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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 11, 2007 at 11:01 AM

Reviewing Phil Steele’s preview

After writing about a few other college football pre-season magazines, some of you said the only one you read is the one put out by Phil Steele.
I like Phil’s magazine, as well, and have kept every one since 1996, as I like the exhaustive stats and the five-year results for every team in 1-A football.
But you Phil fans won’t necessarily find a much better prognosis on the Huskies for this season than elsewhere.
Steele picks UW to finish eighth in the Pac-10 in his just-released magazine.
Here’s how he sees the Pac-10:
1, USC
2, Oregon
4, Arizona State
5, Cal
6, Oregon State
7, Arizona
8, Washington
9, Washington State
10, Stanford
Most surprising there, obviously, is his pick of Oregon at No. 2. In fact, Steele really likes the Ducks, picking them No. 18 in the country and writing that they are a “darkhorse national title contender.” What he says he likes about Oregon is the fact that it outgained conference opponents by an average of 136 yards per game last season, the highest in the Pac-10. That was undone, however, by a minus-10 turnover ratio. Steele surmises that if the turnover numbers get a little better — and that with a senior QB and a fairly veteran offense overall, that they will — then Oregon will shoot right back to the top of the conference.
Like everyone else, Steele doesn’t include a lot of Huskies on his All-Pac-10 teams, though he goes four-deep with his picks, so a few more are mentioned.
He has no UW players on his first team (though an astonishing 11 USC Trojans) and has only defensive end Greyson Gunheim on his second team.
From there, his UW choices for all-conference honors don’t exactly follow conventional wisdom.
He picks Roy Lewis as a third-team cornerback, which makes some sense, and Anthony Russo as a third-team receiver, which no offense to Russo, makes a little less. Most of us would probably agree that Marcel Reece seems the most likely Husky to garner such honors right now, and Steele indicates that his magazine went to press following spring football, so he apparently knew about Reece’s breakout spring performance.
And on the fourth-team, he selects defensive tackle Jordan Reffett, which makes some sense, but then takes some real reaches with J.R. Hasty as a running back (with no mention of Louis Rankin who was unquestionably UW’s best running back in the spring) and Ryan Perkins as a kicker (his UW team writeup indicates he’s aware of Perkins’ injury situation). I certainly wouldn’t pick Perkins on any all-conference team due to his uncertain health status, but looking at the rest of the conference, there are a lot of teams with question marks at kicker and there aren’t a lot of obvious choices for all-conference kicker after Oregon State’s Alexis Serna and Cal’s Tom Schneider, who are Steele’s 1-2 picks. Still, putting Perkins on such a team seems a little out-there given his health situation and the fact that his most likely position is punter.
Steele also rates the best players in the nation at every position group, usually the top 65 or so. I could find only two Huskies mentioned anywhere — Gunheim as the No. 39 defensive end and Reffett as the No. 41 defensive tackle. (Here’s a ranking you guys won’t like — he has Jonathan Stewart as the No. 3 running back in the country behind only Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and West Virginia’s Steve Slaton). Somewhat oddly, while he lists Lewis as a third-team all-conference pick, Steele doesn’t rank him among the top 66 cornerbacks in the country, a list that includes eight other Pac-10 players.
Steele also rates each team in the country by position, usually going 28-31 deep or so, and again has little mention of UW. In fact, he has none, leaving the Huskies out of his rankings of the top units at any position.
(Some interesting Pac-10 ratings: He has USC No. 4 at QB with Oregon at No. 15, Cal at 23, and WSU at No. 24; USC No. 3 at RB; Cal No. 1 at WR; USC No. 2 at DL, No. 1 at LB and No. 2 at DB.
In his overview of the Huskies, Steele points out that UW lost a lot of close games last year were minus-eight in turnovers and writes that “normally those factors would count for a large rise in the standings the next year. But unfortunately, most of the Huskies winnable Pac-10 games are on the road as they have to host powers Cal, Oregon and USC while playing the nation’s toughest schedule.
He further writes that “this is Willingham’s best team in his three years but it will be tough to get a winning record vs. the nation’s toughest schedule.”
In fact, elsewhere in the magazine, Steele rates the toughest schedules in college football this year and incredibly enough, has Pac-10 teams in the first eight spots.
Here is his ranking of the toughest schedules in the country this year:
1, Washington
2, USC
3, Washington State
4, Arizona
6, Stanford
7, Oregon State
8, Cal
He also has Oregon at No. 11 and Arizona State at No. 15, apparently giving credence to the feeling that the Pac-10 is one conference unafraid to test itself in non-conference play. That may also be somewhat heartening news for UW fans pointing out that while Washington’s schedule is unquestionably tough, so are a lot of others in the conference, possibly creating some opportunities for the Huskies to move up in the standings.
Steele says that he writes every team preview himself, and his knowledge of the sport seems obvious.
But he makes a couple of unfortunate mistakes in his Husky writeup that indicate he maybe could use some more editing. He includes Nathan Flowers as a backup at right guard and Chancellor Young as a backup at receiver — neither has been with the team since the spring of 2006 and neither is expected to return.
He also writes that Johnny DuRocher’s brain tumor was malignant, which thankfully wasn’t true.
All of this is from Steele’s national college football preview. He also publishes separate pre-season magazines for many conferences, including the Pac-10, which include even more information on each team.



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