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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 13, 2006 at 12:01 AM

Sunday musings

The Huskies are practicing today, but there is no media availability — which will be the regular course on Sundays during training camp — which means there will be no official updates on anything.
So I thought I’d take the opportunity to instead answer some questions from readers. And I’m hoping that all readers who have e-mailed me will look here for their answers from now on as it’s a good way to share that information with everyone. So here we go:
• One reader asked how the running backs are looking. Apparently, pretty well. Kenny James appears to not be too bothered by the splint on his arm– he caught a nice pass while falling backward during a practice recently — and Louis Rankin earned praise from Willingham the other day for his play. Shelton Sampson also apparently has made a fairly seamless return to running back.
The key question here remains depth. The only other scholarship RB on the roster is true freshman Matt Mosley, who has been slowed by a concussion-type injury. True freshman Leilyon Myers was another the Huskies were counting on, but he is not yet eligible due to issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse. Willingham called the Huskies “bone thin” at running back a few days ago and said that he may have to use the fullbacks in tailback situations to fill in the void at times.
• Another reader asked about the progress of Walt Winter, the sophomore defensive end from Bothell. Winter is running as a backup behind starters Greyson Gunheim and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim as well as senior Brandon Ala. Willingham said those three are forming what figures to be a nice rotation at that position. Winter is in the next group behind those players, but he seems certain to see some key playing time at some point this season.
• Another reader called himself a longtime fan who has grown weary of the losses the past few years and wondered if there is hope for the future. Not an easy question to answer in just a few words. It also depends on what is meant by the words “hope” and “future.”
Are the Huskies going to the Rose Bowl this year? No. But could they get into some bowl somewhere? Sure. With what should be a salty defense, a fifth-year quarterback who seems primed for a break out year, and more experience at the skill positions than the team has had in a while, six or seven wins isn’t out of the question.
One problem even if that happens, however — the Huskies could start at least 11 seniors this year, meaning they could return just 11 starters next year. Just by way of comparison, every team in the Pac-10 this year is returning 13 or more starters except for USC, which is returning 11. So getting back to being real good real consistently could take a few years and a few more strong recruiting classes. But for now, the focus is obviously on winning a few games this and beginning the turnaround in earnest. And if that doing that suffices as hope for the future, then yes, there is hope.
• Finally, one reader took me to task for not naming UW as the possible surprise team in the Pac-10 this year on the Q&A special we posted a few days ago — I said Oregon State.
The reader made a lot of good points, mentioning how Stanback seems poised to break out, the defense should be improved, etc. And that Oregon State has issues of its own, namely at receiver and replacing some really good defensive players from a year ago. All true.
But when I compare the two teams, the most glaring difference I see is on the offensive line — and it’s a difference that heavily favors the Beavers, at least on paper. Oregon State returns all five starters from last year and two top reserves, and they are not chopped-liver players. Guard Jeremy Perry was the Pac-10 co-Freshman of the Year last season and guard Roy Schuening and center Kyle DeVan were each all-conference honorable mention picks. Add to that the return of tight end Joe Newton, who might be the best at his position in the conference. It all starts up front, and on paper, anyway, OSU appears to have a big edge there on UW.

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