Archive for the ‘Alex Brink’ Category

It’s Still the Apple Cup

November 17, 2008

What makes a rivalry game great? It’s many things. Friends, co-workers and family members will gather to root for their side. But even in down years, this game is always circled, always in the back of your mind as a Coug/UW fan. And most of all, you just never know what’s going to happen. In more recent years, WSU has been the better team, yet knocked off by UW. But in the past, even in years UW had a Rose Bowl bid on the line, the Cougs have returned the favor (1982 and 1983 ring a bell?).

But regardless of the awfulness of the 2008 records, you really can throw it all out on Saturday. That’s what makes college football special, what makes it unique, are these rivalry games. You just never know.

Vegas has a handle on it, and right now we’re seeing anywhere from 7.5 to 8.5 in favor of the visiting dawgs. But as recent history suggests, does that matter? Let’s take a look.

2001: WSU was a favorite of seven or so points in this one. We came in at 9-1, and the only loss of the season at that point was a tough 7-point loss to Oregon at home. An Oregon team that would go on to win the Fiesta Bowl that year and had a legit argument for being in the BCS title game. A win over UW would have likely secured a BCS bowl or, at worst, the Holiday Bowl. Meanwhile UW came in at 7-2, but off a horrible loss to Oregon State the week before where QB Jonathan Smith just destroyed the UW defense in Corvallis. But WSU would sputter in the red-zone, with some costly INT’s, one on a halfback pass from Dave Minnich. UGH. UW meanwhile kept going to Reggie Williams, and Marcus Trufant and Jason David just couldn’t stop him. UW wins it 26-14. Underdog covers the spread (1-0).

2002: WSU an eight-point favorite in Pullman, yet UW wins 29-26 in triple OT on one of the most controversial calls in Apple Cup history. The thing to me isn’t the fact as to whether that pass from Kegel was backwards or not, and there is video evidence out there that shows that, if anything, a straight line pass that never should have been overruled as a fumble from an initial incomplete pass. The other thing is, at least one ref started to blow the whistle once the ball hit the turf, and that should have automatically made it an incomplete pass. No, I’m still not over that one….but the point is, WSU was a healthy favorite at home, and lost. Underdog covers the spread (2-0)

2003: WSU a seven-point favorite at Husky Stadium, yet UW wins, 27-19. A very sloppy game with turnovers all over the place. If you remember that game, WSU moved the ball well at times, but turnovers (six) and major red zone issues (as they did the entire 2003 season) led to settling for Drew Dunning field goals. Plus a young and nervous Josh Swogger had to relieve Matt Kegel, and it just didn’t work out down the stretch. UW still had to rally, and did so, with Cody Pickett hitting Corey Williams in the final minute to take their first lead. UW would return an INT for a TD the next possession, and that was it. Another lesson learned in this one? NEVER over-estimate how a team is going to do in this game based on what they did the week before. WSU was coming in at #8 in the country and had just whipped ASU at home, 34-19, while UW was coming off one of their worst losses ever, 54-7 at Cal. Underdog covers the spread (3-0).

2004: WSU was a 12-point favorite in a tough season, while UW limped in with one win, being talked about as one of the worst Pac-10 teams in a while, their lone win coming over San Jose State. Gilbertson would announce he was stepping down a few weeks before the game, somewhat similar to what UW is going through now. But while WSU sprinted out to a 28-10 lead, UW would insert Isaiah Stanback and rally big-time, cutting it to a 3-point game. But the Cougs would hold on and win in Alex Brink’s first of three Apple Cup wins. Underdog covers the spread (4-0…see a theme here?).

2005: A thrilling game at Husky Stadium, this one saw Brink rally them on the last drive, converting some big third downs and then finding Trandon Harvey on the bubble screen. The rest was history. WSU was a three-point favorite, and with the final score 26-22, it was the first time since 2000 that the favorite actually covered in this series. The favorite covers the spread(underdog now 4-1).

2006: This one still hurts. WSU started hot, 6-3 and ranked in the top 25, before injuries destroyed them down the stretch on both sides of the ball. UW meanwhile had a strong beginning to their season, sitting at 4-2 at one point and looking good for a bowl bid. But Stanback would go down vs. Oregon State in the seventh game of the year, and UW would fall apart, losing the rest of their games, including an awful 20-3 loss to one of the worst-ever Pac-10 teams in Stanford. And then the Apple Cup happened. While WSU was an eight-point favorite, UW would pull it out, 35-32. This game might be looked at as the beginning of the end of the Bill Doba era. Underdog covers the spread (5-1).

2007: Finally, last year. UW came in at 4-7 and feeling good about themselves after a walloping of Cal the week before, 37-23. Meanwhile Alex Brink had his worst-game ever vs. Oregon State the week before, closing out his home career in disappointing fashion, a horrific 52-17 loss that sealed WSU’s non-postseason fate yet again. UW was a six-point favorite, but of course, WSU wins it 42-35 with one of Alex Brink’s best-ever games, 399 yards and five TD’s. YET ANOTHER example of never putting too much stock into what happened the week before a rivalry game! Underdog covers the spread(6-1).

So there you have it. Rivalry games are just too hard to call. In the best of seasons, in the worst of seasons, the favorite has only covered the spread one time since 2001. What does that tell you about this Saturday??

ENJOY YOUR MONDAY, and GO COUGS!

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Pass the bottle…

October 5, 2008


Hello Cougar Nation,

Longball had a fever this week, and Cougar Football Saturday was not the cure. However, at this point for us to give up less than 50 points and retain our consecutive scoring streak, I am tempted to declare tonight’s game a moral victory for the Cougs. Folks, we are bad bad bad, and it sucks to be bad at a time when teams like UCLA are RIPE for the picking. C’est la vie.

I share Brinkhater’s frustration with our offense tonight. I admit that watching our young receivers Jeshua Anderson and Jared Karstetter make nothing but mistakes has tried my patience. Our offensive line is not exactly a force to be reckoned with, and we have a young QB who is still learning on the job. I also share the abolute horror we all have at watching the generosity of our defense. We are officially the team that struggling offenses get “well” against. They just don’t make beer strong enough for us to enjoy Coug games this year.

With that in mind I want you all to take a deep breath, and repeat after me, ready? ok…. We are not good this year, and we wont magically turn good at any point this year. Got that? Now I was at the Oregon debacle last week and I am not exactly sure why anyone expected us to turn around tonight, on the road, and be a completely different team than we have been. Sure folks, there was some “life” on defense tonight, but lets keep in mind that UCLA’s offense has not exactly lit anyone up this year.

We are all fans, which is short for “fanatic” and that means that we are guided by our passion for Cougar football. But lets get real. If Brinkhater was athletic director this week, we would have fired Jody Sears (somehow Chris Ball bears no responsibility for the performance of our defense), then hired him back after tonight, but put the rest of the staff on notice pending the outcome of the Stanford game on the offensive side of the ball. Of course, in all fairness, we also would have finished stage 3 of the stadium renovation and revived our wrestling and gymnastics programs, but I think you get my point.

Now I pick on my esteemed colleague Brinkhater because I have no respect for my elders, and he is the only one to really comment on tonight’s game in depth so far. But the hysteria he exhibits is something that is starting to be endemic in the Cougar nation at large. Its going to take patience, folks. And I don’t mean just wait until next week. I mean more like wait until 2010.

In the meantime lets not be so surprised the next time our defense “plays well enough” (if thats what you call making Kevin freakin Craft look like Troy Aikman) but our offense, led by frosh and sophomores thrown into the fire due to injuries and learning a new system, fails to improve upon the performance of last years senior laden, all-time record holding QB led offense.

In other words, despite our struggles, don’t count me as one who is longing for Alex Brink at this point.

Have Ya SEEN the Line?

September 2, 2008

Some quick things to get your week started after the holiday weekend.

  1. Have ya seen the betting line this week? Basically anywhere from 13 to 13.5 points in favor of Cal. Not sure if you follow betting point spreads, but to think the home team automatically gets three points out of the chute, they are saying that the action is on Cal winning by at least two TD’s. I know we see some crazy early-season lines, but even with just one game in the books in which we looked pretty inept for 3/4ths of the game, this seems pretty out there.

    To put it in proper context, we have only been this big of a home underdog twice since the turn of the century. In 2004, we got an amazing 24 points against USC, but they still covered in a 42-12 romp in the sleet and rain. But in 2006, we were a 16-pt dog to USC in Pullman, and only lost 28-22. And if you really want to dig in, we are 6-2 against the number in our last eight home games as a home underdog.

    But, then again….Vegas seems to know what they are doing, don’t they? They aren’t in the business of losing money. And truth be told, they aren’t saying that 13 or 13.5 is what they actually think Cal is going to win by. They are setting that number where they think they will get a lot of betting action on both sides of the line. So we’ll see, but this bears watching as the week rolls on.

  2. Speaking of Cal, they looked impressive week one, but they aren’t exactly USC are they? They did cough up 31 points at home to Michigan State, a Big 10 team that went 7-6 last year and returned only 13 starters, third fewest of any Big 10 team. However, MSU was bringing back their leading rusher and starting QB. But sophomore WR Mark Dell, who went off for over 200 yards receiving, had just 20 catches all of last year. If you are looking for something to feel good about offensively for this week, maybe this bodes well for Brandon Gibson??
  3. All the NFL stuff shook out over the weekend as final cuts were announced. Bumpus, as we thought, made the practice squad in a move that wasn’t a big surprise. We also heard some good things about Jed Collins, and sure enough, he landed with the Eagles practice squad. Finally, MKB made the Jags practice squad.

    Not so good for Alex Brink however. He was released, as the Texans are keeping just two QB’s, and at last report had NOT been signed to the practice squad. It’s too bad, because initially the buzz was pretty positive that he looked like a guy who could have an opportunity to at least stick with Gary Kubiak’s west-coast offense in Houston. But it wasn’t to be. Hopefully he’ll find his place in the NFL, but if not, well, good luck to the “BIG APPLE”.

  4. How about that Rick Neuheisel?? Our own Longball went out on a limb and picked them to win, 28-24, missing by only a point, while I went with the rest of the national media and was convinced Tennessee would smother the Bruins. Sure enough, even though Kevin Craft had a miserable FOUR-INT first half, he played great after halftime and the Bruins snuck one out.

    Still, you have to wonder how many of these types of games they can actually survive. Just 29 yards rushing, only 288 yards of total offense, four turnovers and they still win? Maybe there’s an issue with Tennessee opening up out west, where they lost for the second consecutive year (remember their loss at Cal last year?).

    UCLA didn’t escape the game unscathed, losing three big-time seniors in Kahlil Bell, Marcus Everett and Logan Paulson. Basically their best skill-position guys on the team. But yet again, we see that there’s actually a reason they play the games! Hardly anyone saw this coming, so, good call Longball.

That’s about it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow with a full recap of Coach Wulff’s radio show tonight, plus some other stuff. Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS!

Tuesday Ramblings – What Could Have Been

August 19, 2008

It’s easy to do, pondering what could have been. We do it all the time, in every walk of life. You often don’t realize the most significant decisions in your life at the time you make them. Like the line in Field Of Dreams, you realize them later on in life. You think “ah, there’ll be other days” but what if that was the only day?

So when you think about Gary Rogers and Alex Brink, it’s easy to think “what if”. What if Rogers would have been given more chances against Auburn in that 2006 opener? We remember that great drive that seemed to lift the entire team. Here’s your obligatory YouTube of that glimpse at the upside of Gary Rogers.

So young back then, a mere sophomore with so much playing time ahead of him. Anyway, Jim Moore asks the question in a very good article today, and it does make you wonder. Jack Thompson didn’t exactly hold back in his assessment of the, uh, situation:

“That could go down as the most mysterious choice ever made,” said Jack Thompson, a WSU quarterbacking great who has mentored Rogers. “God forbid if he’d stayed in and led us to a couple more scores and we had a full-blown quarterback controversy.”

Good point Jack. But not just saying the decision was a mystery. But through the throwin-Samoan’s sarcasm, you get an idea of what he’s saying in the “God forbid” part of the answer. And therein lies the problem.

I remember listening to Doba’s weekly radio show during the 2006 season, and so many times the QB question would arise, one way or another. Is Gary going to play? Why or why not? And much to the chagrin of the old man, he would quickly dismiss the idea, saying “Alex is our QB” and gives us a better chance to win, etc. Fair enough. But he would also go out of his way, several times, to point out that he really hated the idea of a QB controversy. He didn’t want to rock the boat, didn’t want to see the team divided, didn’t want to deal with it.


Why? Why should the QB position be exempt from a younger challenger who shows more upside? What if a wide receiver or an offensive tackle was doing on OK job, but another younger prospect had a much bigger upside and seemed to elevate his play and provide a major spark when he got into games? Why shy away from controversy, in lieu of taking a chance on making the team better at the end of the day?

Who knows why it turned out like it did. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Some tagged Rosey as a “Brink Lover” and point out the whole Brink-Swogger controversy as proof. And the same controversy was probably on Doba’s mind when the whole Rogers question came up. How could he, in his mind, abandon Brink when they chased Swogger off the team to begin with in favor of Brink? Doba’s of the generation where you don’t flip-flop, so to speak. You make a decision and you take it with you, you see it through all the way. Even if those around you can see the faults, you are dug in on your own belief that you are doing the right thing. And you can’t blame Alex for all those yards, TD’s, and of course, losses that kept us out of the post-season. It wasn’t his decision to make. He just did his job, the best that he could, and that was it.

One more element to the story, and then we’ll move on. Remember the Cal game in 2006? It was a warm afternoon in Pullman, and the 10th ranked Berkeley Bears were in control in the first half. We couldn’t do anything right offensively, and it looked like we might get run out of the building. But in the second half, on comes none other than Gary Rogers. Of course, a few series in, he dislocates his left shoulder and he’s done. Brink is put back into the game and we go on to lose 21-3.

But what happened after the game is the most interesting part of the story. When asked why they went with Rogers, Rosey was very coy in his response. It wasn’t the usual “we just were looking for a spark” but there was more to it, more like “we were looking to make a change and give Gary his chance”. In this story from Glenn Kasses in 2006, it’s clear that there was something else going on.

“He wasn’t playing poorly at all. But we had three points,” quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach said. “So the bottom line is, we’ve got to get in the end zone.”

Rogers didn’t do much in his two possessions and threw an interception on the second. But, in a dramatic shift from past instances in which Rogers has played briefly this season in a planned midgame switch, this time Rosenbach indicated that Rogers might have had a chance to stay on the field longer.

The sophomore backup had on his helmet on the sidelines after the interception while Brink remained in a baseball cap, usually a sign that Rogers would be going back in.

But, on Rogers’ third-to-last play, he separated his non-throwing shoulder and after warming up with Brink on the sidelines, the two suddenly switched headgear and Brink returned for the rest of the game.

Rosenbach said no decision was made, but talked about the possibility of giving the younger quarterback another chance.

“It never got to that point,” Rosenbach said. “We can be full of speculation and look at it every different way. Maybe we would have let him try to fight his way out of it a little bit.”

In other words, this wasn’t just a one-or-two series deal, ala Auburn. Rogers was most likely going to be given a true shot at this thing. It gets lost in the shuffle now, of course, as Rogers going down with the shoulder injury makes it a moot point. Besides, Brink responded with two of his best performances ever the following two games, dominating Oregon and UCLA that seemingly had us back in a bowl game, and the controversy was avoided. What could have been…

Moving on, we are officially in the “dog days” of practice. Guys are tired, beat up, worn down. The energy and newness of the situation has worn off a little bit, and practicing in 90+ degrees can sap the strength of anyone. This isn’t just a WSU-exclusive type thing. Mike Holmgren talks about it all the time with the Hawks, where tempers start to flare and things get a little chippy about halfway into camp. It’s like being at the 3-mile mark of a 6-mile run. You feel good about the first 3 miles, but you are starting to feel at least a little fatigued. And you know you still have several miles to go before you reach your goal (in this case, the Okie State game roughly two weeks away). But even coach Wulff sounds a little miffed at where things are, with the injuries in particular. Wulff’s quotes came after the second practice on Sunday, and he was probably feeling a little frustrated by seeing so many guys on the sidelines. Sometimes you need to get away from things for a day, and then come back recharged and ready to roll.
Hopefully things look better after the team had Monday off.

That said, one thing we can take from the first few weeks of the official fall practices in the Wulff era? This is a WHOLE NEW DEAL. Gone are the days of “Club Doba”. Heck, with the heat and the injury situation, Dobes might have given the kids a day off from a regularly scheduled practice, or sent the kids to the Snake for some R & R. But not this coach, not this year. These guys are learning now what it takes to get to another level. It’s a whole different approach to the commitment required to try and inch up the ladder. This is big boy football now, not a glorified high school or a JC extension program. Get on board, or they’ll find someone who will take your place.

Finally, recruiting took another step forward by landing a commit from WR Gino Simone of Skyline. Decent size at 6-0, 175, and a Largent-like 4.6 40-time. But the kid makes a ton of plays, soft hands, and gets open. Physical, can break tackles in the secondary and makes people miss. You can’t argue with the numbers either, per Scout.com:

Gino Simone led the Spartans to a perfect 14-0 record and the state 3A championship. He finished the year with 70 receptions for 1,420 yards and 20 touchdowns and was named to the Seattle Times All-Area First Team as a junior in 2007; he benches 225-pounds and squats 345.

Check out the highlights and see for yourself:

Looks good to me. And Simone’s commitment caused a bit of a stir when two other recruits, WR Kirby Moore of Prosser and safety Jamal Atofau of Bellevue visiting for the weekend, were mentioned in a premium story that they were about to commit as well…..however it appears Scout might have jumped the gun on that one. Still no official word that they have cast their lot with Wulff. But Simone is an excellent addition to the class, a top-10 in-state talent and in the top-59 WR’s in the country.

And, uh, not to take anything away from Simone, but checking out the highlights…..look at some of those throws! Not only was Simone open, but some of those balls were just right in the bread basket. QB Jake Heaps was only a sophomore last year but holy cow, what a prospect. Those are some big-time throws. You can understand the hype on that kid. And maybe you can understand why UW hired away his head coach from Skyline, Steve Gervais? Hmm. For what it’s worth, no, Heaps doesn’t have WSU listed in his favorites, listing seven other schools who all, by the way, have offered already. Oh well.

Happy Tuesday, and GO COUGS!

HOUSTON NABS BRINK!

April 27, 2008

With the 16th pick of the 7th round of the NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select……

Nice goin’ kid. Regardless of all the poison over the years, you did it. So you aren’t perfect, but who is? Who knows, maybe an NFL QB coach can improve those mechanics, and suddenly you can hit that 15-yard out with enough velocity.

Thanks again for the 10,000+ yards and three Apple Cup victories. We are all proud of you at WSU Football Blog (well, almost all of us are!) and now go make the club. Hey, even if it’s just the practice squad or whatever, at least you could collect an NFL paycheck. The dream can continue.

For WSU purposes, that’s now 14 straight years we’ve had a player drafted. What an NFL FACTORY! 🙂

Abdullah, Collins Our Best NFL Hope

April 25, 2008

What’s up with Tim Tebow and buxom young women?? Every time you turn around there’s something new. It is what it is. He’ll probably have a good day tomorrow and he’s not even eligible for the draft. Tim Tebow, we continue to salute you.

Anyway, happy Friday. Hopefully tomorrow is happy for Husain Abdullah and Jed Collins, our two best hopes for playing on Sundays.

As Brinhater “opined” yesterday (much to the chagrin of few of you), Alex is looking at 7th round/undrafted free agency. Brink has been getting some good vibes from various teams, and is hopeful for the call this weekend. But no, I’m not going to pile on. Too much has been said about Brink over the years, some of it completely not his fault. Enough. And I will always counter the anti-Brink rhetoric with “yeah, but those Apple Cups…” and in Forrest Gump style, that’s all I have to say about that. UW has struggled, to be kind, over the last 3-4 years. But still, those games were pretty important at the time. In other words, I’ll TAKE IT. And so will Brink.

Now for some WSU draft history. Our last ten drafts are actually OK. Not great, but not the end of the world (although you can see it from here). Check it out:

2007
WR Jason Hill, 3rd round, #76 overall – San Francisco
SS Eric Frampton, 5th round, #165 overall – Oakland

2006
RB Jerome Harrison, 5th round, #145 overall – Cleveland

2005
CB Karl Paymah, 3rd round, #76 overall – Denver
OT Calvin Armstrong, 6th round, #211 overall – Philly
DB Hamza Abdullah, 7th round, #231 overall – Tampa Bay

2004
WR Devard Darling, 3rd round, #82 overall – Baltimore
CB Jason David, 4th round, #125 overall – Indy
SS Erik Coleman, 5th round, #143 overall – NY Jets

2003
CB Marcus Trufant, 1st round, #11 overall – Seattle
DT Rien Long, 4th round, #126 overall – Tennessee

2002
LB Raonall Smith, 2nd round, #38 overall – Minnesota
FS Lamont Thompson, 2nd round, #41 overall – Cincinnati

2001
WR Milton Wynn, 4th round, #116 overall – St. Louis

2000
DT Rob Meier, 7th round, #241 overall – Jacksonville

1999
CB Dee Moronkola, 7th round, #242 overall – Jacksonville

1998
QB Ryan Leaf, 1st round, #2 overall – San Diego
DT Leon Bender, 2nd round, #31 overall – Oakland
DE Dorian Boose, 2nd round, #56 overall – NY Jets
C Jason McEndoo, 7th round, #197 overall – Seattle

Some WSU draft tidbits: For the last thirteen drafts overall, we’ve had at least one player selected. Even the King of Poop Island years produced at least one guy the NFL wanted bad enough to spend a draft choice on. Nothing wrong with that! That said, in the last 10 drafts, we’ve had a total of 20 players selected. That’s “good” for MRS. LAST in the Pac-10. 10 out of 10. OUCH. However, maybe our recent draft history bodes well for Husain Abdullah. 7 of the last 13 WSU draft picks have been DB’s. And since 1998, 13 out of our 20 total draft picks have been defensive players.

Anyway, here’s the SI.com takes on our top two kids, Abdullah and Collins. Note – Abdullah and Collins are the two best prospects we have. Bumpus, Ropati and Brink are all projected as undrafted free-agents, at best, so we won’t go into detail there. Click on their names if you want the NFL poop on them :

Husain Abdullah: 6-0, 204, 4.67-40 time. Grades out at 3.28 in SI’s grading system. That basically means a late-rounder/practice squad/special teams fence-sitter.

BIOGRAPHY: Three-year starter who posted career-high totals of 84/4/5 as a senior after 66/3/4 the previous year.

POSITIVES: Athletic defensive back with marginal ball skills. Diagnoses the action, flashes the ability to play sideline-to-sideline, and has a nice first move to the ball. Aggressively defends the run and puts his shoulders into ball-carriers. Displays a sense of timing, quickly closes to the action, and displays good hands for the pick.

NEGATIVES: Wastes a lot of motion, not efficient, and must learn to play within himself. Average footwork and skill moving in reverse.

ANALYSIS: Abdullah is a competitive safety who’s best suited for a zone system where the action is in front of him.

PROJECTION: Early Seventh Round

WSU Football Blog Says: Interesting how much ink Abdullah has picked up this week. Vince at SR.com mentioned it early, how there was very little out there, then suddenly there were a few different stories in different NFL markets that popped up. Could it be teams are suddenly interested in him more than the experts thought? Maybe his agent is pumping their guy this week? Whatever the case, he’s on the radar. I think we’ll see him go on Sunday, but I think he is definitely going to be drafted. Could be a decent special teams guy early. He needs to get stronger though. Anyone remember that TD against Idaho, where the Idaho WR literally ripped the ball right out of Abdullah’s hands in the end zone? An average WR from Idaho shouldn’t be able to rip the ball out of Abdullah’s hands for a TD. He had a heck of a year though and with our recent track record of putting DB’s in the NFL, he’s got a shot.

Jed Collins: 6-1 1/2, 255, 4.85-40 time. SI grade of 3.25. Late rounder/practice squad/special teams guy.

BIOGRAPHY: All-Conference selection as a senior when he became a full-time starter and posted career-high numbers of 52/512/3.

POSITIVES: Sure-handed pass-catching tight end with an improving game. Quickly gets into routes, nicely adjusts to the errant throw, and uses his frame to shield away opponents. Gives effort blocking, stays with assignments, and works hard to produce.

NEGATIVES: Mostly a short-yardage pass-catcher and lacks the speed to break free downfield. Lacks footwork in pass protection, bends at the waist, and possesses marginal playing strength.

ANALYSIS: Collins did a terrific job in his first season as a starter and he could find a spot in the NFL as a backup.

PROJECTION: Late Seventh Round

WSU Football Blog Says: Moxie, moxie, and more moxie. Jed is full of it. He’s not a top-shelf NFL talent in terms of measurables, but there are teams out there that value character, intelligence, and team-first guys in a big way. Collins can catch the ball, he can block, and he’s played well in a pass-happy offense. I will always remember him from the Oregon game and UCLA game in ’06, and also the UCLA game in ’07. The ’06 games for his receiving, but the ’07 game for his blocking. We had an outstanding game running the ball on UCLA’s D in ’07, and Collins was basically an H-back for the entire game, motioning across the line and becoming the lead blocker on counters or sweeps. Then he would motion across and then at the snap reverse his direction and block on inside dive plays. I could see a team like New England or Seattle, organizations that value character, taking a shot with Collins. Go get ’em Jedzilla!

Hey, what do you know, VIDEO of Collins!

Finally, what would a day be without an update on the best soap opera going? Another day, more damaging e-mails. Even the national media is in on it now, with ESPN’s latest headline “Newly revealed e-mails could cause headaches for Sonics owner”. And now, Clay’s favorite human being, David Stern, might be deposed, under oath??


Momentum is on the Seattle side of the ledger and you have to wonder how much longer Bennett and the rest will want to deal with this hornet’s nest. Because, uh, it’s only going to get worse from here on out. The city and Howard’s attorney are going to keep piling on. Ultimately you have to wonder when enough is enough and Bennett’s group pulls the plug.

Alex Brink’s Final Chapter

December 31, 2007

Ok, so, Alex won’t win any popularity contests. Not here, and probably not anywhere else. But we’ll always have the Apple Cup wins with #10. And since it’s New Year’s Eve, why not look back at the biggest drive of 2007?

Happy New Year, Cougar Nation!

Sour Apples

December 4, 2007

Greetings fellow Cougies – long time, no blog.

My absence from the blog over the last several weeks has been due in part to a long list of super-important bullshit. Lots going on in the McBoob household this fall. As many of you know, I helped coach Mini McBoob’s Pop Warner Tiny Mite team this year which made me late to two games and absent from two others. As luck would have it, I missed the one home game of the year (UCLA) where the Cougs played really well. By putting my son ahead of the Cougs, I got a big dose of good Karma and missed the OSU game while the tiny mites played through a typhoon in front of a crowd of 22 people at halftime of the EWU/Weber game.

You know how NFL films does a season recap show for every team? They always give them subtitles like: Seattle Seahawks 2005: Soaring to the Super Bowl. It sounds really cool when the team had a great year but when the team really sucked they come up with some ridiculous euphemistic title like: Miami Dolphins 2007: Another Perfect Season. Well, if I had to put together the season review for the Cougs in 2008 it would be Sour Apples. My second choice would be At Least We’re not Notre Dame.

Honestly, I spent more time watching cartoons with the kids on Apple Cup Saturday than I did watching the game. I just didn’t have it in me to get on the roller coaster one more time. Of course, I paid enough attention to know what was happening but I really only watched when everybody else got excited. Fortunately, I did tune in to watch the last drive. Bink to Gibson goes down as maybe the second-best play for the Cougs at husky stadium in the modern era. It’ll be hard to top Leaf to Jackson…

I’m going to opt out of the coaching debate but will say that I am adamantly against bringing back Captain Happy – regardless of whether or not it would lead to a hand-off to Eric after a few years. Of all the names bandied about, my top three in order of preference would be: Bob Gregory for his insight into another Pac10 program; ties to the area and WSU; and recruiting ties in CA. Paul Wulff for his experience as a head coach; his record at a “non-sexy” school; his ties to the school; and the fact that he was in my BioSci class in ’88. (Great column on Wulff by Moore today in the PI). Tie between DeWayne Walker and Pat Hill. I like Walker because he’s young; has insight into another league system; and recruiting ties. I like Pat Hill because he looks like the kind of guy I could drink beers with at the Sports Page.

So without further Madu, here is my season in review…

Washington State Cougar Football 2008: Sour Apples

Game of the Year: Has to be the Apple Cup. The only thing that would have made it better would be if it secured us a bowl bid. Despite an otherwise disappointing year for both schools, this will go down as one of the best contests in Apple Cup history. Brink goes out with a bang and adds “husky Killer” to his resume’.

Play of the Year: Again to the Apple Cup. Like I said. Brink to Gibson for the game winner is bested only by Leaf to Jackson as the best play for the Cougs in husky stadium. This makes it the third-best play in modern Apple Cup History, with Bledsoe to Bobo a solid #1.

Offensive MVP: Brandon Gibson. Let’s just hope Mark May isn’t the one giving Brandon advice on where he’d go if he enters the draft. Gibson really flourished this year as the primary target for Alex Brink. After showing flashes of greatness while playing in the shadow of Jason Hill, I believe Gibson is actually better than his predecessor. Hill was prone to intermittent cases of the “dropsies” whereas Gibson consistently makes catches, whether he’s wide open or in tight coverage. Only a poor 40 time would keep him from being a day-one draft pick this year. With an unknown quantity at QB for the Cougs next year, I know I’d take the money and run…

Defensive MVP: I’m giving the nod to Andy Mattingly over Hussein Abdullah. Abdullah was never a big-play guy but this year more than ever, his steady play every week was key to an otherwise inexperienced defensive backfield. However, you just can’t overlook the guy who made the coaches change their scheme just to get him on the field. Like Nuke LaLoosh, Mattingly announced his presence with authority to ASU and the rest of us during week 5 and never looked back. Despite the fact that he was a part-time player until week 5, Mattingly finished one tackle shy of the team lead but led the way in sacks (8) and tackles for loss (11). That he was rewarded by the Pac10 with Honorable Mention is a slight if you ask me. We’re going to look back on his career and wonder why on earth we burned his redshirt for a contribution of only 10 special teams tackles in 2006. He’s a special player.

Newcomer of the Year: If I were to name one player on each side of the ball, I’d give the nod to Kendrick Dunn on D. The fact that neither Dunn nor the other two starting LB’s were benched in favor of Mattingly speaks for itself. The best newcomer to the program outside of incoming freshmen was Vaughn Lesuma. As advertised, the big man displayed quick feet and came right in and solidified the left tackle spot. Aside from a couple penalties late in the year, you never heard a peep about him and in the world of O-Linemen, no news is good news.

Freshman of the Year: Shoulda been Mattingly but since he was so desperately needed in 2006, I’ll have to say Chiba Nunchucks. Seriously, don’t tell me you didn’t go OOOOoooohh! the first time you heard Unbiased Bob call his name. That silent N had to have thrown off more than just me. If ever there was a baptism by fire, Chima Nwachukwu‘s 2007 season was it. Thrown to the lions due to a brutal lack of depth at CB, Chima got used like a Tri-Delt early in the season but steadily improved as the season wore on. No doubt he’s got the physical skills – and with a season of Pac 10 play under his belt, he should be a fixture in our defensive backfield for the next three.

Coach of the Year: George Yarno‘s O-Line was a very pleasant surprise for the Cougs this year. When Andy Roof got booted this spring, it left us very thin but Yarno’s boys did a helluva job protecting Brink and especially later in the year, opening up some running lanes. George is one of those guys who has seen and done it all. He simply commands respect and his guys love him. Let’s hope he sticks around when the new head-man is hired. With only Bobby Byrd gone for next year, our line should be a big strength.

Senior Who Will be Missed the Most in 2008: Loren Langley. OK OK it’s not Langley, it’s Top Romeen. OK it’s not him either but I didn’t realize he was a senior until I just looked at our roster. We go into next year with – I assume – Wade Penner as our kicker. Penner actually weighs one pound less than Langley which means the average starting position for our opponents next year should be on our own 48 yard line.

The TWO Seniors we will miss the most on Cougar Football Saturdays in 2008 are Jed Collins and Michael Bumpus. I don’t know if Bump will play on Sundays but he is the epitome of what it means to be a Cougar. We only got him because USC had second thoughts but the kid came north and immediately endeared himself to coaches, teammates and fans. It’s impossible for most of us to fathom the culture shock a kid goes through when he leaves SoCal for Pullman; but as is the case with most of the kids from LA who go Crimson, they come for the opportunity to play in the Pac 10; and leave a lifelong Coug. With all the uproar over whether or not Brink deserved all the records he broke, no one will ever question Bump breaking Hugh Campbell’s all-time receptions mark. We’ll root for him to make it at the next level, but if he doesn’t make it, I hope he comes back as a GA and hits the recruiting trail.

Jed-zilla was to the Cougs what the Swiss Army Knife is to a camping trip. The dude is a do-everything football player. He not only did everything he was asked, he did it well. This year was definitely his best as a Coug and I was really happy to see the Pac 10 honor him to their second team. Jed goes down as one of my all-time favorite Cougs. He was fun to watch – no matter where it was that he lined up.

Senior Who Will be Missed the Least in 2008: After two ridiculous outings against the Oregon schools, I finally fell off the Brink bandwagon. Yeah, he sucked in the Cal game too but in that game, he sucked good enough to win. Were it not for a dropped TD by Charles F-ing Dillon, we would have skipped out of Strawberry Canyon with a W. He must be one of the best Sunday-Friday wide receivers in WSU history to have made it through the year without being benched. Take your pick. Mine’s Dillon.

Biggest Disappointment of 2007: Aside from the simple fact that the Cougs put us through a fourth bowl-less season in a row with 5 embarrassing blow-outs in 12 games, I give this one to the OSU game. Coming off the best three-game stretch of the season, the Cougs were in a must-win situation against the Beavers at home…and absolutely flopped. As I said earlier, I was saved from suffering through this nightmare by Mini McBoob’s game that day but before either game started I had a plan to make it to Pullman for at least the second half. Mini’s game was at halftime of the EWU game which started at 2. I gave 7 of the 8 tickets I had for the Cougs game to some friends, who in turn gave me a nice bottle of wine. As we tore out of the parking lot at EWU, I tuned into the Bob and Jim show, only to find out that we were getting killed early. Brink threw a pick and all I heard was he threw “another” one. By the time we got home (a 15-minute drive) I believe Alex was up to 4. Needless to say, I tore up my ticket, uncorked the wine and toasted another season of what could have been.

Second-biggest disappointment was the new owners of the Sports Page, who saw fit to have a BAND playing the night before the Stanford game! Are you kidding me?! A band in the Sports Page? In my day, it was a privilege for a student to even drink a beer in the Sports Page. It was a quiet little,locals-only bar owned by a great guy named Stan Wilkinson. I drank my first beer in the page as a prodigal 17-year-old freshman in 1988 and by the time I left, had shared countless beers with Stan. The Page was my bar of choice as a student even though I could fall out of bed and practically be laying on the front stoop of the Coug. It killed me to stay away from The Page on my 21-run, but I knew it would really piss Stan off to find out I’d been drinking there underage for the last 3+ years. By the time I graduated, he must have thought I was 32. I know I’m getting old and crotchety but unless it has an accordian or a banjo, a band has no place in the Sports Page – period.

Can’t Wait to See in 2008: Lots of choices here, beginning with our head coach and staff. On the field, we’ll all be watching to see who goes under center for the Cougs on August 30th in Seattle. The incumbent would be Gary Rodgers if not for the coaching change. I suspect the new coach will declare the position to be wide open and would not be the least bit surprised if Lopina or Lobbestael wins out. In any case, it’ll be a fun battle to watch through summer and fall practices.

Do we have a two-headed running attack next year? With a first-year starter at QB and experience on the O-Line and Running Back, I suspect we’ll have a run-first attitude on O. Dwight Tardy was having a great year until he celebrated too hard on that last run against UCLA. Don’t believe the spin-doctored tale that he was hurt on the last cut he made on that run. He was hurt when he slipped down the concrete “ramp” that surrounds the field and caught the turf on the way down. My freshman year a kid on my co-ed softball team did the same thing only he broke both bones in his lower leg – that was before they raised the field and effectively shortened the “ramp”. Perhaps the stadium renovation plans should include its removal? Chris Ivory showed some real promise in his time as a starter and I’m pretty excited to see if Logwone (can’t wait to hear Bob pronounce this one) Mitz is the bruiser we think he is.

On D, I really want to see more of Xavier Hicks. That guy just made plays and I can’t understand why we didn’t see more of him. He should team with Alfonso Jackson to give us a great Safety tandem. We have two athletic corners in Giles and Nwachukwu and will have one of the best – if not THE best linebacking corp in the Pac in 2008. If there’s a question on D, it’s is up front where we lose Ropati, Broadus, Mullenix and Johnson. Ropati was really never the same after he got hurt; Mullenix had just about the same impact this year as last when he was leaning on crutches on the sideline; and Broadus and Johnson were really non-factors as well. So really, we can’t do much worse with the likes of Ahmu, Kooyman, Graise, Eichelberger and Turpin. I think we’ll be a pretty darn good defensive team next year.

What is it that they say wins championships? Good defense and a strong running game. Check and check. Cougs go bowling next year and Paul Wulff is Pac 10 Coach of the Year. You heard it here first.

Over and out – Hooty

Not Feeling it? You will.

November 21, 2007

I know some of you aren’t really “feeling it” this year. It is, after all, as many are saying, a pillow fight between two 4-win teams. But you know what? By the time Saturday gets here, you WILL feel it. Just like you do every year when these two get it on.
Here’s the end of the 2005 AC in Seattle that I just ripped from a DVD and uploaded. That win capped a 4-7 season, but so what! They wanted it in a huge way. I’ve got more video to upload and I will do so in the next few days.
Especially pay attention at the 2:50 mark, as Willingham “big-times” Harrison, who crushed the Husky D for 206 yards that day, at the end of the game by barely raising his hand to shake it. Then he brushes by Trandon Harvey, the guy who took the bubble screen 40 yards to the house for the game-winner, as if he was invisible. I had forgotten how ugly that game ended and how it could have really turned into a bad scene, but luckily cooler heads prevailed:

Crimson Flag Still Proudly Waves

November 17, 2007

Nothing like a Saturday morning and seeing old Crimson waving in the Gameday breeze! See it right next to Lee Corso? Hats off to Will Walker, by the way. He’s been capturing the flag shots on Gameday and posting the pics forever, and even from Florida he never relents. Keep it up Will.

A few Gameday ramblings in bullet-point style…….

  • The weather looks like it is going to be an issue today, as the forecast is now calling for showers early, then turning to a steady rain. Will that hurt our aerial hopes? I kind of doubt it. Brink has thrown in bad weather before, so I don’t think it will matter that much. Maybe the rain will just give the Beavs’ another reason to not want to be there today?
  • I have a feeling that Brandon Gibson is going to have a really big game today. I know we get criticized for not stretching the field much, but Gibson is our home-run guy. Did you know he’s got 14 catches of 20 or more yards? With the secondary thinner than normal for the OSU D in the first half, I would keep my eye on Gibson.
  • Collins is going to give it a go after all, but there’s no telling if he’ll have much of an impact. Turns out he only practiced on Thursday and was limited at best, and hasn’t done much running or anything on that sore ankle. Thankfully it’s not a high ankle sprain, but he’s going to be slowed down today. Might be a chance for Woodard or the big JC guy, Frischknecht, to step up?
  • Getting up on OSU early is important today, but espeically when you look at how OSU’s season has gone. They have outscored their opponents by an amazing 92-9 in the first quarter of games this year (!). But with OSU’s outstanding O-line and running game, if they get up by a couple of scores early, we’re in REAL TROUBLE today.
  • Don’t forget, OSU is a different team on the road, just 1-4 this year. Their lone win was impressive, at #2 Cal to start their tailspin of a season, but otherwise they’ve struggled. This will be Moevao’s first ever road start, and even at home he was less-than-stellar against one of the worst defenses in the country. He’s a tough SOB though. Check out his “decleater” on UW defensive end Greyson Gunheim last week:

  • Meanwhile, Dennis Dixon’s career is over, but it wasn’t exactly on that play vs. Arizona. I was shocked to see that he actually tore his ACL back on 11/3, but tried to play on it? That’s pretty amazing if you ask me. The Ducks were dominating and he even ripped a 39-yd TD run early in that AZ game. That’s what Heisman candidate QB’s do when the season is on the line (no, that’s NOT a shot at Brink!). We might have made fun of the Ducks and Dixon, but that’s some serious guts if you ask me.
  • It sounds like Locker is out for UW today. Again, to even risk him right now, in what is guaranteed to be ANOTHER losing season for UW? It would be 100% insane to let that kid play today, period, end of story, no matter what he says. Now next week, that’s a different deal and I’m actually expecting him to at the very least share time at QB with Bonnell, if not play the whole game.
  • Speaking of UW – they’ve now gone 5 straight seasons without a bowl. Our drought sucks, but hey, at least we’ve gone to and won a few bowls this decade. UW won the 2000 Rose Bowl, but their last bowl appearance was a loss to Purdue in the 2002 Sun Bowl, and it’s been home for the holidays ever since. I have a feeling that Willingham is coaching these last three games like his job is on the line. Our friend John over at UW Football Blog noticed that UW has “delayed” their stadium expansion plan, which was due this week. Might they be delaying things so they could replace the head coach and maybe even the A.D.? Interesting goings-on over there.
  • Back to what we really care about. The overriding theme today is that it’s Senior day, and there’s a lot of emotion for many of these guys. Personally I feel for this group. They’ve been through a lot, including the heightened expectations after the best run in school history. The pressure to win in Pullman was probably never higher than it’s been the last few years, and sometimes that’s easy to overlook. But maybe most of all, this group was never going to live up to those that came before them, and maybe the criticisms have been generally unfair? I know this ain’t intramural flag football, this is a BCS conference team and it’s a cutthroat league, but sometimes I know it’s easy to get carried away by over-analyzing every flippin’ thing these guys do on a weekly basis. So to the 20 Seniors who will play their last game in Martin Stadium, we salute you:

Romeen Abdollmohammadi, Husain Abdullah, Chris Baltzer, Christian Bass, Alex Brink, Lance Broadus, Michael Bumpus, Bobby Byrd, Jed Collins, Charles Dillon, Aaron Johnson, Ryan Kensok, Loren Langley, Kevin McCall, Matt Mullennix