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WAR ROOM PODCAST Episode #5: When a Man Loves a Football Team

The boys are back this week to dissect Washington’s win over Cal. Matt also chimes in with a disturbing tribute to the great Michael Bolton.

Click here to listen directly on Mevio. For iTunes, click the icon on the right side of the screen.


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Washington Football: As a Pure Quarterback, Keith Price > Jake Locker

After watching Jake Locker play quarterback the past few seasons, mental gaffes and overthrown receivers became regular occurrences, intermixed with Locker’s sensational athletic ability. The belief was that sooner or later everything would click, and then Locker would set the world on fire. It never happened.  After being drafted by the Tennessee Titans, Locker moved on and the baton was passed on to sophomore Keith Price.

Four games in, Price is playing at a higher level than Locker ever was. His throws were precise, his command of the offense was complete. His increasing comfort in the pocket is obvious, as he moves efficiently in reaction to pressure. He also seems to be relatively relaxed and having fun. Through four games he has tossed 14 touchdown passes compared to just 3 interceptions, while completing 67% of his passes.

In Washington’s first three games, the key to the offense was running back Chris Polk. Without Polk, the Huskies wouldn’t have beaten Eastern Washington and Hawaii.

But the key to the offense against Cal was Keith Price, along with creative play calling from UW coach Steve Sarkisian. The praise that Sarkisian offers Price right now is effusive.

“He is playing at about as high a level as you can play right now,” Sarkisian said.  “I tip my hat to (Stanford’s) Andrew Luck and (USC’s Matt) Barkley and these other guys in our conference. But the level of play that Keith Price is playing at is as high as anybody in our conference.”

The win over Cal left Washington with a 1-0 record in Pac-12 play and 3-1 overall. The Huskies travel to Salt Lake City next Saturday for a game against the Utah Utes, before having a BYE on October 8th.


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ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi and the Feminization of America

By Derek Johnson

As I type this it’s Saturday morning and I’ve got ESPN Game Day on the TV. I just turned the sound down, as they began their weekly Tom Rinaldi segment.  I’ve got some jazz on in the background now.

American society as we know it is being emasculated with each passing year, and ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi is a symptom of the cause.

Each Rinaldi segment features somebody that died from cancer, is dying from cancer, whose father died from a rare disease, some player that got run over by a tractor, or some other tragedy related to a player or coach from the college football landscape.

I’ve never liked Rinaldi but have never given it much thought. But as I was listening to a recent edition of the Husky Half Brains podcast, co-host Race Bannon pointed out how much he can’t stand the Rinaldi segments. He talked about how the only thing he wants to do on Saturdays is enjoy a day of watching college football. Do football fans need to be subjected to these formulaic tear-jerker stories week after week?

It really struck me this morning that I feel the same way. College football is one of the last bastions of masculinity in America. We get enough tragedy and misery as it is during the week in news reports found on TV and the internet.

Right now I just glanced at the screen again and the Rinaldi segment seems to be wrapping up. Some bearded middle-aged guy is sobbing and tears are running down his flushed cheeks. There’s no doubt that he probably has good reason to be sad, but that’s not the point.

The point is that context is everything. Running an occasional story telling of someone’s tragedy is fine. But weekly, formulaic segments that actively seek out and exploit tragedy is something that lacks integrity and doesn’t give people what they really need on a Saturday morning. It allows for “Oprah Moments” to seep into all areas of society, in a time when we need less examples of vulnerability and more examples of what it means to be a strong man.

Note to ESPN: Put an end the Rinaldi segments. Leave the Oprah Moments to the talk shows and news shows. Just give us college football.

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Nebraska Game Forces Matt Rogers to Dumpster Dive on the Ave; Dawgs set Sights on Cal

Washington’s second half meltdown against Nebraska leaves Derek feeling concerned and costs Matt everything he owns.

Lost wagers from Nebraska game left Matt Rogers to scramble for food. But both he and the Dawgs will bounce back!

But Kyle saves the day –and the podcast– with a list of positives backed with the strong conviction that this team will still make it to a bowl game.

Listen to the episode on Mevio or click the iTunes link on the right side of this page to listen to it on your MP3 player.


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UCLA Football: To Save his Job, Should Neuheisel Revert back to Option Attack?

By Derek Johnson

Meanwhile down in Los Angeles, we’re witnessing the slow death of Rick Neuheisel’s head coaching career. Following a 45-20 home loss to Texas, the Bruins are 1-2 and looking dreadful. In what has become a curious annual phenomenon, UCLA’s offense sputters in the slow lane like an old Datsun while rivals speed past along the Pac-12 freeway in their Ferraris and BMWs.

You’d think UCLA would possess one of those high octane offenses, given the recruiting advantages of being located in Los Angeles with a gorgeous campus. But the days of Troy Aikman and Tom Ramsey are receding deep into history. Currently, the Bruins are inept are quarterback.

Richard Brehaut’s performance Saturday was no exception. A mere 8-of-19 for 150 yards. The boo birds were out in full force, as the hometown crowd gave the quarterback and his teammates an earful after each woeful three-and-out.

Rick Neuheisel, now in his fourth season at UCLA, sits on the hot seat staring at extinction. But it’s not the first time he’s encountered this type of challenge.

When he took over the Washington Huskies in 1999, the team started the season 0-2. The offense was putrid.  The standards for Husky Football were much higher back then than they are now, and the fans voiced deep concern verging on anger. UW football just didn’t go 0-2. The masses openly questioned Neuheisel’s hiring.

Neuheisel summoned his quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo and fullback Pat Conniff to his office. Along with offensive coordinator Kieth Gilbertson, they began tapping into the players’ experience at running the option attack from their championship days at Woodinville high school. Neuhiesel stressed that “failure is not an option.”

The rest, as they say, is history. The Huskies went 7-2 the remainder of the season, and narrowly lost to fourth-ranked Kansas State in the Holiday Bowl. The next season, Washington’s option attack led the Pac-10 conference in rushing, as the Huskies went 11-1 and won the Rose Bowl over Drew Brees and Purdue. The players may have won the games, but the resourcefulness and willingness to change came from the top– Rick Neuheiesel.

As preposterous as it may seem, it could happen again. Tuiasosopo currently serves on Neuheisel’s staff. Surely there’s someone o the roster with experience in running the option. One many argue that Tuiasosopo was a rare talent, and that changes like that can only be made once in a million times.

But three games into the season, it’s deja vu all over again. This team and offense is on the road to nowhere. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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Washington Football: Will Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt be the next Jim Lambright… or Kent Baer?

By Derek Johnson

It will be interesting to hear the reactions from Matt and Kyle after witnessing the Washington-Nebraska game. The 51-38 defeat had both positives and negatives in abundance. Quarterback Keith Price is an exciting young talent and it seems like the sky’s the limit for him. Chris Polk is such a hard runner and tremendous asset for this football team. Without Polk, the Huskies might be 0-3 right now, instead of 2-1. Wide receiver James Johnson re-emerged by accumulating 106 yards and 2 touchdowns in receptions.

But that defense, aye carumba. They entered the game ranked dead last in the NCAA for 3rd down efficiency. Today, they surrendered over 300 yards on the ground. Nebraska players and coaches mentioned how they sensed the Huskies defense getting tired and fatigued by halftime.

In today’s post game interview, defensive coordinator Nick Holt started to roll his players under the bus, before stopping himself and including himself in the criticisms.

These are themes we heard during the Willingham years of 2005-2008, with a defense led by quarterback Kent Baer. The Huskies would often play a competitive first half before collapsing the second. They would often surrender record-setting performances to opposing QBs and running backs. And both Willingham and Baer were infamous for blaming their players. When I interviewed Husky players for Bow Down to Willingham, they almost universally described how divisive that was to team morale.

On the plus side, the Husky defense was bringing the lumber against the Cornhuskers, with several hard hits on the ball carrier.

But there’s a feeling of uneasiness to this season. Chris Polk and Keith Price, if healthy, might be enough to get this team to 6-7 wins and a minor bowl. But any opponent with a competent, accurate quarterback, will likely slice this Husky D to shreds.

It’s now the third year that head coach Steve Sarkisian and his DC Nick Holt have been at Washington. If the defense is regressing, it begs the question: Will Holt’s legacy prove to be a success like former UW defensive coordinator Jim Lambright? Or will be go the way of the disgraced Kent Baer?

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PODCAST: Matt Rogers Bets his House that UW will Beat Nebraska

Matt Rogers takes no prisoners in predicting a Washington win over favored Nebraska. Not only that, he implies that Derek and Kyle are traitors to the cause for their predictions.

To listen to the latest show, click this link for Mevio version, or click the iTunes logo on the right side of the page for downloading to your MP3 player.

Go Dawgs!

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