Patience, patience, patience?
Richard Linde, 10 January 2007
Molly Yanity of the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently posted an interview with UW wide
receiver Marcel Reece on her blog, "Huskies Q&A:
Her interview with Reece
was interesting and poignant, for it echoes a notion that's been
floating around on Internet message boards for some time.
I just hope that fans donít get the wrong idea from what Marcel said,
and that is,
ďI love Jake Locker. No hesitation at all.
He's a beast. I love him to death. I just can't wait to connect with him
so, so many times. Just practicing with him all year, I'll tell you,
this guy is great. He's a great player, person, everything. He's really
(a) great player.Ē
A number of fans sincerely believe that Locker
single-handedly will pull the Dawgs out of the tailspin they have been
in for the last four years.
In the Apple Cup, five players -- Marlon Wood, Chris Stevens, Cody Ellis,
Louis Rankin, and Reece -- proved as an aggregate that playmakers can make a huge difference in a game where two
antagonists match up evenly.
Other than Wood, the rest of them will be
back next season as far as I know. Coming off a redshirt season, Locker
adds a fifth playmaker to that group. And Iím sure there are other
notables on the team worth adding.
However, UW loses some players in key
positions, which will make it tough for Coach Willingham to equal or
better last season's record of 5-7, this said under the light of a tough
schedule and the coachís built-in conservatism. For starters there are
questions that need answering: on the offensive line, at the running back and cornerback positions,
at strong safety and on the kicking/punting game.
If you will accept the notion that stability in the coaching staff is an
important ingredient for Washington's return to glory, then it is
important to give the coach a break and not set unrealistic goals for him to meet in 2007.
Letís give Willingham the three years that remain on his contract to get
the job done, rather than send him off to a symbolic gallows to be
hanged in effigy because he can't meet an unreasonable goal set for his
2007 team, like, say, having seven or more wins.
Case in point: Nine of UWís forthcoming
opponents posted better numbers in key statistical measures than UW did
(See the Table below.) Furthermore, by these numbers, two winnable games -- against Stanford
and Syracuse -- are on the road.
Now I know that statistics donít always
tell the whole story and that they can change from one season to the
next, but UW will be an underdog in most of the games it plays. In fact,
Iím willing to bet that the Pac-10 media brigade, just before the season
begins, will bury the Dawgs, along with Tree and Arizona, at the bottom of the old Montlake garbage dump where phantom seagulls have come to rest.
Pinning our hopes for next season on two
playmakers like Jake Locker and Marcel Reece is unfair to them, to the
team and to the coach.
We fans have to be patient with the
rebuilding process over the next several years, which among other tasks,
requires building some depth on the offensive line and bringing in some
defensive linemen in the mold of what Urban Meyer has done at Florida.
One NFL first-round draft pick on each side of the ball would make a
heck of a difference.
Washington's opponents in 2007, along with itself, are listed in order by their
average ranking in NCAA Division I-A football for 6 statistical
categories: TO=Total Offense; TD=Total Defense; RO=Rushing Offense;
RD-Rushing Defense; PEO=Pass Efficiency Offense; PED=Pass Efficiency
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