The unvarnished truthRichard Linde, 6 April 2009
Why do I
feel like I've travelled back to the future and it is 1957 all over again?
Well, here are
a couple of paragraphs from "The Montlake
Boys" to take you back in time.
certain heated practices, to cool enmities built over time, players and
coaches alike would brawl, participating, unknowingly, in a preview of
the mud-soaked free-for-all that would follow years later in Clint
Eastwood's movie, 'Heart Break Ridge.'
many of the practices, the youthful, raw-boned (Jim) Owens continued to
lead his team in the sprints, running backwards with them as they
navigated the field, in short bursts of sustained energy. Some of the
men would fall flat on their faces, too weak and exhausted to continue.
Taking the players to the point of where they think they can do no more
is 'When you find out what guys really want to play ball,' Owens told a
around, under head coach Steve Sarkisian, some fifty-two years later,
although practices are not exactly
reminiscent of the days of the “Death March," the
players, by all reports, are certainly working harder than last year.
example, Seattle Times’ beat writer, Bob Condotta, writes, "The
6-foot-6, 319-pound (Ben) Ossai, for instance, noted that he went from
31 percent body fat to 19 during the 10-week conditioning program that
preceded spring drills, which began this week. ‘Honestly, we worked
harder than we've ever worked before. New coach, going 0-12. You can say
[the reason for working harder is] whatever you want. We just did it. We
are tired of losing. We don't want to lose anymore. I don't want to go
out pillow fighting again.'
coaches are athletic,' said running back Chris Polk of a staff that will
likely rank as one of the younger in the Pac-10 this year. ’They are out
there running with you.'"
In keeping, the
coaches are developing a more athletic offensive line. The number one
offensive line has Cody Habben and Drew Schaefer at tackles, Ben Ossai
and Senio Kelemete (moved from defense) at guard and Ryan Tolar at
center. Ossai, a two-year starter at left tackle, is now inside and will
face slower defensive players at that position.
things about the open practices are the reports from the fans, who
report back the "truth" in an unvarnished manner. When I attended
practices at Evergreen back in 2003, and then again in 2004, I had to be
careful about what I had written because I knew the tattletale beat writers would be reading my stuff, along
with at least one UW administrator. Those guys had Mr. Curmudgeon -- the
always jovial Keith Gilbertson -- on their side, and I didn't.
But now anonymous fans are writing
about practices they see, throwing caution to the wind. Former coach
Tyrone Willingham would be horrified by their inputs to the conjecturing
machine, called the Huskies fan base.
the fans are saying quarterback Jake Locker is not throwing accurately.
For example, one fan, who posted a message about one of the practices
he attended, said, “At QB, who are we kidding, it's all about Jake. And
he was not good. Not good at all.” He elaborated on some high passes and
interceptions that Jake threw.
16 games at UW, Locker has completed 48.7% of his passes, and in four
games last season, completed just 53.7% of his passes. Head Coach Steve
Sarkisian says he wants Locker to complete over 60% of his passes this
thing we fans want this year, especially at the start of a game, is a
formula made up of two woeful grunts plus a wobbly punt, the punt
coming on the heels of a high drifting pass – that is, one of those three and outs that
typified UW’s starts in its games last year.
Sarkisian’s inherited cadaver needs to reach zombie status by late
August, the coroner's report (statistics) from last season notwithstanding.
It is way
too early in the spring to draw any conclusions about Locker’s throwing,
but – and this is a big "but" – if Jake’s accuracy doesn’t improve,
Sarkisian could always implement the spread option, which would
compensate for a generic arm deficiency -- and that is with his feet.
The last thing the coach needs
at this time is for some fan, who attends a practice and reports back
what he saw, to fuel wild speculation on my part, er
2007 season, Locker ran the spread to near perfection – I know the Dawgs
finished 4-9 on the season – and rushed for 986 yards to go along with
Louis Rankin’s 1294 yards on the ground. The Huskies finished second in
the Pac-10 in rushing offense.
four wins right now, especially after what Don James told me a couple
weeks ago. The Huskies will win a couple of games, he said, with a
worldly tone to his voice.
for the spread option offense says that at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Locker
is the power-running back Washington desperately needs, carrying a
momentum of mass m traveling at speed v. Also, correcting
deficiencies on the offensive line are better met with the spread.
To make up for
the loss of speed that Rankin brought to the field, I’m thinking of
Chris Polk and Curtis Shaw on the outside, with Locker inside. I’m
adding incoming freshman Keith Price’s mobility to this scenario also,
as remote and unlikely as that may seem.
Okay...It’s way too
early in practices to be conjecturing about the spread offense and then
turning around and sending in
a play to the coach, like the "inside-shovel-pass-to-the-tight-end" play
that Tim Tebow used in the BCS championship bowl.
In any offense brought to
the field, Locker will need some capable receivers.
Goodwin continues to impress everyone this spring. Nick Daschel of
Buster Sports lists him as the third best receiver in the Pac-10
this season, “Though
smallish at 5-11, 175 pounds, Goodwin was about the only big thing in
Washington’s offense last season. During his sophomore season, Goodwin
caught 60 passes for 692 yards, and had at least five receptions in nine
of UW’s 12 games,” Daschel writes.
Note that Goodwin is listed at
5-foot-11 and ½ inches over at dawgman.com, and is the only player on
the roster getting a ½ inch boost in height.
Folk is getting off to a slow start with his place kicking this spring.
The good news is that no one is reporting that Folk is having the back
problems that have bothered him in the past.
The real good news
-- the best of all -- is embodied in this quote lifted from Condotta’s
blog, “Asked for
players that have caught his eye through three practices, (DL coach)
Johnny Nansen mentioned (Daniel) Te'o-Nesheim, and DTs
Ta'amu. But he also cautioned that it's really early.”
I noticed Elisara coming to
the fore late last season, along with Ta’amu. Evidently, they are
picking up where they left off at the tail end of last season.
There is a nice article on
dawgman.com about Elisira this morning. You have to pay to read it
But you can get the
unvarnished truth about Elisira for free -- or the latest scoop on any other player
for that matter -- from just about any fan who attends a practice.
That's Elisira in the photo