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The Dawg Days of Fall

We made it. Finally, after suffering through the abysmal no-Dawg-days of summer -- 4 hour baseball games, 14 year old gymnasts, Hootie Johnson, NASCAR et al -- September has kicked its cleated boot through the locker-room door and brought with it a much-needed whiff of crisp fall air. Char-seasoned grill grids, Oktoberfest ale, falling leaves, and the hint of unshowered trombone players...AH, SMELLS LIKE HUSKY FOOTBALL!

And through that aforementioned door rumble the padded, purple clad, white stitched shoulders upon which the hopes of 70,000 Dawgfans so heavily weigh. The players parade onto the brazen green turf of Husky stadium like a procession of cannon-fire, leaving all in their wake to wonder: who the heck are these guys?!

For the first time in umpteen-million years, the quarterback position at the UW was not a foregone conclusion at the end of the previous season. From Pickett to Tui to the Huard boys to Billy Joe, Mark...all the way back to time out of this 28 year-old's mind (and most of his elders', he'd venture a guess), Dawgfans have rested assured that the next great Husky QB was nipping at the heels of last one drafted. Not so this year. I had visions of Gilby at two minutes to game time this coming Sunday, eyes squinting, tongue stuck between teeth in concentration, rearing back to haphazardly fire a dart at a roster sheet. I can still hear the echoes of Lou Gellerman's announcement, "...And your starting quarterback (back...back...back...), at 6-6, 330 pounds (pounds...pounds...pounds), freshman Jordan White-Frisbee (ee...ee...ee)." Eek. At least he's tall.

So it seems as though Casey Paus must've done...something...to finally earn the starting nod from Gilby last week. So be it. Rumors abound regarding the new offense and the possibility of Stanback and/or Bonnell splitting time with Paus from game to game. All that's fine and dandy, but I say, in my most Eric Cartman-esque voice, Hey, why don't you give the ball to Kenny?!

The Pac-10 mantra of When In Doubt, Air It Out is wearing thin. In this post-9/11 age of political correctness and sensitivity with regard to anything that shocks and/or awes, I firmly believe that one General Keith Gilbertson needs to hit Husky opposition with a ground attack of Pattonian proportions. Kenny James needs at least 25 carries a game. The fact that a Washington running back has not ran for over 1000 yards in a season in nearly a decade is un-American. Let the other guys say, "It was a good loss"! Now you sons-of-your-mothers know how I feel.

But let's "flip da script", as the kids say. No, really, they do. I saw it on MTV-2. Anyways, as a guy with the forum nickname Defenensewinschampionships1991 once said, "Defense wins championships!" Relative to their Pac-10 counterparts, the Dawg D has been fairly proficient in stuffing the run in recent years. But wait, you say, nobody runs the ball in the Pac-10! Yeah, well...hey, man, shut up, you're harshing my buzz. In a league where hucking, chucking, winging, slinging, gunning, firing, heaving, launching and otherwise disregarding the "3 yards and a cloud of dust" wisdom of one Paul "Bear" Bryant is the modus operandi, the ability to rush the quarterback is where it's at. The jury is still out on the lone senior lineman, Manase Hopoi. Another question to be answered is whether Hopoi's young comrades will prove to be to green too contribute or too inexperienced to know that they aren't supposed to dominate. Moving Evan Benjamin up to linebacker from safety should provide for a bit more of a pass rush as well. Luckily, Derrick Johnson and Jimmy Newell are a couple of the better DBs in the Pac-10, because it could be well into the season before the Dawgs find out who their QB crusher is...if they have one. If nothing else, I have no doubt they'll get it sorted out just in time for the Apple Cup. New players or not, some things never change.

Time to take a deep look into the crystal pigskin. A throng of naysayers are decrying impending Husky doom from newspaper to website to magazine. These same naysayers are claiming that Matt Tuisasopo is a possible candidate for the starting quarterback job. Admittedly, I do have a somewhat ominous feeling about the upcoming home opener. I figure that the Dawgs will make up for a slow start, though, by slapping Touchdown Jesus with a little old-time religion also known as General Gilby's Ground Attack. While the latest Tui spends his time saving up Northwest League paychecks to afford tickets for next year's Silvertips season, I say the preseason is hardly the time to make weak predictions. And while I'm not saving my own hard earned dough for a trip to Pasadena just yet (probably wait for '05 on that one), I envision the media being the ones making excuses while the Dawgs dance on the field of Martin Stadium, wrapping up the #3 spot in the Pac-10.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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