Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seahawks trade former 2nd round draft pick Josh Wilson to Ravens for 5th rounder

By Kshell

Pete Carroll and John Schneider are at it again. The Seahawks this past offseason and completely overhauled the defense ridding themselves of Tim Ruskell bad free agent signings and draft picks. The Seahawks decided today to trade cornerback Josh Wilson to the Baltimore Ravens for just a 5th round draft pick.

The Seahawks traded away the former 2nd round draft pick in 2007(Hawks had no first round pick so he was their first pick). Josh Wilson also returns kick offs and punts as well. In his three seasons with the Seahawks Wilson played in 40 games making 24 starts(the 24 starts coming in the last two seasons). Wilson the last two seasons recorded 6 interceptions, two sacks and forced three fumbles. Wilson is an undersized corner at 5'9" which in a division that features Michael Crabtree and most importantly Larry Fitzgerald that could cause some major problems.

Seahawks will also be missing a valuable special teams piece in Wilson. Wilson in 2008 led the NFL in kickoff return yards. He ran back a touchdown his rookie year in 2007. On defense he ran back three interceptions for Touchdowns. Wilson gives you team speed. On the other hand it appears Wilson may have peaked in 2008 and took a step back in 2009. His tackles,interceptions and special teams value all declined in 2009 compared to 2008. Wilson wasn't ever going to be that probowl corner you had hoped he could materialize to become when Ruskell wasted yet another high draft pick on him.

The Seahawks still have former first round dissapointment Kelly Jennings who has 30 career starts the last four seasons with the team. Jennings despite having 30 starts and being in the league for four seasons has just one career interception. The Seahawks also have 4th round draft choice Walter Thurmond from Oregon who the team is very high on despite his preseason struggles. Roy Lewis the former Washington Husky has looked well this preseason. The most important player is Marcus Trufant who is coming into the season healthy for the first time since 2007.

Overall, I don't like this trade at all. A 5th round pick shows how terrible of a draft job Tim Ruskell did while he was in Seattle. Josh Wilson isn't even an average NFL starter but he is certainly better than Kelly Jennings. I feel when the secondary is already lacking talent to just give up on a former 2nd round pick after just three seasons is a bit crazy. Pete Carroll is at the practices while I'm not so he must see something I'm not seeing. On paper this trade looks like a mistake but Wilson will not haunt the Seahawks down the road is the good news.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Background on UW-BYU rivalry

By: Kshell

The Washington Huskies take on the BYU Cougars this Saturday September 4th down in Provo, Utah. The Huskies lead the all-time series vs BYU Cougars 4-3. The Huskies and Cougars have had plenty of good battles in years past. In the previous 7 meetings at least one of the two teams was ranked in six of those matchups and both teams were ranked in two matchups. The biggest battle of them all occured before either team had ever played each other on the field.

In 1984 these two teams finished #1-#2 in the final rankings. The BYU Cougars won the national championship despite not playing a single ranked opponent all season long. They finished the season 13-0 and defeated 6-5 Michigan Wolverines 24-17 in the Holiday Bowl a bowl which is held before New Years day. The Washington Huskies that season went 11-1 and ended the year defeating the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl. The Huskies that year only loss was to Rosebowl Champion USC Trojans in USC 16-7 late in the season. BYU is the only team in the AP's history to be rewarded a national championship despite not playing a single ranked opponent during the season. The two teams then agreed to play each other in the 1985 and 1986 seasons.

The Washington Huskies coming off a home defeat to Oklahoma State in 1985 wanted to get some revenge at BYU. The 16th ranked Cougars destroyed the Huskies at Cougar stadium 31-3. Don James was furious with his team after this performance. James very rarely would get blown out in big non conference games. He even threaten to bench some of the older guys on the team. BYU Quarterback Robbie Bosco called it the biggest win in school history. Which set up a nice rematch the following year in Seattle.

In 1986 the 11th ranked Cougars were crushed 52-21 by the 7th ranked Huskies. The Huskies coming off a blowout win over Ohio State 40-7 had this game marked on their calenders for a year. The crowd was pumped up for this game in Seattle until Robert Parker took the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to give BYU a 7-0 lead. After that the Huskies scored 52 unanswered points. Future NFL quarterback Chris Chandler was to much for BYU. When Don James took out his remaining starters with 6 minutes to go in the game BYU had just 70 yards of total offense. These teams wouldn't play each other for 10 years after this win by the Huskies.

In 1996 the 14th ranked BYU Cougars came to town led by Quarterback Steve Sarkisian. The Huskies coming off a 45-42 defeat at ASU wanted to avoid their first 0-2 start since 1985. The Huskies won this game 29-17 behind Rashaan Shehee who ran for 131 yards and 2 TD's. The Huskies lead by 1996 Pac-10 defensive player of the year Jason Chorak lead a fierce pass rush on Sarkisian all game long.That would be the Cougars only defeat of the season ending 14-1 with a win in the Cotton Bowl. The Huskies that year also wanted to go to the Cotton Bowl with their 9-2 record and having beat BYU head to head. The Cotton Bowl chose BYU instead which again left a bad taste in Washington's mouth. These teams were scheduled to play for the next three seasons.

In 1997 the Washington Huskies began the season ranked 4th in the nation and traveled to 19th ranked BYU Cougars for their first trip to Provo since the disaster of 1985. After the game was tied 7-7, the Huskies opened up the playbook to Jerome Pathon. Pathon had over 160 yards receiving vs the Cougars. The Huskies also had a big rushing game from Rashaan Shehee who ran for 171 yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns. Brock Huard pass 18 of 23 for 285 yards with three touchdown passes as the Huskies won 42-20.

In 1998 the 9th ranked Huskies fresh off an improbable win over the ASU Sun Devils beat the Cougars 20-10. I was at this game in fact it was on my birthday September 19,1998. The game was featured the brand new scoreboard donated by Paul Allen. This scoreboard was the largest scoreboard in the nation. The scoreboard made it so no seat was a bad seat. I remember dying my hair purple for the game. This game featured the emergence of Toure Butler who had a 98 yard kick off return for a TD and a 35 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Huskies stuffed the Cougars rushing attack that day. Brock Huard was 16 of 33 for 178 yards with a touchdown but two picks. The winning streak over BYU was up to 4 games. Current Washington head coach Jim Lambright would improve to 3-0 vs the Cougars.The Huskies still had one game left on its rivalry with BYU.

In 1999 was the start of a new era for the Huskies. This was the first game of the Rick Neuheisel era. The Huskies found themselves down 27-14 in the 4th quarter when Marques Tuiasosopo ran for two scores to give the Huskies the lead 28-27.Tuiasosopo
was 22 of 36 for 237 yards with a passing touchdown along with those two rushing scores .The Huskies couldn't stop Kevin Feterik who threw the game winning pass. In fact Feterik ended the game throwing for over 500 yards. These teams wouldn't face each other for another 9 years.

In 2008 the 15th ranked BYU Cougars came to town. Tyrone Willingham was in a make or break season for the Dawgs having just been blown out by #21 Oregon down in Eugene 44-10 and #3 Oklahoma looming the Huskies had to win this game to have any shot at a successful season and keeping Willinghams job. It was a back and forth game which saw BYU lead 28-21. Jake Locker had a magical 4th quarter drive. With 3 seconds left on the clock Locker escaped a couple of defenders to score what many thought was the game tying touchdown. He was so pumped he barely threw the ball in the air. He was called for unsportsmanlike penalty. The Cougars blocked the PAT and instead of overtime the 15th ranked Cougars escaped with a narrow 28-27 victory despite Locker throwing for 204 yards and a TD while rushing for 62 yards and two scores. The loss left a bitter taste in the mouth which could have lost a potentional big recruit.

In 2009 BYU beat the Huskies again only this time it was off the field. The Cougars landed the top quarterback in the country Jake Heaps. It was a big blow to Husky fans because Heaps went to Skyline highschool. Heaps at Skyline won three state championships. It was a major blow. Then the Huskies announced having been tired of having the toughest schedule in college football every year they are replacing BYU in 2011 and 2012 with Portland State and Eastern Washington.

This 2010 meeting could be the last meeting between these schools for another 10 years or so. I think its a shame because these schools have provided some good games in the past and also have some bad blood with the 1984 national championship, handing BYU their only loss in 1996, BYU getting the cotton bowl over UW in 1996, the end of the 2008 game and now Jake Heaps going to BYU. Its a shame the Huskies and Cougars won't be squaring off the next two years. So fans make sure to appreciate this 2010 game this could be the last time you see the BYU Cougars for a while.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2010 Seattle Seahawks Season Preview

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks head into the 2010 season after coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons.

The Seahawks had sustained consistency when they were led by head coach Mike Holmgren. Holmgren coached the franchise from 1999-2008 and in that span led the team to five division titles, six playoff appearances,seven winning seasons and one Superbowl appearance. The franchise had experienced its greatest success under Holmgren. He was then forced out in favor of hand-picked coach, Jim Mora Jr.

After a 5-11 season, which saw Tim Ruskell resign, Paul Allen stunned everyone after he fired Mora after just one failed season. He then brought in USC head coach Pete Carroll, who had posted a 97-19 record (with sanctions the record is 83-19) and won seven straight Pac-10 championships along with two national championships.

The Seahawks gave Carroll, who is only 33-31 in the NFL with a 1-2 playoff record, a 5-year/35 million dollar deal. The deal not only made Carroll the head coach, but also the team president. Allen is hoping Carroll is the next Jimmy Johnson and not the next Dennis Erickson. The hope is that Carroll's enthusiasm and college success will transfer over to the NFL and rescue the Seahawks from the 9-23 rut in which they currently find themselves. The Seahawks had a good draft, but when you go 9-23 and sign nobody in free agency there will still be plenty of growing pains. I'll proceed to break down each position of the team.

Quarterback: For the first time since Trent Dilfer was the backup, Matt Hasselbeck has someone who will be challenging him for his starting job. Hasselbeck will be entering his 10th season with the Seattle Seahawks this upcoming year. Hasselbeck, the franchise's best quarterback, has led them to more playoff wins than any other quarterback in the team's history. Although Hasselbeck has made three appearances at the Pro Bowl, he is coming off his worst season ever in Seattle. Hasselbeck threw for a career high 17 interceptions last season. In fact, in his last 21 starts he has thrown for 22 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. Hasselbeck will also turn 35 this September. He is definitely past his prime years.

The question still remains if Hasselbeck still has game. He, at times, has shown he can still move the offense and when he does have protection, can still be a top ten quarterback in the NFL. Carroll, knowing that Hasselbeck has missed nine games the last two years, traded a 2011 third round pick and swapped second round picks with the San Diego Chargers for third string quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst is a 6-foot, 5-inch strong arm quarterback who is mobile. However, Whitehurst has never thrown a pass in four NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers. Whitehurst, at times this preseason, has looked great and at other times, when things aren't going so well, he tends to sulk his shoulders. The Seahawks also brought in former Buffalo Bills first round bust J.P.Losman. The Seahawks, with Hasselbeck, still have the NFC West's best quarterback, and with that, will have a shot in games.

Runningback: Carroll and general manager, John Schneider, made some draft day moves to bolster this rushing attack which has been lacking since Shaun Alexander's MVP season in 2005.

The Seahawks traded for Leon Washington(2008 Probowl kick returner) and Lendale White. White was then released at mini camp, despite Carroll being his former head coach. The Seahawks also return Julius Jones for his third season. Jones has been the starter, off and on, the past two seasons. Jones led the team in rushing last year with 663 yards(3.8 YPC) but with only two touchdowns. In fact, Jones has had just two touchdowns, rushing, the past three seasons. Jones, in his Seahawk career, has just three career 100-yard rushing performances with two against the St. Louis Rams (3-29 last two years) at home. Jones is obviously not the answer at runningback.

Justin Forsett is a former seventh round draft pick out of Cal back in 2008 and emerged for fantasy football owners last year in 2009. Forsett ran for 619 yards(5.4 YPC) with five rushing touchdowns and 41 receptions for 350 yards and a TD. Forsett is very fast and versatile. Despite limited playing time he still had 41 receptions. Forsett is the favorite to win the starting runningback job.

Leon Washington is the other option at runningback for the Seahawks. Washington, many believed, would start the year injured and miss some games, but he has played in two preseason games so far. Washington, when he was healthy in 2008, ran for 448 yards with six touchdowns, while catching 47 passes for 355 yards with two touchdowns and he also had 1,534 return yards and one touchdown. The Seahawks hope that with three running backs especially Washington and Forsett that somehow they can finally have a running game. No Seahawk has ever ran for over 1,000 yards since Shaun Alexander accomplished this in 2005.

Wide Receiver: This is the strength of the Seahawks team and given the amount of money and draft picks on this particular unit it should be. The Seahawks brought in former pro bowl and Oregon State wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh in 2009 to shore up a weakness from 2008 when all the receivers were injured. Houshmandzadeh had a pretty disappointing season but still managed 79 receptions for 911 yards but only 3 TD's. Houshmandzadeh appears to be a great over the middle receiver who can catch those key 3rd down passes but isn't the #1 Wide Receiver that the Seahawks paid him to be. In a shocking move that I couldn't have guessed at the time of writing this T.J. Houshmandzadh will not be playing for the Seahawks this season

Houshmandzadeh at least produced something unlike the Seahawks other high priced Wide Receiver Deion Branch. Branch had just 45 receptions last year for 437 yards and just 2 TD's. The former Superbowl MVP is in year 5 of a 6 year deal he signed with Seahawks back in 2006 which cost the Seahawks their 2007 1st round draft pick. Branch has yet to produce a 1,000 yard season and has decline in each season with the Seahawks. He is slated to start this year. He is still quick on those slants and can still be a productive receiver. Branch just needs to stay healthy for the Seahawks. Asking Branch to stay healthy is like asking Seattle Mariners fans to ask for Erik Bedards health.

The next two receivers are 3rd round draft pick Deon Butler and 2nd round draft pick Golden Tate. Butler the Penn State Standout Tim Ruskell felt was so valuable traded a 2010 3rd round draft pick to jump into the 3rd round of the 2009 draft to grab him. Butler last year was disappointing having just 15 receptions and no TD's. He did haul in a catch in week 13 to set up a win vs the 49ers. The other young receiver is Golden Tate. Tate was a standout at Notre Dame posting 9 100+ receiving performances and 3 200+ yard performances. Golden Tate will also help out on the punt return game as well.

The Seahawks took a gamble on former first round bust Mike Williams. Williams played under Carroll and gives the team much needed size. He has performed as the best receiver this preseason. Will this translate to the regular season? The Seahawks have a great talent in Williams for practically nothing. With the Seahawks getting rid of Houshmandzadeh it appears Mike Williams will be the #1 receiver. It was questionable he would even make the team. Now he will be the #1 receiver on the team. He is favorite for NFL comeback player of the year.This could be the steal move of the off season. For the Seahawks to have a chance this year the passing game has to be moving the ball.

Tight End: John Carlson is heading into his 3rd year with the Seattle Seahawks this year. He is also learning his 3rd different offense in his 3 years. Carlson the 2nd round pick who Tim Ruskell traded the 2nd and 3rd round draft choices to move up to snag the Tight End from Notre Dame.

In Carlsons rookie year he was the lone bright spot in a disappointing 2008 season catching 55 passes for 627 yards and 5 TD's. His 2nd year there was a bit of a drop off with 51 receptions for 574 yards with 7 TD's.

The Seahawks this year brought in Tight End Chris Baker who has 159 career receptions in 115 games. The hope is with Baker he can stay in and block and Carlson can move around and be used as an H back.The Seahawks decided to keep four tight ends on the roster. The Seahawks plan to use a two tight end set this year. .Last season with the offensive live issues Carlson was often stuck blocking. Carlson is the sleeper pick this year in fantasy football to have a big season.

Offensive Line: The Seahawks lost future pro football hall of famer Walter Jones to retirement in offseason. From 1997-2008 the Seahawks could always count on one thing and that was big #71 taking out the opposing teams best DE and making him completely useless.

The Seahawks offensive line will be coached by legendary coach Alex Gibbs(the former Broncos O-line coach). Gibbs likes to use zone blocking schemes and typically improves teams offensive lines. Gibbs has also let the team a week before the regular season.

The man asked to fill the void of Walter Jones is 6th pick overall in the draft Russell Okung from Oklahoma State. Okung will be wearing former probowler Steve Hutchinson old number #76. The rest of the offensive line will be Ben Hamilton the former Denver Bronco who will be in his 10th NFL season. The hope is he can teach Okung along the way. Chris Spencer is back for his 5th straight season of starting at center. Max Unger the center of the future again will be starting at right guard and Sean Locklear for the 6th straight season will be starting. Locklear is currently being shopped around. Locklear was promised by Ruskell he'd be the new left tackle when Walter Jones retired. With Okung being drafted with the 6th pick overall its obvious Locklear will not be the left tackle.

The offensive line needs to improve alot. Since the loss of Hutchinson and other veterans like Robbie Tobeck and Chris Gray the offensive line has been downhill. The offensive line needs to keep Matt Hasselbeck healthy for this team to have any chance at making the postseason.

Defensive Line: The Seahawks have rid themselves of every defensive end on last years roster. Pete Carroll completely overhauled the defense with Kearney retiring and ridding themselves of Tapp, Redding and the first round bust of 2008 Lawrence Jackson.

The Seahawks return Defensive Tackles Brandon Mebane and Collin Cole. Carroll moved 320lb Red Bryant(former Seahawks great Jacob Green's son in law) to defensive end. The Seahawks are hoping to stuff the run this year and with basically three defensive tackles on the front four the Hawks will be a tough team to run on.

The other defensive end is Chris Clemons. He is expected to generate the most pass rush for the Seahawks this upcoming year. Clemons has 20 sacks in his career, including 8 back in Oakland in 2007. The Seahawks must find a way to get some pressure on the quarterback this year. In 2007 the defense was so successful because of the past rush of the front four but the pass rush has been lacking the last two years.

Linebacker: On paper this unit looks incredible yet the production the last two years has been lacking. The Seahawks with the 4th pick overall in the 2009 NFL draft selected Aaron Curry from Wake Forest University. Curry after some initial success had an underwhelming rookie season.

Curry is expected to bounce back this year and with Ken Norton Jr as the Linebackers coach there is hope Curry can live up to the hype. Curry is expected to rush the quarterback more and give the team something they lacked since Julian Peterson was on top of his game back in 2006 and in 2007. If Curry can be that enforcer on defense and provide a pass rush this defense could be solid.

The other outside linebacker spot is held by Will Herring and then Leroy Hill when he returns from his problems. Hill in the playoff win over the Redskins during the 2007 season led the team in tackles with 13 and had a sack. Hill was the best linebacker that day which is saying something since Tatupu and Peterson both made the probowl that year. The Seahawks are hoping Leroy Hill can show more consistency on a game to game basis but give the fact that he is starting this year injured and suspended that appears doubtful.

The Seahawks middle linebacker is considered the heart and soul of the defense. Lofa Tatupu in his first 3 seasons became the first player since Dan Marino to win the division title and make the probowl in his first 3 years in the NFL. Tatupu when he is healthy is one of the top linebackers in the NFL. In 2007 he started the probowl for the NFC. The last two seasons Tatupu has been hurt and missed 11 games last season. A defense will always struggle when they lose their probowl MLB for 11 games. If Tatupu is healthy and Hill and Curry play to their potential the Seahawks could have one of the better linebacking cores in the NFL.

Secondary: The Seahawks pass defense has ranked in the bottom of the NFL the past two seasons. The Seahawks will have two new starters at safety. One of the starters is 14th pick overall Earl Thomas of Texas.

Thomas left after his sophmore year in college and is just 21 years old. He is also the all-time interception leader in Texas Longhorns history. The other safety will be 3 time probowler and superbowl champion Lawyer Milloy. Milloy in his 2nd year with his hometown team is expected to prevent big plays and lay big hits. He is also expected to teach Thomas the ropes and show him in the NFL. The Seahawks are gambling on an aging safety and a rookie safety.

The corners will be Marcus Trufant and the other spot is up for grabs. Trufant a former probowler in 2007 had 7 interceptions that season. He has had just 3 Interceptions the last 2 years. Trufant missed 6 games last season. Whenever you lose a probowl calibar corner it hurts you alot. The other corners will be first round disapointment Kelly Jennings(just 1 INT in 4 seasons) and Josh Wilson Wilson has since been dealt to the Ravens for a 5th round pick. The Seahawks also selected Walter Thurmond from Oregon in the 4th round of the NFL draft. The secondary must find ways to make stops on 3rd downs and get the defense off the field. The front 7 should be good this year against the run so the secondary has to prevent teams from marching up and down the field on them at will.

Kicking: The Seahawks must feel pretty confident in their kickers this year. Olindo Mare has found a home in Seattle last year going 24 of 26 from FG's. Mare is also known for his deep kickoffs which helps with field position. The Seahawks punter Jon Ryan averaged 46.2 yard a punt last year in 88 punts. The Seahawks kicking game should give the defense plenty of good field positions.

Overall, this team is building towards the future. The team had a great draft in 2010 and with some luck on staying healthy the Seahawks could capture a weak NFC West where the favorite in the division is quarterback by Alex Smith. The Seahawks have to find a way to make the 12th man matter again.

Pete Carroll was brought to fix this mess that Tim Ruskell left this franchise in. The Seahawks ownership and fanbase will have to be patient with Pete Carroll and John Schneider and give them more than just a single season to turn this around. This rebuilding process will take time but with another year or two of good drafting like Schneider did with the Green Bay Packers the Seahawks should be back and competing for multiple division titles in no time.

Hopefully Caroll can translate his USC success to the NFL which will result in the Seahawks someday winning a Superbowl.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Huskies Land Skyline Receiver Kasen Williams

By Kshell:

In 2008 the Huskies had just finished their season 0-12 and the program was in a disasterous position. The team had just fired Tyrone Willingham and was looking to hire its 4th head coach in a 7 year span. The Huskies missed out on Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, former Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin and missed out on up and coming head coach Brian Kelly of Cincinnati. The Huskies landed USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian didn't have much time to recruit the class of 2009 but he had plenty of time for 2010. In the class of 2010 Sarkisian brought in the 11th ranked class according to scout.com.

Now in 2011 Sarkisian could actually outproduce that 2010 status. He landed Austin Seferian-Jenkins the top rated TE in the country according to Rivals.com. The class was ranked 20th in the country before Sark landed 5 star recruit and 4th ranked WR Kasen Williams of Skyline Highschool. Williams is your typical 6'2" Sarkisian WR. The Huskies have now landed a 4 star recruit at running back(Brendon Bigelow), the highest rated TE in the country, the highest rated WR on the west coast and is on the verge of landing the top QB on the west coast 4 star recruit Brett Hundley.

Willingham left the program making excuses and with a frown. Sarkisian has came in with a smile and promised the return to glory! His coaching staff has worked hard on maximizing the most out of these Huskies on the current roster and the team has improved significantly since this time last year. Sarkisian is also working really hard on the recruiting trail. These recruits won't pay off for this year or maybe even next year. With Sarkisians recruiting a trip to the Rosebowl is now a possibility which after the Huskies ended the 2008 season to California that seemed like a lifetime a way. We are lucky to have Sarkisian as our head coach. I will always bark for Sark!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Washington Huskies 2010 season preview

By Kshell

For the first time since the 2003 season when Cody Pickett and Reggie Williams were heading into their last season has there been this much buzz surrounding the UW football program. The main reason for this buzz is the evolution as a quarterback of Jake Locker. The other reason was the 5 win improvement of last years team while returning 18 starters.

The Huskies last year were coming off an 0-12 season and faced off with LSU the first game of the year. After UW outgained LSU and mostly outplayed LSU but ultimately lost 31-23 there was hope for the Huskies. Two weeks later the Huskies shocked the nation by beating #3 USC 16-13. Thats when Jake Lockers stock started to take off as he was terrific on that final game winning drive.

Then after that the Huskies proceeded to suffer 3 heartbreaking losses to Notre Dame on the road, UCLA on the Road and ASU on the road(Pulling off a miracle win vs Arizona at home was in the middle of that). At one point the Huskies were 3-7 then they ended the season with a 30-0 win over WSU and a 42-10 win over #19 California in which Jake Locker threw for 3 TD's and ran for 2 TD's. The season ended on a high note but there was a cloud of mystery because Locker had played so well the question was would Jake Locker go pro?

Then December 14th came and Locker gave every Husky fan a big Christmas gift by saying "I'm staying". With Locker back and 17 other starters and both kickers hopes are high at Washington. I'll go through each position on this team.

Quarterback: Sarkisian said at Pac-10 media day that having a 5th year starting quarterback gives you a good chance to win the Pac-10. There is something magical about a 5th year starting senior quarterback(Look at Stanbacks senior year vs his previous 3, Carson Palmer, Kyle Boller, Damon Huard,etc).

Jake is unlike most 5th year seniors though. As Mel Kiper Jr(ESPN draft geru) said "It would be an upset if Locker is not taken with the #1 overall pick in the draft". Many scouts believe Locker would have been taken ahead of Sam Bradford.

The potentional with Locker is great but many fans point to his 8-20 starting QB record. His career stats are he is 435 of 815 passing(53.4%) for 5,374 yards passing with 36 TD's and 26 Int's. His rushing numbers in his career are 1,554 yards rushing with 23 TD's. Last year though Jake improved alot on his passing posting a completion percentage of 58.4% with 21 TD's and 11 int's with 7 rushing TD's as well.

Jake is a great duel threat QB he can now beat you with his strong arm and beat you with his legs. When the Huskies are in a shotgun formation every defensive coordinator is scared. Locker if he continues to progress like he has shown already he could be in the running for the Heisman. The season rides on Locker. The Huskies have the advantage of they have the best player on the field at the most important position of every game they play.

: The Huskies are pretty deep at this position despite the recent season ending loss to true freshman Deontae Cooper. The good news is the Huskies return redshirt Sophomore Chris Polk.

Polk last season became the first Husky running back to rush for over 1,000 yards as a freshman. He has a serious shot at joining Napoleon Kaufman as the only back in UW history to have 3 consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons. Last year Polk ran for 1,113 yards(4.9 YPC) with 5 rushing TD's. He also had 25 receptions last year as well.

Polk was a top recruit when he came to UW in 2008 having chose UW over USC even. Last year it appeared Chris Polk was better as the season wore on. In his first 7 games he had just one 100 yard game(vs Notre Dame he had 136 on 22 carries, 6.2 YPC). In his last 5 games he had four 100+ rushing performances and the game he didn't have 100 yards rushing he had 94 yards rushing with a TD. In the last 5 games of the year Polk ran for 576 yards(115.2 yards a game, 5.81 YPC) with 3 TD's with 12 receptions.

The Huskies have good depth at this position as well with Demitrius Bronson(averaged 4.7 YPC) who was the top running back in the state of Washington coming into 2009. Johri Fogerson is also back, he is mainly used on the screen passes as he was so effectively used early in the season. The Huskies also have talented true freshman Jesse Callier in the mix as well. The fullback position appears to be a nice battle with senior Austin Sylvester heading the group. He'll have Fogerson's younger brother Zach along with Dorson Boyce competing for snaps at the fullback position .With Polk hard running and good depth the running game especially when you factor in Jake Locker should be the strength of this team.

Wide Receiver: This could be the most established and talented group in the Pac-10 possibly even in the country. This group of receivers are probably the best group of receivers from 1-6 that UW has ever had.

Lets start at the top though with true junior Jermaine Kearse. Last year Kearse caught 50 passes for 866 yards with 8 TD's. He is a big play threat as he led the Pac-10 in YPC with a 17.3 average. Kearse emerged as the star in the last 4 games of the season having 23 receptions for 425 yards(106.3 a game, 18.5 a catch) and having scored 6 TD's.With Jake Locker being a senior if Kearse has a big season he could go to the NFL after this year. Kearse is best at the deep ball and going up and catching the ball.

The #2 receiver of this group is the super steady Devin Aguilar who missed 2 games last year but still had 42 receptions for 593 yards and 5 TD's. The 3rd receiver of the group was last years freshman phenom James Johnson who had 39 receptions for 422 yards and 3 TD's. Johnson started the season off as the #1 receiver but hit a freshman wall at the end of the year catching just 4 passes for 38 yards in his last 4 games. The Huskies hope Johnson has a more consistent year.

The 4th receiver spot is up for grabs. You have three upperclassman who were all 4 star recruits in Jordan Polk, D'Andre Goodwin and Cody Burns competing for that 4th receiver spot. In Jordan Polk you have the fastest guy on the team but for some reason can't translate that on the field for a receiver. Then you have D'Andre Goodwin who was the #1 receiver coming into last year. He had more receptions than any other Husky since Reggie Williams in 2003 with 60 receptions in 2008 for 692 yards. Last year he had a very dissapointing season with 14 receptions. Cody Burns in limited plays on trick plays has done a good job in his career completing 3 of 4 passes for a TD and having 3 reverses for 36 yards. He just can't seem to break this talented group.

The scary thing for opponents is this group minus Goodwin is all projected to be back next year so UW could possibly be the most talented group in the Pac-10 yet again next season.

Tight End: The biggest mystery of the UW offense by far. The Huskies dismissed the very talented(Athlon picked Middleton as preseason first team all Pac-10) Kavario Middleton from the team. The Huskies are a bit thin at this position and will most likely not run as many 2 tight end sets as they had hoped for.

The Huskies have a former 4 star recruit in Chris Izbicki who played in alot of games last year but only had 3 receptions for a measly 7 yards on the year. Marlion Barnett appears to be in the mix as well. The good news for Dawg fans is that with the super talented receiving core this year you don't need your TE's to be amazing this year. Izbicki had beaten out Middleton at the end of the spring drills and was the 4th fastest guy on the team back in 2008. This unit has the most question marks by far on offense.

Offensive Line: This unit returns 7 guys who started at least one game last year. This team also brought in several talented true freshman to compete with the starters. The offensive line with the elusive Jake Locker doesn't have to dominate teams like the 1990's UW lines did but they also better be able to pick up 1 yard in a goaline situation(Last years Notre Dame game was a tragedy).

This current group of offensive lineman hasn't really established themselves yet but the potentional is there. This will be the 2nd year under a new regime that stresses the weight room. This group is no longer the fat pudgy guys you saw in the Willingham era. The star of the line is Ryan Tolar who was a freshman all-american in 2007 and last season in 2009 was named honorable mention all Pac-10. The Huskies need to return to the glory days of the offensive line not since Kyle Benn in 2001 has a Husky offensive lineman been named first team all Pac-10 .Most of these guys are 2-3 year starters so the Huskies have experience up front.

Defensive Line: This is the biggest question mark on defense for the Dawgs. The team lost Daniel Teo Nesheim to the NFL. He was the constant leader and heart of the team. Now its time for other D-lineman to step it up.

Cameron Elisara the talented 4 star recruit when he got here just like that is a senior. He has started plenty of games and will play mostly Tackle and on some 3rd downs when the Huskies run a 3-4 set he'll play defensive end.

The Husky who has had the most buzz on defense this spring and early fall camp is Alameda Ta'amu. He has trimmed his weight down to 330 and appears unblockable. With his size still teams will have a hard time pushing him around and he should be that big run stuffer the Huskies need badly.

At defensive end the Huskies have plenty of young guys who be filling in depth. Everrette Thompson and Kalani Aldrich will most likely be the starting defensive ends. Talia Crichton and De'Shon Matthews will be in the mix. Overall this group is young and needs to find a way to put pressure on the QB and fill the void of DTN graduation.

Linebacker: Last year this was the strength of the team with Donald Butler, Mason Foster and E.J. Savannah. Well Butler graduated and is now competing for a starting spot for the San Diego Chargers and E.J. graduated as well.

Mason Foster is still on the team. Foster led the entire Pac-10 conference as a sophmore in tackles in 2008. Last year he had 3 interceptions(2 going for a TD, one was very memorable vs Arizona) and forced 6 fumbles last year. Foster is a big play machine and will most likely land himself on the first team all Pac-10 squad and be playing on sundays next season. Thats fine and dandy but the Huskies need 2 other guys to emerge.

Well Cort Dennison has gained some weight and is trying to fill the big shoes of Donald Butler in the middle. Dennison did some spot starting last year for the injured Savannah and for the most part performed pretty well. This year is a different story as last year expectations will be greater. He is a hard hitter and should do just fine at stuffing the run.

The other outside linebacker spot is up for grabs. Victor Aiyewa appears to get the first crack at the other starting linebacker spot. Josh Shirley the very talented true freshman will play a role on this team. He'll probably be just a guy on 3rd downs who rushes the QB but Shirley will be making plenty of big plays for this defense this year.

Secondary: The strength of the defense in my opinion. The Huskies have plenty of experience in the secondary. Lets start off with Desmond Trufant. Last year as a true freshman he emerged as the teams best corner.

The Huskies also return starters Adam Long and 2 year starter Quinton Richardson along with forgotton senior Vonzell McDowell. McDowell is having a great camp so far. He was a former 4 star recruit and like Trufant started as a true freshman and played great the first two games of 2007 then the Ohio State game happened and you haven't seen or hear from him since.

This group has plenty of experience and athletic ability. The safety spot will be manned up by Senior Nate Williams who will be backed up by 4 star recruit Sean Parker who chose UW over USC. The other safety spot is up for grabs but appears Will Shamburger will be starting but Nate Fellner and Justin Glenn will be in the mix. This team has plenty of options in the secondary. Unlike previous years if someone makes a mistake Holt will actually have a viable option to replace them.

Kicking Game: The Huskies return both kickers. The Dawgs return Folk(Brother of former Cowboys kicker) he was 18 of 21 from FG's including the game winner vs USC and game tieing FG against Notre Dame. He was also 35 of 35 on PAT's. They also return punter Will Mahan. Last year in 52 Punts he had just 2 touchbacks and averaged 40.6 yards per punt. He had just 1 pick blocked.

Coaching: The entire staff is back. Which is rare in college football. This team who returns so many guys doesn't have to learn a new scheme or playbook because every coach remains from the Head Coach to the Linebackers Coach to the Special Teams coach there all here. Ivan Lewis the strength coach is also still on the team. This coaching staff is top to bottom one of the best staffs in the conference. Sarkisian could emerge as the top Dawg of the conference in a few years.

Outlook: The schedule is tough like very tough. The Huskies haven't won a road game since 2007 and with this schedule other than WSU all the road games appear to be very tough. The Huskies unlike years past are a tough team to play as well.

Husky Stadium appears to be a home field advantage again(went 5-2 last year, only 2 losses were to LSU and Oregon, beat 4 bowl teams at home). I say the Huskies should win at least 7 games this year and if everything breaks right for this team the Huskies could go 9-3 and be headed to the Alamo or Holiday Bowl.

The first game against BYU is so crucial with #8 Nebraska at home and at #14 USC in back to back weeks. A strong September by Locker and if the Dawgs are 3-1 he'll be in the heisman race. Keep your schedules open in late December fans because the Huskies for the first time since 2002 will go bowling!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Huskies land top recruit Austin Seferian-Jenkins

By: Kshell

The Huskies landed the very talented 6'7", 260 lb TE from Gig Harbor Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Huskies out recruited the University of Texas along with Florida, LSU and Cal to keep the #1 TE according to Rivals.com here at Washington. This landing of Jenkins signifies how Sark is doing as a recruiter. Sarkisian last year brought in a top 15 recruiting class according to scout.com and most of that class was signed before he had ever coached a game. No longer is UW fighting for 3 and 4 star recruits. Sark is going for the big fish. He is doing what he can to land the best possible recruits at that very position. The recruiting process is a bit of a gamble.

The main thing about landing Jenkins is that even if he is a bust by landing him the Huskies will land other top recruits. When your roster is full of 4 and 5 star recruits you can afford to have a few be a bust and still be very talented. Look at this current UW offense for example. They just kicked off Kavario Middleton off the team. When UW landed Middleton he was the #2 TE in the nation. The good news for UW is they have a talented 4 star recruit in Chris Izibiki waiting in the wings, along with other high recruits such as Chris Polk, Devin Aguilar, Jermaine Kearse and of course Jake Locker.

Next up for UW is top recruits Kasen Williams WR from Skyline(5 star recruit), DeAnthony Thomas DB,(Crenshaw Senior HS)Los Angeles, CA(5 star recruit),and Brett Hundley QB(4 star recruit). The Huskies are in the running for a ton of big time recruits. Its good to see top tier kids turning down such programs as a Texas for UW again. Welcome to Washington Austin Seferian-Jenkins!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wakamatsu has been fired as Mariners Manager

By Kshell

The team had high hopes going into the season coming off a surprising winning season the year before that had them in the playoff hunt until a late collapse did them in. There was hope for this season though the Mariners had finally acquired an ace and him being left handed he should dominate in Safeco. They rid themselves of some dead weight from the year before so the starting pitching staff was more complete. A division rival had just lost their ace so the Mariners gained an ace while another team in the division had lost its ace. Then the season fell apart, nobody could pitch, nobody could hit, that ace they acquired started the year off hurt and by July he wasn't pitching for the Mariners anymore. The clubhouse was a disaster as the team wasn't getting along at all. Yes that 2008 Seattle Mariners team was a total disaster of a team.

This is what Don Wakamutsu was brought into. He inherited a crappy roster that lost its best hitter from 2008 in Raul Ibanez. Expectations were pretty low for 2009. Then the first year manager and team rallied around "chemistry" and the team was getting along. The season ended with the team winning 85 games, Griffey was carried off and even Silva was carrying Ichiro off(the same Silva who threatened Ichiro the year before). The club went in 2010 with great expectations with acquiring Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins. They brought back the hugging duo at DH because team "chemistry" is so important. Then the hugging duo couldn't hit and nobody could hit and everything fell apart. Suddenly it became Wak's fault that Figgins, Bradley, Lopez, Kotchman, random catcher, Jack Wilson were all having career worse seasons. It was Wak's fault that Griffey was washed up. Despite the warning signs the year before because of his .214 batting average but he was a great "leader" and put fans in the stands. Instead Griffey ultimately cost Wak his job. Instead of being a true leader, Griffey sulked when he wasn't playing every day, he even fell asleep on the job then he just up and quit on the team in the middle of the year. Instead of saying "Hey I felt it was time to retire this has nothing to do with Wak". He let the media and players speculate that he only left because of Wak.

The Mariners are awful this season no doubt. Is Wak a great manager? No. Is Wak an average manager? I'd say yes. I think if Wak was managing the Yankees right now he'd do just fine. I think the Griffey situation overwhelmed him as it would most 2nd year managers on a struggling team. Will Wak pull a Bob Melvin and go on to win Manager of the year? Possibly. Will the Mariners hire someone better than Wak? No. The Mariners since Lou Pinella has left in 2002 have gone like this Bob Melvin(156-168,.481 %, 2 seasons), Mike Hargrove(192-210,.478%, 2.5 seasons), John McLaren(68-88, .436%, coached 2nd half of 2007, first half of 2008), Jim Riggleman(36-54,.400%, half a season) and now Wakamatsu(127-147,.464% about 1.5 seasons). As you can see since Lou left in 2002 the Mariners have gone through plenty of managers and none have been successful in their very short stints with the club.

The Mariners next season will again be looking at the same type of manager you saw me list which is either a rookie bench coach from another team or a veteran manager like Hargrove was who nobody wanted(Bobby Valentine). The Mariners are no longer a big time organization so you won't be stealing a top tier manager like they did with Lou back in 1993.

It doesn't matter who is the manager of this team as long as Howard Lincoln and mainly Chuck Armstrong are still associated with the Mariners this team will always be held back. This organization cares more about family friendly atmosphere and reliving 1995 than about putting a good product on the field. Bringing Griffey back was reliving 1995 but you knew it wasn't going to help 2010 at all! We are just one of three franchises to never make a World Series and as long as Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln are in charge I don't see this club ever winning an AL pennant.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Refuse To Lose Anthony Rendon.

by: Patton Richard

I've become the largest Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates fan on the West Coast. I check my phone every hour or so when I'm not near a computer to make sure that they are winning. In any other year at any other time, I couldn't care less about these teams, this year is different, this year Anthony Rendon is available.

As you've probably figured out by now, I'm one of those people who wants to see the Mariners picking first next June. I've made no secret of it. Neither have a lot of other people. Historically, the first overall pick has offered a far greater return than any other in the draft, and being able to select from every draft-eligible player in the world is a position in which I would like the Mariners to find themselves next summer as they look to add talent to the system.

So who is Anthony Rendon? He is a power hitting third baseman at Rice University. Anthony Rendon had the best freshman season in Rice history where he hit .388 with an OBP of .461 and a slugging of .702. Then, he followed that up by crushing those numbers by hitting .394/.530/.801 with 26 home runs. People say the Evan Longoria comparisons don’t do Rendon justice, he is way further along than Longoria was at this point. According to Keith Law and Jim Callis of Baseball America if he were draft eligible this year, he would have gone before Bryce Harper.

There is still a lot of baseball left for Rendon including his junior year at Rice. But few players in the history of college baseball have ever matched his production to date, and those who have were some of the best draft picks in recent history. All Rendon has to prove is that he can keep doing what he has been since he arrived on campus at Rice. Imagine an infield with Rendon Smoak and Ackley, we’d be set at 3 infield positions with incredibly young talent. These isn't like when most teams get excited for future prospects, all 3 of them will have been considered top 5 prospects in baseball at one time or another.

Now I need to get something off of my chest, this isn't about being a good fan or a bad fan*. This is about myself and many others thinking bigger-picture than the present day. We're willing to sacrifice whatever joy there is in winning meaningless baseball games in order to see the team end up with that first pick. Forget the name. The name doesn't matter. The position matters. The first pick is the best pick, and it's been the best pick by a wide margin. Landing on top of the list would give this team the opportunity to very rapidly right a lot of prior wrongs.

That's what I’m cheering for. I’m not so much cheering for losses as I’m cheering for a win in something more important than a game in August or September. I know that seems like spin, but it's true. Yes, I take pleasure in seeing the team fail now, but that's only because every failure now brings us that much closer to a shot at major success down the road. Major success that could help get the organization turned around quicker than you might think possible.

Some people watch the Mariners these days because they still want to see them win. That's perfectly fine. Admirable, even, and a little romantic. After all, we watch baseball more than anything else to be entertained, and when you're content to let the longer-term play out as it will, there's nothing more entertaining than victory. But others of us watch to see the occasional highlight from a young player while the Mariners secure for themselves a higher pick. It's not a worse approach, and it's not a better approach; it's a different approach. But it's an entirely valid approach, as is the other. Which is why I get sick of people on both sides accusing those on the opposite side of being bad fans. It's a silly argument. We might disagree on what we'd like to see happen at the end of the day, but at the end of the year, we all want the same thing. We're all Mariners fans, and we all want to see the Mariners do well. It's just that at least a few of us have to keep an eye on the bigger picture, because not doing so is what got us into this wreck in the first place.

I’m glad the Mariners went 0-7 on this road trip, but the Orioles haven’t given us an inch by getting just one win in the last 9 games. But as displeased as I will be with every win that we get there will be a whole lot of people who will enjoy it, and you know what? I'm happy for them. They deserve to feel good after watching this team play such terrible baseball all year. It is usually a long time between wins. I'll suck it up for them.

It's funny to think about - it required an awful lot in the way of heartbreak and tragedy, but the Mariners have found themselves in the unusual position of being able to make a lot of fans happy every day, regardless of the final score. And really, that's something. If nothing else. What a weird year.

* I've never really understood the idea of there being "good" and "bad" baseball fans. Certainly there are more knowledgeable baseball fans, and there are more devoted baseball fans, but for every fan on the planet, baseball is simply a pastime, something with which we occupy ourselves for purposes of entertainment, the way a fisherman occupies himself with lures, or a birdwatcher occupies himself with binoculars. It seems to me there can be no "bad" baseball fans any more than there can be "bad" readers.

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