Tackling the first set. …
Q: Any new word on losing any coaches?
A: At the moment, sounds like everything is status quo. UW is expected to announce soon new contracts for all the assistants whose deals ran out this year (they technically go through June 30, so everyone is under contract at the moment). All of the full-time assistants expect coordinators Nick Holt and Doug Nussmeier, who each got extensions last year (Holt through 2012 and Nussmeier through 2011) are in need of new deals.
Also, the time of the year where there are a lot of coaching moves is just about over, anyway, and there aren’t any real obvious openings for anyone on the West Coast (and remember that most moves are usually made to either a school or to work for a coach that someone has a history with already). UW coach Steve Sarkisian said again on signing day he expects everyone back in 2011 and at the moment, no reason to think that won’t happen.
Q: When was the last time a first year starter led a PAC 10 team to a Rose Bowl.
A: You don’t have to go back far — USC with Mark Sanchez in 2008. Sanchez started three games in relief of the injured John David Booty in 2007, so that wouldn’t really count as having been a full-time starter before he took over in 2008 and led the Trojans to a conference title and win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl (here’s his USC bio with all the details). Prior to that, Booty did it in 2006 taking over for Matt Leinart, who did it in 2003 taking over for Carson Palmer.
Q: Why don’t our cornerbacks bump the receivers at the line? To me that seems like a big advantage to be able to put your hands on the receiver. Especially when we blitz, it seems we always play 10 yards off and it makes for an easy throw and catch for the opposing offense.
A: I think if you look closely and objectively that UW does more of that than you think, and did more of it as the year went on, as well. And Sarkisian has said consistently that he’d love for his CBs to play as aggressively as possible. But you can only ask your players to do what they are capable of, and UW’s corners have obviously struggled at times in recent years, though they seemed to improve as the 2010 season went on. to your point of blitzing, however, it’s not uncommon to play off and just try to cover long enough for the pressure to get there, rather than taking the chance that a receiver immediately breaks open giving a QB a quick open option.
It seemed like that latter strategy worked pretty well against Nebraska, playing coverage in the back end and aggressive up front, forcing Taylor Martinez to make tough throws (which he couldn’t do) or simply covering long enough to allow the pressure to get to him. But coaching is also about devising the proper scheme to the personnel at hand. I think the UW coaches would play man-to-man and bump coverage all the time if they thought they could.
Q: Is there really a video out there with Nate Robinson and Damon Huard and Brock Huard and Sonny Sixkiller signing the UW fight song?
A: Yes there is. It’s part of a new advertising campaign for BECU and you can find it here.
Q: What position(s) beside quarterback are the coaches most concerned about going into next season?
A: Probably linebacker, where Mason Foster and Victor Aiyewa have to be replaced, and tight end, where someone has to emerge to finally solidify that spot. The leading candiate for Foster’s job may be JC transfer Thomas Tutogi, while Princeton Fuimaono was the backup to Aiyewa this year (starting the Arizona game in his place) and as such, would seem to have the lead in taking over. To the obvious question about why I didn’t mention Tim Tucker, Victor Burnett and Garret Gilliland, all three played at the middle this year, where Cort Dennison returns, so they wouldn’t seem as likely to be candidates to replace either Foster or Aiyewa. However, the Huskies are sure to mix and match a lot of combinations at linebacker (while keeping Dennison in the middle) to see which works best, so any of those guys (as well as the likes of Jordan Wallace and Cooper Pelluer) could end up in the mix.
And as Sarkisian said on LOI day, the Huskies may also make increasing use of a 3-4 defense, which would open up that much more opportunities for some linebackers. At the moment, it’s pretty hard to say who starts anywhere there other than Dennison since few really got much playing time this year — Foster, Aiyewa and Dennison almost never came off the field at the end of the season.
As for tight end, the obvious new faces there are Michael Hartvigson, who redshirted after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury early on, and 2011 signee Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is expected to arrive in time for spring football. But remember, tight end is really not an either/or position. Ideally, they would have several players who could contribute, either rotating or playing together in two tight end formations.
All for now.