Time for some more. Or maybe I should say, I’ll Have Another. …
Q: Sorry if you have mentioned this before but when does the PAC 12 Network launch again? I’m really looking forward to it. Is everything still on schedule for its launch?
A: I know this question came a while ago and maybe you have gotten your answers since in some of the news that has broken in recent days. But I’ll pass along again Bud Withers’ column from today which includes what is the most up-to-date info on the Networks. Hopefully if you still have questions that answers them.
Q: As the players in their off-season work out in small groups, ie 7 on 7 etc, are the players allowed to communicate with any coaches for any suggestions or critiquing that might help them all with their workouts?
A: Players are always allowed to talk to their coaches. But coaches can’t watch those sessions or film them or anything like that. But there’s never a time of year when players can’t talk to the coaches, and I think it’s a given that the players know what the coaches want them to work on in those sessions.
For more specifics on what is allowed when, here’s a link to the NCAA Manual. The rules regarding football’s season are in section 17.9 (or beginning with page 260).
Q: Is Don James involved at all in coaching/mentoring process? (Versus ceremonial appearances.)
A: No. He has not been since retiring prior to the 1993 season in protest of the penalties handed to the school. As a lot of people have commented, few people have seemed as content in their retirement as James, who seemed to pretty easily step away from the game to spend time with family and do a lot of traveling. It’s also worth noting now that James will turn 80 later this year. So while he’s in overall good health, I think he’s pretty happy to not do much more than what he has been since retiring. Since I’ve been covering the team regularly since 1997 James usually makes one appearance every August to watch the team during a training camp practice. Usually he speaks to the team briefly and maybe has lunch with the coaches or something. Otherwise, he pretty much keeps his distance.
Q: When Steve Sarkisian first took over the program he said he had one of the best staffs in the country. In light of his new coaches and when he sees now what do you think is opinion would be now?
A: I think his opinion of what he has now would be the same — that he has one of the best coaching staffs in the country. That’s kind of how he is, to be pretty confident in what he’s doing and who he has working for him, etc. I take it you are asking more if he regrets what he said then, or would have second thoughts about the hires he made then. I haven’t asked him that in quite those terms, but having been around him a while now, I can say that he’s not one to sit around and publicly express a lot of regrets about the past. I think he’d say that he put together what he thought was the best staff he could for UW at that time, but that things changed and he needed to go in a different direction.
Obviously, it hardly needs to be stated anymore that the defense needed improving. Just as obviously, changing coaches is usually the easiest way to make a new start, so Sarkisian did that. As the comments he’s made since then have made clear, he’s pretty much willing to let the action of firing three coaches do the talking. It’s not really what coaches do to then pile on with lengthy explanations of the failings of said coaches, so I wouldn’t expect Sarkisian to start doing that now.
Q: The 2011 version of the Husky defense was bad. However, I consider several factors to how the stats looked at the end of the season: Powerful offenses; young defense; the offense taking extended periods of time off then having a three-play drive; lack of depth. I see this year as a new stone being turned over. They’re still going to be facing some powerful offenses i.e. Oregon, USC, LSU, but they’re no longer a young defense; the Husky offense may grind things out a bit more; depth has been created by experience and shuffling players around i.e. (Josh) Shirley and (Nate) Fellner. That said, how much actual impact will switching over to a 3-4 base actually have on the final numbers?
A: I’d agree with most of that — I’m not sure how quickly the offense scored is a huge factor in things — Oregon scores pretty quickly and its defense seemed to manage just fine last year (unless you simply mean the offense not scoring at all, then yes, that’s a factor in just how the overall game is going that doesn’t help anything).
No doubt, the defense as a whole will be more experienced this year, despite losing some key pieces, and that should help. And that experience is helping to create more depth which should allow it to better handle injuries and things like that (though especially at linebacker, I think depth — or maybe more accurately, proven depth, since there are obviously decent numbers there — remains an issue).
I think much of what you have touched on will be as much of a factor in the defense improving than the switch to more of a 3-4. As has been noted here and elsewhere, UW has done lots of 3-4 in the past — here’s a YouTube video I recently ran across of every UW defensive play from the 2010 Holiday Bowl and I counted 29 times the Huskies were in what I think would generally be considered as a three-man line. That said, the Huskies will likely do more of it now. But I think it’ll be more about when and how the 3-4 is used, the players who are involved, and the teaching and then ultimately the execution of it, that will be a bigger deal than simply doing it more.
Q: What’s your hometown? You mentioned working in LA for a while.
A: I grew up in Richland but went to high school in Issaquah. I worked for three different newspapers in the southern California area from 1987-93, so I got pretty familiar with LA (especially the San Fernando Valley area and into Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley) during that time.