darren Gardenhire – Like McIntosh, Gardenhire was a long-time commit to a school before turning to UW.  Gardenhire was committed to WSU for about a month before changing his mind.  He was also offered by Boise State and Utah.  He’s 6-1, 190 and from Long Beach, California.  He’s not quite as high-profile recruit as the other secondary commits but still one to be excited about.  He’s pretty funny on Twitter too.  Gardenhire was a safety in high school and is listed as that on recruiting services but UW announced him as a CB so that’s what we’ll put him as.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  35%

CB Naijel Hale – Naijel is the son of the late, legendary rapper, Nate Dogg.  He was a surprise late in the process as a long time commit to Arizona before tripping to UW and changing his decision to Washington.  Hale is another of the four-star commits.  He had offers from all up and down the west coast and is a physical corner.  He likes to hit people and that shows in his film.  Hale has a chance to play right away, especially as a nickel corner.  He is currently 5-11, 170.  He comes from California.  Chance he plays as a true freshman: 70%

CB Brandon Lewis – Brandon Lewis committed to Boise State last April and was seen as an up and coming prospect.  He then struggled with injuries in his last year of High School (after doing the same his junior year).  He was still committed to Boise State when offered by Coach Pete and then shortly switched.  If Lewis comes back healthy, he could be a steal for UW.  He’s 5-10, 170 and also played some running back in High School.  With the injury history, I would expect Lewis to redshirt so that he is healthy when he sees the field.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  15%

CB Sidney Jones – Add one more to the list of guys who flipped to UW.  Jones was committed to Utah for about a month before flipping to UW.  He also had an offer from Colorado and some offers from lower conference schools.  Jones is an intriguing prospect.  We in Seattle love tall corners and Jones fits that bill at 6-1.  He may have to put on some weight but his film was very impressive.  He is my 3rd favorite player in this secondary (in this class) and I think he is a pretty strong contender to play early.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  60%

Well, that’s all of them!  A pretty interesting group of players who could see the field fairly soon.  I think the class filled holes, added some potential stars, and stayed away from JC players.  That’s a good check list to follow, especially for a transition class.  I’m excited by the future of this team, and specifically the recruiting.  Next year’s in-state class is phenomenal and this staff has made in-state a priority.  Everything seems to be happening at the right time and I’m excited to see what happens.  We’ll have a post on the offensive guys from this class pretty soon.  Go Dawgs!

Andrew

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Happy National Signing Day!

Finishing Off The Day – I’m back at home and have thawed out my frozen body parts.  What a great day it was for Seattle.  I will never forget it.

Nothing unpredictable happened to the Huskies.  All of the verbal commits heading into the day ended up signing with the Dawgs and they had two players sign who announced their commitment today.  Those two are Devin Burleson, who is a 6’8″ offensive lineman, and Brayden Lenius, a 6’5″ receiver.

All in all, the class ended up ranked 36th in the nation by Scout (that doesn’t include commit Jamie Bryant, that would have had minimal impact though) and 7th in the Pac-12.  A great accomplishment for a transition class.

We’ll have more on all of the commits over the next week.  As for now, know that it’s a very impressive class for the short amount of time Coach Petersen had to put it together.  Go Dawgs!

Hale’s in! – I’m out the door.  But, Naijel Hale is officially in.  A 4-star corner.

Off to the parade – Alright, everybody!  I’m off to the parade.  Again, we’re waiting on 6 more letters.  Lenius announces at 1 P.M.  Hale and Turner should be announced by Washington anytime and I don’t have a time table for the other three.  Coach Petersen’s press conference is at 3 P.M. and I’ll have updates from that and more tonight.  Have a great day, everyone!

Two Bellevue Offensive Linemen to Walk-On – Morgan Richey and Max Richmond, two linemen from Bellevue high school, have decided to walk-on at U-Dub.  They both turned down scholarship offers to come play here.  Petersen has done an outstanding job at Bellevue in such a short time.  Let’s hope it stays that way for years to come.

Turner and Hale should be Dawgs – From the things I see on Twitter, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before the school announces that Hale and Turner will be Huskies.  That leaves the Huskies at 20.  I would guess Dissly would be the last of the verbals to send in his papers and Lavon Washington might not sign with the Huskies.  I don’t have any facts to support this, just a few insights and a guess.  It might be the other way around.  That would put the Huskies at 21 and then there are three surprises left to fill out the class.  Again, I’m counting on Lenius and Burleson to be Huskies.  I’m still unclear on the last one.  Kalen Ballage would be another name to look out for but that would be a huge surprise and seems unlikely at this point.

Headed off – I’m off to get ready for the parade.  I’ll try to update one more time before I actually leave.  Go Dawgs and go Hawks!

Who we’re waiting on – From what I can tell the guys that have verbally committed and not been announced yet are CB Naijel Hale, DE Will Dissly, S Lavon Washington and OL John Turner.  I’m not sure who here wouldn’t sign but we’ll wait and see.  This doesn’t include a few surprises.

CB Brandon Lewis – I believe Lewis is the 3rd corner to have signed today.  He’s from California and comes in at 5’11” 185 lbs.  Lewis played some receiver in high school and has some good coverage skills.  This DB class will really pay dividends down the road.

17/24 – We’ve got 17 players who have signed thus far.  There haven’t been any surprises and everything has gone to plan.  I’m going to stick around for a few more minutes but then I have to get ready to brave the cold and head over to Seattle.  We’ll see if anyone else trickles through here in the next few minutes.

DL Kaleb McGary – Here’s another big name.  I’m still pretty surprised the Huskies got Kaleb.  He is 6’7″ 285 lbs. and currently lives in Fife, Washington.  He is the 3rd (of 4) 4-star players to sign with the Huskies.  McGary projects really well as an offensive tackle but he’s starting out as a defensive end.  I’m hoping he turns out to be like one of those tall Stanford defensive ends that they have had over the last few years.  Although we won’t see him faking injuries.  This kid oozes potential.

OL Jesse Sosebee – Another large person.  Sosebee is the second offensive linemen (still a few to come) in the class.  He is 6’6″ 300 lbs. and will probably play guard.  Sosebee may be more of a project than James but Strausser (the offensive line coach) has done great work with some of these ‘project’ guys before.

OL Matt James – Somehow they snuck in Matt James in between posts about Budda.  Sorry I skipped over you big fella.  James is the first of the offensive linemen to get his papers in.  He is from Idaho and is 6’5″ 270 lbs.  He’ll probably end up a guard but does have some potential as a tackle.

Budda’s In! – It’s finally official!  Budda Baker is a Husky.  Budda is the top rated player in the state of Washington (by a fairly large margin) and was committed to Oregon before rethinking things and coming to UW.  He is the recruit everyone is most excited about.  He will play free safety for the Dawgs and maybe a little bit on offense as well.  He’s 5’10” 180 lbs.  and from Bellevue High School.

WR Dante Pettis – Pettis is a 6’1″ 175 lb. receiver out of California.  His dad is a former major league baseball player and his cousin is Austin, an NFL receiver who played under Coach Pete at Boise.  Pettis is one of the better athletes in this class.

A 4-star confirmed – The school hasn’t announced it but Naijel Hale has confirmed that he will be a Husky.  He’s one of the big names who hasn’t been announced by the school yet along with Budda Baker and Kaleb McGary.

Not Many Rumors – There’s not many rumors floating around of who is decommitting or committing today.  Usually these things start to leak out but I haven’t seen anything about that yet.  I’ll let you know if I do.

Halfway There – If Gregg Bell is correct (he usually is because he’s a UW employee) the Huskies have received half of the letters that they’ll receive today.  So far, 12 are in and they are expecting 24.

CB Darren Gardenhire – Gardenhire is another one of the DB’s in this class.  He’s a funny guy on Twitter and had a good time with the process, trying to recruit other prospects to UW.  Gardenhire is 6 foot, 180 lbs. from Long Beach, California.  Gardenhire listed as a corner is a surprise, as he played safety in high school.  The coaches must have seen something they liked in his coverage skills.

K Tristan Vizcaino – Well, it wasn’t the big name I was thinking but this is a great get.  Getting a kicker in this class was a huge need and was accomplished when the staff flipped Vizcaino from WSU in January.  Vizcaino is generally rated in the top 10 kickers in the nation as far as recruits go.  He may punt, as well.  He’s 6’2″ 195 lbs.  Big kicker.

Questions – If you have any questions about a player or the process, leave them in the comments and I’ll get to them by the end of the day.

DE Shane Bowman – Bowman is a defensive end out Bellevue High School.  He flipped to UW after being committed to Oregon State for quite a while.  Bowman is 6’4″ and 250 lbs.  He may have to put on some weight but he’s got a great motor.  Coach Pete seemed to really make Bellevue a priority upon his arrival and that’s a great thing.  I’m guessing that we’ve got a big name coming up next.

Who’s from where?  So far there are 3 guys from Washington state and 6 guys from California in the class.  This is pretty normal.  I’ll keep updating on location throughout the day because I find that pretty interesting.

CB Sidney Jones – Sidney Jones is a 6’1″ 170 lb. corner out of California.  He also played receiver in high school.  The UW flipped him from Utah, and he had several other Pac-12 offers.  I like to see tall corners like this and I’ll be interested if the coaches go after that body type at corner.  I’m glad to see Jones is officially in because Utah was recruiting him hard to flip back to their side.  This guy is one of my favorite players of this class.

Eight Players In – So far we’ve got 3 defensive linemen, 1 running back, 1 quarterback, 1 tight end, 1 linebacker and 1 safety.

DL Jamie Bryant – Jamie Bryant was a member of last year’s class and was asked to grayshirt, meaning he delayed his enrollment until this year.  It’s great that the new coaches honored this commitment.  Bryant is a big guy, coming in at 6’5″ 300 lbs.  He is from Tumwater High School.  He is listed as a defensive lineman but it’s thought that he could be on the offensive line at UW, as well.  With them listing him on the defensive side of things, I imagine that’s where he’ll start.

Moving Pretty Quickly – We’re seven guys into the class.  All 7 have come in the last 20 minutes.  Expect there to be a few more in the next half an hour and then for news to come a little slower throughout the day.  As far as what I’m seeing in Twitter, the Bellevue guys have all done their paperwork and it should be in soon.

S Jojo McIntosh – Jojo is one of (at least) 3 safeties in this class.  He is from Chaminade High School in California and followed Coach Pete from Boise.  Jojo is 6’1″ 195 and the second player on the UW roster named Jojo.  What are the chances?  He’s also a part of this DB recruiting class that is rated 2nd in the country by Scout (behind Tennessee, who somehow had 34 commits as of yesterday).

QB K.J. Carta-Samuels – The first of the four star prospects to get their paperwork in is the quarterback of the class.  Carta-Samuels was a long time Vanderbilt commit but when James Franklin left he ended up choosing UW over Vandy, Penn State, and Boise.  He’s 6’2″ 225 and the 4th straight 4 star quarterback recruit to come to UW.

TE James Sample – James Sample’s papers are in.  He’s the first of the Washington high school players to be announced (they expect 5 on scholarship).  Sample is from Newport High School and is a 6’5″ tight end, weighing in at 245 pounds.  He was a 3 star prospect in most places.

DE Jaylen Johnson – Jaylen is a 6’3″ 245 lb. defensive end out of California.  He is another guy the coaches beat out BSU for.  He was also considering several Pac-12 schools.  He is one of the defensive linemen I am most excited about in this class.

DT Greg Gaines is in – You want beef?  You got beef!  Greg Gaines is a bulky man.  He is a 6’1″  305 lb. defensive tackle out of California.  He is one of the guys that followed Coach Pete from Boise to UW.  Again, just a large human.  Most services ranked him as a three-star player.

Commit #2 – The second player to sign with the Huskies is Jomon Dotson.  He is listed at 5’11” 175 (this is probably generous from the coaching staff) and is a running back out of California.  He chose the UW over Colorado.  A very small but quick running back.  He also played corner in high school but is listed as a RB for UW.

More on Lewis – Lewis will need to add a little bit of weight to play linebacker in the Pac-12.  He was a safety in college but it’s thought that he’ll be moved to outside linebacker once he’s on campus.  The UW is announcing him as a linebacker.

Our First Husky of 2014 – The first player to send in his papers to the University of Washington is Drew Lewis.  He is a linebacker out of Eastlake High School (Sammmamish) and 6’2″ 200.  He had committed under Sark, looked around once he left and then ended up back at U-Dub.

How big will this class be?  Expect this class to be about 24 players big.  During the season it looked like this would be a smaller class but because of the roster attrition involved in a coaching change the size of this incoming class grew a little bit.

More on the surprises – Gregg Bell just said in a live chat that 1 or 2 players who verbally committed to UW may sign elsewhere and expect 3 surprises today.  So, there you go.  I don’t know who the third surprise is but I have a good idea on the first two.

Any Surprises?  The original idea of doing this live blog was to cover any Signing Day surprises.  There are usually some guys who will commit (or more often decommit) to the Huskies on Signing Day.  Today the Huskies are still waiting on a few players who could become Dawgs.  OL Devin Burleson and WR Brayden Lenius are expected to be Dawgs by the end of today.  Both are somewhat exciting prospects with a lot of potential but not the most polished players.  Others that could become Huskies are Dejuan Butler, a JC cornerback, and Khalil Oliver, a safety deciding between Oregon and UW.  Other than that, it would be a real surprise.

Opening Thoughts – When Steve Sarkisian announced that he was taking the USC job, this Husky class was never going to be great.  Even if Sark had stayed, this class probably wasn’t going to be great.  There wasn’t a very deep class in the state of Washington and while the Huskies were in on some very good players, it seemed unlikely that they would end up at U-Dub.  Chris Petersen and staff have done a great job at salvaging this class.  There were two people committed to the Huskies when Coach Pete took over (some had decommitted after Sark left), now there are 21 verbally committed and probably 1-3 more who could end up signing with the Dawgs today.  The coaching staff have done a great job getting Washington prospects, something Sark didn’t do as well, and filling needs.  While there isn’t as much star power as the last few recruiting classes, this class looks very solid and capable of moving the program along.  There’s a lot of good depth and a few names to look out for.

When Do Things Start Happening?  Right now, no faxes are coming in to any west coast school because a recruit isn’t allowed to send in the LOI until 7 AM.  Once that comes around, some papers will start to come in and the Huskies will have people officially signed to play for their football team.  The faxes will come in all day, so there might not be very many before I take off for the parade.  I’ll try to keep up until then.  The Good Guys will have a recap post or two on all the recruits that sign sometime over the next week.

Good morning, Dawg fans!  Happy National Signing Day!  We’re getting this thing started and I’m rubbing sleep from my eyes.  Apparently downtown is getting packed already for this afternoons parade and the whole town is ready to party.  I’ll be updating this blog fairly often this morning, depending on how much information that is being let out.  I will be back tonight, after the parade to give a recap of everything happened.  Enjoy!

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Let The Good Times Roll!

I don’t have long here but I wanted to throw up a post really quickly to give you a few details of what’s going on.

Today, Budda Baker committed to the University of Washington to play football.  He was the top rated player in the state, a free safety who may play some offense, and has been a fantastic player for Bellevue High School in the last few years.

On Monday, Kaleb McGary committed to the University of Washington to play football.  He was the second highest rated player in the state and will play defensive end to start but may be on the offensive line by the end of his college career.  He’s a huge 17-year-old who has all kinds of potential.

Needless to say, things are going well in Seattle.  The Good Guys will have more on these players in the coming days.  Tomorrow is Nationals Signing Day and, as usual, I’ll have a running blog.  I plan to start at about 6:30 in the morning and go up until 8:30.  I’m going to the parade, so I’ll take a long break and come back tomorrow evening with some closing thoughts and recapping any surprises.  If you’re a loyal reader of the blog you know that this is one of my favorite sports days of the year but nothing would stop me from this parade.

In the days following signing day, Matthew and I will have posts recapping the players the Huskies signed.  So, check back in the following days if you’re out all day tomorrow.  I hope you all get to experience tomorrow but if you don’t I plan to take lots of pictures and put them up in a post here.

This is truly an amazing time to be a Seattle sports fan.  Maybe the best it’s ever been.  We hope you feel the magic and we hope to share it with you if you can’t be here!  I’ll be back tomorrow morning bright and early!  Go Hawks, go Dawgs, and go Seattle!

Andrew

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UW vs. UCLA Predictions

The Huskies have had difficult schedules for years, whether the team was good or bad.  They nearly always rank among the national leaders in strength of schedule, and for years they were one of the only schools to never play a Division II (or FCS) school.  Partly the difficulty now comes from playing in maybe the best division in the country, partly from seeking out top non-conference opponents.

Since Scott Woodward and Sarkisian have taken over, the scheduling has changed slightly, which is a good thing for the Huskies win total, although maybe not for their entertainment value.  They now schedule an FCS team every year, and limit the top opponents to one per year.  Some years it doesn’t even work out that way, like when Boise State has an off year.

This year, the Huskies have faced a different kind of difficult schedule.  The non-conference slate turned out to be pretty easy, but the Pac-12 has worked out horribly.  Look at this: here is a ranking of the Huskies toughest opponents this year, if the game were on a neutral field.  This is subjective, but I think most would agree on the majority of the rankings.

  1. Oregon
  2. Stanford
  3. ASU
  4. UCLA
  5. Oregon State
  6. Boise St.
  7. Arizona
  8. Illinois
  9. WSU
  10. Cal
  11. Colorado
  12. Idaho St.

Four of the top five, the Huskies face(d) on the road.  Only Oregon was a home game.  Teams ideally want their home games to be against the teams they are closest to in talent, where the home field might be the deciding factor. For the Huskies, that’s the 2-5 group.  Oregon is a tough game for them no matter where they play.  BSU and Arizona are games they should win on the road, but might not.  Still, I would gladly go to Tucson if it meant having Stanford at home this year.  If the Huskies could face teams 2-5 at home, instead of those bottom four Pac-12 teams, they might be looking at 1 loss season and a Rose Bowl.  Or maybe not, but it would make things much easier.

That’s just the way it goes, I guess.  Every team has obstacles to overcome, and the Huskies have thus far done a mediocre job of overcoming this one.  They can change that over the next two weeks, where wins in L.A. and Corvallis would be huge steps toward a successful season and an improved future, when some of these games are at Husky Stadium again.

Dan

This game is huge, and not just because 7-3 feels way better than 6-4. What makes this game huge is that it is yet another opportunity for a Sark led Husky team to win a big game on the road, and in doing so, take that “next step” in the program’s growth. A loss would mean a 7 or 8 win season is likely, not exactly the growth we are hoping for. As is usually the case in these tough games, the Huskies have the talent to beat UCLA, there’s no question about it. But to pick UW to win on the road against a tough foe, you’ve got to see it happen first. As for the game plan, look for Washington to rely heavily on Sankey and quick reads in the passing game, to keep Keith comfortable. The D will have its hands full but if Hundley is not on his game I like the Dawgs chances. I hope I’m wrong, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

UCLA 27 – UW 20

Andrew

We’re at the stage in the season again where the Huskies play their most important game in a decade.  This has happened 3 (maybe 4 or 5) times this season already.  You could say that it’s a bit of an overstatement, and surely there were bigger games but I disagree. I’ll look into that further in a few days.  This game really does mean a lot though.  I fully expect the Huskies to finish with at least 8 wins.  I don’t know where the 8th win will come from (OSU, the bowl game or this game) but I think they will get there.  If the Huskies pull this game out though, 10 wins really isn’t out of the question.  It would be a huge step forward for the program.

I do think the Huskies are at least even, if not slightly better, than UCLA in most of the important phases of the game.  UCLA’s offense the last few weeks has consisted of Hundley scrambling and a freshman linebacker running wild.  Their O-line is beat up.  Defensively, they’re very athletic at the linebacker position and are solid everywhere else.  If the Huskies win the turnover battle, get a well-disciplined pass-rush, and score TD’s in the red-zone I think their chances sky rocket in this game.  I do expect to take UCLA’s best shot.  They are going to be just as motivated and hungry as the Huskies are.  They have more to play for than the Huskies too.  If this were a home game, I think the Huskies would win but since they’re on the road against a decent team I don’t think I can pick them.  I usually pick them and then end up being wrong.  Let’s hope I’m wrong this week.

UCLA 34 – UW 27

Matthew

I don’t really know what to make of this game.  Both teams are really similar, in that they’re talented but a bit inconsistent.  UW has the better offense, UCLA the better defense.  UCLA gets an edge because its pass rush can cause major problems for Keith Price, which sometimes throws him completely off his game.  They get an even bigger edge because they’re at home.  As usual, if the Huskies can come out and execute well and consistently, they can win this game.  They don’t usually do that, so I have to pick the Bruins.  This whole season I’ve been waiting for a breakout from the Dawgs.  I think it could come tonight, but the odds are it won’t.

UCLA 31 – UW 23

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UW vs. Colorado Predictions

The Huskies have four regular season games left, and the season could go almost anywhere at this point. Today’s game should be a win, as should the Apple Cup, although one never knows.  At UCLA and Oregon State will be tough but winnable games.  Win all four and this season is an unmitigated success.  Win three and it’s still a decent season, especially if they can tack on a bowl win.

There are plenty of interesting storylines to watch the rest of the season, but one I’m especially curious about is the development of a few true freshman.  John Ross has had the biggest impact thus far, and that should only increase in the absence of Kasen Williams. Fellow WR Demorea Stringfellow hasn’t done much thus far, but he too could blossom with increased opportunity.  It sounds like the coaches expect or at least hope he can take over the position.  Stringfellow is a mountain of a man at 6′ 3″ and at least 220 lbs.  Don’t be surprised if he has a breakout similar to Kasen’s at the end of his freshman year.

After watching Stanford’s defensive line demolish Oregon this week, I’m hoping to see quick improvement from maybe the two most talented ends on the Huskies roster, freshman Joe Mathis and Marcus Farria.  Both have had their moments in limited playing time thus far.  I don’t know if they’ll see a ton more playing time, but Sark raved about them during the bye week.  Both bring a combination of size, length, tenacity and quickness that could allow them to be stars as they mature.

The Huskies don’t lose a lot of players after this season, which means the improvement of young players will either lead to upgrades at positions or quality depth, which the Huskies have not had much of in a long time.  Hopefully 2013 brings five more wins and plenty of bright moments for the young guys.

Dan

The Huskies had a bye last week and if all goes as it should, tomorrow ought to be a semi-bye too. Colorado is bad and anything other than a UW blowout would surprise me. It feels like the Huskies haven’t played in a really long time, and they may have some rust to knock off, but by the second half I suspect the Huskies run away, literally, by running the ball. Maybe the Buffs will be good in a couple years, I think that would be good for the conference. For now, they are relying on a true freshman QB from Tacoma who had exactly 1 offer from an FBS school. Although he did torch my Bothell Cougs last year so maybe he’s the real deal. Dawgs roll tomorrow, and hopefully stay healthy in doing so.

UW 42 – CU 13

Joe

UW comes off a much needed bye week to face lowly Colorado.  The Buffaloes showed signs of life at UCLA last week, keeping the game competitive and in doubt into the second half, which is a vast improvement over the Buffs previous blow out losses.  I have a feeling that game may have been CU’s best effort; couple that with a rested and ready UW squad, and I see a solid, big win for UW Saturday night. The Huskies know what is at stake:  win, and they are bowl eligible, which yes, that is a big deal.  It would be four years in a row Sark has guided UW to a bowl, which is only a year removed from the 0-12 abyss he inherited.  At some point the 0-12 excuse must end, frankly I think this is it, but that said, a bowl eligible Husky football team in early November hasn’t happened in a decade, and should be cause for celebration among Husky fans.  The fun part is there is still much to be gained with the rest of the season.  9-3 is a very real possibility with the scuffling Bruins and Beavers left, and then the wretched Cougars at the end. Tomorrow is the first step to Sark’s best record year yet.

UW 39 – CU 17

Andrew

I’ve seen a good amount of talk about how the Buffaloes are going to give the Huskies a tough game and they are no push over.  This could be the case and credit Colorado for playing hard the last few weeks.  But, the Buffs played their best game of the season last week and still lost by three scores.  UCLA didn’t especially look great last week either.  This game may be close for a while but it would be because the Huskies aren’t playing well, not because Colorado is the better team.  I think the Huskies will be focused and ready to set the tone for the last 1/3 of the season.  While Colorado may keep it close for a quarter, I think the Huskies will have this wrapped up in the 3rd quarter.

When I used to pitch in Little League, my dad would coach.  When it was a really important inning he would get this look about him as I headed out to the mound.  Once the inning started, I would hear this voice come out from the dugout.  “9, Andrew!”  I’d fire in a strike.  “Alright, 8 more!”  After every strike he would count down one more until my team was back in the dugout.  Coming into this season I think the goal needed to be 9 wins on the season (including the bowl, in my pre-season prediction).  That goal is going to take a great focus, one that we haven’t seen out of Sark’s team.  Now is as good of time as ever to start.  Go get ’em, Dawgs!  4 more, and it starts tomorrow.

UW 45 – COL 14

Matthew

Colorado is not a pushover like they have been, but they’re not a lot better.  Paul Richardson is one of the scariest wide receivers in the country, but they don’t have a lot of offensive firepower otherwise.  The defense is nothing to be afraid of.  This is a game the Huskies should win handily.  The best case scenario would be an early blowout and some rest for Price and Sankey and Danny Shelton.  Bigger games are coming.  These Huskies are a bit unpredictable, so who knows what to expect, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to practice some consistency and play a complete game.  It might stay close for a bit, but the Huskies should win this one easily.

UW48 – Colorado 17

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Pac-12 Picks – Week 9

Well, last week was rough.  First the game on Saturday and then the passing of Don James on Sunday made for a very dark weekend for Husky fans.

In a way, this week has been therapeutic.  The stories that KJR has run this weekend on the Dawgfather have been fantastic, especially the Honks on Tuesday and Neuheisel’s song today.  Listening to the stories has brought everyone together and I hope for a celebration tomorrow night that is unforgettable.  Our prayers and thoughts go out to Carol James and the rest of the James family.

In the last few weeks, Dan has pulled away in our picking standings.  We all have a little too much faith in the Huskies and he’s been a little more realistic I guess.  Let’s see if we can catch him.  Here are this week’s picks!

Utah vs. USC – 1:00 P.M.
Dan, Joe, Matthew – USC
Andrew – Utah

UCLA vs. Oregon – 4:00 P.M.
The Good Guys – Oregon

Arizona vs. Colorado – 5:00 P.M.
The Good Guys – Arizona

Stanford vs. Oregon State – 7:30 P.M.
Andrew, Matthew – Stanford
Dan, Joe – Oregon State

Standings:
Dan 50-8 (.862)
Matthew 48-10 (.827)
Andrew 47-11 (.810)
Joe 45-13 (.776)
Tyler (Commenter) 30-10 (.750)

Go Dawgs! And thank you, Don James.

– Andrew

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