The Huskies Are Busy Building For The Future

We’re in prime Transfer Portal Szn across college football. It’s kind of a shitty time to be a college football fan, when it’s supposed to be the very best time.

College bowl games are the greatest. If it were up to me, I would be off of work right now and dedicating my days to nothing but college football enjoyment and chaos. But, I used up my PTO in admittedly more fun ways, so I just have to settle for what I can get outside of work hours.

But, the bowls are rendered less exciting when there’s so much flux going on across the sport. Guys are opting out to focus on turning pro. Pretty much, unless you’re one of the final four teams, you have to be worried about your biggest stars finishing out their college careers. Then, there are the players who are entering the transfer portal, and the coaches who are taking jobs with other programs.

The Huskies are poised to lose their Special Teams coordinator and defensive edge coach to be the DC at San Diego State. Part of me wonders if that’s the first of many coaches leaving for bigger opportunities elsewhere.

This isn’t something I’m trying to dwell on, though. We’re in the playoffs! We’re the #2 team in the nation, and we have an all-important Sugar Bowl game on January 1st to be concerned with! But, the sport of college football doesn’t stop just because I want it to.

There have been a number of acclaimed players opting to transfer to Washington in the last week or so. We picked up a bigtime DT from Montana State with one year of eligibility, who should help our interior pass rush in 2024. We picked up a potential starter at OT from San Diego State, with 3 years of eligibility, who has all the size and ability you’re looking for. We also picked up a defensive end from ASU who was the co-leader in sacks with 6 for the Sun Devils; he also has one year of eligibility. And, to boot, we picked up a grad transfer linebacker with a year of eligibility.

The Huskies will have a number of openings in 2024. Troy Fautanu, our LT, is likely going pro (and going very high in the draft to boot). Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui are both going pro, severely diminishing our defensive end position. Edefuan Ulofoshio and Ralen Goforth are both out of here. So, there’s immediate openings that these transfers could potentially fill.

But, of course, the elephant in the room is quarterback. Michael Penix is obviously in his final college season. That hole to fill is the size of a thousand Grand Canyons. Dylan Morris has already committed to transferring – apparently not seeing a path to starting for the Huskies barring injuries to his competition – so nabbing a transfer QB was always going to be in the cards.

As it turns out, that transfer QB ended up being Will Rogers, from Mississippi State. He’s thrown for over 12,000 yards in his career (apparently 2nd in SEC history) with 94 TDs and 28 INTs. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

This isn’t necessarily a 100% slam dunk. Rogers played in – and had his biggest success with – Mike Leach’s Air Raid system. His 2023 season was injury-riddled, as well as disappointing as the offensive scheme shifted away from the Air Raid after Leach’s untimely death. He apparently isn’t great at pushing the ball down the field, so it remains to be seen how well he’s going to fit into this system. But, at his best, he’s been accurate and extremely productive. There’s no reason to think he couldn’t be a quality passer for the Huskies next year. But, it’s no guarantee that he will be either.

These moves are all well and good; they appear to be ensuring the strength of the program in both the short and long term. But, the only thing I care about at this time is making sure the Huskies give Kalen DeBoer an extension and a raise. The next thing I’d like to see is for this team to find a way to keep Ryan Grubb in the fold for as long as possible. This only works – this only continues – as long as we can keep our coaching staff intact. I’ve never had an OC this effective since I’ve been a fan of the Huskies, so it’ll definitely be a significant transition when we finally have to move on to someone else; I’d like to delay that as long as humanly possible.

The Huskies Dominated A Hapless Future Big Ten League-Mate

This was some kind of impressive ass-whooping!

It’s hard for me to really tell you who’s got the best offense in college football. I don’t watch all the games; I don’t follow any other team all that closely. If you wanted to argue against the Huskies before this past Saturday, I’d say look no further than their relatively pedestrian rushing stats through the first two games. And while it’s only been one game, I don’t know if you can necessarily hold that against ’em now.

Oh sure, Michael Penix had his usual brilliant game (27/35, 473 yards, 4 TDs), and that’s all while playing only two drives into the second half. To that point, the Huskies put up all 41 of their points in this contest (somehow still punting twice in the process), and it was time to lean on the Spartans and salt this game away largely on the ground. You could argue that even on the two second-half field goal drives, we just settled for them to give our kicker practice, as I would have no confidence in Michigan State whatsoever to stop us on 4th & 6 in the red zone.

That’s all to say that this game could’ve been MUCH more lopsided, and we took pity on our future Big Ten league-mates.

But, we also found some success on the ground, and I think that’s going to be a huge boost for us going forward! Dillon Johnson looked absolutely unstoppable on his only 8 carries, netting 71 yards on an 8.9 yards per carry average. And Tybo Rogers mopped up beautifully, carrying it 15 times for 74 yards, earning himself a bigger role in this offense going forward. All told – including Richard Newton’s 4 carries for 29 yards – the Huskies ran it 33 times for 177 yards, or a 5.4 yards per carry average. Simply outstanding!

Again, though, it was all about the passing game, with Dylan Morris chipping in for 63 yards on 2/4 passing, with a pick. Rome Odunze led all receivers with 8 for 180. Ja’Lynn Polk had 5 for 118 and a TD. Jalen McMillan had 4 for 96 before a scary-looking injury that might keep him out for the short term, but shouldn’t keep him out for the long. And, new fan favorite Jack Westover had 4 catches for 37 yards and a whopping 3 TDs! I don’t know how I don’t remember him previously (probably because, as Tight End University, Washington does nothing but churn out elite tight ends), but he’s already got 4 scores on the young season, on only 10 receptions (all he does … catch touchdowns!).

The defense, though, really took a step forward in this one. It’s not easy to hold any team to just one score – which took place on their final possession of the game, after an 11-play, 99-yard drive that took up over 5 minutes of game clock, against presumably nothing but backups – but, to go on the road, against a major Power 5 opponent, and absolutely dismantle them, was better than I could’ve possibly imagined.

We had 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks (both by ZTF), an interception, and two passes defended. We limited them to 53 yards rushing on 27 carries, and we limited them to a combined 208 yards passing on 14/35! They had no answer for us whatsoever.

It’s hard to say if that’s going to be deemed a quality win or not. I just don’t think they’re in the same universe as us. They might go on to be okay in the Big Ten this year, but my hunch is they won’t be any better than 6-6, and that’s probably the best-case scenario, considering word is out that their maligned head coach is about to be fired (if it hasn’t happened already).

The Huskies sit at #8 in the nation, but we’ve definitely closed the gap on Penn State. It feels like we’re one or two more impressive victories away from leapfrogging a team or two, and that’s without the need for anyone ahead of us to actually lose.

On the docket this week is a home night game against Cal. Cal is 2-1, with their only blemish being a late touchdown given up to Auburn at home in a 14-10 defeat. Auburn is currently 3-0, so that should probably be qualified as a “good loss” for them. Nevertheless, Cal’s defense is no joke, so if we were looking for a test, this might be the best one we see all year (at least, until Utah comes to town in November).

It gets real now. I know we’re at home, the game is at night, and for anyone willing to stay up past 10:30pm on the east coast, this will be the marquee matchup of the timeslot, but you’re not looking for style points here. The Huskies are favored by 21 points, but if I were a gambling man, I’d take the Golden Bears to cover. And I’d certainly take the under of 63 points scored in the game. Cal hasn’t had a ton of success against us, but in our last four outings (no game in the COVID year), we’re 2-2, and every game has been decided by one score or less. They’ve never really figured out how to field a competent offense under Justin Wilcox, but his defenses have been underrated and nasty to go up against. I’m not particularly looking forward to this one (it’s a good thing I’ll be at my bachelor party in New Orleans this weekend).

After that, we go to Arizona, and it was announced that will also be a 7pm start time. So, you know, hope you enjoy the night games! Hope nothing too fucked up and weird happens!

The Huskies Prevented Last Weekend From Being A Total Bust

I think, schedule-wise, this season has set the Huskies up for success so far. Boise State was probably the second-toughest non-conference opponent and playing them in Week 1 was the way to go. It’s a nice little test, and the Huskies passed with flying colors. The Broncos lost a hard-fought game at the last second on a 55-yard field goal to a pretty-good UCF team, otherwise they’re 1-1 and looking formidable in the Mountain West.

Tulsa, who the Huskies beat 43-10 on Saturday, was easily the worst of the three non-conference opponents, and we picked a good game to have to overcome a lot of mistakes. Winning by 33 points – in spite of those mistakes – is about as good as you could expect (tough on the bettors who picked the Dawgs to cover, though).

Michael Penix still had a pretty good game, and I don’t think he did anything to seriously damage his standing in the Heisman Trophy race, but he did throw an ugly pick that probably should’ve been directed elsewhere. Nevertheless, he had 409 yards and 3 TDs on 28/38 passing, which has him sitting fourth in college football in total yards (but two of the players ahead of him have already played in three games). He’s also tied for fourth with 8 TD passes, but again everyone tied or above him have played in three games. He’s still over 70% completions, and his average yards per attempt is at 11.0.

His performance also could’ve been even better, if it weren’t for some uncharacteristic drops from our top two receivers. Jalen McMillan lost a fumble and I think also had a drop, and Rome Odunze had a couple bounce off his hands. They, nevertheless, each topped 100 yards receiving (8 for 120 for McMillan; 7 for 107 for Odunze) and each had a receiving TD (Odunze also ran one in from 14 yards out).

The defense wasn’t all-world or anything, but Kamren Fabiculanan had his second pick in as many games, and we did run into a couple sacks even though we were missing a number of starters (including ZTF, which I very much hope isn’t serious). Again, if you have to sit some guys with nicks and scrapes, this is the game to do it.

The pass defense was rock solid; we held the Tulsa QBs to 85 and 65 yards passing. But, the run defense definitely needs work (40 for 168, for a 4.2 yard average).

Also, the run offense needs a lot of work. We were, again, limited by injuries, but our top two backs only ran for a combined 12 for 48. I get it, this offense runs through the passing game (Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk had two runs for 41 yards and 2 TDs, to inflate our team average), but against that defense, we should’ve had no problem rolling all over them on the ground.

Thankfully, though, we’re 2-0, the passing game looks great, and it feels like we’re picking up right where we left off. This team improved as the 2022 season went along, so to already be at that level is a blessing. There are things this team can work on and improve, and when they do, it’s going to be quite a formidable opponent for any team crossing our path.

Up next, we have our first big non-conference road opponent (not counting Texas in the bowl game) in the Kalen DeBoer era. Last year, we beat Michigan State at home by 11 points, needing to hold on at the end. That Spartans team – at the time – was ranked 11th in the nation; they would go on to finish 5-7. They’re currently 2-0, unranked, and appear to have a new quarterback and running back combo. They’ve won a couple of cupcake games, and now their head coach has been suspended without pay for sexual harassment.

I don’t know what this means for the Huskies, to be honest. Will they be fired up, playing for a backup coach? Will they be deflated because they all kind of think their head coach is a scumbag? Is their head coach even any good? He has an 18-14 record in three seasons (with a win in the Peach Bowl after the 2021 season under his belt, but was that with the previous guy’s players?). How are the fans feeling right now? Well, they’re fans, so there’s probably a significant portion of them who are siding blindly with the coach.

Either way, it’s always tough playing even a mid-tier Power 5 school on the road. Those stadia are humongous and will surely fill to capacity at the opportunity to see not only a Top 10 school (the Huskies stayed at 8th overall this week), but a future league-mate effective next year.

Not knowing anything about the quality of the Michigan State players, I would say this is a game the Huskies should win. We’re, at the moment, favored by 16 points, and it’ll be interesting to see where that line goes as we get to gametime. Last year, we lost two games, both on the road (we were 3-2 in true road games), and both losses were marred by mistakes.

Penix threw 3 picks combined in those losses, and hit on only 65% of his passes. Moreover, those games were ruined by very poor defense (giving up a combined 85 points and 896 yards, while forcing only a combined 3 punts).

On the whole, the Huskies improved as time went on, both in general and with respect to their road performances. We eked one out against Cal, managed to take down a very good Oregon team by 3, and blew out the Cougs at the end. It’s imperative that we take care of business this week.

Win this game – even if it’s ugly – and we’re in very good shape. We’re home for Cal after that (the dreaded 7:30pm start; try not to remember the last time we played them in Husky Stadium during the Pac-12 After Dark slot), on the road for what should be a winnable game against the Wildcats (try not to remember the last time we went to the state of Arizona), then a BYE to prepare us for our showdown with Oregon in mid-October.

These are the games I worry about, though. It can be easy to overlook a team like Michigan State. Our conference slate starts next week, they seem to be a team in disarray, and we’re a high-falutin Top 10 team with a seemingly-indestructable passing attack. If our injured guys aren’t able to return, or if we lose others to injury, and we get off to a slow start and let that crowd assert itself, maybe some weird shit happens and we’re in a second half dogfight that we can’t quite overcome.

I should also point out that I’ll be with my friends, Deckgating and watching the game on their outside television, which … has seen some mixed results in the past during big games. I can’t say for sure if I’m the Bad Luck Guy or not, but we just need some more bites at the apple to prove my addition to the party is safe.

You know what I will say, though? Sort of off-topic, and I hope we never have to see this play out in a game that still matters, but I like what I’ve seen from Dylan Morris in garbage time! I know, it’s garbage time, we’ve amassed a huge lead, and both teams just want to get out of there without any more injuries, but he’s looked good. He’s looked so much better than he did as a starter, and it gives me hope that – next year – when Penix is playing in the NFL, Morris will be able to re-ascend to the starter’s job and keep this train rolling down the tracks! Not that I’m looking beyond the 2023 season, but it’s nice is all I’m saying. Good for him! Good for him for staying and good for us in case we need him.

My Least-Favorite Seattle-Based Athletes, Part 1

I’ve been writing about my favorite athletes this week, which naturally led me down a path of thinking about my least-favorite athletes. It’s not as simple of an exercise, though!

For starters, I’m ostensibly a fan of these teams, so I’m not predisposed to hate these players. With my favorites, I had a deep pool of reserves with which to select five guys from each team; but I couldn’t even get to five with Husky football, for instance (and the four I’ve got I’m lukewarm on at best). It also feels weird to say you hate a college athlete. Maybe not as weird anymore, since they’re effectively semi-pro players with salaries and no contracts, who can transfer on the slightest whim. But, more broadly, most of the players I hate – or are otherwise my “least-favorite” – are on other teams. John Stockton, John Elway, Paul O’Neill, Mike Trout, literally anyone who’s ever donned an Oregon Ducks uniform.

I’ll be honest, people in general who wear green and yellow kinda piss me off.

To limit this list to people who’ve played for Seattle sports teams usually means one of two things: either they were high draft picks who faltered spectacularly, or they were high-priced free agents we brought in from an outside organization … who faltered spectacularly. But, here’s where I struggle with this. Because, as I just said, I’m not predisposed to hate these guys, usually my deepest ire is focused on those in power who brought these players here. The GM’s, the college coaches; I dislike Tyrone Willingham more than I dislike any individual college player.

But, I did my best to replicate what I did before. Let’s see if we can wrap it up in two days’ worth of posts.

Husky Football

  • Dylan Morris
  • Jacob Eason
  • Ronnie Fouch
  • Casey (don’t call me Corey) Paus

I’m getting this out of the way, because I’m telling you right now, none of these guys come close to cracking my Top 10. Paus and Fouch were from the dark days of Husky football and they just flat-out stunk. Eason was a hired gun returning home from Georgia and was supposed to lead our last great Husky team under Coach Pete to the playoffs; instead, he had zero touch on his deep ball and led us to a mediocre finish (while Jacob Haener who – by all accounts – actually outplayed him in training camp, was left to transfer to Fresno State, where he was awesome). And Dylan Morris was a recent whipping boy under Jimmy Lake who really had no business starting.

Husky Basketball

  • Jamal Bey
  • Markelle Fultz
  • Abdul Gaddy
  • Ryan Appleby
  • Spencer Hawes

Bey just never developed like he was supposed to. That might be Mike Hopkins’ fault more than anyone. But, he’s also been here for-fucking-ever and seemingly will never leave, which is my nightmare in this era of college athletics where guys transfer to new schools all the time. Why couldn’t we shake this kid? Fultz was a five-star phenom who never lived up to the hype. Gaddy never developed a consistent offensive game, for someone who was the number 2 point guard in the country. Appleby never saw a wild jacked-up three he didn’t automatically shoot (and brick). And Hawes was another one-and-done whose one year was pretty pathetic.

Supersonics

  • Kendall Gill
  • Jim McIlvaine
  • Sarunas Marciulionis
  • Vin Baker
  • Calvin Booth

We’ll get more into Gill and McIlvaine tomorrow. Marciulionis was a shooting guard we brought in for the ill-fated 1994-1995 season. I don’t know if he’s actually as bad as I remember, but I sure didn’t like him at the time. He catches a good portion of the blame for our first round exit that year (with Gill infamously getting the lion’s share). The thing was, he was supposed to be this veteran hot-shot to get us over the hump (after the disaster that was being the first #1 seed to lose in the first round the previous season). Instead, we finished even worse and still lost in the first round. Vin Baker’s a tough case because when we first traded for him, he was awesome. Then, we signed him to a big-money extension, and he went in the tank. We would go on to find out he was an alcoholic with depression issues, so now it feels bad to shit on him. But, those were dark days for us all. Booth was just another in a long line of shitty centers we VASTLY overpaid; you could put nine guys in this spot and I’d loathe them all the same.

Seahawks

  • Jerramy Stevens
  • Kelly Jennings
  • Rick Mirer
  • Germain Ifedi
  • Jimmy Graham

We’ll save Stevens and Jennings for tomorrow. I’ve gone to great lengths to bemoan our fate for being saddled with Mirer, when just one pick earlier we could’ve gotten Drew Bledsoe. But, having the second quarterback in a draft – at the number 2 pick, to boot – should come with a reasonable amount of success! Maybe in another time, we could’ve crafted an offense to properly utilize his running ability. But, the damn guy just couldn’t throw the football, and he set us back for years to come. Ifedi was a mediocre guard we tried to shoehorn into the right tackle spot, to predictably terrible results. And, again, I hate the idea of trading for Jimmy Graham – giving away our elite center in the process – more than I hate the actual player. Of course, his “blocking” style left a lot to be desired, and by the time he got here, he wasn’t the same athlete that he was in New Orleans. Consider it the opening salvo of catering to Russell Wilson’s desires, which torpedoed this franchise for the duration of his tenure here.

Mariners

  • Richie Sexson
  • Chone Figgins
  • Jesus Montero
  • Carlos Silva
  • Justin Smoak

You wanna know where the vast majority of my discontent resides? Look no further! Spoiler alert, we’re going to talk about my Top 10 least-favorite Seattle-based athletes tomorrow, and all five of these Mariners are on the list! This doesn’t even get into Hector Noesi (who might be the worst pitcher of all time), Bobby Ayala (crushed us on the regular out of the bullpen in the mid-to-late 90’s), Eric Byrnes (absolutely worthless), Jarrod Washburn (an overpaid dud), Erik Bedard (we traded a king’s ransom for a Five-And-Diver), Jeff Weaver (got crushed in 2007), Dustin Ackley (“best hitter in the draft” who couldn’t actually hit Major League pitching), Heathcliff Slocumb (cost us two great baseball players and didn’t even improve our bullpen one iota), or the countless other pieces of garbage who we’ve been saddled with over the years for this underachieving organization. It’s taking a lot out of me to not make the entire Top 10 exclusively Seattle Mariners.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a deeper look at those guys and rank them accordingly.

The Huskies Took Down Kent State In A Refreshing Change Of Pace (From All The Losing, To Teams Both Good & Bad)

When I set my schedule of things to write about over the next couple weeks, I didn’t plan on saying anything about the first Husky football game of the season, for a few reasons. For starters, I have a lot of other things I want to write about this week, as the baseball season remains exciting and the NFL and Fantasy Football seasons get underway. Also, I was out of state and didn’t expect I’d have a chance to watch any of the Husky game. As it turns out, rather than being on the Pac-12 Network as I anticipated, it was on Fox Sports, and I was in a hotel lobby that happened to have that channel available.

But, really, it seemed like a no-win proposition. Either the Huskies lose – and kick off yet another season by fucking up against a lower-tier foe – or they win, but whatever, because that’s what was supposed to happen. I went into that game kind of expecting to be annoyed. Indeed, when I saw the line (Huskies by 22 or 23 points, with an over/under of 60 for the game), and I fully expected both unders to hit.

The taste in my mouth from last season was all-encompassing. Ultimately, my thought process was: what if it wasn’t the coaching staff? What if the players themselves just aren’t up to snuff? What if the O-Line is disappointing again? What if the quarterback play is going to forever be sub-par? What if the receivers stink and we can’t get any sort of running game going? What if the defense is trash and takes a huge step back?

I was ready for all of that. So, I was really fucking excited to see us get off to such a hot start. We took a 21-7 lead after one quarter, and continued to build upon it the rest of the way, en route to a 45-20 victory (yes, we covered, and yes, so did the over).

Look, I know it’s the Kent State Hot Golden Flashes, and that’s an outcome we’re supposed to expect. But, again, after last year, it’s just nice and refreshing to see a fucking competent offense for once. I was pulled between the TV and a game of Mahjong I was playing with my girlfriend and friends, but every time I looked over, the Huskies were doing something great. Hitting passes on time and down field, busting wide-open holes for the running backs, going for it on 4th down and succeeding. Scoring touchdowns instead of field goals! With a quarterback who knows what the fuck he’s doing, who also wasn’t under constant duress! What a fucking breath of fresh air!

I had my doubts about Michael Penix Jr., but he was clearly the way to go, at least in this first game. I know Dylan Morris had a tough go of it with an inept offensive coaching staff, but his decision-making was erratic at best and confounding at worst. Penix, on the other hand, was decisive and accurate and dynamic. 26/39 for 345 yards, 4 TDs, and most importantly, 0 INTs. He also ran for 27 yards; it would appear he can do it all. Again, the level of opposition and all that, but we saw Morris against the same type of teams doing much worse.

I honestly don’t know what to make of the running game. I didn’t feel like they got off to that great of a start, but I also think this was a statement game, where the team wanted to assert its new passing attack and let everyone know things are going to be different (for the better). It was nice to see the receivers you’d expect to be at the top of the stat sheet doing their things. I love our tight ends and all that, but it was getting to be God damned ridiculous that they were the only weapons in our passing game the last few years. We need receivers to be receivers, not just effective blockers on the outside.

I also don’t know a whole lot about the defense. I think Kent State brings a high-powered offensive attack with quick throws, so sacks were obviously at a premium. The secondary is largely new, and had some growing pains in this one, but acquitted themselves well in the end. It’s not going to be a perfect unit overnight. But, this was a great first game to build off of.

We were perfect on field goals, and didn’t punt often, so that’s nice. But, the coverage units were probably our biggest weakness. Gotta clean that up before we get to the meaty part of our schedule.

Overall, I’m happy. Great first game. Let’s see how we do these next couple weeks before trying to assess what the non-conference results mean for the Pac-12 games.

I’m Intrigued By The 2022 Husky Football Season

I can’t call this a proper season preview, because I really know next-to-nothing about this team as it stands right now.

I also can’t really say why I’m intrigued by the upcoming football season, other than the usual excitement that comes with a new year. We’re all on the same level and there’s limitless possibilities. Once the games start, obviously we’ll have a better idea; my excitement or intrigue or whatever could dissipate as early as week 1. But, there are reasons for optimism that leave me thinking this team should be better than it was in 2021. So, you know, maybe I won’t be let down until week 3 or 4.

For starters, it doesn’t appear that this coaching staff is out of its league when it comes to recruiting. There have been a number of impressive “gets” – from faraway lands like Louisiana, for instance – that show me we could be in good hands.

But, even in the short term, I fundamentally believe this coaching staff will do more with Jimmy Lake’s players than Jimmy Lake & Co. ever could. This is a proper head coach, with a legitimate background in offensive production. And the players who remain left over from the previous regime were drastically underperforming their potential. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kalen DeBoer and his staff will right the ship in a hurry.

I’m also greatly encouraged by the number of high-rated defensive recruits we’re bringing in. Part of that may be residual Jimmy Lake positivity, because say what you will about him as a head coach, but he could coach up the DB room like nobody’s business. With our recent history of high profile success in getting our secondary players into the NFL – as high draft picks, no less – the University of Washington has taken the mantel of DB-U. But, obviously, Lake isn’t here anymore, so the defensive coaches we have now must be worth their weight in salt, at least from a recruiting perspective. If that carries over into coaching on the field – and we manage to see little-to-no drop-off in defensive production in the actual games – then I think that bodes very well for a dramatic turnaround in our overall fortunes from a win/loss standpoint.

One of the biggest areas with room for improvement is the quarterback position, and I think there’s a lot to like with the Huskies, even if they may not compare super-favorably on a national stage, or even among conference foes. Michael Penix Jr. seems to have the inside track as the starter, since he transferred over here from Indiana, where he has experience in the DeBoer scheme. Then, there’s the incumbent starter, Dylan Morris, who’s had a couple of up-and-down seasons, but nevertheless has a lot of potential to be harnessed by a coaching staff who knows what the fuck they’re doing offensively (I really can’t say enough shitty things about Jimmy Lake & Co. when it comes to the Husky offense shitting the fucking bed). If Kalen DeBoer can turn Jake Haener into a top-tier college quarterback, then there’s no reason why he couldn’t do the same with Morris. And, to top it all off, those two guys have a 5-star Sam Huard breathing down their necks. It appears there’s a legit 3-way quarterback competition going on, and the winner of that should be all the better for what he’ll have to go through in winning the job.

I’ll also say that the schedule is pretty damned reasonable. No USC or Utah makes our road in the Pac-12 (for now) that much easier. All of our non-conference games are at home (including the first leg of a home-and-home series with Michigan State). The rest of the home games are all very winnable, with Stanford being the toughest (the others being Arizona, Oregon State, and Colorado).

Obviously, the toughest game on our slate is at Oregon; that’s always a nightmare. Though, we get that game in mid-November, which will hopefully give our team time to gel (I kinda doubt it’ll matter though). There are also back-to-back games at UCLA and ASU that will really test our resolve. The other road games are at Cal and Wazzu for the Apple Cup (on a Saturday this year, for the first time in what feels like forever).

It’s not all sunshine and lollipops, though. There are lots of holdovers on the O-Line, but that was a unit that largely underperformed last year (and I believe we kept the offensive line coach, who ends up being one of the few – if only – holdovers on the coaching staff). Maybe the scheme will help clean things up in protection; I guess that’s gotta be our hope.

I would say the wide receiver group is largely unproven at this level; they kinda scare me, if I’m being honest. I have no doubt the talent potential is there, but will they produce when the games start? Can we count on them in big moments to come up with big catches? There’s been so much turnover, the only names I remember are Jalen McMillan, Rome Odunze, Taj Davis (vaguely), and Giles Jackson & Ja’Lynn Polk (who are both transfers who haven’t done much of anything in a Husky uniform). For a team who hasn’t had a true standout receiver since the John Ross/Dante Pettis days, I’d like to see some of these highly-rated guys start panning out.

Then, there’s the front seven on defense, which is hopefully going to be the ZTF Show. But, who’s going to ascend around our stud pass rusher? Especially when you figure this is probably our last year with ZTF, and there’s an outside chance that any sort of significant-ish injury might lead him to leave prematurely to get ready for the NFL Draft.

There aren’t many other front seven guys who are ringing any bells with me. Edefuan Ulofoshio is returning from injury and won’t play until midseason or later. We all hope Sav’ell Smalls takes a big step in his development. That’s kind of it as far as the front seven is concerned; I look forward to learning who’s good and who’s not. But, if they play collectively as bad as they were last year – getting gashed on the reg in the run game, while getting nothing done with the pass rush – then it won’t matter how much better we are offensively. If we can’t stop the likes of Oregon, UCLA, and the like, we’re gonna be screwed.

Finally, there were A LOT of Husky defensive backs who went to the NFL last year. Who steps up behind those guys? If we’re going to hold onto the title of DB-U, we need to spot those guys in a hurry and put them in positions to succeed.

Of course, the huge overarching caveat to everything is the fact that – as always – we need to temper our expectations. There’s a reason why the Huskies are largely expected to finish anywhere from the middle of the pack, all the way to the very bottom of the conference. Sure, there are surprise teams every year, but how often do those teams make the leap from middle of the pack to the very top? Seems unlikely. But, that’s why there’s intrigue! We don’t know yet how these players are going to respond to the new regime. A quality coaching staff can make all the difference, especially in the college game.

But, we’ve seen it go the other way all too often. Growing pains in learning a new system. And, in this case, there’s a new system on both sides of the ball. You almost have to bank on there being extra losses built in just for that reason alone. Maybe the new regime is stuck with guys they wouldn’t have normally recruited, because you literally can’t turn over the entire roster from scratch in one offseason.

There’s also some fear built in, because we’ve seen what happens when this team picks wrong in a quarterback battle. Jake Haener is a prime example. We opted to go with one year of Jacob Eason because we believed at the time he gave us the biggest upside to getting back to the college football playoffs. That turned out to be a miserable mistake (one that I was certainly wrong about at the time, as were a lot of Husky fans). What if we go with Penix and lose one or both of Morris and/or Huard (who go on to success elsewhere)? What if we go with Morris and he continues to make terrible decisions with the football? What if we go with Huard, but he’s just not the 5-star guy we all thought he was? There’s a lot riding on this! The repercussions could be massive, and there’s no guarantee that this coaching staff will be able to get the most out of who they choose. Nor is there a guarantee they’ll be able to restock the QB room next year if we have multiple defections.

So, I’m not going into this season with sky-high hopes. I’m just waiting to be pleasantly surprised. I’m open and receptive to winning football, but I need the team to cooperate. Considering the shitshow we’re likely to see out of the Seahawks, it would be nice if we had ONE good football team in the Seattle area.

The 2021 Husky Football Team Has Found A New Low, Needed To Fire Jimmy Lake

It’s impossible to say the Washington Huskies football team has hit rock bottom, when 2008 is still a thing that existed, but this is about as bad as it gets.

We headed into the game on Saturday against Arizona State with Jimmy Lake suspended for the one game. Earlier in the day, the Seattle Times dropped a bombshell of a story from 2019 – when Lake was still the defensive coordinator – corroborated by multiple players that he attacked then-wide receiver Quinten Pounds, unprovoked, at halftime in the locker room. There’s a bit of he said/she said going on – and Pounds, to my knowledge, hasn’t commented one way or the other – but if the final straw didn’t already break the camel’s back, this looked like a Bane vs. Batman scenario.

What’s more damning from the same article is that only 4 of 17 outgoing Huskies from that 2019 season would recommend players come play for Washington during their exit interviews. That’s appalling! That means the culture was fundamentally rotten, and given all the defectors over the last year-plus, points squarely at Jimmy Lake having lost the team. No doubt about it: he needed to go.

Of course, Lake will almost certainly be hired as a defensive coordinator at Alabama – or some other successful SEC school that doesn’t give two shits if coaches beat up their players – which will completely rehabilitate his image and have him back as a head coach somewhere else within the next five years. But, that’s neither here nor there.

Things looked especially galling for Washington when the Huskies jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the Sun Devils. The offense looked crisp, efficient, and wildly effective. John Donovan should never be allowed to coach in football ever again.

But, unfortunately, the Huskies got saddled with terrible field position the rest of the first half. The defense kept us in it for a while, leaving us with a 17-7 halftime lead, and a 24-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

We saw extended Sam Huard action FINALLY, but he was not put into a position to succeed. His first couple drives saw us backed up deep into our own end of the field. Then, the only drive he got in the second half was a TD drive comprised entirely of handoffs to running backs.

Meanwhile, after the first quarter, Dylan Morris was atrocious. He threw yet another miserable interception, and was WAY off-target throughout. I refuse to blame the weather for this, because he’s been WAY off-target all season, rain or shine. He stinks. If it wasn’t announced that the team is now planning to redshirt Huard (as long as he doesn’t play in TOO many games, the redshirt is still in play), I would be clamoring harder for Morris to get benched. As it is, whoever the third QB is on this roster can’t be any worse. It’s time to dump Morris and let him transfer away in the offseason.

As a result of Morris’ jackassery, the Sun Devils were able to take over in the fourth quarter. Certainly, the defense being gassed – thanks in large part to a 20-play, 9-minute drive in the period, followed by no rest from the Husky offense on the subsequent drive – had everything to do with it.

I hate the 2021 Huskies. They stink. They’re 4-6 and will probably have a decent chance to win in Colorado next week, but that’s only the precursor for losing the Apple Cup and watching the Cougs dancing on our field on Black Friday. Yay. I can’t wait.

Who the Huskies hire next will be the big story of the offseason. I fully expect to be underwhelmed.

It’s Time For The Washington Huskies To Fire Jimmy Lake

Look, he’s officially become a clown. I don’t know how else to explain it. He’s trying to straddle some line between aggressive and conservative, between brash and humble, between forthright and cryptic. Which ultimately makes him intentionally contradictory, and proves without a shadow of a doubt that he has no identity for himself, nor any actual plan as to how to lead a football team.

If you’re going to shit-talk the Ducks about how they let dum-dums into their program, then fucking lean into it! Don’t sprinkle in something you KNOW is going to be twisted and contorted into Bulletin Board material (you’ve been around the game of football long enough, you know how the media works by now; if you don’t, then we have a completely different problem on our hands) and then try to play it off as a media-contrived misunderstanding.

If you’re going to talk about how we’re going to have this aggressive offense that takes shots down the field and is all about explosive plays, then fucking run that offense! Stop with this run-heavy bullshit, and ditch the fucking Wildcat on critical third and fourth downs; defenses have figured that shit out.

If you’re going to preach competition and the best man for the job, then that has to apply to everyone – especially the starting quarterback. You can’t talk out of one side of your mouth one day, but then do something completely counter to what is supposedly your character. Dylan Morris is not the starting quarterback for this team and this offense. He might not even be a competent starting quarterback PERIOD. You know who is? The only 5-star recruit you’ve managed to bring into this program in ages. It’s time for Sam Huard to get his shot.

You say you want to be aggressive, then why are you punting on 4th and 10 when you’re down by 8 with less than two minutes left in the game. I don’t care if you’re on your own 10 yard line; it’s idiotic! And if you don’t believe in your quarterback to make a crucial play on 4th and 10, then YOU HAVE THE WRONG QUARTERBACK IN THE GAME!

The coup de grace was video that came out of Jimmy Lake getting so angry with one of his own players on the sideline – admittedly, that player was doing too much shit-talking, in a game where the Huskies had already been penalized multiple times for doing dumb shit just like that – that he took a swing at the player, connecting with his helmet. I’m sure that hurt his hand more than the kid, but just think about the optics for a fraction of a second and you see why Jimmy Lake is not the guy for the job. Chris Petersen wasn’t the be-all, end-all, but if this is the guy you’re trying to emulate, you’re doing a TERRIBLE job of it!

And I’m tired of Jimmy Lake “taking responsibility” by saying things like, “It’s on me.” Yeah, no shit it’s on you. YOU are the reason the Huskies are underperforming. It’s your decision-making – starting with an offensive coordinator we all knew was a terrible choice the moment he was hired – that has gotten us into this mess! Of course, blessings and good-tidings, we no longer have John Donovan to kick around anymore; we’ve been beating that dead horse since the Montana game. The simple fact that Donovan wasn’t immediately fired after we only scored 7 points at home to Montana goes to show Jimmy Lake is inept.

I don’t know how Jimmy Lake hasn’t lost this team yet. Maybe he’s a different, more inspiring guy behind closed doors. But, from the outside he looks as clueless as it gets. And when you factor in all the guys who’ve already transferred out of the program, and all the guys who have decommitted, I’m beginning to think my assumption is accurate.

There’s only one reason why the program would hang onto Lake at his point: money. He’s only two years into a five-year deal; he’s set to earn nearly $10 million through the 2025 season. It’s mind-boggling to see how fast his approval rating has fallen. I remember everyone was worried about Lake leaving for some other program while Petersen was still at the helm; now you can’t ride him out of town fast enough!

The big thing is feeling like we’ve been sold a bill of goods. I think we all expected the best things of the Petersen regime – great defense and discipline – with a more high-flying offense after the debacle that was Bush Hamdan. Instead, we brought in yet another failed retread to gum up the works even more on offense, while losing every semblance of discipline on this team.

The only problem from here is: I don’t have any solutions. All I know is I’m living in a college football nightmare right now and I desperately want someone to wake me up. I couldn’t give you a single name to come in here and fix this mess; all I know is I want the architect of this mess out of my life. Jimmy Lake needs to go. Literally anyone else is invited to come and give it a shot.

Can The Huskies Cover Against The Ducks?

I did one of these last week with the Seahawks and I still contend the smart money was to stay away. Going forward, I’m just going to go out on a limb and say the smart money is ALWAYS to stay away. Stay away from gambling entirely!

Okay, now that we’ve properly scared off the squares, let’s get down to it. As before, I’m only interested in football as far as it can hypothetically win me money this year. That means fantasy, and that means keeping an eye on the point spreads and testing my brain power on various lines.

Washington is hosting Oregon this week. Oregon is a 7-point favorite. The Huskies are 4-4 on the season, a collosal disappointment. Nevertheless, we’re 3-2 in conference play, and in theory, a victory over the Ducks would put us in a huge logjam of teams in the Pac-12 North with 2 conference losses.

Indeed, there are only two teams in the entire conference with fewer than 2 losses – the Ducks in the North and the Utes in the South – so it’s fair to say there really aren’t any dominant teams in this conference, and it’s pointless to get confident one way or the other about ANY of these teams, because literally anyone could beat anyone else on any given Saturday. Even if you look at the dregs – Colorado and Arizona – they are 3-5 and 4-4 against the spread, respectively (in spite of the fact that they have two total wins – including non-conference games – between them).

But, let’s face it, the Ducks are the 4th ranked team in the College Football Playoff Rankings for a reason. That reason is: they’re 7-1 and went on the road to defeat Ohio State. The Ducks’ only loss this year was on the road against Stanford – a team the Huskies just managed to handle last week – so I understand the desire by Husky fans to dismiss the Ducks.

What we’ve got going for us is: the game is at home. We’ve got a defense that’s in the upper eschelon in total yards and points given up per game. Of course, that has everything to do with our pass defense giving up the very fewest yards per game; our run defense is among the worst in college football.

The Ducks, clearly, run much more than they pass. They’re among the best rushing offenses in the game, and middle-of-the-road in passing. The Ducks, on defense, are middle-of-the-pack in rush defense, and slightly worse in pass defense (which would make sense, since they play from ahead so much and employ more of a prevent style late in games).

Weirdly enough, the Ducks haven’t shown up in a lot of these Pac-12 games. They easily handled the Wildcats and Buffaloes (again, the two worst teams in the conference), but could only eke out one-score victories against Cal and UCLA, with a one-score defeat coming to the Cardinal.

But, what can you say about Washington’s resume thus far? One-score victories against Cal, Arizona, and Stanford, with defeats coming on the road to Oregon State and at home to UCLA. The fact that we’ve managed to keep all of our conference games to within one score is irrelevant to me when you actually look at the numbers.

Oregon is great at running the ball; Washington struggles to stop the run. That’s all you need to know. Washington also struggles to run the ball, so if Oregon is smart, they’ll take that away from us completely and force Dylan Morris to beat them through the air. I would expect we’ll be down big in the early going, with the outside possibility of a late backdoor cover. At best, I think the Ducks win by 7 points, which would be a push. At worst, I think there’s no limit to how big the Ducks win by. There’s a non-zero chance the Huskies keep it close, but I think there’s no chance whatsoever that we win outright.

In this case, if you absolutely HAD to bet this game, I think it’s smarter just to bet the first half. Take the Ducks, lay the 3.5, and watch them get a comfortable halftime lead. Then, spend the second half either doubling down, or rooting for a Husky comeback. I don’t think you can lose in this scenario!

That is, until the Ducks ultimately prevail anyway, because they’re more talented and have better coaching. Really, the only way to lose as a Husky fan is to watch this game. Because fuck the Ducks. I’ll be looking for literally anything else to do during this time on Saturday.

This Is The Worst Washington Husky Football Team Since 2008

It’s difficult to explain just how terrible that 2008 team really was. Nothing could possibly top that squad when it comes to sucking! But, that was the end result of deep-seeded, entrenched sucking. Sucking that started towards the tail-end of the Rick Neuheisel era. Husky fans like to point to the head coaches that followed in the wake of Neuheisel’s firing, but the team was clearly going in the wrong direction by his final season here in 2002; that’s what happens when there’s such a discrepency between your recruiting of skill guys (very good!) and your recruiting along the offensive and defensive lines (pretty mediocre).

Nevertheless, Keith Gilbertson and especially Tyrone Willingham did nothing to help the cause, with Willingham’s final season here being the perfect storm of ineptitude that was 2008. The Huskies had been so mismanaged, so neglected, for SO LONG, that even if we didn’t suffer numerous injuries to key starters that year, we still wouldn’t have been worth two shits.

The turnaround started in 2009 when Sark came to town, but really solidified into the Huskies being BACK when Chris Petersen was hired away from Boise State in 2014.

But, Petersen’s sudden retirement after the 2019 season has thrust the Huskies into a tailspin. And, of course, the pandemic didn’t help, particularly when you consider the one thing Jimmy Lake does well – recruit – is something he couldn’t do nearly as effectively with COVID restrictions being what they are.

And now, I mean, how do you recruit on a 2-4 record? And would it even matter?

The Huskies have to have the most overpaid and inept collection of assistant coaches in all of college football. At the very least, all of the Pac-12 (which, again, puts us well in the running for all of college football). Right at the top, you have to talk about John Donovan, who is the second offensive coordinator in a row – Bush Hamdan being his predecessor – who has gotten the absolute least out of his players thanks to his scheme and his play-calling. But, don’t forget all the positional coaches below him. Don’t forget the wide receivers coach, who oversaw a mass exodus of players this past offseason. Don’t forget the offensive line coach, who has had tremendous stability among his starters, yet everyone seems to be regressing as they go along.

And we shouldn’t discount how diluted the defensive coaching staff has gotten. Jimmy Lake’s promotion turned our biggest strength – our defensive coordinator – into a clear weakness; this was furthered by Pete Kwiatkowski jumping this sinking ship for greener pastures in Texas. Talent alone seems to be holding things together reasonably well, though the defense isn’t perfect, and isn’t able to overcome an offense incapable of making big plays or scoring when it needs to.

Defensive line is the biggest problem on this team, and has been for years. It’s nice that UW has become DB-U over the last decade, but how does that help us when teams are able to ram the ball down our throats? I would argue the D-Line problem extends back for decades now, and the “good” ones since then were held together by maybe one or two dominant defensive tackles. That string of good fortune has come to a close, and with it our ability to control the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback.

Jimmy Lake might be a decent head coach, but he doesn’t have the pieces around him to succeed. He doesn’t have the coaching staff, nor the recruiters, to make this a successful program. He’s also hamstrung by being in the Pac-12, but that’s no excuse for being this terrible AGAINST the Pac-12, let alone a program from a lower division like Montana.

I don’t think it’s going to work out with Lake, because once again there’s some deep-seeded, entrenched sucking going on. As usual, it stems from the offensive and defensive lines. He’s also both weirdly aggressive (going for it on 4th downs, which I like) and bull-headed (not making a switch at quarterback when it’s clearly in the program’s best interest). There’s no salvaging this season. The Huskies are 2-4. We’re clearly not as good as Oregon or ASU, we probably have no business going down to Stanford and beating them. That’s 7 losses, for those of you needing help with the math; that means no bowl game.

We should probably go down to Arizona this week and beat the winless Wildcats, but I’m not holding my breath. You would think we could take care of business against the Buffaloes next month, but that’s a road game, so you never know. And, the Cougars’ whole season is going to hinge on beating our asses for the first time since 2012 (since they just lost their head coach and will probably need that game to make a bowl game).

There’s a version of this team that goes winless the rest of the way, with our easiest remaining games being on the road. Best case scenario, I think the Huskies might scrape by with a 3-3 record the rest of the way, which is still not good enough to make a bowl. So, what are we playing for? Why are we clinging to Dylan Morris, who has 8 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a miserable 60% completion percentage? Why would we risk alienating our only 5-star recruit, who has the kind of arm talent most schools only dream of?

It’s not like we’d be breaking any kind of mold by going with a true freshman, plenty of WAY better programs do it all the time. Shit, we just had one in Petersen’s tenure with Jake Browning!

Nothing is quite so damning to this program than just having a BYE week – giving us two full weeks to shake things up and prepare for UCLA – and coming out with the same exact problems as before. That tells me Jimmy Lake, ultimately, isn’t the man to lead this program. If he can’t get this team to get its shit together at home, with multiple weeks to prepare, then what the fuck are we even doing here?

The collapse under Lake’s watch has been immediate and a total embarrassment. What’s worse is there’s no hope for the future. There’s only burning it all down and hoping the next regime knows what the fuck it’s doing.