User Interview: wlarson

Q&A with noted Gridiron Dynasty user wlarson

We recently contacted noted Gridiron Dynasty user wlarson to discuss recruiting, depth charts, Buddy Ryan, Tom Rathman, Jobster, NBA officiating, gameplanning, surfing and Mario Bailey's Heisman pose.

WIS

Who is wlarson?

wlarson

I am Will Larson, a 32 year old single male from Seattle, WA. I have a BA in Communications from the University of Washington but have worked primarily as a software developer. I spent five years working at Amazon.com and currently work at Jobster.

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSorts.com?

wlarson

I searched Google for a basketball simulator and WIS was one of the top sites listed. I read up on the college dynasty games and stayed up one night to get a team.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

wlarson

Playing sports, particularly basketball, going out to see live music, watching movies, standard stuff.

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

wlarson

When the M's beat the Yankees in '95. Edgar smacking a double and Junior coming home from first to end the game and series.

WIS

Which are your favorite teams of all-time?

wlarson

That '95 Mariner's team for sure. The '91 Huskies are up there, just an amazing team. Still remember Mario Bailey striking the Heisman pose near the end of the Rose Bowl against Desmond Howard and Michigan. The Sonics during the Payton/Kemp years, those teams were some of the most fun to watch I've ever seen.

WIS

Did you play any sports growing up?

wlarson

I played everything, though after 6th or 7th grade it was all basketball. I knew where to find an open game at any hour of the day.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

wlarson

From hoops it was Bird, Dominique, Zeek and Barkley. At some point I got into college hoops and became a huge ACC fan. Kenny Anderson at Ga Tech was my guy. I'd tape every game possible. In baseball it was Edgar Martinez. I liked Greg Maddux too - Picasso on the mound. For football my favorites were Ronnie Lott and Tom Rathman on the 49ers.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

wlarson

Football is tough. I find myself liking teams more than players. I love what Jacksonville is doing with their dominant defense and run game. I have a hard time rooting for NBA players. They made a decision to build the league around individuals rather than teams and I can't stand it. And the officiating, ugh don't get me started. Dwayne Wade is a great player, but it's no fun watching him or anyone else shoot 20+ free throws.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

wlarson

I tried surfing for the first time a few years ago and want to work up to riding 10-15 foot waves someplace warm like Maui.

WIS

As a coach in GD do you draw on the philosophies of any past or present coaches?

wlarson

Buddy Ryan to a degree, though there isn't a 4-6 defense in GD. My focus is on having extremely talented defensive players and letting them attack the offense. With one of my teams I play 'very aggressively' on defense for every down and distance. I prefer balanced or pass heavy offenses because they get my defense back on the field ASAP.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

wlarson

Knocking off Loras with Buena Vista in Rockne my 3rd season. They'd scored 42 points against me the prior season - in the first quarter. I can't remember the final score, but it was bad. Coming back to beat them at home was just a great feeling.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of our website?

wlarson

There's a great sense of community fostered both in the forums and the conference/league message boards. Also the customer service is always very quick to reply. The dev chats are great, both for asking questions and looking back after the fact. New users can learn a lot by reading the old chat logs.

WIS

Least favorite?

wlarson

Nothing big really. There are a few features I'm looking forward to in GD and HBD, but I know they're being worked on. Can't wait to see the new face on HD.

WIS

Having played in well over 100 seasons with a winning percentage over .800, what do you believe is the biggest key to GD success?

wlarson

Knowing your system, evaluating talent for that system, and filling your scholarships. Look at the top teams and players in your conference and try to figure out what makes them successful.

WIS

What is your approach to recruiting?

wlarson

I try to target a local player for every scholarship and have them considering me after the first cycle. After a few cycles I look farther away for better recruits that have slipped through the cracks. I also check which of my targets are being recruited by other coaches and see what my alternatives are.

WIS

How do you go about setting your depth chart and game plan?

wlarson

I like to have one backup for each position on the field. For example with a 2 RB set I want 4 RBs, 2 starters and 2 backups. For most positions I set the starters effectiveness at 90-95%, while the subs I set at 60-70%. I want my starters coming out for breathers, not the backups. They should be thankful for the chance to play, not signaling for a sub. I use a balanced offense so the ball gets spread around quite a bit. My goal on offense is to force the other coach to defend me with a balanced defense, giving me a slight advantage when both passing and running. But if they load up vs. one I should hurt them with the other. On defense I want to turn the ball over as often as possible and put my ball hawks at the top of the depth chart.

WIS

With seven national championships, what do you think you do that sets you apart from most users?

wlarson

Other than having far too many teams? LOL. Actually I think having multiple teams when I first started really helped develop my approach in GD. I would carefully game plan each down and distance on defense and study my opponents' formations and depth charts to get an edge on offense. It used to take me a lot of time but I'm now able to make game-to-game adjustments in just a few minutes. I think patience is key too. When I started out I was doing so many things poorly it was hard to determine what caused something to go wrong. After having some success I'm more willing to throw a bad play or two up to chance and leave the game plan as is.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

wlarson

bronco2rings and I were in the ASC together in Leahy when I first started and he really helped mold my early game planning and recruiting strategies. Richramirez and I have had a good rivalry since my first season in Rockne, often exchanging sitemails. andynomore, dwhit, paranoid0 and deandg are other coaches I frequently chat with and very much enjoy competing with.

WIS

You currently have four teams in DIA - Duke, Miami FL, Alabama and San Diego State. What is your ultimate goal in Gridiron Dynasty?

wlarson

Hmm, that's a good question. I want to build a DI-A run defense so dominant that the always run coaches in my conference not only can't run against me, but abandon their game plans and try to win via the pass. Anytime you get another coach to abandon the system they've built a team around, you're chances of winning are very, very good. I've been able to accomplish this at lower divisions, but not yet in DI-A.

WIS

What would you tell new users to the site who want to get the most out of WhatIfSports.com has to offer?

wlarson

Definitely try the free leagues. I had a run of free baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams for a long time. I have just been playing the dynasty games lately, but I really enjoy the sim leagues as well. I'd test new strategies with a free league and if I liked the results, use them for a full season. And be sure to read the forums. Don't be afraid to post something or sitemail other coaches in your leagues or conferences. If you've got a question there are dozens more wondering the same thing. Don't mind the person that inevitably tells you to read the FAQ. They mean well!

WIS

If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?

wlarson

I'd be a PF in Hoops Dynasty with 35 ath, 40 speed, 30 def, 40 reb, 30 shot block, 75 free throws, 20 low post, 50 perimeter, 35 ball handling, 70 passing, 60 durability and 60 stamina, with A- IQs in every offensive set, B+ in zone, C in man2man and F in press. 9-10 points per game, 4-5 rebounds, 6-7 assists, a couple 3s, and one 'I had no idea he could do that' crossover immediately after catching an elbow or being called for 'blocking' when a guard kamikazes into me.

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