The Huskies Hired Kalen DeBoer To Be Their Next Head Football Coach

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I wasn’t thrilled to have Jimmy Lake be our successor to Chris Petersen. I’ll even admit there were times when he was still here when I had hoped Coach Pete would step aside to allow Lake to take over, rather than risk losing him to another program. So, yeah, I was pretty stoked when it was announced he’d take over after Petersen’s retirement! I figured: what better way to continue the roll of success we’ve seen at Washington, dating back to 2014? Really, dating back to 2013, after Coach Sark helped turn things around after 2008’s winless nadir.

Things, clearly, didn’t go according to plan with Jimmy Lake. Really, it’s hard to see how things could’ve gone any worse. A global pandemic decimated our 2020 season; an outbreak from said pandemic resulted in our missing out on an opportunity to play for the Pac-12 championship, or even a bowl game that season; a number of players transferred out of the program (possibly as a result of the pandemic reducing Lake’s effectiveness as a recruiter); and then the 2021 season happened, where the Huskies were 4-5 under Lake before plummeting to 4-8 after his dismissal. As we all know, the offense severely underperformed – to the point that the offensive coordinator lost his job days before Lake lost his – and Lake himself became embroiled in controversy over getting too physical with one of his own players (a trend that may or may not date back to 2019, when he was still the defensive coordinator).

It’s fair to question where things might’ve gone differently had COVID-19 never happened. We figured we knew two things about Lake prior to his ascension to the head coach job: he’s a helluva defensive backs coach and a helluva recruiter. It’s probably fair to also say he’s a helluva defensive coordinator, but I think a lot of that is predicated on how well our secondary has played since he got here. There were instances of this defense being frustratingly inconsistent in crunch time and against the run when we needed them to step up the most. But, that’s neither here nor there.

What transpired is the simple fact that Lake might not be a good head coach. He’s certainly not a good judge of who should be an offensive coordinator, that much is clear with the hire of John Donovan, and the constant support he gave him. I don’t think Lake is a good judge of what offense should be at the college level. The Huskies were wildly conservative, and clearly didn’t have the personnel to support a run-first, pro-style offense. Bubble screens and Wildcat formations can die a quick and painful death, as far as I’m concerned. It’s also not clear that Lake is a good motivator of men; I get the sense that his schtick can wear thin with some people.

Regardless, his firing boiled down to the Huskies not playing well on the football field. Chris Petersen was able to mold lesser recruits into stars and eventual NFL players; Lake’s players regressed and underperformed, even though by the time he was promoted we were regularly bringing in higher-level recruits in Coach Pete’s final years.

I mean, how do you have the kind of consistency along the offensive line that we were able to bring back for the 2021 season, and not be able to do ANYTHING on offense, neither rushing nor protecting our quarterbacks?

This brings us to Kalen DeBoer, the erstwhile Fresno State head coach.

It’s fair to look at this hire – compared to what USC was able to do in bringing in Lincoln Riley, compared to what LSU was able to do in wooing away Brian Kelly from Notre Dame of all places – and come away underwhelmed. After all, there are reports we tried to hire Matt Campbell away from Iowa State (offering him upwards of $7 million per year) and were rebuffed (which is unfortunate, because what he’s done for the Cyclones is truly remarkable). You never want to hear that. You never want to hear that your school is unable to bring in a big name. If it’s because we didn’t offer him enough money, then that sucks because you don’t want your school to be perceived as tightwads. But, if it’s because he just didn’t want to come to Washington because he didn’t believe in the program and our ability to win it all, then that’s far worse. I tend to believe it’s the latter; I don’t have any faith in Washington winning it all because I don’t believe the Pac-12 as a conference is set up for success in the major college sports of football and men’s basketball (for any number of reasons I won’t bore you with here).

As a Washington fan, you kinda have to look at the situation for what it is. Washington is one of the top three or four programs in the Pac-12. But, what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? Being top three or four in the Pac-12 probably equates to being in the top 30 or 40 in all of college football; you can’t like those odds when the programs who are truly in the Top 10 are so far and away more advantaged than everyone below them combined. Matt Campbell isn’t the difference between where we are now and a national championship; nothing short of Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban would be able to turn Washington into a national powerhouse.

That means we have to settle for lowered expectations. Being one of the top three or four programs in the Pac-12 means we need to be competing for a conference championship every single year, period. Washington is worthy of that much. And there’s reason for optimism that Kalen DeBoer could be the guy to take us back to those heights.

I’m going to spend a lot of brainpower comparing DeBoer to our previous two offensive coordinators, because he’s an offensive-minded coach. Unlike Bush Hamdan and John Donovan – who were both miserable retreads who’ve never succeeded at the college level – Kalen DeBoer has improved the offenses he’s taken over at every stop on his coaching journey. He was tremendously successful at the lower levels of college football, with Sioux Falls, leading them to multiple national championships. He then became a coordinator with Fresno State and saw immediate improvement there; he did the same thing for Indiana in 2019, in the same capacity; and when he returned to Fresno State as their head coach, he continued their turnaround, leading them to a 9-3 record this past season (with, I might add, Jake Haener at quarterback, who transferred out of Washington after the 2018 season). This all speaks to a head coach on the rise.

It’s also not lost on me that he actually HAS head coaching experience, which is more than we could say for Jimmy Lake when he was hired. We’ll have to wait and see, but my hunch is that DeBoer will have these Huskies playing much better through sheer coaching ability. What’s uncertain is: how many of these Huskies will want to stick around? And, what will future Husky recruiting classes look like?

I don’t know what DeBoer’s reputation is as a recruiter. Considering everything I’ve read about him so far hasn’t featured that as any great asset, I’m assuming he’s just okay. Of course, he’s never had the kind of resources that he’ll have with Washington, so a lot of that is unknown as well. My guess on this point is that he’ll be worse than Jimmy Lake, at least at first. And, he’s going to have to coach his ass off the first few years to lead Washington to the kind of success where he’ll be able to start bringing in the higher-rated recruits.

Which leads me to the age-old question: what’s more important, recruiting or actual coaching? Obviously, you need both; Lake was perceived to be an excellent recruiter, but it turns out he wasn’t much of a coach, and the Huskies cratered accordingly. DeBoer is perceived to be an excellent coach, but if all he can bring in are nobodies, then it won’t matter how good of a coach he is if he doesn’t have the talent to even hang with the teams of the lowly Pac-12. If we’re doomed to repeat another endless string of losses to the Oregon Ducks, his time here won’t be long.

As with anything new, it’s impossible to judge this move without seeing any results. We can speculate all we want, but we can’t say anything with any certainty until we see how the Huskies play on the field next year. Even that might be too soon; a more fair assessment probably couldn’t be rendered for 3-5 years, to give him enough time to build the culture, bring in a few recruiting classes, and see how he does with “his guys”.

All I can really talk about his how I feel, given the knowledge I have at my disposal. I’m cautiously excited. I’m probably less excited than I was a couple years ago, when Lake was tabbed to take over, but that was coming off of a run of success we haven’t seen around these parts in decades. Coming off of a down year, with all the question marks surrounding our current roster and our incoming freshmen next year, I think it’s fair to be underwhelmed with this move. That doesn’t mean I don’t expect immediate improvement. I think the 2022 Huskies should be, at minimum, a bowl-eligible squad. A record of 6-6 isn’t too much to ask. Where we go from there is up to DeBoer, and who he ultimately decides to bring on as his assistant coaches. I’ve read people talking about how he needs to bring in excellent recruiters; I think that’s a great (if obvious) idea. We’ll see how it goes!

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.

Who’s In A Worse Position Right Now, The Huskies Or The Cougars?

The simple answer is to say: the Cougs. Always the Cougs. But, I dunno. There are, as usual, good people idiots on both sides.

Earlier this week, Nick Rolovich was fired by WSU. The short story is that the governor of Washington instituted a mandate stating all state employees needed to be fully vaccinated by October 18th. The head coach of Washington State University is technically considered to be a state employee. Nick Rolovich is not vaccinated and does not wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Therefore, he was let go.

That’s obviously an oversimplification. Muddying the waters is the fact that the state is supposed to grant legitimate religious exemptions, Rolovich applied for one as a Catholic, and it’s unclear if he was granted one or not. I’m assuming it’s also an oversimplification to say that since the Pope encouraged getting the vaccine, that negates Catholicism as a viable pathway towards an exemption, but either way, even if he was granted the exemption by the state, Wazzu refused to grant the accommodation that would be needed to make everything work. With the accommodation denied, there was nowhere else to go but job termination.

It doesn’t really help Rolovich’s public relations cause that he spent EVERY press conference answering questions about the vaccine mandate like Marshawn Lynch at the Super Bowl. Then again, once people have their minds made up on an issue like this, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of leeway as far as listening to differing viewpoints. I’m not so naive as to think Rolovich could’ve changed any minds by speaking his beliefs. But, saying literally nothing on the matter, other than he’s going to follow the mandate or whatever, just makes this all look like litigation was his goal all along.

Maybe that’s just a college football thing, though. College coaches are notoriously tight-lipped about even the most innocuous of subjects. In that sense, Jimmy Lake of the Huskies is as bad as any of them. Just try getting a straight answer out of him about the program! At best, he’s going to give terse, meaningless replies about keeping things the status quo. That’s fine if you’re winning – because why give your opponent any information they can use against you – but when you’re 2-4 (after being projected to contend for the Pac-12 title), you better fucking come up with some different answers, or else it’s going to be your ass with a pink slip stapled to it.

My point of view on this whole vaccine mandate thing is: I don’t think these issues have any business being turned into a political conflict. I think there are lots of legitimate sources that provide quality information on the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19, and I think there are lots of bullshit sources raising questions that infect the minds of people who are on the lookout for contrarian viewpoints. The same people questioning the safety of vaccines – because of some bullshit they read on the Internet – are also people who will blindly gorge themselves on unhealthy foods and beverages, or take medications prescribed by their doctors that they haven’t themselves vetted. Everyone’s a fucking scientist all of a sudden.

But, I’m not here to solve all the world’s problems. I’m here to talk about the Huskies and Cougars.

In a vaccuum, it’s always better to be a Dawg than a Coug. We have access to better recruits, we have better facilities, we’re located in a more populous city with more things to do, and our history in the game of football is vastly superior. We’ve actually won a national championship! We’ve actually played in the College Football Playoffs within the last decade.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that it has to stay that way forever. If the Cougs ever found the right coach – who was willing to stay there for the long term – he could certainly build up a program that eventually surpasses UW. It’s not impossible.

But, it’s also not likely. What I see are two programs in need of new head coaches, and new directions overall. And, I see one program – Wazzu – that’s got a head start. The lawsuit is just a distraction, but it’s not like there’s any chance he gets his job back; that’s a headache for the university, not the football program. The football program is going to move on with a new coach by next season. When will Washington follow suit?

Jimmy Lake very nearly inherited one terrible offensive coordinator, but Bush Hamdan was fired at the close of the 2019 season. He hired another terrible offensive coordinator, who he finds himself tethered to. The decision at the time was justifiably panned, and it’s proven everyone but Lake knew best. As I’ve written about, he’s weirdly aggressive-yet-conservative in his decision-making. He goes for it on fourth down like no one we’ve had around here before, but he’s also committed to running the ball even though our offensive line sucks at it, and opposing teams are gearing up to stop it.

Lake is also supposed to be this defensive mastermind, but we can’t stop the run to save our lives, and he refuses to let his elite defensive secondary play man-to-man to open up extra defenders to try to stop the run. As I’ve written before, he’s coaching this team like it’s got Vita Vea in the middle, when he has no one even close to that level of talent along the interior!

I’d still be bitching if the Huskies were merely mediocre, but mediocre would be an improvement! The Washington Huskies don’t lose to teams like Montana or Oregon State. They don’t get consistently out-muscled at home. And they sure as shit don’t struggle this mightily to move the football on offense! This isn’t the worst it’s ever been for the Huskies, but it’s as bad as it’s been since 2008.

As for the Cougs, they’re actually 4-3, having won three games in a row. They managed to take care of business against Cal, Oregon State, and Stanford; we’ve beaten only one of those teams so far. They’re at least in the hunt for a bowl game, if not a full comeback to win the Pac-12 North. What do the Huskies have going for us right now? We’re 18-point favorites down in Arizona tonight, and you KNOW we won’t be covering that spread!

I’ll be honest, part of me is jealous that the Cougs have this head start on a new coaching regime! Not only do I think the Huskies are stuck with who we’ve got, but that’s probably going to extend into next year. We MIGHT get lucky with a change at OC, but I don’t think Lake is going anywhere. And, as long as we’re saddled with his philosophy, we’re going to continue to be disgruntled with the play-calling. Considering we’ve got a 5-star quarterback just sitting there, collecting dust on the sidelines, it’s a total nightmare.

No one expects anything from the Cougs. That’s why they’re able to delight their fanbase when they do anything well. That’s as beaten-down a group of fans as you’ll find across all sports, but they always come back for more like a fucking Whac-A-Mole game.

Huskies are expected to be great. Husky fans are a different sort of delusional, because we still believe this program has a chance in hell at competing for a national championship. The fact of the matter is: as long as we’re saddled in the Pac-12, recruiting is going to forever be at a sub-optimal level, and we will NEVER compete with those other national programs. The best we can hope for is Pac-12 success, and maybe a seat at the playoff table when they expand it so every major conference gets a slot.

What Husky fans don’t realize is, to the Alabamas and Georgias and Ohio States of the world, WE are what Wazzu is to us: the perpetual little brothers, ineffectual and unimportant. I would argue that we’re in the worse spot, because denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

The Cougars succeed when they win the conference once in a blue moon. The Huskies are expected to contend every year. Falling short of that – settling for an Alamo Bowl or a Holiday Bowl, or God forbid a Las Vegas Bowl – is unacceptable. The Huskies have been trending in the wrong direction for a while now, and when your goal is to be among the college football elites, it’s much harder to turn everything around.

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.

There’s No Excuse For How Inept The Washington Huskies Were Against Montana

That was the single worst Husky football loss I’ve ever seen, and I had a functioning brain cell in my head during the 2008 season.

There aren’t words to describe how shittily everyone on the Huskies performed on Saturday night against the Montana Grizzlies, an FCS school that marched into Washington and came away with a 13-7 victory. Everyone. Every single person affiliated with the Huskies, from the athletic director on down to every single man on that football team failed. They were FUCKING EMBARRASSING, and I’m frankly ashamed to be a fan of this team right now. There’s no worse, more laughable feeling in college athletics than to be a Top 20 ranked football team that loses to another team from a lower division.

Jimmy Lake is a fucking joke right now. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but let’s look at the total package: he’s losing highly-ranked committments left and right. He’s currently running out the players that Chris Peterson got for him. He lost his defensive coordinator to the Texas Longhorns, and he hired an offensive coordinator who is somehow worse than Bush Hamdan. He couldn’t keep the team from succumbing to COVID last year – costing us a chance at the Pac-12 Championship – and now he lost to Montana in the season opener.

Dylan Morris won the starting job last year and was okay. He came into this year as the frontrunner and managed to beat out true freshman Sam Huard (our only 5-star recruit). By all accounts, he’s a hard worker and natural leader. But, what did he do on Saturday? Led this team to an opening-drive touchdown … and then nothing the rest of the game. 27/46, 226 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs. PATHETIC.

You know what I don’t want to hear about? How there were starting wide receivers who didn’t play for whatever reason. You are the WASHINGTON HUSKIES; they are the Montana Grizzlies. Your third stringers should be able to overwhelm that school’s number ones!

Boy did the offensive line suck! What was this I heard about the Huskies having the best O-Line in the conference? They couldn’t protect for shit!

I have no notes for the defense. I don’t expect the Husky defense to hold a team to 3 points – even one as bad as Montana – especially when the offense keeps shitting down its fucking legs the entire fucking game. What a FUCKING wretched experience; everyone affiliated with that team needs to take a long look in the mirror.

I can’t guarantee I’m going to want to talk about this team a whole lot after this. What is there to say? Even if we improve and beat some teams, there’s always going to be the dark cloud hanging over the season. They could win the next 11 straight games and we’ll all know, “Yeah, but you fucking lost to Montana, you fucking wastes of space.”

Fire Jimmy Lake. Bench Dylan Morris. Start Sam Huard. And find a fucking offensive coordinator who doesn’t have his head up his own fucking ass.

The Huskies Actually Played A Football Game, Beating The Beavs

You ever try to stay awake, sober, for an 8pm start-time to a college football game? It’s a lot of work! Of course, I’m 195 years old and staying up until all hours of the night isn’t as easy as it used to be (particularly when you regularly wake up anywhere from 3-5am most mornings). I’m not gonna lie to you, I made it until halftime, then had to DVR the rest of the game to watch it the following morning (at 5am, which is apparently a more appropriate time to watch a football game, because again, I am an old, elderly, deceased man).

You’d think the excitement of having college football back – and specifically the team I most care about – would be enough to carry me to the finish line. But, obviously, the effects of a COVID-marred season is taking its toll. There wasn’t the usual fire in the Husky text thread Saturday night, as I think many of us feel like this season is just one long exhibition more than a real sampling of what college football has to offer. Like NFL pre-season in its level of importance.

For me, it comes down to the Pac-12 having no shot to make the college football playoffs. Why they’ve stubbornly refused to expand – if for only this one year – is beyond all reason. We get a 4-team playoff and we can choke on it, as the usual gang of idiots monopolize those spots for another season.

So, what are we playing for, then? For fun, I suppose. For something to do on Saturdays for a few weeks. Obviously, for the players to showcase their skills, particularly for those who opt to go pro after this season (I don’t know what the rules are across all conferences, but I know the Pac-12 players have the option of extending their eligibility an extra season (2020 effectively not counting) if they do want to return in 2021. I’m not against it; I’m not complaining we have the Pac-12 back in our lives. But, I’m just saying it lacks that usual juice. The Huskies could go 6-0 this year (with 7-0 formally off the table) and it won’t make a lick of difference.

On top of the lack of stakes, it’s not like we can have proper tailgates. We obviously can’t attend the games. We can’t get any road trips together with our friends. Going to a bowl game seems dicey in these times where the COVID cases are climbing.

But, it’s football, and once the game got going, I was certainly enjoying myself. It’s not normal, but it’s close enough for now.

When I went to bed at halftime, the Huskies were ahead 24-21. The final score ended up being 27-21. I can only imagine how irritated I would’ve been staying up another however many hours of real time trying to make it to the bitter end, when as it was – being able to fast forward through halftime, commercials, and all the in-game stoppages – it was already pretty boring.

The global view of this game is that I’ll take a win any way I can get it! I thought, given the circumstances (late start, cold temperature, lots of rain throughout), the Huskies looked pretty good.

Redshirt Freshman Dylan Morris got the start for the Dawgs, who I suppose was a quasi-surprise given the 4-man competition. It sounded like the senior, Kevin Thomson, was in street clothes (indicating he’s got an injury), but I find it interesting Morris got the nod over Sophomore Jacob Sirmon (who actually did see a wee bit of playing time in 2019). Jimmy Lake said Morris was the best of the bunch at limiting either mistakes or turnovers (which I consider to be the same thing, in coachspeak), so that’s something. I thought Morris looked okay, but there were a lot of frustrating drops by the wide receivers (I remember this being a theme for the Huskies last year as well), and the team didn’t have him do too much (14/24 for 141 yards).

The running game was the star of the show. The Huskies had four running backs featured (plus Morris scrambles, plus a few fullback dives, plus some wide receiver jet-sweeps); the team as a whole combined for 267 yards on 51 carries and all three touchdowns, which is pretty outstanding! In a season-opener, with a new head coach, quarterback, and offensive coordinator, I don’t think you can ask for anything more from that side of the ball. Most importantly: there were no Husky turnovers.

The Huskies split carries pretty evenly between the three main backs. Kamari Pleasant did indeed get the start and looked good (12 for 61 and a TD). Richard Newton looked like the wrecking ball we all remember him as (15 for 41). And Sean McGrew looked like an absolute revelation! He was fast, he was explosive, and he was CRIMINALLY underutilized (9 for 91 and a TD). If this were a normal season – or if it eventually morphs into something resembling a normal season – McGrew would be taking the starting job and running (!) with it. My hunch is, if he keeps averaging 10 yards per carry, the coaches will have no choice but to give him the lion’s share of the carries. But, as everyone is getting used to playing again, it might not be the worst idea to have a big rotation going, to keep everyone healthy and fresh.

Terrell Bynum was the only receiver that really stood out to me in this one (4 catches for 66 yards, and another 2 carries for 33 yards), but there will be time for this unit to shine this season. Honestly, even though the Huskies gave up a blocked punt for a touchdown after the opening drive (our prized long-snapper delivered his first college snap about 10 yards over the head of our punter, who tracked it down, tried to punt it anyway, and got absolutely clobbered for his effort), we were pretty well in control throughout, so there was never a need to abandon the run. That won’t be the case every week; at some point, we’ll learn what Dylan Morris is all about.

The defense was solid. They really only gave up 14 points (and only three sustained drives, one ending early in the fourth quarter on downs after some iffy officiating in our favor). I would say the pass defense is as advertised – limiting the Beavs to 85 yards passing on 11/24 with an INT – but the rush defense had some holes (167 yards on 34 carries) and we didn’t get to the quarterback as much as I’d like. Nevertheless, we’ll throw out some individual kudos to Edefuan Ulofoshio (led the team in tackles with 10, and 4 passes broken up), Elijah Molden (our stud DB who was all over the place in this one), Asa Turner (our interception) and Zion Tupuola-Fetui (our only two sacks!) for really standing out. There were lots of good plays across the board though, so I look forward to shouting more guys out as the season goes along!

Next week, we host Arizona at 5pm, assuming nothing goes haywire. The Wildcats lost a close one to USC at home earlier on Saturday (after having their own opening game canceled because of Utah’s COVID outbreak) and I thought they looked pretty impressive. Of course, USC might also be underwhelming, but Arizona’s big quarterback was making all sorts of plays to keep drives alive, so I’ll be interested to see how we keep him in check. He isn’t quite the runner that Arizona has had in recent seasons, but he makes up for that with a strong arm (as well as enough mobility to keep defenses somewhat honest).

My guess is his skillset plays to our defensive strengths, but I am worried about his ability to keep plays alive with his legs (either in avoiding our pass rush, or outright running for first downs to keep drives going). I didn’t see anything from Arizona’s defense that particularly scares me, but it’ll be more important for our offense to just execute, regardless of what they throw our way.

The weather might not be a whole helluva lot better than it was last week, but with the earlier start time, I would expect more points out of the Huskies. It wouldn’t shock me to see this one turn into something of a shootout. Either way, we’ll get a MUCH better sense of how good this Husky defense is, as the Wildcats’ offense should be much more balanced than Oregon State’s.

Is It A Bad Sign That The Husky Football Team Hasn’t Named A Starting Quarterback?

We got our first depth chart of the season yesterday. There are a number of familiar names at the skill positions – Kamari Pleasant the surprise starter at running back, though he’ll surely be part of a committee with Sean McGrew and Richard Newton; Puka Nacua, Terrell Bynum, Ty Jones lead the way at receiver; with Cade Otton at tight end – but for the most part what’s on everyone’s mind is the 4-way logjam at quarterback:

  • Ethan Garbers (true Freshman)
  • Dylan Morris (redshirt Freshman)
  • Jacob Sirmon (Sophomore)
  • Kevin Thomson (Senior)

They all seem to be worthy in one way or another of becoming the starting quarterback for the University of Washington, but for whatever reason it seems no one has asserted himself as the Top Dawg, so to speak. Obviously, there’s some mindgames at play here, as this forces Cal to have to try to prepare for multiple different players (with multiple different styles). Coach Lake has even gone so far as to announce that more than one could see playing time in this game, which again could simply be posturing to force Cal into doing more work than they need to. In that sense, sure, I get it; why make it easy on them?

I guess my question stems from the notion that Coach Lake is being honest. That there really is no one guy who has far-and-away dominated over everyone else. I can see why that would be concerning for Husky fans! Kevin Thomson – the graduate transfer – obviously has the most college playing experience of anyone on the roster, and it sounds like he’s also the most mobile (which could be a big help with a lot of new pieces across the offensive line, as well as breaking in a new offensive coordinator and scheme); if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet the entirety of the Taylor Family Farm on Thomson getting the first reps (and the most reps), but, you know, I’d probably be willing to bet a goat or two on it (yes, we have many goats on the Taylor Family Farm, sorry to brag so much). Logically, he makes the most sense, but if we take Coach Lake at his word, then that means Thomson … isn’t very good? Can’t beat out three guys who – combined – have only played a handful of snaps at the college level?

Now, the flipside of that is: one or more of those other guys have surpassed expectations and it’s an embarrassment of riches! But, come on, when is that EVER the case? Don’t shit a shitter, you guys; you know as well as I do that what he’s suggesting is Coachspeak for, “Ehh, you know, I like our guys I guess, but I just don’t trust ’em as far as I can throw ’em.”

I’ll be honest here, I can’t think of a single instance where I’ve enjoyed watching a team try to straddle two different (and healthy) quarterbacks. I mean, maybe Joe Montana and Steve Young in their primes, but what are the odds we have two surefire Hall of Famers in this group? Plus, even then, I’m sure it was annoying. I barely like shuffling running backs in and out of a game for the same reason: you need time to get settled in! At least at the college level, most of the running backs are really talented, so it’s more about offensive line play than anything. But, what’s worse than going back and forth between two ice-cold quarterbacks? Probably going back and forth between three or four ice-cold quarterbacks, but that’s neither here nor there.

I don’t have a lot of super-high hopes for this season for any number of reasons. New head coach and new offensive coordinator being at the top of my list. You need time to grow and work out the kinks; I wouldn’t think it’s likely we would contend for a conference championship even if we had a returning 3-year starter at quarterback! The only moderate reason why I MIGHT have hope is because this is such a flukey circumstance – 7-game schedule, COVID protocols and the like – and because we have a lot of returning stars on defense and at the skill positions to hopefully paper over some of the growing pains, that I believe it’s 2020 and literally anything can happen (plus, if we grow and improve over the first five games, we JUST might be ready to compete with a team like Oregon in the regular season finale).

In reality, though, assuming we lose a game or two early, I’d love to see one of our younger quarterbacks get a good run in and build some confidence heading into 2021. So, if Thomson isn’t the ace we thought he could be, he should have an EXTREMELY short leash. I don’t see any point in wasting a year of everyone’s eligibility on a guy who won’t be around after this season.

So yeah, I think it’s a bad sign we don’t officially know who the starter will be. They’re most likely ALL mediocre! Of course, if we’re all being hornswoggled, then I might be singing a different tune next week.

My Thoughts On College Football 9am Start Times, 6-Team Playoffs

I like one and hate the other, which one do you think will land on my good side?!

Since I’ve been clamoring for an increase in playoff teams, you’d think it would be the latter, BUT YOU’D BE WRONG! Jimmy Lake was interviewed recently and asked his opinion on what College Football should do to rectify the wrong that has been the Pac-12 being on the outside-looking-in on the College Football Playoffs in most years since its inception. He feels – as I do – that every Power Five champion should be guaranteed a spot. So far, so good.

But, he stops at six teams – with an independent school, a school from a smaller conference, or (most likely) another SEC team comprising that final spot – and I am firmly opposed to this. If it’s justified as a building block to an eventual eight-team playoff system, then I guess I’ll suck it up and accept it (what choice do I have otherwise?), but if we’re stuck with a six-team playoff for the long haul, that’s going to be terrible for the sport.

In this scenario, the top two seeds get first-round BYEs. Imagine Alabama and Clemson, every year (or, failing that, Alabama and Ohio State) getting an extra week to rest their players and prepare for their opponents; those games are going to be atrocious more often than not! Don’t buy for one second that these teams would be “rusty”; that’s fucking horseshit. By their ranking, they’re already better than every other team, and now they get the HUGE advantage of playing teams that just had to get mauled for four quarters the week before? Best-case scenario, you get the final scene in the movie Gladiator, but don’t forget that dude was stabbed in the side before he went out there, and he STILL ended up dying in the end (twenty year old spoiler alert). More often than not, you’re going to see the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world winning by 30+ points.

If you don’t believe me, look no further than the NFL when it had the top two teams in each conference getting a BYE. They ended up winning in the Divisional Round about 75% of the time – over the course of MANY years – and those games were usually boring blowouts! That’s in a league with considerably more parity than in college football, so do the math.

Why not just skip the six-team playoff and go back to the top two teams meeting in the championship game? Because that’s what this would be, more often than not.

It’s only fair to have an eight-team playoff for three straight weeks (or, shit, 16 teams over four weeks, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose). Eight teams would give you all Power Five champions, another SEC team (because of course), and the other two slots could LEGITIMATELY go to independent schools, or undefeated teams from smallish conferences. Make Alabama and Clemson play every playoff week, so it’s fair when it comes to the semifinals and finals, that both teams are equally tenderized!

As for the 9am start times, bring ’em on! To read about it from the beat writers, you’d think this was a fate worse than being tortured in a dungeon, but what do you expect from a group of alcoholic night owls? Under the guise of “Won’t Somebody PLEASE Think Of The Children?!” they’ll say how much of a hardship this is for college student athletes. Oh mercy me! You mean they have to wake up at *GASP* 5am?! What EVER will they do? Why don’t we chain them to a ship and have them row across the Pacific Ocean while we’re at it?!

Here’s the deal: as a frequent tailgater who loves getting his drink on in a University of Washington parking lot, is this ideal? No, of course not. I can’t get my swerve on in a few precious hours before gametime! If I had my druthers, every UW home game would start at 7pm and I’d be nine sheets to the wind by the time I stumbled into the stadium!

But, this is bigger than my desire to be publicly intoxicated! The Pac-12 has an image problem. We have an East Coast Bias problem. Poo-poo that all you want, but Pac-12 After Dark is entirely worthless when it can start as late as 11pm in the eastern time zone. No one who’s anyone (by that, I mean, voters for the AP and Coaches polls) is staying up until 1am to watch our little Junior Varsity football exhibition. You know when they’re watching? Noon! You know what time is noon eastern? 9am pacific!

It’s a necessary evil. And, it’s not like one team is going to have to suffer more than the rest; this would be something where the burden is shared among all the Pac-12 schools. I don’t mind it if my team has one or two of these games per season, if it gets us seen by the rest of the college football world, I’m all for it.

Of course, playing at 9am alone won’t do the job. Playing exciting football, having fun doing it, and actually WINNING games against non-conference opponents are all of utmost importance. But, you can’t deny that we’re hemorrhaging talent to the SEC and Big 10, and that’s a direct result of being seen as the most inferior of the Power Five conferences.

Also, not for nothing, but it doesn’t help our image problem when you’ve got Pac-12 coaches openly complaining about 9am starts. Cut that shit out! If you’re too much of a crybaby to play at whatever time of day they set for you, then how are you ever going to beat those other elite programs if/when you do get to the playoffs?

I love Chris Petersen, but his yearly complaints about late starts always drove me nuts. I can’t imagine how much he’d resent a 9am start time!

The Huskies Need 2020 To Go Well

I’m not shy about saying this: I don’t follow college recruiting on anything more than a cursory level. I read some articles in the Seattle Times, I see things pop up on Twitter once in a while, and over time names start looking familiar as potential future stars for my beloved Huskies.

Since 2016, the Huskies have been the best program the Pac-12 has had to offer. Two conference titles in the last four seasons, with a College Football Playoff berth to boot (the last time a Pac-12 school made it into the final four in football). If you look at recruitment rankings, however, the Huskies have steadily rated behind Oregon. Of course, rankings aren’t everything; the Huskies’ program is proof enough that coaching and development have just as much – if not more – to do with how well your team performs on the field. Nevertheless, as we see with the SEC (and various other power programs around the United States), recruiting – over time – matters most. Consistently bringing in the very best players year-in and year-out will set your program up for indefinite greatness.

In both the 2019 and 2020 classes, it’s been Oregon and Washington (in that order) in the top two of conference recruitment rankings. That’s the primary reason why both schools are favored to win the Pac-12 North, in spite of the fact that both are replacing quarterbacks who left for the NFL. Since the Ducks are coming off of an overwhelmingly powerful 2019 season – where they went 12-2 and won the Rose Bowl – they’re the overwhelming favorites to repeat in that endeavor. The Huskies, on the other hand, feel like considerable long shots, not the least of which because we’re breaking in a brand new head coach.

All of this is preamble to my main concern: recruiting for the 2021 class. It’s by no means a done deal, of course; and as has been noted elsewhere, there could be even more movement as players opt to switch their commitments coming out of the pandemic. I’m not panicking – I’m confident we’ll find the Huskies in the top quartile in conference recruitment rankings when it’s all said and done – but as it stands now, we’re lagging WAY behind the likes of Oregon (yet again) as well as USC (another favorite to win the Pac-12 in 2020), with the primary bright spot being 5-star quarterback Sam Huard that’s keeping this class afloat.

Again, I don’t know all the names, but I keep seeing news items of Husky targets choosing to go elsewhere. I’m sure that’s normal, and I’m overreacting, but this feels different to me. It feels like a lot of highly-rated recruits are taking a Wait & See approach with the Huskies. Waiting to see if Jimmy Lake can keep the run of success going that we saw under Chris Petersen.

Which makes the 2020 season so very important. You could argue the next two years – in conjunction – will provide a more fair assessment, but regardless the time is now! We’re coming off of two recruiting classes in the Top Two in the conference; that needs to translate into a lot of success right out of the gate, or I’ll be worried about the state of the program going forward. Middle-of-the-road finishes, with expected growing pains from a new head coach, are not going to keep the momentum going in the right direction. Not with the steady progress we’re seeing down in Cal, the expected return to power of Stanford (who seemingly always manages to poach a top player or two from the state of Washington every year based on their high academic reputation), and the excitement of a new potentially-great coach over in WSU (a program that made great strides under Mike Leach and hopes to parlay that into perpetuating its own momentum).

There’s a great opportunity for the Huskies at the same time. If the concern is we’ll fall on our face and find the program lost in the woods during the 2020’s, the potential is that we’ll come out of the gate on fire and REALLY impress future recruits by showing out under a BRUTAL schedule. I still can’t get over how difficult this schedule is – with all of our most difficult games coming on the road – but that means any number of upsets could vault our esteem in the eyes of the college football nation up many levels. Jimmy Lake has the pressure of following a legend, of helming a premiere west coast football program, and a worldwide pandemic on his shoulders as he leads this team. If he does well, that could slingshot the Huskies into a whole new stratosphere for the next decade!