Archive for the ‘Jeshua Anderson’ Category

Marshall’s Knee the Key to Day One

August 10, 2009


Finally. It’s on. And not a moment too soon. I think we’re all about “previewed out”, wouldn’t you say? I mean there is only so many ways you can look at the upcoming season before it all just kind of runs together. So enough of all that. It’s time for the real thing. And now with cool new practice jerseys, including the Nike swoosh!

I’m sure by now you have heard all you need to hear about day one, and while there are a lot of stories and such, Vince’s blowout recap from yesterday is the place to be. He also weighed in this AM as well with even more links and so on. Safe to say Vince has come out swinging in round one!

The toughness theme is there, and that’s great. And really, is there any doubt that getting bigger/stronger/tougher is a theme that they are pushing for this year? When we saw them in practice a little bit this spring, and again after spring ball was over and Vince recapped the whole session, they did appear to be overall a tougher, crisper unit compared to the ragged ’08 season. Even with some of the injuries and missing faces from the spring, they just looked, I don’t know, different.

But it’s not just for this year. As long as coach Wulff is at WSU, what we are going to see beginning now and into the future is a group that will pride itself on being a physical football team. It has been drilled into them since Wulff took over, the new approach to conditioning and nutrition and all that. It’s not just lip service. It will be this program’s identity, and it will happen sooner rather than later.

But of all the talk and excitement from day one, the early word I’m hanging my hopes on right now? Marshall Lobbestael and Jeshua Anderson.

Marshall was mentioned in Vince’s post about the knee feeling good:

Lobbestael is coming off knee surgery, though he said it’s fine. “Feels good,” he said. “Got a new brace and it feels good. I was running, doing drops and stuff. I’ve just got to get used to doing everything. In spring I was sort of held out some drills, some running plays, but it feels good.”

Lobbestael would throw the day’s only TD in skeleton drills. Big whoop right? Hey, We’ll take WHATEVER WE CAN GET right now!

And the fact that Jeshua is out there practicing is very good news indeed. Even if it wasn’t 100% clear that he would even return to the team until mid-July (did you know that?? It’s not a surprise, but waiting until mid-July before deciding certainly is.). The team is, let’s face it, lacking in play-makers at the WR position, and all things being equal, Jeshua is the biggest homerun guy in the lineup. Want to stretch the field and keep things honest? You better have a healthy, productive Jeshua out there to give the opposition a little something to think about. Even though we all expect the running game to be deep and all that, still, you better be able to get some things done through the air or else it could be another rough season with the football.

That’s it for now. Look for some first-hand impressions from our own Longball in the coming days, as our Pullman “townie” should have some good looks at the team. Enjoy your day, and GO COUGS!

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So Who’s Going to Pick it?

July 16, 2009


So we’ve taken a peek at who we think is going to chuck it, and who we think is going to carry it. Now let’s look at who, exactly, will be picking balls out of the air for the WSU offense in ’09.

Right away, it must be acknowledged who WON’T be picking it in ’09, and that is of course, our lead photo guy of the day, Brandon Gibson. For the first time since 2004, the WSU receiving corps will be sans #4 (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 all saw Gibson in the WR rotation). One of the all-time greats in WSU history, Gibson finished his career as the school leader in receiving yards (2,756). He was second in total catches with 182. His 17 TD’s placed him in the top six in school history. Gibson will be missed, there is no denying that. Gibson, as you are probably aware, was a sixth-round draft choice of the flying Philly Eagles, ready to make some noise back east.

We salute you Gibby, and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

But the page must be turned, so with that, we look ahead. And who shall lead them? Let’s see….

While 2008 was, overall, a lost season for many WSU WR’s, the raw numbers are a hard thing to comprehend. It seemed like nobody, and I mean NOBODY, improved at WR in ’08. After all, the superstar game-breaker in Brandon Gibson saw his numbers shrink considerably, going from a 67-catch, 1180-yard, 9-TD campaign in ’07 to just a 57 catch, 673-yard, two-TD campaign in ’08. But, believe it or not, there was someone who improved last year, even with an offense that struggled so terribly for the bulk of the season. The one guy who did improve, at least statistically, was none other than the track star – Jeshua Anderson. Wait, you mean the amazing hurdler who flirted with making the 2008 Olympic Team, and then missed all of August with an abdominal injury? THAT Jeshua Anderson?? It’s true.

After catching just 12 balls as a true frosh in ’07, Anderson emerged with 33 catches in ’08. His yards-per-catch was down in a huge way, at 9.2, but after ’07 there was nowhere to go but down. Anderson averaged an unrepeatable 31(thirty-one!) yards per grab in ’07, but that was on just the 12 catches. There was virtually no way he was doing that again, not as a starter after playing the deep threat role the year before.

I guess our concern with Anderson is the same one that a lot of people have for him, and that is has the track time taken away from his chances to get better on the football field? After all, he missed spring ball again this year to compete in the NCAA championships, where YES, he did repeat as NCAA CHAMP in the 400 hurdles. So as great as he is on the track, nobody can really blame him for missing practice time on the gridiron.


He is super-special in the hurdles, and a lucrative career may await on the track-n-field circuit once his NCAA days are behind him. Anderson does possess some good tools for the WR position, aside from just the great speed. He is cut at 6-2, 188, and shows good hands and excellent body control. But is he good enough at his craft to be THE MAN this year? He could be on the brink of a major breakthrough, or the load could be unbearable for a guy who may not exactly be ready to roll as the number one WR. But without question, Anderson is the fastest, most talented WR of the bunch coming back in ’09. Here’s hoping a healthy, productive practice session in August will see him ready for the rigors of a 12-game gauntlet in ’09.

Now it gets a little challenging, as what you have left is a real mash-up of young, somewhat experienced WR’s, but none of whom has really had a shot to make some noise. Of course, we love Jared Karstetter, and he will always live in Apple Cup lore for his 48-yard grab that saved the 2008 game.

But aside from that catch, he made just FIVE others the entire ’08 season. But that was his true frosh year, and he did only start three games on the season. Excellent size at 6-4, 203, and pretty athletic as well, he could evolve into a difficult match-up for whoever he faces on a weekly basis. Last year we hoped he could turn out to be another Jeff Samardzija of sorts, the former Notre Dame great turned MLB reliever? Samardzija was your bigger, possession-type target with good hands, but also good enough quicks to break one here and there. Karstetter is going to be an interesting guy to watch this year as we see if he’s taken a step forward in his development. The opportunity is there, no doubt about it. But the jury is, as they say, still very much out on Karstetter.

Another kid with a year of playing time now under his belt is Kevin Norrell. On the smallish side at 5-9, Norrell showed a little something with 11 catches last year. He’s perfect for the slot, and should be able to use his quickness in space against linebackers or safeties who line up across from him. But still a youngster as a true sophomore, like Karstetter, a long way to go before he’s a complete product.

Another WR to watch is Daniel Blackledge. Blackledge had a semi-good start to the ’08 season, but after eight catches in his first four games last year, he only had ONE catch the rest of the way. Built similar to Jeshua Anderson at 6-2, 179, Blackledge obviously doesn’t have the take-your-breath-away speed of Anderson, but he’s still a very good athlete with decent wheels. Hard to believe he’ll already be a junior this year, but they really could use his ability to get the ball down the field. Outside of Anderson, he is probably the second-best deep threat on the team.

Finally, the newcomers. Johnny Forzani, the Canandian prospect; Gino Simone, the heralded recruit; and Jeffrey Solomon, the transfer from Eastern.

First, Forzani. Who knows, really, what they got here. Most likely you know the back story already – but if you forgot, check out this link. He didn’t play high school ball, has some family CFL ties, and even though he was known more as a hoops player, he ultimately makes the practice squad of the Calgary Stampeders. Decent size at 6-1, 195, and really good speed as well, reports are he still has quite a ways to go before he is ready to make an impact. He is rough around the edges, but given some solid practice time with WR coach Mike Levenseller, anything can happen. Maybe they’ll catch lightning in a bottle? If anything, split him out opposite of Jeshua Anderson and send him deep with that 4.4 speed!

Simone is well-known in these parts. Regarded as the top player in Washington last year, he has a chance to get some real PT in ’09. Not huge, but big enough at 6-0, 170, Simone’s game is all about precise routes and excellent hands.

NOT a big highlight reel guy and he’s not a speed demon, but he was as productive as can be in high school, where Skyline won the 4A state title in a pass-happy offense.

Solomon is a real under-the-radar type guy, but could be something when the dust settles. Another six-footer, and 196 lbs, he sat out last year after coming in from EWU. He had an injury that forced him to miss the ’07 season, but ’06 as a true frosh he was somewhat productive under Wulff at EWU, playing in nine games that year. He only caught seven balls as a true frosh, but definitely showed enough to follow Wulff to Pullman. Keep an eye out for him in practice reports next month.

That’s about it for the WR spot. It’s kind of a weird position, where the superstar is gone, but there is young, somewhat experienced guys waiting in the wings? But that said, there are an awful lot of “IF’S” here to hang your hat on. IF Anderson is healthy and improves; IF Karstetter continues to get better and learns how to use his size and athleticism as weapons against smaller defensive backs; IF Norrell is used properly in the slot and they can take advantage of mismatches with his quickness. Etc, etc, etc.

But I do believe this position will be better in ’09 compared to last year. At least it looks like it has that proverbial “upside” tag, as long as health doesn’t become an issue (quick, knock on anything resembling wood!). Just remember, last year at this time, yeah, they had Brandon Gibson. But Jeshua Anderson was hobbled with an injury, Daniel Blackledge had ONE career catch coming into ’08, and both Karstetter and Norrell were true frosh! Those four – Anderson, Karstetter, Norrell, and Blackledge – will be the biggest factors in the passing game this season. And all four now have another year under their belts. So they should be a stronger, deeper, better unit in ’09. But it may still not be enough to stop another tough season. Now for 2010, wow, can we talk?? But for now, we’ll settle for improvement and consistency on a weekly basis!

That’s it for a Thursday. ENJOY IT, as always, and GO COUGS!

Spring Practice Questions, WSU Football Blog Style

March 26, 2009

So with spring ball upon us as of today, the optimism is there. Some great comments out of all of you the last few days, so the enthusiasm for football is still alive. They just couldn’t kill it after 2-11! Now it’s not overflowing with talk of “we’re going to open multiple cans of whoop ass”, but still, there does seem to be a good feel that things are about to get better.

Paul Wulff intimated as much yesterday in the WSU chat. While he didn’t roll out the pom-poms and lead everyone in the fight song, you could tell in his own, understated tone that he likes the direction. He really went into great detail about his feelings on these here “internets” and such:

Allen (Covington): Coach- in your opinion do Internet recruiting services help or hinder your recruiting process as a coach? There’s quite the debate online and offline (see Meat Market by Feldman).

Paul Wulff: They do both.

Well OK then.

Due to the lengthy responses from coach Wulff, I’d like to warn our affiliates we’ll be going over…
To repeat, warning our affiliates, we WILL BE GOING OVER our allotted time….

But back on topic, there are questions. MANY questions for this team, and what’s to come. Not to TOTALLY RIP OFF Vince Grippi from yesterday….by the way, Vince, “JC Levenseller”? We love you, and you won that phony election last year…but come on man.

Anyway, here are three super-terrific questions that we thought were relevant to what needs to be addressed, cleaned up, fixed, blown up, whatever….

1) WHO IS GOING TO THROW IT??

We WANT to be thrilled with Marshall Lobbestael’s potential. Seriously thrilled. And let’s face it, the kid did show some major moxie in his limited time last year. Oh, he didn’t go out and lead a titanic upset or anything. He had a few shining moments against Oregon, but how excited can you get over a 63-14 loss?

But in looking at Lobbestael, you almost have to just throw out the win/loss type stuff and realize all that was working against him last season. Such as a patchwork offensive line that had a different starting lineup throughout the first seven games, an ineffective running game, and an offense in general that lead the solar system in giveaways. Combine that with a massive malaise that overtook this team the first half or so games of 2008 with the flip-that-culture program running into some, uh, resistance, it is now pretty apparent that he simply wasn’t going to succeed. But to Marshall’s credit, he came in under said circumstances and held his own, leading the team in passer rating (103.7) and TD passes (4) in five games.

Wow, think about that for a second. A redshirt frosh QB played in just five games, and LED the team in TD passes with FOUR?? Who the?? WHAT THE?? Ryan Leaf used to have that many in one game, heck, one HALF. Mike Price is rolling over in his palatial El Paso estate (I didn’t say rolling over in his grave because coach Price isn’t actually dead….it’s just his career that has flat-lined). But those team-leading four TD passes is a real eye-opener isn’t it?

The biggest worry about Marshall is that knee.


I mean the kid did just blow that thing out on October 11th of last fall. It might feel like a long, long time ago, but that’s less than six months from right now. We hear that he’s made a ton of progress, enough so that he’ll actually participate in seven-on-seven skeleton drills this spring. Encouraging? Absolutely. But will he REALLY be ready for game action this fall? Not only do we have to hope for a full recovery in his knee, but will this injury rob him of his ability to move effectively? He’s not a Jeshua Anderson-type sprinter, but the kid could move pre-blown knee. Will he be able to do so post-injury? And how long will it take him to not only survive, but actually thrive on that knee? Mentally will he build up his confidence? I don’t know what you think, but he can wear the yellow no-contact jersey all fall camp and look great doing it. We aren’t really going to know until the season opener vs. Stanford. And we can be assured that the Cardinal D isn’t going to take it easy on him either. He will get hit, hard, for the first time in a long time. We just won’t know until that moment if he is all the way back.

So if Marshall just isn’t ready, what are the other options? JT Levenseller showed some spunk. But he has thrown just 34 passes in very limited time. He was tied with Kevin Lopina for 3rd on the team in TD passes. Of course, that number is ZERO. Young Levy has good feet, and from the looks of it, his arm passes the eye test. His skill-set appears to be a good match in the Todd Sturdy offense.

I know I’m excited as can be about this kid’s upside and reported intangibles from all who have been around him. But again, a bushel full of questions with him.

Finally, Kevin Lopina. What can we say? He evolved into a leader in the locker room, calling out the quitters and bad apples when things were falling down around him. For that, he gets points. And that throw to Jared Karstetter was enormous, a throw that will go down in AC history as one of the biggest plays in the series, pro-WSU style. And he is tough as can be, coming back off a fracture in his back to give it everything he had. But all that said, is it enough? How can we ignore his zero TD/11 INT ratio? Is that a starting QB in the PAC-10? You hate to be harsh on the kid, as he gave every ounce of sweat he had for this program last year. But I think many can agree that we might be best served if Lopina is the backup.

One nugget from the Paul Wulff chat yesterday is that the door is NOT closed on Lopina starting.

David California: On a recent radio show you stated there would be only one senior starting on offense in 2009. Would it be safe to assume that person is Kenny Alfred?

Paul Wulff: At the time, what I meant was there could be only up to one senior starting, the only proven senior being Kenny Alfred. But obviously, Tony Thompson has a clear shot at starting, as well as Kevin Lopina and Dwight Tardy.

Oh.

2) WHO’S GOING TO CATCH IT?

Gone is Brandon Gibson, who led the team in catches (57), yards(673) and TD’s (2). All numbers down across the board when you look back at how productive a player Gibson was in his career, but given the overall state of the offense, not too shabby either. Jeshua Anderson is back, second in catches (33) and yards (305), but yeah, there’s this whole track thing to think about. Hard to know exactly what he’ll be able to do by this fall after missing another spring practice session this year. Can’t exactly fault the kid either, I mean he’s clearly special in track and field, Olympics-type special. But there is also no doubt that he’s missing some valuable practice time to mesh with the updated offense, potential new QB’s, etc. It is what it is.

But the youngsters, while they didn’t pop with blazing numbers last year, are intriguing. Kevin Norrell played a lot as a true frosh, and while not a big physical presence, he did show some upside averaging 11.3 yards per catch. He’ll get a huge chance to shine this spring/next season. Daniel Blackledge was a little beat up last year but he too showed something, and has drawn some recent praise from Wulff. And Jared Karstetter was pretty overwhelmed as being force fed into the lineup as a true frosh last year, but there are some things to be excited about with him. Like, oh, I don’t know, a certain 48-yard catch in a certain game last year?


Most of all, these youngsters all got their first season out of the way. If anything, they’ve learned what it is like to line up across an all-conference talent like USC, Oregon or Cal rolls out every week. They shouldn’t be as overwhelmed by the moment this year. But boy, they will need to step up and be ready, asap. Plenty of opportunities available!

3) WHO WILL LEAD THE DEFENSE?

Gone is the “triangle” of Greg Trent at middle linebacker, A’i Ahmu at defensive tackle, and Matt Mullennix and his 1.5 knees held together with scotch tape at defensive end. All three gave what they had, each and every week, to help shore up a porous D that gave up tons of yards per game(443+) and points per game (43.8). While the world crumbled around them, they did what they could to try and hold things together.


So who shall lead them? My money is on Louis Bland, Xavier Hicks and Andy Mattingly. Bland, of course, burst onto the scene as an undersized true frosh who slid to outside linebacker. Next thing you know, he’s all-frosh with 55 tackles, nine for loss, including a couple of sacks, an INT return for a TD, and some huge knocks in the Apple Cup victory. But Bland has exuded “special” since he set foot in Pullman, and there was already talk LAST YEAR about Bland possibly being a team captain!

Xavier Hicks meanwhile has really turned it around. A big hitter with some meathead moves off the field, he appears to have taken well to the leadership of Coach Wulff. Even missing the first three games of last season didn’t keep him from finishing second on the team in tackles (78) and tied for the team lead in interceptions (2). Hicks might be the best all-conference candidate of the entire defense, and the timing might be right for a huge senior year.

Finally, Mattingly. A huge 2007 season as a breakout force at linebacker with the well-documented tackles (91) and sacks (8), 2008 was a lost year. Mattingly’s move to defensive end resulted in almost HALF the tackles from 2007 (44) and his sacks were trimmed from eight to just one in ’08. The good news is it appears they have seen the light, and Mattingly actually moved back to strong-side linebacker the last couple of games in 2008, and sure enough, the move is now permanent with the release of this spring’s depth chart. Very nice.

So that’s it. The three biggest questions (with possible answers?) to this team. There are many more, of course, ones that we didn’t even scratch the surface on. What do YOU think are the biggest questions facing this team? And what answers might you have to fix what’s BROKE?!?

That’s it for a Thursday. ENJOY YOUR DAY, and GO COUGS!

When All is Lost….

November 3, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

ENJOY YOUR MONDAY, and GO GOUGS!

Pass the bottle…

October 5, 2008


Hello Cougar Nation,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Eye Witness Report: Longball Goes Star Gazing at Afternoon Practice

August 7, 2008
Well, you can never have enough AA batteries. I braved the 98 degree heat to watch the A squad in their afternoon practice yesterday, only to have my camera die on me before I could get any really good pics. Cougar Nation, I have let you down. It was a rookie mistake I wont make again, you can count on it!
While the images aren’t what I hoped for, I still have plenty to report. For instance, did I mention it was hot? Some of us observers were better prepared than others, as you can see Orville has switched to the cowboy hat since the morning session…

Good thinkin, Orville.

So without my own defense against the merciless sun I made my way round the field and got a few shots off before the camera went kaput. I am sure we are all concerned about Dwight Tardy’s progress on his surgically repaired knee and I headed straight for the running backs. Coach Broussard was putting them through the paces, yelling, “Trust your feet, eyes up! Don’t look at your feet! Why are you looking at your *&^%$ing feet?! Eyes up!” and so on. Sounds good to me. As they lined up for drills you can see Tardy, 31, in the back with his neoprene knee brace pulled down.

I took this as a good sign that he felt confident without it. He seemed to pay a lot of attention to how the knee felt after each burst of activity, but I never saw him labor, or limp at all and he looked just as sharp and confident as the other backs in their drills. Oh yeah, and he was the only one keeping his “&*^%$ing eyes up”, as coach Broussard was imploring them to do.

With a healthy Tardy and an elligible Ivory, I am really excited about this unit as a whole. Seeing these guys up close and personal did nothing to change that. The helmets-only look is not very flattering, they look like a bunch of bobble heads. But regardless these guys still passed the eye test, or the airport test, as it is commonly called these days.

I am sure many of you are also anxious to hear how Mr. Speedypants, Jeshua Anderson looks. Well, talk about passing the airport test, yowzah!

As you can see in the photo above captured with a special high speed lense, he wears number 85, but you usually just see a white streak. Anderson’s athleticism is in the realm of freakish and I got to see him pull off one particularly great grab, leaping over a defender for a Rogers thrown ball that looked like it was going to sail through one of the CUB windows. More than once I saw defenders simply pull him to the ground as he made his first move on them and it was obvious they were about to get clowned. I would like to see him continue to get stronger, and fight through a lot of that grabbing and holding like Brandon Gibson does, but he is definately bulked up from last year. He was a little gimpy after contact and while I never want to call a player’s toughness into question based on skelly drills, I do worry if he is a bit fragile. As Coug fans we are used to being one injury away from disaster, so its always on my mind.

The receivers are another unit where I honestly believe, crimson tinted shades aside, we are just loaded. We all know what Brandon Gibson does to defenses and the reemergence of Michael Willis so far as been a sight to behold. Two other guys that really stand out when you watch practice are Benny Ward, 15 and Anthony Houton, 88. They both have great size and athleticism and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of them really emerge as a weapon this year.

As for the rest of the offense, I didn’t get any really good captures, but below you can see Rogers lining up behind center for some skelly against the starting backers and DBs.


Both Rogers, 17 and Lopina, 9 look the part, but it is clear they bring different things to the table and the coaches are going to play to their strengths. You see Lopina run a lot more designed QB runs and option plays, but he still throws a nice ball. It looks like shotgun is going to be our bread and butter this year and the drills include practicing hand-offs in shotgun with the coaches throwing intentionally bad snaps. I didn’t get to see too much of the offensive line, so I will watch more closely in the coming days.

Now some of you (Ptown) have reminded us in the comments that we don’t play in the WAC and defense matters too. Well I agree, and I was very curious to see one defensive unit in particular, our defensive line.

That my friends is a buffet’s worst nightmare. As you can see, big number 74, Andy Roof is practicing and no indication yet that he wont play. To his right are Eichelberger, 77 and Ahmu, 92, two seniors we are counting on to have solid and healthy campaigns in ’08. Clearly neither of them spent the offseason competing to be America’s Biggest Loser. Look at Andy Mattingly, 45. I cannot believe that guy was a linebacker! He looks D-end all the way to me. Just coming into the picture on the left is Kevin Kooyman, 93 who, together with man-child Mattingly off the other end, could be a huge problem for opposing QBs this year. Don’t fret (yet) folks. This unit has some promise. In no-pads action it’s hard to get a good read on them, but they’ll be strapping on the armor soon and we’ll get a better idea how they’ll be. With Mattingly, Kooyman, Mullinex, and Graise as our D-ends, I think its safe to say our concerns are at the tackle position. Sounds like a job for my main man, Toby Turpin!

I wasn’t able to give our backers and DBs the attention they deserve, so I’ll try to get a read on them in future practices and scrimmages. One guy that did stand out to me was Devin Giles. He has good size and I was surprised he wasn’t on the depth chart. They are going hard all day, every day against the likes of Brandon Gibson and Jeshua Anderson, so I am confident they are learning fast and will be ready.

That’s all for now folks! I wont be able to make it to the helmets and pads practice today, but I plan on being there tomorrow and this weekend so I can bring you more reports from the ground. Until then…

Go Cougs!

Sunday Hot Links

June 29, 2008

Some quick-hitters to get your Sunday going:

Jeshua Anderson’s Olympic dreams are over for 2008. After winning the 400m hurdles on Friday, he placed fifth last night. Only the top four can go on to the next round, so, Anderson’s done with track for now. That should (hopefully) green-light his return to football. At least he said so after Saturday’s loss, that he’s now going to get ready for football. Can’t WAIT to see him spread out wide and running under some deep fly balls from Gary Rogers!

Cole Morgan has left the building. Morgan will head to Western immediately after signing on for a scholarship on Friday. Will we miss Morgan? Hard to say. He only played in one game, in 2006, but otherwise was buried in the QB rotation, never rising above 3rd string. Maybe he would have had a decent shot at the job next year, but it’s all moot now. Good luck Cole.

Breaking recruiting news from last night – WSU has a third verbal in Cali d-tackle Justin Clayton, a high-energy, 6-4, 245-pounder from Napa. He made all-Bay-Area on both offense and defense as a junior last year. From Scout.com’s profile:

A first team all-league selection on both lines his junior season, Clayton was also named first team all-county on defense. Has a motor that doesn’t quit. Projects as a defensive tackle or could potentially also play defensive end in college.

Nice. That’s three verbals and it’s still June. Last year when Wulff took the job in mid-December? Three verbals. What a difference.

Yes, JR Hasty is now officially out of UW. No, he won’t be headed to WSU, despite the obvious ties with the senior Hasty. If Hasty were to pursue another D-1 opportunity, he’d only have one year of eligibility left. He’s much more likely to head somewhere like Central. If you remember, Hasty was as touted as they come in high school, a 4-star tailback who had 50 TD’s his senior year. His entire UW career? Six carries, 18 yards. What happened???

Finally, our own “Big Apple”, Alex Brink, signed his contract in Houston. And, yeah, they TOTALLY DIG HIM down there! Check out this article.

Monday Morning Catch-up

June 16, 2008


Some quick things to get your week going:

Jeshua Anderson is an NCAA champion. I know this isn’t breaking news, as it happened on Saturday, but still worth a big mention. That kid, man, he is really, really special. From the article:

Before the Men’s 400 Hurdles, most observers felt that Washington State freshman Jeshua Anderson had a brilliant future. Third coming into the last hurdle, Anderson seized the future by the throat, running a sensational final 40 meters to win with the fifth-fastest time in history by an athlete under 20 years of age. Auburn’s Rueben McCoy ran a personal record to finish a close second; another freshman, Robert Griffin (Baylor), finished third.

Fifth-fastest in history under 20 years of age? WOW. We went over this before a few weeks ago, about his long climb to the Olympic Games for ’08. He still has a lot of work ahead, but winning an NCAA title is a nice way of announcing his presence in pursuit of summer glory!

As a football fan, I can’t help but feel conflicted here. I want the kid to do as best as he possibly can, for his glory and for WSU. But at the same time, out of pure fear of not seeing him on the football field again, I don’t want him to do TOO WELL! Not that I would ever root against him, but, well, I have to admit it – I want to see him running under Gary Rogers home-run balls thrown deep down the sideline this year, don’t you? If he makes the Olympic team, his football future has to be at least somewhat in doubt, doesn’t it?

Cougfan has fired up the player diaries. This year we get Gary Rogers and Mike Graise providing regular updates. You know the drill. They’ll rave about how great it is that everyone is sticking around Pullman to work out, everyone seems together, everyone looks great……we’ve been here before. But seriously, I enjoy the first-person takes on what is going on with the team during these times. And this passage from Graise caught my eye:

Last year, in retrospect, there were some guys who didn’t shine as brightly in that first week due to poor training in May…and I was one of them. But looking around now, I can really see the fire in our eyes. You can see us competing with one another and making everyone better.

And to answer one of your questions that I know will come up: Yes, it is all due to coach Paul Wulff and his staff.

From the moment they stepped foot on the practice field, we as players have found ourselves in uncharted territory — the winter workouts we had with these coaches were the most intense workouts I have ever done in my life.

I think we all like to hear that! As coach Wulff has said from the beginning, things need to change on a variety of levels, things that we’ll see on Saturdays of course, but mainly things that go on behind the scenes. And the early returns sound positive.

Meanwhile, coach Wulff continues to make the golf/banquet rounds. This time in Yakima, and Wulff gave a quick interview to the Yakima Herald. Pretty good/quick read, including some material provided by our own Todd Thrasher.


The Seattle game tickets are moving fast. We’re already up over 25,000 sold, including student tickets, after only a few weeks of sales. To put that number in perspective, we had that many sold in mid-August last year. We’re 65% ahead of last year’s pace. The reasons for this are plenty when you think about it – new coach making his WSU debut, decent opponent, no competing game that day (UW is at Oregon), etc. Plus, with gas prices out of control and $5.00/gallon coming soon to a pump near you, this might be the only shot for some west-side fans on a tight budget to see a game in person this year. With the way things are going now, I think it might be an upset if Qwest isn’t sold out by kickoff.

Finally, non-Coug related but that Sonics trial is starting up today. I won’t waste much time on this as I know many of you simply do not care, but it is a big deal in Seattle. I have to admit I’m surprised that this thing is seeing the inside of a courtroom. I thought we would have a settlement by now. But I guess when you take each position, you realize that both sides have too much to lose by settling at this point. The city loses the team if they take the payoff now, no matter how many zero’s are in the amount payable line of the check. And what would Bennett gain by settling? The only thing the city sees as an acceptable settlement now is if they get to keep the team here, or at least gets an iron-clad guarantee of a replacement team as soon as possible. Bennett is dug in and lawyered up, so he’s not going to give it up without a fight. And he obviously needs the NBA’s help to give Seattle another team. So thus far, nobody has blinked in this stare-down. Save Our Sonics is holding a rally this afternoon at 4:30 at the courthouse, where between 500 – 1000 people are expected.

We’ll see what happens, but it should be an interesting ride over the next week or so. If you are interested, check out SonicsCentral.com for regular updates and excellent commentary and coverage by people who’s blood runs Sonics green-n-gold. They have done a fantastic job keeping everyone updated on what’s going on.

HAVE A GREAT MONDAY! And stay tuned for more Spring Fish Wraps, as we are down to the final four opponents for 2008.

Jeshua Anderson the Wildcard for ’08?

June 6, 2008

You don’t usually get too jacked about a frosh who had only 12 catches last year. But when said frosh averages a freakish 31 yards per catch? Go crazy. Of course we’re talking about Jeshua Anderson. Anderson was last seen on the football field hauling in a TD in the Apple Cup. Remember this?

NCAA Football Highlights on Veoh.com

I do. But see, there’s this little track gig that has been getting some buzz recently, and it’s starting to be an issue. Things have gone extremely well for Anderson away from the football field, so much so that he actually has Beijing aspirations. Are they realistic? Check out the KXLY video:

Now, being a complete track moron, I had no idea that it is still such a long climb to Beijing for him. I knew he has had a strong year in the NCAA level, but it’s really only the beginning. Cougfan had a premium story last week about Anderson and the odds that he faces for Olympic glory as a youngster. But in a nutshell, he’s headed to the US juniors, where he must finish in the top two in the 400m hurdles. If that happens, he advances to the US World Juniors. But the road doesn’t end there. Then he must do well enough to actually get to the Olympic Trials, and of course, do well enough THERE to actually make the Olympic team. I don’t know, I mean I wouldn’t put it past him that he could make it. As assistant track coach Mark McDonald says in the KXLY article, for him to be doing what he’s doing as a frosh is really remarkable. He is a world-class hurdler, that cannot be denied. But at this point, it is probably a long shot that he’ll be on the Olympic team for 2008.

I think the bigger concern from a football angle is what his future holds beyond just this year. There is big money one can earn going pro in the track-n-field circuit, and someone with Anderson’s ability, it has to be tempting.

ON THE FIELD in 2008, Anderson could be a real factor in the passing game. When you consider that Bumpus, Jed Collins and Charles Dillon have all left the building, along with their combined 159 catches from last year, the door is wide open for Anderson to have a big role this year. You can picture him lining up on the opposite WR spot from Gibson and becoming the top home-run threat on the outside. If teams choose to roll safety coverage towards Gibson in hopes of slowing him down, that could mean a ton of one-on-one situations with Anderson. With his speed, you have to like the odds of him blowing by many #2 corners in the Pac-10, as you know the top cover guy for every team we play will have the task of slowing down Gibson. You LIKE them apples??