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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

May 17, 2009 at 8:58 PM

May answers, volume four

No, I haven’t forgotten about the May questions, so here we go with another round. …
Q: What is the best possible outlook for next year? What is the worst
possible outlook for next year?

A: I’m assuming by outlook you maybe really mean outcome? Those are two different things and outcome would seem more likely, I guess, of what you may really be wanting to know. But I’ll answer both. The best possible outlook, meaning how people would view the team heading into the season, would probably be ninth — haven’t seen anyone pick them higher than that yet and on paper, it’s hard to really sell being any higher. Worst would probably be ninth, as well — I can’t imagine anyone picking UW behind the Cougs — again, on paper, I think the edge is pretty decided to UW. As for best and worst outcomes, I think the best is 6-6 and sneaking into a bowl game. But for all the optimism reigning right now, this is still a team coming off an 0-12 season and a jump to six wins would be one of the biggest in recent conference history. I’d give it a much better chance of happening if the non-conference schedule weren’t as rugged as it is. But reality is that UW will be heavy underdogs against LSU and Notre Dame and losing those two would require going 5-4 in Pac-10 play to get to six wins overall. A lot of Pac-10 teams have a lot of issues, so it’s not unthinkable if everything goes right — Jake Locker really plays as well as as he looked in the spring game and stays upright, a lot of young guys mature quickly on both sides of the ball, most everyone stays healthy, and the special teams play well enough to steal UW the inevitable close game or two (remember, it ultimately was special teams failures that cost UW a chance at what were its two most winnable games last year against BYU and WSU). As for the worst, I’d say 2-10. At the moment, UW seems likely to be favored only in home games against Idaho and WSU. And barring catastrophe, UW should be able to win those two.
Q: Take coaching, schedules and culture out of the equation, then tell me how you would rank the Pac 10 on pure two-deep talent?
A: This obviously involves a lot of guess work since there will be a lot of key guys on teams this year I haven’t seen in person — redshirts now eligible, young players breaking into the two-deep, that sort of thing. But I’ll take a stab at it for the sake of conversation — USC, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon State, Arizona, Stanford, Washington, Washington State. For the howls I might get about putting UW so low, remember that next year’s team will include what are the two lowest-rated recruiting classes in school history — 2005 and 2009 — the only Husky team ever to have to suit up with two classes recruited in the wake of coaching firings in October. In theory, that’s 40 percent of your team recruited in about as difficult a situation imaginable. Obviously, the 2009 class may turn out a lot better than its rankings, but until we see it, the safe bet is to be cautious. And UW’s 2006 class, the fourth-year players on this team, isn’t necessarily yielding what it optimally should, either — of 22 players signed, nine are already gone, including a few JC guys who have already used up their eligibility. That makes UW pretty thin in the top two classes, which when things are going well would be producing the bulk of the team’s key players. So while I think everyone would agree the talent is a lot better than it showed last season — and Locker is the X factor that could allow this team to really surprise — I also think there’s still work to do to get the talent base where it needs to be in every level of the depth chart.
Q: Quick question on the recruiting front — once a kid verbally commits to a school does that change (a) the type and/or (b) amount of contact coaches can have with particular athlete?
A: No. A verbal is completely unofficial and non-binding. The only thing that officially changes anything is when a player signs his letter-of-intent, which can’t happen until February. Unofficially, a verbal commitment signals that a kid is, well, committed, and some coaches who had been recruiting may now stop recruiting him, particularly if the player calls other coaches and tells them he’s now off-the-market. But opposing coaches usually keep showing interest, especially if the player gives any sort of indication that his commitment may be less than total.
All for now.

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