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

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July 23, 2008 10:32 PM

Official Husky blog picks

Posted by Bob Condotta

Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the response to the earlier post today to send in your Pac-10 picks.

So much so, I'm not sure I was able to tabulate every single one as they are still rolling in.

So consider this an unofficial tally, but one that I'm fairly confident captures the general consensus.

1, USC
2, ASU
3, Oregon
4, Cal
5, Washington
6, Oregon State
7, Arizona
8, UCLA
9, Stanford
10, Washington State

As should be expected, UW was picked higher here than it has been in every other poll I've seen, and probably higher than it will be when the official Pac-10 poll is released tomorrow (I'm expecting Washington to be eighth in that poll, ahead of Stanford and WSU).

But much of the rest of it is about how the rest of the world has called it, including what seems to be an earnest attempt to give Oregon its due --- the Ducks even got three first-place votes from people (though one from an admitted Ducks fan). Arizona State was the only other team to get a first-place vote, garnering two.

As has been the case with the, uh, pros who do this for a living, Arizona was the biggest enigma among those of you who posted. Arizona was slotted everywhere from second to 10th with everyone unsure exactly what to expect out of Mike Stoops' crew. Second seemed too high for me until I looked at UA's Pac-10 schedule again. The Wildcats have five home games and the four road contests are at UCLA, Stanford, Washington State and Oregon. Arizona could conceivably be favored to win three of those. But 10th may not be out of the realm either. Struggle early, and the bottom could fall out of that team.

Washington State and Stanford were near unanimous picks for the bottom two slots, though UCLA and Oregon State each got last-place votes, as well (I'm throwing out the seemingly non-serious votes that Oregon got for the bottom).

Speaking of the Ducks, after I released my poll this morning, a couple of you sent me questions about Oregon. Namely: why do I and others assume RB LeGarrette Blount will make a big splash for Oregon this year but don't have similarly high expectations for UW's incoming running backs; and why does everyone seem to think Oregon's secondary is so good when the Huskies scored 34 points on the Ducks last season?

First, on Blount. Consider his history: He was one of the top-rated RBs out of high school, signing with Auburn, but didn't make it in academically. He went to a JC in Mississippi where he had two big years and was then rated as the No. 1 JC RB (if not recruit) in the country. Then once at Oregon, he reportedly tore it up in spring ball. Point being, he's so far lived up to the hype at every turn and RB is one spot where JC guys can come in and dominate immediately. Frankly, he sounds like Corey Dillon, who might have had 2,000 yards in his one year at UW except he didn't arrive until August and then had to win the job from a pretty good back in Rashaan Shehee (who got injured early in the season). Everybody could be wrong, but JC RBs are generally one of the easiest to project. UW's backs just strike me and others as more unproven at the moment.

As for Oregon's secondary, no, the Ducks weren't the most statistically impressive group last season, ranking seventh in passing defense in the conference (which is based solely on yards allowed) and sixth in pass efficiency defense (a better stat encompassing yards, percentage, interceptions and touchdowns). But the hype is emanating from the fact that Oregon has three starters back, one of whom is potential All-American senior safety Patrick Chung and a pair of cornerbacks who each earned conference honorable mention last year.

UW did throw a couple of long TDs against Oregon last year, but Jake Locker also completed just 12-31 passes in that game. Stats can also be a little misleading --- Oregon gave up more than 300 passing yards only once last season, but that came in a game it won fairly handily (379 against ASU), which is common. Teams that fall behind always start throwing the ball all over the place, so winning teams often have lower pass defense ratings than maybe they deserve. Also, the Ducks play a style of defense that often leaves the corners on islands, and can result in a few big plays when things break down (as happened on the one long TD from Locker to Anthony Russo last year). A more conservative style would likely help the numbers a bit, but being able to rely on the secondary that way can help mask some problems elsewhere.

Mostly, observers are assuming a steady rate of improvement from the returnees, same as fans of any team expect that their starters from one year will be better the next. Not to say everyone viewing it this way won't be wrong, of course. We'll all begin to find out for sure come Aug. 30.

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Posted by Chris Miller

2:00 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Bob,


Great day on the blog! Outstanding! A couple of notes...Tom O'Brien is the head coach at NC State, Jeff Jagodinzki is the BC Head Coach.

I agree with you on the Oregon analysis. I'm honestly afraid of running into a game where they're diversity at running back will take all of the pressure off of Costa and put it squarely on our defensive front 7. Kind of like the Ohio State game last year when they continued to pick up big first downs and our defense couldn't get off the field, and then when the defense got exhausted they went up top to Brian Robiskie. This could easily happen in this game, and I think it's equally important for our offense to pick up a nice chunk of first downs in the first half to keep our defense fresh in the second half. If we could get the lead early and create some momentum, then we can really consider ourselves a very good team. But with so many question marks it's easy to see why we are 10.5 point underdogs. Most of us fans have seen the Deshaun Fosters and Maurice Drews and Jonathan Stewarts destroy us with huge days over the years. We really just have to find ways to get off the field and win the field position war. I honestly think this is the difference between the Dawgs having a winning season and a losing season. Our offense will go through spurts, just like last year and I believe we can depend on at least 24-28 points per game (new clock rules or that would be higher). Anyways, it's 2 in the morning and I can't sleep because we are...


37 DAYS AWAY FROM GOING TO WAR IN EUGENE!!!


GO DAWGS!!!

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

6:34 AM, Jul 24, 2008

I don't know Bob, I think this Blount guy is at least a little over-hyped. If he was so good, why didn't he have more offers? FSU, Memphis, and UZero are confirmed by both sites with just Ole Miss and WVU possibly offering on Scout. If we still had Kent Baer as DC, he'd probably find a way to make Blount look like Corey Dillon but we obviously don't.

Anyway, we'll find out soon enough on August 30th. It gets so tiring talking about things to death when we're so far away from seeing who's right!

Posted by HarborDawg

7:14 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Agreed Chris,

Gotta get some defensive stops early in this one and let Jake put some minutes and #'s on the board.

I think I'm most curious to see if our personality has changed coming out of halftime. Those were pivotal and game changing minutes last season. I believe Donatell is smart enough to have addressed that shortcoming early on.

True, there may not be a lot of tougher places to win on the road than Autzen....but would there be any sweeter in 2008?

I think not.

GO DAWGS

Posted by onewoodwacker

7:49 AM, Jul 24, 2008

I'm OK with the Official Selection by Commitee except for OSU. I do not see them finishing ahead of UW, Arizona or Stanford. Here's why; OSU's D-Line. Yes, their 4 projected starters on the D-Line may be 3 Sr's and a Soph., BUT they have a combined "0" ZERO Tackles between them. Their RB is a RS Freshman, 2 of their starting WR's are Soph. with a combined 19 catches between them and 1 of their starting OLmen is a Freshman. I love Mike Riley but they are really hurting for talent this time around.

Posted by Jordan

7:58 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Bob,

I am not necessarily disagreeing with you. But there are two very big points that I think can't be overlooked in regard to the Huskies relating to Oregon and I think you might be

1) it is the first game of the season for Blount, first game of his career as a Suck, and first game at home. The point being he is going to be nervous. And while the media thinks he is going to be the second coming of Bo Jackson (the same media who said JR Hasty would be the break out player of the year for the Huskies three years in a row) because it is a good story, I think most people's point is let's see it on the field before the coronation

2) Blount very well might live up to the hype but he won't be any better than Jonathon Stewart. I think Duck fans have been kind of spoiled with how good Jonathon Stewart was and have taken for granted that maybe he improved the running game all on his own. He was a complete back who could run between the tackles, take it outside, and catch the ball out of the backfield. Nobody who knows anything about football would say that a guy who was a Top 20 pick in the NFL will be easily replaced and a drop off not be felt especially in the first game of the season when his replacement is a talented but unproven back and a guy coming off of a knee injury.

I think if you asked Mike Bellotti and he was honest with you he would admit that he would start at least 3 of USC's running backs ahead of anyone Oregon has this year. And that was not the case last year when Jonathon Stewart was the best back in the PAC-10. And contrary to the delusional beliefs of Duck fans, they are not USC and do not reload every year. I do think you and the media are over hyping him which is fine by me. I hope all the Duck fans and players continue to believe there is no possible way we can beat them.

Posted by Greenie

8:08 AM, Jul 24, 2008

EXCELLENT analysis re the rating of Oregon's secondary, Bob. I would also point out that the Ducks often played a no-huddle offense last year--commonly ending up on the lower side of the time-of-possession stat, even when they would win by a large margin--,and obviously that allows the opposing offense more opportunities to gain yardage, as well as making for a more fatigued Oregon defense late in the game . . . .

Posted by Fouch Potato

8:19 AM, Jul 24, 2008

RE: Oregon's Secondary

I agree that Oregon was protecting leads in many games, and teams threw on them to catch up, hence the inflated pass yardages against them. It works both ways though, as Oregon knew passes were coming, which led to inflated interception stats also.

In my opinion, it's an average squad with experience, which makes them slightly above average. That said, aside from Nick Reed, nobody on their D will put much fear into opposing teams, and I expect more 30+ point games against them like last year (UW, Stan, OSU, Cal).

As for Blount, he may be good, but I think it's safe to say Oregon's offense won't have the balance it did last year. So, teams can overload the run, and force Costa to beat them. Being his first year, and first game against us, that's a strategy I welcome as a Dawg fan.

UO/UW will be a great game, I can't wait.

8.30.08

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

8:43 AM, Jul 24, 2008

I happen to think Nick Reed is overrated. He put up good numbers last year but half of his sacks came against WSU (when WSU was down 40-0 at halftime) and against ASU (they were up on ASU and ASU surrendered 58 sacks last year!). Against teams like USC, he got shut out and I don't believe he even had a tackle.

It will be interesting to watch him vs. Ben Ossai (or Cody Habben). Ossai is a veteran now, entering his 3rd year starting, and has had a baptism by fire. Reed has a nice motor but Ossai is big and has increasingly improved his agility. Reed's best attribute is his high motor but Ossai is massive now (he came in at 300-305) at 6-6 330 lbs so it wouldn't surprise me to see UW run right at him, looking to turn him into Highway 49 as Ossai outweighs him by 75 lbs.

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

8:48 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Greenie, that very well may be true and it's something Husky fans are definitely looking forward to with our defense. Baer's bend but don't break frequently led to breaking and the defense would get gassed due to the boom-bust nature of the offense. Plus, Baer/Hart didn't rotate the DL at all. Rankin often would be hit for little/no gain or run for a first down and the UW offense had to have led the Pac-10 last year in 3 and outs. Locker wasn't that accurate and the WRs dropped a ton of balls, stalling many drives.

Husky Nation definitely anticipates a more ball control offense with improved accuracy from Locker, an even better and more veteran OL, less drops from the WRs, and a more steady running style from Johnson and his back-ups.

Anyway, it will be a great game, even better than last year's game that was thrilling all the way down to midway through the 4th quarter. People are definitely going to get their money's worth!

Posted by Dino

9:01 AM, Jul 24, 2008

In regards to Oregon, Jeremiah Johnson is that starter @ RB not Blount. Blount will get plenty of carries, though.

The secondary return 3 starters, including 2 JR corners starting for their 3rd year in a row. Last year, Oregon was 3rd in pass efficiency D in the PAC-10 and 2nd in INTS.

Posted by kdawg

9:05 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Only quibble I have boss, is I live in the desert and many of the ASU faithful have no confidence in Rudy Carpenter's game with the pressure on. He is a poor decision maker under pressure. He has a new O-line this year and is vulnerable. Seeing what I've seen up close, 2nd place is too high for ASU, unless there is something special about the new O-line. We'll know in the first couple games of the season.

Posted by Dino

9:08 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Hey Greenie-time of possession is an overrated state. A better comparison is total plays. Oregon ran more total plays against the opposition than plays were ran against them (92 to 60 in the Husky game last year). No huddle actually wears out the D since the D-line has to stay in their stance between plays rather than huddle up. It also makes it hard to for the D to rotate in subs.

Posted by autzen

9:50 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Hey Jordan, you really think three USC running backs would start over anyone at Oregon? Their projected starter Stafon Johnson attended Dorsey HS, where he BACKED UP Jeremiah Johnson.

Posted by michaelg

10:13 AM, Jul 24, 2008

USC is 1. Cal, ASU, and Oregon are interchangable at 2-4. UW, OSU, UA, and UCLA are interchangable at 5-8. WSU and Stanford reek.

The Ducks should beat the Huskies at Autzen, but anything can happen at the first game of the year.

Let the games begin!

Posted by SunriverDuck

10:39 AM, Jul 24, 2008

Phil Steele has the Ducks secondary as the best in the country this year. That may be a bit overhyped, but still says something.

According to his 2007 Pass Efficiency ratings they were ranked 8th in the country.

Here is Phil’s comment: …Oregon was very similar in that they ranked #86 in the NCAA Pass D rankings allowing 249 ypg. My ratings had them ranked #8 as they took on mostly pass happy offenses of the Pac-10 and allowed just 53% completions with a 20-20 ratio. The Ducks took on two Top 10 offenses which average a combined 314 ypg and held them to just 48% completions. They also won 7 games by 21 or more so gave us some meaningless garbage yards late which I factor.

More here:http://www.ducksportsnews.com/blog/2008/07/phil-steeles-look-at-the-ducks/

Posted by Seattle Dave

12:05 PM, Jul 24, 2008

Autzen, of course 17 year old junior Stafon backed up high school senior JJ. How do you think they compare today?

The Trojans might have 3 other RBs in their class of '07 alone (McKnight, Green and Tyler) who could start for anyone else in the Pac-10.

Posted by Iron City Duck

12:15 PM, Jul 24, 2008

Fusky Fans,

I'm ~2,750 miles away from the pond, but I'll be in the lazy boy @ 10:30PM EDT Aug 30, 2008 w/Red Hook ESB in hand watching the Ducks-U-Dub on FSN HD. We're five weeks out and I'm nervous as heck. Why not just dive head first right into the season?! Hopefully I'm not the only Duck fan and alumnus scared silly right now at the thought of Jake Locker going off and destroying our season before the calendar turns to September. Any Duck fans on this blog talking smack need to have their cranium's examined. This is possibly the stupidest scheduling manouver on the Oregon AD's part ever! I don't care if it's at Autzen! Costa's played mop-up duty at best. Jaison Williams has hands of stone. JJ + LB don't equal JStew. AAAGGGHHH.

Go Ducks.

Posted by Jordan

1:14 PM, Jul 24, 2008

Autzen,

I don't give a damn what they did in high school. When they came out there was question about who would be more impactful to their team JR hasty or Jonathon Stewart. Obviously they weren't in the same universe but their stats out of high school were. And to answer your question yes I think there would be three players on USC's runningback roster that would start ahead of anyone one Oregon's team. That isn't to put Johnson or Blount down, I think they are both good backs, it's just that USC is that much better. And last year Jonathon Stewart would have started for any team in the PAC-10 including USC. So there is going to be a drop off.

Posted by BoiseTruth

2:09 PM, Jul 24, 2008


Iron City Duck, really enjoyed your post. It's college football brother, it unpredictable, and if you're not nervous, you're not having any fun.

Jordan, I've never said this before, but I've always believed it - I think the reason that J - Stew went to Oregon was the fact that Hasty was already committed to UW. He, nor we, had any idea that Hasty would be such a bust. I think it was a smart move by Stewart at the time. Now that he knows how successful he could have been at UW (with no competition from Hasty), I wonder if he would have picked UW with what he knows now. I like to think he would have.

Posted by ds

2:47 PM, Jul 24, 2008

Snoop picked UofO primarily because of his relationship with RB coach Gary Campbell, and probably because they have sent several RBs to the NFL, a dream of his.

He was never going to UW. That is the truth.

It is better that you guys think you have a chance on Aug 30. The fall to reality will be much higher. It is a TEAM game, and one of these teams is much better than the other.

Posted by BoiseTruth

3:23 PM, Jul 24, 2008


If you think Stewart didn't have the talent to make it to the NFL regardless of where he played your just out of touch. Additionally, If you think he committed because of an assitant, you're living in a dream world. He took the path of least resistance, and it was a good move. And that's the truth.

Posted by Taylor

4:59 PM, Jul 24, 2008

Bob,

Not to be Nitpicky here, but your info on Blount is suspect. First off, he was a mediocre recruit out of High School (2 Star) and was never actually offered by Auburn, he was lightly recruited by major schools but had he qualified he probably would have ended up at Auburn.

This year, he is the third ranked RB out of the JC Ranks (not #1 as you stated) and was a 4 Star recruit, he could be fantastic but he has not always been All-World, it looks like his great play in JC really upped his status, but he still wasn't a 5 Star.

Posted by Bob Condotta

9:27 PM, Jul 24, 2008

Taylor --- Thanks for the note. One could almost argue that your info aids the thought that Blount will be good for Oregon --- sounds like he's getting better at each level he plays. My main point is just that I think there is more of a track record for Blount and Jeremiah Johnson, who I am taking into account when I refer to Oregon's running game then there is for UW's running backs. That's why people like me are saying that Oregon appears to have a better running game from the running back position heading into the season than UW. We could all be incredibly wrong, no doubt about it. That's why they play the games. But in looking at it objectively in July, that's what I and a few other

Posted by MerDuck

10:45 PM, Jul 24, 2008

Just would like to say that I am impressed with your ability to to efficiently asses the PAC putting "wishes" aside! All too often these types of articles (including those from Duck fans) are filled with utterly useless babel, bitching, and wishing. Thanks for a great informative read!

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Jul 24, 08 - 11:50 AM
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Jul 24, 08 - 11:18 AM
A bit more from the Pac-10

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