Archive for the ‘Kevin Kooyman’ Category

Longball’s Afternoon Practice Report

August 14, 2009

Hello again everyone. I’m a little late getting you my notes from afternoon practice so I apologize. I did see some interesting stuff and snapped a few pictures to share, so better late than never, here we go…

Under gray skies and occasional light showers the veterans had a spirited practice Thursday afternoon. I got to the practice field as the guys were just starting to trickle out of the locker room for stretches. I was anxious to see all this new beef I’d been hearing about. Honestly, we still look a little bit small for a PAC-10 team, but if you look closely there is a difference from last season and even the Spring. Notably Kevin Kooyman stood out immediately. He’s always been a bit of a string bean, but no more. By far the biggest difference between the team I saw today and the team I saw last summer was way, WAY fewer guys sitting out practice. Last year it seemed there were more guys loafing around in those walking boots then actually practicing. Today I only saw one…

That is wide receiver Johnny Forzani. He is an intriguing prospect coming out of the Calgary Stampeders youth organization (Canadian teams have those I guess?) and is supposed to be quite the speedster. As you can see he wasn’t moving too fast today. Apparently this is nothing major, just soreness in a surgically repaired foot. They were also being cautious and resting a couple other guys who had off season surgeries including Bernard Wolfgramm and Myron Beck, but for the most part everyone was participating. What a difference a year makes.

Read on for more….

As you may have heard, two true freshman have been participating in afternoon practice with the veterans. Gino Simone, the all world receiver from Skyline and Travis Long, the man-child defensive end from Gonzaga Prep were both on hand. Here is Gino (1) stretching before practice with NCAA 400 meter hurdle national champ, Jeshua Anderson (85).

One player who returned to practice today after sitting out yesterday with a hip pointer was Apple cup hero Jared Karstetter (84), seen here with Kevin Lopina (9).

I’m not sure if it was a last minute decision, but when he ran onto the field the receivers and QB’s got excited, welcoming him back with a burst of applause.

It was clear watching the offense go through their plays that they have a much better grasp of things than they did at this time last year. Last summer the coaches spent a lot of time shoving guys into the right places, basically directing traffic, but this year, with the notable exception of Simone who is still learning the formations, everything was much more fluid. Most of what I saw from the coaches was fine tuning and pushing the tempo. If you’re like me, you were probably frustrated by the pedestrian pace of our no-huddle offense last year (the few games we actually ran it). But I’m hopeful from what I saw Thursday afternoon that we’ll be able to step up the pace a bit more.

You may have gotten the idea from some of my posts and comments that I am a big fan of Joe Eppele. When you see this team in person, he is without a doubt the biggest, strongest looking guy we have and I was excited to see him in the mix for a starting spot this year. Here is big #67, who doesn’t look to carry an ounce of body fat on his over 300 lb frame.

I took this picture to show how much he stood out amongst the other hosses on the team, but depth perception and my photography skills being what they are, you may be asking… who is #75? He looks like a behemuth! Well he is. That is redshirt frosh Tyson Pencer, who like Eppele, hails from British Columbia and is one of the growing number of guys who make us look like a PAC-10 football team.

In the picture above you see the coaches have laid foam pads about 3 yards apart on the turf. This set up was for a drill that was my favorite part of the day. As Vince highlighted in his report, this is a drill borrowed from Bud Wilkinson of Oklahoma. An offensive lineman and defender faced each other between the pads with a QB and/or running back behind the O lineman. The idea was for the O lineman to open a hole for the running back to get around the defender within the tight confines between the pads. Basically, it was demolition derby.

There were some big collisions, the most notable I saw was when Joe Eppele lined up against Andy Mattingly. It was a pretty one sided affair as Eppele completely bulldozed Mattingly to an explosion of cheers from his cohorts on the offense. Also of note was true frosh Travis Long completely blowing up the O linemen he was up against and the running back in a single big hit. It is easy to see why this young man may see the field right away!

The other big moment of the afternoon was a long touchdown run in scrimmage from Logwone Mitz. He made a great cut when a hole opened off tackle left and was through it like a laser and out in the open where no one would catch him. As Grippi noted he got some nice blocks from his receivers, but from my vantage point all I could see was pure explosiveness. He looked like Shaumbe in the snow. Know what I mean, Coug fans?

Well that is all I have for now. I have a lot more I want to see and share with you in the coming days so stay tuned to this station and I’ll be back with more. Until then…


The Magnificent Front Seven? Or Something Else Entirely?

July 28, 2009

Time to glance at the defensive front of our beloved Cougs. But instead of doing just the D-line or just the linebackers, I thought what the heck, do the entire front seven. And for good reason, I guess. I mean really, both sets of positions rely heavily on each other for success. The linebackers rely on the defensive line to plug up holes and/or occupy blockers long enough to fly to the ball and make plays. And the d-line, if they do their job? They still need competent, strong-tackling linebackers who are capable of getting to the ball and making the play. Both positions need each other, and together they complete the heart of any defense. They are almost one with each other, one feeding off the other’s success. But will it be a “Magnificent Seven” up front? Or something else entirely?? Let’s see…

First of all, it better be said now, and let’s just get this out of the way – the defense was abysmal last year. I mean how else do you explain the 43.9 points per game allowed, 118th in the country? The 247.6 rushing yards per game allowed, 119th in the country? Hey, passing defense wasn’t too bad, at 195.8 yards per game allowed, or 44th in the country. But let’s be honest, I mean the team was buried so deep and so early that many games saw teams doing nothing but student-body-right/student-body-left for half of their possessions. USC even took a knee at the 15-yard line of WSU before the half…..things were THAT bad.

I don’t think any Coug fan who watched them all season would argue against that statement, and many inside the WSU program would probably agree. Of course there were many circumstances as to why they were so bad, such as a madly ineffective offense, injuries, suspensions, blah blah BLEH! The list is too long to accurately point out every single thing that was wrong, so, you get the gist. In a nutshell, what could go wrong, did go wrong in ’08.

So let’s get to it. We’ll start from the inside out, meaning defensive tackles, defensive ends, and then the linebackers.

D-tackle rotation:
Some starting combo of Bernard Wolfgramm, Toby Turpin and Josh Luapo. If Wolfgramm is healthy, he will start alongside Turpin to form a thick, talented interior. Wolfgramm is pushing 290 lbs on his 6-3 frame, while Turpin checks in at 6-4, 285. The buzz from last year was that Wolfgramm was the best defensive lineman on the team, and Turpin wasn’t far behind. But even as injuries and other off-the-field issues hurt last year’s defensive line, Wulff resisted the urge to burn Wolfgramm’s redshirt. And now that move, hopefully, will pay off!

Other unknown or relatively unproven backups are (potentially) Dan Spitz, Justin Clayton and Anthony Laurenzi.

D-Tackle analysis: Starting to see a little depth develop here. Contrast these guys with what you saw for most of ’08, and it’s a whole different world inside. Wolfgramm redshirted, and Luapo didn’t even enroll until January of ’09, following the gray shirt route. And Turpin came on strong at the end of the year, but he didn’t really play until the last month of the season.

All that said, ’09 could still see this group as not-yet-ready for prime time. While Wolfgramm redshirted last year, and it’s great that he did so well and all that. But we’re talking about practice. PRACTICE!

Seriously though, he still hasn’t had a snap of PAC-10 football. And he had a balky shoulder that kept him out for some action this spring, so who knows what kind of shape he’ll be in by the opener. I know I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for how he does in August camp. While Luapo is big and all that, a fire-hydrant type at 6-0, 325 lb, like Wolfgramm, he hasn’t seen any PAC-10 action either.

Defensive Ends: Kevin Kooyman and Jesse Feagin are projected starters.

Defensive end analysis: Hmmm. Well, we like Kooyman. He has had some injury issues over the years, and started seven games last year. Kooyman is good-sized at 6-6, around 250, but isn’t exactly hell on wheels in terms of getting up field and rushing the passer. He is more of your all-around type of defensive end who isn’t a huge playmaker, with 31 tackles and one sack last year. It’s hard to believe he’s already a senior isn’t it? His career has absolutely flown by. He was regarded as one of the top recruits in the state when he came on board under Doba and company, regarded as a good guy, and last year, there was considerable buzz that he was set for a big ’08 season. It just never happened. He is the undisputed leader up front this season, and here’s hoping he goes out with a bang in ’09.

Feagin is another interesting case. Reportedly adding 16 lbs of muscle in the off-season, now near 270 lbs, he could make an impact right away. There is always some speculation that with the added weight, he could slide inside on passing/nickel situations, as a smaller pass-rushing defensive tackle. But it’s likely he’ll be at the top of the depth chart, opposite Kooyman as a starting defensive end. Feagin, like Kooyman, is also a senior. He played sparingly as a JC transfer in ’07, just three tackles in nine total games, and then missed last year due to academics. We’ve heard good things about Feagin over the last two+ years, so now we will find out what he’s really got in the tank.

As for backups, I would speculate heading into camp that Casey Hamlett, the transfer from Western, and Adam Coerper, the redshirt frosh who was the scout team defensive player of the year last year, will be the first d-ends off the bench. Hamlett was profiled in the spring as to opening some eyes with his high-energy approach. The opportunity is right there in front of him, and to go from playing at Western WA to being a regular in the defensive end rotation on a BCS school in one year has to get his heart racing! Coerper, meanwhile, is another kid on the rise, a youngster who has drawn praise since he arrived in Pullman. One of those nice, athletic frames at 6-4, 250, in the versatile mold who could play tight end or defensive end, the redshirt frosh has a real shot at regular playing time.

For a real young sleeper/long shot for ’09, Travis Long must get mentioned here. Long was one of the top recruits signed in February, and while he hasn’t yet put on the pads, there are some that believe he could see action as a true frosh. Long is, yet again, another one of those tall (6-4), athletic build-type kids at 245 pounds who can play tight-end or defensive end. He projects more at defensive end at this level, so, it’s at least possible he’ll open enough eyes in August to potentially get on the field in September.

Sadly, this is where we must mention Cory Mackay. Mackay had a big spring on the field, and was looking like he was headed for a lot of PT this fall. Then the terrible car accident a few months ago, and his life has changed for the foreseeable future. I would encourage you all to go check out the Cory Mackay fund group at Facebook, which has now grown to over 1500 members. They have done some good fund-raisers, such as car washes and even a hair-cutting service for donations, and the news has been positive there. Still, he has a long road ahead, so all our thoughts and prayers go out to Cory Mackay and family.

OK, that’s it for the d-line. Now, the linebackers.

Starters: You can book Andy Mattingly at strongside linebacker and Louis Bland at the weakside position, provided they are healthy? Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Mike Ledgerwood will battle for the inside. As for backups, we would do a lot worse than Myron Beck. Nine starts last year at strongside backer, now pushed to backup status with the Mattingly move back from defensive end. Hallston Higgins is in there as well, likely backing up Bland at the weakside.

Mattingly on one side and Bland on the other could be one of the best OLB tandems in recent times for the Cougs. They are both recognized as two of the best players on the defense, and it will be interesting to say the least at the idea of seeing them both starting from day one. However, injuries area already an issue here, as Cougfan broke a story the other day that said Bland is still nursing a bum knee, to the point that it could cause him to miss the season opener (damn). And Mattingly missed time this spring, and now has a lot to prove as he moves back to linebacker after a failed move to defensive end last year.

This is it for Mattingly, a player two years ago some pegged as a can’t miss star at linebacker. I include myself in that group who thought he was going to be the “real thing”, but last year was a loss on many levels. They finally moved him back to linebacker at the tail end of the season, and the defense overall did perform better vs. ASU, UW and Hawaii to close out ’08. Most of all, Mattingly simply looked more comfortable, almost like going home again, and should have a nice finishing kick to his up-and-down career at the strong-side position. Bland, if he can keep that knee right, looks like an absolute player on the rise. Sized like a strong safety at 5-10, 205, Bland has the heart of a lion and hits like a truck. 55 tackles, nine for loss as a true frosh last year in nine starts had him on some frosh All-American teams. The kid is a real bulldog and should be a strong leader for years to come.

The youthful match-up at middle linebacker is going to be something to watch. Mike Ledgerwood played in 10 games last year, and logged 14 tackles with 2.5 for loss in limited time behind Greg Trent. We like the looks of Ledgerwood, a solid 6-0, 225, and appears to be another young player on the rise. But Hoffman-Ellis is going to give him everything he can handle inside. The JC transfer who arrived last year, he and Ledgerwood are going to be in for a real fight for the honor in replacing Greg Trent in the middle.

As for some younger breakthroughs, it’s hard to say. Maybe a super-strong Darren Markle will emerge in the middle? Markle is a high school weight-lifting legend, with a 605-lb squat video making the Youtube rounds. 605 lbs!?!? That’s ridiculous strength. I would imagine trying to move him out of the middle is akin to trying to take down the Martin Stadium goal posts, complete with cement reinforcements. Good luck.

It is a younger group of linebackers, no question, and losing Greg Trent, Cory Evans and Kendrick Dunn thins out the depth. But if they can stay relatively healthy, they will be fine. And of course, the better the play is in front of them along the line, the better this group will do overall.

As an overall, I would say this group of front seven is in much better shape than last year. In ’08, they were too young, too light, and too few in numbers to compete against BCS talent. While six of the top eight projected in the two-deeps at defensive line are new faces for ’09, normally that isn’t a recipe for success. But I think this is a unique situation. Last year they had lost Andy Roof before the season started, so backups like Matt Eichelberger were thrust to the forefront. The personnel just wasn’t up to the challenge. Now, there is talent that is new, sure, but still it’s talent that has been on campus and in the system for a full season up until now. Bernard Wolfgramm, Jesse Feagin, both guys who should start, both guys who red-shirted last year, both older guys who have had that initial year to get used to everything. So while they are new, they aren’t exactly nervous true frosh who are overmatched from the beginning.

The best news around is that Wulff continues to recruit the big, lean frames out of high school and then have them grow and mature in the strength program, some of whom will ultimately end up on defense. It’s the old Mike Price philosophy – recruit speed and athleticism on defense, and let them develop and grow up in the program. And build it for speed, from the “outside-in”. So safeties become outside linebackers, outside linebackers become middle linebackers, middle linebackers become defensive ends, and defensive ends move inside to defensive tackle. All in a natural progression as their bodies add strength and “the right kind of weight”.

The downside to this approach, well, it’s a strategy for the long haul, not the quick fix. No 6-4, 325-lb SEC-style behemoths are walking through the Bohler Gym doors, ready to start from the day they arrive. Obviously Josh Luapo is the exception to this rule. But fear not. This developmental approach will start to bear fruit, and I bet we start seeing some of the changes this year, but really witness the evolution in 2010. Just not yet.

At linebacker, the loss of Trent and all those tackles will hurt. But moving Andy Mattingly back there gives the defense an entirely different personality. He is their big, experienced playmaker who gave the defense some extra energy when he first started getting regular PT over the last half of 2007. And it will be great to see Louis Bland take the field after his initial learning season is now out of the way. Instead of trying to survive, now we can see him attack and lead a little bit more?

Most of all, both units are going to need the other to up their game in ’09. The defensive line is going to have to do a better job of putting pressure on the opponent’s passing game by applying a consistent rush, and of course, plug up holes and occupy some space up front. But that’s just half the battle. The linebackers are going to have to play fast and physical, and take advantage of what the defensive line can give them, which is an opportunity to make plays.

So, will it work? Is the front seven in better shape in ’09 vs. last year? Can they not just survive, but thrive? What do YOU think?

That’s it for now. Enjoy your morning, and as always, GO COUGS!

Did EA Deliver the Goods?

July 15, 2009

I know, more video game “dorkus-melorkus” alerts. But yesterday is a bit of a landmark day around the country for NCAA fans, as EA Sports shipped out the latest incarnation of their college football experience. And lo and behold, the game was sitting on the doorstep when I got home from work last night. Cool.

As a Coug fan, what else could I do but pop it in the X-Box 360 and give it a go with WSU? So I immediately went in and chose Stanford at WSU, the Cougs’ season opener this year.

First off, as you can see, they more or less missed on some key spots of Martin Stadium. Namely the renovation, yeah, it didn’t make it. No new stadium entrance sign, no new facilities along Stadium Way, no new scoreboard, no new CUB addition. Basically nothing new whatsoever from last year. And hey, the big white banner is back! Wasn’t that ripped off in, like, 2005?? For whatever reason, the stadium is a version from a couple of years ago.

That said, I’m not too nit-picky. It’s still nice to look at, and they did a good job. The overall experience did feel like you were watching a game in Pullman. The lighting in the game with the sun and clouds and shadows is really dynamic. But maybe next year for little ‘ol Martin Stadium?

The game itself is alright. It’s not the greatest game ever, but it’s still entertaining. They introduced new camera angles this year so you can see more of the field, so that’s cool. There are some new animations with catching and throwing. I even had some plays in the rain where wide receivers slipped running routes. My QB even slipped as he was going back to pass, and had to put his hand down to avoid falling to the ground.

I know uniforms are always a good topic, and this year EA lets you mix-n-match. This should stop the bitching from the fans who complain that they “didn’t get the fourth alternate version of our road uni’s in the game! LAZY EA PROGRAMMERS!” Now, I’m not as hardcore as some others out there, who spend hours ripping EA Sports for not giving teams their correct shoe-and-sock combination. I just like to pick up and play the thing, that’s all.

It’s not all good however. As always, there are some issues with this year’s game, including some woefully out-of-date rosters that shipped on the disc and a big problem with the defensive pass-rush, or lack thereof. But I haven’t spent any time with it to really know. I do know that my Coug offensive line had a hell of a time trying to block Stanford, and both Kevin Lopina and Marshall Lobbestael took some wicked-hard shots from their defensive line. Pass rush seemed fine to me!

Erin Andrews is in the game this year! Suh-weet! She hosts some game mode called “Road to Glory”…..uh, yeah.

She also pops up in-game for her ever-informational sideline reports, such as player injuries.

Works for me.

Oh, and yep, the Cougs are pretty much awful in the game. EA rates them I think around 111 in the country or some God-awful rating like that? Yeesh. Oh, I did have one cool play, a long kickoff return that nearly went for six. Check out the video highlight after the jump….

EA Sports: NCAA Football 10 Video

He could…go…all…the….nope, didn’t make it. Of course, the offense would stall and I was forced to kick a field goal. And what are the cheerleaders looking at?? We know you are all about entertaining the crowd, but TURN AROUND! The game is RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!

Finally, we’ll use NCAA 10 to simulate the upcoming season. Each week we’ll have the Cougs square off against their opponent, and we’ll report back on the results, including photos and video. Sound good?

Moving on, Grippi at the Spokesman dragged out the screen and slide projector to share his summer vacation with the Cougar Nation. Pretty cool experiences overall. I missed the part where he says he saw Transformers and Star Trek about 100 times, but that’s for him to tell?

There’s another new diary at Cougfan, this time by senior defensive end Kevin Kooyman. It’s a pretty good read, detailing the hard work in the weight room and some highlights in skeleton drills.

But he also took questions from the masses, including this one:

Response to SelahCoug: The d-tackles are looking very good. I think we’re going to see a lot from Toby Turpin, who is nearly 300 pounds now, and Bernard Wolfgramm, who is coming back strong after his injury. We are going to have good size and speed across the entire d-line this year. We fully expect a dramatic change in how the d-line plays this year.

SelahCoug? We’ve got a SelahCoug who posts here. HAS to be the same guy?? But seriously, I like the sound of the d-tackles looking good. You can feel that Toby Turpin could have a real breakthrough season, but I really like hearing Bernard Wolfgramm is coming back strong after his injuries. There may not be a more important position on the field that needed improvement than the defensive front, and any tidbit of good news is GOLD BABY, GOLD!

Teddy “Football” Miller weighed in on his “Don’t Be Surprised…” series with WSU. And his quote in bold pretty much says it all:

Don’t be surprised if …Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk, no matter what happens this season, remains optimistic that coach Paul Wulff is going to turn things around.

The only thing we could argue there is that IF it’s more of 66-3-type performances? Even Sterk will let some air out of the Wulff balloon. Would anyone remain optimistic no matter what happens this season? We’re understanding of the situation and trying to be patient, but optimism will wane big-time if it’s 2008 all over again.

That’s it for a Wednesday. Enjoy it, and as always, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FOR WASHINGTON STATE!

Is the 3-4 the WSU Defense of 2009?

November 11, 2008

So the three-man line got a lot of ink from Saturday’s game. Basically some injuries had cut down Andy Mattingly and Kevin Kooyman, and with the continued ineffectiveness of Matt Eichelberger, well, the lads up front were awfully thin. Factor in the loss of d-end Mike Graise for missing practices and workouts? They were basically down to FOUR healthy defensive linemen against Arizona. Not good, not good at all. As Wulff said in the Times:

“We got to a point where we’re so thin where we can’t even line up four players that have a legitimate amount of experience at all on the defensive line,” Wulff said. “So if you go to a three-down-line look, it at least helps us there and gives us at least an extra backup that we wouldn’t have in a four-down-line look.”

And at least they aren’t burning redshirts on the likes of Bernard Wolfgramm to shore up the weakness. This is such a lost year, that to do something like that would be foolish….almost Willingham-like in it’s ineptness….

But I think it begs a bigger question. Is the three-four for WSU here to stay? Given the way college football offenses have evolved, and the overall lack of depth that this program has had for a long time now on the defensive line, wouldn’t it be a good idea to just go to a 3-4, or, even, a 3-3-5!?!

For some background, yes, we have tinkered with the 3-4 from time to time. Remember down the stretch of the 2006 season? With injuries destroying that team, and even Mkristo Bruce heroically playing on one good leg, losing Ropati Pitoitua, Aaron Johnson and A’i Ahmu just crippled the depth inside. They had no choice but to scrap the 4-3, and go with the 3-4 during the year-end fade.

It didn’t really work, and the reasons were many. It was a brand new scheme of course, as the defensive linemen had different gaps and responsibilities that go with a three-man front. But even the linebackers had to adjust to having an extra linebacker out there, and it was too late to plug the hole in the dam. But the other reason was, mainly, they just didn’t have the proper personnel to run it effectively.

While we loved Mkristo Bruce, he was a better pure pass rusher than a run-oriented defensive end. Too many times he faced double teams, and it just didn’t work out. He was at his best coming around the edge, one on one with a tackle. But the other side was much, much worse, where Lance Broadus, all 215 pounds of him, was the other end. He was basically engulfed by the opposing offensive line, so badly out of position that it was a disaster on his side of things. Not his fault, but the man simply wasn’t built for the 3-4. They just didn’t have the personnel to run something like that

To be successful in the 3-4, you have to have a legit nose tackle who can take up space and occupy blockers, and he has to be big. Why? Because on about 95% of all defensive plays in that 3-4 scheme, the nose tackle will be expected to take on the center AND a guard, all at the same time. But it’s not just the nose tackle who needs size and strength. The defensive ends need to be a little different style as well. They have to be much larger than your Isaac Brown/DD Acholonu mold, you know, the converted 225-lb linebackers who rush wide and up the field? You need defensive ends with some girth, at least in the 255-260 range in college, to hold up and handle their gaps.

All three of the defensive linemen have what is called two-gap responsibility. They are expected to hit the offensive linemen head on, and watch the play to make sure the running back doesn’t come through on either side of them. It’s almost a read-n-react defense as opposed to a one-gap scheme you often see in a 4-3, where the defensive linemen simply chooses a gap and shoots it at the snap.

But a 3-4 defensive lineman is also expected to hold their block so that the offensive linemen can’t get free and to seek out a linebacker. Simply put, the linemen play a more physical game as they are taking on one or two offensive linemen directly, play after play. And the glamour? Forget it. The 3-4 linemen aren’t your stat hounds in any way, shape or form (how many great defensive ends in the 3-4 make headlines?).

The big plus to a 3-4 are the linebackers. Basically two inside linebackers who you want in the 240-range and also with some athleticism. But the outside linebackers can be in that Louis Bland/Myron Beck mold, at least in the NCAA, and you can get away with having 210-215 lb speedsters on the outside. They can blitz from different angles, of course, but they are also on the outside as much as possible, able to use their speed out in space. And against the spread-style offenses of today, that asset of speed on the edges is CRUCIAL if you want to survive something like Oregon throws at you. You have speed like that outside, and it makes it all the more difficult for the QB to scramble or roll out effectively.

I look at how Cal has handled Oregon in recent times, and it’s really no coincidence that Bob Gregory, the Cal DC, has evolved the defense. Cal used to claim to be a 4-3 defense, but they consistently threw 3-man fronts at opposing teams. But today, they finally DO claim to be a true 3-4 team, and it has really done well against the one-back offenses you see so much of in the conference. Against the true spread, which is thriving today in the Big 12 and you now see Oregon and Arizona running versions of it every week, Cal has the scheme to deal with it.

Now, can this work for WSU next year? I think it can, and here’s why.

1) Andy Mattingly is already being talked about as moving back to linebacker for next year. Paul Wulff has mentioned this at least a month ago on his radio show, and it’s been highlighted in other articles over at least the last month. And Andy Mattingly, we remember, was a 90-tackle, eight-sack guy as a linebacker in 2007. With Greg Trent, Cory Evans and Ken Dunn all graduating next year, the need for a linebacker with experience will be gigantic. Mattingly could slide right into an inside linebacker spot next year, with his 251 pounds a perfect fit back there.

2) The other inside linebacker might be a bit of a reach, but Mike Ledgerwood has played well this year as a true frosh backup to Greg Trent in the middle. But weight is an issue, as he’s only 215 pounds.

I would think he would need to get to AT LEAST 225 to handle it, but it’s possible. Marshall Pirtz is also an option, at 6-0, 231, but Pirtz may not even be a linebacker anymore, potentially moving to running back. We’ll see what happens there.

3) The outside linebackers might be the perfect fit. In reality, both Myron Beck and Louis Bland started out as safeties anyway, both in the 205-210 range in weight. Give both guys another year of putting on weight, and they could be 215-220 next season while maintaining their quickness and speed, with the ability to be stout against the run yet able to get out on the edges and make plays.

4) The defensive line might be much better suited for this defense as soon as next year. Toby Turpin is already 6-6, 280, and with another 10 pounds or so he could be just fine as a nose tackle. He started at NT vs. Arizona, so who knows what he might do. Add in Kevin Kooyman at one end, where he’s already around 250 pounds, and he could be just fine. The other end is interesting in that the top recruit from 2008, Bernard Wolfgramm, will be ready to play.

He’s already 6-3, 275, and has a ton of experience as a defensive end from his JC days. Also, Josh Luapo will be enrolling in January, and he’ll likely be a 300-pounder by September next year. He could be a fit as a backup nose tackle.

The other angle to this is the lack of depth on the defensive line. It would be much easier to get by with 5-6 defensive linemen if you only have three on the field at once. But if you are running four of them out there every play, the depth gets that much thinner. Add in the usual injuries, etc, well, you get the picture.

Finally, the spread offense – we’re only going to see more and more of it as it continues to thrive. Already Oregon and Arizona have fine-tuned their attacks, but there will be others to follow suit. It’s just too successful, what’s happening in the Big 12, to ignore it anymore. If Gary Pinkel or Mike Leach get the UW job, there’s another team that will instantly be running the spread. And you can already see some wrinkles with it at Oregon State, where they run a ton of one-back, but love to do some read option where the WR goes in motion to take handoffs from the QB, and they do a lot of shotgun as well.

I would hope that they will seriously consider it for next year. Not only is it effective against the spread/multiple offenses, but if you have the right personnel to run it effectively, it could actually be a strength of the team. I’d love to see Andy Mattingly absolutely cut loose his senior year, blitzing from the linebacker spot next year instead of with a hand down as a defensive end. With the thin defensive line set to lose Matt Mullennix, A’i Ahmu and Matt Eichelberger next year, the lack of experienced linemen could be a big issue. Take one lineman off the field, and you can handle that lack of depth in a much more effective manner. And for once, we might actually have the correct personnel to get away with running the 3-4 at the college level, with some decent size at defensive ends and some real speed at the outside linebackers.

What do YOU think?? Should we go to a 3-4 next year? Or are we better off with the traditional 4-3?


Friday Wrap, Plus Your Comments Reviewed

August 22, 2008

Just eight days until kickoff?? Please tell me, where did this summer go? Unbelievable.

Some quick links to get your day started, and then it’s your turn. We’ll go over some of the top comments of the week.

Brandon Gibson is staring at his last season, and Howie Stalwick has a good, quick write-up of the senior star. I know it isn’t touched on a whole lot in this article, but there have been some loud-and-clear hints that this year, watch out for Gibson. Look for a lot of motion, look for him to get the ball on end-around handoffs, the whole deal. They are going to feature him in creative ways that we haven’t seen before, so, Gibson is a player to watch in the entire conference. I can’t wait until next to see what’s in store for 2008.

Maybe the top breakthrough performer for the 2008 defense? How about Kevin Kooyman? There’s been buzz about him that hasn’t let up, and now some reporters are starting to take notice. Our own Rooster had a personal encounter with him this spring and came away beyond impressed with the young guy. Ted Miller mentioned Kooyman a week or so ago on his blog, in that he’s a player he’s hearing a lot about when you hear about WSU, and now, the Bellingham Herald has a story about Kooyman. Brandon Gibson is on board that Kooyman is set to be that breakthrough guy at defensive end. While he hasn’t done a huge amount of stat-mongering yet, he did have 3.5 sacks last year in only two starts before injuries slowed him down. It sure would be nice to get some strong play on the other side of the line opposite Andy Mattingly. And if Mattingly does as well as many think he will, we could have one hell of a strong set of defensive ends! And I don’t just mean the starters either. Having Matt Mullennix back, as well as Mike Graise, with their experience, well, the ends could be the deepest unit on the defense this year.

Another day, more fantastic coverage out of Vince Grippi. This time he profiles the starting linebackers, and gives a thorough recap of Thursday’s action. Sounds like a pretty sloppy practice/scrimmage, and that we are looking like a M*A*S*H unit right now. Everyone is beat up in one for or another. I don’t want to have flashbacks to Bear Bryant’s hell-on-earth “Junction Boys” training camp where he damn near killed kids in an attempt to whip them in to shape, but it sounds like it has been a long, hot, tough month of August out on the Palouse.

Finally, time to look back at some of your comments of the week. Excellent feedback as usual, from all of you, but some warranted some extra-special attention.

First, the Uni Watch, Home Version, got a lot of excellent feedback.
anthony mcclanahan said…

Love the “Apple Cup” look too. That is the way to go forward PERIOD. The Crimson helmet has to go…it looks great sitting on the shelf but on the field with crimson pants we simply look like Arkansas…I seriously think that everytime I see us on the road.

Secondly and this goes to all uniforms for all team home and road. For god’s sake can we as a school define what color “Cougar Crimson” is going to be and stick to it. I would go so far as to have Sterk hire a “Quality Crimson Control” specialist who demands that all suppliers and licensees conform to one uniform color of Cougar Crimson.

Anyway…I say Cougar script helmets for all games (thankfully the grey logo helmets are retired…the logo just never “popped” on the silver helmets and it was a terrible look) Clean white jerseys with silver pants looks great on the road.

For the home look we COULD have the sweetest look ever. We have to go to a solid 2-color crimson/silver look. (Think Detroit Lions throwbacks with Crimson where the blue is)

1-Silver Cougar-script helmet
2-Crimson jersey with Silver, NOT WHITE numbers and maybe a small silver “Wazzu” or logo at the neck.
3-Solid Silver pants (crison logo okay)
4-Solid Crimson socks (all worn tucked into the pants
5-Black Shoes
6-NO WHITE Lettering or stripes anywhere on the uniform***
7-Only exception would be for an Crimson pants “All Crimson look” for MAXIMUM one game per year.

To picture this think almost of our practice uniforms…clean sharp.

All the best uniforms are TWO color designs that are clean and classy.
For Example
Michigan Home
Texas Road
Alabama Home
Penn State Home/Road
USC Home

We could look awesome at home and on the road and put the memories of the embarrassing/hideous 2-helmet Gesser-era bad stripey uniforms to bed forever. And by the way those “cougars” jerseys vs USC were the most Gawd-Awful ridiculous things I have ever seen. We should act lack a BCS team.

Michelle stopped by and “classed it up” around here, as usual.

My guess is when Nike “swooshes” (had to, sorry) in and designs our new unis, they will look nothing like we hope…

The Crimson helmets just don’t seem to go well with any color combo.

Millcreek, I agree. I love our cougarhead and I think we should wear that at home. I like the Jerome Harrison/Alex Brink look…but something about Gesser and Derting in all crimson gives me chills…Maybe it was how good we did those seasons.

And those special jerseys we brought out at the USC game were sick, like I wanted to vomit when I saw them. The only thing decent on them was the use of COUGARS.

Have a great Cougar day everyone

Woody weighed in on his take. Woody also has some sports apparel industry insight so his views are highly regarded.

As in previous posts here are my votes:

First Off Branding:
Uniforms and Logos should be about one thing and that is branding. They should be used to brand your program(s),school, even your “spirit/school pride” It is not just about money either. A singular/popular/recognizable brand identifies your program to Fans, Alums, Recruits, competitors, etc.
To have a dual look and change every year or so completely defeats that purpose. Your program is not then identifiable.
We already have one of the most recognizable logos in the country, we should be using that!

1. Helmets (home and away):
Silver with Cougar Logo.
I can live with the script, but the logo is what we should be using.

It really is no joke to say that the Cougar Logo is one of the most popular and recognizable college logos out there. (not just Cougs say that either) It is the one symbol that across the country people will and do look at and say that is the WSU Cougars.
To not use that logo with our main athletic program in my opinion would be crazy and not utilizing a huge moniker and already established asset.

2. Pants (home and away): The majority of the time silver! If you want to throw in a crimson pant here and there that is fine. But I would like to see the day when people are flipping the channel and see the silver pants and the silver helmet they know they are watching WSU.

3. Jerseys:
A. Home Crimson
B. White
Not much to add there.

4. Accents, Numbers and Lettering (oh my):
I am a traditionalists and would like to see as clean and concise as possible. But the fonts, and stripes and lettering on jerseys etc. changes with the trends. So, for a couple of years the stripes on the pants will be popular, and then maybe a cougar head on the pants will be cool after that.
As long as you have the foundation of the silver pants and helmets you can alter the accents with the times.

I am sure as time goes on we will have uber posts on the whole Nike situation, so I will hold off until then.

Go Cougs!


On the Gary Rogers – Alex Brink story that probably will always live in “what could have been” land…

’03 Couve Coug said:

It’s hard not to sit here and curse the former staff for not giving Rogers more time, especially if he struggles out of the gate. Rather than gnash my teeth over it, I’ll choose to chalk up any early season woes to trying to learn a new system. I’ll actually feel worse if Rogers comes out and sets the world on fire, because we will all have to wonder if Rogers could have helped things turn out differently the last couple of seasons. Then again, Brink put up huge numbers and was widely recognized as a team leader that had the respect of all of his teammates. Offense was rarely the problem the last couple of seasons compared to the lousy defenses and downright gawd-awful special teams, which Brink or Rogers could have done nothing about.

I guess that we can look back and be frustrated, or we can just be happy that we now have a coaching staff in place that doesn’t seem to feel the need to play favorites or continue starting a player because “he’s a senior, he’s put in the time.” I’m very happy to hear that Wulff and staff all say that the best players are going to play, regardless of age, experience, whatever. I’ll drink a frosty Busch Light to that! Here’s to better times ahead.

Finally, for a short trip down memory lane, “anonymouschimed in for a reference towards Don SASSSAAA….

Palouse Posse:
DE: Dwayne Patterson
DT: Don Sasa
DT: Chad Eaton
DE: Dwayne Sanders
LB: Ron Childs
LB: Mark Fields
LB: Chris Hayes
CB: Torey Hunter
S: Jon Rushing
S: Singor Mobley
CB: Greg Burns
NB: Brian Walker

After UW’s lone touchdown drive during the 94 AC Sasa moved to DE (as one of the dwayne’s was out) with freshman Leon Bender at Tackle. The Huskies didn’t score again.

What a defense. As someone pointed out, reserve d-end Todd Shaw started that 94 Apple Cup as a senior, and on the first drive UW strolled right down the field. After that, Bender was inserted, and as the Times headline would say the following day, “COLD COUGAR REALITY CHILLS UW“.

There are other comments this week that were very good, but we can’t list them all. Excellent feedback, as usual. Without your comments, this blog would die a slow, painful death. And it seems the moron “troll” took the week off…but we know he’s out there flexing his internet muscles.

HAPPY FRIDAY, and as always, GO COUGS!