Friday, September 30, 2016

Biggest (Friday) Game Ever?

In just a few hours, the Huskies will take on Stanford in what could be called the biggest game in Husky program history. Pundits and fans alike love to attach superlatives and hyperbole to games in order to make their articles or arguments at The Duchess stand out. Is tonight's game huge? Of course it is. But I don't think we can rush to judgement on how big a game is until AFTER it happens. Let me explain. How many times have we as sports fans looked at a mid-season game and thought, "If we don't win this game you can kiss any kind of championship goodbye!" If you didn't raise your hand where you sit or stand, you are lying.

After the Seahawks were 3-3 in 2014 I told my brother and his friend that I would take them out for drinks for a year if the Seahawks finished any better than 8-8 that season. Hyperbole. Unfortunately my brother doesn't forget a bet. As we all know, they went on to win 10 of the next 11, beat Green Bay in that game and reached the Super Bowl. Did losing to the hapless Rams on the road in week 7 derail the Seahawks chances of obtaining the #1 seed? No. But when we were 3-2 and needed a big win, I bet a lot of people said it was a "must win" game or the season is over.

My point is, we won't know how big this game is going to be until we find out what the rest of the season has in store for us. We could win this game big or small and then lose 3 or 4 more the rest of the season therefore determining that is was just a good win when it happened. We could lose this game and end up being a 1-loss Pac12 team fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff. All I am saying is, if UW wants to be taken seriously as a contender year in and year out, we need to stop pretending that seasons rest on each "big" game that comes up on the schedule.

Don't get me wrong, the stakes are high tonight. A top-ten matchup at Husky Stadium on a Friday night (sorry commuters on any major arterial this evening) in front of a sold out crowd on national TV without any other competing games except the poor high schoolers who play on Friday nights who are really only thinking about the school dance later that night and which cheerleader to inappropriately grind a big deal. Stanford has been tough against the Huskies recently. Stanford has won the last 3 matchups and 7 of the last 8 in generally convincing fashion. Two years ago at Husky Stadium was supposed to be the one that got us over the hump. Two hard hitting defenses with mediocre offenses presented UW with a chance to tough one out. Shaq Thompson was doing some surreal things on the field that season and sure enough he stripped the ball and ran it back for the Huskies only touchdown that day. But alas, it wasn't enough and another opportunity in a "massive" game went by the wayside. See, that season we were undefeated after a crappy non-conference schedule. Stanford was undefeated ranked #16 and this was supposed to show the country that despite our easy non-conference schedule, we could still hang with the big boys (sound familiar). Hang we did; but no win.

For tonight's purposes, let's hope that this game will mean something big.

On that note, here is how it shakes out. Stanford is the same tough, bruising, big bodied team they have been since they decided to take football seriously about 10 years ago (see: BFWD posts in this blog). David Shaw is a master of the big lines, few really talented skill players and nominal QB system that has sent them to the Rose Bowl and kept them in the conversation for national championship in recent years. Nothing else is all that different than most years except they have Ed McCaffrey's son (Christian), who just so happens to be the reigning Heisman runner-up and coming off a season where he set the all time mark for all purpose yards AND put up more than 300 yards against the Dawgs last year. Stopping him and keeping him inside the tackles is going to be key for the Huskies. He is obviously dangerous when he breaks free and keeping a spy on him will be crucial to winning tonight. One of the WR's is out for Stanford and their QB is just OK, which has always worked for them.

On the other end, the Huskies need to keep the offense going without dumb turnovers or not making fourth down conversions. Both the Huskies and Stanford had ugly wins last week, which these programs love and appreciate. The Huskies have a few more weapons on offense and aren't nearly as one dimensional as the Cardinal, but they have to put it all together if they want to beat the likes of Stanford. The Cardinal will be missing two of their starting cornerbacks, so it will be crucial to get quick slants and the occasional deep ball going. The UW defense is solid and needs to be better than last week, but I like going against a quarterback who can't run for an 80 yard touchdown against us. That makes this a great matchup for the Huskies and like every year with Stanford will come down to the trenches.

I do think this is a game that the Huskies can win, but somebody around here has to be the pessimist. It just doesn't seem to all add up to a program defining win tonight because of past precedent, but man do I hope I am wrong.

The Pick: Stanford 24, UW 21

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Back by "Popular Demand"...

....and by "Popular Demand" I mean one person. Kind of like that one time 2 years ago one person requested Ricky Martin's Living La Vida Loca to a radio station and they played it. I am the DJ that played a Ricky Martin Song.

It has been almost EXACTLY two years since I posted in the blog for the Husky Loyal Army. A lot has changed. The Huskies have gone from zero hype and mediocre results to an inordinate amount of hype and yet to be seen results.

Chris Petersen or Coach Pete or Coach Carlos (nobody calls him that) has turned around the program liked we had all hoped. Here we are in Week 4 of the 2016 season and the Dawgs are ranked #9 in the country after all the offseason hype and a trio of great wins against terrible teams.

The Huskies are finally going up against a conference foe for the first time this season, and it just has to be in the State of Arizona. With so much going for the Dawgs this season it is only fitting that their first real test is in Sheriff Arpaio country. UW has been dominated in Arizona as much as an undocumented Mexican has been by the aforementioned Arpaio...for the last 10 years. The Dawgs have not won in the Grand Canyon State since I graduated from college in 2006 (for an easier reference, that was the year the Crocodile Hunter and Saddam Hussein died. Too depressing, alright, the Wii was introduced that year).

Each year I essentially count the game against the Arizona school on the road a loss. The Huskies haven't proven that they can win in that hotness, especially when it is a night game in September. There have been years where you feel like, "this year is different." And then sadly, it is not. Kind of like how you said this was the year you were finally going to get ripped like Will Smith in I Am Legend, it just aint happening. But seriously, this year is different.

The Huskies have been one of the most balanced teams in the country so far. Again, we have been playing a JV schedule so far, but the Huskies MO over the years has been to play down to the level of their competition; that finally has not been the case so far. The Dawgs are leading the Pac 12 in both points for AND points against through three games; that is not very common, even if they are playing the equivalent of those poop stains that get left over in the toilet bowl the morning after a long night of drinking beer.

Arizona has been terribly inconsistent so far this season. Bear Down lost a close game to BYU in a "neutral site" game, had to come back against Grambling at home (yeah, Grambling) and beat up on Hawaii (the team that has travelled 50,000 miles so far this season, who schedules a game in Australia?). The quarterback play has been spotty due to injuries, and the fact Anu Solomon can't replicate any of the highlight plays he has had over the last couple of seasons. The defense is terrible. Not Arizona State terrible, but atleast Hannah Montana terrible.

UW is favored by a couple of touchdowns going into this game. I like the confidence from outside sources like the city of Las Vegas, but it still scares me thinking the Dawgs are playing confident on the road in Arizona. A win has not been easy in the desert regardless of the circumstances, and even though everything stacks up well for UW tonight; that is what frightens me the most.

I am praying that my blog post and the hype machine aren't what jinx the Dawgs in Arizona tonight. If they play their game, the Huskies should win by atleast 10.

Let's hope this is the first hurdle the Dawgs can get over this season. Some momentum going into Friday's big showdown against Stanford and the impending road game against Oregon the week after.

Glad to be back, I have missed all.....1 of you. Here is to doubling the comments in the comments section today (if you go from 0 to 1, is that doubling?)

The Pick: UW 35, Arizona 24

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Return of BFWD

What does BFWD stand for? BIG FREAKING WHITE DUDES. The Stanford Cardinal is returning to Seattle to take on our beloved, and as always they are bringing with them a set of dudes that look like better sculpted, and more educated, versions of Boba Fett. Stanford has become known as a BFWD factory. Each year they lose between 3-7 of these guys to the NFL, or engineering firms in San Francisco, and they are just replaced with the same looking football player as if nothing changed. It's like that Halloween episode of the Simpsons where Homer clones himself hundreds of times over so that he doesn't have to do any work, except in this case every player is just a little bit different and the only people that don't have to do any work are the skill position players because of how easy the BFWD's make it for them.

The Huskies are the worst 4-0 in the history of UW football and possibly even all of college football this year. We have played teams that are terrible, we have looked terrible most of the time playing these games and if we don't get our stuff together; today will be terrible. But, as always, there is hope. The Huskies are not without their own size and they have more speed than most teams in the Pac 12, which is a huge advantage. UW has its own Boba Fett sitting on the defensive line in Danny Shelton helping to plug up the line with Hau'oli Kikaha; both of which are in the top two for sacks in the nation. And if this were considered a David versus Goliath affair (which it isn't), then the Huskies have their own David in Shaq Thompson; except our David is armed with an AK-47 instead of a rock. The experience on the offensive line and the speed of the receivers make the Huskies very dangerous, and they are going to need every little bit of these advantages to overcome the brains and size of the Cardinal; on both sides of the ball.

As every expert will tell you this game is going to be won in the trenches, and I cannot disagree with that. I will say, though, that the Huskies can win this game on the edges. Speed is going to be a huge factor in beating a team like Stanford. Yes, I know, Oregon would say the same thing except that they keep losing to the BFWD all-star team. I think Oregon's biggest problems are psychological and their defense. The Huskies don't have to win this game to go to the national championship, that isn't the kind of pressure UW is generally under and the Husky defense is better in the front 7 than the Ducks. I made a bet with my buddy after the Illinois game that UW would win by 14 points or more over Stanford. The Cardinal had lost to USC and UW finally found their offense and were clicking on defense. I was hopeful that UW was playing bad because they were playing teams that ran spread offenses and a traditional team like Stanford would be less work for UW. I am a little nervous about that prediction, but I still give the Huskies an advantage here.

The score will not be high and it won't be easy, but I see the Dawgs pulling out a 16-10 type of win today, putting this expected "program turnaround" season back on track. Can our guys get around the BFWD crew and make some noise? That will be the biggest thing to look for, and if they can, UW can be one of the better 5-0 teams in the country all of a sudden.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

So much new...

Mrs. Loyalist: "You know, Loyalist, now that we have a son, your college football Saturdays are going to look a lot different."
Husky Loyalist: "You're right, finally someone in this household other than me will appreciate sitting around and watching football all day, even if that other person is just learning how to put everything, including the toilet seat, in their mouth."

"Seasons change, mad things rearrange, but it all stays the same like the love Dr. Strange..." - The Fugees, How Many Mics.

Ahhhhh, it is the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and for a lot of people that means recovering from a long car ride from the day before and trying not to get mosquito bites near their private parts at their favorite (and most hated) campground. For the Husky Loyalist over the years it has meant the ushering in of the greatest 4 or so months of the year; college football season.

For our Dawgs, this last off-season brought great change to the Husky Loyal Army and the team we support, but none of those changes take away any of the pageantry that comes with the first day of the season. New coach, new QB, new RB, new TE, new...hope. The first day of the season allows you to take a look at the college football landscape and figure out how the Huskies fit into the jumbled, beautiful mess that comes with being a college football fan.

Five years ago we saw the introduction of Steve "Trust me, I am probably not a racist, maybe" Sarkisian to the UW program and with it something we hadn't had in quite some time...hope. Despite Sark's unceremonious departure from our beloved, he did turn this program around from an underachieving pile of disappointment to a perennial "this could be the year, and then it sort of wasn't" program; and we thank him for that. But it is time to move on.

Coach Chris Petersen (Don James incarnate) is here. Holy crap, I can't believe I just wrote that, Chris Petersen is the new head football coach at the University of Washington! Doesn't it feel so good to say that?!? Hope. Tons of hope. Real hope. This is change I can believe in (corny, but true).

Onto tonight's game against the artists formally known as the Rainbow Warriors. Not much to say here. We are double digit favorites on the road in the first game of the season, that is not easy to do. It means the Huskies are primed and ready to show they are here and they mean business. The Rainb.....(sorry), The Warriors are just awful. I like Norm Chow and the work he did at USC way, way back, but he has not been able to match that magic since he left there (probably because he doesn't get to cheat like he used to with USC). The Huskies are stacked in just about every position this year, which is pretty fun. A little green in the secondary, but anchored by a very talented Marcus Peters. Our O-line and D-line are stacked. Our position players are deep and talented, not much to worry about Hawaii tonight.

The biggest thing about tonight is setting a precedent for the season and showing that we can dominate on the road. Hawaii is as close to being FCS-talented for being in the FBS as it gets, but it is still a long flight, tons of distractions and the first game of the season with the starting QB sitting on the bench wondering if it was really worth it to attack people who were celebrating a Seahawks super bowl win (the answer, Cyler, is no, no it was not worth it). Despite all of the potential challenges, I think UW shows up.

So here is to change, hope and and my baby's infectious mouth.

UW beats Hawaii, 34-10.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Define Important...

A million apologies to the Husky Loyal Army for my absence over the last few weeks. The Husky Loyalist has some other things going on in his life, and sometimes the most important thing in life (this blog) needs to be put on the back burner. Alas, here I am, a month later and our Huskies are in a very interesting situation. 6-3 (3-3) with the chance to upset a very good UCLA team on the road. UCLA has been so good, in fact, that despite their back-to-back losses to Stanford and Oregon (remind you of a team we know), they are sitting at #13 in the nation according to the BCS standings. This is a very solid team.

The Bruin defense is led by an outstanding foursome of linebackers which include Anthony Barr, possible All-American, and Bellevue’s own Myles Jack. Jack was a prime target of the Huskies this time last year, and while many thought he would choose the school closest to his home and a program which is on the rebound and ready for big things, instead he chose UCLA. It’s not my place to bring up any kind of Judas comparisons, because that just wouldn’t be fair to the young kid (I guess that technically counts as bringing up a Judas comparison, oops, ah well). Jack has been a great player for the Bruins all season as a Freshman linebacker. So impressive on defense, in fact, that  when UCLA was banged up at the running back position this last weekend they decided to use Jack as a running back for six plays. What did he do? Not much. Oh wait, that’s right, he went off for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns on SIX carries, one of which was on a 66-yarder for a TD.

 Look, I am very happy with the personnel at the University of Washington, we have a solid team with a bright future, but if we are going to start winning Pac-12 North division titles anytime soon we have got to lock down local talent like this guy. Having said all that, I don’t think Jack will be a factor on offense today. Yes, he was effective last week, but it was a gimmick, and we will be ready for it. Plus, even 18-year-old kids slow down after that much playing time on both sides of the ball. I don’t see UCLA pushing Jack into a situation where he ends up not being effective on either side of the ball. That just leaves star QB Brett Hundley. This guy is pretty dangerous as well. He doesn’t line up on the other side of the ball as well like Jack, but he is enough to handle on offense. He has the size and speed of a Marcus Mariotta, but without the weapons around him. I feel like he can either put up monstrous numbers against us, or do nothing at all. Nothing in between that, trust me.

Our defense has really come together this season despite a couple of blips (see fourth quarter against Oregon and not showing up against ASU) and can shut down a good QB like Hundley. Our offense really does seem to be clicking, don’t you think? You know the kind of clicking when you are playing beer pong and the cups look bigger and bigger while the ball gets smaller and smaller, and the girl watching is getting more and more impressed with your ability to not only drain shots but also come up with witty comments like “it’s not how you make the shot, it’s what you do with it when you put it in”. I really like this offensive system the Huskies are playing in and it makes the team as a whole better. It will be tough to get behind those linebackers, but Sark will have something ready for them.

I have mentioned in the past how it appears the Huskies have way too many “direction of the program” games, I am sorry, that’s just where we are at. Sitting at 6-3 when we could or should be 7-2 stings and it has come down to a game like today that tells us whether or not we are close to beating good teams on the road and finishing in the upper echelon of the Pac-12. Lose, and all of a sudden we are looking at a very strong possibility of ANOTHER 7 win regular season, that just can’t happen with this team at this point. Win, and in my eyes it makes up for either the Stanford or Arizona State loss and it gives you the confidence to go into Corvallis next week and finish this season on a 5 game win streak and 9 wins (assuming we beat WSU, I mean, come on). It’s possible. It has to be possible, because that is what Sark and his team have told us.

Expectation and reality have often been adversaries when referring to the Huskies, why can’t we have a season where the expectation of a 8/9 win season plays out? It’s what the players deserve, it’s what the coaches deserve and Dawgfather dammit it is what the fans, the Husky Loyal Army, deserve. Come home in three weeks against Wazzu with something to play for. Show us and the nation we haven’t wasted nights crying with 14 beers around us and cheese dip clinging to the end of our socks while your wife debates whether or not to sleep at her sister’s place. Let us know that all this passion, all of this love for the Huskies, means something. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Look who's coming to lunch...

What has been your favorite response to, "we are gonna make it a decade on Saturday"? I mean, don't you just hate this team and their fans so much? We understand the Cougar Complex, it is simple for us to understand that they don't have a lot to celebrate in the middle of nowhere so when there is any kind of success (like, a first down kind of success), then they freak out and bring the incoherent "in your f*****g face" comments. With the Ducks, there is just something about the way the team conducts its business and who their fans are that make you just want to pour gasoline all over your body and look for the first smoker wearing one of those Oakley sweatshirts Duck fans love so much. Phil Knight is like the dad of that rich kid you hated so much growing up. You know, the kid that got any and everything he wanted and his rich dad wasn't around very much so he made up for it by buying him the coolest crap. And then you finally meet the dad and he is the cockiest little punk you have ever met. That's what Phil Knight is like to this team, and this team is that stupid son that everyone loves until you get to know him. For instance, I have a lot of friends spread out across the country and they love the Ducks and their uniform crap and all that. But if you are in the Pac-12 or moved into the Northwest and started to get to know the Ducks and their fans, you know you hate them (enough of the metaphors and analogies for now). The reason this rivalry is so heated is because there seems to be such a difference in the type of people associated with either program. I am not saying that Husky fans are not without dumbasses, trust me, there are quite a few out there unfortunately. Whereas the Cougar fans are like that annoying little brother who you tolerate, Duck fans are like your wife's ex-husband; you just don't like anything about them. Everything they do just pisses you off and most of the time you can't even pinpoint why it pisses you off.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gut check? Not really

It cannot be overstated how big of a win this would be. What I think is being understated is that this would not be a devastating, end of the season loss. Despite the early successes of the 2013 season, the Dawgs are on the road against an undefeated, top 5 team. Oh and by the way, it is an undefeated, #5 Stanford team that the Huskies are playing on "The Farm". The Cardinal offense rumbles and bumbles, and the defense is as stout as a team can be. In fact, with the SEC becoming the Pac12 in terms of focus on the offense, Stanford has more of an SEC type of play than any of the SEC teams right now. There is a lot of attention being paid to this game here in the Northwest, down in the Bay Area and even across the country. Special stories, expert opinions, not-so-expert opinions and predictions have flooded the media scene; all of which is relatively new for these Huskies. Of the many predictions, most are in favor of Stanford but there are quite a few people out there that think the Dawgs can win this. What I think is being lost, though, is that this isn't a do-or-die game. I know that this program is done with the days of "good losses", but we also can't expect to win some of the toughest games of the year because we have had a good season so far. I do think that the Huskies CAN win this game. We have the elements to put together some impressive schemes and strategies that will give any team fits. Executing these schemes and strategies is a whole other ball of wax, though. If the Huskies execute and win, would you believe the Dawgs could be a top ten team?! On the other hand, if we lose but show that we were worthy adversaries, wouldn't that mean something, too? If we show that we can hang with the Cardinal today, does that give us a better chance against Oregon at home next week? These are the questions and takeaways we will be looking for after this game ends. I have been praying like a good boy all week that we give Stanford hell today, and I hope it works. But I am not going to be disappointed with a "good loss" because we can still accomplish a lot this season without this.

Look, I am an optimistic, unrealistic Husky fan like the rest of you, but I don't want to set myself up for being the depressed, unhappy Husky fan I become when I think that we should win a game and we don't. I will be streaming this game on my phone while at a wedding today, so drinks will be free. I will be covered to celebrate either a historic win or "good loss".