Archive for the ‘Gary Rogers’ Category

Goodbye Gary, Plus Other Stuff

February 13, 2009


UPDATE: AD Jim Sterk will be on with KJR’s Ian Furness this afternoon between 1 – 3 PM. Just to go KJR’s website and click listen live, and you should be able to catch it. Not sure of the exact time (sometime later in the 1 PM hour?).

In a story we all pretty much saw coming since it was first reported last fall, the quest for another year for Gary Rogers is all over. As is the norm, the NCAA rarely grants a sixth year unless said player misses substantial time for two seasons due to injury. Since Rogers redshirted for non-injury reasons in ’04, the appeal was a long-shot from the beginning.

According to the article, Rogers hopes to play professionally. Whether that’s the NFL, the European league, the Arena league or any other league that springs up out of the blue, we wish all the luck in the world to Gary. He will always be the epitome of “what could have been”.

We’ll always have Auburn ’06.

Moving on, there’s more about the EWU – Paul Wulff era. Basically everyone is saying now that it was the “culture” of EWU that was the issue, and it was a problem for many, many years. After reading some of the details, and catching some of the comments from the people involved, it’s hard to argue against the reasoning. Our own Kaddy pointed out in comments yesterday that John Blanchette had some decent insight to the whole thing. I guess the bottom line to all of this is that it’s looking more and more like there were things happening for a long time that weren’t really monitored as well as they should have been. Things built up and built up, and finally, they added up to the penalties you see today. But what do YOU think? Now that a few days have passed and there are some solid details out there, are you satisfied?

From where I sit, this is all water under the bridge. Life will roll forward for all involved, and in the end, everyone will come out ahead. EWU will be amazingly clean AND compliant from now on. And Wulff’s wrist-slap will be enough of a reminder to keep doing what he’s doing. That’s pretty much it.

So…do you like this picture?

It’s looking like it could be reality by early next week. And like Edgar and Buhner, personally I’m THRILLED beyond belief. I know Griffey is kind of downplaying the whole thing when reached for comment yesterday, but there’s a hell of a lot of smoke to this fire. One report yesterday from a guy who writes for the P-I said the deal is done, and they are simply dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on this thing. So we’ll see.

Now, the sabermetric types are just hating on the whole idea, absolutely killing Griffey as a non-factor and a horrific defensive player. There are defensive ratings that back up their claims. But baseball isn’t just about stats and ratings. If it was, then the Yankees would win the World Series every year, and the D-Rays would be in the basement every year. Well, I’m coming down on the pure sentimental side of this one. Just to see #24 in an M’s jersey, one more time, to me is worth the price of admission. I know he’s 39 now, and a mere shadow of the Player of the 90’s. This isn’t the Junior we used to know and love. But who knows. Reportedly he’s in great shape, and his injured knee that helped limit him to 18 HR’s last year is cleaned up and ready to go.

Maybe the knee is healthy and he can give the punch-n-judy lineup some pop from the left side. In fact, the projected M’s outfield of Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez combined for less HR’s than Junior hit all of last year. As long as he gets most of his AB’s against right handed pitching as the DH, what harm could this do? And at last check, he is 50 HR’s behind Willie Mays. This is WAY over the top, but…..if he can hit 25 a year for the next two years, well, wouldn’t it be cool to see him pass Mays in an M’s uni?

All I know is after the A-Fraud news from last week, and going along with everyone else in believing that Junior was clean all along, it might be nice to have something to embrace again in baseball? It would be cool to go out to Safeco this summer and cheer for something other than Ichiro grounders to sneak through the infield?? We can always HOPE, right??

Nice W for the hoops team last night. I’ll let BH handle the basketball Jones stuff, but they are still not dead yet. A win over the Beavs, and suddenly you are 6-7 with five to go. Get to eight wins and the NIT is a lock. But what if they go 3-2 over their last five, and suddenly they are sitting at 9-9? What if they make a little noise in the PAC-10 tourney, winning a couple of games? Anything can happen.

That’s it for today. Enjoy your Friday, and GO COUGS!

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Five

September 24, 2008


Week FIVE already? Wow, this thing is going fast. Anyway, this week’s radio show recap. I’ll try and condense it as much as possible but also hit on the key points.

  • Bud Nameck hosted this week, Bob Rob was unavailable but will call this week’s game. They started the show by talking about the injury to Kevin Lopina and Gary Rogers. Both were termed “scary” injuries, but the best news of all is that neither of them are life-changers and they should fully recover. Obviously Rogers is the more serious of the two and his football days could be done.
  • Wulff really went out of his way to express his disappointment about Rogers, and you could tell he felt awful for the kid. He also repeatedly said how great a job his parents did in raising such a wonderful young man. He really likes Rogers, and it’s just too bad all the way around the way this has worked out.
  • Lopina’s injury is less serious of the two, but it could keep him out for some time. Wulff said they are now under the belief that this is a three-to-six week injury, not the two-to-four week injury reported earlier in the day. They just have to take it easy and be careful with the recovery.
  • The QB situation now has Marshall starting, obviously, with Dan Wagner backing him up. JT Levenseller is the third QB, and Wulff termed him on “redshirt alert”, meaning if both QB’s go down, they will be forced to play him. One interesting angle to all this is that JT took a lot of snaps with the number two’s in practice, and Wagner only got a few reps in. They really want to see what JT can do with more practice time, so he’s getting a good look. Kind of strange in that we’ve already seen two QB’s go down, so while we like Marshall, who knows how long he’ll hold up under some serious pressure. Why Wagner isn’t getting a lot of reps in practice is a little odd, unless they are more serious about playing JT this year than they are letting on? Wulff reiterated that they really want to redshirt JT, so they are hopeful he won’t have to play. Wulff also went out of his way to claim how much progress JT has made so far, and they like what they’ve seen out of him.
  • Of course, the topic turned to Marshall. Wulff said that he brings a lot of intangibles that other QB’s don’t seem to have, and he’s a strong leader. He also said that the players seem to rally around him, and he brings good chemistry to the position. He touched on his competitiveness, saying he is REALLY competitive (can’t always coach that!). He also said that while he was somewhat surprised with his performance, he honestly wasn’t TOO surprised he did so well. He’s been working his butt off, studying film, etc, and he has confidence in what he can do.

  • A caller asked about Ocho Rojo’s grasp of the offense. Wulff said that he looked smooth out there, but they also didn’t really call anything that would make him uncomfortable. They wanted to keep things simple and run things that they knew he would do well with, but at the same time, the kid did well by moving the team and getting them into the endzone without any turnovers. Overall very pleased with Marshall….but Wulff wasn’t totally “gushing” about him. I get the drift that he’s just trying to keep everyone on this planet before we get too carried away.
  • Wulff did say they will give Marshall as much of the offense as he can handle, so they won’t try and coddle him too much. So while they will tailor the offense towards his strengths, they won’t simply remove a bunch of stuff from the playbook because he’s a frosh. He will get as much as he can take.
  • A caller asked about the no-huddle, and in particular, the calling of plays at the line. How can you prevent the defense from figuring out what you are doing if your QB is calling the plays right at the line? Wulff said they have a pretty intricate system of hand signals, and in all his years he’s never had anyone figure it out….EXCEPT FOR JERRY GLANVILLE! He said that last year, without question, Glanville stole their signals. There was a long stretch of their game last year where it was beyond obvious that PSU knew exactly what they were running. This wasn’t just being paranoid, but this was clearly Glanville’s staff stealing their signals. But on Saturday, Wulff had three coaches signaling in plays, and PSU had no clue what to do. That might be part of the offensive outburst? Wulff’s quote was “this year, we got him!” 🙂
  • Another caller asked about the sloppy play, with penalties, missed assignments, turnovers, etc. He said they try and handle that in practice, where they have a series of 12 plays that they must run as perfect as possible, all eleven guys. If they run it perfectly, that’s one less “gasser” they have to do at the end of practice. Run all 12 plays perfectly, they don’t have to do any “gassers”. He said that’s an incentive for discipline, but he really didn’t get into any individual punishments for the boneheaded stuff that might occur during a game. I don’t get the impression he’s got them out running stairs all day. But at the same time, with such a young team and a brand new system, etc, they probably need every second of practice time they can get in working on what they are trying to do in games?
  • But Wulff did go out of his way to again tout the unity council, made of up 15-20 players who meet every week to go over what’s going on with the team. It’s been a big thing so far, and it’s got some kids to really start to shine as leaders. He also said that the little mistakes are already starting to clean up, and it will get better and better as the season goes on. They ARE getting better.
  • Another called asked what the heck is going on with the d-line? Here you have Mullennix sliding inside to tackle, but he’s clearly not a tackle. And you have probably your best linebacker in Andy Mattingly playing defensive end, and he’s not making an impact. What gives? Wulff said that right now, they like Mullennix inside at tackle only on passing situations. Since PSU was such a passing team, they thought he gave them their best pass-rushing option on the inside. He also addressed Mattingly, and basically said that you might see Mattingly back at strong-side linebacker at some point this season or next season. He said that there are some things that Mattingly does at linebacker that are great, but, there are others that he really doesn’t do very well, at all. And, Wulff really likes having Kooyman, Mattingly and Mullennix as their primary defensive ends, at least for now. But the bottom line is that these changes for both guys are more out of necessity rather than by choice. They just don’t have the depth or experience up front, so they are mixing and matching the best they can.
  • Wulff talked about Oregon, and raved about their running game. He said it is the best running game in the Pac-10, and 4th in the nation right now. Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount are a fantastic combination, two of the best in the conference. But their offensive line is really a concern. Four seniors, and they are excellent as a unit. He also raved about the tight end, who is an all-conference guy in Ed Dickson. He did say that they will have an inexperienced QB back there, whoever it turns out to be, and that Darron Thomas, the frosh, is the better thrower of the group. But you get the idea that they are expecting Oregon to run it as much as they possibly can. Wulff said the key will be to try and prevent the big play. He said they will NOT stop their run, they will only be able to slow it down, but as long as they tackle well and not give up the big play, he believes they will be ok. He also said the tackling has been better, and in grading the game, they only counted two missed tackles vs. PSU.
  • Wulff also said how much better things were with having Xavier Hicks and Alfonso Jackson at safety. He said they have a lot of leadership back there and they are much stronger down the middle of the defense. He said they make the coaches look a lot better when they are on the field.
  • Someone asked about the article in the Seattle Times last week, about the whole deal with nutrition and putting muscle on these kids, leadership, etc. Wulff said that the biggest thing is that this is an area, no doubt about it, that has slipped over the last several years. He said part of it is youth and immaturity, but a lot of these kids just have no clue how to eat properly. That’s such a huge part of getting stronger, in how they play, how they feel, and that they take it very seriously. The weight room and practice field is important in terms of getting better, but if they aren’t eating properly, then all that hard work might not pay off.
  • Wulff touched on the O-line. He said they are still trying to get things figured out there, and that there were some mistakes on Saturday. However both hits that took out the QB’s were NOT the entire fault of the O-line. He said that in the play they lost Lopina, the blindside shot where the linebacker came free off the edge, there was a miscommunication. Lopina was supposed to check the running back over to that side of the line to help pick up the blitz, but it didn’t happen. Therefore the blitzer came totally free. The hit that took out Rogers was simply a late hit, and shouldn’t have happened. In a normal circumstance he shouldn’t have even been hit. But he did say the line is still a work in progress.
  • Finally, Wulff talked about what they need to do this week on offense. He said the biggest thing, above all else, is to take care of the football! They still haven’t done that in four games, and they cannot afford turnovers. The other thing is to have some balance on offense, in particular trying to get the ground game going. Oregon is very strong vs. the rush, really shutting down Purdue and Boise State on the ground, so it will be a challenge to get that balance going. But they have to keep Oregon’s defense honest and keep Lobbestael out of obvious passing situations. Finally, Lobbestael and the passing game has to be efficient, and most of all, move the chains. They have to be consistent and generate some decent drives in this game.

So there you have it. This week’s show. Overall Wulff sounded better, and coming off his first win, you can understand it. But he wasn’t overly boisterous or gushing about how well they played, etc. Like he said after the game on Saturday night, they can feel good about it, but they have to get right back to work and get ready for the next one, just like they had to move past the other losses. Yes, they are happy they got win #1 out of the way and all that, but they still have so far to go. I think that is what we are learning about Wulff, in that he’s not going to be too much of a rah-rah type of coach. He’s not the buttoned down CEO type, or flat-out dry and secretive like some other coaches in this state…..but he’s not going to go High School Harry like Pete Carroll and jump around either. He’ll show some emotion, but, he’s also the leader and wants to stay on an even keel.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Football Friday…only on Thursday. Enjoy your Hump-day, and GO COUGS!

Time for "Little Moxie"?

September 22, 2008

I know people are excited about Marshall Lobbestael. It’s hard not to be, given the start of the 2008 season and the flat-out inept offensive performances we’ve witnessed thus far. I’m right there with you. Efficient, effective, smart, he was the whole deal on Saturday. A 48-9 victory, and the team really seemed in synch with Marshall. Wulff likes him too:

Asked what Lobbestael’s strengths are, Wulff said, “We’re still finding that out. He got so few reps in the spring; Gary and Kevin got most of them, and the same thing in the fall. But you can tell he’s got a little moxie.”

Hmm. I know everyone is looking for a nickname for this kid (Lobster?). The red hair more or less fits with the Lobster. But how about “Little Moxie”? You know, because he shows a little moxie? It’s a stretch, I know. Whatever. I just hope the kid can keep playing like this.

BUT, alas, there’s the question. CAN he continue to play like this? After all, this was an off-the-bench moment against a mid-range Big Sky team. No offense to Portland State, but they aren’t exactly the Oregon Ducks secondary is it? If Little Moxie gets the call on Saturday, he can expect coverage to be a lot tighter, the pass rush to be a lot more fierce, and it’s doubtful he’ll have a running game in his back pocket that was able to get 5.5 yards per carry whenever it wanted to. No, this Saturday will be a much different deal. And oh yeah, Oregon is PISSED after kicking one vs. the Boise State Donkeys. Really pissed.

The sad part of this story is that it appears the career of Gary Rogers is over. I guess he could potentially apply for a medical redshirt and try to get another year of eligibility, but that seems like a stretch at this point. He’s out of the hospital now, but has to recover from a break of the seventh bone from the base of the skull.

The best news is that Rogers was able to move his limbs, and left the hospital under his own power. It could have been much, much worse than it turned out to be. But unfortunately, we can now file Rogers in the Mike Pattinson category. You know, good guy and a QB who hung around and hung around, then finally got his shot, only to have it cut short in his last season due to injury.

We will always wonder what could have been with big Gary. Who knows what he could have done with experience, a good offensive line, an NFL running back in Jerome Harrison and some NFL-type WR’s like Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus around him. That famous drive vs. Auburn might have been brief, but anyone who watched it will always at least understand the kind of upside he had, and why so many people wanted to see this thing work out for him. Good luck to Gary, and get healthy!

Moving on, it’s not exactly a lock that Marshall will get the ball this Saturday. Kevin Lopina’s shoulder is bruised, so he’s not exactly fit to start right now. But Wulff said they will monitor him all week, and leading on that if he’s healthy, he will start.


Lopina’s health is a big concern. Anyone who watched him early in that game on Saturday can see that his arm strength is a problem right now. He sure had more zip on the ball vs. Baylor than he did on Saturday, so maybe that sore throwing wrist is bothering him more than they are letting on? But wow, some of his throws were just terrible, some dying quails fluttering in the breeze. I had some flashbacks to…..never mind.

Lopina also really needs to clean up the turnovers. On both of his INT’s on Saturday, they weren’t just poor throws, but bad decisions to boot. The first on a roll-out on third down, where he threw it deep into an area where three defenders were waiting. It had absolutely no chance. The second one was basically a jump-ball to Gibson, thrown up for grabs, and fluttered away and right to the defensive back. Yes, it was only his second-ever start, and growing pains for him are expected, even if he is a junior. But that’s now five INT’s in roughly two games of playing time. We know how bad turnovers are, but for a team that is so thin and lacking experience in so many areas, the last thing we can afford is giving the ball away so much. And while we did get three turnovers of our own on defense, we STILL lost the turnover battle on Saturday, giving it away four times to Portland State. That just cannot continue.

Finally, major hat-tip to Michael Bumpus!

Bump hauled in his first NFL TD yesterday, making a diving grab of a Matt Hasselbeck pass in the end zone to get the Hawks their first score yesterday, on the way to a 37-13 rout of the winless Lambs. Bump only had two catches, and he muffed a punt that was recovered by St Louis, but still, great to see him score a TD. Who knows what the future holds, as both Bobby Engram and Deion Branch are expected to return – hopefully – after the bye week, so he may be headed back to the practice squad. But still, as an undrafted free agent to be playing in the WR rotation by the third week of the season, and contributing? GREAT JOB BUMP!

That’s about it. Enjoy your Monday, a Monday after a WIN, and GO COUGS!

From Bowling to Bowled Over: A Review

September 17, 2008

Happy Hump Day Cougar Nation. Hope you’re having a good week.

Well, with the exception of some stragglers, we had one of our better weekend of comments that I can ever remember. For the most part, you all offered some really strong insights and conclusions. One of your remarks that stood out for yours truly concerned Brinkhater’s not-so-nimble prediction that we would finish 6th in the conference and would head to our first bowl in several years.

Obviously, I was deeply wrong about that. But beyond my idiocy, the question is “why?’

So, let’s revisit my cwazy line of reasoning.

At the start of the year
, I reasoned that we would win a whopping 7 games. Our supposed Prey: An awful Baylor, a meek Portland State, a down UCLA and Oregon State, a woeful Stanford, a Lockerless UW, and a pitiful excuse for a Rainbow: Hawaii. In short, I predicted us to lose to every team that would finish .500 or higher and beat everyone who would be .500 or lower. Not that unreasonable in my book.

As of this writing, I have yet to be swayed about the fortunes of the teams that I thought we would beat. I thought they’d be bad, and from what I’ve seen, they look pretty bad.

Of course, that begs the most important question: What happened to US?

Well, when we offered our pre-camp predictions, there were several criticisms of us. And here they are:

We had no depth at DT and our ability to stop the run was a MAJOR source of concern.

We had no depth anywhere in the case anyone got injured.

Our kicking game was ranked worst in the conference.

IN relation to those criticisms, I reasoned that NONE of the above would prove relevant over the course of the year (silly Brinkhater). Why?

1) I reasoned that “the Roof” would provide needed depth and that Trent and the Safeties would compensate up the middle. I also believed that Mattingly and Mullenix would provide sufficient pressure to draw the attention of the defense. Obviously, Roof was expelled, the M&M’s have melted in the hands of every OT they’ve seen, and our play at DT and Safety has been absolutely abysmal.

2) Our quarterbacks HAVE been the worst in the conference as predicted by Ted Miller and Benedict Bob Condotta. Of course, my reasoning for why we would be at the top instead of the bottom was because we had 4 starters returning on the O-Line, had two terrific receivers returning with one gem in the balance (Willis), as well as two FANTASTIC running backs to set up play action.

3) Wulff ran our kids into the ground. Of course, he needed to. And, of course, he should not be held responsible for Anderson’s hernia or the rest of the onslaught to the WR corps. Nor can Wulff be held responsible to the miserable injuries that affected the O-Line during camp, or the shuffling that had to take place between Weeks One and Two. In any case, all of the nice constants I thought would be there with the line and the receiving corps? No where to be found. In fact, the instability and injuries to the WR corps and the line have made our suspect QB play even worse. Moreover, those injuries crippled our development and made our performance between Week One and Two not only non-existent–it actually made us REGRESS.

4) Our kicking game is still awful. We missed a PAT in game one, had a worm burner returned for 6 against CAL when we were still “kind of” in the game, and the punting (in Game One) arguably cost us our first competitive game of the year. While I know that our kicking game hasn’t come into real play yet, if we were nearly any good, it would cost us and cost us dearly. I thought we’d be almost reliable this season, but we still have to say 20 Hail Marys even before a dog gone PAT.

So what does this all mean? Where do we go from here?

Call me cwazy, but I honestly believe that this season can be salvaged.

It may not be great, it may not be pretty, it may not be impressive, but I do think that there are 4 wins (out of six winnable games) that are there for the taking. And yes, 4-9 at this point would be a SERIOUS moral victory.

Of course, based on our play and decision making so far (yes, this does mean you coaches), there are also 10 more losses that we can easily siege!

But, here’s my recipe for making the more positive outcome happen THIS YEAR:

Pray for health for the Offensive Line.
If there’s ANYTHING that I am certain of it is that Wulff can coach an O-Line. If this group can stay healthy, they’ll develop. Given the fact that they were previewed as high as #5 in the conference, you know that they have talent in that group. So, if they develop as expected, the talent at the skill positions WILL become apparent just like Brinkhater foresaw at the beginning of the year. You saw some clues last week that things can and will get better as the WRs started to run the correct routes with more consistency. With health at O-Line, we will start to move the ball. But we really can’t afford more big injuries.

Play both Quarterbacks.
May sound sacrilegious, but this team was MADE to follow the Leaf-Dixon combo that Oregon employed a few years back. Start with the guy who can scramble to offset the blitz early (Lopina) and then mix it up the rest of the game by inserting a guy that can really spread the field horizontally and vertically through the air (Rogers). In my book, alternate the two every couple of series until one guy gets the hot hand (or not). Then ride that dude into the 4th. I actually think both guys can learn better by doing and watching anyway and I think it will make us effective over the course of a season (and yes, 10 games qualifies as a season my book) while also avoiding a split locker room.

Move to a 3-4 or 3-3-5.
This is beyond a no-brainer in my book; and I, more than anyone else in the nation, am qualified to make that very statement because I, in fact, have no brain.

In Brinkhater’s world, there is beyond 100% justification for Wulff and company to stick to their guns regarding their philosophy on offense. But where the defense is concerned, sticking to their guns makes no sense whatsoever. For one, NOTHING that they want to do with the 4-3 is so complex it can’t be taught in the spring and pre-season. For two, the current scheme does not play to the team’s strengths. For three, we CAN NOT become even remotely competitive with the status quo. For four, we are NOT as slow as we’ve seemed thus far. From what I’ve seen, we just look that way, cuz EVERYONE on the team is diving toward the center on each play to compensate for the fact that our DTs are the worst ever in school history.

To be sure, the addition of Hicks and the return of Jackson will help some, but where it will help is 7 yards down the field after the opposing teams’ tailback has picked up 8 on first down to make it second and two (instead of 1st and 10 following a 50 yard gain). I mean, I know I don’t know much, but when the other team has second and two most of the time, you gonna lose.
So, the return of Hicks in and of itself will mean NOTHING for our fortunes.

Moreover, given the fact that we have NO TALENT or depth at DT but have PLENTY at Linebacker, why in the WORLD would you sit that talent and start some fat, slow scrubs when you don’t have to?

It may not be this week, but I’d be SHOCKED to not see a change in Defensive scheme by the Oregon game. If we make the change, I like our chance to stay in games (assuming that the offense improves) with that game (the Quack) and the USC game as exceptions..
And I’d REALLY like our chances if they’d move Mattingly back to LB.

But what do I know, right?

Anywho, where this week is concerned, we will win and win handily, so you all can take a chill pill and relax–at least for this week.

Our first REAL test will be how we line up against the Quack in a couple of weeks. Granted, even without Roper, we’re gonna get blasted. But, it is the improvement we make in THAT game which will determine our fate for the rest of the year.

There are six winnable games left on our slate.

Lets get #1 this weekend.

ONE final note – Bellevue High School, the #1 AAA school in the state, and WSU recruiting target Jamal Atofau will play in Qwest Field this weekend. It’s called the “Best of the West Classic“.

It’s a full day of high school football, featuring teams from California and Washington. Here’s a synopsis:

Bellevue High School will host four football games Sept. 20 at Qwest Field, highlighted by the Wolverines playing one of California’s top teams. The Best of the West Football Classic will
feature seven Seattle-area teams, with host Bellevue playing California High School from the Bay Area (San Ramon), a team that was 11-2 last season, at 7:30 p.m.
Kamiak and Shorewood will open at 10:30 a.m., followed by Woodinville and Eastlake at 1:30 p.m. Redmond plays Bothell, last year’s runner-up in Class 4A, at 4:30 p.m.
Bellevue will play its third California team in five years at Qwest Field. The Wolverines, one of this state’s perennial powers, beat De La Salle in 2004 and Long Beach Poly in 2005. All-day admission will be $7 for students and $13 for adults.

When All Else Fails….

September 15, 2008

Three games in, and nobody’s happy. Obviously there are issues, and they are plenty. But don’t fret, as you are not alone in your unhappiness. Coach Wulff is right there with you, and because of the inept performances thus far, changes are a brewin’ on the Palouse. And rightly so. Per Bud Withers in the Times today:

1) Xavier Hicks is back. You may remember him from his off-the-field, uh, slip-ups. But the kid is a big-hitting safety who only started three games last year, but had 53 tackles and some huge hits that separated man from ball. UCLA remembers him, I’m sure, from last year’s 27-7 win:

Hicks coming back means that the secondary will likely do some shuffling, with potentially Chima going back to corner, and Alfonso Jackson moving back to safety. Remember those two had switched positions, but due to injuries and other issues, it wasn’t exactly working out. Go back and watch the first play vs. Cal, when Jahvid Best took the ball 80 yards. Look at the last line of defense on that play, and see the safety who completely whiffed on the tackle attempt. That’s just one example, but it shows that a change needs to be made.

Having Hicks and Jackson in the middle of the field makes a heck of a lot of sense. Jackson had 65 tackles as a safety last year, and even though he’s been beat up this year, he just didn’t look like corner was the spot for him in that first game.

2) Myron Beck, who did a fair job as a safety, has been moved to linebacker. Makes sense. He’s shown a nose for the ball and with his quickness, he could be a pretty good, quick outside linebacker. He’s well-built at 6-0, 210, so it could be a really good move for him as well. And with all the issues we had trying to slow down Baylor’s running game – QB Robert Griffin had over 200 yards himself, remember – Beck is probably going to eat into some of Kendrick Dunn’s playing time at weak side LB.

But no matter what, we’ve GOT to stop the run, whether it’s Beck’s speed at linebacker, or if the tackles are going to be pushed out of the way, you better be strong up the middle in other areas with the safeties. Hopefully this change will help Trent man the middle of the field, because right now he’s all we’ve had out there!

3) The o-line is going to shuffle again, and this time it might be for the better. Vaughn Lesuma will move inside to guard, and that could be the best for him. Lesuma isn’t fully healthy, and even when he is OK, he’s always had some issues with the speedier rush ends out there. He’s a huge dude at 6-5, 330, so he might be better suited to be a road grater inside and lean on some defensive tackles with all that girth. Steven Ayers and Joe Eppele will fight it out for the left tackle spot. This is big news, as Wulff has mentioned in his radio show how high they are on Joe Eppele’s ability as a tackle, but his knee injury has held him back thus far. It sounds as though he is now ready to compete, so, we might see him play for the first time this year.

4) At QB – even with the turnovers shown by Lopina – Wulff made it sound like IF he’s good to go, he will start on Saturday. The wrist is sore, but it will likely be Lopina if he’s ready. We all have opinions on the QB, and the question can’t be fully answered yet if you ask me. I would be fine if they continue to split time this Saturday, and then see what happens. But in true foundless, blog-style rumor mongering…..we’ve heard a few things about the QB situation recently, and well, let’s just say it isn’t a shocker that Lopina is getting a long look.

Finally, Vince has a good round-up of the different positions Wulff spoke about yesterday. Check it out here (but you probably already have by now…)

So there you have it. If you keep failing at something, well, what do you do? You try something else. It’s pretty basic. But now that we are three games in, the coaches have found out quite a bit about the players they have and what they do on game day. And most of all, how they fit into what they are trying to accomplish. It’s been a tough three-game stretch, almost like a mini-NFL-preseason audition if you want to know the truth. But the first three games are now in the rear-view mirror, and these guys can now make some adjustments going forward. Let’s see how it all plays out on Saturday. I’m sure as hell hoping they taste victory, for everyone involved! These guys need a win right now.

In other news, the postings might be a little light this week. Real life is more or less getting in the way this week of our massive output of daily content…..we’ll try to stay on top of things, but it might be a lighter-than-normal week. But just know we aren’t going anywhere. Sorry. 🙂

Enjoy your Monday/week, and GO COUGS!

Jeshua Anderson Faster Than Robert Griffin

September 9, 2008

A bit of a light day in regards to WSU stuff out there, but we’ll touch on a few things.

Interesting sub-plot this week to the WSU – Baylor game. Did you know that while our own Jeshua Anderson was winning the 400m hurdles in the NCAA championships back in June, a frosh from Baylor named Robert Griffin was coming in third?


Yes, this is the same Robert Griffin who was fantastic in his first-ever start last Saturday. Griffin was a hot-shot QB out of Copperas Cove, TX, a 4-star prospect rated as the #12 QB in the nation last year according to Scout.com. He was the top-rated prospect signed by new coach Art Briles, and landed Griffin over the likes of Tennessee, Houston and even Stanford. This kid is a BIG-TIME talent.

That said, he’ll be making just his second ever start as a true frosh, and first against a BCS team. I know, we’re down right now, but it goes without saying we’ll be faster and stronger on defense compared to what Griffin faced last week in Northwestern State…..right?? Anyway, let’s see what Jody Sears and Chris Ball can cook up on defense to confuse the youngster. Throw the kitchen sink at the kid! What do we have to lose at this point?

Speaking of Jeshua Anderson. Did anyone watching the broadcast catch what Jason Gesser said about Anderson’s hernia? Anderson told Gesser that he has had the hernia for FIVE YEARS! He basically had this baseball-sized “thing” bulging out of his lower stomach area for five years. EWWW. But let me get this straight – he played football last year, of course, but also was winning track championships, as well as a true threat for the Olympic team with a hernia??

First of all, how did he do it all this time with this thing? And second, if he has had it all this time, how the heck was it missed by trainers or a team doctor or whatever during physicals? Strange, to say the least.

Have you seen the line for this week? Baylor is a 2.5 point favorite. Are you surprised? A close look at Baylor saw them blown out at home by Wake Forest in the opener, but whomping on a weak sister last week. Meanwhile we were in the game for while vs. Okie State, and if not for some major special teams breakdowns, who knows how tight it could have been. But then we were embarrassed like no other time in WSU history last week. All that said, I would have thought Baylor by at least 6 or 7, at home, against a team that can’t get out of it’s own way right now. But we’ve said it before, we’ll say it again – Vegas USUALLY knows what it’s doing. It’s what they do.

I don’t know how you can predict what we are going to see this week. Will we respond from the beating? Are we as down and lifeless as we looked on Saturday, both on the field and along the sideline? The coaches aren’t already losing this team….are they? This entire week of practices is going to be very interesting to try and get a read on where everyone is right now.

Finally, Cougfan has a good seen & heard column up, as well as a Notebook. And they are FREE articles! In the seen & heard, they are on the side of another chance for Rogers, but also mention how Lopina could eventually be an effective option with his legs and mid-range accuracy. The notebook touches on the QB situation, youth and lack of experience on defense, particularly the defensive line.
So, the QB situation. It will be debated today, tomorrow and the days to come. Where do you fall in the debate? Rogers for another week, or is it time to go to Lopina?

Enjoy your Tuesday, and GO COUGS!

Worst Weekend Ever?

September 8, 2008

I know things are bleak right now. How can there be anything to feel good about after that happened? The losses are bad enough, but when you are losing in the fashion we just witnessed, well, you start to second-guess everything. Times like this make you wonder why you are even a fan. But as our own Hooty so aptly pointed out yesterday, yes, amazingly enough, the sun DID rise. Life will go on, with or without you. So nothing left to do but to rub some dirt on those wounds, get back up and get after it.

What an ugly weekend in the state of Washington football. First UW gets hosed on a celebration penalty that wasn’t. Ok, well, I know none of you shed tears for UW, and for obvious reasons. But did anyone see that call?

Locker shouldn’t have thrown that ball up in the air like he did, period. It is a rule, right out of the rule book, that if a player does that, he gets penalized. End of story. There is a whole new effort by the NCAA this year to tone down the unsportsmanlike stuff. In fact, there was even word that players were shown a video this summer that shows exactly what they cannot do this year, and throwing the ball up in the air as part of celebration was right there. As the refs said, it wasn’t a judgment call because a player clearly violated the rule. And even Paint Dry said as much, in that no, there won’t be any protest or anything like that, because it’s in the rule book. It is what it is. But what a bitter pill to swallow.

Then of course, our worst-ever game. We don’t need to relive it. I know Wulff has watched tape from that game already yesterday, but they should hold a ceremony where they burn the damn thing in front of the entire team. But the basic message should be to learn from their mistakes, work harder than ever, and live for today. Yesterday is gone, and it distracts from the present. I mean what can they do, hit the reset button and play that thing all over again? Doesn’t work that way. Just like you might say to your five-year old, hey, it’s ok to make a mistake. Just don’t repeat it. That’s how we learn.

Then you have the Seahawks. YEESH. Talk about flat and unprepared. Special teams breakdowns, unable to run the ball or even complete 50% of their passes with a young, beat-up WR crew. The defense held their ground for a while, but ultimately the flood gates opened…..sound familiar??

What an ugly weekend.

Some quick links:

We have a QB competition. I have to admit from where I sit, I’m a little surprised this is coming down now. I was more or less expecting Rogers to get the full month to get comfortable. And the offensive breakdowns can’t be laid entirely at the QB’s feet, can they? It’s hard to imagine many QB’s being able to execute with the new offense, new skill guys, overwhelmed offensive line, etc. But then again, we need a spark of some kind right now, and maybe the coaches have been contemplating this situation for a while. As Hooty pointed out yesterday, maybe Rogers is just not a fit for the type of offense we are running right now? I know it’s hard to say that after what, six quarters of football out of Rogers thus far? But maybe they want a more mobile option back there, and there’s no doubt Lopina moves better than Rogers. With the offensive line still in a state of flux, and the propensity to throw “LOOK OUT!” blocks, Lopina’s ability to run away from pressure might be just what we need. But we’ll see. Maybe Rogers responds from this adversity and takes a stronger hold on the job. Or maybe this is the chance to make the change.

If you are wondering about our next opponent? Baylor blew out their I-AA opponent on Saturday, trouncing Northwestern State 51-6. They rolled up 530 yards of total offense, scored on their first five possessions and didn’t even allow a first down until they were up 30-0 in the second quarter. I know Baylor looked bad from what I saw of their opener vs. Wake Forest, but even though they played a bad team in NW State, they at least have a winning feeling now. They have gone out and schooled someone, so they probably have some new confidence we can only dream about.

The worrisome thing about Baylor right now is their already-improved QB play. Freshman Robert Griffin (pictured) came off the bench in the Wake Forest blowout and looked impressive in garbage time, and did so well he got the start vs. NW State. He was, in a word, dominating. 15-for-19 for 294 yards and three TD’s through the air, while running for 42 yards and another TD on the ground.

Griffin is a really talented kid, a top-30 QB recruit for the class of ’08 who enrolled early and participated in spring football. It sounds like they have their QB to build around under new coach Art Briles. Briles, if you remember, was hired from Houston, and he has a good track record with young QB’s. Kevin Kolb was a true frosh in Briles‘ first year at Houston, and they ended up going to a bowl game.

That’s about it. We’ll recap the radio show tomorrow evening. Otherwise enjoy your Monday, and we’re still saying it…GO COUGS!

Now What?

September 7, 2008

So it happened, and it’s over. Can’t live in the past, right? Anyone who lives in the past and laments the present will never be a success. So it’s time to plow forward. But clearly there are issues here, big ones at that, and they don’t look like they will be solved overnight.

Now that we are two games in, it’s time for some self-examination, fact-or-fiction style.

1) We don’t have Pac-10 talent.

FICTION – First of all, let’s clear this up right now. We DO have Pac-10 talent. What, is Brandon Gibson suddenly a Big Sky caliber receiver? The kid led the conference in receiving last year with over 1100 yards and nine TD catches. Is Andy Mattingly suddenly a bad player, not worthy of BCS-conference ability? Or do we just totally forget about his 91 tackles and eight sacks as a sophomore in ’07? What about linebackers Greg Trent, Cory Evans, and Kendrick Dunn, each coming off an 80+ tackle season last year? Just toss it all out the window? There is talent here, and some of it of the all-conference type.

2) We don’t have Pac-10 depth.

FACT – The problem is the same thing that’s been an issue the last several years, and that’s a lack of quality depth. Look at the offensive and defensive lines, and how beat up and out of position they are just two games into the season. Seriously, Matt Eichelberger and Adam Hineline are what we are relying on for plugging up the inside? Did anyone see the holes that were blown up yesterday? And there still isn’t any semblance of a consistent pass rush from the defensive ends. Meanwhile, the O-line is just one big, shuffling mess right now that was just overwhelmed against BCS talent in Cal. Cal was dropping seven and even eight into coverage on many situations, and we still couldn’t block them with five and even sometimes six blockers.

And how about the skill guys? We have Gibson, and Frischknecht, but after that? We are young and inexperienced at the worst possible time. Consider from 2007, we lost Bumpus and his 70 catches, Collins and his 52 catches, and even Charles Dillon, with his 37 balls for over 400 yards last year. That was a prolific offense, with an experienced, senior QB who threw for over 3800 yards and 26 TD’s.

And to take it a step further, think about the youth and inexperience we are relying on, right now, to carry the load at the skill spots. Jeshua Anderson, Daniel Blackledge, even Michael Willis, all those guys have been beat up and/or out, completely, from practices. And when you realize we are trying to implement a brand new system, with a brand new QB, and these guys have only had spring ball and fall camp to figure it out? When half of them can’t even get on the field at all, how can we expect anything other than the complete train wreck we’ve witnessed thus far?

It’s a well-known thing that young skill position guys, particularly WR’s, usually struggle initially due to the speed of the game and the complexity of the offense. In practice things are scripted, and vanilla, but when games come around, you are going against guys you have never seen before, defenses and coverages are disguised, blitzes come from all over, etc, etc, etc. When a young WR is out there thinking, he is a step, or more, slower. And therefore you don’t get to see them use their athleticism and speed, and worst of all, there isn’t any separation from the defensive backs.

3) Gary Rogers isn’t a Pac-10 QB

FICTION – I know, I know. Two games in and this looks like a fact that he has no business being a starting QB in this league. But think about all that is stacked against him right now. First, he doesn’t have game experience. Just two career starts, and very little playing time the last few seasons. Anyone who follows the game knows that there are always some bumpy moments early for a QB trying to get his feet wet, and it takes a few games to figure it out.
Next, think about who is trying to protect him. After a decent first week, the offensive line got absolutely whooped yesterday, in every conceivable fashion. Cal was unblockable at times, no matter what we tried. Rogers got the yips, no doubt about it, and on the times he did have time to throw, he was rolling away from pressure that wasn’t really there.

Third, think about the young skill guys we are trying to get by with right now, as we addressed in point number two above. Young skill guys, who haven’t practiced, in a brand new system. Wulff again admitted that players are lining up wrong, running the wrong routes, you name it. And that’s with not even 50% of the playbook still in the fold.

Finally, and this point gets lost in the shuffle, but for the second straight week, absolutely NO semblance of a consistent running game. How many QB’s out there, really, can be successful if they are always in third-and-long? There’s a reason teams commit to stopping the run on first and second down. There’s a reason they want QB’s in third and long. When you get QB’s in predictable passing situations, the defense will win that battle well over 50% of the time. All the stats in the world will back that up. And think of all the third and long that Rogers has had to face just two games into the season.

Bottom line – Gary Rogers still cannot be evaluated, because he simply hasn’t had any help.

4) This coaching staff isn’t Pac-10 worthy

FICTION – This is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard thus far, and I can’t believe some people are slinging this on the message boards after just two games (and some good advice – when the going gets bad, do yourself a favor and STAY OFF the message boards! The idiot factor increases by ten-fold, and you have the obligatory UW-Oregon fans that love to “troll” and bait people into the idiocy. Don’t do it.). These guys have been very successful at EWU.

Does anyone need a reminder of how difficult it is to win in Cheney? We hear Pullman is tough, all the time, but go drive out to EWU and see their facilities. Then realize Wulff built a winner at that program, taking them to the playoffs multiple times, and winning coach of the year honors three times. This isn’t by mistake, or a misprint. Wulff and this coaching staff is the real deal, but as has been preached since day one, this is going to be a long, tough climb, and only the strongest are going to survive.

The other factor here is the timing of this whole changeover couldn’t have come at a worse time. The APR mess is one thing, and the program was spiraling out of control as the Seattle Times pointed out in the spring. And that’s just the off-the-field stuff. But to have such a drop-off in experienced offensive talent is another thing altogether. Not only are you trying to completely change the culture of the team, and that has been well-documented thus far. Not only are you trying to implement a no-huddle, multiple offense that is pretty complex and would have growing pains no matter how experienced you are. But you are trying to do all this with guys who haven’t done it before, guys who haven’t been able to practice what you are trying to implement. You are starting over in many, many ways, and to expect them to sprint before they can crawl is a huge problem.

So that’s it. No sugar-coating things here. It’s a mess right now, and I don’t envy the job ahead for these guys in trying to do the right thing. They are trying to change things, but the deck is completely stacked against them. But who among us thought we would be 2-0 right now? Everyone has picked against us the first two games, so whether we lost 28-27 on a blocked extra point or 66-3 in a worst-ever wipeout, we’re still in the same boat. I hope we’ve hit rock-bottom after yesterday, and it’s hard to imagine anything worse than that.

Baylor is next, and instead of lamenting what just happened, let’s hope they can look forward and seize the day as an opportunity to turn it all around. Let’s hope we can take steps to get better.

Enjoy your Sunday, and hang in there. GO COUGS!

Football Friday Week 2: Too much to Bear?

September 4, 2008

Greetings Cougar Nation and Brinkhater Army.

Hope you all are having a great week.

So, on we march into the Crap-10 opener against CAL.

As we saw last week against MSU, CAL has reloaded with speed on offense, appears to have (not long) shored up their quarterback position, and is surprisingly porous on defense.

In spite of their vulnerability on the defensive side of the ball, this is a game that CAL should win easily when you take our performance last week at face value, and within, without reading between the lines.

What is fun about this game, however, is that we will see what if any of those hidden subtexts from last week show up this week.

For example, did anyone else notice that we were a perfect two for two in the red zone last week?

Does that portend anything for this week if we’re able to move the ball consistently?

I sure think so, but we’ll have to see.

Moreover, what is CAL’s mind-set coming into this game? On one hand, you know that Tedford will try to fire up his troops about the importance of winning ANY road games in the Pac. On the other hand, can you expect any 19 or 20 year old to take us seriously after watching us piddle to 190 yards of total offense while giving up 250+ on special teams?

I think that I would be HIGHLY prone to overlook us if I were on the other side.

So, in view of all of these questions, I find myself falling onto the ole clichés in predicting our fortunes.

After all, this season is about “process” and “improvement” and so this game figures to fall along the natural progression of a young team.

In that way, I think you’re going to see more upside out of us this week, but as a part of seeing more upside, we’re going to have to open things up more—and I think that will lead to more mistakes—particularly from my main man, Gary Rogers. Although I think Gary will play better this week, I don’t think that he will make sufficient progress to avoid the “lock-on-itis” that we saw last week. And that will be our Achilles heel.

Of course, if Rogers accelerates his own progress and if Anderson plays and is healthy, we could jump on em early and ride on to a shocking upset as a result.

Won’t happen, though.

Brinkhater extends his more-than-hapless WSU Football prediction streak to 14:

Bears 37 Cougs 22

Elsewhere:

ASU 28 Stanford 27. Devils have just enough to beat Captain Comeback

Quack 51 Utah State 10 Yuck.

Penn State 38 Beavs 35. This one should be real entertaining, even though recent history suggests that the Beavs will lose this one 70-14 (and then finish 9-4).

AZ 41 Toledo 18 Normally, this would be an upset special—especially given that the Mac looks up this year, but last week showed me a lot about the Mildcats. Sure, it was the spuds, but 70-0 is still stinking 70-0.

BYU 38 Washington 17. Fit to be Tyed? Montlake has all appendages in a clutter.

And, the Bandit Bowl:

Gators 41 Canes 17. Another lesson in how long it takes teams to come back after a Coordinator takes over as Head Coach (West Virginia, you’re next).

Enjoy the game, and SCREAM YOUR GUTS out if you’re going to be in attendance.

Longball says:

Greetings Cougar Nation!

Longball here with this weeks fearless predictions. Why “fearless”? Because after pulling a rabbit from my hat with last week’s UCLA pick, I have clearly demonstrated my undeniable clairvoyance. Now, I hinted last week that I may be picking our beloved Cougs to pull the upset this weekend at a revitalized Martin Stadium. Apparently if I just type it here, it comes true. Right? Sadly Sedihawk informs me that ain’t how it works, folks. Even if I called it for the Cougs it wouldn’t be enough to help them overcome the Bears this week. Now this is not “da Bears” of Ditka, Sweetness, and the Fridge, but they do have something going for them… OUR special teams. There is just no way our special teams are going to let us win, or even compete in this football game. You can’t win college football games with Pop Warner special teams. I am thrilled that the few brave souls who actually suited up for us last weekend fought hard and all that, but we are a long way from being competitive within our conference. I do think with the new coaching staff at the helm we will continue to make strides, especially on offense, but please keep those expectations where they belong for now… low. But fear not, Brinkhater, I will be there screaming my guts out and losing my voice just like last week.

Cougs 21
Bears 45

From around the country:

ASU 35 Stanford 10. If the Beavs turn out to be good again, Harbough may have quietly already pulled off his big win for this year.

Quack 42 Utah State 3 The Quack are playing D this year.

Beavs 28 Penn State 24 Last week the tables were turned as some trees cut down the Beavers. Was it a wake up call? Oregon State travels across the country to play in Beaver Stadium. How could they lose? This is the kind of information my picks are based on.

AZ 35 Toledo 24 I have no analysis for you on this one. Does anyone else find it hard to root for Stoops in non-conference games?

BYU 42 Washington 28. Locker’s receivers actually hang on to some balls, but Husky D gets run over, thrown over and finally rolls over. I won’t apologize for saying this, I like watching Locker play.

Gators 35 Canes 10 Hurricane season is here, but this wont even be a category 1. I hope Tebow washed his hands after performing all those circumcisions in the Philippines this off season. That has to rival the USC jock itch outbreak for the ickiest off season story that the ESPN guys won’t stop talking about!

There it is. I hope I’m wrong and I see all of you at the page this Saturday night to drink some tubs and TURN THE HELMET!

Go Cougs!

Sedihawk says:

Greetings Coug Nation. Busy times these days, so we’ll go after it.

First of all, fellow blogger Brinkhater might be a tad bit confused. See, it’s not the Cal Ripken’s we’re playing, it’s the Berkeley Bears. But as you can see, sometimes things get lost in translation:

OOPS.

Anywho, the Cal Bears. Are they all that after week one? Where are their minds coming into this one? Given our lack of “sexiness” as an opponent, it’s probably on pole-vaulter extraordinaire, Cal’s own Allison Stokke. Can you blame them?


But anyway, I’m with the others here, and concerned about how we will handle their team speed. They looked exceptionally fast on TV Saturday night, and after coming back from the Okie State game and watching Cal run up and down the field, they looked a lot faster than the Pokes. I know it’s hard to tell sometimes, and that TV can make players look bigger/stronger/faster, but man, watching Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen carry the ball is going to be a breath-holding experience this Saturday.

But Cal has some young WR’s, and this will be their first shot at starting a game in a hopefully loud, hostile environment. Much like UW this year, Cal has lost their top five WR’s from last year, and this will be the first time on the road that they have to do some heavy lifting. TE Cameron Morrah and Jahvid Best are the leading receivers from last season at 13 catches apiece, but that’s it. So, while I like Kevin Riley at QB as a guy who won’t torpedo their own offense (compared to Nate Longshore), I have a feeling things will be tougher for him this week.

And speaking of Riley, did you know this will be just his third-ever start at Cal? And his first-ever start on the road? Yes, he’s been impressive, but he’s never had to get under center in a loud stadium as a starter and make things happen.

So, I think on defense we get after it. We will pack the box, try and slow down the running game, and make Riley and his young WR’s beat us over the top. But if Cal can run the ball, they can also eat game clock and best of all, when you are on the road? Nothing takes a crowd out of a game more than a visitor running the ball at will, chewing up yardage on the ground as well as keeping the ball away from your offense. And I think that’s exactly what Tedford and company are going to try to do.

One area that we have a shot here is the passing game. In my mind, it seemed as though Michigan State had a little bit too easy of a time throwing the ball. They had an experienced QB, and a potential breakout star at WR in Mark Dell who went bananas on their secondary. Now that the game one yips are out of our young WR’s collective systems, I don’t know, call me crazy but I think Rogers has a solid day. And given how Dell played in week one, and how disappointed Gibson was with his first game, don’t you think they’ll come out ready for a huge game? I do. But will it be enough?

Unfortunately, no, I don’t think we’ll be standing at the top of the hill at the end of the day. But I am going to say, here and now, that this will be a much, much closer game than some are predicting. Look, Cal is good, and they looked tough on Saturday, but these guys are NOT USC. And only USC has been such a big favorite at WSU in the last decade as Cal is this weekend. Plus, remember how everyone said last year ASU was going to kill us in Pullman? ASU was a nine point favorite coming in undefeated, but we were a missed field goal from going to OT in that game, and a controversial call from possibly winning it on Brandon Gibson’s TD catch that was reversed via replay.

I think people are over-reacting to week one, which is a very, very easy thing to do. You are never that bad, but you are also never THAT good either. Things will come around, and we will be pleasantly surprised by what we see. Paul Wulff already said that he’s expecting an extremely hard-hitting, physical game, and we will respond with some true toughness. I’m calling Cal 27, WSU 23.

Other games:

ASU 31, Stanford 16. ASU is really good and Stanford was a bit of a mirage in week one, outgained by almost 200 yards by the Beavs. Rudy Carpenter will not make the same mistakes made by Lyle Moevao. Reality arrives via Erickson and company.

Oregon 49, Utah State 7. What can you say? Stat game, all the way.

Oregon State 34, Penn State 28. I’m with Longball here. Oregon State moved the ball at will vs. Stanford, and they won’t make the same mistakes in week two. Sammie Stroughter makes them far, far better on offense than they’ve been in a long time.

AZ 35, Toledo 17. Tons of offense, again, out of the not-so-Mildcats. They can’t possibly keep up the pace they set last week vs. the Vandals…can they??

Washington 27, BYU 24 – Shocker of the weekend. Everyone has written off UW, and it seems as though the Willingham era is kaput. But somehow, someway, I see UW pulling this one off. Locker will be better, but not by a huge margin. The big difference here will be how effective UW is in running the football. I think the UW offensive line plays a much better game against a BYU defense returning only three starters from last year. And BYU might be good, but they don’t have the same athletes as the Pac-10. I see a very similar game like Boise State last year, a team everyone said was going to kill UW. But in watching that game, while Boise State had some talent, they clearly had trouble on the road against Pac-10 athletes. The gap between BCS and non-BCS conferences has closed, but there is still a difference. I know UW is down, but, I think they respond.

Thug Bowl – Florida 31, Miami, FL 20 – Brinkhater is right. Miami with Larry Coker is yet another example of what happens when you promote the old coordinator to head coach. The long-term damage can be too much. And Brinkhater is right, West Virginia, you’re next!

There you have it. Remember, it’s still early. We will likely see some wild swings in performance, by many teams in the country. Don’t fall into the trap of placing too much value into what you see the first week in the season, because it can all change on a dime. Did everyone write of Michigan last year after they lost to App State and Oregon, at the Big House? They ended up winning nine games, including a win over the Tim Tebow’s in their bowl game. Everyone thought Cal and Oregon were Rose Bowl contenders given their hot starts, but both teams faded badly down the stretch. So you just never know. There’s a TON of season left!

Enjoy your Thursday, and as always, GO COUGS!

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!