Five Questions for Fall Camp

Hello Followers. I hope you have had a very pleasant (and profitable) week.

Well, as we now stand on the near eve of the start of the 2009 Cougar Football Campaign, I thought it timely to give you all the top five questions I am sending out to the Cosmos (e.g. Vince Grippi and Longball) as we head into Fall Camp this Sunday.

1. Will Ocho Rojo be declared the starting quarterback by the end of the second week?

Followers, we’ve already talked a lot about our quarterback situation and the offensive woes of last year past. But, for the Coug-A-Sutra, a few issues demand a quick revisit.

First of all, teams that are as historically awful as we were last year become that bad for a very simple reason: They lack talent. But, in addition to lacking talent, bad football teams can also become pretty horrible by demonstrating another important aspect of futility: PREDICTABILITY.

For us last year, being both awful and predictably awful started with not being able to run the football on first down and then culminated in constant “third down and forever to go” passing situations. Of course, both the start and end game of these twin scenarios is facing constant pressure that not only results in lots of Turn-overs, quick possessions, and lack-of-first downs, it also gets guys killed.

However, thanks to Coaches Paul and Sturdy, we might just have an antidote to last years’ futility phenomenon/epidemic…

As we’ve noted before, the potential beauty of the no huddle is that it puts the pressure on opposing defenses to have to “react” to what we are doing–oftentimes without the right defensive personnel on the field. So, while we were mercilessly “attacked” all of last year due to our lack of talent and predictability, the successful execution of a no huddle has real promise to take A LOT of pressure off the offensive line and QB by making the defense think about something other than eating our blood.

Of course, in order to execute all that, you need lots of reps. Moreover, if you add a few wrinkles like a silent snap count in a first game at home, you need TONS of reps that can only be garnered if you have ONE guy who is declared as such early in camp.

So, the quicker Marshall gets declared #1, the quicker we move forward in being able to execute our offense and scheme. In the end, our O may not get there by Stanford even if Marshall wins the job early, but if #8 takes 80% of the snaps with #1 unit by the start of the third week, it might get there by Hawaii. And it better.

2. Will James Montgomery emerge as the lead RB for us by the end of Week 3?

Followers, we all need to count our blessings that we have been bestowed such incredible backs like Mitz, Tardy, Richmond, Staden, and “Randle.” In fact, with the exception of Richmond, I would be plenty O-fraid of each of them if they played on opposing teams. Seriously.

So, it really isn’t all that important if Montgomery is not head and shoulders above any of them. BUT, if he does jump to the front, then I think that we can be REAL confident that our running game has improved to the extent that it should be a pleasant factor for the upcoming year. And last I checked, teams with a good running game, seldom go O-fer, 1-fer, or 2-fer. In fact, most of the time, the worst they do is 4-fer.

3. Will Jason Stripling be able to “Shoulder the Burden” of the 2009 Season?

You wanna know why our defense has been so miserable for the past few years? Well, the first is that we haven’t had many good players. The second? We’ve had only a few of those not very good players–the rest of have been TERRIBLE.

This year, we actually have the ability to be stacked with guys that are okay to maybe-not-so-great. And, in order to keep from having to play the TERRIBLE guys–or having our not-so-good-guys become TERRIBLE guys because they play 75 plays a game, we need to keep guys like Strip healthy.
Moreover, last I checked, Strip is SOLID when he’s not on the stretcher.

So, enough with the Erik Bedard crap, Strip. We need you this year, brother…

4. Will we stay healthy or be hamstrung by injuries with the passing offense and defense?

Ankles, shmankles. Knees, shmees. Glutes, boots. Abs, flabs.

All those things can heal more or less with a few days or weeks rest. But alas, those hammies seem like they NEVER heal.

This week, Sean documented how thin we are at CB. And in weeks past, we talked about how our group of WRs actually may not be that bad this year (provided that our top 4–who actually know the offense and can kind of get off the line don’t get hurt.)

So, watch those injury reports in days 3-10. When guys get sore, they have a hard time warming up. And when they have a hard time warming up, those hammies tend to go pa-ping, especially for the boys running sprints all the time–e.g WRs and CBs!

I therefore beseech you, Cougar Spirits, please no hammy injuries in spring camp. PLEASE!

5. Can we keep the leaders on the field?

There are five guys in my book who CAN NOT miss much time this year–especially for those first few games. They are: Marshall, Alfred, Mattingly, Hicks, and Turpin. The first four may not surprise you much, but maybe the last one did. As we saw toward the end of the year, T-squared really started to come around. And because he did, opposing teams could only run a VW bug through our defense instead of the Mac Truck we kept seeing all year.

If T-squared and the other two defensive leaders stay healthy, then all of a sudden we might just have enough depth for our maybe-okay-or-not-so-good guys to bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend throughout the year. And, if Marshall and Alfred stay healthy, then we’ll have the leadership up the middle to build toward respectability on offense early in the year. And trust me, for our season to be anything but a disaster, that O needs to deliver–and soon!

So, those be my thoughts and reflections for this Friday, please don’t be afraid to share yours, as well as your take on Leo busting out a WSU lid to go with a very nice v-neck T.

And to all, a hearty “Coug-de-L’Amor.”

10 Responses to “Five Questions for Fall Camp”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    If Lopina starts the season at QB, we are screwed from day 1.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I am interested in seeing how the depth plays out on the offensive line, like who they are going to finally settle with at the Tackle and Guard positions on the left side.

    Good write-up.

  3. The Coug-A-Sutra Says:

    The first coaches poll is out…

    I was surprised to see CAL ranked #12–which I think is a bit lofty..

    But, the Beavs at 25 was a pleasant surprise…Nice to see them get some respect..

  4. Sean Hawkins Says:

    Cal is right where they should be my good man. But I am with you on the Beavs. We'll see if they roll out yet another slow start, or if they get a clean start out of the blocks.

  5. Stiffmiester Says:

    Have you seen teddy's best/worst case scenario? If we it the best case version Sutra's gonna win his bet.

  6. Lucas Says:

    I was so excited for Strip to blossom into a big time linebacker for us. But he is more wounded than a DG on a Saturday morning! When I bought NCAA Football his freshmen year, he was All American by his Junior year. Haha, now I know thats way unrealistic, but it built some hopes in me that he might be solid for us (like a Scott Davis, Steve Dildine, Mawuli Davis, Al Genatone type).

    That said, I think Cal may be a tad overrated. They still have yet to get over that proverbial hump in my mind. Getting beaten by a mediocre Texas Tech team the year they whined about being excluded from the BCS / Rose Bowl. Just because teams have a good ground game, doesn't mean they will be successfull (see Jerome Harrison leading the nation in rushing yards in 2005). I think they still have major QB issues.

    That said, what do people think about this "Super League" created on ESPN. The John McKay Division includes such overrated or up and comers as UCLA, Oregon State, Boise State and Utah. Utah, Boise and Oregon State are extremely low on the tradition/history poll (all three much, much lower than Wazzu). While UCLA hasn't been relevant in football for years.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Is that really Leo wearing a WSU lid?….anyone know it is on a set of a movie or something?…or is this just photoshopped?? 😉

  8. '03CouveCoug Says:

    Osho and his all-encompassing wisdom hits the overlying theme to this and nearly every Coug Football season between the eyes. As is usually the case, WSU’s success (or lack thereof) will rely primarily on health. If you look at every successful season that the Cougs have had in the last 20 years, what’s the common theme? The teams remained relatively healthy.

    While success this season probably means somewhere between 3-5 wins, there’s no doubt that if the same kind of injuries that were suffered last year are suffered again this year, we could be cheering for a 1 or 0 win team, depending on the timeframe of the injuries. The only way to combat this sort of thing is with depth, which we all know is a long ways away.

    However, in spite of all that, I believe that if our team can manage to avoid the injury bug, there’s a pretty good chance that we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. I spoke with a friend that has some inside knowledge of the program and sees the team workout/practice on a regular basis and he swears that we won’t recognize this season’s product as compared to last season, for numerous reasons. He mentioned several factors, the first being a vastly improved team attitude, the second being strength and conditioning. Third, he of course threw out the obligatory, “IF we can stay healthy…”

    Nonetheless, those were encouraging words for this Coug fan on a Friday!

  9. Brian Says:

    As others have noted, one of the biggest questions that will impact the success of the season is how healthy we'll be able to stay.

    This is directly related to strength and conditioning. Last year when we consistently played against bigger, stronger, faster and older teams, of course we were bound to see injuries accumulate. Bigger guys beating up smaller guys.

    If everything I hear about the success of the strength and conditioning programs is true, we will see a vast difference in the numbers of injuries, which will help two-fold by keeping the lesser players on the sidelines and also by building cohesiveness among the starters.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with your inside source about seeing a completely different product on the field. These guys did not look like football players last year, but seeing them in some of my summer classes and such I've seen a big improvement–and I mean BIG. These guys LOOK like football players now.

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