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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 6, 2007 at 1:07 PM

More pre-season predictions

Two more college football pre-season magazines have landed in the stores and both are parroting the conventional wisdom that the Huskies are destined for a lower-division finish in 2007.
(By the way, I think we can all admit that none of these predictions mean anything, the games are won on the field in fall, etc. But it’s June, a time when not much else is going on, and I’ve always thought it’s fun to look at these things and see what people are thinking, so I’m presenting these here in that frame of mind).
The first one we’ll look at today is Athlon’s Pac-10 preview, which overall has a pretty negative appraisal of the Huskies, picking them ninth in the conference and asserting that UW doesn’t have a single sure-win on its schedule.
The magazine sees the conference race this way:
1, USC
2, Cal
3, UCLA
4, Oregon State
5, Arizona (yes, Arizona)
6, Oregon
7, Arizona State
8, Washington State
9, Washington
10, Stanford
The magazine includes a feature where it projects the winner of most games each team plays, though listing the toss-ups as asterisks — the point being that the games it makes a call on are sure-wins for that team. Athlon’s gives UW 10 sure losses (all but the Syracuse, Stanford and Washington State games) and no sure wins, even calling for the Huskies to be a certain loser at home against Arizona.
The most insightful segment in its UW preview may be a “Scouting the Huskies” feature with quotes from anonymous opposing coaches. Interestingly, those coaches seem much more optimistic about UW than the writers.
One coach is quoted as saying that “They are getting the athletes again and coach Willingham knows what to do with them. This team is going to run the ball well next season, will play tough defense and is going to win its share of games.”
Another says that “Tyrone has it going there. They lost (Isaiah) Stanback, but if they find a quarterback they could be good. Not making a bowl game last year hurt them but they have enough talent to be a bowl team this year, but they need to have someone step up at quarterback.”
Other comments include:
“When their quarterback went down last year, they weren’t the same team.” Pretty obvious, I’d think we all admit, but probably worth reiterating.
“We didn’t feel like their speed factor at receiver or running back was something that you had to worry about.”
And “for them to lose to Stanford was sort of amazing.” I think we’d all agree on that one, as well.
Athlon’s selects a three-deep all-conference team, but only one Husky made it as high as the second team and the pick is something of a surprise — Johnie Kirton at tight end, who wasn’t even necessarily a second-team All-Husky by the end of the spring.
Three other Huskies are named to the third team — defensive end Greyson Gunheim, center Juan Garcia and Roy Lewis as a kick returner. I agree completely on Gunheim and I think Garcia is due for a big year, though as I’ve pointed out before, there’s a strong group of centers in the conference this season.
Athlon’s also rates each Pac-10 team by position grouping and doesn’t rank the Huskies higher than eighth in any category — UW is eighth on the offensive and defensive lines, ninth at quarterback and running back and rated last at receiver/tight end, linebacker and defensive back.
Overall, Athlon’s rates UW as the No. 64 team in the country.
Athlon’s also puts Tyrone Willingham on its list of five “Coaches on the Hot Seat.”
The best feature in the whole magazine may be a recap of what happened to the top 40 recruits in the nation in 2002. The one Husky on the list is offensive lineman Nathan Rhodes, who as the magazine points out, had a pre-existing back injury that scared away some other schools and that ended up preventing him from ever even putting in a full-contact practice with the Huskies.
But Rhodes is kind of indicative of what seems like a fairly star-crossed class. No. 1 on the list is Vince Young, who has obviously lived up to that billing. But none of the rest of the top 10 players were selected above the third round of the NFL draft, with three going completely undrafted (one of the others is UCLA QB Ben Olson, who sat out two years on a Mormon mission and is entering his junior year as a Bruin).
And there is only one other first-round pick on the entire list of 40 — former Oregon star Haloti Ngata, now with the Baltimore Ravens. Overall, it’s yet another cautionary tale about reading too much into recruiting rankings.

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