Tag Archives: Justin Wilcox

Looking at the Dawgs – Defense

A few days ago, I wrote about the probable starters and depth on the Huskies offense.  Today, we move over to the defense.

This picture is too pretty to leave out of this post.

This picture is too pretty to leave out of this post.

Defensive Overview: Heading into 2012, expectations weren’t exactly high for the defense.  They had just come off one of the worst seasons in school history (statistically) and even a decent jump in performance wouldn’t put them at average.  The change of the defensive coaching staff was sure to be an upgrade but how much was hard to predict.

The season started, and the offense sputtered.  Thankfully, Wilcox, and staff, performed a minor miracle and transformed the Husky defense to slightly above-average and in the top half of Pac-12 defenses.  They led the team to wins against San Diego State, Stanford and Oregon State.  The defense was led by a lockdown corner in Desmond Trufant and a slew of young linebackers in Travis Feeney, Shaq Thompson, and John Timu.

Heading into 2013, it’s still a little strange to think of the defense as a strength but it appears to be just that.  I don’t know if the unit as a whole will be way ahead of the offense but they should at least be equals to the other side of the ball.  While the offenses switch to a hurry-up offense was to benefit themselves, I do think the defense will reap benefits, as well. The defense has struggled against fast-paced spread teams for the last 10 years.  Practicing against the fast-paced can not hurt.  Also, the coaching staff has recruited a different type of athlete that’s leaning towards a longer, faster player (just look at the linebackers).

There are certainly questions on this side of the ball, but for now the positives outweigh them.  The D is young, fast, and physical and I’m excited to see what they could do this season.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the best defense Washington has had in over a decade.

On to the positions.

Defensive Line:
Starters – DE Andrew Hudson (RJr.), DT Danny Shelton (Jr.), DE Evan Hudson (RJr.), RE Josh Shirley (RJr.)/Corey Littleton (So.)/Hau’oli Kikaha (RJr.)
Andrew Hudson and Shelton have been mainstays on the line for the last few years and have performed admirably.  Andrew is more of your typical D. end in that he’s a little longer, isn’t quite as heavy and excels in rushing the passer.  Shelton probably has the most potential of any guy on the line (especially if you don’t consider the true freshmen).  He was solid last season in his starting spot but has had the breakout that fans and coaches have hoped for.  He should be a force in the middle and his penetration will be a key in stop the run game.  Evan Hudson is a converted tight end who looks like he’s set to start next to Shelton.   The position is listed as a defensive end because the team runs a bit of a 3-4 defense but really Hudson is almost like a defensive tackle as well.  He’s another tall guy who weighs in at 280.  Maybe the defensive line was in such bad shape that they need Evan to start or maybe he truly is that talented on this side of the ball.  I’m guessing it’s a mix of both but I do feel a bit uneasy about him coming in and starting right away.  The rush end spot is up for grabs with Josh Shirley, Corey Littleton, and Hau’oli Kikaha (formerly Hau’oli Jamora) all battling for the starting spot.  Shirley has been a very one-dimensional player in the past in always just trying to speed rush right past the tackle.  With that being said, he is probably the best pass rusher the Huskies have and could challenge for double-digit sacks this year.  Littleton saw a few games last season as a true freshman and played about how you’d expect a freshman on the line to play.  He’s said to be much improved in practice and may have been playing in front of Shirley at times during the camp.  Hau’oli has suffered 2 straight ACL tears in the last 2 seasons and has battled back to have an impressive Fall Camp.  Before the tears, he was one of the Huskies best defensive players.  If he can get to that level, the Huskies pass rush will definitely be a much stronger force.  The rush end position is one of the more intriguing spots on the team with three talented guys at one position.  I will be excited to watch it play out over the season
The Depth – DE Joe Mathis (Fr.), DT Sione Potoa’e (Sr.), Lawrence Lagafuaina (RJr.), DT Josh Banks (Sr.), DT Drew Schultz (RJr.), DE Connor Cree (RSo.), DE Jarrett Finau (RSo.), DT Elijah Qualls (Fr.), Damion Turpin (RFr.), DT Taniela Tupou (RSo.), DE Marcus Farria (Fr.)
The depth on the D-line is slowly improving during Sark’s tenure.  This group of players could look really good in a year or two but for now there are a few decent guys and then question marks.  Joe Mathis, a freshman, is challenging for a starting spot and will probably play this year.  If he doesn’t redshirt, which is highly unlikely, expect to see him on the field quite a bit.  Potoa’e, Banks, and Schultz have all played enough defensive tackle to feel okay about.  Potoa’e was a very impressive recruit but has never reached his, thought to be, potential.  Lagafuaina tore his ACL last year and is still getting up to speed, but when he’s in the game he takes up a lot of space in the middle.  Cree and Finau saw limited action last year and provide decent depth.  Qualls may or may not redshirt but he was a heralded recruit.  The other guys might get some action in the game but have figured in to the rotation as prominently as the guys I have listed above them.  Farria will probably redshirt.

Starters – OLB Shaq Thompson (So.), MLB John Timu (Jr.), OLB Travis Feeney (RSo.)
On paper, this is easily the best position group on the team.  They are quick, young and physical.  They close fast to the ball and could be the best position group the team has had in years.  In my last post, I said ASJ was the best player the Huskies have had in at least a decade.  By the end of Thompson’s career here, he could hold that title.  Shaq is incredibly talented, bringing a mix of speed and size that you don’t see often.  He could be an All-American by the end of the season.  Timu continues to grow and improve.  He was very impressive in a few games last year draws rave reviews from the coaching staff for his intelligence.  Timu did struggle against power teams last year and I wonder if that has improved this season. As good as the other two were last year, Feeney may have been the best linebacker on the team.  He also has great speed and loves to hit people.  All of these guys were safeties in high school and you can see that athleticism in their linebacking.  The only concern is against the power teams of the world.
The Depth:  Princeton Fuimaono (Sr.), Thomas Tutogi (Sr.), Jamaal Kearse (RJr.), Scott Lawyer (RSo.), Connor O’Brien (Fr.), Azeem Victor (Fr.), Keishawn Bierria (Fr.), Sean Constantine (Fr.)
The depth helps make this position the best on the team.  Fuimaono has been challenging Feeney for his starting spot and will be the first guy off the bench as a linebacker.  Princeton can probably play both outside linebacker positions.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a package where the three starting linebackers are on the field with Fuimaono.  This coaching staff is pretty good at getting their best players on the field.  Tutogi proved to be a valuable piece of the puzzle last year at middle linebacker.  He played quite a bit against the power teams and was a very physical force.  I’m curious to see if he’ll play in Timu’s spot against power teams on running downs.  I expect to see a lot of Tutogi and Fuimaono on the field plenty this year. Kearse has had an interesting career and is a very capable backup.  He’s started a few games in his career and come up with some big plays.  Lawyer has impressed people in camp and will start to see a lot of time come next year.  He’ll play on special teams quite a bit this year.  I’m hoping all of the freshmen get to redshirt but some may have to be used on special teams.  They’re an impressive group with a lot of size.   Continue reading


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UW vs. Oregon Predictions (Or Not)

As has become our tradition, there will be no Husky predictions for the game versus Oregon tomorrow.  This is nothing more than a sidestep around an honest prediction, because none of us could truthfully pick Washington to win this game.  When the Huskies regain their footing in this series, we will make predictions.  For now, take our silence as acquiescence to the Ducks domination.

That’s not to say that the Huskies aren’t making some level of progress.  I expect a closer game than we’ve seen recently, although that potentially still means a blowout.  I think the improved speed and simplified scheme of the Husky defense, not to mention Justin Wilcox’s creativity, gives them a chance to limit Oregon in a way that would have been incomprehensible last season.  The Husky offense is the danger here.  While Oregon’s defense is not as physical and pounding as Stanford’s and LSU’s were, it is faster and near the same talent level.  The Huskies must find a couple extra seconds for Keith Price to throw and running lanes for Bishop Sankey to fill.

While Oregon is undefeated and number two in the country, they are somewhat untested.  They demolished Arizona, who is probably not much worse than UW, if at all, but Arizona is a much different team: offensively talented but still seeking identity, with a spotty defense.  It’s unclear exactly what the Huskies are, still, but that’s also true of the Ducks.  An incredibly soft out of conference schedule has left open the potential for a Duck squad waiting to be exposed.  Their offensive line isn’t quite as dominant as usual, and LaMichael James’ departure has left them just a tiny bit short in the dependable playmaking department.  Throw in a freshman quarterback who occasionally makes freshman mistakes, and there’s a chance of something happening here, but the chance is slim.  Oregon is still fast and disciplined and coached by a genius.

It’s common for teams to play the Ducks tight for a half.  The Cougars just did it, and the Dawgs have done it before.  I hope to see more than that this time.  If the Huskies can keep Oregon within arm’s reach into the fourth quarter, I’ll be happy.  There are no moral victories, but sometimes an actual victory takes a few steps, and a competitive game throughout would be the first of those steps.

Go Dawgs.


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One Last Review Of UW-Stanford

I promised a more thorough review of last Thursdays game and here it is!  Five days, a trip to Yakima and about 8 hours of homework later.  I did finally finish watching the game last night and I had a few thoughts about the game.  I’ll go by position and add in some thoughts about coaching here and there.  Before I begin, I think this was probably the best coached Husky game since Rick Neuheisal was coach.  Seriously.  I’ll get into more detail as the post goes, but as a whole this was an incredibly coached game for the Dawgs, scheme-wise, personnel wise and on the motivational side.  Anyway, here we go, by position.

Quarterback – Keith Price has been a somewhat forgotten man through 4 games this year.  He doesn’t have the numbers that he had last year and won’t end up with as impressive stats but he has progressed.  Last Thursday, Keith played the toughest football game he’s ever played.  It wasn’t his best but it was very good.  He was tackled in the pocket over 10 times, while only three of those turned out to be sacks.  This is a testament to him standing in the pocket and not rushing things.  At one point it looked like he couldn’t feel his right arm.  I’m not sure why Stanford was never called for a roughing the passer penalty because they went high and hard many times.  Anyway, Price was accurate and threw well even with the amount of duress he was under.  He had 3 passes dropped that would have given him about 40 more passing yards and 3 more first downs.  He generally had less than 2 seconds to throw.  Three plays before the Huskies game-winning touchdown Price lined up under center and killed the running play that was called.  This audible essentially sent the receivers deep.  The ball was snapped, Price dropped back and was pressured from the outside so he stepped up into the pocket.  His outside receiver (I couldn’t catch the number) made a double move and was about to break free but a Stanford linebacker got a hand on the ball.  It was a brilliant call by Price and a beautiful play, it was just a .1 of a second too late.  The game winning touchdown could have come 3 plays earlier than when it did and it would have looked a lot more conventional.  Price was a great decision maker and game-manager.  I hope his body feels okay.

Running Back – It sure looks like Bishop Sankey has found his niche.  He’ll never be Chris Polk.  He’s not a bruiser and isn’t as patient.  But, he’s hitting the hole harder and faster every week.  Hugh Millen pointed out on KJR today that the Huskies use more of a zone-blocking scheme this year instead of a weak-side pulling guard, man-blocking scheme.  This allows Sankey to hit the hole faster than we saw the last few years because you don’t have to wait for that guard to come across.  So, maybe Bishop didn’t find his niche, maybe Sark found his niche for him?  It takes a humble and good coach to adjust his scheme to fit his players and Sark has continually done this.  That’s overlooked an awful lot.  Moving Kendyl Taylor provided an unexpected boost to the Husky offense and he did some good things on Thursday.  I’m guessing he’ll see more and more time as we go.  The fun thing to think about is that these running backs are only going to get better.  No one playing right  now is older than sophomore status.  Sure, they’ll cause a few headaches but the more I think about it, the more I think this year is setting up for a special 2013.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends – Quite a bit has been made of ASJ not getting only 2 receptions against Stanford.  There was no other tight end who caught a pass either.  What isn’t being said is that ASJ had a block on Chase Thomas that helped spring Bishop’s 61 yard run.  No one is talking about how Evan Hudson lined up at fullback a few times and got into the second level to give Sankey some other big runs.  The tight ends will be used in different ways as this season goes on but don’t think they played an insignificant role on Thursday.  Every receiver was fairly inconsistent aside from Kasen Williams.  Kasen turned 2 yard gains into 7 at least 3 times.  The plan was to get him the ball in space and he showed why that was a great game plan that Sark never went aways from even when it was getting frustrating.  Anytime another receiver wants to step up though, feel fee!

Offensive Line – Yes, the pass blocking was pretty horrendous.  It’s a big problem that needs to be solved right away.  But, they were playing a very good front seven.  To their credit, the line did run block well.  It doesn’t matter how you get yards and points as long as you get them.  No one expected the Huskies to be able to rush for 150 yards but they did and that was because the line opened few holes.  I do think they wore Stanford down a little bit.  Where the Oregon defense is used to being on the field a lot because their offense scores in a hurry, Stanford is exactly the opposite.  I imagine that the Cardinal generally win the time of possession battle and they didn’t on Thursday night.  The Huskies, especially in the first half generally were on the field for at least three minutes on offense every time they had the ball.  It doesn’t seem like much but that adds up, especially when your defense is getting three and outs.  I might be the only one, but I think the Stanford defense was tired and they looked it on the Huskies last drive.  Shane Brostek got his first career start at right guard and looked pretty good in run blocking.  Him and James Atoe next to each other is probably my favorite configuration of the line.  When they’re on the right side, holes seem to open up a bit more.  The Huskies most successful running plays were runs off-tackle or which would follow Atoe, Hatchie, and, on the final drive, Criste.  The right side of the line seemed to open more holes, as I mentioned earlier, but the left side of the line did pretty well too when I re-watched the game.

Defensive Line – Stopping the run starts up front, so here you go.  I don’t know much about defensive lines so I won’t try to explain anything and there wasn’t a ton that stood out.  Pio Vatuvei got extensive action.  Josh Banks saw his first action of the season and made a very good tackle on Stanford’s last drive.  Not a lot shows up in the box score from these guys but they freed up space for the linemen to make plays.  It took Josh Shirley about a half to get his pass rush going but he was definitely felt in the second half.  This group continues to get better.

Linebackers – The Dawgs haven’t had linebackers tackle like they did in this game since who knows how long.  If you think back to the game, think about how many times Stepfan Taylor broke free from a tackle for extra yards.  It didn’t happen.  Even re-watching the game, I can’t think of a time.  Tutogi, Timu, Fuimaono (although he didn’t play as much), Feeney, and Shaq were all in position and made the tackles.  I’m still amazed.  Their pursuit was incredible, their tackling was the best I’ve seen from a Husky defense, and their effort was off the charts.  I don’t expect them to be able to keep this up but if they do then what was thought to be one of the Huskies biggest weaknesses has all of a sudden become one of the best positions on the team.  As one of my favorite wrinkles that Wilcox threw in, Talia Crichton played a hybrid linebacker.  He rushed the passer some but he was used to stop the run a good amount.  It was just another big body who wouldn’t be pushed around.

Secondary – Desmond Trufant was the only corner on the field about 30% of the time for the Huskies.  What a responsibility that was and he handled it extremely well.  Right now he’s an all-conference player and is deserving of All-American recognition.  Two pass breakups, one interception and shutting down one side of the field.  The other corner spot is a bit concerning still but they did okay this game.  Marcus Peters saw quite a bit of time on the field.  Especially in the second half.  Sean Parker played a great game, blowing up screens and flying around.  The defense looks fast and he is one of the players that looks the fastest.  Travis Feeney lined up as free safety sometimes to stop the run which was another wrinkle.  Justin Glenn also played a good game with a couple of pass-breakups.  There were a few blown assignments but that’s to be expected especially when there was such an emphasis on stopping the run.

Special Teams – Travis Coons was the first half MVP.  He made a career long field goal, had a pretty good yards per punt average and punted one left-footed which saved the Huskies field position.  That was a great play that I’m not even going to try to explain.  Marvin Hall is fast and will break a return soon.  He’s been very close in the last two games.  He’s a game changer and I’m glad Sark pulled the red-shirt off of him.  Not literally.  They don’t actually wear red-shirts.

After watching the game again, this game was something that all Husky fans should feel proud of.  But, it’s time to turn our attention to our bitter rival down south.  It’s been fun to bask in this game.  I doubt we’ll have this feeling next week but it seems like these Dawgs like to surprise.



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Getting To Know Your Dawgs – Defensive Line

Matthew wrote a post a couple of hours ago that is previewing the Husky team as a whole.  I’m posting over it a little bit too soon, so here’s the link because you should go read it.

We’re to the defensive side of the ball in this series and I’ll probably only keep the defensive side to three posts.  Like the offensive line post (which is a few scrolls down from this one), the player information will be less than a skill position.  Linemen don’t often have much to say and I am not able to analyze them as well.  Plus, there’s a lot of them.  I’ll try to cover everyone who will play and I’ll start with the guys who are listed as the starters.  The guys who are going to red-shirt or are buried on the depth chart probably won’t be listed.  If you have any questions about them, leave it in the comments.  Also, Hau’oli Jamora is injured and looks like he could be out all season so I’m going to leave him off on this post.  And here we go!

DE – Talia Crichton (Sr.)

Every time I’ve heard it mentioned this camp that Crichton was a senior I did a double-take.  It seems weird to me.  Talia was a guy who probably should have red-shirted his first year but the depth wasn’t so good and he was needed.  He was over-matched that year and never has been a huge factor on the defense.  Now, he gets his chance as a senior, with Jamora out, to make a real contribution.  The coaches all say that he’s had a good camp (although, what else would they say?) and has gotten better and better.  He has definitely beefed up since his younger years, playing at 265.  With that being said, he is probably the biggest question mark on the line and doesn’t have proven depth behind him.

NT – Danny Shelton (So.)

I think there are a few guys on the defense that we can expect to take a big step forward this year and Danny leads that charge.  A lot has been thrown at the big fella but he looks to be ready to handle it.  With the Dawgs switching to a quicker, smaller defensive line this year, Shelton has to be the guy that stops the run.  He needs to demand double teams so he can let the athletes at safety and linebacker to make the play.  The coaches wouldn’t have tried this defense if they didn’t think Shelton was capable so I think we have to trust their judgment.  I think by the end of the season, Shelton will be one of the three best players on the defense and he showed flashes of that last year.  This is all as a true sophomore, by the way.

DE – Andrew Hudson (RS So.)

This position could also be called defensive tackle.  If you look at the defense as a 3-4 (3 defensive linemen, 4 linebackers), then Hudson is the defensive end.  I think of it more as a 4-3, which I’ll get into more in a minute.  Hudson had to add some weight to play this position and will also be counted on to help against the run.  Just to reiterate the point, this is not a tradition defensive end position.  Hudson started 2 games last year at end and played in all of them.  He was another guy who got better as the season wore on and I think we’ll see a big improvement from him this season.  When the Huskies play against teams that want to pound the ball down our throat (think Stanford, LSU, and Utah) I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hudson move over and share time with Crichton, leaving this space for Tokolahi and Potoa’e  Before I move on, keep an eye on how young these guys are.  It’s the same theme as the offensive line, there are a whole lot of sophomores.  I think that’s when a good share of guys show the most progress (especially if they’ve red-shirted).

Rush End – Josh Shirley (RS So.)

This is a new position to the defense that many aren’t familiar with.  This position, in my mind, is still a part of the defensive line but the player may be standing up more (like a linebacker).  The focus of this position is to rush the quarterback so a guy who stands up and rushes off the edge will be playing here.  Josh Shirley is that guy.  He came to U-Dub after being kicked off the UCLA team a couple of weeks after he went to school there.  It turned out that the incident wasn’t a big deal and after a red-shirt year and a solid freshman campaign, people are expecting big things from Shirley.  This position was essentially made for him and he should be solid in it.  He’s a little undersized to be considered a conventional defensive end but his quickness is what will scare teams.  He had a great game against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl and looks to continue that going forward.  Don’t be surprised if once in a while he isn’t rushing, but will stand up and drop into coverage.  That probably won’t happen much but it will enough times to make the quarterback think of it.

5 Others To Watch:  DE – Pio Vatuvei (Fr.), N/DT – Semisi Tokolahi (RS Sr.), NT – Lawrence Lagafuaina (RS So.), DE/T – Sione Potoa’e (Jr.), RE – Connor Cree (RS Fr.)

Pio Vatuvei will probably be slowly mixed into the rotation.  He is a freshman that flipped from USC to U-Dub late last year in the recruiting game.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he had an impact like Hau’oli Jamora did his freshman year.  If he does, that would be a huge boost to this Husky defensive line.  Semisi Tokolahi was great in 2010.  He was one of the best lineman on the team and then he broke his leg in the Apple Cup and never made it all the way back last year.  I expect him to start (or play a lot) against running teams.  I’ve read from many places that he looks fully recovered from the injury.  Lawrence Lagafuaina is another big guy who could fill the middle.  He’s got a few guys in front of him on the depth chart but he’ll be used in goal line packages to stop the run.  Sione Potoa’e is a little bit of a forgotten man.  He came to U-Dub as a heralded recruit, and rightfully so.  He had to play his true freshman year and that may have hurt his development or confidence.  He still has the makings of a very good player.  He’s another guy I’d expect to see in against running teams quite a bit.  This is the most quality depth the Huskies have had at defensive tackle in quite some time.  I expect to see Connor Cree in on special teams more than anything else.  He is built like Josh Shirley and could be valuable rushing off the edge.

Thanks for reading!


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Chip Kelly to NFL?

In case you’ve somehow missed it, reports are out that Chip Kelly is leaving Oregon to become head coach of the Oregon Ducks.  The first thought for many is that he must think sanctions are not far away for Oregon, similar to Pete Carroll leaving USC.  Time will tell if that’s true or if he just wants to try the NFL, but this is good news for the Huskies either way.  Kelly is one of the best offensive minds and head coaches in football and nearly anyone else will be a step down.

The Ducks will surely make a play for Boise State’s Chris Petersen and maybe TCU’s Gary Patterson, but I have my doubts they’ll land a big name guy if sanctions are really coming.  Husky fans just have to hope that Oregon’s search doesn’t lead to Oregon alum and new Husky DC Justin Wilcox.  I don’t think it will, but if he leaves, he might take a good chunk of the new defensive staff with him.  Assuming this goes through, it’s going to be a crazy week of recruiting before the February 1st signing day.  Stay tuned.


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Catching Up With The Dawgs

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks at Montlake for Sark and his football team.  Matthew wrote about the recruiting aspect a few weeks ago and that combined with all of the coaching news has made for an interesting month since the Alamo Bowl.  Tonight, I’ll take a look at most of the news (date-by-date fashion) and add a few thoughts to it.

December 14th, 2011 – What Happened: Demetrice Martin, who was the cornerback coach at UW, left to fill the same position at UCLA.  He was one of the top recruiters on the Husky staff and his loss was felt immediately in the recruiting realm.  Several commits flipped from UW to UCLA and a few other guys dropped the Huskies from their list.

Looking At It Now:  It doesn’t seem like a big deal now and, frankly, I think it might help the Huskies.  Martin was undoubtedly a good recruiter but I don’t know about his coaching.  Maybe we won’t see our corners lack confidence now?  Maybe they’ll play a little closer to the receiver.  None of the corners have developed under Martin (Q. Rich regressed significantly) and maybe they will under the new coach.  Maybe not, but I think it was time for a change at this coaching position anyway.

December 29th, 2011 – What Happened:  Kevaire Russel, one of the top recruits in the state, announces that he has verbally committed to Notre Dame over the hometown Huskies.  Message boards erupted (I’m talking about you Dawgman) in fury over how Sark can’t recruit.  It was a little shocking and interesting to see that the Huskies couldn’t keep a recruit at home.

Looking At It Now: It’s still a bit alarming that a lot of in-state recruits are turning elsewhere but it was never worth freaking out over.  The Huskies are still in on several big name guys and will probably end up with a very solid class.  I should have saved some of the comments from the Dawgman boards because it’s hilarious how blown out of proportion some were.

December 29th, 2011 –  What Happened:  The Huskies lost one of the most entertaining, frantic, fascinating football games I’ve ever seen.  The Alamo Bowl ended in with Baylor winning 67-56.  I still see that score and am astonished.  Both defenses were absolutely terrible and both offenses were phenomenal.  It’s a shame that a lot of the focus gets put on how horrible the defense was (which I admit, both were horrible) and not put on how good the offenses were.  Watching the national title week several weeks later, I couldn’t help think of how entertaining that game was.  By the way, the Dawgs and Baylor would score touchdowns on LSU and Alabama.

Looking At It Now:  You always want to win.  Let me start off by saying that.  A bowl win is nice because trophies are cool and you don’t want to have 67 points scored on you on national TV.  This game may be responsible for what all happened next and what happened next may be what takes the Dawgs back to the top of the Pac-12.

December 31st, 2011 – What Happened:  Sark fired Nick Holt, Mike Cox and Jeff Mills from his staff.  The Alamo Bowl seemed to be the final straw with the defense and Sark had enough.  It wasn’t much of a surprise and speculation quickly turned to candidates.

Looking At It Now:  It had to happen and it did.

January 2nd, 2012 – What Happened:  The Huskies hired away Justin Wilcox from the Tennessee Volunteers, he was their defensive coordinator.  He brought Peter Sirmon along with him and he will coach the linebackers.  This seemed to be Sark’s first choice and he made the move quickly.  People around the country were impressed by the hire of the up and coming DC and his right-hand recruiting man.

Looking At It Now:  When Sark gave Husky fans a day to speculate about who the new guy might be, Justin Wilcox was my top choice.  Needless to say, I was pleased with the hire.  Wilcox has an impressive resume and seems to know what he’s doing.  His players seemed to love him and he was successful at both of his stops.  He may leave for a head coaching gig soon, but that means that he’d have been successful.  I’m all for this hire and it seems like everyone else is too.

January 12th, 2012 – What Happened:  The Huskies hired Keith Heyward to be their new defensive backs coach.  He is a younger guy who had the same position at Oregon State.  There’s a theme to these hires and it’s that they’re all younger guys.  He was said to be one of the best recruiters on the OSU staff.  I don’t have any examples of his coaching ability.

Looking At It Now:  I don’t have a lot of basis for this but I think this might be the most underrated hire the Huskies made.  It seems like this one was forgotten after all of the news.  Heyward is well liked by recruits and may steal a few from Oregon State this year.  Again, I don’t know much about his coaching ability but he was loved at OSU and was said to be a good hire by many experts.

January 16th, 2012 – What Happened:  The Huskies hired Tosh Lupoi away from the California Golden Bears.  He was their defensive line coach and a pretty successful one.  He is said to be the best recruiter on the west coast and everyone was impressed with the hire.  Many Cal recruits were shocked and said to be opening their recruitment back up.

Looking At It Now:  Well, these last couple only happened a few days ago so there’s not a ton to add except for my opinion.  This is a great hire.  Lupoi probably can’t live up to the hype he has come with because I’ve never seen an assistant coach have so much hype aside from Ed Orgeron, who is the other top recruiting assistant in the Pac-12.  It was the best defensive-line coaching hire Sark could have realistically made.  It was the final piece of, what I consider, the best staff he could have put together.

January 16th 2012 – What Happened:  Nick Montana, the heralded quarterback, decided to transfer from the UW.  He came to the Huskies with much fanfare and didn’t perform very well in his only start (not that it was all his fault).  From what I saw he has a future as a college quarterback.  In fact, from what I saw he could start for Alabama or LSU and win a national championship.

Looking At It Now:  It was inevitable, really.  The guy wants to play and wasn’t going to have much of a chance here.  Watching his demeanor in practice, I was never a huge fan of his but he’s got talent and is a smart kid.  I hope he does well in the future.

January 17th – What Happened:  The Huskies offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier, left UW and took the same role at Alabama.  It’s hard to blame him, he’ll get to call his own plays for the defending national champions and he’ll get a raise.  Unfortunately for the Dawgs, Nussmeier was a great coach and they had to fill another position in their staff.  This was the date it became official, it was known quite sometime in advance.

Looking At It Now:  Nussmeier is a good coach and deserves a ton of credit for the progress Jake Locker and Keith Price made.  With that being said, everyone knows this is Sark’s offense.  He is the creative young mind and he has his system.  I would be surprised if the Huskies felt a huge impact by the loss of Nussmeier.  Best of luck to him at Alabama.

January 18th – What Happened:  The Huskies poached another Cal coach in Eric Kiesau to fill the role of offensive coordinator.  He’s another guy who’s said to be a good recruiter.  He was the wide receiver coach at Cal and will coach the quarterbacks here.  Cedric Dozier, another top recruit in Washington who committed to Cal, is said to be reconsidering because of this news.

Looking At It Now:  Another good hire, although I don’t really think it’s an upgrade from Nussmeier.  Time will tell what Kiesau will do on the recruiting trail and I’ll be interested to see if there’s any drop off in the development of the quarterbacks.  I would guess no, because of the presence of Sark.

Wow, a lot has happened.  When I put it all out like this I’m somewhat amazed.  So, where is the program now compared to about a month ago?  It’s hard to tell without a game being played, of course.  Everyone thinks the staff is better than it was.  The recruiting sure seems like it’s going to gain steam at some point in the next couple of weeks, if not days.  With all that in mind, I think the program is trending up.  These hires have given the Huskies some steam but, as we learned with Nick Holt, some hires aren’t as glamorous as they first seem.  Sark did the best that he could, but you just never know.

Two weeks until signing day!  I love that day.  For now, be careful out there in the snow.  It’s a little crazy out there.  Go Dawgs!

Oh, and Nick Holt Jr. transferred to Montana!







Filed under Huskies Football, UW Football Recruiting

Montlake’s Going Crazy!

The last week has been a wild one for University of Washington football.  Between the Alamo Bowl, coaching changes, and recruiting news, there have been no shortage of emotion swings.  I’m going to save the recruiting talk for a future post, but I want to offer some thoughts on the rest of the news.

Plenty has already been said on the Alamo Bowl, so I’ll keep it short, but it’s hard to ask for much more out of a bowl appearance.  Besides a win, that is.  Everyone expected a shootout, but this one went to a completely different level.  I’ve heard people say that the lack of defense was embarassing, and I suppose that it probably is.  I certainly wish the Huskies would have pulled out the win.  Still, I can’t get overly upset about it.  That was one of the craziest things we’ll ever get to see.  I talk a lot on here about how I increasingly watch sports for the chance to be amazed.  Winning is great, but I want to see great performances and events that surprise me.  The Alamo Bowl had both. Continue reading

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