I have a lot of experience with embarrassing people and/or things. I know what's humiliating to others and what isn't. Believe me, I have experience with people storming away from me going "WE CAN'T TAKE YOU ANYWHERE!"
So, you must admit my surprise when a writer up at SBN UW site UW Dawg Pound wrote that Cal's historic and thrilling victory over WSU last week (that brought positive national attention to the conference) was embarrassing, that Cal's defense was JV, and that the Holocaust never happened. I just felt that all of those comments were not necessary, but hey everybody is entitled to their opinion. We wanted to dig deeper into the UWDawgPound world, so we traveled north through the land of the Ducks and Beaver Manor to make it to their underground lair. Then, we realized the game was at Berkeley, so we hurried down here with answers to our questions!
Also, I wanted to thank Avi for his extremely calm and reasonable analysis of the whole controversial post over at UWDP. Another person might have tried to take the low road with angry screeds and personal attacks, but Avi took the time to provide a cautioning preface to avoid flame wars and then create a really solid analysis of the arguments on the merits. I always think it is very important to disagree with people's analysis and not use personal attacks. I think it is always important to be calm and reasonable in your discussions and not resort to anger and spite. Plus, throw in a troll or two to bring laughter to the world.
I think that this analysis helped increase the value of the discussion, because it brought the conversation to the attention of the much more reasonable CGBears crowd. I saw a lot of people over at UWDawgPound saying some somewhat aggressive things, but they were Cal fans I'd never really seen before. Probably from the message board crowd, which is filled with less reasonable discussions on Cal in my experience (coughdrunkoskicough). Without working to raise the level of discourse and discussion, it's much more an aggressive and nasty discussion over there.
But either way, let's refocus on the game tomorrow. We have some great answers here from UWDawgPound and I appreciate them taking time to write out these answers. Many thanks to Anthony "Casino" Cassino and Chris "Tosh was the TRUE embarrassment" Landon for their answers to our hard-hitting questions. JOURNALISM!
1. How significant of an impact do you think the bye week was to help UW beat Cal?
Anthony Cassino: The only way that the Huskies will beat Cal is the bye week was used as a major turning point for this season. This team is incredibly flawed, and their game against Stanford exposed the deficiencies that many of us had been pointing to all season that had been masked by their wins
Chris Landon: The BYE serves two purposes. The first is to allow for healing time for key starters like RT Ben Riva, WR Kasen Williams and our best play maker WR John Ross. The second is to allow for a scaling back of the Playbook in an effort to get the struggling offense untracked. You'll know that there was an impact if those guys are all productive and if the offense gets the passing game going to the tune of 8 or more yards per passing attempt.
2. It's obviously still fairly early, but has new head coach Chris Petersen lived up to the hype?
Anthony Cassino: To be blunt, no. The team is not playing well, and the commonly trotted out idea that his mere presence would result in a team that plays harder, doesn't suffer from mental mistakes, and is always prepared to play has been completely false. In some ways, these things have been much worse this season than they were a year ago. So far, there's nothing that Chris Petersen and his staff have done that wouldn't have been expected of any and every coaching staff that Washington could have brought in.
Chris Landon: He's lived up to his reputation and then some in terms of implementing a meticulous and discipline oriented program. He's like the anti-Sark. However, Husky fans were not expecting the broad and sweeping changes that he implemented and have been completely underwhelmed by the slow uptake by the players. There is real fear that UW will waste the final years of some elite talent like Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton, Hau'oli Kikaha, Kasen Williams, and Marcus Peters.
3. The Huskies have a new QB and a new RB this year, playing in a new system. Are they up to speed on the Chris Petersen's offense or is that still a work in progress?
Anthony Cassino: The system doesn't seem to be up to speed on the system. There's not really much rhyme or reason to what they're doing just yet, and it's tough to say that the players are in need of catching up when I'm not sure what they would be catching up to. Things are so disjointed right now that they cannot be successful without some major changes in the way that the entire offense is performing and executing, coaches and players included.
Chris Landon: The rushing attack has gone through the most sweeping of the offensive changes which has most dramatically impacted the offensive line play. Until they playing at a level that you would expect for a unit that came in leading the PAC in career starts, it's hard to say how well or not well the skill guys have absorbed the Playbook. Everything just looks muddled.
4. This is the lone UW trip to the state of California, how important is a good showing in this game for recruiting purposes.
Anthony Cassino: I don't think that it's all that important. Washington as a program is pretty steadily a top-25 recruiter regardless of what's going on. Even when they're not winning -- as under Tyrone Willingham -- they're still able to get solid talent in recruiting. A lot of people want to wring their hands about Petersen's recruiting, but they've been doing pretty well so far.
Chris Landon: Not very. Petersen has the luxury of levering his reputation in the recruiting process and he has already demonstrated a certain "eff-that" attitude with certain recruits that seem caught up in their own hype. He is not like Sark in terms of running his Glengarry "Always Be Closing" method. That said, I'm sure the coaches would like to put on a good face given that their top recruit for next year, QB Jake Browning, is from Folsom.
5. How embarrassed will Chris Landon feel if Cal wins this Saturday?
Chris Landon: Good question. Let's see if I can put this in terms that a Cal Bear would understand. Remember that feeling you had when your coaches admitted that they had their players fake their own injuries in a game? Remember that feeling you had when you went into halftime of last year's game versus Portland State trailing? Remember that feeling you had when you saw the blended Cal Athletics APR scores each of the last five years (hey, congrats on getting that football team back to "average"!)? Remember that feeling in the second quarter against Colorado in your second to last game a year ago when it became obvious that Cal wasn't going to win a conference game?
That's how it will feel.
Seriously, I get that Cal fans have been set off by the fact that I called their game with WSU last week a JV experience (and I do find it curious that WSU fans are generally in agreement with this assessment, despite having the QB who broke the record book open). But, if we get another Friday Night Lights Spectacular in Martin Stadium, I'll be embarrassed for all of us no matter who wins, just as I was following UW's win over EWU. I think you should, too. If Cal wins a game where they made plays on both sides of the ball, as they did with Northwestern, I'll simply be disappointed.
By the way, can I say that this whole experience has reminded me just how talented Cal fans are with this Twitter thingy? Bravo, lads. I sure learned my lesson.
Anthony Cassino: Eh. After seeing the inconsistency with which the Huskies have played all year, a loss for UW wouldn't surprise me. I can't speak for Chris, but I'd be more disgusted than embarrassed if they went out and didn't show improvement offensively from what we've seen most of the year given the state of Cal's defense.
6. The strength of UW's offense matches up with the strength of our defense. I can hear your laughter, but we're only allowing 3.64 yards per carry and held Arizona to its second-lowest rushing total of the RichRod era. Do you trust Cyler Miles to exploit Cal's non-existent pass defense or do you expect to continue running a 2-1 rush-pass ratio?
Anthony Cassino: I have no trust in anything offensively on this team at this point. Nothing. They'll probably keep trying to run at the rate they have been though, and if Georgia State can stonewall the running game, Cal probably can too.
7. How safe is Cyler Miles' job?
Anthony Cassino: I would hope that it's not too safe, but I don't think my hopes are much in line with what Petersen and Jonathan Smith are thinking. If he continues to be a complete liability at the position, I would think that Troy Williams would have to get a hard look at some point, but it also appears that the coaches are completely willing to stick with who their process concluded the starting quarterback should be and they're going to live with all of his shortcomings.
Chris Landon: . Pretty safe. Petersen addressed that last Monday and was unequivocal about that point. The issue is that it is hard to lay the struggles of the offense at the QB's feet when there are obvious breakdowns happening with the OLine and receiving corps. Any QB is going to struggle under those circumstances.
8. Can Kasen Williams return to his 2012 form? Have others filled the void left by Smith and Seferian-Jenkins?
Anthony Cassino: He can, but it's not going to happen. I'm not actually convinced that he's not already there (or at least close), it's just that the offensive line is so porous and the QB play has been so bad that there's no hope of getting him -- or any receiver -- the ball down the field with anything resembling consistency. There has undoubtedly been a step back in play outside considering all the talent lost, but right now the way those guys are playing is not one of the top concerns of the passing game.
Chris Landon: On Kasen that's the million dollar question. Kasen was the only "big" receiver / red zone ace to return once phenom Demore'ea Stringfellow decided to take his talents to Ole Miss. There are some guys like Darrell Daniels and Joshua Perkins who are physical beasts, but they haven't been able to get a rhythm going with Cyler Miles.
9. Predict a final score.
Anthony Cassino: Cal 52, UW 31. I think that UW's defensive play against Stanford was a bit of fool's gold: they're much better equipped to handle a phone booth offense than a spread one, and I think that Cal is going to be finding the end zone with regularity. Offensively, I don't think that the Huskies can match Cal on the scoreboard. I can only really see UW keeping up if their defense manages to get them on the board.
Chris Landon: My pick, which I haven't settled on yet, will get posted over at the Pound. Unlike Anthony, I think UW's defense is better than Northwestern's and I fully expect UW to keep Cal in the high 20s or low 30s. I also recognize that Cal hasn't won a game by more than the 7 point difference at Northwestern, so I expect it to be that close. The big mystery is how good or bad UW's offense will look.
10. Who do you want to punch in the face?
Anthony Cassino: Pete Prisco.
Chris Landon: Larry Scott. His failure to get a deal with DirecTV or to ensure that the cables (e.g. Comcast) actually rolled out the P12Net nationally means that I'll be having to get sneaky in order to watch this game from my home base in Memphis.