A real but fake Q&A with UW Dawg Pound

Thank you to John for answering our questions despite a canceled football game

Editor’s Note: I purposely held off on this posting to look back at these questions in hindsight, after the game had been canceled. Just some fun!

We were graciously given the opportunity to talk to John Sayler from UW Dawg Pound about the Cal-UW matchup and what UW brings to the table this season! Enjoy!

John Donovan is a relatively unknown OC hire with Penn State ties but no HC experience to help Lake. How do you expect the offense to look? 2 TE? How does it he fit how you have recruited over the last 3-4 years?

We don’t really know what kind of offense Jimmy Lake wants to run, other than he is a defensive coach who is obsessed with offensive philosophy. He’s been known to prefer attending offensive meetings rather than study defense when he has attended coaching clinics in the past. He’s been practicing against a Chris Petersen offense since 2012 when Petersen hired him at Boise St, and from little bits he has dropped here and there, it’s a versatile offense that can beat you multiple ways that Lake finds the hardest to defend.

Donovan seems to fit with that approach, and yes, the tight ends will be a big part of what the Huskies do going forward. 2 TE? Sure. Maybe three tight ends on one play, and none on the very next snap. I expect the offense to be a lot like the one Petersen built at Washington. Lake says they will “be more aggressive,” but honestly, when has a coach ever said they are going to “be more passive.”

What are your median expectations for the season? Challenge for Pac-12? Rebuild?

I don’t think any team in the Pac-12 is going to concede a “rebuild” year in this abbreviated season, especially one who looks at last year’s 8-5 season a disappointment. I absolutely expect UW to challenge for the Pac-12 title this season, and while I would not call them the favorite, it wouldn’t surprise many if they are very good on defense (which they were not early on in 2019), and good enough on offense to turn around a few of those one-score losses (there were four of them) from a year ago.

Cal wanted to hire Lake as DC when Wilcox was hired 4 years ago, what are his strengths as DC/HC? What are his weaknesses?

Lake turned down bigger jobs than just the Cal DC, and really that should have been a sign that Petersen was getting ready to move on. Of course, as Husky fans, we just arrogantly think it was because “Why would you ever leave UW?” But looking back now, he has probably known he was going to take over the head coaching job for a while.

Lake’s strength is his ability to recruit and develop defensive players, especially in the defensive backfield. Washington currently has nine defensive backs playing the NFL, and some of those guys were just two or three star recruits.

His weaknesses? Well, that remains to be seen now that he’s the captain of the entire ship.  Let the second guessing begin Saturday night.

How is the QB position looking? Any chance we see a brother vs brother situation with Ethan Garbers, or will Cal have to beat up on someone like Jacob Sirmon instead?

Your guess is as good as mine. We will find out who the #1 QB is the same way we found out Jake Browning was the starter in 2015. He will trot out with the offense and take the first snap. Some seem to think it’s going to be grad transfer Kevin Thomson, just because he has the only starting experience. His game tape makes me question whether he is good enough to be effective at the Pac-12 level. Sirmon is the current #1 in the pecking order, simply because he finished last season as the backup.

Garbers has the ideal size (Sirmon is almost TOO big at 6-5, 240), and honestly, by far the best high school tape. Lake does seem like the kind of coach who would take a chance on a true freshman, if he decides that's the best QB option he has. It would certainly be fun to see the Garbers boys going at it Saturday night.

Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?

Tailback Richard Newton (#6) runs like a man on fire. Bear fans will say to themselves (possibly even out loud), “Someone knock that Tazmanian Devil on his ass.”

Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?

Nickle DB Elijah Molden (#3) could have gone pro. Maybe he should have gone pro. But instead he is back for his true senior season. He is just one of those annoying guys that pops up everywhere making plays. He’s on most of the pre-season All-America teams, several as a first-team selection.

Who's one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for you?

The UW pass rush has been an issue the past few seasons. In 2019, Joe Tryon emerged as a legit edge rusher with eight sacks. Laiatu Latu (#13) is expected to step into Tryon’s role.  Latu is a world-class rugby player, who brings tremendous athleticism to the position.

What does Washington need to do to win the game?

Run the football. I mean, that’s the formula to win in the Pac-12 unless you are Wazzu. Will Jimmy Lake use the Petersen philosophy of using the passing game (including stretching the field early) to set up the run down the stretch? With the biggest O-Line in UW history (averaging around 320 lbs per man), the Huskies seem poised to at least try to be a running football team.

What does Cal need to do to win the game?

Let’s remain boring and predictable in my analysis. Cal needs to stop the run. Some new faces among the front seven for the Bears, but that doesn’t mean Wilcox, Peter Sirmon, and Tim DeRuyter won’t have these guys ready to play at a high level. They should know what’s coming.

How do you see the game going?

Feel out period, or punch for punch? This season has been strange so far, so the low-scoring game I would normally assume we see here, well. I just don’t know. It’s usually close between these teams unless Aaron Rogers or John Ross is involved.

Who are the prominent players who opted out or transferred and will the team be able to replace them?

OLB Joe Tryon & DT Levi Onwuzurike are the two big ones. They were All-Conference players, and Husky fans were really pumped they decided to come back for 2020; until the pandemic hit, when they both opted to declare for the draft. The Huskies are pretty deep along the D-Line, so the Tryon loss hits harder even though Onwuzurike was the better player.

WR Taj Davis, DB Isaiah Gilchrest, DT Sama Paama & TE Jacob Kizer are the other players who opted out of the season. Kizer would have seen a lot of action as a blocking TE, while the others are more depth players

Whom is the subject of ire for Husky Nation right now? (AKA, Who do you want to punch in the face question)

Evan Weaver. That was my choice a year ago, and he did nothing to make me hate him less. First, he played lights-out against Washington (again). Worse yet, he was the star of the most irritating pre-recorded TV package in recent CFB history. Don’t pretend you didn’t see him running around campus tackling students in a pair of AM/PM sunglasses.