Statistics illustrate coaching philosophyDawgs
more cerebral, offensive and single minded
Posted 19 January 2003
Since Rick Neuheisel
(33-16) assumed the head coaching duties at Washington, the Huskies have become
more cerebral, more offensive minded and more daring than they were in his
first season. Incurring penalties and turnovers are down, while total offense and
handing out sacks are up. During his tenure, there has been an erosion in the
Dawgs' running game and red-zone defense.
During his four years as a Dawg,
Neuheisel has recruited for speed, bringing in a cadre of nimble receivers and
swift cornerbacks, something that was lacking in Jim Lambright's last year at
Washington. At the same time, Neuheisel has brought in a pair of strong-armed
quarterbacks, Isaiah Stanback and Casey Paus, and capitalized on quarterback
Cody Pickett's throwing abilities. The upward trend in passing statistics,
shown by Table 1 below, is highlighted by an average of 346.2 passing yards per
game this season, which is fourth best in Division 1A. .
However, the Dawgs have become more single-minded on offense, seemingly
eschewing the run for the pass. In rushing offense, Neuheisel's team finished
113th in Division 1A this season, an historical low for the Dawgs.
An effort to bring in a talented running back to replace Willie Hurst never
materialized. That running back was to have been Paul Arnold, who Neu recruited
in the 1999 season. A congenital back problem forced the coaches to play him in
a pass catching role the past two seasons rather than use him as a running
As a partial consequence, the 2002 rushing offense fell off from the preceding years, falling from a
high of 211.7 yards per game in 2000 to 74.5 yards per game this year.
Also, Marques Tuiasopo's execution of the option empowered the running game in Neuheisel's
first two seasons; in his last two seasons, Neuheisel abandoned the option because of the
shoulder injury Cody Pickett suffered in the fourth game of the 2001 season.
Hurst's bursts were sorely missed this season.
Hurst netted 607 total yards on the ground in 2001, while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. In the same season, Rich
Alexis rushed for 391 yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry, and both combined
for a rushing average of 96.2 yards per game. This season, Rich Alexis netted
688 yards rushing, averaging 3.4 yards per carry, but there was no one behind
him to contribute in a significant way.
Arnold's and Pickett's injuries notwithstanding, not having a capable
replacement for Willie Hurst in 2002 can be blamed on the coaching staff, along
with Hurst's relegation to slot receiver in the spring of 2000, which nibbled
away at the morale of the team. The self-sanctions that restricted recruiting
in the 2000-2001 season may have affected the recruitment of a highly-rated
running back and a couple of punishing wide bodies.
The offensive line woes that continued this season were exacerbated by
youth, inexperience, injuries and the failure of OL Francisco Tipoti to reach
his potential. Incoming OL Nathan Rhodes, a much heralded freshman, failed to
contribute because of a congenital back problem.
Despite the lack of a consistent
running game the last two years, the Dawgs have finished near the top of the
conference in ball control during the four-year span.
During the coach's tenure, the Huskies' rushing defense made significant
improvement, allowing just 97.7 yards per game this season, compared to a 146
yard average in his first three years at Washington. In the 2000 championship
season, the Huskies allowed 141.2 rushing yards per
game, finishing sixth in the conference. During the 1999 season, the Dawgs
allowed an average of 140.7 rushing yards per game.
In 2002, the Huskies were penalized less than they were in the three
preceding years and
improved on their
Under the Nueheisel reign, the punting game has been mediocre, which has
adversely affected field position over the four-year span. Kick-off and punt returns were something
less than scintillating this season, and five punts were blocked last season.
As a result of pedestrian field position, Neuheisel's increased reliance on the
strong leg of John Anderson, providing him with tougher angles and longer
kicks, has negatively affected field-goal percentage during Neu's four years.
Even though the Dawgs have become
more cerebral--incurring penalties and turnovers on the wane--not one Dawg made
the Pac-10, first-team all-academic list
this season. Is there a connection? Obviously not. :)
The trends shown in Table 1. illustrate Neuheisel's coaching philosophy,
wherein those statistics highlighted in purple indicate an upward trend and those
stats highlighted in red, a downward trend; stats in black are a push
Table 1. Four-year stats under Rick Neuheisel.
|1. BALL CONTROL
|Time of Possession
|Pass Efficiency Defense
|Pass Efficiency Offense
|4. FIELD POSITION
|Punting (Net Per Punt)
|5. SCOREBOARD, BABY
|Red Zone Offense
|Red Zone Defense