Archive for the ‘Wade Penner’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here is Penner…

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

…shanking one to the left.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Cougs!

Blackledge the Surprise of Spring?

April 11, 2008

UPDATE 10:00 AM 4/11 – Tony has told Oklahoma State to bleep off, BEFORE they went after Self!?!? WOW. Nice job Tony, a Bennett we will always love.

He’s been talked about all spring for how far he’s come, and now there is no doubt he will make his mark next year. The TNT today writes about WR Daniel Blackledge and how he’s doing his best Michael Bumpus impression right now. Blackledge had a big scrimmage a week ago, with 70 yards receiving and showing some great hands. Next to probably Gary Rogers, Blackledge is going to be this spring’s offensive breakout player (photo courtesy of Cougfan).

We’re written about Blackledge before, but the kid has a real upside and the coaches are liking what they see. Levy has some good quotes about him in the story, and if we know anything, we know Levy knows how to coach up the WR’s! It’s hard to argue with his track record. Then again, you don’t want to get too crazy about a good set of spring practices. Blackledge had a total of ONE catch last year, and that came in the 52-17 embarrassment vs. the Beavs in one of the most forgettable games in the modern era. But again, this is what spring ball is all about, and that is there are always some surprises that you just didn’t see coming when it all got started.

The Spokesman last night had a write-up about the kicking game. It sounds as though it’s a tight race, with Patrick Rooney edging ahead of Wade Penner and Matt Myers. Steve Broussard said it’s still wide open so not to read too much into it right now, but we’ll see how it shakes out after things wrap up tomorrow. The good part of this is that there is a good competition, so they are hopefully pushing each other. The other part is that they are actually doing well. All three kickers nailed 48 and 49-yarders to wind down practice yesterday. We still have the mystery JC transfer that coach Wulff talked about this year, who reportedly drills kickoffs repeatedly into the end-zone (sounds good to me!).

Moving on, the Bigger Dance – WHO YA GOT? The brackets are out and it’s an intriguing field. I’ve got Megan Fox from the Transformers movie making a darkhorse run, but with Scarlet Johansson lurking in the other pod, I don’t know if she’ll get past the sweet 16. It will be an interesting match-up! But you could also see Johansson cutting down the nets when it’s all said and done.

I know, it’s a male pig-fest or whatever you want to call it, but it’s all in good fun. And it’s all about the prizes. Have you seen what they are giving away? Imagine winning the grand prize – A trip for two, to any sporting event in the world, including airfare, hotel and tickets to the event? Just for picking the hottest female around in a bracket of 64? Why not. I actually knew a guy who won the whole thing 3 years ago, and if I remember correctly I think they went to Monoco for the grand prix or something like that. Pretty amazing.

I won’t waste time talking about the Sonics, because I know a lot of you don’t care. But wow, those e-mails. I imagine many people reading those things yesterday thought twice about e-mails they may have sent in their own working environment?? If anything it’s a good lesson that yes, anything you send can and WILL be used against you, if necessary! And right now, Clay Bennett looks like the biggest lying, idiotic, embarrassing fool on the face of the earth. The arrogance to think they could just waltz in and steal the team away is one thing. That’s fine if that is what they wanted to do all along. But to flat-out lie to the Mayor of Seattle, the Governor of Washington, the NBA owners and David Stern himself? And to be caught red-handed doing it? What a disgrace. How will it play out? The Save Our Sonics guys think things have changed. There are a lot of very angry people now, madder than ever. But I still think at the end of the day, this is just the tip of the ice-berg and the NBA, Clay Bennett included, does NOT want to go through a court case where many, many more things are going to come to the public forefront. It’s an official mess for a league that doesn’t really need any more bad press after the last few years, does it??

And, imagine this – Howard Schultz and/or Wally Walker COULD be a hero in the end of this? Seth Koellen, a blogger and a guy who occasionally writes for the P-I, writes that Schultz and the prior ownership group could possibly file a legit suit against Bennett for not engaging in a good-faith effort to keep the team here. They now have tangible proof with these e-mails that they were full of crap from day 1. And Shultzie could sure use some good pub.

Anyway, that’s it for today. Hooty will take in the open practice tomorrow. Look for a first-hand account tomorrow evening.


QB’s Improve in Latest Scrimmage

April 5, 2008

What, no Tony-Bennett-to-insert-team-name-here stories?? One whole day and no new rumors. WOW. No news is good news. Well, ok, there is this from the TNT. Basically no new contract extension as being 100% official as of a statement from Sterk, but things are moving in a positive direction. As “Vanilla Ice” told me yesterday, he got some first-hand info to ignore the rumors, Tony is here to stay. Hooray Tony.

Anyway, several football-related stories floating around about the scrimmage yesterday, so we’ll get right to it. Note – we HAD HOPED to have some eyes at the deal yesterday, but Hooty McBoob’s actual life got in the way. Hopefully we can get some first-hand stuff for next Saturday’s spring game.

  1. It at least sounds promising on the QB side of things. Gary Rogers had decent passing numbers, 11-of-17 for 129 and a TD with zero INT’s. This in stark contrast to the first scrimmage where Rogers and the rest were really out of synch and dominated by the D. Vince wrote in a quick-hitter recap that Rogers looks better in terms of mechanics and accuracy, and showed off his mobility as well.

    It also sounds as though Kevin Lopina is solidifying his spot as the #2 QB. Nick Eason wrote about it today as the feature to the scrimmage, but Lopina ran the 2’s to the tune of 8-of-12 for for 107 and a TD, and also ran for a 7-YD TD. I have to say, Lopina is a really intriguing prospect. You probably know the back story, but he was highly touted out of Cali and went to K-State. The coaching staff went through a major change, so he transfered out to Pullman. He is touted for his feet as much as his arm, and he might fit like a glove in this new offense. At this point Rogers is the starter, and that will likely stay that way into the season. But keep your eye on Lopina! As for the other QB’s, don’t ask. Morgan and Marshall both only had one series and didn’t really do anything worth noting. Marshall did have a 4-yard completion, but also fumbled a snap. Of course things can change in a hurry, but right now it’s clearly Rogers and Lopina.

  2. Matt Eichelberger got some mention, notching a couple of sacks. Eichelberger was singled out earlier in the week by coach Wulff, and it sounds as though he’s going to be a decent solution at defensive tackle. Perhaps he’s responding well to this new coaching staff?

    Mattingly had a sack as well at D-End. Mattingly has an offseason goal of gaining weight in the weight room and getting more martial arts training. I can’t wait to see how he plays next fall after more reps on the d-line! We know the kid flat-out makes plays. He’s already a thick 6-4, 245, but get him up around 260 and with his strength and quickness off the edge? We could be talking about a major force.

  3. Wade Penner kicked pretty well, drilling a pair of long ones, 47 and 50-yarders. We still don’t know the identity of the secret JC kicker that coach Wulff has mentioned, and that likely won’t change until fall camp opens. But Penner has the lead this spring.
  4. WR Daniel Blackledge continues to look good. He had 4 balls for 70 yards, including a 30-yard reception on 4th and long. Blackledge is an interesting young player who was all-everything out of Colorado, with decent size at 6-2, 180. But he could probably project out to the starter opposite Gibson at this point, and based on the pre-spring depth chart he was listed as starting flanker. Nice to see the improvement out of the young guy. This is what spring ball is all about, and I would bet he’s going to emerge as one of the surprise players going into next year.
  5. Finally, non-scrimmage related but Jim Moore wrote a long piece on Andy Roof. We all know he had issues last year, but wow, 28 days in a rehab facility? We heard rumors like that, but it’s admirable that he would come out and admit it. Now he’s sober and ready to contribute at the already-thin d-tackle spot. Who knows if it will work out, and being away from football as well as changing positions might be too much to expect anything. I sure would love to see him mixing it up in the middle and occupying a couple of blockers, freeing up the absolute strength of the defense, the LB’s, to flow to the ball and make plays!

That’s it for today. I would imagine we’ll see more football stories next week, right through the final scrimmage. Enjoy your Saturday!