Archive for the ‘Greg Trent’ Category

Last Call for Seniors

November 29, 2008

Hoping for TV coverage of the game tonight? If you are on the islands you are set, but you are out of luck if you are in the greater 48. What’s weird is how ESPN had the game on it’s schedule as part of the ESPN Game Plan. It was listed all week as one of the options…..until yesterday. SEE!?!?

However there is a streaming option via the web, if you feel so inclined. It’s showing as available tonight via something called Oceanic-Time Warner, an outfit that streams UH games. Tonight’s game is listed at $12.56, not totally unreasonable.

Now for the bad news. It’s not exactly a slam-dunk that you will be able to get the game, even on the web. From someone named “RosiesBoy” on Cougfan, some valuable information has been passed on:

I think some people who are planning on buying that stream might be setting themselves up for disappointment. There have been at least two games with problems this year, one meant both the island and mainland feeds on cable and internet pay per view customers missed the entire 1st quarter. The company refused to refund the 10,000 customers who were affected in that instance and said they weren’t responsible since the overload on the system was caused by the Fresno State fans.

Oceanic claimed no fault because the outage “was on the Fresno side of the ledger,” vice president and operations manager Norman Santos said. “Our position is we delivered substantially the whole game,” Santos added. “We controlled what we could. If we’re looking at the end of the game it’s a whole different scenario. That would have resonated.”

“The only thing off the table is a full refund,” said McNamara. 07_oceanics_answer_not_our_fault.html+hawaii+footb all+streaming+requirements+oceanic&hl=en&c t=clnk&cd=8&gl=us

Another PPV problem: Associate athletic director John McNamara said a resolution has been reached to compensate PPV purchasers for the problem at the beginning of today’s telecast that blacked out the first four minutes of the UH football game against New Mexico State.UPDATE: McNamara said purchasers will be refunded 1/12 of what they paid for today’s game via credit. No calls required. r-ppv-problem/

So, if you DO decide to fork over the cash for the feed, just be prepared in case something doesn’t go quite as planned.

On the game tonight, whether you watch it, listen to it or follow it online, one thing lost in this bad season is that this is the end for some pretty good seniors. Greg Trent has been playing regularly since early in 2004, taking over for an injured Will Derting in the fourth game that year. After some serious growing pains, he evolved into a pretty good tackler, albeit a bit undersized in the middle. We’ll never forget how hard Trent played, no matter the situation.

But the biggest “headline” senior has to be Brandon Gibson. In what was regarded as a real boost to the team last year, Gibson decided to return to WSU after being informed he was a sure 2nd-day NFL draft pick (rumors had him pegged for the 4th or 5th round). It’s easy to forget how big Gibson was in 2007. He led the PAC-10 in receiving yards per game (107.3) and had a team-high 1180 yards, as well as nine TD’s. This year it’s been a different story:

Catches: 67
Yards: 1180
TD: 9
100-yard games: 6, including the last 4 of 2007.

Catches: 56
Yards: 655
TD: 2
100-yard games: 1

It obviously hasn’t gone as planned for Gibby, for one reason or another. I think back to the very first game of the year and wonder if things could have been different? You don’t want to over-react to how things go early in a season, but the team showed some fight vs. Okie State, even with some horrible special teams play. They never gave up and rallied for a couple of scores in the third quarter to make it somewhat interesting. But then there were those drops.

Gibson had at least one deep ball that was flat-out dropped, and another that he probably could have had. Both catches could have changed that game. And who knows how his season could have gone from there? Maybe it helps loosen up defenses, knowing they have to respect the deep ball from Gary Rogers to Brandon Gibson? Maybe Gibson’s confidence gets even better and he uses that opener as a springboard into 2008? Instead it’s been one frustrating week after another.

That said, it’s hard to fault Gibson for 2008. We saw FIVE different QB’s play for WSU this season – Gary Rogers, Kevin Lopina, Marshall Lobbestael, JT Levenseller and Dan Wagner – after basically one guy started for 3 1/2 seasons. So how could anyone develop any continuity? Besides, several WSU receivers opposite Gibson were hurt from the get-go, like Jeshua Anderson, or others were far too young to have any impact, like Jared Karstetter or Kevin Norrell. And you can’t forget tight end Devin Frischknecht and his bum ankle. Frischknecht was set up to have a big senior year, at least I sure thought so, after showing some real upside at the end of last year. He had a huge Apple Cup in 2007, five catches for 88 yards and two TD’s, and you could see that he might have been a big boost to the passing game this year. But it just wasn’t to be.

The best news for Gibson is that he’s now the leading WR in school history, passing Jason Hill’s career yardage record. So even with a tough final act in 2008, he will still have a secure place atop the WSU record book. Here’s hoping that Gibson has one last big performance tonight to cap off an excellent four years at WSU!



November 23, 2008

What a finish, what a game. Who cares about how low both programs sunk to this year. Let the national media make fun of this game. Like we said earlier in the week, you can throw out the records and watch the kids compete, but it IS STILL the Apple Cup! It’s a game that still means a hell of a lot to a lot of people, and in particular the players on both teams. So I think we all knew the kids would sell out today and play hard, and while not the prettiest game in the world, the effort on both teams certainly didn’t disappoint.

We could try to break down this game, and look at what happened. But I don’t want to get too deep into it, but for a few things:

  1. How the HELL does UW not score more than 13 points in this game? They had one running back in Griffin go well over 100 yards and almost had another with Dailey, and as a team they had a net rushing yard mark of 225 yards. Anyone watching that game knows that UW’s front line, for the MOST PART anyway, had control of the line of scrimmage. And with that running game, they also dominated time of possession, holding the ball for over 35 minutes combined to just 24 minutes and change for WSU. So it was set up for UW to grind our young skinnies into the ground with their big fatties, but they just never seemed to be able to kick down the door.
  2. I was impressed by our ability, at times, to run the ball ourselves. 171 yards rushing is a good day. Dwight Tardy wasn’t 100%, but he sure ran tough, 76 yards on 4.2 yards per carry. He came to play today. And Logwone Mitz, WOW, what a time for a big play! That 57-yard TD definitely got some extra juice in their step, no doubt, and suddenly it was a 3-point game. I heard Wulff on the radio after the game, and he said they really stressed the idea of sticking to the run at halftime, and that without it, “we were not going to win this game.” He was right too. If they don’t stay committed to running the ball, they probably wouldn’t have pulled this sucker out.
  3. The little things just killed UW today, a microcosm of their season. Mitz’s TD was great, but there were two UW players totally out of position on that play. And on the big throw from Lopina to Karstetter, the free safety made a horrible play on the ball. But both the safety and the corner bit incredibly hard on the fake to the flat, and Lopina pumped fake just enough to freeze the corner, and Karstetter got free.

    And the missed field goals, JUST WOW. You make any one of those in regulation, you probably win the game. But again, when it mattered most, they couldn’t close the deal. It’s the same thing as what went down vs. BYU, where they could have at least forced OT but had an extra point blocked. The situations were a little different, sure, but the outcome is the same.

To win games, you HAVE TO DO THE LITTLE THINGS (listen to me, like we’re “used” to winning around here all of a sudden! 🙂 But you can move the ball between the 20’s all you want, the name of the game is scoring points. We used to be the kings of the 300-yard passing games and very little to show for it the last few years, so yes UW fans, we know of what we speak. Whether on missed field goals or sudden surges by the Cougar D, UW just couldn’t get it done.

Anyway, enough of the over-analysis. Somehow, the Cougs found a way, for the first legit time in 2008. They fought through the adversity and when the chips were down, made some plays that did the job.

I think some hearty congratulations are in order, for many of these guys who never gave up.

TO Greg Trent, kissing that trophy in the pic above, congrats to you. You busted your butt all season long, you tried your best to lead with pride and passion, and even though the season was lost a long time ago, you never gave in. A team-high twelve tackles today to cap your career in style in your home finale. You deserve every accolade you can get this year, for you must have felt truly alone in the middle. You had very little help in front of you, as the defensive tackles were eaten alive from the first game of the year vs. Okie State, to even today vs. UW. You had converted safeties in Louis Bland and Myron Beck on each side of you at linebacker, both 200-lb youngsters just learning to play the game. But still, you stuck you neck out there and fought with all you had. So kiss that trophy, coddle it, change it’s diaper. You deserve it.

TO Kevin Lopina, way to hang in there. A rough game by any standard, just 167 yards and again, no TD passes. But you never gave up, you took some huge shots, and you kept getting in there. That throw to Karstetter was FLIPPING MONEY. As “Atlanta Coug” said in comments, it doesn’t matter what happens in the future or whatever, but you are now forever alive in WSU history. And speaking of Karstetter, how big a play was that for the true frosh? Karstetter had THREE, count ’em, THREE CATCHES IN 2008 coming into this game, yet he saves his best for last. They say he’s got a big heart and that we are really going to like Karstetter’s future, but way to step up and make a play when WSU nation needed it the most.

TO Nico Grasu, great job! A perfect 3-for-3 today, 2-for-2 on field goals and one XP. Grasu hadn’t made a field goal since October 4th vs. UCLA, so to calmly step up and nail those big kicks from the right hash, just huge, huge, huge. GREAT JOB.

Congrats to coach Wulff. This season has been a nightmare in terms of injuries and playing kids who clearly weren’t ready. But you also fought against the resistence of the older, lazy players who were used to floating around the pool at Club Doba. So you pulled your boys through, and you deserved to dance like a little kid at the end. Maybe, just maybe, this will be a turning point??

Finally, to the FANS WHO WERE AT THE GAME TODAY, CONGRATS! It was awfully easy to decide to opt out and miss this game. The game was on TV, the weather forecast was awful, the teams were at historic lows, but yet you still made the trip and cheered these guys on to victory. You deserve to storm the field and celebrate. You played a part in this thing, so to you, congrats.

So there you have it. 2008 is in the books. That’s now four out of five, the first time ever in the 101-year history of the series where WSU has done that well. And what do you know, for the third time in the last four Apple Cup wins, WSU came from behind in the fourth quarter to win this thing. So much for “cougin’ it”. Maybe it’s more like “UW dawged it”?


Football Friday Lucky Week XIII: Crapple Cup

November 21, 2008

“I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray…”

“But when I woke up this morning, could’ve sworn it was judgement day…”

Greetings Cougar Nation! Welcome to Football Friday Week 13–Crapple Cup style.

Nation, I have to admit that I am both excited and on edge about this one.

I am excited because it is the 101st Birthday of the Apple Cup!

And if you’re a Coug, who in Holy Hell doesn’t get excited about this game no matter what our stinking record is???

At the same time, I am on edge because, for the first time in about 365 days, my streak of perfect Cougar Football projections is squarely on the line. Win this one, and I head to Hawaii with a second consecutive National Championship squarely in sight. Lose and I become a veritable BCS also-ran.

In terms of the game proper, I have to admit I am a bit at a loss. After all,I haven’t seen our team play in just about a month. So, given the fact that I haven’t seen what I haven’t seen, I am really left to guess about what will happen at 12:00 this Saturday. But, here is what I am looking for:

1) Washington’s Size versus our Iron Triangle.

As was noted in today’s Seattle Times, many a person in the print media has remarked that you can tell a WSU Football player anywhere simply by their lack of size. Conversely, while the UW lineman may be dumb, bad, AND slow, they sure are BIG and fat.

Of course, our defensive line is anything but(t). And our lack of size, strength, and depth may wind up being a really, really, really big problem for us once again.

Fortunately, there is many a tale about slower, less talented football teams that have won big games. Normally, those upsets are not only about getting the breaks, they’re also about how Team leaders inspire their teammates to believe–not that they COULD win–but that they are going to win the stinking game.

And this is where our Iron Triangle comes into play:

Nation, it is not only the performance, but the swagger and commitment that Greg Trent, A’i Ahmu and Matt Mullennix bring to this game that will be a HUGE deciding factor. If these three seniors adequately inspire the others on the defensive side of the ball, we will be squarely in this game–especially with the 3-3-5 which will WRECK the U’s pathetic passing game.

2) Play Makers Making Plays:

When your combined record is 1-101, it is easy to conclude that there are NOT very many playmakers on either roster. After all, if there were such play makers, then neither team would be 0-10 or 1-10…

For the UW, we know that they have burners at the receiver spot, injured but capable RB’s, and a QB that has a gun a la Dick Cheney in the fields of Texas. Powerful, yet erratic.

Where we are concerned, we have a QB with ZERO Touchdowns and TEN interceptions, two capable albeit erratic RBs, an All-American type receiver, an NCAA track champion at the other wide-out, and an honorable mention-type All-Conference tight end.

In other words, both QBs SUCK. And, with a balmy 43-degrees and rain in the forecast, you can bet that the passing game is going to look about at bad as Bad can get:

That said, with a TIE out of the question, somebody on one of these teams is going to have to make a play, right?

3) Homer Delirium and Turn-Overs

I was telling Sedihawk a month ago about watching an exhibition game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings. For the past couple of years, I would occasionally talk up the upsides of Petro, Wilkins, Weezie, Collison, and company as I would dream about a resurgence of our then-Seattle SuperSonics. But, as I watched this basketball game, the TRUTH became horribly apparent to me:


So, where our Cougs are concerned, it is really hard at this point not to wonder about whether or not our version of BAD is in an entirely different league as Washington’s. I tend to think not, but a 31-3 loss is not out of the question in my book.

4) Turnovers

Washington is really bad and they don’t turn the ball over much. We’re really, really bad and we turn it over a TON. Last time I checked, we’re -237 in turnover margin this year.

Obviously, for us to be able to hang in, we’re going to have to be AT WORST -1.


I’ve gone back and forth on this one, Nation. But here is my bottom line:

1) I think we want it more than them.

2) They’re playing to not be “defeated” which is the same as playing “not to lose” in my book.

3) I think our leaders are stronger and better leaders than theirs.

4) I think that our players want to play for our coaches MUCH more than the other way around.

5) Both ground games will be mediocre and quasi-effective.

6) The rainy weather will take away the long passing game.

7) The game will be decided by the short passing game.

8) Our TE and WRs are better.

In the end, we head into Hawaii the worst 2-10 team of all time.

Cougars 24 Defeateds 21


Zona 38 Oregon State 37. Riley loses FANTASTIC bid for the RB with a late failed two point conversion (Put the Beavs in the RB if they win this one. NO WAY the Quack beats them next week if they escape).

Stanford 24 CAL 21. Poor QB play spells doom for the Bears, AGAIN.


Texas Tech 41 Clay Bennett University 35. Ever since the cheap chop block by the Defeateds, Clay Bennett University has gently headed south defensively. Texas Tech moves on to lose in the Big 12 Title Game–setting up another BCS Title game with a team that couldn’t win their own conference (Texas)

Enjoy the games. AND GO COUGS!!!!!

Sedihawk says:

Another year, another Apple Cup. First of all, a moment of appreciation for Alex Brink. The only WSU QB to hoist that Apple Cup trophy on three different occasions, no matter what history will say about the kid, he was always strong in this game. Last year was flipping fantastic, 27-for-40 for an AC record 399 yards and FIVE TD’s, including the game-winner in the final minute. And hey, Brink did become the top-ranked passer in WSU history in nine different categories. He never got to post-season play, but he sure got the most of what he had. Alex Brink, we salute you.

NOTE – if you would like to see a video of that final TD drive from 2007, check it out here.

But alas, it’s 2008. Although we can all agree that this is being talked about as the worst ever in the history of the series, and uh, yeah, it’s hard not to agree with all these assessments. The facts are facts, and have been painstakingly laid out for you here, there, and everywhere over this last week. It’s not a slump, it’s simply two teams that are, well…..
I can also say that, at least in my opinion, this WILL BE the lowest point for both of these programs. We are already assured that the 2009 Cougars will be better than the 2008 version, given the issues of experience gained from this year in so many young players, as well as some true quality talent currently stashed away in redshirt-land. It’s not blind homerism, but the 2009 Cougars will be better than 2008.

And even this Coug can honestly look at UW and say if the right coach gets in there, they could be walking into a situation that is, believe it or not, ready to win NEXT year. Not a PAC-10 title or anything like that, but one that could flirt with bowl-eligibility. Laugh all you want at our defeated brothers to the west, but when you have a junior-to-be QB next season, who will have healthy legs and all the talent in the world in Jake Locker, and a ton of frosh and sophomores who have learned their hard lessons this year? It very well could set up to be a breakthrough 2009 at Montlake. I’m serious.

A big question though is who that UW coach will be? There was a hot-n-heavy rumor a couple of nights ago that Jim Mora will be the next UW coach, and even suggested some high-level boosters were told of this. However, our dialed-in UW source downplayed it, big-time, and basically said relax, Mora is still a very, very, verrrrry long shot. And the reality is the only two people who know who UW’s next coach will be are Mark Emmert and Scott Woodward. End of story. They are likely to get their guy in early December, so ignore anything you hear right now until something official is out there. But in my own rumor-mongering, I do have a prediction as to who that coach will be…..

He was interested in 2004, and he’s interested again, today. Does the idea of Jeff Tedford at Montlake worry you? At first I was worried. He’s got an excellent reputation, he’s blazed a recruiting trail to Berkeley where they are nabbing NFL talent left and right, and his teams are built around a strong running game and some dynamic offenses, while not being afraid to change defensive schemes to meet the demands of opposing offenses in today’s game. Plus the guy has totally figured out that Duck spread offense, better than anyone else outside of Corvallis.

I think the more painful reality there is that he would take Jim Michalczik and Bob Gregory, both former Coug players from the 80’s who have turned into some fine college assistants and would likely follow Tedford north to Seattle.

But then I thought “You know what? WE need to worry about OURSELVES, and not freak out about who is at UW.” And I think, Coug Nation, that is the deal. No matter who they hire, whether it’s Tedford or someone else of higher-than-high profile, RELAX. We’ve got a plan in place and our guys have been hard at work since last December to turn it around. It is being rebuilt the right way, and it will come. But as the old saying goes, almost nothing of value comes easy, does it? Look at your own life for a moment. Look at where you are today. How much of that came easy? How much of what you have today was just given to you, or just happened? Unless you were born into wealth or won the lottery, it’s likely you are where you are today by paying some sort of price, through hard work and determination to make something of yourself.

And it really is the same thing in almost every walk of life. Think of the WSU basketball program. Not necessarily where it is today, as it looks again like Tony has a heck of a team for the third straight year. But think about the price that program paid to get where it is now. Think about Paul Wulff’s journey. Look at what he’s been through in his personal life. And in coaching, the guy started for free at EWU and lived in a small trailer at the beginning of his career. Think he doesn’t know the meaning of hard work and perseverence in the face of adversity?? Nobody will outwork Wulff on the recruiting trail, and he and his staff are on the same page. They will do all they can to protect the current crop as well as add to this class as signing day approaches. But honestly, relax. We’ll be alright.

OK, I’ve gone off the rails. Now on to this week.

This is a tough one to call, isn’t it? I mean you have a team in UW that has been bad, but they were at least close to beating a decent team in BYU. They were outgained in that game by a wide margin, but if not for Jake Locker’s penalty and the blocked extra point, they would have gone to OT. And isn’t it almost always the best bet to take the team that came from behind to force OT, with all the momentum in the world, and playing at home to boot? That game could have easily gone to UW’s side of things that day, and while it likely wouldn’t have made much difference in their 2008 fortunes, well, they were at least CLOSE to a win over a pretty good team.

Now look in the mirror. Can we actually say the same thing? Quick, what is the closest we’ve been to beating a BCS team this year? If you said UCLA for 25 points, a WSU Football Blog T-shirt is on the way to you right now(not really). But think about that for a moment. The CLOSEST we’ve been to beating a BCS team is a 28-3 loss? REALLY? Good Lord that’s bad.

That said, I’m not suggesting we don’t have a chance here. We do. But I boil this one down to what it’s always been about since week one, and that’s the one thing this team has done better (or worse) than anyone else in the country – TURNOVERS. I know, I know, it’s a bad word around here, but it cannot be ignored. I don’t know our worst-ever turnover ratio in school history, but I have to believe that minus-25 with still two more games to go has to be in the basement. But it’s not just giving the ball away all the time, but the lack of the ability to take it back that is also killing this team. And sadly, I don’t see it suddenly turning all around just because it’s Apple Cup. If they lose that turnover battle, they will lose this game.

All that said, I’m taking the underdog at home in a rivalry game. If you are ever unsure about a game like this, take the home ‘dog. And the betting line has gone down slightly. As Bob Condotta pointed out at the Times the other day, the line is trending back towards WSU. And as Condotta also pointed out, when the line has moved away from UW, you’ve subsequently seen it reflected in that week’s game. UW has actually played how the line has moved, if you can believe it.

In the end, I believe that UW does have slightly better players compared to the young skinnies we’ll roll out there. We’ll want it more, we’ll play with more passion and intensity in front of the friendly Martin Stadium crowd, and it will be a very tight game. But I think Ronnie Fouch makes a couple of big throws, and Ryan Perkins, injured kicking leg and all, boots one through in the waning moments, giving UW a 17-16 win. Sorry. I didn’t want to do it. I almost picked us to win this thing. But I simply believe they are slightly better. We’ll cover the line at home, but I think they will pull it out.

Other games (weird that almost half the conference has a bye this week?):

Oregon State 33, Arizona 30. The Oregon State Rose Bowl express once again finds a way. But this is a very dangerous game for the Beavs. They have yet again circled the wagons in spectacular fashion, and haven’t lost since choking away the game at Utah on October 2nd. And Arizona’s defense looks to have lost some steam, giving up 28 to us and then 55 last week.

CAL 27, Stanford 23. Cal has lost a couple lately, including a bitter loss last week in Corvallis. But they have revenge in mind from last year’s loss to Stanford. The Cardinal looked bowl-worthy a few weeks ago, but now wobble into this one at 5-6 and needing one more win to get to the postseason since Ty Willie roamed the Stanford sideline. It won’t happen. Cal has more weapons and will make a few more plays, and that will be it. But this might be the last season for a while that Stanford misses out on the post-season. With Harbaugh set to ink his contract extension, watch out for Stanford in ’09 and beyond.


Oklahoma 44, Texas Tech 40. The dream ends for the weirdo coach in Mike Leach. Oklahoma at home will get it done. And the debate really heats up for the BCS title game.


Paul Wulff Radio Recap – Week Thirteen

November 20, 2008

Hmm, lucky week 13 perhaps? We’ll find out. But without further adieu, this week’s radio show, condensed-version style. Bud Nameck in the host chair for another week:

  • Bud opened the show by, of course, going right to the quotes from his press conference last year regarding UW when Wulff took the job. Paul didn’t exactly apologize for those remarks, saying “they were meant for Cougars”, something he mentioned before in the press. But he said hey, I’m the WSU coach and also a former player and a big fan. I’m not afraid of it. So why hold back? I don’t know about you, but I think he endeared himself to a lot of Cougs when he said what he said. It was, at the time anyway, a nice change from the “oh, golly gee” and a departure from the whimsical, folksy stylings of one Bill Doba.
  • Bud asked him about the practice and routine for this week, and knowing that it is Apple Cup week, are they doing anything different? Wulff said that they are trying to stick to the routine and the normal practice and preparation, but the veteran players know that it’s a special week. The rookies and other players who haven’t been in an Apple Cup don’t really understand. Even Wulff said he himself didn’t really get it until he played in one. Things are definitely dialed up a notch. And once you actually play in an Apple Cup, it’s truly an awesome event and you never forget it.
  • He said as far as their preparation, it is still a football game in terms of the x’s and o’s. But it is such an emotional game that it is always something on the coaches minds, about how to channel those emotions in the right way. However Wulff did say that overall, in the Apple Cups he was a part of as a player, they were relatively clean games. He said that the fans more or less get after it a little more than the actual players do!
  • Bud asked about the 12 noon kickoff and if that was an advantage or disadvantage? While the fans don’t exactly like it, Wulff likes the idea of getting up and getting ready to play right away instead of waiting around for the game. Another thing to consider is that they have invited some recruits in for this week’s game. Because of the early start time to the game, the coaches will have plenty of time to spend with the recruits AFTER the game. If it was a later start, that wouldn’t necessarily be the case and they could feel rushed, but not this week. A quick check of this week’s visits show Lynnwood’s Geoff Meinken, who has switched from WSU commit to “soft” verbal and is getting big love from Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Might be a good move to get as much time as you can with this kid?
  • Bud asked about practice and the injury situations. Kevin Lopina practiced on Wednesday, so he is all set to go for the game. Andy Mattingly practiced again, and while he was a little bit limited, he is still probable to play. Tony Thompson is back at tight end, and should be set. And Tyrone Justin should return to the secondary. Not exactly magic healing waters with the Apple Cup looming, but there are some kids coming around.
  • Bud asked briefly about the ASU game. Wulff said right off the bat that they did a good job up front defensively and getting pressure on Rudy Carpenter. He was quick to point out that Toby Turpin is a big part of it, and that he has really improved as the season has gone on. The trickle-down of his return has allowed Ahmu to slide outside, and they clearly have found their best three defensive linemen. It sure sounds like it will be a three-man attack again this week, as they finally seem to have found something, ANYTHING, that actually works this year.

    Wulff said the hardest part about that game was the early missed opportunities. They had some decent drives early in the game, but couldn’t come away with anything. The missed field goal hurt their momentum, and they also had several dropped balls that could have turned things in their favor. But overall he was pleased with the defense, holding an experienced offense to 24 offensive points (remember seven of those were on a fumble return for TD).

  • Wulff touched a bit on the kicking game. Right now it looks like the job is going to go back to Nico Grasu. Wulff said they have wanted one of their kickers to rise up and flat-out grab that job this year, but it just hasn’t happened, at least not yet. But Grasu gets his chance this week.
  • A caller asked if Wulff and the rest of the coaches do any type of visits to other programs in the off-season, or even visits to NFL teams? Wulff said yes, without a doubt they will do that. They had always done that at EWU and they will do that again this year. Proximity was nice when the Seahawks trained in Cheney and Wulff used to watch their practices all the time, and took some things that they would do and use it for himself.

    Wulff said that without question, you can’t learn enough in this business, and the best way to learn is to look at what others are doing. He has a goal of taking at least one fundamental thing from these visits with other coaches and use it or adapt it for themselves. He also said that they are going to try and bring in some coaches to WSU and meet with them that way, therefore eliminating some distractions the coach might have if WSU coaches were visiting them. But they will definitely do that this year.

  • A caller asked about the high frequency of injuries this year, what’s the deal?? Wulff said they have a belief that youth and inexperience leads to a higher level of injuries. Mainly the idea is that the younger the player, the less physically prepared the player will be to handle the rigors of the PAC-10. When they are lined up across fourth or fifth-year players who have been in their programs for several years, lifting weights and eating right, they are often times over matched. Young talent needs time to develop properly, and to throw a young kid out there against that kind of size and strength can lead to injuries!

    Wulff then went again into the idea of building “layers of depth”. Having fifth-year seniors, fourth-year juniors, and third-year sophomores are his goal of the kinds of players he wants playing in games, and you build it out that way. Fifth, fourth and third-year players are usually more fit, strong and mature vs. the teams that play a ton of youth. Get the kids physically ready to play, the injuries should decrease in a big way.

  • Wulff was asked about the outcome of this game, and what it really means to the program. Wulff said something similar to what he said earlier this week, in that in reality, the outcome of this game won’t drastically alter either program. One game never makes or breaks a program. But if you win it, it can make you feel a little better in your gut! But Wulff went out of his way to say that the outcome won’t have much impact on the program overall. He said at least in recruiting, kids will rarely pick a school based on the outcome of one game. If they do? They aren’t the kinds of kids they are after anyway! Sort of like the school that is constantly changing their uniforms, and it gets reported that some recruits pick their school based on the uniforms or other things? Wulff said they aren’t the types of kids they want to build their program with anyway.
  • Bud asked about the specialness of senior day, and how this is it for key guys like Brandon Gibson, Greg Trent, etc. Wulff said that it’s different for him because he’s only been here one year, but it is also very emotional because he understands the sacrifice many of these players have made in their playing careers.

    He has been there and walked the road before, so he knows what they are going through. It just plays into the feeling of how much they would like to get a win this week and send those seniors out right in their last home game.

  • Bud asked about the game itself this week. Wulff said that he thinks some people are going to be surprised, and that he believes it will be a very good game. He said that as always in a rivalry game, you can basically throw out the records (especially this year!). It’s important to both teams, and to the fans. It should be a fun, exciting day with memories for some that will last forever.
  • Bud asked about UW’s offense. Wulff said that without Locker, they are different. But Wulff said he has seen some decent things out of Ronnie Fouch on tape. He has a strong arm, and he’s a redshirt frosh so he’s been in the program for almost two years now. He says he has the arm to make big plays, with more than enough strength to throw it deep or even across the field where you might underestimate he can get it to a certain spot. Arm strength is not an issue with Fouch.

    But again, he is young, and has a lot of freshman and sophomore wide receivers he is throwing to. While they are athletic and quick, they are also young, prone to mistakes, and it’s part of the reason they have struggled this year.

  • Wulff did have good things to say about UW’s O-line. They are big and experienced, led by Garcia up front, so they have seen a lot of things. It will be a challenge for our defense to play well against their size. Wulff then talked about WSU’s offensive line, and that he believes they have come a long way in recent weeks. He singled out Steven Ayers, BJ Guerra, Andrew Roxas, Micah Hannam and even Brian Danaher as all young players who have improved of late.

    As a fan, I have to say that I am pretty optimistic as to how the offensive line will come together in the future. There is so much youth that has been out there this year, but the core of these guys will all be returning next year and even the year after that. Another year in the system, eating and lifting and now some game experience, you have to believe these tough lessons learned this year are going to pay off.

  • Wulff then went on to talk about his own struggles they have had this year. And the first thing out of his mouth? You guessed it – TURNOVERS. They have now turned it over 35 times, and have only created 11 takeaways themselves. Yep, that’s a MINUS-24 turnover ratio, the worst in the nation and one of the worst in WSU history. Wulff said that he really believes it’s those turnovers that have led to so many lopsided scores this year, where they are literally giving the opposing team 21 or 28 points PER GAME in simply giving the ball away in terrible situations. And of course we know the trickle-down from that, where the defense is on the field a lot more than it should be, it gets worn out, then suddenly it’s a landslide. They MUST LEARN TO TAKE CARE OF THE BALL as an offense!
  • Wulff did clear up the Apple Cup “legend” about his appendix and playing in the Apple Cup. He hung it on Mike Price, who grew the legend himself. But in reality it was 2 1/2 weeks between the time from Wulff having the surgery to playing in the Apple Cup. Wulff wasn’t sure, but the last he heard it, Price was saying it was the same week or 8 or 9 days, something like that. He was sorry to spoil this “legend” but that’s the honest truth.
  • Finally, one last thing for this week. Bud pointed out that if WSU can win, it will be four of the last five Apple Cups in WSU’s favor. Something that has never happened before in the history of the series. Wulff said he was well aware of that, and that they want to win this thing, bad!

So there you have it. Actually a pretty good show this week, with more energy and enthusiasm compared to some recent weeks. I couldn’t help but come away from listening to the show that they are excited and also very focused on this game. Take that however you want, but it did seem different compared to what we’ve heard lately.


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!

Friday Fodder

August 15, 2008

Top o’ the morning to you. First of all, we should apologize for the delay on new content. It’s been a weird week for the WSU football bloggers, from vacations to other commitments of the personal and professional variety. But we’ve come back out of hiding. One way or another, things will be fresh from here on out. And a huge hat tip and welcome to Longball for his excellent first-person coverage of practice. He’s a good addition to the family here and we welcome him with open arms.

Just some Friday stuff to wind down the week today:

Does Michael Bumpus have a shot to make the Seahawks? I know when he first signed with them we thought hey, that could be an excellent fit, he could learn from Bobby Engram on how to be a pro, etc. But it sounds like things are going pretty well thus far. Three catches in the exhibition opener was cool, but Keith Gilbertson and Mike Holmgren have gone out of their way to talk about him, about how he’s impressing and is right in that mix of the young WR’s. With Engram’s injury and Deion Branch likely out the first 5-6 games, the wideouts are thin. I would be happy if they just practice squad the kid this year, and then who knows, maybe next year he could find a spot on the active roster. While not blessed with blazing speed and not exactly built like T.O., still, there is a place in the league for guys like Bumpus. Good hands, well coached in college, knows how to get open and most of all, doesn’t shy away from going over the middle. Keep it up Bump!

Speaking of injured WR’s….what’s up with our injuries right now? Losing Jeshua Anderson is a blow, not just from what he could provide in his production, but, most of all, a major legit deep threat is now out until October. Just the idea that he can run by almost every corner he would line up against this fall is an exciting proposition, but, not having him on the field means the defense has one less thing to worry about. And of course, it also means that Brandon Gibson will likely get extra attention. Not that he wasn’t going to see double coverage this year anyway, but remove the home run threat from the other side? Not a good thing. But add in the hamstring strain to Daniel Blackledge, another promising talent who had an impressive spring session, and an already-inexperienced group takes a step back.

I do love the buzz on Michael Willis, and everyone who has seen him since spring ball claim he’s the real deal. But will he get “white line fever” as Bill Bavasi put it when he was fired? As in, once he steps between the lines and the lights go on, will he be able to do it like he has done in practices and scrimmages? We hope so, but, it’s hard to say now because we haven’t seen it yet. And Benny Ward is big (6-3) and is a senior, but he hasn’t done much yet either. Then again, he really hasn’t had a shot with the WR’s we’ve had on the field the last few seasons, so, who knows. He’ll certainly get the opportunity now! A real wild card in this receiving mix could be Devin Frischknecht, who had a good article this week in the Times. Even coach Wulff has said that he looks like he could play on Sundays with his hands and athleticism, so, he could be a real big surprise this season. Also nice to hear Jared Karstetter showing some ability. Sure would be nice to see him redshirt and put on about 10-15 lbs of muscle, as he does look to be on the skinny side. But good hands, athletic, tall, he could be something special down the line.

QB Jeff Tuel committed to WSU last week, now up to five commits. Tuel is a 6-3 QB from Fresno who plays in a no-huddle spread offense, so, he could be a good fit. He sounds like a legit two-way threat with good good quickness, clocked at a 4.6 40 and a fast 4.13 shuttle time. He has a ways to go with his strength, benching 225 while squatting 305, but that isn’t bad for a high school senior-to-be. That weight room stuff will come down the line. He’s smart to boot with a 3.42 GPA / 1360 SAT. We’ll see. One thing I believe Cougfan pointed out is that all five commits are of the three-star rating, some sort of first. Something like we’ve never had the first five commits all at least three stars? Whatever. You never want to get caught up in star-gazing or anything, and recruiting is just such a crapshoot. But all I know is that we’re off to a good start to building Wulff’s first full, complete class from beginning to end.

Off-topic, but Lee Pelekoudes, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?? Jarrod Washburn was claimed on waivers, and you hold out for a starting pitcher from Minnesota on their 40-man roster as well as demanding the small-market Twins pick up Washburn’s $13 MILLION owed for next year? REALLY?? Wow. A chance to shed an albatross of a contract from Bavasi, the mistake that keeps on giving, and instead you take a knee? Just think how many GM’s out there would do the happy dance if they could jettison $13 million from the payroll on a 34-year old pitcher who is 5-12, an ERA near 5, and the league hitting nearly .290 against. Do they really think Washburn is the answer to anything, next year or beyond?? Do they not understand how $13 million in salary can go a long way towards the rebuilding job next year, spent on a much-needed bat or two? Good job Lee, you just completely handcuffed the “real” GM who will take your spot after the season. But don’t take my word for it. Check out what Dave Cameron at USS Mariner had to say:

In case you weren’t sure, today was a great reminder that we’re all rooting for the worst run organization in baseball. There’s not another franchise with worse leadership or more incompetence in positions of power. From the CEO on down, these people don’t know baseball. They don’t know how to run a baseball team, build a roster, or win baseball games.

This organization is a massive collection of failures. They pile ridiculous decisions on top of each other, only outdoing their stupidity with an arrogance that refuses to learn from their mistakes. They are the of MLB, only they refuse to go out of business.

I’m far too attached to the childhood memories I have to ever root for another team, but if the M’s screw up this offseason and don’t completely overhaul the baseball operations department, hiring somebody who actually understands baseball, I’ll spend the next few years rooting for these people to fail miserably and be embarrassed publicly.

These people don’t deserve success. They deserve to be looking for new jobs.

Fire them all.

Finally, to wrap it all up, Bud Withers column from last Sunday on the summer in Pullman? WOW. Words can’t fully do it justice, but it should be required reading for WSU fans far and wide. The whole thing of wearing the purple jersey if you “dawg it” during practice is funny and all, and it’s great to hear how hard everyone is working. But the biggest thing that caught my eye was the account of how the team pledged to go dry this summer, yet someone violated the agreement, and what happened afterwards. The players meeting at 6 AM to go over the whole thing, the heart-to-heart talks that led Greg Trent to tears? That is the kind of stuff that is what changing the culture of a program is all about. It isn’t putting on a hat and standing at a podium and giving sound bytes to the media. It’s everything ELSE that you don’t see, the deep commitment to getting better on and off the field, that’s what it is all about. How can you not like the new message? It will take some time, but be patient, because these growing pains will pay off.

Happy Friday, and as always, GO COUGS!

Eyewitness Report: Longball Observes a Sudden Outbreak of Violence on the Palouse!

August 9, 2008
Autumn is my favorite season on the Palouse and no matter what the calendar says I can tell you it has officially arrived. I know this because today, over the chirping of the birds and the gentle rustling of the breeze blowing through the leaves I heard that telltale sound that heralds the arrival of Fall…

That’s right Crimson Nation, Cougar football is BACK. This morning the boys put on full pads for the first time this season and got after it. Having learned from my mistakes I made sure I had plenty of juice for my camera and came away with some good images of the morning’s action on Rogers Field. There was a lot to see, so today I promise less jibber-jabber from yours truly, and more pictures of your 2008 Washington State Cougars in action.

I witnessed two spirited scrimmages today with skelly and other drills in between. You may have heard that there were some scuffles in the last few practices and today was no different. Below you see a couple of the guys continuing to tangle well after the whistle had blown…

Now some of you may find this worrisome, but I assure you this is a good thing. Football is a violent sport and between the snap and the whistle these guys are mortal enemies. That kind of intense aggression can’t always be switched off with the sound of a whistle so it inevitably spills over into shoving matches like this. Of course we don’t want this kind of stuff costing us yards and downs in a real game, but the coaches have plenty of time to instill that game day discipline in these guys. In the meantime it just shows that the passion and competitiveness we need are there, and those things are much harder to coach.

I was pleased that the scrimmage seemed pretty balanced, with both the Defense and Offense making their fair share of plays. to illustrate this, here are a few images from the intense battle between our receivers and defensive backs…

Above you see Brandon Gibson, 4, running after the catch and just look at that separation from the defender. Not too long after that he hauls in a score…

That’s just Brandon being Brandon. But he’s not QB Gary Roger’s only weapon by any stretch. Here is the resurgent and potentially electrifying Michael Willis, 3, also getting great seperation…

…and moments later, hauling in a score of his own.

But don’t worry, while it may look our defensive backfield is getting beat like a drum, they weren’t hanging their heads at all. Rather, they just tightened their chin straps and made a few plays of their own. Here is Devin Giles, 32, about to step in front of a diving Anthony Houston, 88, to make a difficult pick on this ball…

The offense responded, showing off another one of its many promising weapons as tight end Devin Frischknecht, 80, breaks into the open…

But it wasn’t all wide open spaces for the big tight end. Here you see him sloooooooowly picking himself off the turf after getting leveled by Myron Beck, 13.

Hits like that are exactly what I like to see from our DBs and Myron Beck looks to me like a bona fide assassin in our secondary. To Frischknecht’s credit, he did hang onto the ball and after regaining his breath let out a Braveheart yell, got back on his feet and ran off the field. Just great stuff all around.

We also run the ball sometimes, and as you can see below running back Dwight Tardy, 31, is wearing no protection on his surgically repaired knee.

Tardy ran hard today and continues to look good. That’s newcomer Chantz Staden, 22, behind him who with his helmet off looks like a mini-Steven Jackson. Promising young running back Marcus Richmond, 20, showed off his speed, finding his way round the end of the 2nd string Defense for a TD.

Not to be outdone, below, backup QB Kevin Lopina, 19, finds running room up the middle on a designed QB sneak.

But the defense came to play too. Below they celebrate after recovering a Greg Trent forced fumble…

Gotta love the defensive coaches getting into the celebration. Is that coach Akey circa 2003?

Now as Coug fans we are all programmed to worry about our offense’s effectiveness in short yardage situations, especially on the goal line. Here we see the 1st team Offense punching the ball into the end zone from just a yard out.

Of course it remains to be seen if we can pull this off in a real game.

Another area of concern for most Coug fans is what is usually called the “kicking game”, but for us recently has been more of a “shanking game”. Aww the life of a kicker…

This is where they hang out for most of the practice, shootin the breeze, stayin loose until suddenly, after HOURS of not really pedaling at all on those bikes, they are called to action! This year, the brave souls that will face off against those pesky uprights are incumbent Wade Penner, 35, and new comer Nico Grasu, 29.

And here is Penner…

…shanking one to the right. And for good measure, here is Grasu…

…shanking one to the left.

Hey, I can’t bring you only good news. Heck, if there was only good news we wouldn’t be the Cougs, would we? On a brighter note, on the very last play of the practice Penner booted a beautiful kick through the uprights from pretty far out (I have no depth perception, but I think it was 40+ yards at least).

Now for the impact rookie watch… you may have heard some buzz about freshman wideout, Jared Karstetter, 84. Here he is running down a ball that is just out of his reach…

He had a case of the dropsies in drills today, but overall it is apparent what the buzz is about. He has great size and athleticism, and looks like he has a bright future ahead of him.

Now I would be remiss (and a disgrace to my Alma mater) if I didn’t highlight another exciting rookie, freshman QB and Pullman High’s own JT Levenseller, 5 (yes, coach Levenseller’s son). Here JT stands and delivers…

JT may not have the size to be a full time QB, but he is a great athlete and tenacious competitor. I would not be surprised at all to see him on the field some day, perhaps as a slot receiver, or even a defensive back. Meanwhile, in spite of any doubts I might have, he is working hard to be our QB of the future and Pullman Greyhounds everywhere are cheering him on. Go Get ‘Em JT!!

Now some of you may be asking, “Where’s the beef, Longball?” I hear you loud and clear. Stay tuned for more pictures of the BIG boys on the line going head to head in a clash of titans this morning. So check in later for that and, as always…

Go Cougs!