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Spring Conclusions
Richard Linde, 30 April 2008

It’s hard – and, maybe, unfair – to analyze a spring football game, since the team is playing itself, and the game goes by rather quickly because of a running clock.

Just the same, I’m going to draw some conclusions that could be altogether wrong-headed.

A boring game (But there were no serious injuries)

The cozy warmth of the day and the redolence of spring put the aged stadium to sleep. President Mark Emmert reportedly was seen in his work clothes, hack-sawing away at some exposed rebar, and the old "seaplane," with the folded up purple wings, continued to snore at the foot of Union Bay.

Because of the wet spring, sunny day and lack of offense, the field turf began to grow under everyone’s feet.

Reportedly, Tyrone did penance for the game by mowing the "turf" with a dull mower after it was over.

Fifty-one points

There was no-way the Purple and Gold squads were going to put 51 points on the board, as they had last spring, no matter how Tyrone had divvied up the players beforehand – which is more on the offense than defense.

Instead, the Gold Gutless beat the Purple Wonders, 10-7, wearing white uniforms, no less -- the typical Husky fashion plates, they were.  

Remember the Cougs, in their gray long johns, playing Troy at the Coliseum?

Tyrone will need help from some of the members of his excellent recruiting class to fire his hot seat, to send it packing. It’s a long shot for him; freshmen are iffy. 

Conclusion

Unless his young players implode on him, Tyrone looks to post wins over UCLA, Arizona, Stanford and WSU in the Pac-10, with a chance to upset BYU and Notre Dame, all come fall.

A bowl win would insure his future at UW for another few years, and quiet Todd's "Internet half-brains."

Caveat: UW’s defensive line needs to bulk up and add some depth, its corners need some work, and the Huskies need to find some playmakers to compliment QB Jake Locker on offense. Somehow, someway, someday, the Dawgs special teams will add some touchbacks to their kickoffs.

The defensive middle (The game is won up front)

The defense is more important than the offense, and vice versa.

The first team defensive line lacks interior bulk, and the three long drives (67, 58, and 57 yards) by the second team offense against the second team defense do not auger well for the Dawgs come fall -- this, being the biggest downer of the game. The Huskies lost seven games last season, in games they had a chance to win in the second half. In part, they were lost because of a lack of depth on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Paging incoming freshmen Alameda Ta’amu (6’4, 330), Craig Noble (6-3, 285), and Everrette Thompson (6’6, 255), et al. Please report to Randy Hart.

Except for the defensive line, UW looks stronger up the middle thanks to its linebackers (E. J. Savannah, Mason Foster and Donald Butler) and safeties (Nate Williams and Victor Aiyewa). Though the cornerback position may be a work in progress, it has potential. 

Seriously, based on the spring game, how can anyone draw any conclusions about the UW defense, saying it's better or worse than last year's? The offense worked with a limited number of plays, and its mojo and playbook were clearly encrypted (an oxymoron for Jim Moore of the P-I).

Fouch versus Locker (the California connection)

Is the competition with Ronnie Fouch making Ferndale Jake a better passer? Answer: probably.

Fouch is a typical California quarterback, poised beyond his 18 years. Poise and athleticism are why so many teams in the nation import California quarterbacks, as if they were bottles of the finest vintage wines to be. (See Notre Dame, et al. Remember when Vince Ferragamo transferred to Nebraska, giving Lincoln's hayseeds their first glimpse of a passer? Vince was out of Torrance.)

Ronnie Fouch has the potential to be a better long passer than Jake. Witness what appeared to be a 40-yard on-the-money, touchdown strike to Charles Hawkins on the Gold’s first possession, which turned out to be a dropped ball and incomplete pass. The Gutless should have beaten the Wonders 17-7, and Fouch should have posted a passing efficiency of over 100. He’s had trouble with his passing this spring, but seemed to have corrected the flaw in his throwing motion on Saturday.

Locker was 13 of 17 for 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and a passing efficiency rating of 161.69 -- which, of course, doesn't mean a thing, other than being an encouraging stat to note. Last year's tough defensive teams raised havoc with Locker's disappointing passing efficiency.

People have been saying Jake’s been throwing more accurately all spring, and he was on target on Saturday. In last year's spring game, Locker posted a PE of 106.15, which, ironically, was close to the season's final number of 105.

Locker’s long throws were disappointing, although there were some good defensive plays made on his receivers. One long throw was intercepted by Quinton Richardson, who, on the runback, was tackled by a bulling Locker who ran through Mason Foster to get to him. That interception killed a promising drive.

Kickoffs and place kicking

The 30-yard-line kickoff rule is killing the Dawgs.

None of the kickoffs landed in the end zone. Last season, Washington had just one touchback out of 71 kickoffs. Arizona, for example, had 22 touchbacks out of 71 kicks.

UW was 1 for 4 on field-goal tries in Saturday's game.

Playmakers

Without playmakers, a secular team needs prayer-makers

None of the heralded freshmen running backs and receivers showed signs of being game breakers. This was partly due to the format of the game, which limited the punting and kickoffs to "no-contact," in the interest of avoiding injuries. And, of course, the team and its playbook were kept under wraps.

In the worst case, look for the offense to depend on Locker’s athleticism even more next season.

Hypothetically, though, the potential playmakers on offense appear to be Jake Locker (the Tim Tebo of the west), Chris Polk ("Homer" Baird’s high on him), Brandon Johnson (looked good in the Cal game last season), D’Andre Goodwin (can’t miss, with speed to kill), Devin Aguilar (looked sure-handed in the spring game).

Look for the pesky, nettlesome, bothersome Willie Griffin to surprise everyone at tailback.

Certainly, WRs Anthony Boyles and Curtis Shaw, either one or both of whom, could step to the fore.

The tight end spot is loaded with potential energy; has the roller coaster finally reached the top of the ride it's been on for years? Let's turn the tight ends loose and into some kinetic energy.

Go, Dawgs.

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Paul Wulff or Paul Wolf? No wonder the Cougars are having academic problems, their head coach doesn't even know how to spell his surname correctly -- unlike Andy Roof and Mike Price.

 

Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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