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The Murphy Defense
Deer velvet antler, a four-leaf cover and some tape
By: Malamute, Posted 12 April 2003

It could be a championship season for the Washington Huskies in 2003. Already people are championing senior QB Cody Pickett for the Heisman Trophy. The Dawgs should be favored to win the conference championship and be contenders for the national championship. There is only one man standing in Washington’s way. His name is Murphy.

He's the guy responsible for Murphy's law. In fact, there is more than one of his laws, but they all mean the same thing. A couple of his laws is as follows:

  • Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.



  • If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.

Murphy's law worked against the Dawgs last season when they blew the opener against Michigan by having 12-men on the field in the waning seconds of the game. That coaching error led to a winning field goal and a whole new genre of jokes: The Neuheisel-count-to-11 jokes.

The UW coaches need a new defense to defuse those redolent, odorous heehaws, while throttling Murphy himself. Call it the Murphy Defense—a defense against Murphy's law. Here's how it works.

Besides unanticipated coaching errors, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with the 2003 version of the Dawgs; however, several of them, if they should occur, seem particularly devastating.

For example, an injury to senior quarterback Cody Pickett would be particularly appalling since there is no one behind him with any experience. The most seasoned quarterback with the team is Rick Neuheisel, the coach, who’s burned up his eligibility. He was the MVP of the 1984 Rose Bowl and the last man to run for a one-point conversion in the NFL.

Pickett aside, old Murphy could strike the receiving corps as well.

The Dawgs were rife with wide receivers and flankers last season. Now they’re left with two wide receivers, Charles Frederick and Reggie Williams. Murphy has already taken out two Z’s, Justin Robbins, whose MRI was inconclusive last week, and Nate Robinson, who has opted for full-time basketball.

This means the Huskies will need some help from its freshman class or, perhaps, from backup quarterback Isaiah Stanback, who is gifted enough to play either X or Z.

If Murphy should reduce the receiving ranks further, like using the injury bugaboo, he’ll do it in the most frustrating way imaginable.

You know, like striking a player with an arthritic toe. Call it the “Shaq-right-toe” syndrome—in effect, the one that has made a four-peat for the Lakers seem as impossible as finding Saddam’s remains under a mountain of rubble or as difficult as climbing Mt. Everest without an oxygen mask.

Here's the first part of the Murphy Defense: deer velvet antler.

To counter Shaq’s syndrome, the UW trainers need to treat Frederick, Williams and Pickett with deer velvet antler, which was well known to the ancient Chinese. This herbal remedy can be used to increase vital forces, strengthening the muscles and bone and reducing the effects of arthritis.

Although that's an Rx for Shaq's syndrome, there is one other syndrome to conquer. It's called the "yips" syndrome, which is the mental aspect of Murphy's law--an example being Neuheisel's brain infarction at Michigan. The derivation of the yips is well known.

In golf, an involuntary movement of the hands during the putting stroke is called the yips. It strikes amateurs and professionals alike, at the worst possible moment.

For instance, you have a four-foot birdie putt waiting on the green and you’re playing with a foursome that makes a snail seem fast. You’re the last one to putt, and the three other guys, who are putting for double bogies, collectively take five minutes to hole their putts. You’ve been iced, baby. Naturally, you yip your birdie putt, driving it five feet past the hole. You miss the come-back putt and settle for a tap-in bogie.

This week at the Masters, Seattle's Freddie Couples, photo above, is using a belly putter, the Patriot Missile of Murphy defenses against the yips on the PGA tour. Ryan Moore, the amateur from Puyallup, is too young for a belly putter because a flat belly won't cradle it.

Likewise, the yips syndrome works against kickers and punters, as well as golfers. They sit on the bench worrying about an eminent kick as the offense runs out of downs or as the clock winds down. Sometimes the opposing coach will call a timeout to reinforce the yips syndrome while a kicker is waiting to enter the game, giving Murphy his best shot at him.

How could the yips syndrome work against the Dawgs next season?

The Huskies must break in two freshman kickers, Sean Douglas (punter) and Michael Braunstein (kicker). Tim Galloway will undergo a baptism of fire as a long snapper.

With this trio in Murphy's clutches, his salivation glands should be as wetted as any of Pavlov’s dogs.

Blocked punts, shanked kicks and bad snaps are all in his arsenal--aimed at Douglas, Braunstein and Galloway as they valiantly attempt to gain some experience.

Especially, say, in the opening game against Ohio State, when the Huskies play the defending national champions at the venerable horseshoe in Columbus in front of a national TV audience. Old Murphy could have a field day then, conspiring with Jim Tressel to give the yips to our kickers and long snapper.

What is the best Murphy Defense for a kicker, punter or snapper?

They should be wearing a decal, a replica of a four-leaf clover on their jerseys and, when they enter the battle, they should be singing:  “I’m looking over a four-leaf clover” to drown out Murphy's, "My Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

To have an impenetrable season, the UW will need some deer velvet antler and a four-leaf clover--and, er hum, maybe some tape over Neuheisel's mouth to prevent a last-second substitution.

Who is afraid of Murphy's law, with the Murphy Defense in tow? Not this fan. I'm mailing the Murphy Defense to coach Neuheisel, that is, some deer velvet antler, a few four-leaf clovers and a roll of tape.

He's already got a belly putter.


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