Sep 28, 2012

This Crow Is Delicious!

Yum, yum, yum.  I was all kinds of wrong in predicting UW to get knocked around by Stanford.  Straight up, flat-out, no nonsense, 100% incorrect.  And I couldn't be happier.

UW knocked the Cardinal quarterback's Nunes off.

The Huskies proved themselves to be the more physical squad against a team that had thoroughly out-muscled each of the last three years.  The defense played an inspired brand of hard-nosed, disciplined football that has been missing from the Husky Football for a long time.

Justin Wilcox deserves a ton of credit for limiting Stanford to six offensive points and a measly 65 rushing yards (only 2.3 per attempt).  What a difference a year makes.

I would honestly shit my pants.

Yes, the offensive line situation is still terrifying.  Watching Keith Price take organ-bruising hit after organ-bruising hit reminded me of scenes from Hostel, but that tough sonofabitch just kept popping up.  A very impressive display of guts from #17.

And while the pass protection was non-existent, the young, embattled line made progress in run blocking against a Stanford front seven that has been extremely impressive against the run.  The Huskies churned out 136 rushing yards against a team that had given up 124 yards in their first three games combined (41.3 yards per game).  Even if you subtract Bishop Sankey's 61-yard touchdown run on 4th and 1, the Huskies still managed 2.7 yards per carry against a defense that limited USC to 0.9 yards per carry.

The offensive line is undoubtedly the most concerning position group by far, but they absolutely deserve credit for opening up some running room against the second-best defensive line (behind LSU) the Huskies will face all year.

Next weekend is another huge challenge against Nike U. but for now, let's savor this big win!

Go Dawgs!

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Sep 27, 2012

Get To Know A D'Bag: Stanford

A crazy work week made this a very bare bones "Get To Know A D'Bag" post (and after rereading it, a pretty depressing post as well), but here are some thoughts on tonight's battle against the Cardinal:

It's a bit of a surprise that the line on this game is hovering between 6.5 to 7.5 points for the favorite Stanford considering the clownstompings the Tree has put on UW over the last few years.  It appears oddsmakers are leery about Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes making his first start outside of Palo Alto.  Clearly Nunes is a far cry from the "Bearded One" and not just in his play:

Andrew Luck: "I only use wood nails."

Josh Nunes: "When is 'NSync2 coming out?"

I understand that a young quarterback making his first road start can boost support for a potential upset, but it's sure tough to feel good about Washington's chances with another mismatch in the trenches.  Watching Stanford defenders rip through USC's line and pummel Matt Barkley two weeks ago gives me little hope that UW's second-string o-linemen will be able to protect Keith Price or open space for a running game.

Insert Keith Price.

While USC was missing two o-linemen in that game, stud tackle Khaled Holmes as well as their starting center, UW is missing three o-linemen (Tanigawa, Kohler, Riva) and let's face it, USC's backup big fellas are better than UW's right now.  Ultimately, the ridiculous rash of injuries combined with a lack of experience on the offensive line has put Washington in a terrible situation this season.  Maybe the line will grow up in a hurry, but they'll have to show that potential before I can predict it.

I think the Husky defense keeps UW in the game in the first half, but will eventually tire as the Husky offense repeatedly goes three and out.  The unfortunate pick is Stanford 27, Washington 10.  But I one-hundred-percent hope I am wrong.

Go Dawgs!
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Sep 17, 2012

Viking Burial

While beating up on a middle-of-the-road FCS team doesn't prove anything, it sure was fun watching the Huskies score points from every facet of the game on Saturday.  Tre Watson's 79-yard touchdown return of Shaq Thompson's blocked punt was particularly entertaining as UW hadn't scored off a blocked kick in 11 years.  Here are a few highlights:

Keith Price looked much better throwing the ball in this game as he didn't have to scramble for his life.  Kasen Williams and ASJ were the two leading receivers and both grabbed TD passes.  The run game notched 209 yards, but the line still had problems creating space for Husky running backs even against a physically inferior opponent.  However, bishop Sankey put up his first 100-yard rushing game and Erich Wilson showed some zip on a nice 31-yard run where he reversed the field.

The Dawgs built a 45-0 lead, but a taunting penalty and late hit in the final few plays of the first half caused Sark to lose his biscuits on the sideline.  He publicly admonished his players about stupid penalties and playing with integrity before heading into the locker room.  A team who just got absolutely railroaded by LSU shouldn't be taunting an FCS team the next week - that's just lame.

PSU didn't have the athletes to compete with Washington, but I was impressed with the Vikings true freshman quarterback Kieran McDonagh (and don't get me wrong, I like the fact that he likes to party).  He's a big, tough kid who took a ton of shots, but kept bouncing back up.  It won't happen, but I could see him as a fullback/wildcat quarterback at UW - like a poor man's Tebow without the ridiculous hype.

So now the Murderers' Row begins: #9 Stanford, at #3 Oregon, #13 USC, and at #22 Arizona.  Ugh.  It's hard to feel confident about the Husky offense with the current offensive line situation.  Hopefully Kohler and Tanigawa can return against Stanford in 10 days, but Riva most likely will be out until at least USC.  Against the Vikings, UW started one 5th-year senior, three 3rd-year sophomores, and a redshirt freshman with a true freshman (Brostek) getting a lot of action.  That is terrifying.  But you play the hand you're dealt and hopefully guys heal and improve quickly.

After Stanford's impressive victory over USC, those games seem to have flip-flopped in which one is more winnable for the Huskies.  Matt Barkley was harassed by Cardinal blitzers all day long, which really does not bode well for Keith Price next Thursday.  The Huskies will definitely need some threat of a running game and a few forced turnovers to stay in that game.  Of this brutal four-game stretch, which game do you think is most winnable?

Demolishing an opponent is always fun, but it's tough to gauge improvement of play in a blowout of Portland State.  But fortunately (or unfortunately?) we will know much more about the Huskies after the next four games.  Heal up and prepare, fellas.

Go Dawgs!

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Sep 14, 2012

Get To Know A D'Bag: Portland St.

The Dawgs will head to Century Link tomorrow with hopes of firmly burying the memories of the clusterfuck that was the LSU game. Fortunately, UW will be the physically dominant team in this matchup and should be able to find some offensive success after failing to score a touchdown over the last seven quarters.  Let's take a look at this week's opponent, Portland State:

Sick horns on that motorcycle helmet, bro.

The PSU Vikings of the Football Championship Subdivision are 1-1 on the season after a tough 45-37 loss at North Dakota last weekend. Following the game, PSU head coach and former Husky Nigel Burton axed his defensive coordinator.  It's a shame Nick Holt didn't get his plug pulled like that...

Nigel "Mighty Mouse" Burton when he played for the good guys.

Like Sark said earlier this week, this game is less about Portland State and more about the Huskies figuring out who they are.  If UW can play (and coach) anywhere near their capabilities, they will run the Vikings right of the Clink.  

PSU has a true freshman quarterback (Kieran McDonagh) who sounds solid in his play and in his size (6'2 240), but he's never played in front of 55,000+ opposing fans or against athletes like Shirley, Hudson, Trufant, etc.  It's going to be a big disappointment if we dont see Kieran "I like to party" McDonaugh on his ass many times in this game.

The Portland State program doesn't churn out a ton of professional football players, but they do have Tony Curtis (backup TE for the Cowboys), former pro TE Clint Didier, and Dan Frantz (a member of Arena League's Chicago Rush).  It's not much, but they do have some other famous alumni, like former Girls Next Door star and geriatric-lover, Holly Madison, who majored in theater and psychology at the school.

"Stop grabbing the girls, Grandpa."

In addition to Holly, PSU boasts another entertainment superstar in Courtney Love.  Everyone knows Love has had her fair share of problems over the years, but no one can deny how good she looks now:

Oh crap, sorry, bad picture.

Shit, that's not going to work either...


Regardless, don't do heroin.  

Clearly PSU is a bit light on football players, but heavy on plastic surgery scars.  One thing Portland St. does have going for it is that "The Dream of the '90s is Alive [There]."  Even the Viking football team has been influence by the Portlandia craze:

"That jersey is so midtown."

I was surprised to learn that PSU is quite a big school with nearly 30,000 students.  For comparison, UW has around 43,000 students.  Oddly though, PSU has an endowment of $40 million while UW has one valued at $2.6 billion.  That seems like way too big of a disparity... oh wait, I just realized that Portland State's most successful alum used to fuck an old man for rent money.  So that does actually make sense.

The Huskies should take care of business against the overmatched Vikings tomorrow, hopefully by a huge margin.  After all of the injuries and the turdlet put down against LSU, the program is in desperate need of something positive.  I expect Keith Price to resemble the Keith Price of old when he's given more time to throw against Vikings.  The running game should be much more successful than in the first two games, which will hopefully give this young, inexperienced offensive line some much needed confidence.  I see UW running away with this one 41-17.

And lastly, I see you're horny, PSU:

And I raise you a duck-hump:

Go Dawgs!

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Sep 11, 2012

Death Valley Disaster

Ouch.  That was painful and humiliating.  The only positive in UW's 41-3 defeat at the big, greasy hands of LSU occurred on the first play when the Huskies forced a fumble on the opening kickoff.  I'll grade the game like this: 1st play was an A+.  The next 149 plays were an F-.

Bayou dudes is big.

The game was the perfect storm for a blowout as LSU's greatest strength, their defensive line, absolutely dominated UW's offensive line, arguably the team's weakest unit.  The Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage on basically every play holding UW to a measly 26 yards rushing, which is a bit misleading as the Dawgs had negative rushing yards going into the 4th quarter.

No smiles for Keith Price on Saturday night.

A couple of questions come to mind after this loss: how is there such an enormous divide in the line play between these two programs?  And why does it seem that UW is perennially young on the offensive line?  Let's try to answer these questions.

To get the full explanation of UW's offensive linemen situation, we have to go all the way back to ol' Ty Willy's last full class in '08.  Quick side note: If you were curious about Willingham's whereabouts, he's officially "retired" from coaching (read: no one will ever hire that champion of comportment and sweater vests again).  Of the six o-linemen in that class, only Drew Schaefer (arguably UW's best on the line) remains as a fifth-year senior.  Here is a quick rundown on the five others:

Alameda Ta'amu: switched to DL immediately where he now plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Senio Kelemete: Ran out of eligibility last year because he played as a true freshman (on the defensive line no less).  Now plays guard for the Arizona Cardinals.

Mykenna Ikehara: Played sparingly until injuries forced him to retire from football.

Allen Carroll: Never made an impact and no longer with the team.

Terrence Thomas: Similarly to Carroll, never got in the rotation and also left the team early.

Obviously having Senio Kelemete in the lineup this year as a fifth-year senior would be huge.  Having three major o-line flameouts in one recruiting class is unusual, but some attrition always occurs with a coaching change and unfortunately it struck the offensive line particularly hard.

We miss you, Senio.  For serious.

In 2009, Sark rushed to put together his first recruiting class while also choosing to coach USC in the Rose Bowl.  Some feel that this recruiting class could have been better if Sark choose to leave his duties at USC earlier.  But the biggest issue with this class was Sark's reliance on JC recruits who either failed to get into UW or dropped out quickly after arriving on campus.  The only OL recruit in this class was JC Daniel Mafoe who didn't get accepted into school.  Clearly, UW could use four-year players on the offensive line from the '09 class right now.

Sark made the offensive line a top priority in the '10 class in signing seven recruits, four of whom started against LSU - Hatchie, Tanigawa, Atoe, and Kohler.  Unfortunately, quite possibly the most talented lineman of this bunch, Colin Porter, has already been forced to retire due to injury.  Kohler was pushed into the starting lineup as a true freshman (in large part due to the failures of the '08 and '09 classes), so he's the sole junior among these redshirt sophomores.

The old adage is that you hope to build up enough depth on both the offensive and defensive lines, that your linemen only become starters when they begin their fourth year in the program as redshirt juniors.  Obviously there are exceptions here for unusually gifted players, like LSU's La'el Collins (5-star, #2 tackle as a recruit) who started among three seniors and a junior versus Washington.

La'el wears jerseys that say "All-America" so you know he's good.

One of the two major reasons that LSU was so much better than UW on the offensive line is because of their upperclassmen experience.  A sixth-year senior, two fifth-year seniors, a fourth-year junior, and a second-year sophomore is most likely going to more prepared to play than one fifth-year senior, three third-year sophomores, and a third-year junior (who was replaced by Criste early on, another third-year sophomore).

The second major reason, which is difficult to accept as a Husky fan, is that LSU's offensive line recruits are consistently ranked higher than UW's.  According to Scout's rankings, LSU's starting five averaged 3.4 stars coming out of high school compared to 2.6 stars for UW's (Criste swapped in for Kohler).

When one team has more experience players that were also "better" (at least according to recruiting services) when they came into the program, that team is going to have a tremendous advantage.  Throw in the fact that LSU's defensive line is quite possibly the most talented and deepest in the country and it's a recipe for disaster (which clearly it was).

The lack of o-line talent in the '08 and '09 classes is why the Huskies seem so young at this position. Fortunately, this issue should be improved next year when the top six returning o-linemen will all be fourth year players.  The unit will be deeper as well with two third-year players and five second-year players as backups.

Sark made a mistake in not recruiting more offensive linemen in '09 and he's paying for it now.  However, he now has 14 o-linemen on scholarship (plus one preferred walk-on) and hopefully will increase that number to 16-17 over the next few years (four offensive linemen have already committed to the '13 class).

But ultimately the head coach has to get more out of a young offensive line, even when two starters are out (Ben Riva and Kohler).  And there are examples of young o-lines having success, like UCLA's this year.  The Bruins started three freshmen (two redshirt, one true), a fifth-year senior, and a 4th-year junior against Nebraska and played well enough to drop 36 points and 653 yards on the Huskers.  Now UCLA is ranked #22.

The good news is Portland State has slightly less talented linemen than LSU, so the Huskies should physically dominate and build their confidence back up.  Obviously, that blowout loss was difficult to stomach, but with a major offensive turnaround, continued improvement on defense, and a few lucky breaks, UW could escape this brutal first half of the season with a 3-3 record, which would be very impressive.  Regardless, get ready to throttle some Viking on Saturday.

Go Dawgs!
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Sep 7, 2012

Get To Know A D'Bag: LSU

The Huskies travel to Baton Rouge this weekend to take on #3 LSU in front of 92,000 "Geaux Tigers!" screaming swamp-people... Boy howdy!  Make no mistake about it, these folks are batshit crazy about their football team... and batshit crazy in general.

The most shocking thing about this photo is the t-shirt tucked into the khakis.

While the LSU fanbase definitely likes to boast, their team has backed it up on the field in recent history. The Tigers have finished ranked in the top-10 seven out of the last eight years, and played in last year's snoozer of a Championship Game.

But a fact you may not know about the LSU fanbase is that they collectively smell of corndogs.  According to the internet, numerous scientific studies have confirmed this phenomenon.  For whatever reason, when a person chooses to root for Louisiana State, they begin to emit the scent of a hot dog sausage coated in a thick layer of cornmeal and deep fried in oil.  The LSU+corndog love affair is as old as time itself:

Breauxs love them!

Girls love them!

    Douchebags love them!

CD Nation, Y'all.

Now I know what you're thinking: is it possible to smell like a corndog without being an LSU fan?

A few years ageaux that question would have been answered with a resounding "Neaux!" but now you're in luck!  Advances in cologne technology have allowed researchers to capture the essence of the LSU corndog scent without the accompanying crippling douchebaggery of rooting for their team.

I know it's tempting, fellas, but don't spray it on your balls. Trust.

The LSU fanbase is also well-known for having many a good-lookin' lady.  Let's take a look at the evidence:

Tiger Heauxs.

That's a pretty compelling argument.  LSU is also famous for their grass-eating head coach, Les Miles.  It's been five years, but I still hate Miles for his comments about the Pac-10 back in 2007:

“I can tell you [USC] has a much easier road to travel. They’re going to play real knockdown drag-outs with UCLA and Washington, Cal-Berkeley, Stanford - some real juggernauts there."

Oh neaux you didn't.  Two years later, LSU would travel to Husky Stadium where the Dawgs gave them all they could handle in a 31-23 loss in the first game of the Sarkisian era.  I hope Miles can see that two of the top-4 ranked teams in the country right now are from the Pac-12... oh wait, I forgot he can't read:

He can chew the hell out of some grass though.  Miles has become seaux well-known for his blade-eating that it's being used to sell the turf itself:

Can you imagine if Les ate a grass-flavored corndog?  His head would explode!  Miles discusses his cud-chewing here with Erin Andrews:

I love how Le Smiles tries to hit on Erin with the "you make the grass taste better" comment and she just bleauxs right past it.  I guess she's not into illiterate dudes.

But one dude she is almost certainly into is LSU defensive end and 2009 Name of the Year winner, Barkevious Mingo.  The mayor of Mingovia is one of three potential first round draft picks on the LSU d-line, which will be a terrifying matchup for an inexperienced Husky offensive line that just lost starting tackle Ben Riva to a broken forearm.  The Tigers will have a major advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but the Dawgs will simply have to find a way to limit LSU's run game while picking up some rushing yards of their own.

It's not going to be easy.  UW is a 24-point underdog and playing in Tiger Stadium where LSU hasn't lost in almost three years.  Anything can happen in college football, but the odds certainly aren't with the Huskies in this one.  For the Dawgs to have success, Price will have to get enough time to pick apart the Tiger secondary, which is considerably weakened after the loss of Tyrann Mathieu (no, I will not use the nickname.)  Expect plenty of rollouts for Teeth to get in space and find open receivers.

It pains me to do this, but I envision LSU's mammoth offensive line wearing down the Dawgs in the second half and the Tigers picking up the win, 41-21.  I know we're all sick of the excuses, but UW needs to get a little more experience and depth before they can stay competitive in an environment like this one.

If you're one of the awesome Dawg fans that made the trip to Baton Rouge this weekend, one: I salute you, two: stay safe with all those Bayou crazies running around down there.  Remember to make a ton of noise, drink your fair share of purple drank, and bring plenty of corndogs in case the natives get agitated.

Go Dawgs!
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Sep 4, 2012

A Win Is A Win Is A Win

The Huskies opened their season opener against San Diego State with a fantastic first quarter: the defense looked dominant with two sacks and an interception, Keith Price was unstoppable in completing 11 of 12 passes, and the Dawgs raced out to a 14-0 lead.  Unfortunately, that would be the high point of the game.

Just a little touchdown jig. NBD.

While the defense continued to play at a decently high level (including a Will Shamburger 44-yard fumble return for a touchdown), the offense failed to score in the final three quarters and the Dawgs had to hang on for a 21-12 win.  To throw an extra wet blanket on the victory, it was announced after the game that both defensive end Hau'oli Jamora and running back Jesse Callier would miss the season with ACL injuries, and tackle Ben Riva would miss time with a fractured forearm.

Well, crappleberries.  Injuries to the already-thin running back and offensive line units were the last thing UW needed in their first game, but it is what it is.  Bishop Sankey will be given every opportunity to become a stud now and true freshman Erich Wilson III will have to quickly develop into a capable backup.  As for the offensive line, it sounds like Erik Kohler will get switched back to tackle and James "Dr. Enormo" Atoe will step in at guard until Riva can return.

The combination of the new injuries, the underwhelming offensive play, and our upcoming Battle in the Bayou against #3 LSU has Husky fans feeling a little anxious about the current state of the team.  However, the improvement the defense showed against SDSU is a great sign and is a much more important indicator of how this team will perform over the course of the season than one disappointing game by the offense.

LOLKatz Fail.

I fully expected Sark, Price and company to bounce back and put up good offensive numbers this year, maybe not as good as last year, but still good enough to win a lot of games.  But realistically, it may get worse before it gets better as LSU is the wrong team to play when hoping to improve offensive play.

But let's look at the bigger picture: nearly every UW fan would take a 3-3 start to this season as the Dawgs play three top-five teams (LSU, USC, and... hmm, I just can't remember that last one...) as well as top-25 Stanford in their first six games.  The chances of starting 3-3 definitely look better after watching Stanford struggle in their 20-17 win over San Jose State.  Obviously the Nerd Trees could play much better in the coming weeks, but it's clear that replacing quarterback/superhuman Andrew Luck is a major issue for this team.

While it's hard to feel thrilled about the Dawgs' opening performance, UW picked up the win and showed that the much-maligned defense of last year has the potential to be a strength this year.  Ultimately that defensive improvement will be the key to how UW fares in the 2nd half of the season, which will determine if the 2012 season is a success.

While the injuries definitely sting, Sark has said this is the deepest team he's had at Montlake and now it's time to prove it.  Also, we'll have a lot of fun this week making fun of the hillbillies from the swamp... swampbillies?  Does that work?  Whatever, here's a taste:

Clearly you don't need teeth to build a beer-staff.

And a better taste:

Go Dawgs!
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