Here we go with another round. …
Q: What will happen at linebacker this year, looking pretty weak?
A: Ah, the optimism of spring.
I’ll assume you read my position overview of the linebackers from earlier this week so we can use that as the base for the rest of the answer.
No doubt, losing the best linebacker off a group that elicited nothing but additional question marks a year ago stamps the LB corps as the biggest question mark on the defense once again heading into the 2012 season, if not the biggest on the entire team. Few would deny that.
But to the question of what UW is going to do about, the answer is obvious as the Huskies fired three defensive coaches and in the turnover that followed, will have new position coaches this year for every defensive position grouping. The hope is obviously that those coaches make their current players better while simultaneously recruiting players who down the road will be an upgrade from what they have now.
In the case of the linebackers, that new position coach is Peter Sirmon, who while young got nothing but praise for the job he did at Tennessee. College football being what it is, there’s no choice but to go into the year with what you have on the roster and try to make the best of it. The hope will be that the young talent naturally matures with a year of experience, and that maybe the new coaches have some new schemes/methods of development to speed the progress along.
Q: If the NCAA orders Oregon to vacate the Pac-12 title, is the new champ UCLA?
A: Probably not. This used to happen in the old days that teams would get given wins via forfeit after the fact if the victor later ran afoul of the law. UW’s official record now for 1977, for instance, is 10-2 thanks to later forfeits by Mississippi State and UCLA. But of late, teams that run into issues are ordered simply to vacate the win — but the loss for the either team still remains. That’s what happened with USC in the Reggie Bush deal, where it no longer gets credit for the wins, but the losses still remain for the vanquished.
Q: The Pac-12 and Big Ten just made a special pact. When do we see the impact of that agreement on Pac-12 and Big Ten Football? What will the impact be?
A: I really can’t answer that question any better than this story does.
For football fans, as the story notes, the hope is that by 2017 every Pac-12 team will be playing a Big Ten team each season. They have to wait that long to allow every team to clear out existing non-conference scheduling agreements.
UW, though, has long played lots of Big Ten teams, such as Ohio State in 2003-07, Michigan in 2001-02, Indiana in 2003, and has home-and-homes upcoming with Illinois in 2013-14, and Wisconsin in 2017-18. So this won’t really have a huge impact on UW when it comes to football since the Huskies have long played a lot of Big Ten teams.
But it will create some certainty in the non-conference schedules for teams and help further the long-standing ties between the two conferences.
Q: Where does Keith Price’s Alamo Bowl performance rank on the list of by a Husky QB? Can you give a Top 5 for our Husky QBs in your time on the beat?
A: The performance by Price (shown in an AP picture above scoring a touchdown against Baylor) obviously has to rank right at the top of QB performances in UW history. To refresh the memory, he was 23-37 for 438 yards passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for three touchdowns. The seven touchdowns responsible for were a bowl game record (for any bowl), and his total passing yards were second in UW history behind only the 455 of Cody Pickett against Arizona in 2001.
I’ve covered UW since 1997, and the only QB performance I would rank in that time ahead of Price’s Alamo Bowl is the 300-200 game of Marques Tuiasosopo against Stanford in 1999, when he threw for 302 yards and ran for 207 in a 35-30 win over the Cardinal. That the Huskies got the win in a game that at the time looked like it might decide the Pac-10 title gives that performance a slight edge (here’s a story I wrote on that game last year).
No. 3 on my list would be the aforementioned performance turned in by Pickett against Arizona in 2001, when along with setting a school passing record that still exists he also scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run with 13 seconds left.
Coming in at No. 4 would be Jake Locker’s game against Cal in 2009. There were no real dramatics as UW won 42-10. But Locker’s statistical line was pretty hard to beat as he was 19-23 passing for 248 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 77 yards and two more scores.
No. 5 was a little harder to decide, and I ultimately decided to split it between Pickett’s 2001 Apple Cup (an Apple Cup record 371 yards in a 26-14 win against a WSU team ranked No. 9 in the country) and Tuiasosopo’s off-the-bench performance against Nebraska in 1997, when in what was the first significant playing time of his career as a true freshman, he threw for 270 yards in roughly three quarters in almost leading Washington back from a 21-0 deficit against a Cornhusker team that ended up winning a share of the national title.