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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 1, 2011 at 9:18 PM

Thursday night notes — UW attendance update, and Locker goes off against Saints

If you’re anything like me, you’re spending the night watching college football, even if the choices aren’t all that great.

But while there’s always an excitement for a new season for hardcore fans — and while this Husky team is generating a fair amount of optimism, as well — proof that the program still has a ways to go to win everyone back is evident in the expected attendance for this week of roughly 55,000.

I wrote about that topic in this story for our Friday paper.

As you can read in the story, UW athletic director Scott Woodward says the number is neither surprising nor disappointing. The current season ticket total of about 42,000, he says, is about what the school expected given economic conditions and the fact that while the program has shown improvement under Steve Sarkisian, it’s not all the way back to what a lot of people remember.

And they knew the Eastern Washington game wouldn’t draw the kind of crowd of Nebraska or Notre Dame or Ohio State of past few years. So while there was a hope for the best, Woodward says the anticipated crowd for Saturday isn’t really unexpected.

As we’ve detailed in the past, UW made a conscious decision to schedule lower-division teams such as Eastern Washington this year and Portland State in 2012 largely for competitive reasons, hoping to be able to ease into the season a little rather than starting off with an LSU or BYU of past years. Some fans have grumbled, and unquestionably an LSU would be a bigger draw. But it’s also exactly what almost every other team in the Pac-12 is doing — six are playing FCS opponents this weekend — and it’s kind of a matter of keeping up with the Joneses.

The obvious hope is to have a game in which the team can get a win and some experience and do so while also coming out relatively unscathed to then better handle the rigorous conference schedule that follows, with the Pac-12 continuing to play nine conference games.

UW hopes the big picture payoff — potentially being in a better position to consistently compete for conference titles — is worth the dropoff in attendance for a game or two a season (and another hope is that maybe the momentum gained from a fast start can put the team in a better position to draw better crowds down the road, as well).

And as Woodward says in the article, the main draw is a winning home team.

As detailed in the story, UW’s season-ticket totals have settled in the 40,000-44,000 range the last five years. Getting back to the days of consistent sellouts means getting the on-the-fence fans to return — something that will be critical when UW moves into a renovated stadium, a project that is being paid off largely in revenue generated by the stadium itself. And that will only come with the consistent winning UW had in the ’80s and ’90s.

IN OTHER NEWS. …

— It was a big night tonight for former UW quarterback Jake Locker as he completed 15-17 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 39 yards on three carries, including a 22-yard run as the Tennessee Titans beat the New Orleans Saints. Here’s the box score. That was the last pre-season game of the season for the Titans. And yes, much of Locker’s damage was likely done against players that will either be reserves or likely out of a job when cuts come over the weekend. On the other hand, as the old saying goes, those are pretty good numbers against air. Here’s video of his TD run and of his pass.

Nate Williams made two tackles and a pass defense for the Ravens.

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim did not have any tackles for the Eagles, and this story says he may be in trouble of surviving the cuts.

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