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Husky vitals and half-brain jokes
Malamute, 7 April 2008

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 close games.

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.

Ball Control

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 a 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.

Year TOP Conf Record
1999 32:58 1 7-5
2000 31:47 2 11-1
2001 30:53 3 8-4
2002 32:59 2 7-6
2003 31:16 3 6-6
2004 28:26 7 1-10
2005 27:47 9 2-9
2006 29:12 7 5-7
2007 28:58 5 4-9

Linemen with pro-potential, another vital

During the 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 pro-potential

Year Offense Defense
1999 Silvers, Benn, Ward, Call Tripplett, Issa
2000 Silvers, Benn, Ward, Call Trippett
2001 Barnes, Benn Tripplett
2002 Barnes Johnson, Alailefaleula
2003 Daniels, Barnes Johnson, Alailefaleula
2004 Barnes, Daniels  
2005 Daniels  
2006 Daniels  

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 than anything. 

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) now?

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 Viagra.

-- Setup: According to Brewer, “Never change. Always evolve. That's what Willingham wants to do.”

Punch: Hmmm.

-- 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.


Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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