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

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July 21, 2008 2:44 PM

BYU picked to win Mountain West

Posted by Bob Condotta

The Mountain West Conference released its 2008 media poll today, and BYU was an overwhelming pick to win the title this season, receiving 29 of the 35 first-place votes.

The Cougars will visit UW on Sept. 6 in what looms as a key game for both teams.

For BYU, it will be its first big test of the season after opening at home against Northern Iowa --- think what you want of UW, but anytime a MWC team plays a Pac-10 team on the road, it's a telltale game. For UW, it is the second of a three-game gauntlet to open the season that will tell a lot about the future of the program, sandwiched between a road game at Oregon and a home game against Oklahoma.

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July 21, 2008 11:29 AM

July questions, take two

Posted by Bob Condotta

Here are more answers (or attempts at answers, anyway), plus a couple of bonus links at the bottom:

Q: I'm curious about televised games. Do the Huskies make more money when they get a game televised nationally vs locally? And, if the ratings are higher for that game, do they get extra money? Or does all that extra cash go to the network. Also, is TV revenue split with the rest of the conference?

A: Yes, national games earn more revenue than local games as they attract a much larger audience, and hence more advertising dollars. A national game can garner, say, $300,000-400,000 or so while local games maybe $100,000 or so. Ratings for an individual game don't result in more money for that game. However, the ratings for one season do affect what the networks can charge for ads in following seasons. So in that respect, higher ratings will pay off in more money eventually. And yes, TV revenue is split. In the Pac-10, the two teams playing share 50 percent of the revenue of a TV game. The other 50 percent is split among the rest of the conference.

Q: Who has not qualified in this class? Do they still have a chance to make it in ? Most urgent, what is up with Craig Noble? What is an exit exam? He did pass the ACT or SAT right?

A: As far as I know, the only three players not yet in the bridge program are Noble, Dominique Blackman and Demitrius Bronson. All have indicated they have a chance to make it in. So that I don't have to repeat myself, I will link to previous posts detailing each of their situations --- Bronson, Blackman and Noble. Noble has apparently met all requirements other than passing the California High School Exit Exam. That is something like the WASL here and is necessary for a diploma, which is needed for entry to UW. Sounds as if it could be cleared up in August sometime. Obviously, the sooner the better for a player the Huskies have thought could contribute immediately this year on the D-line.

Q: What freshman do you think will make an impact his year? Who will be the most effective tight end?

A: The most obvious frosh to make an impact this year is WR/RB Chris Polk, who participated in spring ball and showed enough to indicate he will get significant time this year. As for others, a lot of it depends on need. UW obviously has some needs on the defensive front, so any of Alameda Ta'amu, Noble, Everrette Thompson and Senio Kelemete could see time this year. With the lack of experienced depth at TE, Kavario Middleton has a huge change to earn time this year, and the lack of experienced depth at RB and WR means a number of those players could also see time. UW coaches indicated on signing day that DB Adam Long would likely see time as a special teams player, if nothing else. But other than a guy like Polk who has already proven a lot to coaches, nothing is really set in stone until practices start and coaches get a look at the players up close. As for the TE spot, Michael Gottlieb is a fifth-year senior with 12 career starts and while I know there is a lot of excitement over Middleton, I would still expect that Gottlieb will be the starter when the season begins and likely to be the most effective TE. But should production falter, the new guys will undoubtedly get their chances there.

Q: I was wondering about the conditioning of the team from a numbers perspective. A lot of people have expressed their view that the Huskies look bigger and stronger than they did in past years but I was wondering how much stronger. Is there a trend for example in our linemen being able to lift and squat more than they were before and how have certain players progressed, stayed the same, or regressed in important areas?

A: That's a good question that unfortunately is hard to answer as UW does not make those kinds of numbers public. Some numbers do sometimes get out, but without having the numbers for every player, every year, it's hard to make really accurate comparisons. The eye test, however, seems to indicate that the conditioning has improved the last few years, and the coaches say it has, as well. There is no doubt that work habits weren't the greatest during the upheaval and transition from Neuheisel to Willingham, and while you all can argue the results on the field, there is no question that Willingham has brought a stability that has led to an improvement in the off-season conditioning programs. But I always caution that weight numbers aren't everything --- if they were, Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been an All-American.


--- Vince Grippi at the Spokesman-Review unearthed the startling news that Cougar fans don't think UW will do well this year. Who'd a thunk it?

--- Ted Miller, who is blogging as fast as the price of gasoline rises, today rates the Pac-10 kickers and has UW's Ryan Perkins sixth. I'm sure Ted is as aware as the rest of us that that's a job that figures to have stiff competition this fall and that it wouldn't be a big surprise if Erik Folk won it. He appeared to have the stronger leg in the spring but didn't yet have consistent accuracy.

All for now.

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July 21, 2008 9:11 AM

July questions, take one

Posted by Bob Condotta

A lot of good questions out there so I'll unfurl the first batch of answers here.

One caveat --- a lot of the questions asking "who is so-and-so'' looking are kind of unanswerable at the moment. The team hasn't done any real football playing since the spring and doesn't start up again until Aug. 4. The incoming guys have yet to do much of anything. So what I'll attempt to do on questions like that is just give an overview of where that player stands in the fall.

Q: Any clue yet as to which side of the ball the staff is hoping to play Kavario Middleton? He is almost exclusively referred to as a TE, but according to scouting reports it sounds like he could be a huge asset on the other side of the ball. And now that Chris Izbicki is ready, don't you think we are long in the TE department?

A: I actually ran into Middleton when I was out there last week and he said he's undoubtedly a tight end to begin his career. Izbicki did appear to make some nice strides in the spring, but I don't think the TE spot is long at all. You have Michael Gottlieb, a fifth-year senior, and then Izbicki, a redshirt frosh, Middleton, a true frosh, Walt Winter, a fifth-year senior who hasn't ever really played much, and walk-on Romeo Savant, a redshirt frosh who has shown enough to far to indicate he may be a real factor at the spot someday.

That's five tight ends, but two who will be gone after this season. The Huskies like to use lots of two tight-end sets, which means having three or four ready to go at any time in case injuries arise. A lot of people project Middleton to step right in and play a big role this season, and he certainly looks the part. But playing tight end in a Pac-10 offense requires a pretty big mental adjustment and it could take Middleton a little while to get his sea legs. To me, this position is stocked just about right, though I think the Huskies will need to get at least one more in this recruiting class to add to the depth.

Q: Can you find out about Johri Fogerson? Is he going to be playing D this year? And if Brandon Johnson starts off the season slow any chance they will put Chris Polk at RB full time instead of this Hybrid type role they are planning on doing?

A: I also had a chance to talk to Fogerson last week, as well, and he said he will start out on offense --- I don't think there's any question that's the position he prefers. Position changes can always occur later, but all the freshmen currently have listed positions assigned by the coaches. As for Polk, I think his receiving skills are such that he will always be a big part of the passing game. But should he emerge as the team's best running back --- and lots of recruiting analysts think that's where he should be --- it's possible he becomes more of a full-time runner. But the best-case scenario is that Johnson (or Willie Griffin or whoever else is here) can handle the "true'' running duties, allowing Polk to do more of the Reggie Bush-role the coaches envision.

Q: With our small inexperienced D-line what are the Huskies going to do to prevent teams from just pounding it down our throats? Four yards and a could of dust.

A: I'll grant the inexperienced part. But depending on who emerges, UW's line might not be all that small. Alameda Ta'amu is listed at 6-2, 348 --- that would make him one of the biggest, if not the biggest, DLs in the conference. Cameron Elisara is now listed at 6-3, 289. There are lots of DEs in the 250-pound range in the Pac-10, like Washington's will likely be. But the inexperience is a legitimate worry. Several of you asked questions about that, and while you sometimes see DLs step in and play really well immediately, the more likely route is that it takes a year or two to really get it. There's a new level of physicality to get adjusted to, and more complicated technique. In general, I usually think the two lines are the two worst places at which to be young --- along with maybe QB. So that will be a big challenge for this team. As for what UW will do to prevent teams from pounding it down their throats? No real secret --- try to get the new guys as acclimated to the game as quickly as possible, and maybe take some of the pressure off the line by using a 3-4 or blitzing more.

Q: When is Picture Day?

A: It's Saturday, Aug. 9, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Here are details from

More later.

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