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.

How Long Will It Take The Seahawks To Find Their Franchise Quarterback?

19 of the 32 NFL head coaches were hired in 2020 or later. That gives you some idea of the kind of turnover we’re talking about in the league. It also gives you a little bit of an idea of how many well-run franchises are out there. The teams with head coaches hired since 2020 by and large haven’t been very good. There are exceptions, of course; Tampa and New Orleans had legit guys either retire or take a year off. But, for the most part, when you think of the worst-run franchises in the NFL – the Giants, Jets, Texans, Jags, Bears, Lions, Commanders, Browns – and even the mediocre franchises – Panthers, Cowboys, Falcons, Dolphins, Eagles, Vikings, Raiders, Chargers – they’re all on this list.

I would say the best-run orgs with new head coaches are the Broncos, Saints, and Bucs. The Broncos just made a huge move to bring in Russell Wilson. The Saints are on year two of trying to replace Drew Brees. And we’re well aware of the Bucs and how they’ve done with Tom Brady.

It’s no coincidence that to win in the NFL – and therefore to be considered a well-run organization – you need a quality quarterback. But, even that doesn’t guarantee anything. Do we think the Bengals are a well-run organization? Of course not. But, they lucked into Joe Burrow, who seems to be a generational talent. Do we think the Cardinals are well-run? No way! But, they’re saddled with Kyler Murray through a second contract, and we’ll get to watch them fail to make a Super Bowl for many years to come. The Titans and Colts have won a lot of games in recent years, but I don’t think either franchise is super thrilled with their quarterback situations.

What I’m trying to get at here is the Chicken/Egg question: are well-run organizations more prone to finding quality franchise quarterbacks? Or, is it the quality franchise quarterback that makes an organization appear to be well-run?

What makes it tricky is the fact that head coaches don’t usually get opportunities to stick around through multiple quarterback changes. Either the coach finds his quarterback, and they make a pact to run it back for a long time, or the coach is brought in after the quarterback is already in place – maybe having underachieved during a prior head coach – and they make a pact to run it back for a long time. But, very rarely – especially in today’s game – do you bring in a coach, and he sticks around beyond the one main guy.

Bill Belichick, obviously, went from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady to Mac Jones (we’ll see on how good Jones ends up being). If Mac Jones pans out, I think that speaks very highly of Belichick and the organization as a whole being an environment that’s able to foster quarterback development. But, he’s also the greatest head coach of all time, so what are we talking about here? He’s a one of one. If anyone can do something like that, it’s him.

The Steelers will be an excellent case study, because Mike Tomlin is the second-longest tenured head coach in football, and as a whole they are considered to be probably a top five organization. They’re moving on from Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since Tomlin has been there. If they can turn Kenny Pickett into a star – especially when he wasn’t graded out super-high in this poor overall draft class for quarterbacks – then that’s another notch in the belt of Organization being more important than simply finding a fluke of a quarterback in the lottery that is the NFL Draft.

The Ravens succeeded pretty well in transitioning from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson (and even Tyler Huntley balled out in limited duty); the fact that they’ve won as much as they have speaks volumes. The Chiefs obviously hit the aforementioned lottery with Patrick Mahomes, but would he be the consensus #1 quarterback alive without Andy Reid’s system? The Rams certainly took it to another level when they brought Matthew Stafford into the fold, but they were winning at a tremendous clip with Jared Goff of all people. The 49ers have been pretty injury-prone under Shanahan, but he’s definitely built up a solid overall roster, and if Trey Lance hits, I think that’s another feather in his cap.

Clearly, this is all preamble before I talk about the Seahawks. I would put the Seahawks up there – at least in the top 10, if not the top 5 – in well-run organizations. But, maybe that’s mistaken. Maybe that’s the homer in me. After all, we’re talking about the VAST majority of our success coming in years where Russell Wilson was the starting quarterback. Clearly, we fared a lot better when we had a bomb-ass team around him – a bomb-ass team built through Pete Carroll and this organization – but even when the team around him faltered, Russell Wilson kept things afloat, almost by himself.

Before Russell Wilson, it was two years of rebuilding, with mediocre quarterback play (though, to be fair, I don’t know if even Russ could’ve won with the collection of “talent” we had in 2010 and 2011). Now, in 2022, it’ll be just the third season without Wilson at the helm for Pete Carroll & Co.

One thing’s for sure: I don’t believe our next franchise quarterback is on the roster at the moment. Geno Smith is a mediocre quarterback at best, Drew Lock might be even worse, and Jacob Eason seems to be destined for the XFL or USFL or working at a car dealership. Best case scenario, 2022 will be a rebuilding year akin to 2011. If everything goes right and we’re able to build up the roster around the quarterback position, maybe we luck into that franchise guy in 2023 and beyond.

Assuming we don’t trade for Jimmy G – who I would not place in that franchise quarterback bucket, especially since now we’re talking about not one but two teams who’ve given up on him – then we’re talking about 2023 at the earliest. But, even if we’re bad this year – which most people agree that we’ll be in the bottom 10, and maybe bottom 5 – that’s no guarantee that the guy we draft next year will be The Next Russell Wilson, or The Next Fill-In-The-Blank.

Think about all of those teams who’ve hired a new head coach since 2020. You don’t think they tried repeatedly to draft their franchise guy? For some of those organizations, that’s all they ever do! The Bears are STILL trying to find The Next Sid Luckman!

But, I also believe there’s something to the notion that better teams – with a solid foundation in place, both in coaching, as well as personnel – are better able to find those franchise guys, just as they’re better able to win with perhaps sub-par guys (see: the Titans). We’ll find out how true that is with the Seahawks, when they presumably draft a quarterback next year in one of the first three rounds (almost certainly in the first round, but you never know). I think that’ll give us a pretty good sense of what we’re dealing with here. There’s a good contingent of Pete Carroll haters out there – or, at least, Pete Carroll doubters – and I think they’re all of the same mind, that this team needs a breath of fresh air before we go out and find the next quarterback. I disagree. I want Pete Carroll here during these uncertain times. Why? Because he led us out of the wilderness during the LAST period of uncertainty.

Growing up, the Seahawks went from being a relatively well-run organization – through at least the early portion of the Chuck Knox era – to without question the worst-run organization. We were a laughingstock in the late 80s and early 90s. Really, it wasn’t until we hired Mike Holmgren before things turned around. He built us into winners. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, just as I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Pete Carroll was able to do what he did in the last decade. Winners find a way to win. They attract other winners.

Obviously, it’s fair to question whether or not the game has passed Carroll by. I think that’s the argument for a lot of the doubters. We’ll see. I think he’ll get through this year no matter what our record is. Then, I think he’ll get 2023 to see if we can turn things around and start looking competitive again. If we fade in 2023, then I highly doubt he’ll have 2024 or beyond to do anything.

The next two years will say a lot about the question of Organization vs. Quarterback. Can we find and develop the next franchise guy? Can we win with just an okay guy? If not, then there’s no way this doesn’t get blown up by 2024. And if THAT comes to fruition, then who the fuck knows how long it’ll take to find our next franchise quarterback? We could be talking decades!

2024, not so coincidentally, will also likely coincide with the Seahawks potentially being sold to a new ownership group. That’s something else to keep in mind. Maybe that’s a reason to keep Carroll an extra year or two, to make the transition. But, all that uncertainty might make a clean break ideal for all parties, especially if the Seahawks are bottom-dwellers over the next couple seasons.

I’m Excited & Nervous About The Huskies Adding Transfer Quarterback Kevin Thomson

Writing about Husky Football twice in the same week, and it’s not even football season yet? I feel like a real college football … head.

As I wrote about before, the Huskies are coming off of two consecutive highly-rated recruiting classes (2019 & 2020) and as such are considered to be among the favorites to win the Pac-12 this season. Of course, 1-A among biggest question marks would be: who’s going to start at quarterback? The guy who’s never started a college football game, the other guy who’s never started a college football game, or the incoming True Freshman who’s – say it with me now – never started a college football game?

No one really believed the Huskies were going to stand pat with Jacob Sirmon, Dylan Morris, and Ethan Garbers, though the dream scenario was trying to entice that USC transfer to come here (J.T. Daniels ended up going to Georgia, because SEC). Enter Kevin Thomson.

Thomson was the Big Sky Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, when he threw for 3,216 yards and 27 TDs (against only 8 INTs), with an additional 619 yards rushing and 12 more TDs on the ground for Sacramento State. It’s truly an impressive resume … for a small school in the Big Sky; so take that with about a thousand grains of salt.

Graduate transfers are a unique proposition. They’ve got the experience you like to see (especially if you’re a program that has none at the position), but you always have to wonder why they’re transferring in the first place. Russell Wilson was famously a grad transfer, but I feel like he’s the exception. He – along with Gardner Minshew for the Cougs – are probably the ideal of what you’d like to see when you acquire one of these players, but look at what we’re talking about here: a future NFL Hall of Famer, and another NFLer who played for a Mike Leach system that was built for players like Minshew to succeed at an elite level.

I’m sure over the vast landscape of grad transfer quarterbacks, you’ve got all kinds, from those elite success stories, all the way down to complete washouts who never played a down for their new school. I feel like the majority of these guys are like Thomson, who played the bulk of their college careers for a smaller school, and are looking to get a taste of the big time to see what they’re made of.

The Huskies are saying the right things, of course. He isn’t guaranteed the starting job by any means, as it will be a four-man competition as we head into the season. But, you can see why people might be excited about Thomson. The experience disparity between him and the others alone gives him a significant advantage as it is, but considering COVID-19 eliminated all spring practices – and has severely hampered what we’re able to do for any sort of training camp this summer – you have to figure Thomson is all but a lock.

The cool part of this is – if he works out – then we’ve got a legitimately better chance to win a lot of games this fall. The knock against Thomson is his accuracy – which has yet to get over 60% in any of his seasons – but I wonder about the talent level around him. With Pac-12 players on the roster to throw to (and to block for him), we could see that number improve. I also LOVE a dual-threat quarterback – especially in college – where protection often breaks down regardless of how talented the offensive lines are (lack of rushing ability seriously hampered Browning and Eason – and as a result, the entire Husky offense – in recent years, in spite of really good O-Lines in front of them).

The other cool part of this is – even if he doesn’t work out – then that means whoever does end up winning the starting job will be that much better and hopefully result in the Huskies winning even more games. I’ll never throw advanced competition out of bed for eating crackers!

The downside is, these moves often lead to one or more quarterbacks transferring from the program, and the three above guys I mentioned who were already on the roster are all highly-rated prospects (with a 5-star QB joining the Huskies in 2021 who looks to be a strong candidate to be a multi-year starter from Day One). You’d hate to see someone leave the program – who might go on to a quality college career – for a one-year rental in a grad transfer. But, the fun thing is: it’s all in their hands. If you want to be the starter, go out and win the job. It’s that simple.

I would’ve put the Huskies’ chances at winning the Pac-12 at MAYBE 10% before this week, given their schedule and the level of competition around the conference. I think this move legitimately improves our chances. And, if we hear good things about Thomson as the competition gets going, you’ll be looking at one rabid Dawg fan when the calendar flips to September!

I mean, let’s be real, you’re going to hear from a rabid Dawg fan regardless because I’m a consummate homer and will have talked myself into ongoing Husky domination between now and then, regardless of whatever news I read. Is it sane? Probably not. Will I be getting my hopes up for later disappointment? Well, I’m a sports fan, so what else is new?

A New Era Of Husky Football

This spot is where I would normally have my Seahawks diatribe, but the Huskies had their bowl game, it was Chris Petersen’s final game, and we’ve got even MORE great news that came out yesterday. Why dwell on the Seahawks (when they’re going to lose to the 49ers, then lose to the Eagles or Cowboys in the first round anyway) when we can focus on happier, more hopeful things?

First and foremost, the Huskies throttled the Boise State Broncos, 38-7. We got off to our usual hot start – jumping out to a 24-0 lead early in the second half – and pretty much coasted from there. The defense continued its impressive finish to the season after back-to-back home losses to Oregon and Utah. In our final four games, we gave up a total of 47 points (11.75 per game) and more or less looked like the Husky defenses of the last few years. It was nice to see as we head into 2020 under new leadership.

Jacob Eason had a pretty good game, showing better touch out of a couple of his deep balls than I’d seen since the non-conference slate. He finished with 210 yards and a touchdown on 22/32 passing.

The game got a little frustrating in the second half, as we came out passing WAY more than we probably should have. When you’re up 24-0 (it turned into 24-7 on the very next Broncos drive, but it took them 11 plays and five and a half minutes to do it), you should be pounding the rock and draining as much clock as possible. Instead, I dunno, there were a couple of frustrating drives where the offense couldn’t do anything and it looked like Boise State might make a comeback. But, things settled down towards the end and we were finally able to get back on track and run out the clock.

I really liked what I saw out of Richard Newton, who had a nice 69 yards on the ground, one rushing touchdown, and another passing touchdown on a nifty trick play in the fourth quarter. I also thought Salvon Ahmed had a gutty performance, playing through some injury stuff, scoring twice. I could’ve even used more Kamari Pleasant, who looked explosive on his two carries for 14 yards.

It was a nice final game for Andre Baccellia, who caught 3 for 34 and a touchdown. I think a lot of us expected more out of his Husky career, but it was cool to at least get him a score on his way out. Terrell Bynum really led the way in receiving, catching 5 balls for 67 yards and a TD. Not really much else to get into from the receivers.

Defensively, Elijah Molden led the way in tackles, and REALLY came on late in the season. I hope he returns for his Senior year, because we could really showcase a guy with his talents. There was a good amount of pressure up front, but while it didn’t necessarily translate into a high sack number, we were able to force their quarterbacks into plenty of mistakes. Molden and Myles Bryant each had interceptions on the first two plays Boise State had in Husky territory (cool to see Bryant get one more – giving him 4 picks of his career (I thought he had more for some reason) – as he heads to the NFL next year).

Chris Petersen ends his Husky career with a record of 55-26; his .679 winning percentage is good for seventh all time (if you count Marques Tuiasosopo’s 1-0 record as interim head coach for the one bowl game he coached). If you count only the Huskies who coached 20+ games, Petersen is fourth all time (interestingly enough, just one spot ahead of Rick Neuheisel.

Coach Pete’s teams won two Pac-12 championships in six years, and played in three major bowl games (including one College Football Playoff game). Three straight years in major bowls is nothing to sneeze at; unfortunately we went 0-3 in those games, and only went 2-4 total in bowl games. These were GOOD Husky teams under Coach Pete, but they could never quite get over the hump on a national stage. Close, but of course, no cigar.

That’s unfortunately the legacy for him right now. Things could change, assuming all the talking points are correct: that Coach Pete laid the foundation for greater things to come and all that. If Jimmy Lake can keep it up with his recruiting, if he can develop those players, if he can turn them into wins on the field, championships in the conference, and wins in major bowl games, then I think we can paint Coach Pete’s tenure a little more rosy than we do right now. I won’t say he was a disappointment, but I will say that I kinda hoped for more.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s bigtime college football, if your goal isn’t conference titles, Rose Bowls, and National Championships, then what’s the point? Why should we continue to settle for less than the SEC and Big-10 and all the other conferences out there who have success? We should hold our revered head coaches to the same standard any other bigtime fanbase would hold theirs. You think Alabama fans are happy to be playing Michigan this year? You think they’re settling for a “good” season? No, they’re probably pissed off and hungrier than ever for next year!

That’s where we need to be, and I’m hopeful that Jimmy Lake is the guy to take us there. He already made me a fan for life by firing Bush Hamdan yesterday. I honestly have no idea why Hamdan was ever hired in the first place, other than he was a “Chris Petersen Guy”. I mean, he was a low-level assistant for Washington early in his tenure, then he was Quarterbacks Coach for the Atlanta Falcons, and that makes him qualified to call plays and design an offense for a major college program?

Washington’s offense was TOTAL SHIT under Hamdan, who was in over his head from Day 1, and I’m fucking glad he’s gone. He’s been the bane of my existence for the last two years, and I’m so happy that Lake’s first change was to rid this program of that bum. This gives Washington the entire rest of the bowl season to look for his replacement – as well as, interestingly enough, Jimmy Lake’s own replacement as the defensive coordinator. Do we make Pete Kwiatkowski the regular, full-time defensive coordinator again? That was his job before Jimmy Lake assumed control as co-coordinator and head defensive playcaller. If you want to talk about continuity within the program, that’s probably the best way to go. Offensively, on the other hand, I think we have to bring in someone from the outside. Preferably a more veteran coordinator who won’t be an immediate head coaching candidate for every other school in the conference.

I’ll admit, though, Saturday’s game was a little emotional. More than anything, I’m happy the Huskies could send Coach Pete off as a winner. There weren’t a ton of people expecting a Husky victory over a previously 12-1 Boise State team, but they hadn’t played anyone all year, and this just felt like the perfect opportunity to show why Chris Petersen made the change in the first place.

He could’ve stayed at Boise State his whole career; hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’d still be chugging along for the next decade or longer if he’d just stayed where the conference is small and the expectations are relatively low (a la Mark Few at Gonzaga). Unlike the Zags, however, you REALLY need to be in one of the Big 5 conferences to compete for a championship. Mid-majors in basketball go to the Final Four all the time; unless the NCAA Football side of things expands to an 8-team playoff, I just don’t see a mid-major football program cracking through. Indeed, even if it does go to an 8-team playoff system, and you find the occasional Boise State or TCU or Baylor or whatever in there, 8 teams means 3 games you have to win to win the National Championship; that’s going to weed out pretty much every single mid-major program who’s lucky enough to sneak in there.

Petersen knew that, and that’s why he came to Washington. Unfortunately, with all the good that comes with college football at this level (access to better recruits, better facilities, better stadia, etc.), there’s also tons of bad. All the recruiting games and bullshit, dealing with other schools poaching your players, all the nonsense with Pac-12 scheduling and our inept commissioner, and of course, the NCAA itself and the inherent bias towards programs east of the Rockies. Then, there’s all the media obligations, the ass-kissing of the high-level donors, the non-stop, 24/7/365 nature of the game and the news cycle and social media … I mean, it’s a SHIT-TON of bullshit to wade through, when all you really want to do is coach your players and play the game of football.

I can see why he wanted to at least take a break, if not retire for good. If he gets the itch again, I’m sure there’s a small school he can go to where the limelight won’t be quite so insane.

It was a pleasure having Coach Pete here. There were a lot of highlights in such a brief span of seasons. And, the University of Washington is definitely better having had him here.

Now, it’s time to look ahead to a new and exciting brand of football.

Chris Petersen’s Final Husky Game Will Be In The Vegas Bowl Vs. Boise State

I guess it’s like a cool story or whatever, but I’m bored to fucking death already with the fact that Washington will be going up against Coach Pete’s old team on the 21st. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that we have to go up against a team we’ve seen a lot of throughout the years (as opposed to someone new and fresh that we’ve never seen before), or the possibility of losing to the Broncos as one final Fuck You before Petersen rides off into the sunset or whatever.

Really, I could see it going either way. I could see us just whomping the shit out of them, and I could also see us totally blowing it. We already know the Huskies will be without Hunter Bryant and Trey Adams, and honestly I don’t blame them one iota. With their injury histories, and their potential to go high in the NFL Draft next year, they HAVE to protect themselves over playing in some piddling bowl game on the second day of Bowl Season.

And that, quite frankly, hurts the Huskies’ chances on offense considerably. It’s been The Hunter Bryant Show on offense for this entire year, but especially in the second half of the season. The rest of our receiving corps either drops the ball or can’t get open (or gets hopelessly overthrown by our quarterback who has one speed on his passes: four-seam fastball). And, considering Eason’s struggles at the slightest hint of pressure, losing our starting left tackle for this game can’t be good at all.

I don’t know how our O-Line will look next year, but there’s a lot to hope for out of our tight end room. It sounds like we’ve got some good guys on the roster, and more quality coming in the next class.

My hope for this game is – with the additional practices – the defense continues its trend of dominating performances down the stretch. I’d like to see us hold Boise State’s high-flying offense in check to really send us off with a lot of momentum heading into 2020. It would be a nice feather in the cap of Jimmy Lake as he pounds the pavement on the recruiting trail; we’ll need all the good news we can get from that side of the ball.

At this point, it’s unknown if Jacob Eason will be back next year, but given his poor finish – on top of the litany of quality QBs coming out in the 2020 draft – he should probably give it some thought. I’m not even sure if he’ll be playing in this GAME, which would make it doubly interesting from a Looking Ahead perspective.

Look, of course I’m going to watch the game and root for the Huskies, but this is obviously not where we all thought we’d be heading into bowl season. We’re in the 6th-highest bowl game in the Pac-12, our head coach is retiring, and there’s a ton of uncertainty swirling around the 2020 season. It would be nice to go out on a high note, but I’m also not really getting my hopes up.

Huskies Need To Fire Bush Hamdan; Jacob Eason Needs To Move On

BURN IT ALL TO THE MOTHERFUCKING GROUND.

Or, you know, just those two things.

I’ve spent the better part of the 2019 season bashing Hamdan and defending Eason, but at this point they both just need to go away. With Hamdan, it’s obvious: he just doesn’t know how to call plays. I’m not saying that I would do a better job, because I’m a nobody college football fan. But, I know someone who TOTALLY SUCKS when I see him, and Bush Hamdan is among the worst play-callers and designers-of-offenses I’ve ever seen, and I had to suffer through Jeremy Bates with the Seahawks in 2010!

Now, obviously, the offensive coordinator is the usual whipping boy for every single football team that’s ever existed. But, I don’t remember Husky fans complaining NEARLY as much about Jonathan Smith when he was here. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • 2014 – 30.2 points per game, 56th in college football
  • 2015 – 30.6 points per game, 54th in college football
  • 2016 – 41.8 points per game, 8th in college football
  • 2017 – 36.2 points per game, 17th in college football

That’s all you really need to know about Jonathan Smith’s tenure. Now, on to Bush:

  • 2018 – 26.4 points per game, 89th in college football
  • 2019 – 31.5 points per game, 47th in college football

That’s bad-to-mediocre. I would argue in 2014 & 2015, those were rebuilding years where we were saddled with the previous regime’s players and breaking in a Freshman quarterback (respectively). By 2018 & 2019, we’re well established in the Chris Petersen regime, and should have no trouble putting up points. Oregon State scores more than we do this year, which is where Jonathan Smith is now head coaching, and it should tell you all you need to know about how pathetic this offense has been under Bush’s watch.

But, this year hasn’t been solely his fault. Jacob Eason is a 5-star prospect, and will be drafted in the first round or two in the NFL very soon based on his promise, but he’s not a good quarterback, full stop. He has a cannon of an arm, and he’s 6’6, so he’s literally everything the NFL wants out of a signal caller. But, he can’t run, and in the game today, if you’re not mobile, you’re automatically a liability (as it’s taking longer for NFL linemen to get up to speed than ever before). He’s also just medium-accurate at 63.5% this year (with a fair number of drops contributing to this number, I’ll admit). But, he has absolutely NO touch on his deep balls, which I find remarkable. He’s consistently over-throwing even our fastest receivers, and he puts too much mustard on even the intermediate-deep passes that should be completed for chunk plays. If you think of Russell Wilson’s rainbow arcs as the ideal for deep passing, Eason can seemingly only throw balls on a direct line, which necessitates him being PERFECTLY accurate to complete anything beyond 20 yards (which he rarely is).

I saw so many terribly-thrown balls in the Colorado game that, at this point, it’s just time to cut our losses and try someone new in 2020. Even if we have to go through another season of growing pains, so be it. I just don’t see the point in running it back with Eason again. Is he going to improve so dramatically at everything he sucks at? I mean, he doesn’t REALLY want to be here; he settled for Washington after it didn’t work out at Georgia. It should be a pretty clear red flag that someone who couldn’t keep a true freshman from taking his job with the Bulldogs wouldn’t be the type of guy to take Washington back to the playoffs. Plus, I mean, Jake Haener really took him down to the wire in training camp, and he had to settle for Fresno State when he transferred! It’s not like Washington’s receivers are going to be improved enough to blanket over Eason’s flaws (John Ross isn’t walking through that door anytime soon). And either we’ll have Year 3 with Bush Hamdan’s terrible scheme, or Year 1 with someone new, and therefore a whole new set of growing pains to work through.

If that’s the case, and it’s a new offensive coordinator, I’d rather he start fresh with a new quarterback so they can grow in the system together.

The bottom line is the Huskies are 6-5 and it’s all the offense’s fault. Not really, but give me this one. Washington has been trash against trash opponents and this year is a total, unmitigated embarrassment. I mean, what even was that Colorado game?! We should’ve beaten them by 30! Instead, we lost to a team that isn’t even going to make a bowl game. For anyone who’s counting, that’s TWO losses to teams who won’t be playing in bowl games (along with Stanford).

The only silver lining to this weekend is that Oregon lost. I know that drastically reduces our chances of a Pac-12 team making the playoffs – with Utah running the table being our only minor hope – but fuck it. Fuck the Ducks. Let them continue to suffer in obscurity!

This week, we have a Friday-After-Thanksgiving Apple Cup. Not my favorite scheduling day of the season, but I’ll try to knock off work early and get home in time for the second half. The Cougs already won their sixth game, so this game is effectively meaningless. But, it’s still the Apple Cup. State pride is on the line.

I have to admit, though, getting up for this one will be tough. I mean, if we HAD to lose to the Cougs, I’d rather lose here as opposed to in a season where the Rose Bowl is on the line, for instance.

But, I keep thinking of Mike Leach’s predictable offense going up against our Jimmy Lake-led defense and I know everything will be all right. The players change, but Leach stays the same, and as such it should be one of the few smooth Husky victories of 2019.

Are The Huskies Even Good Enough To Make A Bowl Game?

I really shouldn’t have to write this, but here we are.

I thought we were going to beat the Utes on Saturday. In fact, as we jumped out to a 14-3 first half lead, I kept getting angrier and angrier. Where was this two weeks ago against the Ducks?! If it were up to me, I would’ve GLADLY lost to the Utes if it meant a victory over Oregon. Instead, I get neither, as once again our second-half defense blew it.

I don’t have anything good to say here. This was Jacob Eason’s worst game as a Husky, as his two interceptions and one fumble were all back-breakers.

The running game didn’t do much, but that was to be expected. We’re as banged up as you can get, plus Utah’s defensive front seven is really good.

And, of course, our defense just isn’t anywhere NEAR the level they’ve been in recent seasons. We ended up with 4 sacks when it was all said and done, but with the game on the line we couldn’t stop the Utes from marching right down the field.

It also wasn’t a great game for our coaches, whose in-game adjustments never pan out. Plus, on our last TD drive, we ended up blowing 2 time outs when we needed to preserve all three when the onside kick ultimately failed. There’s just no defense of calling either time out in that situation.

And, here we are, 5-4 in the waning moments of a lost season. Yet another reminder that Washington isn’t in the same league as the true elites of college football, in spite of our recent successes. The REAL bigtime programs don’t have down seasons like this. We’re somewhere in that second or third tier, which is super disappointing.

We get back-to-back road games at Oregon State and Colorado (sandwiching our second BYE week), and while those programs are far from great, the Beavers are much better than they’ve been in recent years. And, with the way our defense has played this season, I’m not discounting the Buffs with their one conference victory.

This Friday evening should be fun, but not because the Huskies are going to Oregon State on a short week. That game will be televised on the smaller TV in our living room, as the Husky basketball season tips off an hour earlier! At this point, I’ll be going through the motions with Husky football the rest of the way; it’s all about our hoops team and our eventual Final Four visit in March Madness 2020!

The Huskies Blew A Game They Absolutely Should’ve Won

I mean, what the fuck, man? You’re up 14 points in the second half at home, you’re supposed to win that fucking game! Bottom line!

It was set up about as perfectly as you can draw it up. The Ducks tied it at 14, then with three minutes left in the first half, the Huskies drove down and scored a TD to go up 7. We got the ball back with the second half kickoff, and promptly proceeded to drive down for another TD. It was brilliant!

But, the defense is an absolute joke. This is the worst defense we’ve had in the Chris Petersen era, period. Especially in the front seven, which has no answers. The D-Line stinks, the linebackers are non-existent. And the secondary – with all the studs we’ve been recruiting – aren’t good enough either! We’ve lived a charmed life with Jimmy Lake rising through the ranks, but this is an embarrassment and he can’t be excluded when we criticize this team.

I know everyone wants to kill Bush Hamdan as well – and I’ll run out there with you, pitchfork and torch in hand, if he calls one more fucking wildcat play on 3rd & short – but 31 points should be enough to win any game Washington plays.

The last thing I want to do is re-live this game in any sort of detail. I will say that drive – the one where it ended on a wildcat 3rd & 2 call, with Jacob Eason split out wide like the fucking scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz – was the backbreaker. As soon as that run was predictably stuffed, this game was over. Because the defense didn’t have a prayer in the world of stopping Oregon, and because you knew – with one drive on the line to decide the game – this offense didn’t have what it took to score a touchdown.

Also, I know Twitter was aflame with calls for pass interference, but the Washington receiver fell down, plain and simple, and no ref would EVER throw the flag on something like that, at that point in the game. You have to make your own breaks in football; you can’t hope the refs are going to bail you out (as bad as the Pac-12 refs usually always are, I’m not wasting my voice from the stands to boo them), so I don’t blame them one bit.

The Huskies were probably overdue for a BYE week, so you could say this comes at the right time. I think we could all use a week off from the Purple & Gold. Let’s get our minds right and try to get it up for the November 2nd game against Utah. The Las Vegas Bowl is calling our names.

People Are Saying The Huskies Suffered The Worst Loss Of The Chris Petersen Era

My beer pong game had been struggling considerably the last couple tailgates, so I invited my brother over for a marathon binge sesh. From around 4-7pm on Saturday, we went back and forth, and by the time the Husky game started, I feel like I finally started getting my groove back. We’ll see about maybe running it back next week before tailgating season resumes.

That has nothing to do with the game on Saturday, it’s just an explanation for why I don’t really remember a whole lot about what happened.

I remember feeling invincible early, I remember mistakes just killing us throughout, and I remember feeling totally helpless by the end. That, no matter what we did, we just couldn’t get out of our own way. We made a mediocre team look like world beaters, but I can’t use that old excuse again. I can’t say “the better team lost” because the better team actually won. Stanford took it to us, and we had no way to stop them.

This was certainly one of the poorer coaching jobs we’ve seen from this regime, and that’s more of a Getting The Kids Prepared sort of angle. WHY DO THE HUSKIES CONTINUE TO PLAY LIKE SHIT IN GAMES THAT START AFTER 7PM??? It makes no sense, and I’m starting to get the feeling that since the coaches hate starting late, it’s bleeding into the players, and we’re all using it as an excuse to not play like we usually do. It’s like how the Seahawks used to lose all the time on the road in 10am starts; it’s mind over matter, and right now these late starts are IN OUR HEADS.

But, was it the worst Husky loss in Chris Petersen’s tenure here?

Well, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. With the turnover in personnel, I’m hard pressed to care too much about the first couple seasons (though, that loss to ASU in 2015 – where we had a 17-0 lead in the first half before blowing it 27-17 – certainly still sticks in my craw).

I’d have to start with 2017, again a game at ASU. The Sun Devils were 2-3 heading into that one (much like Stanford was this past weekend), whereas the Huskies were undefeated. At that point in the year, nothing was pointing to ASU being anywhere NEAR our league – especially since we were #5 in the nation at that point, coming off of a 2016 season where we made the playoffs – but if memory serves, it was another late start. We weren’t great on defense, but still held them to 13 points. Once again, it was the offense that faltered, where we only scored the lone touchdown in losing 13-7. Considering the expectations heading into that season – a repeat trip to the playoffs, with the hope we’d maybe make it to the championship game – I still believe that’s the worst loss of the Petersen era (regardless of the fact that we would go on to lose in Stanford four weeks later).

I also think the game last year at Cal ranks as a worse loss than this one on Saturday. That one was particularly brutal, because he finally benched Jake Browning, only for Jake Haener to come in and throw a pick-six to cost us the game. And, don’t forget the loss to the Ducks last year, where we settled for a long field goal late in the game, with a kicker who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. I’d even be tempted to put this year’s Cal game ahead of the Stanford loss, for no other reason than it was a home defeat and we’re ALWAYS supposed to win in Husky Stadium.

The point is, let’s have a little perspective here. Saturday’s defeat wasn’t the worst. Sure, it’s fucking annoying that we can’t go into that mausoleum of a stadium and win a fucking game, but good teams are supposed to be tough to play on the road. The Cardinal are as banged up as can be, but they’re still coached by a really smart guy, and they’re helmed by a 5-star recruit at quarterback. I never expected to go in there and walk all over them – in spite of what my bravado might force me to say in my drunken reverie.

At the same time, all of these terrible losses have a theme, and that theme is the offense letting the team down. I won’t let the defense off the hook entirely; I mean, what the fuck was up with that wide open 42-yard touchdown?! The secondary is supposed to be among the tops in the game, but they’re still battling some frustrating growing pains. It’s clear the defensive line is a real problem, though. Dude ran for 151 yards on 33 carries; that’s not the D-Line of a Top 10 team in the nation; that’s a fucking joke. This staff needs to re-TRIPLE its efforts in beefing up the front seven on defense. You have to love what they’re doing in recruiting secondary, O-Line, quarterbacks, and the skill positions on offense; but they’ve been seriously neglecting the D-Line and the chickens are coming home to roost in 2017. For the longest time, we’ve gotten by with one good guy. Vita Vea, then Greg Gaines, but we don’t even have ONE guy this year. No one we can count on to plug up the middle, or get a huge pressure when the chips are down. That’s not going to cut it if we want to be the class of the Pac-12 and try to bring a championship back to the northwest.

But, I mean, when is this offense going to pick up the slack? We’re always waiting for the defense to make a big play; when is it the offense’s turn? Eason is still getting burned by his receivers dropping balls, but he also doesn’t look like the savior we all hoped he’d be. He’s got all the arm talent in the world and he might be destined for better things in the NFL, but we might be better off if he leaves school after this year so we can start fresh with someone else who we can grow with over a couple years.

These games are always even more disappointing when you see how the running game was abandoned. Whatever the over/under is on rushing yards for next week’s Arizona game, I’m taking the over. No one is better at over-correcting for a neglected rushing attack than Coach Pete.

It sucks, because it feels like we’re overdue for some wacky shenanigans with a few Top 10 teams. The Huskies lost in Week 2; if we could’ve run the table against a relatively weak schedule, we might’ve put enough distance from our lone defeat that could’ve allowed us to sneak into a playoff situation. Not only is that dead, you really have to wonder if our chances at a Pac-12 Championship Game are in jeopardy. We’re now 1-2 in conference; even if we beat Oregon and run the table, we still need a lot of help. At just the midway point in our season, that’s a terrible feeling to have.

I’m glad the Huskies aren’t ranked anymore; we don’t deserve to be in the Top 25. I hope this is a wake-up call to everyone in the program. We can’t just coast through life on our reputation and our high school recruitment rankings. And, for the love of God, we’ve GOT to figure out a way to win these late night games! We’re in the Pac-12, we’re going to be playing this late quite a bit!

A No-Nonsense Victory For The Huskies Over The Trojans

USC sort of threw us off the scent with their impressive victory over Utah. Granted, they were at home, and it’s hard for any team to go undefeated in conference play, but I’m of the belief that the Utes are really good, and for about a week there we all wondered if USC is too.

But, this is still the same Trojans team that lost by 3 on the road to BYU (a place where the Huskies won by 26). These things don’t always translate one-to-one, but there’s one team that struggled against an inferior opponent, and there’s another team that went in and dominated. As such, the Huskies should’ve had no problem handling the Trojans in Montlake, and lo and behold, here we are.

Nothing to be ashamed about to win this one 28-14. The Huskies jumped out to a 14-0 lead and enjoyed a nice country stroll the rest of the way. Similarly to the Seahawks game against the Cardinals, the Huskies didn’t take any chances, put out a very safe product on the field, and took the W any way we could get it.

You never like seeing the fumbles, but the team rallied and I thought the defense played their best game of the year. We forced three interceptions and limited their third-string quarterback to 163 yards on 19/32, which is absolutely what you’re supposed to do. Their running game was pretty stout, but they were playing from behind all day, so by that token time was their biggest enemy. Keep the plays in front of you, force them into long clock-chewing drives, and when the game’s on the line, stiffen at the goalline to get the turnover on downs! Bingo, bango, bongo!

Salvon Ahmed really opened up my eyes in this one, running 17 times for 153 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies were able to handle BYU without him, but he showed why he’s so important to this team, highlighted by an 89-yard run to the house where he just flew past everyone. Other than Aaron Fuller and Hunter Bryant having solid games, there really wasn’t a lot to talk about offensively. Eason was okay, but he didn’t really have to do a whole lot.

I’d been waiting for the defense to assert itself, and this was the coming out party. This side of the ball should continue to get better as the season goes on. The secondary looked great, really for the first time all year, which will be important because getting to the quarterback is still our biggest weakness. You’d hope the front seven would be better at holding down the rushing attack if they’re not going to get many sacks, so we’ll see if that’s cleaned up next week.

It’s off to Stanford for Pac-12 After Dark next week. The Cardinal are truly one of the great disappointments in the conference this season, which should bode well for our chances, as we’ve struggled every time we’ve had to go down there. I know it’s on the road, and all road conference games are tough, but it would be a fucking disaster if we lost this one. They’ve looked pretty bad in road games against USC and UCF, as well as a home loss to Oregon (while their only wins were close ones against Northwestern and Oregon State); you could argue they’ve been bitten by a difficult first-half schedule, but they don’t really move the ball well and they give up a lot of points. Just a bad combo.

Nevertheless, it IS Pac-12 After Dark, and the Huskies seem to REALLY struggle in these games, so I’m taking nothing for granted in this one. I had this game (and this 2-game stretch in general, with another one on the road against the Wildcats next week) as the toughest of our season, and Stanford’s shabby 2-3 record isn’t really going to change my mind. The Huskies need to play like we all know they’re capable of playing and we should walk out of this game satisfied. If not, then I dunno man.