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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 23, 2007 at 4:18 PM

Day-after ruminations

I’ll eschew the normal Sunday links since it is already so late and I doubt too many of you really want to read more about that game, anyway.
I will pass along Brian Dohn’s UCLA blog from the LA Daily News.
Some fairly interesting comments there from UCLA players that the Bruins thought UW tried to change its scheme to stop the run late but simply couldn’t do it.
On a few other matters:
GRADES: Interesting how many people said I was too kind in my grades. For years I’ve gotten e-mails telling me I’m too negative. One reason I might have seemed kind is that I think UCLA does have to be given some credit. As I wrote Friday, when fully healthy, the Bruins — in my mind — are unquestionably better than the Huskies. I picked UW to win largely because of UCLA’s injury situation, especially at quarterback. But I was surprised that UCLA was so dominant, anyway, despite missing seven starters. Especially the matchup of its offensive line vs. UW’s defensive front. Is that coaching? Is that talent? Surely a little bit of both.
That said, in doing my grades, I took into consideration that I think UCLA was simply better in a number of areas, thus grading kind of on a scale, if you will. This same type of performance against a lesser team would result in a lot of D’s and F’s. But this is still UCLA we’re talking about — a lot more future draft picks on that team than on UW’s, I think.
The C grade for the running backs, for instance, may seem too high. But really, is it all Louis Rankin’s fault he had nowhere to go? That failure, obviously, was a function of the O-line’s struggles, as much as Rankin — pretty shared responsibility in my mind. But going on UCLA’s stats, it didn’t make sense to expect UW would rush for 200 yards or anything against the Bruins. So I don’t give the O-line an F because it didn’t do that. But I do give it a C-minus because it should have been a lot better.
As for grading coaches, I only started doing grades by position this season as it’s not something we’ve done before, and I simply thought at first I’d keep it to that, with coaching included in the comments I make on each position. But I’ll break it out from now on. How would I have graded it against UCLA? Probably C-minus. UW doesn’t appear to make the same kind of halftime adjustments as other teams (UW has been outscored 64-28 in the second half the last two weeks) and the continual special teams problems and the seeming reliance on the same old, same old in many areas leave the coaches open to the criticism. On the other hand, UW wasn’t favored to win, and the game wasn’t a rout. Bad as it was, UW was in position to win the game in the fourth quarter. I’ve seen a lot worse down there with more talented UW teams (think 1997, 2001 and 2003).
WHERE TO NOW?: Most disappointing is that the Huskies blew a chance at getting what could have been a monumental win. Beat UCLA, and UW would have needed just four more wins to get a bowl bid, and would have been riding a renewed wave of momentum that would have helped greatly toward that goal.
Now, UW, surely deflated by the events of the past two weeks, has to go 5-4 to get a bowl bid, meaning taking care of business in the games you’d think the Huskies have a pretty good shot at winning (at Oregon State and Stanford and home to Arizona and Washington State) and then beating at least one of USC, Cal, Arizona State, Oregon or Hawaii. Those five teams are all 4-0, all scoring seemingly at will, and all likely to be favored to beat UW handily. Three of those games are at home, at least. But suddenly, the odds are probably against UW getting that done.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: UW has now allowed 77 points and 1,018 yards in the past two games. That’s the most points UW has allowed in a two-game span since midway through the 2005 season, and the most yards in a two-game span since late in the 2003 season when Cal gained a UW opponent record 729 against the Huskies. UW hadn’t allowed more than 1,000 yards in any two-game span since then.
— Here are the Pac-10 stats from and there are some sobering numbers here. UW is last in passing offense, for instance, and suddenly they are ninth in rushing defense, pretty amazing considering that the Huskies held Syracuse to eight yards in the opener. Since then, UW has allowed 699 yards in three games.
— The Huskies are also last in total offense at 368 yards per game, a total that just won’t get it done in the Pac-10.
E.J. Savannah made an interesting comment that he thought the way the Bruins rotated their tailbacks helped them. “Our dudes were getting tired while they stayed fresh,” Savannah said.
— Losses such as the one Saturday inevitably lead to lots of calls to play all the guys who aren’t playing. One thing I would caution is that it isn’t as if the coaches don’t want to win, as well. Certainly, it’s worth giving certain reserves a shot, and I would imagine that some will at some point (Nate Williams, the young RBs, to name the most logical). But if any of those guys were just lights-out better in practice than the starters, I’m sure they’d already be playing. Guess I’m saying don’t expect playing a lot of the young guys to solve everything. It’s worth a shot (especially the running backs) but there are also reasons why those guys aren’t playing in there.



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