Archive for the ‘Chris Ivory’ Category

New PAC-10 Helmet Schedule Available; Ivory Out

August 11, 2009

Just a quick post on a couple of things tonight. First, the new helmet schedule is making the rounds for ’09. However it’s in spreadsheet format, and not everyone can see it like that. So, we found the creator of the project – SimonOnSports – and discovered he had actual pictures of each conference’s schedule. So we went with the PAC-10 version. Here it is, in full RETRO glory.

Click on it, and do the old right click/save as, and you have your own copy in JPG format. Note – SimonOnSports originally did not have the SMU game available on his PAC-10 graphic, so we added it in for WSU’s schedule. Anyway, enjoy.

Also note that on the sidebar, there is now a link directly to this PAC-10 helmet schedule.

One more quick thing. Earlier today there was a rumor going around that running back Chris Ivory has left the football team. Grippi’s post-practice recap today specified that Ivory was notably absent, but couldn’t get confirmation at the time of what was going on. Now, we know. Both Grippi and Cougfan are reporting that Ivory has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. Grippi confirming the news with SID Bill Stevens of WSU.

It’s pretty disappointing, but I guess it’s not a huge surprise that he is no longer in the mix. With or without Ivory, the running back group was pretty crowded, so this will thin things out a bit. Likely we’ll see a combo of Dwight Tardy, James Montgomery and Logwone Mitz, with perhaps Marcus Richmond or Chantz Staden. That is, if Staden doesn’t redshirt, something alluded to from Grippi’s practice report.

But it’s disappointing in the whole Texas-Doba-Leon Burtnett recruiting thing that had people so excited several years ago. Now Ivory wasn’t part of the first Texas recruiting breakthrough in 2005, of Demaundray Woolridge, Greg Trent, Jason Stripling and James Bradley. Ivory actually was part of the class of ’06, but still in that Texas pipeline that we thought so much of back in the day. Now we did see Chima Nwachukwu show up in ’07, and he’s been starting since day one. But after all the hubbub, now it appears that only Trent will have made the biggest “dent” in all this. Stripling is still around, trying to overcome a bad shoulder one more time, but Woolridge, Bradley and now Ivory are gone.

Oh well. It is what it….is. That’s it for tonight. GO COUGS!

Rumor: Chris Ivory to Return for Senior Year?

January 12, 2009

I know it has been assumed all along that junior running back Chris Ivory would be out once the year was over. Injuries, rumors of being in Wulff’s “dog house” or whatever, etc. But here we are in January, classes are starting back up….and no news of his transfer or release from his scholarship? And now, rumor has it Ivory is going to stick it out? I heard from someone late last week that this was a possibility, and now today Cougfan.com’s message board has a “family friend” saying Ivory is coming back for his senior year. It hasn’t been acknowledged by the official media but we are checking out a few things to see if it holds water.

Ivory has been on both ends of the spectrum. When healthy he’s a fast, physical player with good moves and packs a punch at the point of attack. But it hasn’t altogether clicked for Ivory, and 2008 looked like a lost season for him. He’s been injured off and on since his frosh season, banged up with various leg ailments. But count me among many who thought he looked like he might take off after a good finish to the 2007 season, where he had two 100+ yard games rushing over the last three, including a career-best 114 yards vs. UW in the ’07 Apple Cup (averaging 8.1 yards per carry in that one).

Where does Ivory’s potential return leave the backfield? Crowded, but in a very good way. You have seniors Dwight Tardy and now Chris Ivory, plus the potential breakout of junior-to-be sensation James Montgomery, the transfer from Cal. And, you can’t forget the physical, bruising Logwone Mitz.


Mitz ended up second on the team in rushing in 2008, just 40 yards behind Dwight Tardy. And who could forget that 57-yard TD run in the Apple Cup? Mitz gives the Coug offense that short-yardage bruiser-type, always a necessity when you are trying to move the chains. Mix in Chantz Staden as a potential 3rd-down specialist, provided he returns from his knee injury, and you have FIVE guys who could be in the mix for carries.

Kind of goes along with BH’s prediction of seeing a TON of running plays next year, doesn’t it??

We’ll see if/when official news breaks. Here’s hoping he’s back and set to add depth and power to a position that is clearly looking like the strength of the offense in 2009!

ENJOY your Monday, and as always, GO COUGS!

Can 2009 Hurry Up and Get Here?

December 2, 2008

Some good season wrap-up articles floating around today so we’ll jump right in. NOTE that we’ll have our own takes later this week, but for now, the mainstream media is doing their jobs. So just some links for today.

Howie Stalwick has a good read in the P-I. Among the items out there are that there will be a couple of four-year transfers enrolling in January. Might there be a surprise or two coming from another program?

Grippi weighs in with his wrap-up. Some good nuggets here as well, especially in regards to the QB competition next year. Wulff also laid out the expectation regarding strength and the weight room.

Wulff said the Cougars are going to be stronger next year through a more intense weight-lifting program featuring more accountability.

“They have to embrace it,” Wulff said. “They don’t have a choice. … If we have players that can’t embrace that, they have to go some place that will allow them not to develop.

“As coaches we have to make sure they make a lot of improvement in the weight room. … For us to take a huge step as a program, every single individual has to take ownership of that. And they way to do it is to get yourself bigger and stronger as a player.”

But Wulff tried to temper expectations about a huge strength improvement in one year.

“I think you see some change,” he said of next year, “but I’ve been around long enough to know, when you have a good weight program, you don’t reap the true fruits of its labor for 3 to 4 years.”

I know I have been holding on to hope that we would see a big change next year, as some of these kids will have been in the new system for a year+ in the weight room. But as Wulff said, it might take a few years to really see the change in strength.

Bud Withers has this article from the same press conference. A lot of the same stuff is hashed here, but Withers does touch on what Wulff said about Chris Ivory.

Asked about running back Chris Ivory, Wulff noted his persistent hamstring injury and some academic issues and said, “There’s a lot of things we have to clean up with Chris.”

Hmmm. Might we have seen the last of Ivory? Given the projected depth at running back next year, adding James Montgomery to the mix of Dwight Tardy, Logwone Mitz, and probably a healthy return for Chantz Staden, maybe that will be it for Ivory. He’s the last link to that Texas class with Greg Trent and Jason Stripling.

Cougfan had a few stories yesterday. One from the press conference, here, and it’s free for all to read. The others are premium, which includes another verbal commit to this year’s recruiting class. Arthur Burns is a 3-star running back from Corona, CA, who has a reported 4.46 40-time at 5-11, 212 lbs.


Burns has had a big senior year, rushing for over 1500 yards and 23 TD’s, averaging 6.87 yards per carry. Here’s an ESPN scouting report on Burns:

Evaluation

Burns is a hard in-line runner with good body composition when projecting for the next level. Built low to the ground and his thick, compact frame is very strong and durable. Hits the hole hard and fast; is most productive as a one-cut and go downhill runner. Runs behind his pads with good body tilt. Very difficult to arm-tackle and get a clean shot on. Shows adequate burst out of his cuts and consistently bounces off initial contact. Determined back who looks to finish runs. While he shows deceptive speed in the second level and a sneaky extra gear, he is not going to pull away from many D-I corners at the college level. Lacks great elusiveness in space and between the tackles trying to make the first defender miss. Looks to bounce outside at times but lacks great lateral quicks and perimeter speed. May be limited to downhill power-running schemes in college; we did not see great pick and dart zone running skills. That said Burns could grow into a good change of pace power-back and has the strong downhill running style to potentially wear down a defense.

Sounds like a nice addition! That’s now 11 commits to the 2008 class, but that number includes Gino Simone and Geoff Meinken, two kids we know are out there “exploring their options”. We’ll see if they can hold onto these guys all the way into February.

That’s it for today. ENJOY YOUR TUESDAY, and GO COUGS!

A Tough Goodbye and Some Post-ASU Thoughts

November 16, 2008

I know the season is winding down (thankfully), and we’re officially in Apple Cup week. Sorry for the hoops-only post yesterday, but circumstances prevented much of a gameday thread. Besides, we lost 31-0 and the game wasn’t on TV. What do you want??

We’ll get to that in a moment. But I wanted to start off today by writing a few thoughts about our beloved golden retriever, Barkley.

Sadly, we had to say good-bye to the best dog ever yesterday, as he finally lost his battle with lymphoma. He was initially diagnosed in the spring, and we decided to fight for him by going the chemotherapy route. It was expensive and emotionally draining, but to us, it was worth it. He was, in our mind, just too young to let go. But the vet was very up front with us from day one, saying this is a terminal diagnosis. While we could kick it back into remission, it will return. And when it comes back, that will be it. We had, at BEST estimates, one year left with him, and that was as optimistic as it gets. Barkley was closing in on his 9th birthday, and while 8 years and 9 months might seem like a good amount of time for a dog, well, to us he was taken far, far too early.

Initially the chemo did wonders, as he bounced back quickly to at least somewhat like he used to be. Not all the way back to normal, but not too far away. We did everything we could to make this last summer his best, taking him with us everywhere we went, making sure to give him extra attention and love at every turn. But in the last few weeks, and especially this last week, we knew time was running out. The cancer had returned, making him weaker than ever. Even worse, Barkley had suddenly developed severe arthritis in his hips, making it very difficult to not only climb the stairs in our home, but just getting up from laying down became a struggle.

The one thing my wife and I pledged to do when we started the chemo treatments was that we didn’t want to simply keep him alive for OUR own reasons. If he was ever in some real pain, we would let him go. At the end, the situation became unbearable, and these last few days were beyond painful for all of us.

I know, I know. Some of you are rolling your eyes and saying “it’s just a dog, get over it.” Yes, I understand that. He was just a dog. Some of you have gone through much, much worse. But to us, he was very special. Not just his loving personality, where everyone he met instantly became his best friend, but for many other reasons, big and small. I know you all have your own pet stories, so I won’t go too far into the details that made him exceptional to us. But I will share one big thing that made him such an important part of our lives.

Back in 2000, my wife was pregnant with our first child. Anyone who has been down that road knows the overwhelming experience that can be, as a father, mother, or any other family member. The excitement and anxiety, all rolled into one, is almost indescribable. But just over halfway into the pregnancy, something went terribly wrong. We ended up losing the baby, a girl we named Megan. To say an event like that is devastating is an understatement, and if any of you have been down that dark road, you understand.

But after we lost our baby, well, we needed something. We needed a new soul to enter our home, a soul we could love and cherish and care for, something to pull us through a difficult time. That’s when Barkley, an 8-week old puppy, entered our lives. His presence helped get us through those days, and for that, Barker Boy, we will always love you. I will see you again some day. And I know you will be waiting for me at the front door, tail wagging, thinking “Finally, you’re home!”, just as you always did in life. Rest in peace.

Moving on, ASU. You know what? Even though the final score was awful, the first half was actually pretty entertaining, just a 10-0 game at the break. There were some promising moments early, offensively moving the ball through the air. They even ground out a long drive early in the game, but missed a field goal that seemed to zap any momentum they might have discovered on offense.

But defensively, they really hung in there and fought hard. Playing exclusively early in a 3-3-5 defense, per the radio broadcast, they did a good job of getting some pressure early on Rudy Carpenter. They even logged back-to-back sacks one one possession, and on the next, drew a holding penalty on what looked like another sure sack. They were even stout against the run, not anything close to the outfit allowing 279 yards rushing per game. 132 rushing yards allowed, on 35 carries? That’s pretty damn good. And as a whole, they allowed under 400 total yards, and in a year like this? MAJOR victory.


But once again, the offense let the team down. That’s now the third shutout in our last four games. Think about that. For a team that hadn’t been shut out since the early 80’s, to now roll three goose-eggs? 130 total yards? Seven rushing yards? SEVEN?? Simply awful. Unfortunately they come out of this one a little banged up as well. Chance Staden was lost to a knee injury, adding to the list of injured backs in Chris Ivory and now Logwone Mitz. Basically it’s down to Dwight Tardy….and Marcus Richmond…..that’s about it for the running game.

And of course, Kevin Lopina was lost with the concussion. I know we have openly pined for the youngster to get his chance, and now it looks like he might if the doctors don’t clear Lopina for next week. Concussions are obviously tricky, and today’s day and age they take every precaution in the world, so the odds are probably good that JT gets the ball this week. Young Levy got into the game and made a few plays, but generally struggled to a 7-for-14, 41 yard, 1 INT performance, as well as a fumble on a sack that ASU scooped up for a score. Oh yeah, the kid also injured his left wrist on the play, but HOPEFULLY he’s ok!?!? Whether he’s ready or not, with the Lopina injury, the J.T. Levenseller era might be here after all. And what a week to start it, vs. UW.

Here’s a rumor for you regarding UW. We got this from a reliable source too. But UW might unleash a surprise at QB this week. No guarantees, but let’s just say you shouldn’t be shocked if #10 is under center for UW.

Finally, the hoops team won. Hooray hoops! And the kids played well too. Baynes led with 14 points, but Marcus Capers had nine boards and six assists?? Wow. And DeAngelo Casto had four blocks?? NICE. 16% shooting, and 25 points allowed, the lowest total given up since 1948?? This is going to be a fun, interesting season of college basketball (and I KNOW from comments yesterday some of you despise basketball!).

ENJOY YOUR SUNDAY, and GO COUGS!

When All is Lost….

November 3, 2008

It is so easy to fall into the negative ditch right now. We try to stay positive, but right now it’s tough on all of us. But I can’t imagine how the players and coaches feel right now. Like Kaddy pointed out, the team is likely divided between guys who don’t give a rip and can’t wait to get outta Shawshank, and the other half are guys who are simply too young or not even playing to have any impact whatsoever on the product you see every Saturday. It’s a ship completely adrift with no leadership or direction. But we’ve harped on leadership – or a lack thereof – before. We’ve been down this road.

But it’s not as if they aren’t trying. Closing practices during the bye week, trying to get through to some of these kids, and yet, as Kevin Lopina said again after Saturday’s game, players are quitting as soon as they get down. We’ve seen teams lay down before when the going gets tough, but in all honesty, this has to be one of the worst give-up teams we’ve seen around here. It’s embarrassing for the coaches and fans, and it’s tearing the locker room apart.

But enough of the harping. Today is a day for trying to look forward. Today is a day to not feel crappy about the weekly blowouts or a hail storm of turnovers (now minus-20 on the season, tied for the worst in America). Today, let’s look forward to something/someone you are excited about in the coming seasons, not dwell on where we are today. So here goes:

1) I’m excited to see how the young offensive line comes together. Just think, after another year of lifting and eating right, these young kids will be bigger and stronger and ready for the rigors of a PAC-10 season. And a glance at the depth chart for Stanford shows the offensive line going, from left to right, freshman, sophomore, junior, sophomore and sophomore. All these lumps they are taking now, believe it or not, WILL pay off.

2) I’m excited to see how some of the young skill position guys look, as soon as next year. Jeshua Anderson is lightning fast, which we all know, and will only be a junior next year. With a healthy off-season and a full spring/fall practice session, I bet we see a major leap forward with him next year. But there are others to be optimistic about, including Daniel Blackledge, Kevin Norrell and Jared Karstetter, who could form a decent WR corps next season.

3) I’m excited to see how the running backs look for 2009, provided they are healthy. Dwight Tardy and Chris Ivory will both be seniors next year, but there will be more involved, including James Montgomery, the transfer from Cal, to be in the mix. I’m also impressed with how Logwone Mitz has looked of late. Mitz will be just a redshirt sophomore next year and could really be something as a power back in short yardage, as he continues to get stronger. And even Chantz Standen has shown a little bit as a junior, and he’ll be back there as well in 2009. That’s a pretty deep group of five backs to feel good about for next year.


4) I’m excited to see what J.T. Levenseller can do from here on out. Let’s HOPE THAT THE COACHES ARE GOOD WITH THE IDEA OF SEEING WHAT HE CAN DO THE REST OF THE YEAR!??!? Let’s hope he gets more than one first-half series this week?? Look, we have four games left this year and it doesn’t look promising in any of them. Let’s throw the kid out there more and more, and let’s see what happens. Let’s give him a foundation to build with as this year winds down, and he has something to build off for 2009. Who knows, with Lobbestael’s knee injury a little worse than initially feared, and Lopina going to be in his last year next year, J.T. MIGHT truly be the QB of the program for the next few seasons. Might as well start building the foundation TODAY.

5) I’m excited to see what kind of a linebacker Louis Bland can become. He’s already touted as a big-time leader and a kid that others can rally around. He’s not afraid to put his face in there and hit like hell. And in the way offenses are going, you will see more and more of the smaller, faster linebackers on the outside to defend spread style attacks. While he’s built more like a safety at 5-10, 205, he’s got a big heart.

6) I’m excited to see what the defensive line can do next year. The redshirt comes off for Bernard Wolfgramm, the top recruit from Wulff’s first signing class. He will be a big boost inside next year. But there are others, including Josh Luopo, a 300-pounder who will likely be in the mix next season after he enrolls this coming January. Add in Toby Turpin’s huge 6-6, 280 lb frame with another off-season of hitting the weight room, and who knows what he could turn into. He played a lot vs. Stanford after Eichelberger was pulled out, and Turpin will likely play a lot the rest of the season.

7) The secondary has been torn up this year, but it’s not all their fault. Anyone that knows anything about the game knows that if you don’t have any semblance of a pass rush, no secondary in the country can hold up for more than a few seconds. But the youth back there has in fact shown some promise. Romeo Pellum might be a just a sophomore, but he’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up. He now has 52 tackles this year, second to only Greg Trent on the entire team. And Xavier Hicks is playing hard, and even better, he didn’t quit against Stanford, racking up 10 tackles. Even Tyrone Justin, all 157 pounds of him right now as a true frosh, is doing all he can out there. So there is some decent youth back there, many of whom will have another year in the Wulff system to get bigger, stronger and more experienced.

8) Finally, I’m excited about signing day in February. Believe it or not, the recruiting IS GOING WELL. While it isn’t looking so good with Lynnwood’s Geoff Meinken, still, the current crop of verbal commitments is as strong as we’ve had in a long, long time. There is only one two-star player on the list, but the rest are three-stars. I know we never get too geeked on commitments, because it all can change rapidly with 18-year olds, but still, even with the bad times on the field, it’s going well towards building to tomorrow.

So there you have it – what I’m excited about, beginning in 2009. What are YOU looking forward to? Chime in with your thoughts, because we need all the positive karma we can get right now.

ENJOY YOUR MONDAY, and GO GOUGS!

Sunday Morning Gloom – Okie Edition

August 31, 2008

Oh well. Week one in the books, and now we have something to go off – and look forward to improving upon – besides practices and scrimmages.

First, great job yesterday by Brinkhater and of course, the comments. I think the vast majority of you saw the situation for what it is, which is a team that has a long way to go, yet still, you saw some things get better. I want to just touch on a few things, then we’ll look at some links.

What We Liked:
1) The defense is better. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. I know, 39 points is rough, but really, you can’t lay it all at their size 14’s. One of those scores was a kickoff return for a TD, and there were several other short-field situations where the D toughened up. That final score could have been considerably worse if, by chance, we had the 2007 defense out there.

But as many mentioned yesterday, we seemed quicker to the ball and we tackled better than we have in recent memory. Early on, and even well into the third quarter, there were very few moments where Okie State got outside the defense. We did a good job of not getting beat out there, and turning the action back inside. There was more pep in their step, so to speak, and they did in fact play with a swagger. To put it in proper perspective, you have to remember who exactly they were playing. This wasn’t Idaho or Grambling State. Okie State is an offensive juggernaut, and their QB was the best dual-threat QB in the nation next to Tim Tebow last year, and we held our ground. Robinson ran for almost 850 yards last year, so if you would have told me we would hold him to eight carries for a mere 11 yards?? I would take that in a heartbeat! Plus we did something that was a huge improvement compared to last year, and that was THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS! Just 4-for-13 yesterday in a category where we were one of the worst in the nation last year.

2) The running game got going. What a nice surprise there. After a putrid first half, where we never even crossed midfield on EIGHT POSSESSIONS, it was nice to see them get in an offensive rhythm. The running game really got the offense going in that first possession of the third quarter. Out of the nine offensive plays of that TD drive, seven of them were running plays. The final tally of 114 rushing yards, or 3.4 yards per carry, isn’t anything to write home about, but you can see the upside there. Both Tardy and Ivory had their moments, and wasn’t it great to see Ivory play after being so questionable coming in? That was a relief, to say the least, and might be a great sign going forward. As Brinkhater said last night, imagine next season when we will also add the touted Cal transfer James Montgomery into the mix with Tardy, Ivory and Staden? Could be a pretty deep, talented backfield!

3) The offensive line did a commendable job. A unit so banged up and shuffled around even before week one, yet they held together pretty well. Granted that wasn’t USC’s defense out there, but really, they were a pleasant surprise. Even though Rogers struggled mightily, there were several times where he had more than enough time to set up shop and do his thing in a strong pocket. Just two sacks allowed, and only a handful of QB hurries all day. And they really fired off the ball in that third quarter, establishing the ground game and getting after it.

Like many have said all along, with Wulff as our coach, the offensive line is going to be a personal position of pride for him. I think we are going to be happy with what we see up front, and so far, so good.

Now, what we didn’t like:

1) “Special” teams were far from special. I think we all thought this was going to be an issue, but WOW. Over 250 yards allowed in the return game, including the 90-yard KO return and punt returns of 42 yards and 68 yards?? BRUTAL is the only way to even possibly say it. That kickoff return for a TD, that middle of the field was so wide open, as soon as the guy had the ball for the first ten yards, I glanced down the middle of the field and there was NOBODY there. You or me with a few pre-game drinks in us could have scored on that thing. The hang-time on the punts was just bad, bad, bad. Too many line drive-type punts that are a returners dream. Time to bring back the rugby punts that roll for 25 yards and pop-fly kickoffs that are fair-caught at the 35? I know we lamented all that, but after yesterday, I welcome the idea with open arms!

Of course, we’re rolling with a backup punter and all, and we are so thin that many guys not normally on punt and kickoff coverage teams are being asked to go out there and bust the wedge. But that has to improve, and fast.

2) The corners, defensive tackles and pass rush. Ok, there were some bright spots early on. As we stated above, we held our ground and forced field goals with a short field to work with. But Okie State figured something out, and that is our defensive backs had trouble with the size and athleticism of their WR’s. Particularly Dez Bryant.

You hate to use that old injury excuse, but, losing our top cover corner Alfonso Jackson so early in the game hurt the experience in the secondary. Tyrone Justin was forced to get extensive minutes covering Bryant, and try as he might, it was a mismatch. There were at least a few of those jump-ball style throws, where Bryant was covered, but simply elevated and went up and got it. And let’s face it, he has serious ability and was one of their biggest weapons as a frosh last year. He’s going to be a name to remember in the Big 12. So I don’t know what you can do on those types of plays, other than say “JUMP HIGHER!” But a look around the Pac-10, and there are a lot of guys like him we’ll see out there. Oregon and USC’s monster WR’s will be licking their chops when they see film of this one.

The tackles are thin, thin, thin. We knew that coming in, and it was proven yesterday. Ahmu did have six tackles, so he was OK yet no tackles for loss or any pressure on the QB. Eichelberger is a nice compliment, but you can’t expect to get by with those two in there for 60-70 plays. Losing Roof hurts, and Adam Hineline got in there for a few stops, but man, something has to be done in there. I heard Walden on the radio say that he couldn’t remember a time where we lacked so much quantity and quality at the defensive tackle position in all his years watching WSU.

Finally, even though Robinson and the rest of Okie State didn’t go video-game football on us, still, we didn’t get enough pressure on the QB. He had a relatively comfortable 20-for-27, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt. Not fantastic, but pretty much in control. The ends didn’t get the kind of heat that is going to be needed going forward. Greg Trent had the only sack of the game, and Kevin Kooyman had a couple of QB hurries, but otherwise, it was a non-existent pass rush. Maybe we’ll see more blitzing next week vs. Kevin Riley and Cal, but we need to get pressure one way or another.

3) The most obvious of all, the passing game. It was Rogers’ first game, and no, we’re not going crazy on this one. He deserves a mulligan for a game that was a huge adjustment for everyone involved. New as in new QB, new starting WR’s and TE, new coaching staff with a new no-huddle offense. Yeah, that’s new. Was he out of synch? Sure. Was he wild with his accuracy? On some throws he was very wild, but others he was fine. But this thing wasn’t all his fault.

First, the drops. We all love Brandon Gibson, and we know he’s going to have a big senior year. But two of those drops were balls that he just has to make. Yes, one of them a DB made a play on the ball, and any DB will tell you it’s their ball just as much as it’s the WR’s. But those drops turned out to be pretty big in the grand scheme of things. You have to wonder what might have happened if he catches at least one of those. Maybe the confidence is there and they loosen up the coverage for the other WR’s. Maybe the running game gets going sooner rather than later, and they keep the Okie State offense off the field for a few set of downs. Who knows. But given the long body of work with Gibson, you KNOW this won’t be an ongoing issue. It will improve, and probably next week. Heck, it improved in the 2nd half, and Gibson’s second half was really strong.

And the new receivers had a lot to do with it. Far too often it looked like they were hesitant, confused or even running the wrong route altogether. Maybe there are a lot of “read” routes in this offense, where the QB and WR read the defense on the route and decide to either break it off or go deep? But in focusing on how the WR’s were running their routes, there seemed to be some first-game issues out there. You can tell there was more thinking going on vs. pure reactions and athleticism, but that will change as they get more experience. But health is also an issue. Daniel Blackledge wasn’t even going to play, and Michael Willis looked a little slow out there. Even Frischnecht at TE wasn’t himself. So it’s hard to blame Rogers when his supporting cast couldn’t pick him up.

So, that’s about it. What will YOU take from this one? I think the biggest thing I’m going to take is big-picture, in that unlike last year, these guys didn’t quit. Remember the Oregon game last year? They laid down after a rough start. Not only would those field goals have been TD’s on last year’s defense, but it would have been a full four quarters of pain. We cut it to 18-6, but then they stole the MO right back with the kickoff return for TD. We drive down the field and score another TD, but then they would respond after a short kickoff. But the fact that they fought back off the mat is just such a great sign for what is to come. The offense ground out two long, impressive drives in the second half to make it interesting, and most of all showed improvement as the game went on. Coach Wulff has to be happy that they responded to adversity instead of taking the afternoon off.

I won’t link to a bunch of WSU stuff, as you know where it is and how to find it. However, there was this notebook from the Times in regards to the young line showing some promise. Steve Kelley had this good look at Rogers, highlighting the issues he had to deal with for his first-ever start.

Finally, around the conference. PEEEEEUW! I can’t believe UW was only down 14-10 at the half. 30 unanswered points later and it’s a 44-10 wipeout that has fans going ballistic. I guess if it was year four of the Wulff regime, and we were embarrassed like that, well, it would be hard not to be pissed if you are a UW fan right about now. The fact Oregon got it done with brand new QB’s after Roper went down with a concussion has to make it all the worse. But Jake Locker can only do so much, and yep, those young skill guys sure looked young. And truth be told, Locker wasn’t 100%. He looked gassed at times, even tapping his helmet after a few plays to signal to the sideline to please call a regular running play. We heard a rumor that his hammy was far less than 100%, and has been an ongoing issue for him this summer, and it showed last night.

USC, jeez. Just when you think they might have some issues on offense, Mark Sanchez goes bananas in the 52-7 humiliation at Virginia. As they said on ESPN, he was making NFL-type throws and his WR’s were doing their part. And that defense, forget about it. Might as well clear the calendar for a BCS bowl, yet again.

ARIZONA 70, IDAHO ZERO!?!? HOLY TOLEDO. Idaho was outgained 521-112 for the entire game? I would have thought the Vandals could keep it close, but hide the women and children.

Cal had a wild one, holding on 38-31 in a real offensive show. The QB controversy has to be officially dead though, as Kevin Riley was far superior to Nate Longshore. Cal’s running game is going to be a chore next week, too, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen both going over 100 yards.

Finally, ASU sleep-walked through a 30-13 game that was far closer on the scoreboard. It was 30-3 in the third quarter. Rudy was on fire early, completing a school-record first 13 throws on the way to a big 388-yard night.

Enjoy your weekend, and GO COUGS!

Running Backs Starting to Stagger

August 16, 2008

You really do want to stay positive. I mean it is just mid-August, and this is the time when you like to be optimistic about the upcoming 13-game gauntlet (Speaking of gauntlet, we’ve updated the 2008 schedule to the right with the newest version of Schmap, as they just rolled out their NCAA football schedules. I like it…..except they have no aerial shot of our own stadium! Whatever. We can remove it if you guys hate it, but I like the interactive-ness of it vs. pure text).

Anyway, we’re in the “dog days” of fall camp. They’ve been going at it, hard, for a couple of weeks, and it’s only natural to be a little less juiced about practicing in 90+ degrees. But as the injuries start to mount, it’s hard not to pout a little bit. First the wide-outs had some well-publicized setbacks, which stinks. But then RB Chris Ivory came up lame with a sore hammy, and now, Dwight Tardy’s troublesome knee developed a bruise that will likely keep him off the field for today’s scrimmage. Wonderful.

Hopefully both guys are just injured of the “nagging” variety and can get back quickly. And honestly, they better. A quick check of the calendar and oh, man, suddenly we’re just two weeks from kickoff vs. the hated Okies??!?? WOW.

Injuries are part of the deal, always have been, always will be. And for a program like ours, where depth hasn’t been our friend, we know what happens when we suffer a rash of injuries. It’s not always a pretty sight. And hard work and trying to impress a new coaching staff can in fact be a double-edged sword, I guess. On the one hand, you love to hear how hard everyone is working, how intense the coaches and players have been, how different it is with the new regime. But then you have these things pop up. I mean you want to see them practice hard and improve, but at the same time, you also want them to live in a bubble until things get real. Maybe even get some red-shirts or walk-ons to physically carry the starters around the hill? JUST STAY HEALTHY BABY! There should be quite a few backups out there, so, hopefully some of them impress. Cougfan had a premium story about Kevin Norrell doing well at practice yesterday, so that’s good. You never know who will shine when given the opportunity.

So the scrimmage is at 2:30 PM today. Won’t be hot or anything, right? Let’s see, per weather.com, it should be a comfortable 95 degrees by then. But it will “only” feel like 90, since the humidity will hover at 15%. It’s a dry heat! But 95 will feel cool and comfortable compared to tomorrow’s predicted 101. Maybe we could move things inside the bubble and crank the AC??

That’s about it for today. There should be plenty of news out there after the scrimmage, so we’ll touch on anything notable. Also, look for a WSU Home Uni Watch for tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend and GO COUGS!

March Madness – WSU Football Blog Style

March 17, 2008

Obviously the focus this week is on these guys, and for good reason. A 4-seed in Denver is nothing to sneeze at, as we wind up our best 2-year run ever in terms of NCAA appearances. I won’t get too deep into it here, but as we commented yesterday, the message this week is simple – ENJOY this while it lasts. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no man, and that applies to this hoops program. We don’t know what the future holds, so try to enjoy the gift that is the “precious present”. That’s easier said than done, and around 4:20 on Thursday many of you will be gnawing the fingernails and gnashing the teeth, but do everything you can to keep things in perspective!

But today isn’t just about hoops. Since it’s March, we’re also talking about FOOTBALL! Unbelievable. Yep, spring ball is set to roll. Here’s a link to the official Spring Primer from the school. It’s a pretty good read. But we’ve got a LOT of questions that need to be answered. We’ll go through a few areas the rest of the week, so check back as things roll on. Without further adieu, here are the top-3 questions for the offensive skill positions this spring:

1) Who’s the QB?

The leader in the clubhouse at this point is Gary Rogers. Great size at 6-7, with an arm so strong Jack Thompson raves that he could throw it through a car wash and have it come out dry on the other side. Thompson also says he’s Carson Palmer, but with better feet. Uh, OK. That’s kind of a stretch, but hey, it’s March. Optimism runs wild this time of year. It’s not so much Rogers and his whopping physical size and tools, but my question is how will he fit into this offense? While much is made of the idea that this offense is the spread/read option offense, you don’t need Dennis Dixon or Pat White as a runner back there. This is really a modified version of that offense, NOT a true read-option where the QB fakes a handoff 80% of the time with the idea that he can tuck it and run. The challengers are Cole Morgan, Kevin Lopina and the young dark horse, Marshall L (I’ll refrain from constantly misspelling the last name, so he’ll simply be Marshall or Marshall L going forward).

2) Who Will Be the Running Back(s)?

This is a big question that needs to be addressed. New OC Todd Sturdy said it a few times at the football dinner a few weeks ago, but despite being a no-huddle shotgun offense, we WILL run the football. In fact, the goal is a 50-50 run-pass ratio, so healthy bodies are going to be a premium for the offense. With Dwight Tardy out with the knee injury suffered while celebrating vs. UCLA (I don’t care what anyone says, he hurt that knee after scoring the TD vs. the Bruins), Chris Ivory will be the undisputed starter from the opening practice.


Tardy however got the starter nod with the first depth chart released in the Paul Wulff era, so things might be different in the fall. I will say this however – Chris Ivory, at least to me, looks to have more upside that Dwight Tardy. Not to say that I don’t like them both, and I think combined, if they are both healthy this fall, that’s a heck of a one-two punch. But Ivory appears to me to have more explosion than Tardy, both in the short runs with more punch and he even has an extra gear that could make him pretty special. A couple of other kids in the mix are Marcus Richmond, who’s had very little opportunity at this point to do much, and Logwone Mitz, a powerful 6-0, 230-pounder who came in with some recruiting buzz last year but didn’t play. Hard to say now, but by the opener this position could be one of real strength on the offense, and we may end up being a true 50-50 run-pass offense after all.

3) How About the WR’s?

We all know Brandon Gibson will bless this team with his return next year. After losing Bumpus, Charles Dillon and Jed Collins, all I can say is THANK YOU Brandon. And from the early talk, it sure as heck sounds like Wulff and company are going to do all they can to reward him for his return. Wulff even mentioned, albeit briefly, that you are going to see them get the ball to Gibson in all sorts of creative ways. The leading receiver in the conference from 2007 and a guy who’s big plays won us the Apple Cup, Gibson is poised to have a gigantic Senior year. Just hope that he clicks early in the offense and most of all, STAYS HEALTHY this spring! We all know what he can do, so let’s just handle him with kid gloves, hmmm?

Jeshua Anderson showed a tremendous upside as a frosh last year, and he’s truly got “world class” speed as he will completely miss spring ball, instead working on his track team skills. Anderson is rumored to be a true candidate for the Olympic team, so it’s hard to bet fully on his return to football at this point. We’ll see how it all shakes out. Benny Ward is back, and while he’s experienced, he hasn’t exactly been a world-beater. But he’ll team with Gibson as a senior starter at one WR spot. At flanker, promising sophomore Daniel Blackledge is back as a raw, yet talented youngster. Outside of those three players, the depth is thin. At least it’s thin based on past production, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. They had some good players ahead of them the last few seasons, so the opportunities haven’t been there. The good news is Mike Levenseller has stuck with the new staff, and can concentrate solely on coaching up the WR’s. No need to worry about calling plays or bickering with the OC Mike, just coach up these youngsters and let’s see how much we can improve this spring!