The spring game was encouraging
Malamute, 24 April 2006
encouraged by what I saw from the
spring game on Saturday, and expect the Huskies to do better than expected
in their fall campaign. Overall, I thought the Huskies looked faster than
last year, especially on defense and special teams. The Dawgs have picked up
a couple of burners in cornerback Shelton Sampson, who is back with the team
after a short hiatus, and in WR Chancellor Young, who transferred from
It was nice to see RB Kenny James
and QB Carl Bonnell back at full speed.
Isaiah Stanback’s performance at
quarterback was outstanding. As a passer, Stanback connected on 6 of 9
attempts, for 190 yards, 1 pick and 2 touchdowns. His passing-efficiency
rating was 211.95 on the game. In last year’s spring game, Stanback’s
passing efficiency was 135.27, based on 4 out of 6 passing that went for 49
yards and no touchdowns or picks. These data don’t prove a thing about
Stanback’s future this season, but they do give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Having a senior quarterback bodes
well for the conference race, considering the historical significance: In
the past, teams with senior quarterbacks have usually done well in the
Pac-10’s race for the roses. Stanback has an aura of brilliance about him,
with most capable replacements in Carl Bonnell and Johnny DuRocher.
Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano will give Stanback the green light this
season – so watch out for the multidimensional Stanback to do an imitation
of former quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo. Armed with speed, a strong arm,
and confidence, Stanback has the potential to be as good as Tui was back in
the 2000/01 Rose Bowl season, the lack of the option notwithstanding.
-- Are the coaches deemphasizing the
running game as few fans are saying?
“Our identity on offense will come
from our ability to run the football," Lappano said, early into the
spring practices last year. "When we throw, we'll get the ball off quickly and throw
what should be a high-percentage pass…I think we need to make a commitment
to the run. The players have to believe in it. The coaching staff has to
believe in it. We have other stuff and we will do some of that other stuff.
But we are going to be a power-run football team first."
In last season’s spring game, the
team netted 43 yards rushing on 33 attempts; the quarterbacks (Stanback,
Bonnell and DuRocher) netted minus 15 yards on 10 carries. The quarterbacks
combined for a pass-efficiency rating of 91.82 (that is, 18 out of 34, 205
yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 picks).
After last year’s spring scrimmage, Lappano said, "To me, the most disappointing thing of the whole scrimmage
was our inability to do what we've talked about doing, to be physical and
bring back the two-back run game to the University of Washington."
This spring, the team rushed for 142
yards and a touchdown on 32 carries; the quarterbacks (Bonnell, Stanback and
DuRocher) netted 22 yards rushing, adding to the total. The four
quarterbacks, including Felix Sweetman, combined for a pass-efficiency
rating of 106.66 (that is, 18 completions out of 46 passes for 306 yards, 2
touchdowns and 2 picks).
After this year’s scrimmage, Tyrone
Willingham said, "I think the most important part of your football team is
the offensive line. It's an area of concern, but I think it can be
productive when it's all said and done." Note that Willingham has said this
spring that Washington won't be successful until it can run and stop the run
when needed. Reading in between the lines, no pun intended, I think the OL
is developing faster than expected.
Of course, statistics from spring
practices are meaningless; however, all in all, as far as emphasis goes, I
would say the running game is alive and well.
-- The media: The Pac-10 writers
will pick UW to finish near the bottom of the conference race, giving the
Huskies an underdog’s role in almost every game. Add to that tons of
and motivation for the season. In other words, the media will help the
Huskies for a change.
Because of the media blackout,
Willingham and his staff can concentrate on football rather than having to
extinguish random brush fires set by the fourth estate.
-- Eight starters return on defense:
Lots of talent on the DL and in the
defensive backfield could make UW’s defense step to the fore, giving its
offense some short fields. Because of a mini-treasure-trove of talent, the
coaching staff was able to move Dashon Goldson from safety to cornerback
According to Molly Vanity (Seattle
P-I) who saw more of the game than I did, "CB Roy Lewis led the Purple
team's defense and seemed to be all over the field."
She quotes defensive coordinator
Kent Baer as saying, "He (Lewis) had a good spring, a real good spring. He's
got that corner."
--Did the coaching staff goof?
The punters/kickers (Ryan Perkins
ACL?) shouldn’t have been live in the spring game, in my opinion. But I'm
not a coach.
One of the defensive
linemen was blocked into Perkins, rolling over on him after he punted the
ball. Perkins may be lost for the season. What a costly mistake by the
coaching staff. Before the game, didn’t Willingham say, “Health, health,
health,” in reference to the outcome of the game? Because of that apparent mistake,
the kicking game is now an area of concern for the fall months, along with
the inexperience of the offensive line and the dearth of running backs.
How's that for Monday morning
-- Was it a gohuskies.com problem?
As a subscriber to “Dawg channel-all
access,” I was able to watch the spring game on my computer; however, only
60% or so of the game was viewable. Apparently, transmission problems caused
some blackouts, blips and burps along the way -- this according to other
viewers, too. I felt comfortable on my end with my 7mb download speed and
3.6 gigahertz processor with hyper-threading technology (two processes at a
time?). I can't wait for Vista.
Speaking of Vista, I dug up those
2005 spring stats, using X1.