Archive for the ‘Andrew Roxas’ Category

Who’s Going to Block?

July 20, 2009


Happy Monday Coug Nation. Hope you all enjoyed a sunny, relaxing July weekend. But don’t get TOO relaxed….training camp is coming, now just what, three+ weeks away? Time sure is flying by.

First of all, one last quickie on “lil’ Romeo” Pellum. We apologize if the untrustworthy part of the headline on Friday was misinterpreted by any of you. It could be a bit misleading, or even thought of as calling the coaches out as not being trustworthy, etc. Or, it could even be taken as giving too much credence to Pellum and what he thinks of the WSU program. None of these things were the intent. And to make things worse, we heard a few things about Romeo over the weekend that, uh, let’s just say him leaving Pullman is the best thing for everyone. But it’s over and done with, and we all will now move on.

That said, it’s still a slow time in the Coug universe. So we’ll plow ahead with a peek at the O-line for ’09, WSU Football Blog style.

First of all, the ’08 line was, well, battered. How’s that? Battered to the extent of a seemingly never-ending shuffle of linemen, in and out of the lineup. All told the offensive line started eight different combinations last year, with players in and out of the lineup on a weekly basis. The good news is that some young players got their feet wet, and, towards the end of the season anyway, things started to settle down. The last three games of the year saw the exact same starting five up front, and even all in their regular positions! How about that!? But it was THAT fluid up front.

With that revolving door came the best teacher of all – in-game experience – but it also came at a steep price. We saw the beatings that the QB’s took last year, where Gary Rogers, Kevin Lopina, and Marshall Lobbestael all dealt with major pain. Of course, Rogers and Lobbestael were knocked out for the season, while Lopina missed several games in the middle of the year with the vertebrae fractures.


Even Dan Wagner, the fourth QB, was hobbled a bit later in the year, and although J.T. Levenseller barely played, HE TOO was beat up when he was in there! All told, the WSU QB’s ate it to the tune of 42 sacks (PAC-10 worst), plus numerous hits on the QB that might not go down in the stat book. It was a group that was trying to learn new schemes, from new coaches, with new players in and out. Doesn’t exactly add up to success, does it?

But that’s ’08, and it’s in the rear-view mirror (thank God). Time to look forward to a new era. And there is, potentially, some positions to feel really good about. Live in the past, stay in the past, right? So let’s see how the ’09 line might look….

Projected starters:

LEFT TACKLE: Steven Ayers – Sophomore

Decent size for tackle at 6-4, now up to 315 lbs, the sophomore-to-be should be a mainstay on the line for the next several seasons. He played in eleven games last year as a red-shirt frosh, including five starts, shuffling between guard and tackle. He played more guard than anything last year, in fact he had just one start at tackle for the entire season. So, starting left tackle will be a new deal for Ayers. Of course, brand new left tackles can make people nervous, you know, with the whole protect-the-QB-blindside stuff? But Ayers has that rookie season out of the way and sounds as if he’ll be ready for the challenge.

LEFT Guard: Zack Williams – Junior

Originally thought of as a potential heir-apparent to Vaughn Lesuma at left tackle, instead Williams will roll with the starters at left guard. Williams has been regarded as one of the most talented linemen on the team since he set foot in Pullman for his redshirt season last year, and was often mentioned by Wulff during radio shows and interviews that Williams looks like he could be a real player. He’s also mentioned as having a real tough streak to him, something this offensive line could really use in bunches right now. It will be awfully interesting to see how Williams does out of the chute. Not your typical JC transfer in that he actually has a red-shirt season at WSU under his belt, but still, this will be his first BCS action of his career. It’s one thing to do it in practice, but let’s hope his early buzz continues into September, and beyond.

CENTER: Kenny Alfred – Senior


The best lineman on the team, heck, probably the best player on offense to line up next year, Alfred has it all. Smarts (All-Academic team), experience (32 career starts coming into ’09), and toughness(winner of the Mike Utley lineman of the year award last year), he’s pretty much everything WSU could hope for at center.

He’s been pegged as being a good one since he first came to Pullman under Bill Doba’s watch, who once predicted Alfred would be a four-year starter back in ’05. And here we are. He’s on all the pre-season watch lists for offensive linemen, and rightfully so. A little worrisome is the hip injury that forced him to miss the entire spring practice session, but word is he is A-OK and will be ready to go next month. As center is really the quarterback of the offensive line, there is very little doubt that Alfred is the one guy they need to have out there on a weekly basis.

RIGHT GUARD: B.J. Guerra – Sophomore

Guerra has been up-and-down a bit, hasn’t he? Thrown to the wolves in ’07, he held his own as a backup, and then saw a lot of action last year, starting five games. Those five starts included the last three games of the year, when the WSU line had the same starting five for three consecutive games, the longest stretch of the season where the same five started a game. Originally a d-tackle when he came to WSU, he was switched over to the offense his red-shirt season and hasn’t looked back. He’s got some size (6-3, 311) and a little nastiness to him, a quality needed for this group.

RIGHT TACKLE: Micah Hannam – Junior

Similar to Alfred, Hannam is the other leader up front. Another brainy guy, named to an All-Academic team in each of the last two years, Hannam has some major experience as well. He has now started 25 consecutive games, all at right tackle. While not your NFL prototype tackle at 6-4, 284, he’s still strong and moves pretty well. Also like Alfred, Hannam missed all of spring drills due to injury, but, everything sounds good for the start of camp.

BACKUPS:

The backup offensive tackles will likely be Joe Eppele and Tyson Pencer. Both are enormous Canadians, hailing from the great white north province of British Columbia.


Eppele’s at 6-8, 306 and Pencer at 6-6, 297. But they are green, Eppele with two starts, Pencer with none as he is just coming off his red-shirt frosh season this year. Eppele is another smarty pants, placing on the second-team All-Academic PAC-10 squad for two straight years. While he only started two games last year, he did see action in 10 games total.

Inside, you will likely find Brian Danaher and Andrew Roxas as the backup guards. Danaher is a lunchpail-n-hardhat type, not a spectacular athlete but gives you all he’s got. He’s perfectly slated as a backup, but he still started EIGHT games last year. That’s some good experience to have in there, and he’ll be ready when called upon. Andrew Roxas, like Danaher, is also experienced, starting eight games himself last year. Roxas made a name for himself in 2007, when he stepped in as a frosh and started for the injured Kenny Alfred vs. UCLA. The result was a 27-7 victory at home that saw the Cougs run for 274 yards on the day, by far the season high in ’07.

Roxas has basically been a backup at center and guard ever since, and that’s where he’ll open up ’09.

So that’s a look at the starters, plus some key backups. Now here’s something else to think about – remember that NO HUDDLE OFFENSE we heard so much about when Wulff was hired?!? No? Neither do I. That’s because we barely saw the thing after the first game of the year. Once the injuries started to mount, forget it. But it wasn’t anybody’s fault, really. The whole idea was just too much, too soon, for everyone on offense to handle. But not anymore. It’s been said repeatedly that 2009 will see the “real” WSU/Todd Sturdy offense, and that involves a fast-paced, no-huddle scheme that is aggressive from the get-go. Now that we’ve seen a season in the books for all these guys involved, all in this new scheme, we’ll finally get a chance to see the real deal. Will the no-huddle give everyone a chance to show what they can really do? Is the O-line up to the task? The beauty is that we are going to find out!

So what do you think of the O-line? It looks pretty good…today…on paper. But we’re still quite a ways away from Stanford on 9/5.

That’s about it for a Monday. Enjoy heading back to the grind, and as always, GO COUGS!

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Wulff Radio Show Recap, Plus Links

September 3, 2008

A different feel/tone to this week’s radio show, so, we’ll get right to it in a condensed version:

  • Wulff said things still felt new after the first game, and there is still so much work ahead. We have one game under our belts, and obviously it didn’t go how we wanted it to, but as always, there was good and bad with week one.
  • Good: the defense. Bad: Offense, in particular the passing game early, and special teams struggled on all the units.
  • Felt that we had serious jitters on offense from some new faces. Also spilled over to kicking and coverage issues. But Wulff also said to look around the nation and you’ll see a lot of teams with special teams issues in week one (Cal blocked punt for TD, Missouri ran back a kickoff for a TD, etc). More on that later.
  • Wulff went out of his way to say how special Martin Stadium can be when it’s packed and it’s loud. All things considered, it is one of the tougher places to play on a visiting team, fans/noise/atmosphere can be a headache. Most of all, we NEED A GOOD CROWD this weekend!
  • Wulff was happy with the Seattle crowd. There were moments when it got pretty loud. But he also said their extremely slow start didn’t really give the fans a reason to make a bunch of noise early.
  • Basically felt that the lack of maturity, youth and inexperience had big reasons to do with the loss.
  • Wulff felt the turning point was the long return for a TD after they cut it to a two-score game in the third quarter. Just like that it was back to a three-TD lead and it was an uphill battle.
  • But Wulff was also frustrated by some of the smaller things. For example, right after we got the INT to start the second half, we get a false-start penalty to start the drive. Also something about a personal foul penalty on Karstetter after a first-down run by Dwight Tardy earlier in the game. Just little things added up as well.
  • A caller asked why so many starters are on special teams? Wulff was clear that he felt the vast majority of special teamers should be backups, but, we just don’t have the depth/talent level to get away with it right now. He said going forward, he wants his backups to be dying to get on the field in any way, shape or form, and he wants kids to be excited to play special teams. He pointed out that it isn’t always an easy thing to sell to kids, to get them excited to play special teams when some of them believe they should be starting. He said it can be a hard, humbling experience for “high school stars” to come in and be on special teams. He also made it clear that in the future, they might recruit a kid with a tick less talent than the next guy, but if the character and heart is there, they want that kind of kid. That will help special teams.
  • Wulff made an example that they are already changing special teams, and Andy Mattingly has been moved to kickoff coverage. He said in practice Tuesday, Mattingly was the first guy down the field. He has the heart and character and wants to play, period. Wulff also said that special teams are difficult to practice. It’s a very violent play, and it is always very hard to simulate in practice vs. what you see in games. That’s why there are so many issues usually around the country in the first few games.
  • Reid Forrest very well could punt this week. He kicked in practice yesterday and looked good.
  • Also another injury good-news department- Jeshua Anderson practiced, albeit on a limited basis. Wulff felt that he’s nearly ready to go, but the doctors haven’t cleared him yet. He then said that the Baylor game looks “very promising” for Anderson’s return. Personally, I say don’t rush it and make sure he doesn’t come back too early….but at the same time….wow, does that position need him right now!
  • Wulff talked about the deep balls and the lack of the ability to stretch the field. He felt the two plays with Gibson were balls that he probably should have had, but, they didn’t work out. He also said that we will go deep more often as the season goes on. Also said that if Rogers ever sees Gibson in “zero coverage”, meaning one-on-one without any apparent safety help, then check into something and go for it down the field.
  • Wulff was overall pleased with the offensive line, but he didn’t exactly gush about their performance. He felt they can play much, much better. Bob pointed out that we likely started one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, offensive line in the country with four underclassmen and junior Kenny Alfred at center. Wulff also pointed out that losing Lesuma for now and also Rowlands hurts. But also not having Joe Epelle hurts the tackle situation. But Wulff talked to Rogers after the game and Rogers felt the line did a good job, and aside from a few shots early, didn’t really get hit too much. Wulff stressed that they will get a lot better up front as the season goes on.
  • He believes that we have our hands full in a major way this week, and that Cal already looks better than OSU. He’s very happy to get them in Pullman, and again asked for crowd support. He cited Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen as two of the fastest backs in the conference, hands down. Also likes the way Kevin Riley handles the QB position. Doesn’t try to do too much, and avoids the huge mistake. Also said that their linebackers are excellent, four seniors with tons of experience. They are really, really physical and this game overall will be extremely physical.
  • Recruiting: Wulff talked about how hard they are working in recruiting right now. They have all types of contacts with high school coaches and are always getting tapes and updates from coaches. Right now, as of 9/1 they can call a recruit once a week. But they are also taking time to send hand-written notes and e-mails to players all the time. Also, the kids have every coaches cell phone numbers and can always call them. Wulff said they are also selling the idea of early playing time to recruits, and while they still have to come in and prove themselves, they will get a chance if they are better than what they’ve already got. Wulff cited that five true frosh will play this Saturday as Louis Bland will get in this week, and that proves that young talent will get the chance to play.
  • Biggest jump in improvement: Wulff said the game one to game two jump can be a little misleading, and he thinks it’s more the first two or three games before you can start to see that improvement. He said health can be a big part of the early improvement, but also who you are playing, where you are playing them, etc, but generally he thinks it’s two-to-three games before you might see a big leap forward.
  • Finally, Wulff was asked about the new clock rules, and the way Okie State handled it. He didn’t feel that the clock rules had much of an impact on what they did, but going forward it could make it tougher to come back late in games. Adding those additional 15 seconds per play could really add up if it’s in the 4th quarter and the other team is running the ball and milking clock. Might see fewer chances to come back. And, if you weren’t at the game Saturday and didn’t see it on TV, Okie State would come to the line of scrimmage in a quick fashion, and get set. Then, the entire team would turn and look at the sideline, and a player would hold up these huge flash cards for some sort of signal to either change the play or stick with what they called. Wulff said our defensive coaches should be commended, because they were ready for it and they did a great job of disguising what we were doing on defense. He said initially we wouldn’t tip our hand in any way what we were going to run. Very much a cat-n-mouse type game. He again praised our defense, and how well they stood up given the situations they were put in. He felt we defended them basically as well as anyone did all of last year, so, it’s a good sign.

Really quick, some other links. Chima Nwachukwu said that people will be surprised by how good we will be this year, and that forecasters are basically wrong.

“People are picking us last and next to last in the Pac-10. That’s definitely not where these coaches expect to be and not where the players expect to be.”

Love the optimism. And not a surprise, really. You would hope he wouldn’t say “gosh, y’all were right about us!” But still, the defense did look better and I don’t think there is much disagreement from anyone who watched the game. Get some more consistent offense, improve the special teams so we can at least keep the field position game under control, keep the defense off the field a little more, and who knows what can happen? But there does seem to be a bit of a swagger on D that wasn’t there before.

In the same article by Howie Stalwick, the injuries were addressed. Andrew Roxas went down with a knee injury in practice, and Wulff said it doesn’t look good in Vince’s early-bird piece today. Yet more shuffling up front. But the good news is that Vaughn Lesuma returned to practice Tuesday, so that could be a huge boost by Saturday.


A good read on WSU recruit Geoff Meinken in today’s Seattle Times. He looks like a real rising player in the state, and set for a huge senior year. We wrote about him before here, as he was the first verbal commit to WSU for the upcoming recruiting class. Smart and incredibly strong, probably the perfect “Paul Wulff” type player that we are trying to get. Let’s hope we can stay on him and get his signature next February!

In national news, there’s a new number one team in the land, and it’s no surprise. But I guess the surprise is that USC actually moved up to number one. It appears that there is more thought being put in to the early voting, as SI’s Stewart Mandel said in the article. Georgia and Ohio State dined on cupcakes on Saturday, while USC went to Virginia and just destroyed. Nice to see some teams getting their due if they earn it.

Finally, what did you think of the Pac-10’s first weekend? The desert schools had layups, but Cal, USC and UCLA all scored good OOC wins. I guess we were the only team that lost an OOC game. I think coming into the year we thought the Pac-10 was going to be down, and many of the preseason rags saw a conference rated third, fourth or even fifth among the BCS schools this year. But maybe we aren’t the weak sister of the BCS this year??

Enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!

Top 10 Most Unsportsman-Like Plays

April 16, 2008

In honor of Clay Bennett’s underhandedness, your top-10 most unsportsmanlike plays in recent times:

And in honor of our favorite Ohio State fan, check out #1 on the list….Meanwhile I was disappointed they didn’t put the Jerramy Stevens-Tyler Brayton knee to the groin in the mix. Remember?

Moving on, some of the lads have run afoul of the law. Xavier Hicks pleaded guilty to a lessor charge and will now serve 45 days in jail. You may remember Hicks as the rising big-hitter sophomore safety who made a bunch of highlight-reel shots on receivers last year (including this one vs. UCLA):


But you may also remember Hicks from that whole rubbing alcohol in the contact lens case incident with his roomie last year. NOT SMART. Luckily Grady Maxwell didn’t actually try to put in the contacts as he realized pretty quickly something was wrong. Hicks will start serving time on July 1, and with a 45-day sentence will surely be out in time for the start of August practices.

Andrew Roxas was arrested early Sunday in connection with an alcohol-related driving offense on College Hill. Perhaps he was busy celebrating the end of a long spring practice session? Boys will be boys, but getting behind the wheel when you’ve had a few is never a good idea. Interesting angle is Roxas is just 19, and he wasn’t what you would term as officially being intoxicated. He was cited for a “baby DUI,” given to minors who are found to be driving with a blood-alcohol content between .02 and .08. We’ll see how it shakes out in regards to punishment and/or if the charges stick.

Finally, yes, more Sonics stuff. We’ll keep it brief. You’ve had a day to digest the news. Late yesterday the governor chimed in with a letter to the NBA’s board of governors. A lot of people were disappointed that the letter didn’t include the bridge funding for the final $75 million to renovate the publicly-owned Key Arena. Well, I was disappointed too, but this letter is actually stronger than you might think. Why? Because according to a legal expert I heard on KIRO last night, it is littered with “legalese” that hints at a lawsuit against the ENTIRE NBA if they approve this move with all the lawsuit stuff that is going on right now. It’s a lot more of powerful message that they are sending below the surface. And not only when you consider it’s signed by the governor. but other parties signing the letter include house speaker Frank Chopp, senate majority leader Lisa Brown, KC exec Ron Sims and Seattle city council president Richard Conlin. Frank Chopp?? REMEMBER, FRANK CHOPP, WHO HATES THE NBA, PRO SPORTS IN GENERAL AND IS ANTI-ARENA FUNDING, signed this letter! That’s no easy task.

My disappointment was that I, like many fans, wanted the commitment to the arena so it was strong enough to send in Slade Gorton to the NBA meetings Thursday and Friday. He could stand there, wave the lawsuits in their faces, and oh yeah, not only do we have potentially the richest ownership group in pro sports led by Ballmer (yes, overall they would be ahead of Paul Allen), they also have a $300 million dollar renovation deal in place. But Gregoire did what she could do right now. She couldn’t guarantee the money because even though this is a strong deal, there is still a lot of opposition to giving public money to Key Arena, and certainly didn’t have enough votes lined up to call a special session. So it will have to do. Anyway, according to the KIRO interview, don’t be surprised if there is yet another lawsuit thrown on the pile, this time the state of WA vs. David Stern and the NBA owners, all of which are named in the letter (including Clay Bennett!). Sue EVERYBODY!

Will the letter do anything? No. The NBA won’t follow this letter and will probably just give it a glance, at best. But there IS at least some talk right now that the NBA COULD in fact postpone their vote on Friday until some of this craziness is sorted out. However, there is also a report from an NBA spokesman that says mid-week last week the Board of Governors has already finished their report and that they are giving the 100% recommendation to vote YES for the move. Then again, that was done before the Howard Schultz news broke that he was going to sue to unwind the transaction on the basis that Bennett is full of you-know-what. But don’t think this thing is over once Friday comes and the NBA rubber-stamps the move with a yes based on the completion of the lease. This thing has many chapters left. Stay tuned!