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Husky Holiday
Casey Anderson, 30 August 2005

What in the wide, hypocritical, morally corrupt, non-professional-yet-multi-million-dollar-revenue-generating-and-supposedly-higher-education-affiliated world of sports is going to happen this Saturday at Qwest Field?

I can't wait for Bob and Chuck to tell me.

Wait!  I've already adjusted my junk-mail folder to filter any "flame" emails with the subject "You're not a real Dawgfan", so don't bother.  Yeah, that's right, I'm not going to be at the game this Saturday.  I know, it's very un-Husky-like of me, but I'm using my last vacation day of the year to spend a nice 4-day weekend in Anywhere-But-Everett this coming Labor Day holiday.

Besides, if you decide you need to send me hate-email, you might as well include the fact that I didn't purchase season tickets this year. 

You see, as a new homeowner with a car, a motorcycle, a cat, an X-Box, and a girlfriend who loves rare and shiny rocks, this Dawgfan is on a tight budget.  I know that Uncle Ty and Grandpa Todd are in dire need of a shiny new stadium for Christmas, but Casey just isn't in the sort of financial position to play the rich nephew of the family.  Call one of my brothers or sisters who went to Med school; English degrees don't come with big salaries. 

Okay, you may now proceed to flame, flame away.

And speaking of flames, I'll still be in the Montlake parking lot firing up a brat or three at 9am on the morning of every Husky game this year.  I just might have to cut the pre-game carousing a few minutes short this year to hunt down a kindly soul with an extra ticket or two.  After all, just because I'm destitute doesn't mean I don't still care, gramps.

I suppose I could re-allocate some funds from my tailgating Oktoberfest-and-Wurst fund...

But, yeah, that's not going to happen. 

Besides, my dear Dawgs, after that 1-10 stunt you pulled last year, I think I have a right to be a little bit cautious about opening up my checkbook to you this holiday season.  I heard about your little housewarming at Qwest Field, and I must admit I felt a pang of guilt in declining the invitation, but it's best for the both of us.  I need you to show me some improvement before I go and welcome you back with open arms; otherwise, I'm just another enabler in this dysfunctional family of ours.

The first step of the eleven-step program to redemption comes this Saturday against Air Force.  While they are 5-2 all-time versus the Dawgs, the Falcons do bring with them a defense that, last year, was one of the worst (95th) in the nation.  They will be a great match-up against the Huskies, who were able to muster up one of the nation's worst offenses in their 2004 campaign.

Obviously, the most intriguing question still lingering with the Husky offense is who will top the depth chart at quarterback.  The way in which this offense succeeds (or not) is going to hinge on the answer to this question.  While it's known that Coach Willingham is implementing a West Coast system, it seems that the offense would run quite a bit differently under a supremely mobile playmaker like Isaiah Stanback than it would under a more traditional drop-back passer like Johnny DuRocher is touted to be.  In all honesty, with Willingham's penchant for closed practices and his tight-lipped relationship with the media, it's impossible to know how either of these QBs has performed under Willingham's new system.  If you're like me, you're hoping that the coaching staff's indecision at the QB spot is due to DuRocher's proving himself better than expected rather than a digression of Stanback since his outstanding performance in last year's Apple Cup.  The general consensus seemed to be that the job was Stanback's to lose, but here we sit less than a week from the opener with no confirmed starter.  If nothing else, here's to hoping that one of the two QB-would-bes can grab the job and keep it.  I bet my Rashaan Shehee jersey it'll be Mr. Stanback.

While the Huskies' platoon of backs and receivers isn't loaded with blue-chippers and Heisman candidates, at least there is a good amount of talented depth.  With so many athletes at these positions, you have to figure that the running and catching should be fairly solid.  The big concern on offense has to be the line.  I find myself nauseous at the prospect of taking last year's line, minus Khalif Barnes, and throwing it up against the likes of Notre Dame and USC.  Yowza.  Thankfully, Air Force's D-line might be able to provide the big Dawgs with a bit of help in this department as the Falcons’ front four was abysmal last year.

Defensively, I'm excited to see Manase Hopoi and the trio of strong linebackers behind him knock a few opposing quarterbacks to the field-turf.  The Husky defensive front seven could well be the key to this season.  With a new starting quarterback, questionable offensive line, and relative unknowns at the other offensive skill positions, the defense is going to see a lot of playing time.  If Lobendahn, Benjamin, and the crew can put pressure on quarterbacks, rough up some running backs, and create some turnover opportunities for the DBs, then the Dawgs may be able to surpass their low expectations this season and possibly find themselves in the hunt for a bowl game bid.

Oh, and I 'spose I should say something about the family's red-headed stepchild, the special teams.  Hey kid, you're adopted!  If you don't start acting your age, I'm going to see if the orphanage will take you back.  Did you come with a receipt?

And I guess poor nephew Casey ought to make a prediction.  I see Air Force running back and forth between the 20s, racking up major rushing yards but settling for a handful of field goals.  Our boy Isaiah DuRocher will make a couple of tosses into the Seahawk endzone to win it in a squeaker, and one of the red-headed orphans will tack on a 40+ yarder to seal the deal.  Dawgs 17, Falcons 13.

So, I'll be packing luggage into the car this Saturday with my fingers crossed, regardless of the risk of injury.  On the way out to Anywhere-But-Everett, I'll do everything I can to sneak a few bits of the game onto the radio when my girlfriend is checking out the scenery or playing with her hair in the vanity mirror or whatever it is that people who aren't rabid Dawgfans do with their September Saturdays.

There will be no Qwest Field for me this holiday weekend.  I've decided to settle for a report from the family gossips, Messieurs Rondeau and Nelson.  If I'm impressed, I may check with BECU about getting a loan for 2006 Season Tickets.

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