Mad Son's Ramblings

August 30th, 2003.  The last time the Huskies ascended to the vaunted 17 spot in the AP poll.  It has been over a decade since we have managed to attain such a bourgeois ranking.  The Huskies won against a middling Illinois team and while we deserved to win - we were better and we out played them on the road despite a few bad calls - it still wasn't a great win.  Sure, we would have let Illinois mount a comeback and take the game from us in previous year but it still wasn't a great win.  As Steve Anoinette-Sarkisian once said "you want to have cake and eat it too?"  Yes, Steve, we want to win and we want it to be a good win.  We don't need to edge out a team who keeps it close throughout the game.  Ten point margin of victory...  not even two TDs  (how many huge balls did we get lucky that the hapless Illinois receivers dropped?  Those dropped balls may be the stuff of illoog legend now, but they are a liability for us).  Far from a convincing win.  We don't need a team who gives up as many yards in penalties as they do on defense.  12 penalties in a game - once every five minutes.  If this were a drinking game we wouldn't make it to the end of the game.  This team may be ranked, they may be in the upper echelon of the college football middle class even, but this is not looking like a true Husky team.  Once we do to the Illinoises of the world every week what we did to BSU, then we will be there.  We will be the porterhouses, not the steak fajitas (at least we have upgraded from chicken fajita!).  

So before getting to why we aren't a Rose Bowl contender (in my eyes) I will start by covering the great aspects of this team that make us look like we belong.  How about our future Heisman trophy ignoree Bishop Sankey?  So far the guy is an awesome running back which we all knew.  He is in the same league as Corey Dillon and Napoleon Kaufman.  Who here thought that Sankey would pick up where Chris Polk left off (and some?).  If you did, good for you.  I sure didn't.  Despite the coogly defamation of him he showed promise to be a very servicable back when he got a few of Polk's carries.  Damn did he surpass that expectation.  It will be interesting to see if our future rubbing backs develop as well as Polk and Sankey without Joel Thomas around.  We do need some development in our number two back for sure.  I do not think we have a clear cut backup.  Callier had a great run on Saturday but he has shown at times he is more of a Jamie Moyer type to Polk and Sankey's Randy Johnson and Felix Hernandez.  Cooper is a great Husky who may very well have purple blood (which would be some strange disorder involving the mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood or something?  Fuck if I know... I'm not a biologist) but he has not set himself apart in the two or so carries he has had this year.  Right now it looks like Washington is our number two back but I am not sure the number two stands for carries, total yards, or fumbles but all apply for last game.  Someone needs to step up - when Sankey goes pro we are poised for a huge regression.  In the meantime Sankey will win football games for us.

Keith Price is another obvious mention in the top tier of Washington football category.  His numbers are amazing.  He not only puts up big yards, but he is accurate and gets a lot of yards on high percentage stuff and not just bombs downfield.  My only knock against Price is that I felt he locked onto a few targets and threw into double teams rather than go through his full progressions.  Too gummy, I know.  If Jake Locker was as good as KP17 he would win the Heisman, no questions asked.

Our receivers have stepped up and seem to catch the ball now.  Kevin Smith who has been conspicuously absent at times has had two great games as a receiver and a blocker.  Mickens has gone from being a track guy to a football player.  This may be a function of KP actually operating in a functional offense which is why we are getting these synergies... fancy that...

The defense was servicable in this game.  I have more gripes than compliments for them but I guess they could have done worse... if that is even a compliment...  We did get four sacks...  as Sven pointed out and I think it is important for everyone to understand, a bend but don't break can only work with a pass rush.  Something neutral is that Fuimaono is better at run coverage than pass coverage.  

So now lets get on to the short comings that will continue to hold us back.  ASJ first since his absence isn't huge.  Obviously we didn't need him in week one and many people have commented on his lack of impact this week.  Maybe he doesn't know the plays as well from missed time.  Maybe he is out of shape.  From <a href="http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/09/11/2779804/fast-paced-huskies-looking-to.html" target=tntasjsos>The News Tribune</a> “First day I really couldn’t hang with it,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “When I got back … from my injury, I was like, whoa, the speed has increased three or four times from when I left.”  If ASJ wants to be an All-American and overcome his off-the-field issues in terms of draft stock, he needs to start catching up.  I hope he can contribute in the future and I hope it is through improved play and not through more targets.  We already throw plenty.  I am sure everyone else reading this noticed that as the game was winding on and we needed to run the clock down, we became increasingly pass happy (see three minutes left in the third).  Fortunately Sark did go back to the run but will he when we don't have Sankey?  If we have Callier as our number one back I think we see more series that are called like the end of the second quarter 

Bishop Sankey rush

Keith Price pass complete  

Keith Price pass complete  

Keith Price pass complete  

Bishop Sankey rush  

Bishop Sankey rush  

Keith Price pass incomplete  

Keith Price pass complete  

Keith Price pass complete  

Keith Price pass incomplete  

Keith Price pass complete    

Keith Price pass incomplete.  

Travis Coons 23 yard field goal 

as opposed to how we started the third

Bishop Sankey rush 

Bishop Sankey rush  

Bishop Sankey rush  

Jesse Callier rush  

Jesse Callier rush  

Bishop Sankey rush  

Bishop Sankey rush TOUCHDOWN.

(series information from ESPN)

So yeah, maybe in some eyes the all-passing series offsets the pass-heavy series but what we need is regular balance.  The "trickery" of always passing (or always rushing for that matter) is not that clever.  We just need good play calling.  Maybe this is why we accumulated 615 yards of offense but only 34 points.  I don't know.  Maybe it is poor return game?  I know this is anomalous.  I have never coached D1 football and I have a day job so I can't provide <i>ALL</i> the answers.  It also seems to me we don't really utilize the middle of the field.  Sometimes we run up the gut but I feel like all of our passes are to the sidelines.  I don't know if this intended to simplify plays or something?  I feel like this could be a limiting thing.  Maybe Sark is just setting everyone up for the long-con.  If we don't use the middle of the field all year we can bust it out in the Apple Cup or Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and SURPRISE everybody!  When Sark takes the Oregon approach, makes things fast but simple, things are good.  When he reverts to West-Torrance-High-Third-Period-English-Class-Chess-Champion Steve Sarkisian we flounder.

On defense Illinois found a way for teams without a running back to get after us - 5 wide.  Peters and Ducre can play corner and they can handle man coverage but when we need both our safeties to take on receivers and when our LBs are dropping back into coverage we are exposed.  As noted before Fuimaono had troubles doing this in my opinion.  In repose to the notion of moving Predator back to safety from linebacker - we need Shaq to play LB.  He stuffs the run, he pressures the quarterback, he drops into coverage - from the middle he does it all.  We are detracting from his multi-dimensionality by moving him to safety and weaking ourselves up front.  We already struggle with pass rush and real running backs.  One of the root causes of this is that we need a second DT.  Littleton has usurped Army All American 5* "If this guy isn't in the NFL in 3 years, then we screwed up" Sione Potoa'e as our starter alongside Penalty Shelton.  Despite his sack and a few tackles, I feel like I saw Littleton everywhere and he generally wasn't doing anything.  Maybe things will click for him soon but right now he is just sort of there and we are suffering for it.

In the end all of these struggles fall on Sark.  His play calling is still a problem, we are more undisciplined than ever, and our lack of lineman recruiting is showing (I didn't touch on OL problems since KP and Sankey mask that issue so well).  We shockingly seem to have actually accumulated a stock of decent to good position coaches (with the exception of Cozzetto).  Somethings are good.  Overall I am still skeptical of this team.  We were great against BSU and as Dennis Green and Mike Damone said "they're what we thought they were" - a very talented but inconsistent team which has been built by a coach who is in just over his head and would be a good fit at Arizona.

Evens & Ends

Wisconsin got screwed against ASU.  Bielema's wife tweeted about "karma"...  I am not sure she understand that concept so she'll fit in well in the SEC.  Pac-12 refs were reprimanded for the nouveau fail mary.  In the Pac-12 that means just about nothing.  Our reputation as the worst refs in the world must go on.  Kiffin, Pelini, and Brown all are in trouble.  Brown is a legend and USC's fans have already abandoned them so it is too late to salvage there but Pelini is in real trouble.  Following the UCLA plungering of Nebraska, Tommie Frazier called for new coaching.  7-6  7-6  7-6  9-4.  Relatedly Mora's implosion goes as planned.  Coming back from a 21-3 halftime deficit to win 41-21 just shows UCLA lacks resiliency, moral fiber, etc/whatever.  Stanford let Army put up 20 points, Ohio state let Cal score almost as much as Portland State did, and Oregon roto-rooted Tennessee.  Next up is a major test against Idaho State.  If we beat Arizona like we should then this team will be able to prove whether or not we have returned against Stanford and Oregon (spoiler alert: we haven't).