Archive for May, 2008

A Verbal in May – Who Knew?

May 30, 2008

We have our first verbal commit for the class of ’09. Yes, clearly this staff gets the whole “recruiting” thing. See, you actually go out and RECRUIT kids, and not wait around to see who’s available in November. OK, that’s a shot at the prior staff. But it is what it is. Remember, Wulff had THREE commits to WSU when he took the job in mid-December last year. So you tell me which approach is the right approach.

Enough of that. Geoff Meinken is a 1-star recruit straight outta Lynnwood who looks pretty interesting. 6-4, 250 and runs a 4.6 as a DE/RB hybrid. Per (and that’s where we RIPPED off the picture above):

Biography: A three-sport standout (football, basketball and track). All-league honorable mention in football in 2007 on defensive line. Also rushed for nearly 700 yards that season from tailback spot. Good frame, good feet. Gained 30 pounds between start of his sophomore year and end of his junior year.

Something called says this:

“Committed to Washington State. He says that he fell in love with the campus and team during his three day visit. ” Cool. From the personal pic to the right, you can see that he was into it.

The Kitsap Sun had a good write-up about him, including some quotes from his high school coach. The amazing thing to me? He’s still JUST 16 YEARS OLD and he’s 6-4, 240 and runs a 4.6-40?? Wow. And he’s strong as an ox too, per the article:

“The potential for him is sky high,” Lynnwood coach Dorian Manza said. “He’s a real young senior. He benches 300 (pounds), dead lifts over 500, squats over 400.”

As noted above, he’s a hoopster and track athlete as well. Here’s a look at some of his track numbers. If you are too lazy to click over, just know that he’s got personal bests of 11.73 in the 100, 24.63 in the 200, 41’2″ in the shot, 16’3″ in the long jump and he ran the second leg of a 4×100 relay team that placed 3rd in the district with a time of 44.68.

In hoops, he played some power forward for Lynnwood. Not a big stats guy, he averaged 5.8 points per game last year, with five games in double figures in scoring. Lynnwood is losing a decent amount of seniors off their current team, so he could have a much bigger scoring season next year.

Still, not bad for a 16-yr old growing into his frame. He put on 30 lbs in one year, what will he look like when he shows up in Pullman next year, after he turns 18? With that kind of size at his age, you can probably forget about him playing RB at the next level. We are probably talking about a quick, 270-lb DE by the time he shows up. And don’t get too down about the 1-star ranking. WE never get caught up in the star ratings around here anyway, but usually you see the 1-stars this early in the recruiting season because they basically haven’t been fully evaluated by the analysts. He has probably flown under the radar for a while. Oregon and UW were on his list, but he said WSU was coming after him the hardest. Best of all, it’s a good fit for the young man. Welcome to the family Geoff!

Did EA Get it Right?

May 29, 2008

Video-game dork alert. You’ve been warned.

EA Sports will be releasing the newest version of their stellar NCAA Football series, NCAA Football ’09, in mid-July. Part of the hype surrounding the release has some web sites with an early build of the game, and they have been showing off some screens of what things will look like this year. For WSU fans, I have to say it looks promising.

For the first time on the “next generation” machines (Xbox 360 or PS3), Martin Stadium will make an appearance. For the first couple of releases on the new machines, they went with a “generic” stadium that really looked nothing like Martin. But this year they’ve finally got it right. Part of the issue is that EA really took the next step with these stadiums, where in some interviews claiming they personally went to as many D-1 stadiums they could and took tons of photos from every conceivable angle. Even to the extent that they say the setting within 1 mile around the stadium would be accurate. So did they get Martin Stadium right?

First, this shot facing the practice field. You can see that they got the stands right, and the entrance is in the right spot. But it looks like they missed the Cougar Pride banner over the tunnel. Oh well. Still, it looks pretty accurate. You can even see the roof of the Field House.

Here’s a shot facing stadium way.

Look to the top-left, and you can see the practice bubble. The press box looks pretty good as well (compare this shot with the shot in the header of our site and you can see they did a good job). The WSU banner is gone in reality, isn’t it? Has that thing ever been recovered? It doesn’t look like they got the renovations into the game, as this year things will look drastically different on the Stadium Way edge.

Another look towards the practice field (Florida at Martin Stadium?? WTF?).

Again you see the press box and that looks perfect. They also got the CUB, and you can even see some lights reflecting off the windows. Pretty cool. Unfortunately they have our old scoreboard as well. Oh well, maybe next year.

Another look towards Stadium Way.

To the bottom-right, you can see a group of fans in Florida blue. Nice touch, having the visitors section in one area. But they are on the wrong side of the stadium. SO FAKE!

Now for a couple of in-game shots. First, Andy Mattingly leaps into the air to try and knock down a pass.

This is where you can get a good look at the stadium. You see the lights off the CUB, you see the scoreboard, heck, you even see the lighting standards lining the practice field. Very cool. Unfortunately, you also see some mistakes here. Grey/gray helmets on the road uni’s? We haven’t done that since 1999, except for the Apple Cup road games. Maybe it’s a limitation in the game and they can’t have various helmets per team. Personally I am not a big Crimson helmet fan, so I wish we would go back to the one helmet at home and on the road. I LOVED our look in the Apple Cup! But not only the helmet on the road uni, but you can see something else in this last shot:

Again, a good look at the stadium and it looks good, even though the scoreboard is outdated. You can see the Field House to the top-right as well. But the numbers on the shoulders are odd. I must have missed how we moved those around, unless we’re changing things this year? Weird. They had it right last year.

Finally, according to EA, we’re GOING TO THE ARMED FORCES BOWL! We’ll face off against the hated San Diego State Aztecs, the 3rd seed from the Mountain West. It’ll be SO ON.

So there you have it. It’s not perfect, but it is better than it has been in years past. It is nice to see them giving WSU a little love.

So why a post about video games? Because it’s May, that’s why. What, do you want to rehash all the off-field garbage that has been the off-season of ’08? Neither do I. But I also bring this up because we’ll be simulating each game this season, the week before each game is played. It should be interesting to see how things play out in the video game realm and compare it to reality. We will upload a few videos from each game as well. I know ESPN does this sort of thing with the biggest games of the week, but we’ll do it for our Cougs.

FINALLY, saw Indiana Jones over the weekend. In a word: “Meh“. If you are a fan of the Indy series, you might get a rise or two out of it. But for the most part, I thought it missed the mark. And that’s from someone who LOVES the original. Believe me, I really wanted to love this one too. But it missed. It’s hard to say why. Maybe because he’s 65 and has lost a few steps, maybe the story wasn’t that great or the villain wasn’t anything to fear (Cate Blanchett with a Katie Holmes hair cut and bad Russian accent?). Maybe Shia Lebouf pretending to be Fonzie was a mistake. I don’t know. Maybe it was the lame ending. Or worst of all, maybe it was all the CGI that Lucas and Spielberg mixed in. That was one of the beauties of the previous movies, in that they were gritty, dirty, and full of great stunts and excellent acting. Sure it was fake, but it felt somewhat “real”. Not this movie. It might be worth a matinee if you are looking for something to do, but I wouldn’t go with a premium time to see it.

Calvin Schmidtke Out Before Pullman Arrival?

May 28, 2008

Dang. This is too bad. Calvin Schmidtke, the QB who tore it up last year in a pass-happy offense and a guy many compared to Jason Gesser, Chase Daniel and Todd Reesing among others? The kid who looked like the perfect fit in the new Todd Sturdy offense? Well, according to today’s TNT, Schmidtke is OUT. That’s right, Paul Wulff and Jim Sterk made the decision to release the promising young QB before he ever set foot on campus. From the article:

The Lakes High standout, who was The News Tribune’s 2007 All-Area co-player of the year, will be released from his national letter of intent for a series of traffic citations and other criminal charges.

Seven of his 11 citations in the past 18 months have been traffic-related stops, but Schmidtke will be at Fircrest Municipal Court this morning facing DUI and other alcohol and drug-related charges.

OUCH. I bolded the “11 citations in the past 18 months” for a reason. This isn’t one or two mistakes. This is a disturbing pattern of trouble. Even more, the article states that on a recruiting trip, the WSU coaches told him to stay out of further trouble, yet even after that trip he went out and got into more hot water.

This is another example of the changing culture implemented by Wulff. Not to suggest that Schmidtke is a bad kid. I don’t know him, and the only things we’ve heard about him in the past have been positive. His father was even at the WSU Football Dinner in Seattle in February. It looked like the beginning of a strong relationship. But this is more about setting an example for all others to follow. Don’t screw up, period, or else. Given all the negative publicity we’ve received in off-the-field incidents, better to nip something like this in the bud, now, before his demons follow him to Pullman.

Too bad though, really, for the young man to blow a chance at a full ride, playing college football at a Pac-10 school. Maybe he’ll head to a JC, or even another program will step forward and offer him a scholarship. But it is a sad story all the way around. We profiled him back in January, and he sure looked like a great fit. You can see that profile here (but given the news, you might just want to skip it altogether).

For the program, Schmidtke’s loss isn’t the end of the world, but it does hurt the QB depth for the future. A check of this year’s signing class and you see that Schmidtke was the only QB. You can bet that QB is now front-and-center on the 2009 recruiting class priority lists! A check of the Cougfan recruiting prospects list shows several QB’s in the mix, so we’ll see.

Spring Fish Wrap – Portland State Weirdness Edition

May 27, 2008

Why is it weirdness always follows Jerry Glanville? Everyone remembers that he’s an odd duck, one who leaves tickets at will call for Elvis every week and a guy who punched one of his coaches on the sidelines during an NFL playoff game. But even today, the odd follows Glanville. If you haven’t seen this before, check out what happened during a game at Portland State last year:

Nice. The reaction from the announcers is classic. They may not win a lot at PSU, but they have a good time!

Speaking of PSU, yes, that’s one of our non-league games this season. But they might not be the layup you might think in just glancing at the schedule. Here’s some spring things to know about the Vikings.

Last Year: Struggled to a 3-8 season, 3-5 in the Big Sky, in Jerry Glanville’s first-ever NCAA head coaching job (Glanville had a long NFL career, but never was an NCAA head coach). HOWEVER, one of their conference wins? They went to Cheney and beat Paul Wulff’s EWU Eagles, 28-21. PSU was down 14-7 at half, but then scored three straight TD’s in the 2nd half to put it away with 3+ minutes to go. Portland State won the last two games against Wulff and EWU in ’06 and ’07.

Offensive Scheme: Run-n-Shoot, all the way. The same offense that made Warren Moon a Hall-of-Famer as a Houston Oiler is now at Portland State. Mouse Davis, the OC under Glanville, is regarded as the “father” of the Run-n-Shoot, something he mastered in the late-70’s. Interestingly enough, Davis led Portland State to 20 NCAA D-II passing records. His most recent success was at Hawaii, under June Jones no less. Under Davis, the Warriors led the nation in passing offense, total offense, scoring offense and pass efficiency rating. In ’07 PSU led the nation in passing offense, throwing for 360 yards per game. These guys know how to move the ball, period, and have done it for decades.

Top Offensive Player: QB Drew Hubel – The frosh came off the bench last season and excelled, including an amazing NINE TD passes in his first-ever start vs. Weber State! Hubel is huge, too, at 6-5, 200 lbs and growing. Hubel is a local kid from Corvallis who chose Portland State over Oregon State, citing the chance the play immediately, and he was right. They lost senior starter Brian White after the 7th game last year, and it was mainly Hubel from that point forward. However, Hubel wasn’t perfect, and he actually regressed over the last few games. As great as he was in throwing those NINE TD’s in that first start, he also threw NINE INT’s over his last two starts. So it’s feast-or-famine with Hubel. The other QB competing for the starting job is Tygue Howland, a backup who only played in the opener last year. Most likely it will be Hubel’s job heading into fall camp. Check out some pretty impressive video from that first-ever start:

The really bad news for PSU is how much they’ve lost in the skill positions. All those TD passes have to be caught by someone, right? Not only will they still be young at QB, but the top three WR’s are all gone from last year. But it’s not like it’s a true system that relies on superstar talent. Just look at the success Hawaii has had recently, and you realize that very few of those players from 10-win seasons are going to the NFL. So it’s definitely more about plugging in the pieces into the scheme and watching it go.

Top Defensive Player(s): While PSU lost their top tackler from last year, they do return #’s 2 and 3 from last year in OLB KJ McRae and ILB Andy Schantz. McRae had a big season last year, racking up 70 tackles, including 12.5 for loss, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an INT. McRae has excellent size at 6-1, 240, and is an all-conference candidate on the outside after honorable mention last year. Schantz is an outstanding inside linebacker, totaling 85 tackles, 9 for loss, 3 sacks, a team-high 3 forced fumbles and was basically all over the field. Like McRae, Schantz is a decent-sized linebacker at 6-1, 235. He is regarded as a team leader in the heart of the defense, and was also honorable mention in ’07. The linebackers will be their best position on defense.

Bottom Line: This is a dangerous opponent. After coming off the road game at Baylor, we’ll still only be on our fourth game of the year. Wulff will have to get the emotions charged up for this one, not only coming off the Baylor game, but to avoid peeking ahead to the next week. For the hated Yucks of Oregon will be looming on 9/27! The scary part is that unlike our early-season opponents, Portland State won’t be too surprised by what they see out of WSU. If there is a “trap” game of 2008, this is it.

PSU opens with Western Oregon and UC Davis before coming to Pullman, and we are their first – and only – BCS school on the schedule in 2008. You know they’ll be sky-high for this one. But even with the return of McRae and Schantz at linebacker, they were pretty bad defensively last year. San Diego State drilled them 52-17 in 2007. That’s the same SD State team that Brink absolutely devoured last year. So what can you expect? Yards and points by the bushel. We’re a long way from the season, but you can see this one coming nearly 4 months away. Nice late-September weather in the Palouse, and our no-huddle vs. the Run-n-Shoot? It should (hopefully) be a fun one to watch.

Spring Fishwrap – Baylor Edition

May 24, 2008

Ah, yes, Baylor. When I hear the name, I think of only one thing….

You were a great DH, Don Baylor, but you were no Edgar Martinez. By the way, why, exactly, did Baylor never wear ear flaps on his batting helmet? Didn’t the guy lead the universe in hit-by-pitches? Yet no ear flaps? I think I have a stack of those batting helmets from 1982 that I “borrowed” from the local Dairy Queen. Of course they are all Seattle Mariners or Spokane Indians, but you get the idea.

Seriously, Baylor. The wacky Baylor Bears take on our Cougs in the 3rd game of the season, and this time it’s down in Waco. What do these guys look like coming out of spring? Let’s see.

First of all, I think Baylor hates us. Really. Think about it – we beat them in the ’94 Alamo Bowl. We beat them 17-15 in Qwest in 2006, on Peanut’s chip-shot at the gun that almost wasn’t if the refs hadn’t totally missed DeMaundray’s fumble at the goal-line a few plays before. And then last year, we go down there with the hoops team and hand them their first loss in dramatic style. All in all, I’m thinking they want a piece of WSU ass right about now.

Last Year: 3-9, including a terrible o-fer in the Big-12. And you thought we were the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked last year? 3-9 and defeated in conference play isn’t just bad. It’s major poop-island stuff. Head coach Guy Morriss took the fall and was relieved of his duties, and Art Briles now takes over the only Big 12 team that hasn’t ever been to a bowl game in conference history! (Baylor was not in the Big 12 when we beat them in 1994.) Briles comes from Houston, and he had a decent 34-28 record there, including three bowl games since 2003.

Offensive Scheme: Briles brings a pass-first, shotgun offense to Baylor. Spread ’em out and attack through the air. This is sure a common theme these days, isn’t it?

Top Offensive Player: This could also be another QB controversy issue. Blake Szymanski is back as the starter from last year, and he threw for over 2800 yards and 22 scores in ’07. He did toss 18 picks, however, in his first attempt as a starter in his sophomore season. Szymanski is tall at 6-4, but slightly over 200 lbs isn’t exactly an imposing figure. He completed 57% of his passes last year, not too bad but still not great. In all the video I’ve watched of him, he doesn’t have a gun, but he does throw a decent deep ball. A lot of touch on the lobs to the end-zone. Here’s a shot of him tossing one up into coverage, but the WR goes up and gets it:

NCAA Football Highlights on

He could be an ideal fit for the shotgun spread offense, which doesn’t rely on Brett Favre-types back there. A look around at some of the Big 12 offenses and you see a lot of QB’s that are less about pure arm strength and more about executing the read-option offense, making your reads and getting rid of the football. He’s got some decent weapons in WR’s Thomas White and super-talented David Gettis. Gettis is a huge target at 6-4, 205 lbs, and could have a major breakout season in the spread offense. Our secondary will have it’s hands full with Gettis.

But, I said QB controversy above, as it’s not a lead-pipe cinch that Szymanski will be the guy next year. There was some spring buzz about QB Kirby Freeman, a hyped transfer from the U of Miami. Freeman was a big-time recruit from Texas who chose the ‘Canes over Purdue, Okie State, Arizona, ASU, Nebraska, Texas and UCLA. But Freeman is already a 5th-yr senior, and with a new coach and offense in tow, it might not make a whole lot of sense to give him the job with a returning starter like Szymanski who has some time left to grow. But we’ll see. You can read about Freeman from an ESPN profile last month here.

Top Defensive Player: This one is a tie between LB Joe Pawelek and safety Jordan Lake. Both are well-regarded in the conference, and per the Sporting News, are in the top 5 in the Big 12 at their respective positions. Pawelek (pictured) exploded onto the scene in 2006, leading the team in tackles as a frosh. He had 86 tackles his first year, and 99 last year. He is now an All-Conference and All-American candidate heading into 2008. At 6-3, 233, he fits the prototype linebacker mold to a T and likely has a real NFL future in front of him. Oh, and guess what? He almost was a Coug! That’s right, Pawelek was one of those Texas kids we went after a few years ago, and in 2005 he chose Baylor over WSU and Houston. Pretty interesting. Here’s a Cougfan article about him in back in the day, and who knows, maybe he would have been starting alongside Greg Trent this whole time? Meanwhile, Lake had a strong 2007, totaling 120 tackles and a couple of picks. Lake is a solid 6-2, 205 lb safety who is always around the ball, and like Pawelek, an All-Conference candidate as the leader of the secondary.

Bottom Line: Our first road game of the Paul Wulff era comes at a weird spot. Traveling back to Texas might be difficult enough. But then you factor in an opponent with a whole new system and this one is tough to read. Baylor opens with 3 straight home games, with Wake Forest on 8/30 and Northwestern State on 9/6 before WSU comes calling. Even though they have a new system, they are returning 9 offensive starters, including the likely starting QB in Szymanski. The offensive line looks really strong as well, with four starters back from ’07. They only allowed 21 sacks all of last year, so, they will be regarded as the top unit on the team. I think USC sacked Brink 21 times last year? Anyway, defensively, however, they do lose some key guys, including safety Brandon Stiggers, who tied for the team lead in picks last year. Add in that they had the worst scoring defense in the Big 12, allowing over 32 points per game? In their case, a changeover in coaches and some new faces might be the best possible scenario.

To me, they look a little like Oklahoma State, only not quite as talented. But it will be our first road game, which can always be an adventure, especially for the new coaches and players. I would think Baylor will be a 3-4 point favorite, but it could come down to whoever has the ball last wins. That, or, “I’ll tell ya what – if WSU can score more points than Baylor, they just might pull this thing off!” Signed, Ron Fairly.

Enjoy your holiday weekend with $4/gallon of gas. Not to get too political, but, did you know that the day the Iraq war started, gas was $1.58 a gallon?? I thought the war was about oil. Or was it terror? I forget. Whatever. Anyway, enjoy your weekend.

Brinkhater Diaries: The Big Dummy

May 22, 2008

Brinkhater Diaries: Vol 1 (4)

“With the fourth pick in the 2008 NBA draft the Oklahoma, er, Seattle, Sonics, pick…..”

Well, now that the Supes fell out of the top 2 in Tuesday’s draft Lotto, the quest now turns to seeing who they are going to pick up. Granted, we don’t know who is going to be available when the Sonics are on the clock, but in my book, there is only one choice. THE BIG DUMMY:

Of course, I am not referring to THAT Big Dummy, Lamont (BUT HOW GREAT WOULD it be to have Grady sitting next to Kevin Calabro on all broadcasts?) But I AM referring to Lord King Marble Marble Mouth, B. Lopez.

While currently has him slated for Minneyhana, I think he would be a perfect fit for the Supes. And, although some aren’t that high on him (Jerry Brewer likened him to Captain Cayman of the Clipps), I think he is a real star in the making: Shot blocking, nice touch around the basket, clutch, and he’s a guy who will be able to match up with any big in the West. He could be a real game changer even a T. Duncan type. With Lopez in tow, the Sonics frontcourt looks lean and mean for the years to come!

Sticking with the NBA, a big shout out to CP3 for once again showing the world that I am an idiot (see former issue of the Diaries where I picked the Hornets to beat the Spurs in five). But in addition to Chris Paul, were any of you surprised when Lebron was sent on his summer-long fishing trip on Lake Eerie on Sunday? I wasn’t.

As the above pick shows you somewhat decently, King James has a MAJOR flaw in his jump shot: that right elbow has a tendency to flare way the hell out there on WAY too many occasions. What is amazing is how he can be so stinking awesome with such crappy/erratic shooting mechanics. IF King James can ever get his elbow in consistently, then he will become the Tiger Woods of basketball: LeBron would average nearly 40 a game and would be absolutely unstoppable. I mean, the game seems easy for him now, but imagine what things would be like if he got his shot in order. Scawey stuff.

Finally, my big shout out of the week goes to Vince “Get A” Grippi from the Spokesman. Don’t know if you all caught the “hot press” this past week, but reported earlier in the week that our hot basketball recruit Casto now has a qualifying ACT score!

Now, in fairness to Grippy, any student athlete needs more than a passing SAT or ACT to become eligible. And as Grippy reported, we will not know whether or not Casto completed all of the coursework he needs to play next year at WSU until after school gets out.

However, given the fact that Casto has been homeless, has had an incredibly difficult family life, has attended multiple high schools in the last year, and has recently dedicated his time toward studying for that test, could it have been possible for Grippy to more positively report on that accomplishment as a center piece instead of giving us a Caveat Casserole? Or, was it much more important for him to take the “not so fast my friends/grumpy-ole-poopy-pants” approach and gloss over Casto’s significant accomplishment of moving from being homeless to being on the brink of attending a four-year university? Way to go, Grippy! Might I suggest that you change your visage on the Spokesman site to something that looks more like this, you old Grump:

And so, Cougar Nation, I doth bequeeth Vince Grippy, this week’s “WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD!!!!………..”

In Search of a Hero – Cal Spring Fishwrap Edition

May 18, 2008

You could call this “second in a series” as we look ahead to our ’08 opponents. Last Sunday was Okie State, and today, we examine the Berkeley Bears and their post-spring condition.

Spring Theme – “I NEED A HERO!”

What does that mean, actually? Well, a check of the current roster, and you understand. Cal’s heroes have left the building. Super-speedy Mr. wonderful, DeSean Jackson? Gone. Leading receiver (better numbers than Jackson, actually), Lavelle Hawkins? See ya. WR Robert Jordan and his 689 yards receiving? Adios. Strong all-around TE, Craig Stevens?? BUH-BYE. In fact, the top 5 receivers from Cal’s 2007 team are “pursuing other interests”.

Oh yeah, sprinkled into the conversation is that leading rusher Justin Forsett and leading tackler Thomas DeCoud have both moved on. Forsett is now with the Seattle Seahawks. Forsett had an outstanding 1546 yards rushing last year, and a team-high 15 rushing TD’s. DeCoud had 116 tackles. Both will be missed.

But there IS a hero in the Cal midst, and his name is Jahvid Best (pictured above). Best was highly touted as a true frosh last year, a top-10 back in the nation in many recruiting rankings. He was also one of the fastest recruits in the country last year. Best ran an amazing 10.39 in the 100 meters his senior year, which is quite frankly world-class speed, especially for a football player. But as the following videos will attest, this isn’t just a “track guy”. First, the speed is impressive, but you can see the cut-back ability vs. Tennessee:

Next, check out the ability to break some tackles when it appears there isn’t anything there:

That’s a true frosh folks. There’s a reason they call him “The Jet”. He’s a home run threat every time he touches the football. HOWEVER, he did only get 29 carries for the entire 2007 season, so he’s not real experienced. He’s cut, but only 5-10, 185. This isn’t an Adrian Peterson, 25-carry per game body type here. The load might be tough as the feature guy. And as far as health goes, there is already cause for concern. Best missed a good chunk of spring ball, out nursing a hip injury. As ESPN’s Ted Miller wrote, it’s the type of hip injury that makes coaches nervous. Best is sort of like that suped-up sports car, that can go from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye. He’s a tightly wound, explosive bundle of power, yet could blow a rod or a piston in an instant. You get the idea.

But Cal isn’t just about their running backs. Here’s a look at the rest of the story.

QB Controversy: Kind of weird to even think it from an outsider point of view, but there is a QB situation developing at Cal. A couple of years ago Nate Longshore was Mr. Everything, but now? Not so much. If you remember, Cal crashed and burned down the stretch last season, going from a near-#1 ranking to losing 6 of their last 7 games. They did rally to beat Air Force in the Armed Forces Helicopter bowl, 42-36. And that’s part of the controversy here. QB Kevin Riley (pictured) played outstanding football that day, finishing with a ridiculous 255+ QB rating. He only had 3 incomplete passes the entire game. Meanwhile Longshore’s struggles down the stretch matched the team-wide funk as Cal nearly missed out on a bowl game. Hard to believe this was the same team that beat Tennessee and Oregon earlier in the season, compared to the group that was steamrolled at UW and lost to Stanford to close the season.

Longshore only threw for 2500 yards and 16 TD’s. That’s down from over 3,000 yards and 24 TD passes in 2006. Much, much more was expected of him last year. To be fair, Longshore was playing hurt for much of the season, so he never was quite himself. But there is some momentum behind the idea of the fans believing that maybe Riley is the answer. Right now, Jeff Tedford hasn’t fully declared either guy the starter, so, the door is open for Riley.

Young Defense: 7 starters are set to return on defense next year, and it was a young defense at that. FS Thomas DeCoud and his 116 tackles are gone, but there is still hope. Zack Follett is back at strongside LB and should be on a lot of all-conference lists. He had 64 tackles last year, but a fantastic 12.5 tackles for loss, tops on the team. Corner Syd’Quan Thompson (pictured) looks like a real player, as he moved from WR to corner last year and tore it up as a sophomore. He had 78 tackles, including an impressive 6 for loss. He also had a team-high 10 pass-breakups.

Bottom Line: Cal is in the middle of a real change-over on offense. Tons of new faces at the skill positions, and a QB situation that can best be called unsettled right now. If Best is healthy, early on you may see them keep things conservative as they break in the new guys in the first few games. Defensively I think they are going to be pretty good, and with those 7 starters back, they should help keep things under control while the offense settles in.

That said, you have to wonder about their state of mind. Even with all their offensive firepower last year, they fell apart down the stretch in epic proportions. But who knows, maybe losing the star power from last year’s team is actually a good thing in their view. It might help heal the wounds from ’07, and they can more or less reboot and forget the collapse.

They open with Michigan State at home, and then it’s on to Pullman. We haven’t beaten Cal since the 2002 Rose Bowl season, and their pure talent will always outshine ours on paper. But Tedford’s offense is sort of a west-coast hybrid, and timing is key in an offense like that. Early in 2008 might be the best time to play them, especially since it will be their first road game of the season. Cal will most likely be favored, but there could be an “upset alert” feel to this one.

Root for Kooyman

May 16, 2008

For all you anonymous critics let me help you “sift through” the babble. Skip the 1st 2 paragraphs the juicier (more like mildly juicy in this case) stuff is below.

Since I’m all about fulfilling my civic duties I passed on trying to weasil my way out of jury duty and headed down to the Regional Justice Center in Kent on Wednesday. I was half asleep when they were calling out names but I thought I heard Kevin Kooyman over the loud speaker. I didn’t think much of it because she didn’t pronounce it right and what the hell would a defensive end for WSU being doing there (at least as a juror). We ended up in the same courtroom together and sure enough there he was. When I found out that the trial was expected to take 6 weeks it was weasil-city for me.

I made it out of there and so did Kooyman – back to the waiting room for what ended up being a long stint. Anyway, he ended up sitting next to me so I started chatting him up. Kooyman suprised me because I wasn’t expected a big defensive end to be the cordial, smart guy that he was. I’ve watched Kooyman for 2 years and when he’s been on the field (he lettered both years) he’s been intense and played hard. In the waiting room he’s mellow and reading every sports magazine he can get his hands on. If you look at his bio, which I did before I talked to him because I had the time, he finished high school with a 3.94 GPA and as a member of the National Honor Society. The whole time he was working on his grades he was getting all-league honors on both sides of the ball, he picked up state championships in wrestling both his Jr and Sr years and he was a track star to boot. Check out all of his extra-curricular and volunteer work too. He was actually called to jury duty back in April and instead of bailing out completely he rescheduled it for the short window he was going to be at home. Because he has a good head on his shoulders, which I could tell without reading his bio, and because I haven’t had a favorite Coug to watch since Mkristo left, I’m rooting my ass of for Kooyman these next 2 seasons. I will from now on refer to him as “My man Kooyman”.

My man Kooyman (6-6, 242) was listed as the starter on the left end in this springs depth chart. Mattingly is listed as the starter on the right side with Mike Graise backing him up. Senior Jesse Feagin (6-3, 261) will be probably be giving my man Kooyman a run for the starting position this fall but there is also Junior transfer Jessy Sanchez (6-2, 265, West LA College) who will somehow work into the mix. I’m not sure which side the coaches are planning on playing Sanchez but I imagine, with Mattingly and Graise on the right, they will stick him on the left for some competition to strengthen that side.

Because my man Kooyman was I good guy I didn’t press him too hard for juicy information but I got a couple things out of him. He is very excited about Wulff and the rest of his staff. He loves his coach Malik Roberson. (At this point in our conversation I told him how throwing Malik’s name out saved Hootie McBoob and myself from getting our asses kicked by some big dudes at Dick’s Drive-in in Spokane due to a little misinterpretation of something that came out of Hooties mouth. I believe their quote was “You guys know Malik… you’re cool”. Remember that Hootie? A-hole.) He is also very excited to see what they can do this fall with the new system and energy that Wulff is bringing. He said that in a way that did not at all come across as “we’re in a rebuilding time”. It was quite confident actually. Even though it sounds naive that is the best attitude for the team to have. How could you be motivated if your sure you’re going to finish in the bottom of the Pac-10.

I brought up the tough times that are going on with the program right now. His response was that Doba let things slide and that Wulff is working hard at “cleaning up their act a bit”. Again his response was positive and he didn’t seem worried about the damage the recent sanctions and suspensions are going to have on the program.

On the subject of Doba, besides making excuses for him with his age, wife and hours that need to be commited to the head coach position, I brought up how fun it was to watch some of his defenses in the Price era. My man Kooyman mentioned that they brought back some of Doba’s old schemes for the UCLA game last fall. They gave UCLA an ass-whooping with it and then never used it again. He was pretty perplexed why they didn’t. I guess I am too although I’ll admit that I didn’t notice that had happened in the first place.

So anyway my man Kooyman is heading back to Pullman soon for Summer classes which, according to him gives him something to do when he’s not doing “voluntary” work-outs. It was nice meeting you man and I’m refreshed to know that there are still student athletes that care about the student part.

LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis everyone:

Good Behavior Already an Issue for Hicks?

May 16, 2008

Yeah, that whole good-behavior thing? It was a nice idea with Xavier Hicks, but, unfortunately we’re off to a rocky start. As part of Hicks’ sentence, he must participate in a work-release program. After a routine check-up on Hicks, well, he wasn’t there. Per the Times today, Hicks was not where he was supposed to be. This latest mess-up could likely result in Hicks having to serve the full 45-day jail sentence, instead of the hoped-for 30 days based on good behavior. Maybe there is a legit excuse or a mis-communication. However, at this rate I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Hicks in a WSU uniform.

Insert heavy sigh….NOW. You hate to see kids screw up, but it’s even worse when they are on their last “strike”, been given second-third chances, etc. He’s hanging by a thread, so you would hope he would make the right decisions at this point. We’ll see how it turns out, but so far, NOT so good.

Wulff mentioned in an article on Cougfan the other day about who would be in line to take over for Hicks, at least in the first three games of his ’08 suspension. The two most prominent names are Myron Beck and Easton Johnson. If you don’t recognize the names, you aren’t alone. Both are walk-on JC transfers. But it might not be the end of the world here.

Beck is an intriguing guy. 5-11, 205, led his JC league in Glendale, AZ in picks last year. He’s a Seattle kid who was excited about coming back to the northwest when he committed in January. Here’s some tidbits from his bio on signing day:

Myron Beck, S, 5-11/205, RS-SO, Seattle, Wash. (Ingraham HS ’06)
HIGH SCHOOL: Three-year letterwinner at Ingraham High School…led Metro League in receiving as a JUNIOR…hauled in 52 receptions for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns…named first-team All-Metro Sound Division…named a Seattle Times White Chip prospect following his SENIOR campaign…posted 34 receptions for 828 yards and three touchdowns…two-way player was named first-team All-Metro Sound Division as both a wide receiver and defensive back.
EASTERN ARIZONA: Redshirted the 2006 season.
GLENDALE COLLEGE: Led the Western States Football League with six interceptions as a REDSHIRT FRESHMAN, returning three for touchdowns…named NJCAA All-Region First Team and second-team All-WSFL

Another sad commentary here is looking at the recent run of stories in the Seattle Times that are WSU-related. I know the Times HATES us, heck they have UW alums running the show there, but in order, here’s the most recent WSU headlines:

WSU safety Xavier Hicks pleads guilty to assault, theft

We sound like a broken record here. But we’ve got to get that culture turned over.

Finally, Wulff was on KJR a couple of days ago with Husky Honk Dave Softy Mahler. It’s a pretty good listen, as it always seems to be with Wulff. Wulff is open and honest about things, including the WSU-UW rivalry, and dealing with the APR issues. Give it a listen here.

Brinkhater Diaries: What a MAN

May 15, 2008

Brinkhater Diaries: Vol 1 (3)

“What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man” -Salt-n-Pepa
Ya, That’s what I’m talking about:

If you’re a Cougar fan, it kind of makes you wanna cry. It was just a few months ago that the Big Apple was just this wee little babe who made Pac-10 defenses cringe, Pac-10 coaches happy, and totally irrelevant and inane bloggers famous (cough! cough!).

But now, he’s a fricking man. And despite my name, I’m now a FAN. I mean, a BIG FAN.

So, I spent nearly two hours trying to find some dirt on our #10 and found one little tidbit: “If he plays well, he’ll make the practice team” (source: Houston Chronicle). Don’t know about you all, but after seeing the Big Apple in the pro jersey, I think I’d take the practice gig for a season or two, wouldn’t you?

“Nice Jacket, Nice Pahhhhhnts…”

Speaking of surfer dudes, my shout out for the week goes to Richie Sexson. In addition to not being able to hit anything that looks like a baseball, my man showed last week that he also can’t come close to landing a blow on a non-moving human target. What he did accomplish, however, was win the 2008 Frank Madu Award for falling meekly onto a human sofa at the first site of contact. In my view, Sexson should have been suspended 8 games just for being such a meek little pussy. Congrats, Richie, you’re now only one season away from erasing Mario Mendoza from the annals of lameness. .200 is quickly becoming the Sexson line.

And while we’re talking about pussies, I’d like to give a second big shout out to my Brinkhater Nation homies who live in the mighty Sooner State (that’s code for basically all of OK if you didn’t know).

As you all know, I am the MASTER at counting ALL OF MY CHICKENS before they are hatched. And this week, my boys in OKC did just that. Any of you catch this photo?

BARONS? Say what? You mean, they’re naming their team after Baron Davis?????

I don’t know if any of you had the privilege of taking a history course at WSU from the great Leroy Ashby. But if you did, you probably saw something that looked a little like this:

You know, with the 2008-09 tilt all but in Seattle’s can, and with an arena deal and potentially a Shulz injuction in tow, I might be sniffing my fingers a bit more in Sooner land instead of dreaming of Kevin Durant. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll join me in thinking about how MY SEATTLE Sonics are going to use the #1 pick after they win the Lotto this Sunday.

So, Eat that John Clayton Bennett!

Finally, I know that there are many of you out there who are a-political. But, following Hillos blow-out win over Barack this Tuesday and then Edwards’ endorsement today, those democrats sure seem like they’re in a rut.

Now, granted, I’m not a doctor (not yet, that is), but might I offer this country a bit of leadership regarding a possible third candidate to lead the way out of this Hillo-Barack mess?

I mean, don’t the DEMS need someone who is popular with women, whites, and ethnic groups alike.?

I sure think so…

So, please afford me the opportunity of offering you the person who should represent the Democratic Party as their nominee for President of the United States…

And so I bring you…

None other than…

BORAT OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!