When I think about the
five winning Husky teams over the last nine years and the four losers, some of their notable
vitals come to mind. They involve ball control, quality linemen, and
mobility at quarterback.
After the Huskies lost
their first two games in 1999, Marques Tuiasosopo (photo above) turned the
season around after the Huskies implemented the option -- the Huskies (7-5) leading the
league in ball control (32:57). The next year the Huskies went 11-1,
beating Purdue in the Rose Bowl. Maintaining ball control was a huge factor
in their success, the Huskies fourth-quartering their opponents in some
As part of this essay,
I’ve also written some jokes for the nega-dawgs.
Of course, we could choose
other statistics and facts to correlate with winning and losing seasons.
However, these are my favorites.
Time of possession is not
as significant a measure as it used to be in college football because of the
wide-open passing attacks that gulp up big yardage on a single play. Some
teams score fast and score often.
Over the last two seasons
(9-16), UW was 3-12 when it lost time of possession and was 6-4 when it won
time of possession. Over the 1999-2003 seasons, UW won time of possession in
each of its five seasons, and finished 39-22. Among the conference teams,
Washington was the only team to post over 30 minutes of ball control on
average for all of its games played in each of the five seasons.
Controlling the ball should
come with the territory for the Huskies, since they must be prepared to run
the ball during bad weather conditions. As the Huskies’ offense burns the
clock, their defense gets to rest and prepare for either a three-and-out or
takeaway on their opponent’s next possession.
The Huskies lost seven
games last season in which the game was decided in the second half. The
Huskies led Ohio State and ASU at half, were tied with UCLA at half, were tied with Oregon
and WSU at the end of the third quarter, and led Arizona and Hawaii at the
end of the third quarter, The Huskies
won time of possession in the Arizona and WSU games, in games they should
have won by all accounts.
With Jake Locker’s strong
arm, however, maybe the Huskies can win more games even when they lose TOP,
assuming, in the main, the defense doesn’t do its job. I’m thinking about Ronnie Fouch’s
long TD pass to Chris Polk and Coach Willingham’s comment after Friday’s
scrimmage about placing more emphasis on the long ball.
Also, reporter Molly Yanity in her Friday blog
quotes WR D’Andre Goodwin as saying, "If you
had seen it (Friday’s scrimmage) you would've seen a lot of big plays. It's
going to be fun. I'm excited, Every ball
(thrown by starting quarterback Jake Locker) was on the money... we
have a lot more deep threats, so expect a lot more deep plays."
So what does Table 1 below tell
us about TOP and the Dawgs?
Unlike other teams in the
Pac-10 over the last nine years, when the Huskies won time of possession on
the year, they either had a winning or non-losing season.
Table 1. Time of possession over the last nine
years. Of course, winning and losing can be correlated with other stats.
Linemen with pro-potential, another vital
years from 1999-2003, the Dawgs had at least one offensive lineman and one defensive
lineman with pro-potential in their starting lineup. Candidates for
2008 are Juan Garcia (C, the last of the Neuheisel recruits) and Daniel
Te'o-Nesheim (DL). After Tank Johnson, Tui Alailefaleula and QB Cody Picket
graduated, the Dawgs went 1-10 in 2004. See "A small
slice of history," for a sad tale of the offensive line at UW.
Table 2. Linemen with
||Silvers, Benn, Ward, Call
||Silvers, Benn, Ward, Call
Wes Call (ot, San Francisco, 2001)
Chad Ward (og, San Francisco, et al, 2001-2004)
Larry Tripplett (dt, Indianapolis, et al, 2002-2007)
Tank Johnson (dt, Chicago, 2004-2007)
Khalif Barnes (ot, Jacksonville, 2005-2007)
Kyle Benn (C, Tennessee, 2002)
Jabari Issa (dt, Arizona, et al, 2000-2005)
Elliott Silvers, (ot, San Diego, et al, 2001-04)
Tui Alailefaleula (dl, New York Jets, 2006)
Stanley Daniels (og, Saint Louis, 2007).
Mobility at quarterback
Also, a mobile
quarterback was a commonality among those teams from 1999-2003, i.e., Marques Tuiasosopo
and Cody Pickett. In 2006 (5-7), UW was a Liz Franc injury away from going
to a bowl, and Isaiah Stanback, mobility personified, was the quarterback.
Casey Paus --
relatively immobile -- started most of the games at quarterback for UW
in the disastrous 2004 season, not to say that season was Paus' fault. Not
settling on one quarterback at the start of the season hurt the Huskies more
There is hope for
2008, for Jake Locker has
tons of athleticism. He's the most exciting athlete to matriculate at
Washington since Hugh McElhenny, the old timers say.
Jokes for nega-dawgs
In his article, “Huskies
have reason to believe,” Nick Daschel of the Columbian recently wrote, “Like
it or not, it’s up to Locker as to whether the Huskies meet their
expectations (in 2008). And those of message board morons.” I wonder if Daschel was
referring to the Internet website, Husky Half Brains.
Calling the half-brains luftmenches (air heads)
might have been a bit gentler on his part.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a
posi-dawg, a Willingham supporter all the way, but here are some jokes for
the nega-dawgs, who, due to the writers’ strike, have run short of material.
As a posi-dawg, nobody will ever accuse me of aiding and abetting the enemy.
-- Straight line: What do I call Slick Rick (Neuheisel)
Punch line: The Brewin’ Blewwin.
--Straight line: Is it true that
Willingham's father once tore a house down with his bare hands?
Punch line: I don't know about
his father, but one of his sons tore a Dawg House down with his bare hands.
--Straight line: According to
columnist Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times, Tyrone Willingham has spoken
the word “maturity” about 3,485 times since his last practice.
Punch line: Tyrone hasn’t
spoken 3,485 words in his whole life.
-- Setup: According to Brewer, “If he (Willingham)
succeeds, it will be about the rewards of rigidness.”
Punch: Call him Coach
-- Setup: According to Brewer, “Never change.
Always evolve. That's what Willingham wants to do.”
-- Setup: Why does
columnist Jim Moore of the P-I call Tyrone “Paint Dry, Ty?”
Punch: Because Ty is
painting the won/lost column “red,” and the paint is still drying.
-- Setup: Why do people
tease President Mark Emmert about being a loser from Fife?
Punch: Because Emmert
signed Ty to a Fife-year contract.
-- Setup: Daschel writes, "Fueled
by the anonymity of the Internet, it’s clear Husky fans are tired of waiting
for a winner. In many of their self-absorbed minds, losing is for the Oregon
States and Washington States of the Pacific-10 Conference."
-- Punch: You forgot the Oregons.