Archive for the ‘Logwone Mitz’ Category

The Conference of… Running Backs?

August 12, 2009

Lets face it, it’s a down year in the Conference of Quarterbacks. There is talent, for sure, but up and down the conference there will be a conspicuous lack of experience lining up under center. However, the Pac-10 may just make up for it by temporarily becoming the Conference of Running Backs. In fact the conference is so stacked at this position that even the lowly Cougs have more talent in their backfield then they can really use, and our rivals across the state are going to line up their best running back at QB!

This year two of the very best running backs the conference (of running backs) has to offer will serve as bookends to our home campaign. On September 5th Stanford’s Toby Gerhart will provide a stiff early challenge for our rebuilding defense, and on November 21st, Jacquizz (“Quizz”) Rodgers will try to make a new highlight reel out of WSU’s Senior Day.

Quizz checks in at around 5’7″, 190 lbs, and while Gerhart is a more hearty 6’1″ 230, they will provide completely different challenges to our defense. But at the same time, they may provide an interesting measuring stick about how far our team has progressed, or lack thereof, as the season wears on.

It’s a little early to hit the panic button just yet, but It looks like Gerhart is going to face a Coug D that does not include Louis Bland. And by November 21st, who knows what other casualties will occur by the time Mr. Rodgers makes it to the Palouse. Either way, I look forward to seeing them both live and hope our guys can hold their own.

So where do the Cougs stand in this new-fangled “Conference of Running Backs”? Frankly, from a WSU perspective, it is the only position I feel downright giddy about going into the season. Having a talent like James Montgomery fall into our lap is enough to be excited about, but even without him the stable is plenty full. He joins a group that includes two other Cougs in particular that I’ll be rooting extra hard for this Fall.

Logwone Mitz

Arguably one of the great Cougar names of all time. I guarantee if all the potential this kid has comes to the surface over the course of his career, you will hear that name a lot more around Pullman. People will name their pets, boats, guns and first born sons Logwone. I have some first-hand knowledge that Logwone is a class act off the field, a consciensous student, nice guy and one of the many players we can be proud to have on our roster. Players like Mitz don’t seem to get enough attention these days. His Apple Cup run has already won him a small place in Cougar lore, but I look for him to give us many more memorable runs over the next couple years. Just stay healthy big fella!

Dwight Tardy

Tardy gets my vote for our current spiritual leader of this team. The senior has been through all the upheaval around the program and has been a steady performer and leader through it all. He is another kid we can be proud to have wearing Crimson. He has never been overly spectacular nor a particularly flashy player. I always considered him “serviceable” while we waited for younger talents like Chris Ivory or DeMaundray Woolridge to develop, if not take over the position entirely. But, alas, many of the challengers are gone, and it is Tardy who is still standing. It looks to be a showdown between Tardy and James Montgomery for the honor of handling that first hand-off on Sept. 5th. I’ll be watching this battle closely during Fall camp, but I have to admit, Dwight Tardy is my sentimental favorite to win the job.

So tell me, Cougar Nation… who are your sentimental favorites this fall? If there are any position battles you are especially interested in let me know in the comments. In the coming days ahead I will be taking in fall practices, and I’ll report back on how I see things shaking out. And on that note? It’s a shame I wasn’t able to make it to camp today. Apparently I missed seeing a few spirited altercations (FIVE fights!?! Really???) that make the first days of contact so exciting.

On a side note, has anyone else noted a bit of a change in Sir Vincent Grippi this year? He seems to be shedding his impenetrable veneer of objectivity and becoming a bit of a, dare I say… “fan” of whats happening with this team? Or maybe its just me?

Hang in there everyone, it’s almost Cougar Football Saturday! Remember, I’ll be checking out some practices in the next few days, so tip me off in comments if there is anyone or anything in particular to watch out for.

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Who’s Carrying the Mail?

July 10, 2009

First off, a hearty WELCOME BACK to Sir Vincent Grippi, the best of the best Coug sportswriter in these here parts! Grippi has returned from a several-week hiatus, back to provide the fantastic coverage in ways only a champion can do. As many folks have already commented on the Spokesman-Review site, he’s a welcome sight for these sore eyes….

And in the usual fashion, back from vacation and some big news breaks. You probably heard already, but WSU’s budget information is making the rounds as of yesterday afternoon, and guess what? Per Sir Grippi, it ain’t bad. The gist: No sports have been cut, as all 17 men’s and women’s programs will continue to soldier on. But still, when you are dealing with nearly a million in revenue shortfall, you aren’t going to get off totally unscathed:

The athletic department, according to Sterk, had already instituted cost-cutting measures – “We’ve got a hit list about a page long of things we’ve done,” he said – and those will continue. They include leaving open positions unfilled, cutting back on travel for international recruiting and professional development, using ground transportation to competitions within 400 miles of Pullman (including Seattle football games), limiting the number of athletic publications and possibly cutting travel-squad sizes.

All sound, responsible decisions in these tough times. But you know what? Even in tough times like these, it’s those who have been fiscally responsible all along who will survive. And WSU is no stranger to being responsible, per the article from the AP in late June. We are used to doing more with less, so this shouldn’t be THAT big of a deal??

Moving on, we continue to look at the state of our Cougs on a position-by-position basis. Earlier in the week it was the QB’s. Today, it’s running back. Who’s going to carry the mail in ’09? Will someone emerge from what looks like it could be a crowded backfield? Or will it be a by-committee approach, where everyone will get a chance to do some heavy lifting? Let’s take a look-see….

First of all, we would be remiss if we didn’t look back at the running game from last year. And in 2008, it wasn’t pretty. As in 95.1 yards per game, good for a measly 110th in the country in rushing yards. And in those 95.1 yards per game, they averaged just 2.7 yards per carry.

Not good is it? Generally you want at least three yards per carry (three yards and a cloud of dust?), but something closer to four would be nice.

That said, in a weird way 2008 wasn’t all that bad in that there was some depth that emerged at the position. Dwight Tardy led the team in carries (133) and yards (481), but still averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. But the numbers overall for Tardy were down across the board compared to his pre-knee injury days in ’07. In that year, Tardy had 676 yards and 6 TD’s, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, before going down in the 8th game vs. UCLA. That 3.6 yards per carry is over a full yard less per touch compared to ’07. And looking back to ’06, Tardy logged 667 yards and four TD’s on 4.6 yards per carry.

So ’08 was definitely a down year across the board for Dwight.

So, was his downturn in performance related to the knee injury? It’s hard to say. I think it’s reasonable to look at his performance at times last year and wonder if he had lost some of his explosiveness. But at the same time, there were moments where he ran extremely hard. He had 75 tough yards vs. UW, and the following week vs. Hawaii averaged 4.1 yards per carry, scoring the only TD of the game for the Cougs. But it also must be said that the offensive line woes contributed mightily to the situation. The O-line was a jumbled mess through the first several games of ’08, where the same lineup didn’t start consecutive games until well into the latter part of the schedule. Such a lack of continuity made the running game suffer, heck, the entire offense suffered last year and a lot of the blame can be placed on the “fluid” situation up front. But that’s a post for another day….

The bright spot? Logwone Mitz. The kid is one physical dude, a bruising package at 6-1, 225. And who can forget his huge 57-yard TD run vs. UW in the third quarter of the Apple Cup, a play that seemed to lift the entire team in the second half?

While Mitz was second to Tardy in carries (90) and yards (441), he did tie for the team lead in TD’s with three. But the most impressive thing about Mitz? His yards-per-carry came in at nearly FIVE per touch (4.9). So even just sharing the load, in his physical style of play, he still was effective in moving the pile. Impressive stuff from a redshirt frosh, and a necessary ingredient for a balanced, effective running game. Flash-n-dash is nice, but man, you gotta convert those short yardage situations. Mitz is the lunchpail and hardhat type, unafraid to get a little dirt under his nails during a hard day’s work. Yes, WE LIKE MITZ around here!

The wild-card, without a doubt, is James Montgomery. The heralded transfer from Cal, Montgomery was a Parade All-American in high school, where he ran for over 4900 yards and 82 td’s. Rivals.com had him as the 14th-best running back coming out in ’06, and after a redshirt year, he played in every game for Cal in ’07.

Now after sitting out ’08 due to transfer rules, the junior-to-be is ready for action. More of a home-run big-play type compared to Mitz and Tardy, Monty will be right in line for plenty of carries this fall.

Yes, there are others in the mix, like Chris Ivory and Chantz Staden. But right now, it’s clear that the position is all about Tardy, Mitz and Montgomery. Per the spring depth chart, Tardy was listed as the starter, while Mitz and Montgomery were backups. But I think we can all agree that those three guys bring something a little different to the table. And, no matter who prevails as the starter vs. Stanford 9/5, you can bet that all three are going to get significant opportunities for touches.

So what do YOU think? Does Tardy get the starting nod, based on his experience as the senior returner? Should Mitz get more looks as the feature guy, and not so much the short-yardage type? Or, is it time to hand the keys to arguably the most talented offensive skill position player on the roster in James Montgomery and see what happens? Let’s get your takes on what could be the deepest, most productive position on the ’09 Cougar offense!

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

Rumor: Chris Ivory to Return for Senior Year?

January 12, 2009

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

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

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


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

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

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

ENJOY your Monday, and as always, GO COUGS!

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Fourteen

November 25, 2008

A light-hearted radio show last night, as you could probably imagine. I’ll keep it brief and to the point, at least I’ll try to. Here we go:

  • Right out of the chute, of course, they talked about the feeling of winning the Apple Cup. Wulff said it was simply a “great day for everyone” and that he was so happy that they found a way to win the game. It wasn’t pretty but they found a way. Wulff said it was great for the fans and that they deserved to celebrate when you consider all they have been through this year, and he thanked them for their patience. But he was especially happy for his seniors. All they had been through in their career and then this season, to go out and win their last home game vs. UW is very special, and a moment that will live with them for the rest of their lives.
  • Bud asked him about the dance, compared by some to the Tommy Lasorda dance when Kirk Gibson hit that famous home run. Wulff said he honestly couldn’t remember what he did at that moment, and that he doubts he could re-create it! All he cared about was getting to the middle of the field to get to his players, and it was just a blur.
  • Wulff was asked about Hawaii this week. Wulff said that they are extremely tough at home, one of the best home field advantages around and they get up for BCS opponents. He said sometimes you feel like you are already down 14 points before you even take the field against them at Hawaii. But he said he is excited to see how his players handle it. He especially wants to see how his young players bounce back after such an emotional win, and that no matter what, it will be a good lesson for his young players. However it’s NOT like a bowl game to them. They are not getting there until mid-day Thursday, so they will literally have one day, and then it’s Saturday. They are approaching it as a business trip, and they are going to play a good game.
  • A caller asked about the progress the team has made lately, and suggested they watch tape of the Cal game, and then watch tape of the UW game to compare the efforts. Wulff said without question, as a staff they have felt that they were playing better. He stressed again that the scoreboard hadn’t been showing it lately, but there were areas that they were coming along. It’s hard to see it when the end-results have been so poor, but they finally took a step last week.
  • A caller asked about Jeshua Anderson’s chest injury, and noted that he seemed to stay in a few plays after it happened and didn’t look very good. Wulff said that Anderson thought he could shake off the injury and tried to play through it, but he just couldn’t and had to leave the game. They will re-evaluate him this week. The caller also asked about getting another QB for this year’s recruiting class. Wulff said right now they have one verbal commit at QB (he didn’t name him but it’s Jeff Tuel, a 3-star QB from Fresno). Wulff did mention that they MIGHT look at another QB for this class, but they have so many areas they want to address with their scholarships that they will likely just take one.
  • A caller asked why the PAC-10 has destroyed the tradition of rivalry week at the end of the season, and noted that all those games are now spread out over multiple weeks. Wulff said he agreed and wished it was like it used to be, and then hinted that something might be in the works? One thought was that the PAC-10 would move all the rivalry week games to the week of “championship week”, when the BIG 12 and SEC have their title games. Jim Sterk was in the room and Bud yelled out “what’s the deal Jim?” and Sterk just kind of shrugged and said “no comment”. Maybe the cat is out of the bag? Anyway, they also mentioned that the WSU 2009 schedule hasn’t been released or finalized in any way, so there might be some movement there.
  • A caller asked about the offensive line for next year, and how they are looking. Wulff said he was pleased with how the youth has played this year, thrown to the fire so to speak, and they are looking better and better. But he also pointed out that they only have ONE senior in their entire 12-man offensive line rotation, so 11 out of 12 will all be back next year. They also have some young players redshirting right now that they are really high on who will step right into the mix next year (Zach Williams?). Personally I’m excited to see how that o-line looks next year with another off-season of lifting and eating right, and a season of game experience under their belts. They might really take a big step next year.
  • The same caller asked about Gary Rogers and his attempt at a medical redshirt. Wulff said that Rogers has applied for it, but they really won’t know until this spring if they allow it. They really don’t know how it will go, but Wulff said he believes right now that it’s a long shot at best. The rule is that if you lost two full seasons due to injury, you could apply for that sixth year, but that isn’t exactly the case with Rogers. We’ll see. On a side note, Jake Locker applied already for an extra year of playing time and UW sources said he was denied the extra year, based on the fact that he played a full month of this season, plus his other year he missed was due to a redshirt, not an injury.


    The caller asked about how Marshall Lobbestael is doing. Wulff said that he is doing really well in his knee rehab right now, and they are pleased with his early progress. However, he said that he will very likely not be available this spring as they want to take it easy. But they are confident that he’ll be OK by fall camp. That is one of the hard parts of this season, losing Lobbestael so early in the year when it looked like he was going to get an excellent opportunity to learn on the fly. They really like him, and the kid has showed something to be excited about in the future.

  • A caller asked about the worst play in the playbook right now, the “jailbreak screen”. Even Jim Walden howled about it during the broadcast, and why they were still running that play was beyond him. Wulff said he agreed, and the timing has to be perfect on a play like that. However “we didn’t actually call that play this week.” Turns out Lopina checked off into the jailbreak screen play, and it obviously didn’t work out. It was a good read, as the defense was coming on a blitz, but it just didn’t work. Wulff said that play is great against the blitz, but we honestly haven’t been blitzed a whole lot this season.
  • A caller asked about the impact of having Dick Bennett talk to the team, and does Wulff use him at all as a resource? Wulff said that he does talk to him, and they talk about all sorts of things. But mainly they talk about the tough seasons in rebuilding, and what Bennett’s experiences were compared to what Wulff has gone through thus far. Wulff then went out of his way to say that “when you are rebuilding, there are tough things that all programs go through. And you can’t really listen to the outside criticism that always comes with it. Only people on the inside of the program REALLLY know what is going on.” Kind of some sharp criticism from Wulff for all the crap that has been written about them this year? But Wulff said that’s just part of the deal when you are trying to turn it around, and there will be some things they do that aren’t popular. Wulff also said that Bennett has given him some great advice, as far as doing things the right way, staying on course with his plan, don’t veer too far off the right path. But also don’t be afraid to re-evaluate what you are doing, and always think about the things you are doing and their impact on others.

    Most of all, Wulff loves and respects Bennett because of who he is and what’s he’s been through. The guy is a “program builder” and has been through exactly what Wulff is going through right now. He’s a tremendous resource. Look at where the hoops program was when Bennett showed up? Look at it NOW? I know it’s apples and oranges, hoops to football, but it’s still about turning around a culture and changing the way things are done, from the ground up. The road isn’t always a smooth one.

  • A caller asked about the D-line play, and how they seem to be stepping up their game a little bit. Wulff immediately pointed out the impact of Toby Turpin, and how well he’s played at nose tackle for the third straight week. He has been a big part of them playing better. Not that they dominated, of course, and UW’s offensive line was pushing on them all game long (and had about 50 pounds per man on each guy), but the line hung in there and fought hard all the way to the end. Wulff also said Ahmu, Mullennix and even Eichelberger did OK out there. Wulff also said that they really seem to like the 3-man defensive front! The players like it, and it also gives them a chance to get a little extra rest as they can rotate bodies in and out a little more by simply not having four defensive linemen on the field at once. Wulff did say that they will likely go back to a four-man defensive line next year, but they have taken to it pretty well this last half of 2008.
  • Bud asked about going for it on fourth and one and a half in the first OT. Wulff said that they not only wanted to get the first down, but they really believed they would get it. He wanted to keep staying aggressive in that situation and the sideline was happy they chose to go for it. Wulff wouldn’t say for sure if that was the defining moment, but he did mention that it could be, and that all programs have that “moment where you can build off an experience like that, something they can look back to and think about in the future as to how they went for it and got it in a tough situation.” Besides, Wulff also said “there was no guarantee UW was going to make their field goal, even if they didn’t make it!” and that brought a few howls from the crowd at the radio show!
  • A caller asked again about recruiting. Wulff said that it’s going well right now (they just got a new top-100 offensive line commit). But Wulff said that no matter what, he’s never seen a coaching staff work so hard at recruiting. These guys are giving everything they have to find some new talent, and there isn’t a coaching staff around who will outwork them in recruiting. They do believe there are some special players that they will get in this class, and that the hard work is going to pay off.
  • Nameck brought up “Cougar Pride” and how even in this tough year, it’s still out there. There was a story of a soldier in Afghanistan who got up at 3 AM to try and listen to the game online. When the Internet connection dropped, he called a friend in Washington and sat on the phone with him for the last hour of the game! Very cool. Nameck also brought up how this is the first-ever time in the 101-year history of the Apple Cup that WSU has won four out of five in the series, and that Matt Mullennix is the first-ever WSU player to be on the team that won four Apple Cup games. No other WSU player has ever won it four times. Very cool. Mullennix’s dad called into the show and thanked Wulff for the win, and that he was proud of Matt. His dad also said that it helped ease the sting of the 1975 game that WSU blew, where UW came from a couple of scores down late to win. That was a game in which Mullennix’s dad played in. Ouch.
  • One last look at the UW game – Wulff said the two biggest things were 1) they stuck with the run in the second half, and they knew they had to do that or else they couldn’t win, and 2) they didn’t lose the turnover battle! Wulff said again that they talked at halftime and decided no matter what, they were going to stick with the run. And of course, the run was a huge reason they won. The big TD by Mitz, but there were other times where they ran effectively with Dwight Tardy in the second half and even in OT. The 171 rushing yards were the most since the Portland State game.


    And the turnovers, finally, they didn’t lose the turnover margin battle! They only “tied”, giving it away once, but they took one away themselves. It can be a drastic difference when you aren’t giving the thing away three or four times a game, isn’t it? That’s one thing that was kind of lost in all the excitement, that they didn’t play hot potato with the football.

  • JT Levenseller – he WILL PLAY this week. Wulff said they “want to get him as many plays as they can this week” and get him some solid game experience. They also brought up the idea of a redshirt in the future, and Wulff said that is certainly a consideration. Unfortunately he didn’t get enough snaps this year and it wasn’t an ideal scenario for burning his redshirt, but we’ll see how that all plays out. He didn’t flat-out say it, but I kind of got the idea that we’ll see a lot of JT this week?
  • Finally, one last thing on Hawaii – Wulff said they have been running the same offense this year, and while they’ve played a few QB’s, they are still doing pretty well on offense. But where he said they have improved is their defense. They start nine seniors on defense, and they have a very strong, experienced, active defensive front. Some of their key backups are also seniors, so there is a lot of experience there. Hawaii also has a lot riding on this game. Even though they are 6-5 right now, they have to win this game to be bowl-eligible. If they lose it, they will likely miss out on a bowl game, even though they would be at six wins. So Wulff knows they will be highly motivated this week.

That’s about it for this week. A light-hearted show and a very appreciative crowd, and lots of congrats from the callers. Wulff still kept it in check, but you could tell he’s still on a high from that game. And in a year like this, who can BLAME THE GUY for being happy with how that game went down? Like Wulff said last week, the day he took this job and the whole “Cougars hunt and kill” comment, well, that was said for WSU fans, and deep down he’s a fan as well as the coach. He played at WSU and his Cougar pride runs as deep as anyone. So imagine how you would feel if you beat UW in double-OT?

ENJOY YOUR TUESDAY, and GO COUGS!

Congratulations

November 23, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

ENJOY YOUR SATURDAY NIGHT! AND as always, GO COUGS!

A Tough Goodbye and Some Post-ASU Thoughts

November 16, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

ENJOY YOUR SUNDAY, and GO COUGS!

Flag-Spotting, Week Seven

October 11, 2008

Yep, even in these dismal times, the flag is STILL making it to Gameday. It just continues, MY OH MY!

Good for you Coug fans. The flag sighting is, once again, always a source of pride. I know it’s the first thing I look for when I flip on Gameday on a Saturday morning. And thanks to Will and Stephanie Walker for the screen cap.

Moving on, we’ll keep it brief. We’re beat up right now, to the point that Logwone Mitz is going to likely get a lot of time at running back today, with very little behind him. Chris Ivory is out and Dwight Tardy was limited this week, so, IF we are going to see any semblance of a running game, it’s going to be a lot of Mitz. Let’s hope he can do more than run for a couple of yards and then fall down.
That said, I don’t care if you have Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders or Adrian Peterson carrying the ball. Behind this offensive line, the holes have been few and far between. We ran for 114 yards vs. Okie State, but the passing game was so off, and the special teams killed us that day, so it was of very little consequence. But consider these rushing numbers:

57 net yards vs. Cal – LOSS
77 net yards vs. Baylor – LOSS
277 net yards vs. PSU – WIN
79 net yards vs. Oregon – LOSS
26 net yards vs. UCLA – LOSS

Pretty bad, and aside from the PSU game, which is a throwaway if you want to know the truth? This has been one of our worst string of rushing performances in recent history. Historically, when we’ve run the ball with some effectiveness, we’ve been successful. WSU is now 10-4 since the start of 2006 when we’ve ran for over 100 net yards in a game. You can do the math and figure out that when we sputter on the ground, in the old offense or the new one, we lose. A running game today would do wonders for the confidence of Ocho Rojo, eat up some game clock, keeping the defense off the field, etc, etc, etc. The trickle-down could go a long way towards keeping things respectible.

One more thing – for the third week in a row, we are starting the same five guys on the offensive line. From left to right, it’s Lesuma, Roxas, Alfred, Danaher and Hannam. While it’s still a group missing some depth, and also quite young with Lesuma the lone senior of the group, at least it’s the same group for the last few weeks. You have to believe they will start to gel, at least a little bit more than they have?

The other side of the story, the defense? That’s another story. Our rushing defense is bad, bad, bad, giving up over 6 yards per carry on average. We’ve basically been steamrolled by any team with at least an average running attack, and that’s beyond worrisome for the Jerome Harrison clone we’ll see today in Jacquizz Rodgers. Just hope we see the defense stay in their lanes and most of all, TACKLE WELL! There was improvement last week, just 325 total yards allowed, and they did rally to the ball on the ground, giving up exactly 100 net yards. Considering where this group was coming into last week, that’s a huge improvement.

Maybe we can look to the Beaver Believers for hope. After all, they are the kings of the circling the wagons, so to speak.

When things have looked their bleakest for the Beavs, they have dug deep, come together and turned it all around. They’ve been 2-3 in 2006 and 2007, and both times have won out, except for a loss to USC last year. I know it’s a stretch to look at them for inspiration, but they have become a program that I sure envy. I would love to see us follow in their footsteps of upgrading the facilities, then have a coach who wants to be there build layers of depth, punctuated by strong offensive and defensive lines. After all, the Beavs are one of the most successful Pac-10 programs of the 2K decade. They have passionate fans and play with a real edge at home. They are what I hope we become.

We’ll have something up for the game. Until then, enjoy your Saturday, and hopefully, enjoy the game today. GO COUGS!