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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 22, 2006 at 5:02 PM

A cushion and a Kirton

Just flew home from Berkeley — and boy are my arms tired.
FYI — I realize that’s the lamest joke in history but it’s about all I could come up with and figured the blog needed some levity, however insipid.
Okay, on to our main reason for being here. Lots of questions have been asked in the aftermath of the Cal game, and while I can’t get to them all now, I’ll try to answer a few:
IF KENNY JAMES IS OUT FOR A WHILE, WILL JOHNIE KIRTON RETURN TO RUNNING BACK? I’d say it’s really doubtful. Long-term, the RB position looks okay depth-wise, and moving him for just a few games probably wouldn’t do much good. They had plans to try him in some short-yardage situations early in the year but scrapped those when Robert Lewis and Michael Gottlieb got hurt. UW still really has only three functionial TEs — Walter Winter and Tim Williams aren’t really ready yet to contribute much, so my hunch is they will want to leave Kirton just where he is.
WHAT’S WITH THE BIG CUSHION BY THE CORNERBACKS AGAINST CAL’S RECEIVERS? UW defensive coordinator Kent Baer said afterward the plan was to be a little conservative and try not to give up the big play. In that sense, it worked as Cal’s longest reception by a receiver was 26 yards — the first time all year a Cal receiver hadn’t had a reception for longer than that in a game (Cal TE Craig Stevens had the longest of the day at 28 yards). You can certainly question that strategy in certain situations, but the big picture is that Cal only scored 24 points in regulation — its fewest in a home game all season — and just three in the first half.
ANY EXPLANATION FOR ALL THE SHORT-YARDAGE RUNS UP THE MIDDLE? I think there’s a little big picture stuff going on here, as well. Tyrone Willingham has talked often about trying to establish his philosophy with this team. One thing he thinks UW has to do be able to do is pick up third-and-one by sheer force and I think both he and Lappano are trying to make some statements with this team that it’s got to be able to do that. UW obviously seems a little predictable in a lot of those situations, though again, I’ll point out that UW has been vastly improved on third-down this year. UW entered the game fourth in the Pac-10 in third-down conversions at 38 percent and for all the comparisons to Cal Saturday, wasn’t much worse than the Bears and all their supposedly innovative play calls — UW was 4-14 on third-downs Saturday while Cal was 4-13.
WHAT’S WITH DASHON GOLDSON DROPPING THAT INTERCEPTION THAT COULD HAVE SEALED THE GAME? To be fair to Goldson, he didn’t drop the one against USC, that was Roy Lewis. So Saturday was his first drop in such a situation this year. Those guys simply have to hang onto the ball. But again, I’ll insert a little big-picture here. Overall, Goldson did a fabulous job on Cal’s DeSean Jackson as he was the main reason Jackson was held to a season-low 40 yards on only three catches. If he hadn’t done that, the game would have been lost long before he dropped an interception.
I’ll finish by linking to all of our coverage today which should hopefully answer a lot of your other questions.

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