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The offense-o-gram is positive
Malamute, 10 April 2006

Spring scrimmages give the coaches a chance to assess the health of their football team. As a result, various health metrics are recorded, such as  offensive-line-o-grams, defense-o-grams, quarterback-o-grams, and running-back-o-grams. As for Tyrone Willinghamís Huskies and their scrimmage last Saturday, most of the ďoffense-o-gramsĒ came back positive.

If Saturday's offense-o-gram were like an electrocardiogram, one could say it came back negative because it hasn't changed much over the last three springs. Boring, boring, boring. Who likes boring?

Sure it was wet, cold and windy, and the defense is always ahead of the offense in the early spring going. However, the offensive statistics from Saturdayís scrimmage resembled those from last seasonís spring scrimmages, which along with the loss to the Air Force in the Huskiesí opener, presaged the 2-9 season that followed.

Over the last two years, the Huskiesí offense has struggled, finishing near the bottom of the Pac-10 in total offense: ninth in 2004 and eighth in 2005. In fact, over the last five years, the UW has averaged just 113.42 yards rushing per game, with an average conference finish of 7.2. On Saturday, the Huskies averaged 2.8 yards per carry. Overall, the offense managed 182 yards on 87 plays.

The four quarterbacks (Isaiah Stanback, Johnny DuRocher, Carl Bonnell, and Felix Sweetman) completed 13 of 34 passes for 44 yards, 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown. As a group, they managed a horrifying pass-efficiency rating of 38.22. Stanback completed 5 of 12 passes for 33 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. Expected to start at quarterback in the home opener against San Jose State, Stanback ran for  45 yards and two touchdowns; his P.E. was 64.77 on the game.

Likewise: In the 2005 spring game, Stanback, DuRocher, Bonnell and Casey Paus combined for a pass-efficiency rating of 91.82 (that is, 18 out of 34, 205 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 picks. The Purple won the game, 3-0, in what some might call a defensive battle). 

Defensively on Saturday, according to a report I read, "Greyson Gunheim had three sacks and five tackles for loss and Donny Mateaki had two sacks and knocked down a pass. Mesphin Forrester led all players with 11 tackles." So I assume the defense motored ahead, and the offense sputtered and stalled.

But this fan's focus is on the offense line, which, this spring, is under close scrutiny because of the loss of five players who accounted for 75% of the OL starts (42 out of 55) in last seasonís play. One of them, Joe Toledo, has been projected as a third-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Over the last five years, last seasonís rushing statistic (135.2 yards per game) was the best of the bunch. So did the Huskies reach a peak last year, expecting to fall off again, when, in 2002, they averaged 74.5 yards per game on the ground? Each year subsequent to 2002, the Huskies have added more yards to their per-game average, increasing it by a tad more yards each year.

Year Rushing Yards per Game Rank in Pac-10
2001 111.7 9th
2002 74.5 9th
2003 119.5 6th
2004 120.2 6th
2005 135.2 6th
Average 113.42 7.2

The fact that the UW must rebuild an offensive line most likely says that the 2006 model will finish near or below its five-year-rushing average of 113.42 yards per game, as shown above. To finish above that average, a healthy Stanback will need to run the ball effectively for all twelve games. 

In his column, Mike Allende (HeraldNet), wrote, "The offensive line, looking to replace four graduated starters, was overmatched, making for an unimpressive running game. Passes were not accurate and there were several drops. Johnny DuRocher, the presumed backup to Isaiah Stanback, looked slow and seemed hesitant in making reads. And there were few big plays to create much optimism."

He saw the scrimmage, I didn't.

On a positive note, redshirt freshman running back J.R. Hasty posted 78 yards on 12 carries, including a 43-yard gallop. Obviously, some breathing room was made available for him by the guys up front.

Although the overall statistics say the offensive line didnít have a good day, its inept performance can be explained away by the inclement weather, by inexperience and by what some might call the old "defensive copout," which over the last three springs, including this one, is becoming de rigueur.

And for sure, wide receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and tight ends must be held accountable, as well as the offensive line, for any deficiencies noted in the overall offensive performance.

Itís too early to project a performance rating for the Huskies' offense in the near future, but letís just say the early signs donít look good.

BTW, if you haven't guessed it already, that's Joe Toledo, pictured above.

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