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Q&A with U Dub Dish

With USC taking on Washington this weekend fellow SBN blogger Zach, from U Dub Dish, and I did a little question and answer session on our respective teams. My questions and his answers are below. I did the same for Zach and he should have my responses up to his questions in the next day or so.

Now that's a cool logo

1. Coach Willingham is in his second year at UW, it looks like the Huskies are starting to come together as a team. What has Coach Willingham done to make improvements this season?

U Dub Dish:

I really think it had been his faith in this team and really in QB Isaiah Stanback. Willingham had the chance to give up on Isaiah, but stuck with him (though painful at times) and Stanback really has had a good season thus far. Also, Willingham's discipline has been a big factor. The Dawgs collect few penalties and don't make many mental mistakes. That is a testament to good coaching.

2. Isaiah Stanback got my attention against a decent UCLA defense. Some have thought he is an inconsistent passer but it is clear that he can be a dual weapon threat. How has Coach Willingham improved his game?

U Dub Dish:

See above! Well, like I said, Willingham's faith in IS was the factor. He stuck with him through some tough times where he could have gone with another QB. Ty's belief in Stanback has led Stanback to believe in himself. This is a team that rides so high when they're confident and so low when they're not. Allowing the chance for Isaiah to make plays has given him confidence and you have to credit Willingham for giving IS that chance.

3. The Defensive line looks pretty good. What defensive improvements have the Huskies made this year?

U Dub Dish:

Good question. The secondary was awful the first few games, making mediocre quarterbacks look like the second coming of Joe Montana. But the DB's have improved and getting back Dashon Golson from injury is big. LB Scott White and Dan Howell have also stepped up recently and, in all honesty, the defense can thank the Huskies' best player, punter Sean Douglas. Douglas, just last week, pinned Arizona inside its own 5-yard line twice, allowing the defense to pounce.

4. The pundits did not give UW a very good chance in the Pac 10 his season. You are 2-0 in the Pac 10 and 4-1 overall. Are you pleasantly surprised with the results so far or did the team always know they were better than reported?  

U Dub Dish:

Fans in Seattle are jumping with joy! We're practically ready to riot (figuratively, not literally, of course). We thought 5-6 wins was possible, but a stretch. But now at 4-1 overall, we're thinking bowl game. We have home games against OSU, Stanford and ASU. All winnable. At this point, I think fans want a 7-5 or 8-4 mark. But seeing how this team has won 3 games in the last two years, we can't get overly excited. We need to realize that things are looking good so far, but we're not a great team yet and need to get a few good years to help with recruiting. Then the Huskies may really be back.

5. You may or may not know this, but Ty Willingham was the last coach to beat SC at the Coliseum. Is he hoping that lightning will strike twice? Has he used this to motivate the team?

U Dub Dish:

I did know that, as a matter of fact. I actually quizzed my buddies on it, and they had no idea. But I did. I felt huge! Honestly, I haven't seen too much about Ty mentioning that he was the last to beat them at the Coliseum. Willingham is a very reserved guy and is more the type to promote discipline and a strong work ethic rather than past achievements.

6. Sometimes RB's need a little competition to spark their season, with J.R. Hasty being ruled ineligible has that helped or hurt Kenny James this season?

U Dub Dish:

I think it's helped for the most part. James is still splitting carries with Louis Rankin, so the competitive edge is still there. But with Hasty out, it means James is seeing time and able to show what he's got. And through the first two games, it appeared that Kenny did have a lot. But the running game has been on hold the last three weeks, and ironically, those are three good UW victories.

7. Who is your surprise player? Who is the one player off the radar screen that SC should watch out for?

U Dub Dish:

Marcel Reece! We just love him at U-Dub Dish. Can't talk enough about him and praise him highly. He's a big, physical receiver and showed his talent in Washington's 21-20 win over Fresno State. But he hasn't been getting touches lately and we've pondered sending Willingham some hate mail about it. (Though we thought better of it). He's the type of guy who you wouldn't hear about one week, but then just explodes like Mount St. Helens and grabs 5 balls for 100+ and two TD's. He's got play-maker ability and could be a sparkplug in a game like this.

Thanks Zach!

Always a pleasure! Best of luck Saturday, though it may be the Dawgs who need the luck.