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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 12, 2008 8:38 AM

Steele picks Huskies eighth

Posted by Bob Condotta

Phil Steele advertises his pre-season college football preview as "the most accurate preseason magazine the last nine years.''

If that title holds again, it could be bad news for the Huskies as Steele doesn't see a good season ahead for UW.

In his magazine, which hit newsstands this week, he picks UW eighth in the Pac-10 and concludes that the Huskies "may not top last year's 4 win total.''

Steele also writes of the Huskies that "while they will be better, they may find it tough to move into the upper half of the standings.'' However, he also leaves the possibility of an improved season saying "this is HC Tyrone Willingham's best team and after a lot of closes losses (12 by 8 or less) in his first three years, things could break right for a big move up in the standings.''

Here's how he sees the Pac-10:

1, USC
2, Cal
3, Oregon
4, Arizona State
5, Arizona
6, Oregon State
(tie) UCLA
8, Washington
9, Stanford
10, Washington State

Cal at No. 2 may be his most eye-opening pick. Steele explains that "the schedule (and some underrated talent) gets them up this high'' pointing out that the Bears get five home Pac-10 games.

Arizona at No. 5 might be his other controversial pick. Steele explains that he rates Arizona's offense No. 2 in the conference and that while UA has just three starters back on defense there is "more experience than you would think.''

Steele also rates all the teams by position. Here's how he sees UW:

QB --- 1
RB --- 10
WR --- 10
OL --- 4
DL --- 10
LB --- 7
DB --- 9
ST ---- 9
Coach ---- 6

In case you are curious about the coach ratings, here they are:
1, USC
2, Cal
(tie) Oregon
4, Oregon State
5, Arizona State
6, Washington
(tie) UCLA
8, Stanford
(tie) Arizona
10, Washington State

Comment: An obviously interesting link there between UW coaches past and present in the six hole.

In a few other UW-related notes from his magazine:

--- Steele rates UW's recruiting class No. 18 in the country and fourth in the Pac-10. He rates Dominique Blackman as the No. 35 incoming QB in the country, Chris Polk No. 18 at running back, Jermaine Kearse No. 27 at WR and Cody Bruns No. 34, Kavario Middleton No. 3 at TE, Alameda Ta'amu No. 22 among OL (maybe he missed the speculation that Ta'amu will start out on the other side of the ball) Allen Carroll No. 35, Senio Kelemete No. 66 (also headed to DL) and Drew Schaefer No. 75 and Everette Thompson No. 30 and Craig Noble No. 67 at DL.

--- UW was tied for the lead last year in his rating of team with "net close losses'' --- meaning losses by a TD or less. UW had five such defeats, tied with Kent State, SMU and Minnesota.

--- In one of his more telling stats, Steele has a category he calls "team experience ratings'' devising a points system to award teams for having senior starters, seniors in the two-deep. Teams get three points for every senior starter down to 0.5 for a sophomore in the two-deep, then get minus-points for freshmen starters. UW rates 116 out of 119 teams with 52 points (Oregon State leads the Pac-10 with 77 followed by WSU, Oregon, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Stanford and Cal).

--- In ranking current players nationally, Steele lists Jake Locker as the No. 19 QB, and third in the Pac-10 behind Rudy Carpenter (9) and Willie Tuitama (17); Juan Garcia No. 26 at center; Casey Bulyca No. 48 at guard; Daniel Te'o-Nesheim No. 38 at DE; and E.J. Savannah No. 18 at OLB;

--- Steele also rates a Top 30 or so at every position unit in the country. The only UW unit to make any of the ratings is QB, which is No. 15.

--- Steele has a system for devising the teams he sees as being the most improved in the country each year. UW didn't make the cut in his rating of 23 MIP teams this year. Notre Dame is No. 1 on the list and the only Pac-10 team ranked is Arizona at No. 13.

--- He also has a rating of his top 12 teams that could surprise this year in terms of making a run up the national rankings. UW didn't make the cut there, either, though two Pac-10 teams did --- Cal at 9 and Oregon at 10.

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