It’s been forever since I posted anything on here and I would like to get back into doing this blog again soon…but it’s been a busy time at work. I wanted to share with all of you my latest project that I’ve been doing this summer. I have wanted to buy a smoker for years but I haven’t been able to find the right one for the right price. Then I stumbled upon the magical world of the UDS community.
I wanted a smoker with an Eastern Washington University theme. I’m a season ticket holder to games played on the red field, known affectionately as “The Inferno” and went with that as my theme, using the black helmets that Eastern wears during some of their games as a color scheme. I haven’t cooked on this yet, but plan to fire it up next week so that it is ready to go by football season. Let me know what you all think!
In an earlier article I eluded to the fact that there were many exciting changes coming this year for the University of Washington football program. Tops among those were the changes made to the defensive coaching staff, a source of angst to Husky fans for years. The addition of highly touted recruit Shaq Thompson is another reason for optimism on that side of the ball. In this article I will attempt to look at several keys that will ultimately make or break the success of this upcoming season.
Fall camp has not been kind to the Huskies, primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Several key contributors have already been dinged up on a roster that is still struggling to restore the depth needed to survive a season of major college football. Wide receiver James Johnson dislocated a wrist last week. Deontae Cooper tore an ACL…again. The linebackers on this team have been decimated by injuries. Jamaal Kearse revealed he has a stress fracture in his lower leg last week, Nate Fellner broke his foot earlier in camp, and Garret Gilliland quit football altogether. All were expected to contribute in a young rotation of linebackers this year in what will be defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox’s new hybrid scheme utilizing multiple looks and a 3-4. The Huskies will once again need to find help from their young pups, particularly in the early games on their September schedule.
Offensive Line Concerns
Senio Kelemente has vacated Keith Price’s blindside after leaving for the NFL, leaving Micah Hatchie to fill his role on this year’s team at left tackle. Keeping Price from getting pounded by blitzing linebackers is a major concern. Colin Tanigawa is coming off knee surgery and may not be ready by the season opener. Colin Porter was expected to be a starter but was forced to quit football due to shoulder surgeries taking their toll. Eric Kohler hasn’t taken part in much of the offseason conditioning due to health concerns of his own. The only positive from all of this is that Sarkesian and his staff have been given an opportunity to evaluate some of the younger players on the roster who may be needed should the starters in front of them go down with injuries. As for the freshman coming in, Shane Brostek may be the only one with the physical size to be productive right away up front.
Managing all of the turnover on the roster and hopefully finding a cohesive group to move forward with into this season has to be near the top of the list for concerns with coach Steve Sarkesian at this point. Offensively the Huskies want to be able to run the football and use that to open up the passing game. They won’t be able to do that without the help from the guys up front.
Replacing Chris Polk
The duties of toting the rock are expected to fall to junior Jesse Callier and sophomore Bishop Sankey. Sankey showed flashes of brilliance last season running between the tackles while Callier has been used primarily as a third down back and a receiver out of the backfield. It’s tough to tell what either will do over the course of a full season after living in the shadow of Chris Polk for the past few seasons, one of the most prolific running backs in UW history. It’s put up or shut up time now and they need to step up and fill the void.
Anticipate a 60-40 share of the carries between the two, and you can probably give a slight edge to Sankey because he gives the Huskies more power between the tackles as well as the speed to get to the edge.
The Schedule Prediction
Here’s how I see the season going down on paper with the knowledge we have in front of us at this point. I think I speak for everyone that September 1st can’t come soon enough. Go Dawgs!
San Diego State @ Washington
San Diego State – 20
Washington @ LSU
LSU – 31
UW – 17
Portland State @ Washington
UW – 56
Portland State – 10
Stanford @ Washington
UW – 28
Stanford – 24
Washington @ Oregon
Oregon – 48
UW – 34
USC @ Washington
USC – 34
UW – 27
Washington @ Arizona
UW – 38
Arizona – 21
Oregon State @ Washington
UW – 31
OSU – 14
Washington @ California
UW – 24
Cal – 21
Utah @ Washington
UW – 38
Utah – 28
Washington @ Colorado
UW – 48
Colorado – 24
UW – 38
WSU – 31
Is 9-3 overly optimistic? I must admit, a few of their wins that I have predicted here could go either way, particularly the Stanford game. 7 wins would be the benchmark for this team and anything over that would be gravy. I do believe they have the talent on this roster to reach this 9-3 mark and take that next step forward. What do you think?
Following another preseason win in which Matt Flynn failed to move the offense into the end zone during two quarters of work and rookie Russel Wilson dazzled against the backups in the second half, who should be the starter heading into the critical third preseason game against Kansas City?
I had just finished playing 18 holes of golf with one of my best friends on a hot and extremely windy afternoon. Starting the car for my drive home I heard the familiar voice of Rick Rizzs (wishing like I always do that it was still Niehaus) come over the radio wrapping up the Mariner Pregame show. I sat and listened to the first few innings on my drive back to the house not yet knowing what lay in store at Safeco Field. After all, the first pitch of the game was nearly hit for a double into the right centerfield gap. Who knew that a start like that would be the lead into what was about to happen. Once I got home I got busy doing other things and forgot all about the M’s game and my favorite player, King Felix.
Fast forward two hours…I find myself listening to KJR after my shower and they break in saying that Felix is three outs away (I grab the remote for the TV thinking to myself that it would be really cool to finally see him throw a no-hitter) then I hear the last two words…from perfection. Holy crap, I’m missing one of the greatest moments in Seattle sports history. I nearly drop the remote in a panic trying to get my satellite DVR to fire up. I find Root Sports in time for the final two batters and sigh in relief. Reaching for my cell phone I text my buddy the following, “Felix is one out away from perfection!” and only after hitting the send button do I realize that I have probably just jinxed the whole damn thing.
The count goes to 2-0 on the 27th and final batter of the game, but I’m cursing my decision to send that text. If the count reaches 3-0 I think I may become violently ill. Mariner catcher John Jaso has the balls to call a slider knowing the Tampa Bay scouting report on Hernandez, and Felix has the huevos in that situation to actually throw it. Swing and a miss, and I find myself able to breath again. One nasty curveball later on 2-1 evens the count…he’s one pitch away and I’m standing in my living room like everyone else at Safeco, afraid to blink in fear that I might miss something. On 2-2 The King dishes out his signature changeup, a pitch that should be deemed illegal. The batter is absolutely frozen, he couldn’t have hit it anyway, and I stare in the direction of the umpire for a half beat hoping he doesn’t screw Seattle fans out of something like the referees did in Super Bowl XL. He pumps his fist to punch him out and Felix sets off a celebration on the infield, raising his hands to the heavens, as his teammates rush onto the field to embrace him.
I’m not going to lie, I had tears in my eyes. My first thought, and maybe Hernandez himself thought something along the same lines, I sure do hope Dave was watching somewhere in the vicinity to where Felix had just pointed, smiling from ear to ear and giving all of heaven one of his signature calls. I know what this game would have meant to Niehaus, and what hearing his voice choke with emotion over the airwaves would have meant to Mariner fans. My second thought was for my grandfather, a man who may be the biggest Mariner fan I know, but especially when it comes to Felix. Seven months ago his doctors gave him 4-6 months to live. Knowing he was still around to see this game unfold with his own eyes meant more to me than anything.
For that reason alone, thank you, Felix. Thank you for re-signing with this team a few years ago knowing full well that the Mariners were in the long process of rebuilding the franchise. Thank you for not leaving when you had the chance, understanding that you weren’t likely to get the run support you would receive playing in New York or Boston, choosing instead to toil away in relative obscurity here in the Pacific Northwest, a hidden commodity to the rest of the baseball world. Thank you for being humble and hard-working, never selling out for more cash, more endorsement deals, and more fame that you so richly deserve. Thank you for reminding Seattle sports fans how great baseball can be again after five seasons of pain and suffering.
But thank you most of all for the gift you gave my grandfather.
When the Seattle Seahawks signed free agent quarterback Matt Flynn fans assumed that this marked the beginning of a new era in Seattle. Then came the NFL Draft, and in the 3rd round Seattle found themselves with an opportunity to draft Russell Wilson out of Wisconsin. Although small in stature, he’s listed at a generous 5’11”, Wilson is athletic, extremely accurate, and has the poise and charisma that every team looks for in someone to lead their football team. During his senior season at Wisconsin, Wilson completed nearly 73 percent of his passes and had a TD to Interception ratio of 33 to 4.
Still, most fans expected that Wilson was being drafted to be the backup to Flynn. Before the start of training camp Pete Carroll indicated that the quarterback competition would be a three way battle, causing many Seahawks fans to raise their eyebrows. Question number one, why was T-Jack being considered at all after a fairly dismal season in 2011? Question number two, are the Seahawks truly going to consider starting a rookie quarterback over the free agent they just signed from Green Bay?
After their first preseason game the waters are still as muddy as they were when the competition was announced. T-Jack spent the evening wearing a visor and holding a clipboard since the Hawks already know what he’s going to bring to the table. Flynn was given the first half to lead the team while Wilson was given the entirety of the second half. Flynn completed his first eight passes of the game, mostly on check downs, and led the offense on his first drive of the game to a field goal. He had one terrible pass that was intended for Ben Obamanu picked off by a linebacker dropping into coverage but finished the night 11 of 13 for 71 yards. He was sacked twice, and if there was one negative to be found in this start, his poise under pressure was a bit shaky. He didn’t show the ability to move much outside the pocket when things collapsed around him to make plays with his feet.
At the start of the second half Wilson took the reins of the offense and quickly made the most of his opportunity, leading the Hawks on a five play, 73 yard drive, capped off with an electric 37 yard touchdown pass to newly acquired wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Wilson finished the night 12 of 16 for 124 yards, with one touchdown but he also had one ugly interception in the red zone. He added 59 yards rushing on only three carries, including a 32 yard bootleg touchdown run near the end of the game.
Wilson’s performance has many Seahawks fans clamoring for him to be named the starter for the regular season, but I think we’re a long way from knowing who will be under center week one of the regular season. Flynn was hardly spectacular, but given the fact that he was facing Tennessee’s starting defense and didn’t do a whole lot to hurt his case for being named starter, he still has to be the favorite in Pete Carroll’s eyes. Wilson is definitely making a push to change that opinion. The eyeball test told anyone watching last night that this guy has something special. His performance should at least earn him a chance to start a game sometime this preseason.
So what do you think? Should the Seahawks roll with the 23 year old athletic youngster with some serious upside to his game or go with the equally unproven veteran free agent? I welcome your comments, predictions, and observations.
On Monday the Seahawks brought in Terrell Owens for a workout that caught the attention of just about everyone in the sports world. Evidently the Hawks saw what they needed to see as they quickly signed Owens to a one year contract for the upcoming season. He reportedly ran a 40 yard dash in 4.45 seconds. For a 38 year old with balky knees, I’m skeptical that the guy holding the stopwatch was fully qualified to do so.
So just how desperate are the Seahawks to find a big wide receiver to fill the number two spot opposite Sidney Rice? I think we found our answer yesterday. A year removed from playing in the indoor football league (think the AAA baseball equivalent of Arena football) Owens is definitely a shadow of his former self. I think this move signals the lack of options the team had after cutting ties with Mike Williams last month and their failure to find a suitable option in last year’s draft to add depth at the position. Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate have shown they have the ability to play at an NFL level, but their bodies are more suited to play in the slot.
The Internet and radio have been buzzing since the signing, and many Seahawks fans have vocally come out hating this move anywhere they can find an outlet to vent their frustration. For those of you in that category, consider this. The organization virtually has nothing to lose by making this signing. If things don’t work out during camp the team can cut ties at any time with Owens and send him on his merry way. If he can somehow find a way to turn back the clock and contribute this year, the Seahawks have found someone who is an exceptional downfield blocker with the size and athleticism to make a difference in the red zone.
Some will argue that Owens is a cancer and should never be brought in at this point in his career to fracture a locker room. I’d counter with the fact that he’s seen what life is like after his playing days are over. He’s flat broke after blowing through most of the money he’s made during his career, he has child support issues, and he probably sees this as his last chance to make a payday. You’ll never hear me feeling sorry for the guy because he has nobody to blame but himself for the situation he’s in, but that situation is probably driving him now to make this work. The Seahawks stand to benefit the most.
Temper your expectations though. A brilliant season in the twilight of his career would factor out to around 40 receptions, 600 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Realistically, you can probably cut those numbers in half and find what Owens will actually produce, if he even makes it to the field at all.
Optimism usually reigns this time of year around Montlake, but this season has a little extra buzz as the Huskies prepare to kick off fall camp this week. Steve Sarkisian is entering his fourth season as coach of the Huskies. Each year he has taken steps to improve the depth of the program after the disastrous years of Tyrone Willingham that decimated the talent level on the roster. Now that Sark’s recruiting classes are beginning to see their time on the field in more prominent roles, Husky fans should be able to see the fruits of his labor beginning to pay dividends.
The most prominent storyline of this season will be the changes made on the coaching staff under Sarkisian and whether or not those have the needed impact, particularly on defense, that have had Husky fans screaming for change the past few seasons. I believe that they will, although growing pains may be on tap this season as players grow into their roles and adjust to the new schemes of the coaches brought in to replace Nick Holt and company. With a tough early season schedule the defense will be tested. On the flip side it will help build confidence if early season matchups against LSU, Oregon, and USC are competitive rather than lopsided blowouts as seen in seasons past.
So what can fans realistically expect to see happen this year? What are the key storylines to watch as this season gets under way? How will the Huskies fare against the daunted and much talked about schedule that awaits as they attempt to make it to a third straight bowl game? I will attempt to answer those questions in the posts to follow.