Dec 31, 2011

Trade: A Bowl Loss for a New Defense

The other shoe has dropped with defensive coordinator Nick Holt officially being let go by the University of Washington.  Two other defensive coaches, Jeff Mills and Mike Cox, were also fired and with the departure of Demetrice Martin earlier this month, UW will now have a completely new defensive staff next year outside of defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, Johnny Nansen.

Before the Alamo Bowl, I thought that the only way Holt would get dismissed was if Baylor put up just ungodly, record-smashing numbers on this defense.  A school record 777 yards allowed and 67 points is just about as "ungodly" as it gets.  And on national television no less.  The defense looked that much worse when compared to the stellar play of the offense, which torched Baylor for 56 points and 620 yards.  In the understatement of the year, Holt was not getting the job done.

In many ways, this game shared similarities to the loss at Hawaii in 2007.  The Huskies raced out to a 28-7 lead in that contest, similar to the 42-24 lead they held in this game, but absolutely fell apart defensively and lost 35-28.  The silver lining was that many thought Tyrone Willingham would be fired after going 4-9 and losing back-to-back heartbreakers against Wazzu and Hawaii.  Unfortunately, Todd Turner kept him around for another year and you know what happened next.  So at least the pain of losing this game to Baylor results in a major change in the program.  I don't care what excuses for the defense you can come up with, this coaching staff was simply not getting enough out of their players, and the huge salary Holt was earning just made the situation that much more laughable.

Sark definitely made the right choice in cleaning house and keeping the Holt situation from becoming a major distraction next year. Washington is flush with cash from the new Pac-12 television deal and has shown a willingness to spend big dollars on a coordinator, so hopefully the new staff coming in will be proven teachers of the game.

A couple names that have been thrown around for the DC position are Jim Heacock (Ohio State's defensive coordinator) and Mike Stoops (former Arizona head coach/Dennis the Menace lookalike).  It sounds like former USC and current Seahawks assistant, Rocky Seto, could come over in some sort of capacity.  The word on the street is Seto is a great recruiter with a ton of SoCal ties, so he sounds promising for a position of safeties or cornerbacks coach.

But let's step away from the defensive changes conversation for a second and focus on this year's team and most notably, a Husky legend who most likely just played his last game as a Dawg.  Chris Polk had another big day in rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown.  Baylor did a nice job of wrapping up his legs and keeping him from a ton of yards after contact, but he still showed why he will be a capable runner at the next level.

His fourth quarter fumble was definitely a bummer, but it also served as a reminder of how few times he has fumbled considering the amount of carries he's had in his Husky career.  And don't get me wrong, I absolutely hope Polk returns for his senior year, but I just don't think he can raise his draft position too much more nor would it help his NFL career if he took another season of hits at the college level.  CP is one of my favorite Huskies of all time and will be remembered as one of, if not the best running back in the history of Washington football.

In many ways, Keith Price stole the show from Robert Griffin III on Thursday night.  His stat line was right out of a video game: SEVEN touchdowns (4 passing, 3 rushing), 438 passing yards, 39 rushing yards, and no interceptions.  After able to heal up for a month, KP was definitely more of a running threat in this game, particularly in the red zone.  Think of how effective he will be when he is finally a 100% after a little bit of surgery to clean up his knee.  Now he's just got to put on some more muscle, particularly in the lower body, so he can having a better shot at staying healthy through an entire season.  In this system with the offensive weapons around him, Price really could leave UW as the best quarterback of all-time.

It's hard not to be disappointed in a 7-6 season when the team loses five out of their last seven games.  Yes, the competition was quite a bit better in the second half of the year, but it's still a bummer.  There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the future though -- the offense should be very impressive next year and the big changes on defense showed that Sark realized he has to make tough decisions for the sake of the program.  If this new, highly-paid defensive staff can bring in and develop talent, the Huskies will take that next as a program (i.e. competing for Rose Bowls).

Now that football season is officially over, we turn our attention to basketball, and lost in all of this Alamo Bowl madness was the b-ball Huskies playing one of their best games of the year in downing Oregon St. by fifteen.  Tony Wroten put on a show with 26 points, 9 boards, 4 assists, only two turnovers, and 5-7 from the FT line.  It's becoming more and more clear that this team will go as far as Tone leads them (yes, that's a shot at you to pick your game up, Terrence Ross...)

Tonight the Dawgs take on Oregon at home in a little New Year's Eve rivalry game, and nothing would make NYE celebrating complete like a clown-stomping of the ducks.

It was a wild and fun football season!

Go Dawgs!

Game photos by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times (football) and Elaine Thompson / AP Photo (basketball).
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Dec 28, 2011

Get to Know a D'Bag: Baylor Bears

Baylor's answer to Family Guy's evil monkey.

Finally, after waiting for over a month, the Alamo Bowl is upon us. Like last year, the Huskies take on a heavily-favored, Big 12 opponent, but unlike last year, the Baylor Bears have a Heisman-winning quarterback in Robert Griffin III.  RG3 has been ridiculously good this year -- he leads the FBS with a 192.3 passer rating, nearly 4,000 yards through the air, a 36-6 TD-to-INT ratio, and another 644 yards and 9 scores on the ground.  Ho. Lee. Shitzenburger.

To get an idea of how absurdly dominant Griffin has been, let's take a look at his stats in the first three games of the year: 321 passing yards/game, 56 rushing yards/game, 85% completion percentage, zero interceptions and more touchdown passes (13) than incompletions (12)... what?!!?!  Those numbers should make Nick Holt more scared than LaMichael James riding a roller coaster.

While RG-tres doesn't have the bearded Achilles' heel of an Andrew Luck to make of him about, he does have a penchant for wearing Superman socks and has a significant resemblance to Andre 3000:

But frankly, wearing Superman socks and looking like Andre 3000 are both actually quite fresh (and clean), so I really got no ammo here.  Luckily, I found this photo of Baylor's women's basketball coach:

Creator of the "Pick and Roll up some meth" offense.

Baylor fans have also provided some ammunition with their impressively ignorant attitudes towards the Huskies.  To be fair, these quotes are from soon after the bowl lineup was announced and some Baylor fans were disappointed not to be playing in the Cotton Bowl against #6 Arkansas, but still.  Here is one beauty describing Chris Polk:

Yeah, when I think of Polk, I definitely think "finesse back."  You, HEPBear, are an idiot.  This guy also managed to look up Wazzu instead of UW in finding his offensive stats.  Evidently stupidity is also bigger in Texas.

For a program that is going to its second bowl game since '94, this is an awfully arrogant post:

Thanks HardCoreBear, I will take UW at +62.  This kind of talk shouldn't be surprising coming from a fanbase that uses some sort of scrunched up hand as their school sign:

Is that Simple Jack trying to wave?

For the record, many folks over at have changed their tune after learning more about the Dawgs and most predict a hard fought game.  Obviously this one has all the signs of a shootout as Baylor's defense is statistically worse than UW's.  Another bright spot is that the Bears are 114th in the nation with 17 lost fumbles.

There is no doubt that RGIII, All-American receiver Kendall Wright, and 1300+ yard rusher Terrance Ganaway will rack up yardage, but trying to limit them to field goals and causing a few turnovers is all we can realistically expect from the Husky defense.  Ultimately Price, Polk and company will have to keep UW in the game with 40+ points. The 9.5 point spread is a bit daunting, but if the Husky offense can play nearly mistake-free and continue to put the pressure back on Baylor, UW has a shot at taking this game.  But I just don't see how the Dawgs will end up with more points than the Bears in this one, so I have to call it 48-38 Baylor.  I'd love for the Huskies to prove me wrong though.

And while I certainly hope the Dawgs prevail, I'm happy that Robert Griffin III won the Heisman and that Waco, the home of Baylor University, is now famous for something other than... yeah, you know...  Wait, some of the younger readers don't?  Seriously? Fine.  Here.  Yeah... yikes.

To quickly change the mood, here is the Baylor Bear in action:

Solid technique.

And who needs "twiiiiiins" when you have "triiiiiplets"?

Ah crap, my bad.  Here you go:

In conclusion, Dawg fans: hopefully UW shocks the world and prevails in what could be the most entertaining bowl game this year.  For those fortunate enough to have made it down to San Antonio, do your best to counter what will most likely be an extremely pro-Baylor crowd. And most of all, fill up your purple drank and be proud to root on the Huskies.

Go Dawgs!
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Dec 14, 2011

B-Ball Blues

After a string of brutal losses to Nevada, #11 Marquette, and #5 Duke, the Huskies return home for a five-game stretch and look to improve on their pedestrian 4-4 record.  Adding injury to insult, Aziz N'Diaye injured his knee against the Blue Devils and will miss the next few games, but hopefully will be available for the Pac-12 opener against Oregon State (which has the same 6pm start time as the Alamo Bowl... boo).

This could be Romar's most athletic team at UW, but clearly they are struggling with closing out games and finding that Isaiah Thomas-esque leader to make big plays in the clutch.  The Nevada game was particularly excruciating as the Huskies were in control for all of the second half and even led by five with 20 seconds remaining, but allowed Deonte "LeVar" Burton to drill big shot after big shot and eventually lost in overtime.  That is a game that could really come back to haunt the Dawgs in their bid to make the tourney for a fourth consecutive year.

Washington bounced back against Marquette at Madison Square Garden and gave the #11 Golden Eagles all they could handle, but a couple miscues (and questionable officiating) down the stretch kept UW from securing what would have been the best win by a Pac-12 team so far this year.  Terrence Ross was particularly impressive in this game with 19 points (9/14 shooting) and 9 boards, but unfortunately, Marquette and their leprechaun head coach got some payback for UW's upset win in the 2010 Tournament.

No joke, Buzz Williams really is a leprechaun. Look at his papers.

After getting smoked in the first half by Duke, the Huskies made an impressive run to make the game interesting in the final minutes, but once again, it wasn't enough and UW picked up their fourth loss in their last five games.  My first question after the game was, how did we lose to a couple of 13-year-olds?

Isn't the guy on the right a Jonas brother?  

While Stephen Curry's even younger looking brother didn't do much against the Huskies (8 points, 5 turnovers, and fouled out), Doc Rivers' kid torched the Dawgs for 18 points.  It seemed that once the UW players got over the "Duke mystique", they could hang with those guys, but the fourteen-point hole they put themselves in at halftime was just too much to overcome.  While losing by six to the #5 team in the country is nothing to be ashamed of, it was definitely more painful because it was Duke.  A quick internet search reveals what much of the country thinks about them:


One smidge of silver lining was how impressive Tony Wroten was with 23 points on 8/12 shooting and HOLD THE PHONE, 6/8 at the free throw line.  He still committed five turnovers, but the freshman has shown that he is a major game-changer and should continue to improve over the course of the season.  I would think that an improvement at the FT line and a reduction of his overly risky passes will make it very difficult for Romar to limit his playing time.

The good news is the Huskies play their next five games at home and have as good a shot as anybody in the Pac-12 to win the conference.  Plus this four-guard lineup while Aziz is out will be entertaining if nothing else.

To add to the depression, former Husky and all-around superstud Brandon Roy was forced to retire due to a degenerative knee condition.  After winning the NBA Rookie of the Year in '07 (with 127 out of 128 votes), it looked like Roy would become a perennial All-Star.  Unfortunately, the limited amount of cartilage between the bones in both of his knees derailed what may have been a Hall of Fame career.  The fact that Roy continued to play with his knee bones basically grinding against each other is a testament to his perseverance and will to win.

There is no doubt that Roy was one of the best ever at Washington and hopefully will have some sort of role with the program for years to come.

For the current Huskies, the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara offer the opportunity for some redemption on Friday night at Alaska Airlines Arena.  And after all, who doesn't enjoy slapping that cocky grin off a guacho's face?

I hope we hit him so hard that his cookie-duster flies off.

Go Dawgs!
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Dec 3, 2011

The Leap, Leach, and Fat Little Girlfriends

Just a few notes today. Here is another look at "The Leap" by Kasen Williams in the Apple Cup with some reactions from Sark, Price, and KW himself:

Obviously this is old news, but former Texas Tech coach and current pirate, Mike Leach, was hired to be the new head coach at Wazzu. While this is a great move for the Cougs, it's even better for me as Leach is known to say some crazy shit and should inject some much needed entertainment into the UW/WSU rivalry.  This Leach video is my personal favorite:

I agree: fat, yet little, girlfriends are constantly screwing things up. Rumor has it that the FLGFs had a major role in the basketball Dawgs coughing up a ten-point 2nd half lead last night against Nevada. UW was up five with 20 seconds remaining in regulation, but a slew of mistakes allowed the Wolf Pack to take the game into overtime where they subsequently won and I subsequently threw up in my mouth. Romar should consider enforcing a strict "no fat little girlfriends policy" before the team heads to NYC to take on bball heavyweights Marquette and Duke.

"I'm not going to say this again: fat girlfriends are fine, little girlfriends are fine, but if I see any of you with fat little girlfriends, you're off the fucking team!"

Good call, Romar. A team needs rules.

Go Dawgs!

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Dec 1, 2011

Hardwood Huskies - Part II

Sarkisianity, Husky hoopologist and usher at Bono's third wedding, takes a look at each member of the 2011-2012 UW basketball team:

The Returning Players:

CJ Wilcox: We’ve seen a struggling CJ Wilcox and a lights-out CJ Wilcox.  Wilcox was voted the conference player of the week in Week 1 and at times has turned a basketball game into a YouTube trick shot video.  His shot is just as sweet as it was last year and it looks like he spent the summer working on other aspects of his game.  Romar seems to have given him more freedom to handle the ball and Wilcox has responded.  He’s also showing an athleticism that may be rivaled only by fellow teammate and known air-walker, Terrence Ross.

T-Ross climbing the Stairway to Heaven.

Terrence Ross: Everyone who hasn’t been in a coma, living in Antarctica, or is from Oklahoma knows about Terrence Ross.  His ability to create a shot from ANYWHERE on the court is unparalleled in the Pac-12.  He still has consistency issues with his jump shot, but has matured a lot since last year.  Instead of continuing to throw up fade-away half-court three pointers when he isn’t hitting, Ross has proven that he’s content to contribute in other ways.  He’s currently second on the team in rebounds and blocks and is fourth in assists.  If he can develop some offensive consistency he’ll be the conference player of the year (suck it, Jorge Gutierrez).    

Abdul Gaddy: He is the calming presence we missed last year.  Gaddy's court awareness and knowledge of the game is a thing of beauty.  His 5.2 assists per game and 2.9 assist to turnover ratio both lead the team by significant margins.  He has also continued the improved offensive confidence we saw at the beginning of last year.  Unfortunately, this has been tempered at times by a hesitancy to push the issue and be aggressive.  No doubt this is a lingering effect of the knee surgery he had less than a year ago.

Darnell Gant: The 5th year senior hasn’t improved as much as I had hoped.  His play has been frustratingly inconsistent.  He has the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and open up the game for his teammates, but can’t seem to do it consistently enough.  At times he’s also shown impressive aggression on the glass, ripping down boards like his 6’8 230lb frame should.  Given the co-captaincy in the off-season, Gant needs to show more leadership with his play, especially in his 5th year.

Maybe tattoos would help, like that novella Simmons is rocking.

Aziz N’Diaye: Other than Gant, N’Diaye was the player from whom I was expecting the most improvement.  He hasn’t disappointed.  Aziz is averaging 9.4 points per game and has shown softness in his hands that simply didn’t exist last year.  I admit that he’s put on the brick mittens a few times, but those occasions have diminished significantly compared to last year and it’s clear that Aziz put in work in the off-season to fix that.  Aziz has even shown a scoring touch a few times, along with improved footwork.  If he can continue to build on this early success, he’ll open the game up for the best stable of guards in the conference.  Not only is Aziz the key to this team, he also still scares me so much, it took me six hours to write this paragraph as I ran and hid under my bed between sentences. 

Droppin' fools since '76.

Brendan Sherrer: Still White. Still doesn’t know how to Dougie.

"And one!! Oh... nevermind."

The Newcomers:

Tony Wroten Jr: The freshman is as advertised. Insane athleticism combined with ridiculous court vision.  He’s averaging 2.2 jaw dropping passes per game.  Unfortunately those passes have more often than not resulted in turnovers as unsuspecting teammates wonder what the hell just hit them in the chest.  Romar will need to keep Wroten on a short leash and get the talented PG to play within himself.  

Wroten performing his patented "opponent face dribble."

Desmond Simmons: Desmond Simmons will mean as much to this team as Justin Holiday.  He has the blue collar attitude of Jon Brockman and a sweet outside stroke.  He chases loose balls all over the court.  Pay attention if you sit court-side at a game this season, because you may end up with 220lbs of D-Simm in your lap at some point.   

Shawn Kemp Jr: The conditioning concerns surrounding Kemp before the season have evaporated. Kemp runs the floor well for a guy his size (6’9 265lbs) and has shown a willingness to get in the paint and throw his team leading weight around.  While his offensive skill set needs substantial work, he gives us some much needed size down low and a legit big man to back up N’Diaye.  Can’t wait to watch the N’Diaye/Kemp Smash Brothers Combo drop Josh Smith harder than the two dozen Animal Style Double Doubles he eats every night.  

Martin Breunig: Already leads the team in one category: Opponents Knocked Unconscious.  Thanks to the awesomely terrible television contract we are currently enduring (only one year left!) Breunig's bone-crunching (and legal) screen against Portland was only witnessed by those sitting inside Hec Ed Pavilion.  Breunig plays with intensity and aggression.  He has soft hands, attacks the rim, and hails from the German sister city of Chinandega, Nicaragua.  

Marty Breu Breu with authority!

Hikeem Stewart: Stewart has played sparingly but has performed admirably in that capacity.  He can hit the 3-point shot and has solid handles.  Hopefully Hikeem can get some good experience this season and become a prime contributor in the years to come.  

Alex Wegner: Brendan Sherrer, but younger and more 3-pointy.

Go Dawgs!

Game photos provided by The Seattle Times.

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Nov 30, 2011

Finally Some Basketball Coverage!

Avid UW basketball fan and relatively good credit scorer, Sarkisianity, is back with a two-part series on the Hardwood Huskies.  The first segment focuses on the key upcoming games for the Dawgs and a look back on the first five contests of the year.  Take it away, Sarki!

Watching Kasen Williams vault an unsuspecting Cougar (who clearly forgot he was trying to tackle the reigning Washington State high-school long and high jump champion) reminded me of something, it’s basketball season.  Since my vocal chords still have yet to recover from Saturday, I figured I’d take to the written word and talk some round ball.  To be fair, the vocal chords are recovering more from all those damn Prairie Fire shots than me screaming at cougars, of both varieties, all night.  Whoever thought Bacardi 151, Wild Turkey 101 and habanero sauce would make a good shot is an evil genius.

Shifting gears, we’re five games into basketball season and closing in on some serious competition.  The Dawgs travel to the Silver State and take on Alphie and Wolfie Jr. before heading east to Madison Square Garden.

They're basically the Siegfried & Roy of college mascots, except they have all of their neck flesh.

The competition in New York will be a massive test for Lorenzo Romar’s young squad.  The first opponent out there will bring back fond memories of a couple seasons ago.

Remember this?

After Marquette, the Dawgs will go toe-to-toe with Mike Krzyzewski’s 3rd ranked Duke Blue Devils.  The Blue Devils are led by Steph Curry’s younger brother and the Plumlee brothers who sound like they should own a chain of imitation Applebee’s.  Duke has already proven worthy of their ranking by knocking off quality opponents in Kansas and Michigan.  The bright lights of New York City and the significant upgrade in competition will not only test our team, but will also provide valuable exposure to the program.  Fingers crossed Romar can turn that exposure into some recruiting success and lock down a commitment for the class of 2012.

The Dawgs head to Nevada at 4-1, with the lone loss coming to Rick Majerus’ newly ranked St. Louis Billikens.  Apparently Billiken translates from the language of Midwestern hicks to some kind of charm doll that is skilled and fundamentally sound in the game of basketball.  Coming into the season the “experts” anticipated that this year’s Husky squad would be long, athletic, talented and explosive, but also incredibly young.  Well, the experts were right.  In their five games, this Husky team has established itself as Lorenzo Romar’s longest.  In addition to being long, UW is strong and is also down to get the friction on (congrats if you caught the Sir Mix-A-Lot reference).

So lengthy!

The point guards are so long that it looks like a small forward is bringing the ball up the court.  They have used this length to clog passing lanes, alter shots, and rip down rebounds.  They’re currently averaging 8 steals and 6 blocks per game while posting an average of 43 rebounds per game (good for 5th in the country).  The Huskies have also shown their offensive potential averaging 82.6 points, which ranks 19th nationally.  

However, these positives have been tempered by a propensity for youthful mistakes.  At times the Dawgs have resorted to heaving up ill-advised, contested 3-point shots when teams have employed a zone defense.  They have also struggled with turnovers, averaging 14 per game.  During the first four games of the year, Romar was content to let the team play through a lot of these mistakes.  That all changed after the St. Louis game.  In the most recent game against Houston Baptist, Romar kept a short leash, pulling starters Aziz N’Diaye and CJ Wilcox after 84 seconds.  That early tone continued through the night as players routinely found a seat on the bench after committing an error of judgment or showing a lack of effort.   Hopefully Romar maintains this tough tone as the Dawgs will need to play almost perfectly to beat the likes of Marquette and Duke. 

In tomorrow's segment, we'll review each player on the Husky roster, including Brendan "I'm more than a Human Victory Cigar!" Sherrer.  Overall, the team is very young, but could also be the most exciting in Romar's tenure at UW.  Also, thank god there is Husky basketball to pass the time before the bowl game.

Go Dawgs!

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Nov 29, 2011

Requiem for a Wulff

After he was officially let go earlier today, we thought we'd give a proper goodbye to Paul Wulff:

Don't worry, Buzz, maybe there will be a Home Alone 5.

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Nov 28, 2011

Thoroughly Couged


The Dawgs ended the regular season on a high note with a 38-21 victory over Wulffie's Kids from east of the mountains.  Albeit against a banged up Wazzu offense, the Husky defense had more big plays than any other game this year with 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and two forced turnovers.  It was great to see Alameda Ta'amu burst into the Cougar backfield all night and pick up a pair of sacks.  Speed rusher Josh Shirley's play matched his potential as well with 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Just nasty.

Kasen Williams put on a show in the first half -- in addition to his rad hurdle of a WSU defender, he also caught two touchdown passes and racked up 74 receiving yards.  His 21-yard TD catch with 48 seconds remaining in the first half swung the momentum back in UW's favor and gave the team a lead they would hold on to for the rest of the game.  Here is the replay of the jump:

Chris Polk was great yet again with another 100-yard effort and Keith Price was back to his early season form with a three touchdown, no interception game.  In throwing 29 TD passes on the season, KP set a new Husky record, which is even more incredible considering he is a sophomore in his first year as a starter.  He is going to be extremely productive over the next two seasons as long as he can put on some weight to help his body absorb the punishment of being a Pac-12 quarterback.  With Kasen and ASJ being only freshmen, the UW passing game should be one of the best in the conference for years to come.  Here are more highlights from the game:

It was great to see a spirited performance from the defense and Nick Holt definitely deserves some credit... though it did force the question, where the hell was this intensity against the Beavers?!  Hopefully this performance carries over to the bowl game and we can feel better about the chances of Holt finally getting significant improvement from the defense next year.  I don't think he's done enough to keep his job personally, but I'd put it at about 5-10% that Sark cuts him loose in the offseason.  Not to be a Debbie Downer, but Wazzu still managed 382 yards and a 40% 3rd down conversion rate (compared to 25% for UW) and they are the Cougs after all.  But the defense tightened up when they had to, forcing Wazzu QB Lobbestael into completing only 11 of 20 passes with an interception after he started the game 18 of 22 with two TDs and no picks.

Hey #3, not the time to show off your sick dance moves.

Now the big question on the Palouse is whether BurritoSlayer67 (that's Paul Wulff's online handle... look it up) will be fired.  All signs point to his dismissal, but the news hasn't come down yet, which prompts speculation that he has a slight chance at another year.  Two guys who will not be coaching in the Pac-12 next year are Dennis "The Grizzled Sea Captain" Erickson and Slick Rick Neuheisel as they were officially fired earlier today.  If Wulff is done at WSU, I will definitely miss his trademark sideline expression of confusion and constipation:

May your burritos be consumed in peace.

Now our attention turns to the upcoming bowl game.  The most likely destinations are the Alamo Bowl (San Antonio) or the Holiday Bowl (San Diego) which would both feature opponents from the Big 12.  Most projections I'm seeing have the Huskies taking on Oklahoma in the Alamo, which would be one helluva test for this defense.  But after the beatdowns those meth-headed Sonics thieves have put on us in recent history, there would be nothing sweeter than to knock the gravy ladle out of their greasy, swollen, sausage fingers.

While it wasn't quite what we hoped for when UW was 6-2, finishing the regular season 7-5 with the chance to go to a solid bowl game is a step in the right direction.  The offense looks poised for continued success in the future (replacing Polk will be a challenge though).  The ceiling of this team in the next few years will depend on the improvement of the defense.  If Holt is retained, I certainly hope he will have to produce significant results next season to keep him around any longer.  But for now, let's enjoy going bowling!

Go Dawgs!

Game photos by Dean Rutz and John Lok of The Seattle Times.
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Nov 26, 2011

Get to Know a D'Bag: Wazzu

Apologies for the delay on this post.  In lieu of turkey this year, I just mainlined pure tryptophan... I wouldn't recommend it, even though the 38-hour nap was glorious.  The Apple Cup is upon us again and unfortunately, the stakes aren't as high as they seemed like they'd be earlier in the season.  It's not like the 2008 Crapple Cup or anything, but with 5-1 and 3-1 starts for UW and Wazzu respectively, both sides expected a better matchup than the 6-5 Huskies vs. the 4-7 Cougs.  It would have been fun to keep Wazzu from getting to a bowl game, but Utah stole that killjoy from us last week with their overtime win in Pullman.  I'm a little excited about putting the final nail in Paul Wulff's coffin, but frankly I'll be sad to see the Burrito Man and his special brand of incompetence go.

Will Saturday's game be Buzz McCallister's last as Wazzu's coach?

While the players and coaching staff talk about the Apple Cup being the main rivalry game of the season, the vitriol and hatred I feel for the Cougs is far surpassed by the much darker, borderline illegal feelings I have for Nike U. down south in Washington's Mexico.  Playing the Cougs is like a backyard wrestle with your cousin that gets surprisingly serious, while the Oregon game is like a gunfight with demented nutjob who just abducted your kid.

But back to Wulffie.  As this could be the last opportunity to make fun of him (but just as the Cougs coach, we'll still be able to stop by the Pullman/Moscow Qdoba Mexican Grill anytime to make fun of him in person), let's put all of our cards on the table.

At least he dressed her up in a nice bow first.

If the Sheep Romancer loses the Apple Cup, his career record will fall to 9-40 with three of those wins coming against FCS teams.  Wazzu is definitely better this year and the program is much healthier overall than it was when Wulff took over, but it's still really hard to justify retaining a guy with a 4-31 conference record.  Personally, I hope he sticks around as his unique blend of failure and self-humiliation would definitely be missed.

Paul Wulff: The Perpetual Face of Discomfort

After exhausting all other options (Jeff Tuel, Connor Halliday), the Cougs are forced to start senior Marshall Lobbestael at quarterback for one last time.  The Lobsterman took over in the season opener after Tuel went down and had some impressive games early on before his production slowed and he was replaced by Halliday.  But now that Halliday is injured, Lobbs is back for one final rodeo.  It will also be hard to say goodbye to Lobbestael who provided a great memory a few years ago when he was arrested for minor in possession of alcohol after he passed out in his pickup truck AT the police station with a grocery bag full of vomit between his feet.  What a postcard photo of Pullman that is...

Lobbers is known for his solid decision making.

On the Husky quarterback front, Keith Price is back as the starter and is supposedly much healthier than last week.  Price should be able to open up the passing game which will force Wazzu from focusing solely on Chris Polk.  While I don't expect #1 to rack up 284 rushing yards like last year, he should be able to find some space between the tackles and go over the 100-yard mark for the 19th time in his Husky career.

The Dawgs will need all of those yards as I expect this game to end up closer than the 8-9 point spread.  With the win, the Huskies have a good shot at an Alamo Bowl invitation which would serve as a high note for this up and down season.  I expect UW to hold the lead for much of the game and grind out a 34-30 win.  And finally, one last memory of the Wulffster:

"I only bust out the Wulff-Blob for special occasions!"

Go Dawgs!

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Nov 20, 2011

No Defense for This Defense

That was awful.  I've seen some media outlets calling it the most disappointing game of the Sarkisian era... which is hard to argue.  Getting blown out by a 2-8 team that had been averaging just nine points over their last three games is a swift, technically-sound roundhouse to the man-plums.  Actually, three or four of them.

A far too familiar sight...

This offensively-challenged team dropped a 38-burger on the Huskies.  The Beavs had been averaging 87 rushing yards per game, but tore off 145 against this woeful Husky defense.  A redshirt freshman quarterback felt no pressure from the pass rush in throwing for 339 yards and two touchdowns.    And he did all that despite losing slot WR Jordan Bishop to a broken foot during warmups and star WR James Rodgers to an ankle injury in the first half.  To sum up the day defensively: on 2nd and 10 from his own 1 yard-line, Beaver QB Sean Mannion calmly dropped back deep into his own endzone and hit a 52-yard strike down field.  OSU ended up going 99 yards for the touchdown and effectively buried the Huskies with a 38-21 lead.

Horrible schemes, missed tackles, blown assignments...

I wanted to wait until the end of the season to make a determination on Nick Holt's future, but this last pathetic defensive performance is the final nail in his coffin as far as I'm concerned.  Yes, this defense is young, and losing the best pass-rusher on the team (Hau'oli Jamora) early in the year was a huge blow.  But plenty of teams have less talent than UW yet have performed better, and Holt should be able to do more with this squad than give up historically bad numbers: UW is now ranked 105th in scoring defense (34.5 points), 97th in total defense (430 yards), and 112th in passing yards allowed (278).

Ultimately, the defense should be much more improved in the 3rd year under Holt's leadership.  When he took over in 2008, the defense gave up 36.2 points and 452 yards per game -- and this coming off the miserable 0-12 season of '07 when UW supposedly had very little talent in the program.  A 1.7 point and 22 yards per game improvement in three years is a flat-out failure for a defensive coordinator who is making $650K a year, the 6th highest of any assistant coach in college football.  Plus this team is actually worse in allowing 3rd down conversions (50%) than the 2008 team (49%).

This nutty professor's coaching days at UW are numbered...

If the other two phases of the game, offense and special teams, performed as poorly as the defense has over the last three years, Sark would've already been fired.  These results are unacceptable, regardless of the excuses (and Holt has shown he is quick to point the finger at talent).  Sark will have to choose performance over loyalty in order to preserve his own job, which is starting to be questioned now that the team is 6-5 after coming off a 7-6 season.

And some of these defensive problems are on Sark as well.  There definitely appears to be a disparity in recruited talent between the offense and the defense in the Sarkisian era.  The most glaring example is at linebacker where a true sophomore and true freshman are starting.  The coaching staff knew when Donald Butler and Mason Foster would graduate, so why weren't more linebackers recruited in '08 and '09?  As the leader of the defense, Holt definitely shares responsibility in failing to recruit elite defensive talent.  And he's certainly responsible for the failure to develop players during his time here, particular guys like Victor Burnett and Tim Tucker who came to UW as highly touted linebacker prospects and are now off the team and at fullback, respectively.

Husky Nation deserves better than Nick Holt.  And with UW's willingness to throw big money at a defensive coordinator, they should be able to get better.

We also deserve better than Sark's mismanagement of the quarterback situation this week.  I was shocked that Price came into the game once the Huskies were down 17 points.  If Price was healthy enough to enter the game in a desperate attempt to claw back into it, he was healthy enough to play much earlier.  Let's be honest, Nick Montana was a liability on offense and allowed the Beavers to focus solely on Chris Polk as the game wore on.  And incredibly, Sark seemed to go away from the run and put the game into Montana's hands.  The creative runs that Sark employed early on, the end arounds, the wildcat, the "statue of liberty", etc., were largely ignored in the 2nd half even when the Huskies were only down by three.

A motivation problem?

A season that once had so much promise is now at the brink of disappointment.  I don't want to read too much into this, but Sark's comment about "playing with house money" after clinching a bowl appearance struck me as a little odd.  Here is the excerpt from Sark's press conference after the Arizona win when asked about UW now being bowl eligible:
We are kind of playing with house money a little bit. We've brought what we've brought, and we've got what we needed to get, and now we get to go play and have fun playing the game like we know we are capable of playing.
The argument can be made that this team got complacent after getting six wins, and it started at the top.  Obviously, I'm not implying that the team stopped trying, but maybe they lost their edge a little bit once the season was deemed "successful" by clinching a bowl game.  That was certainly the goal of last year, but I would think that most Husky fans wanted more this season, especially after UW notched a 6-2 record.

So now the Dawgs take on Wazzu at CenturyLink Field in a weird Apple Cup.  This game feels like a must-win in the sense of the fanbase maintaining faith that the program is headed in the right direction.  The Cougs will be without their recent starter at quarterback, redshirt freshman Connor Halliday, who is in the hospital with a lacerated liver.  All rivalries aside, that sounds like some a scary injury and hopefully the kid heals up quickly.

While the OSU game was quite deflating, the excitement for the Apple Cup will grow this week and the Dawgs will have a great opportunity to show that they are much better than their performance against the Beavers.  Plus Husky/Coug trash talk is always a good time.  Especially when Wazzu is coached by this guy (possibly for the last time):

"Supersize me!"

Go Dawgs!

Game photos by Greg Wahl-Stephens / AP.
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Nov 18, 2011

Get to Know a D'Bag: OSU Beavers

The Huskies have scraped themselves off the asphalt after last week's showing and will head down to the scraggly grasslands and strip malls of Corvallis tomorrow to take on the stumbling Beavs.  While UW is recovering from a two-game losing streak, Oregon St. has been mired in a slump all season long.  The tone of the year was set with an overtime loss to Sacramento St. in the opener and has carried on to the tune of a 2-8 record, the worst in coach Mike Riley's career.  The Beavs are most certainly down, but UW will still have to work hard for this game -- case in point, Washington hasn't won in Corvallis since 2003.

Reser Stadium: The House that Burritos Built.

Little known fact: after some embarrassing burrito-related incidents, Paul Wulff was banned from the Reser Stadium premises.  He just can't control himself around those beef 'n bean Baja Cafes...

A big reason for OSU's struggles is their inability to run the football.  The loss of mini-stud Jacquizz Rodgers to the NFL was a huge blow for the Beavers who are averaging just 87.8 rushing yards per game, good for 119th in the nation.  Personally, I'm thrilled Quizz is now with the Atlanta Falcons and no longer able to terrorize UW defenders.  Trying to tackle him was like trying to tackle the Greased Up Deaf Guy from Family Guy:

He didn't get him, but Peter's pursuit from behind was impressive.

With the absence of a running game, opposing defenses are able to key on redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Mannion.  This kid has potential (unseated incumbent starter Ryan Katz), but can be forced into committing a ton of mistakes when the defense isn't worried about the run.  This has led to the Beavs averaging 9 points over their last three games.

On the other side of the ball, OSU's defense has given up more than 200 rushing yards in six of their ten games this year.  And clearly, not being able to run the ball and an inability to stop the run is a recipe for absolute disaster in football.

Get some, Raccoon!

I can't talk about the Beavers without mentioning last year's hilariously awesome spree of bizarre criminal incidents.  OSU players managed to drunkenly steal and flip a golf cart, pick up a DUI-on-water, and get tased while trying to naked-tackle police.  Just awesome.  Unfortunately, the Beaver crime blotter isn't nearly as entertaining this year.  One dude attempted to abduct his girlfriend from a McDonald's after they started fighting, but that's just not nearly as fun as the others.  The incident does get a few style points though as that dude is 340 lbs and looks like this:

Don't get in his van.  I'm serious.  Don't.

UW's strategy going into this game should be very simple: pound the ball with Chris Polk and stop the run on defense.  Washington should have a major advantage in both of these areas and that should be enough to pick up a road win in a hostile environment.  Hopefully, Nick Montana won't be asked to do too much in his first start and we'll see Polk, Callier, and Sankey roll up 250+ yards on the ground.  My prediction for this one is 27-17.

Oh, and this last story involves the ducks, but was too good not to mention immediately.  So according to this New York Times article, 29 players on the duck football team take sign language to fulfill their foreign language requirement -- you can make your own determination that this is the easiest of the foreign language classes offered at that miserable school... I certainly did.  But more importantly, the "O" sign that the Shitbird fans love so much really does mean "vagina."  According to American Sign Language, they really are making vagina hands!  Oh, lovely day!

Nike ❤  vagina hands.

LaMichael James is mentioned in the story as being one of the players taking sign language who won't make the "O" gesture out of embarrassment.  "O" how wonderfully awkward.  And since the Oregon train is running now, I have to post this photo that was sent in be a loyal fan that swears by its legitimacy:

What else are you gonna do with all them vagina hands?!

Go Dawgs!
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