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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM

June Questions, Volume Four

Close games, defensive strategy and Nike contracts among the topics in this edition. …

Q: Would you agree that the Cal, at Utah, Arizona, and at Oregon State games look like they will have the closest pre-game lines and actual final scores?

A: Given the way the conference looks this year, I’m not sure I’m ready to predict much of anything with much confidence. I’m assuming you mean that all of those games figure to have lines favoring one team or the other by no more than three points or so, and that all could end up being down-to-the-wire games. I wouldn’t disagree with that. All look close on paper now and could be close on the field this fall. Frankly, the vast middle of the Pac-12 looks pretty darn even, which should make for a lot of entertaining games for fans and a lot of heartburn for coaches. Staying healthy, avoiding turnovers, QB play and getting a few breaks could be the difference between good seasons and bad ones for lots of Pac-12 teams this year.

Q: Question about the change in philosophy in our defensive front — is defensive coordinator Nick Holt going to an odd front (base 5-2) more of a reflection of talent available on this year’s squad (specifically Josh Shirley at the rush end/OLB spot) or does this represent a kind of natural evolution of the species based on PAC-12 offenses’ efforts to deal with his 4-3 base defense over time? Maybe a reflection of a perceived lack of dominant DT’s going forward (after Alameda Ta’amu graduates)? Curious if Holt has made any mention as it seems as though some of our late
season defensive improvement coincided with the defensive staff’s willingness/ability to mix up the look of the defensive front and take a little heat off the starting front four.

A: I think it’s a little bit of all of that. UW coach Steve Sarkisian said on several occasions during the spring that it fits the personnel the team has right now to go to more odd fronts — specifically, finding ways to get guys like Shirley and Hau’oli Jamora on the field at the same time. It also helps mitigate somewhat UW’s possible depth issues at tackle. It also seemed to work last season when the Huskies went to similar defenses, particularly late in the year.

I also think they think it may be the best way to combat all the teams in the Pac-12 that use varying versions of spread offenses, be it what Oregon does or the Texas Tech-style of an Arizona. I also think they think that the secondary, especially the corners, are better able now to handle man-to-man coverage, allowing for more variety and aggressive fronts. Holt has always said during his time here that they’d do more things defensively once they felt the players were better able to handle it (and they had the personnel that could handle it). I don’t think they ever intended to do just one thing.

Q: This question has puzzled me for the longest time. Why doesn’t the UW and the other PAC-10(12) schools get out from under the Nike Swoosh/thumb and cast their lot with someone else (UnderArmour, which works with SEC schools). Why support your direct opponent and rival?

A: This is kind of a common question. I really can’t explain the school’s position on this any better than UW athletic director Scott Woodward did when the current deal was signed in 2008. Here’s the story from that day which should explain it. Not mentioned in that story that is worth noting is that UW’s basketball coaches also think it is important to be aligned with Nike for recruiting purposes.

Q: In looking at the Spring roster, I noticed that K.C. Herren from Auburn was listed as a walk-on. As I recall, he signed to play baseball in the Texas Ranger organization in 2004 after briefly considering football. Can you fill us in on his story, and how he ended up back in football after a 7 year or so absence? Also, this begs another question..have their been any other past UW players who have tried baseball, and came back to football?

A: You are right that Herren has an interesting backstory. Unfortunately, since newcomers were off-limits to the media in the spring, we were not able to talk to Herren so I can’t really answer your questions on him. As for other baseball players who have turned to football at UW two come to mind — Tripper Johnson and Jay Roberts. Johnson, similar to Herren, played in the minors for eight years before deciding to return to UW and walking on the football team (here’s his bio with relevant info). Roberts was a linebacker in the mid-80s who sadly died in a car accident in 1998. Here’s a story with some details on his UW career.

All for now.

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