Archive for the ‘WSU Spring Football’ Category

Spring Fish Wrap – Portland State Weirdness Edition

May 27, 2008


Why is it weirdness always follows Jerry Glanville? Everyone remembers that he’s an odd duck, one who leaves tickets at will call for Elvis every week and a guy who punched one of his coaches on the sidelines during an NFL playoff game. But even today, the odd follows Glanville. If you haven’t seen this before, check out what happened during a game at Portland State last year:

Nice. The reaction from the announcers is classic. They may not win a lot at PSU, but they have a good time!

Speaking of PSU, yes, that’s one of our non-league games this season. But they might not be the layup you might think in just glancing at the schedule. Here’s some spring things to know about the Vikings.

Last Year: Struggled to a 3-8 season, 3-5 in the Big Sky, in Jerry Glanville’s first-ever NCAA head coaching job (Glanville had a long NFL career, but never was an NCAA head coach). HOWEVER, one of their conference wins? They went to Cheney and beat Paul Wulff’s EWU Eagles, 28-21. PSU was down 14-7 at half, but then scored three straight TD’s in the 2nd half to put it away with 3+ minutes to go. Portland State won the last two games against Wulff and EWU in ’06 and ’07.

Offensive Scheme: Run-n-Shoot, all the way. The same offense that made Warren Moon a Hall-of-Famer as a Houston Oiler is now at Portland State. Mouse Davis, the OC under Glanville, is regarded as the “father” of the Run-n-Shoot, something he mastered in the late-70’s. Interestingly enough, Davis led Portland State to 20 NCAA D-II passing records. His most recent success was at Hawaii, under June Jones no less. Under Davis, the Warriors led the nation in passing offense, total offense, scoring offense and pass efficiency rating. In ’07 PSU led the nation in passing offense, throwing for 360 yards per game. These guys know how to move the ball, period, and have done it for decades.

Top Offensive Player: QB Drew Hubel – The frosh came off the bench last season and excelled, including an amazing NINE TD passes in his first-ever start vs. Weber State! Hubel is huge, too, at 6-5, 200 lbs and growing. Hubel is a local kid from Corvallis who chose Portland State over Oregon State, citing the chance the play immediately, and he was right. They lost senior starter Brian White after the 7th game last year, and it was mainly Hubel from that point forward. However, Hubel wasn’t perfect, and he actually regressed over the last few games. As great as he was in throwing those NINE TD’s in that first start, he also threw NINE INT’s over his last two starts. So it’s feast-or-famine with Hubel. The other QB competing for the starting job is Tygue Howland, a backup who only played in the opener last year. Most likely it will be Hubel’s job heading into fall camp. Check out some pretty impressive video from that first-ever start:

The really bad news for PSU is how much they’ve lost in the skill positions. All those TD passes have to be caught by someone, right? Not only will they still be young at QB, but the top three WR’s are all gone from last year. But it’s not like it’s a true system that relies on superstar talent. Just look at the success Hawaii has had recently, and you realize that very few of those players from 10-win seasons are going to the NFL. So it’s definitely more about plugging in the pieces into the scheme and watching it go.

Top Defensive Player(s): While PSU lost their top tackler from last year, they do return #’s 2 and 3 from last year in OLB KJ McRae and ILB Andy Schantz. McRae had a big season last year, racking up 70 tackles, including 12.5 for loss, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an INT. McRae has excellent size at 6-1, 240, and is an all-conference candidate on the outside after honorable mention last year. Schantz is an outstanding inside linebacker, totaling 85 tackles, 9 for loss, 3 sacks, a team-high 3 forced fumbles and was basically all over the field. Like McRae, Schantz is a decent-sized linebacker at 6-1, 235. He is regarded as a team leader in the heart of the defense, and was also honorable mention in ’07. The linebackers will be their best position on defense.

Bottom Line: This is a dangerous opponent. After coming off the road game at Baylor, we’ll still only be on our fourth game of the year. Wulff will have to get the emotions charged up for this one, not only coming off the Baylor game, but to avoid peeking ahead to the next week. For the hated Yucks of Oregon will be looming on 9/27! The scary part is that unlike our early-season opponents, Portland State won’t be too surprised by what they see out of WSU. If there is a “trap” game of 2008, this is it.

PSU opens with Western Oregon and UC Davis before coming to Pullman, and we are their first – and only – BCS school on the schedule in 2008. You know they’ll be sky-high for this one. But even with the return of McRae and Schantz at linebacker, they were pretty bad defensively last year. San Diego State drilled them 52-17 in 2007. That’s the same SD State team that Brink absolutely devoured last year. So what can you expect? Yards and points by the bushel. We’re a long way from the season, but you can see this one coming nearly 4 months away. Nice late-September weather in the Palouse, and our no-huddle vs. the Run-n-Shoot? It should (hopefully) be a fun one to watch.

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GO GET ‘EM HOWIE!

April 15, 2008


In a word…..WOW. So THAT is what that letter was all about when they agreed to the sale. This is a complete stunner that Howard Schultz is pissed and wants the Sonics back from that lying scumbag thief.

“It’s not money damage. It’s to have the team returned. The theory of the suit is that when the team was sold, the Basketball Club of Seattle, our team here, relied on promises made by Clay Bennett and his ownership that they desired to keep the team in Seattle and intended to make a good-faith effort to accomplish that.”

OH SNAP, it’s on now! But will it work? Who knows. Maybe this is simply a PR stunt to try and get back in good graces around the NW. If you haven’t followed it much, Howard Schultz has avoided the whole Sonics issue like the plague. The only thing he’s said over last year or so is “NO COMMENT”. He’s been vilified as the biggest reason this team was/is headed out of town. And nobody besides Bennett’s group and Howard’s group has laid eyes on this letter from the beginning, and it could be very difficult to actually define in court what “good faith effort” really means. But we do already know that e-mails have surfaced claiming that Bennett never wanted to keep the team here and clearly was trying to get the wheels in motion for the move well before the mandated deadline agreed to from the beginning.

Does Schultz really want to own the team again? He’s been raked over the coals, but let’s face it, Schultz isn’t a moron. He built Starbucks from nothing, and somehow convinced millions that $4.00 for a cup of coffee and steamed milk is a good thing to do every day. The early speculation is probably that he’ll attempt to win this thing, and if he does ultimately pull it off, immediately sell it to Ballmer and Stanton’s group to go with the Key Arena remodel. So this could be just a pure save-face move in an attempt to right the wrong. But if it means keeping the team here, SO WHO CARES what his motives actually are??

The other thing to consider here is maybe, just maybe, Schultz has some current NBA owners that are friends from when he owned the team? Maybe, just maybe, they will be upset with Bennett’s antics and lying and being so eager to run from a great market? Maybe they’ll see what’s happening here and realize if they vote against the move, Schultz and local ownership could very well get the team back and Bennett could go away? Questions, on top of questions, on top of questions.

The other angle here is that, back in early 2006, Howard Schultz, Wally Walker and David Stern went to Olympia to campaign for a $200-million dollar renovation of Key Arena. Stern was 100% behind the renovation at the time. It was perfectly acceptable just 2+ years ago. Now there is a $300-million dollar renovation of the same building on the table. I wonder what Stern would say under oath as to why that suddenly isn’t good enough?

If anything, it’s yet another fly in the ointment for Bennett to try to take his toy and go home. If the NBA has any sense whatsoever, they will at the very least delay their vote later this week on the move until they get all the litigation straightened out. Good lord, what a freakin‘ MESS the NBA has on their hands right now. And they’ll get zero sympathy from me, you, and a ton of others! At least it’s another chance to expose Bennett for the liar that he is and get that dirty laundry in full public view.

The real beauty of Schultz’s lawsuit is that it focuses on keeping this Sonics team, here and now. None of the promises of expansion in x amount of years, none of the talk of trying to steal a team from Memphis or New Orleans or Charlotte or wherever else. As bad as they were to watch this year, they are still our team, the only team we’ve ever had, or ever cared about, with our history and our tradition. As Brinkhater has said all along about this, the NBA sucks when you are really bad and your owner is trying to get the hell out of town! But when you are winning and competitive, it can be a great thing to watch. Look at how the western conference has been this year. You have teams with 50 wins that are on the edge of even making the playoffs. Think any of those cities hate the NBA right now? Neither do I.

Kudos to Howard for recognizing the situation.

Moving on, we are about to enter the dog days of WSU stuff. There will be some recruiting news for hoops and football, of course, mainly premium content at other sites. We’ll chime in where we can on that. But this is really the end of steady news that we will see for the next several months. So obviously the content around here will taper off a bit.

We’ll have a few more things coming up, including a post-spring look at the defense and offense, among other things. So stay tuned.

Spring Has Sprung

April 12, 2008

Greeting, Cougies. Happy Mom’s Weekend…

Speaking of which, let’s start this post off with a little game. See if you can guess which one is the Mom?

OK – That was an easy one just to get you warmed up. How about this one? The first correct response wins an autographed June Daugherty jockstrap.
Speaking of Daugherty, she was one of several hundred spectators on hand to watch the Cougs close out Spring practice at Martin stadium this afternoon, on an absolutely beautiful day. Here she is giving another spectator a big hug behind the west endzone.

The little arms wrapped around Big June’s waist belong to none other than Keith Gilbertson. Disturbing, I know.

It was an absolutely glorious day in Pullman – the first day of legitimate “shorts weather”, Cougar Football and twice the number of women in town as usual.

I arrived in town early for some fraternity business and made my way to the Coug at about 10:15 for my blind date with Longball. To my dismay, the Coug was closed(?!) so I decided to make my way to the Bookie. As I looked up the sidewalk I saw a young guy hobbling around with a cane and knew it must be Longball. (It was good to meet you buddy. Hopefully you’ll be back in fighting shape soon.) We walked up to the Bookie for some caffeine and then headed for Martin.

With the scrimmage having been canceled, I wasn’t expecting a big turnout but there was an easy 1000+ people in the stands and on the sidelines. There were a few die-hards there, including “The 20-Yardline Crew” (above), as well as one guy that I’m sure most of you would prefer to see nowhere near Martin Stadium. Hopefully, the fact that he was wearing shorts and top-siders, instead of a crimson #10 is good enough – but yes, even Alex Brink took in the action.

So Alex (in the baby blue polo), what did you think of Gary Rogers’ arm?

Observation #1 (of actual football stuff): Gary Rogers is big and strong. I’ve known that all along I guess, but I’ve never had the chance to see him throw this much. He looked great in drills, making all the throws – and I honestly didn’t see a single pass with a wobble on it. Toward the end of the practice, the first team O ran the 2-minute drill against the first team D and Rogers drove them down for a score with ease.

Somebody had to catch those passes and on this day, the guy who stood out was Michael Willis. Without hesitation, I would say that Willis was the star of the day. After all his injuries and the move from safety to wide receiver, I would not have been surprised if we never actually heard from this guy – but he was incredible today. Gibson didn’t play much (when he did, he was money), and Blackledge didn’t make much noise, so it was Willis’ day and he made the most of it. He caught a beautiful 40-yard seam between a corner and a safety for the biggest play of that 2-minute drill and then capped off the drive with a nice catch for a TD on a ball that was thrown a bit behind him. Proving that there was a reason he started out as a safety, he also laid some hat, with a crushing block on a nice run around the left side. If Willis can stay healthy, look for big things out of him this fall.

Contrary to what we were lead to believe, several running backs played today and all showed flashes. Mitz and Jace Perry looked good, as did Chris Ivory – who broke a long run down the sideline for a score – and pulled up with a hamstring as he crossed the goal line. He watched the rest of practice on crutches from the sideline. Marcus Richmond and Joe (unfortunately, no relation to Earl) Campbell also saw action.

Rogers clearly outshone the other QB’s in drills and frankly, I was disappointed by Lopina. That is, until he ran the offense. He really didn’t look sharp in drills, but once he started running plays, he looked great. His arm strength is not nearly that of Rogers but he threw several nice balls down the sideline with great trajectory and touch. There were a lot of roll-outs and even some options – but curiously, none of those with Rogers. With Lopina, Lobbestael and Morgan, there was a lot of ball-faking and then either moving the pocket or straight options. With Rogers, it was mostly throws from the pocket. Kind of makes you wonder if we’ll see some rotation at the QB spot this fall. Most of the offense was run from the shotgun but we did see QB’s under center inside the red zone. Lobbestael and Morgan clearly lack the strength needed to make all the throws and I thought Morgan was slow with his reads.

Overall, it was exciting to see us playing this hurry-up brand of football – although there’s still a long way to go. Aside from the one really nice two-minute drill drive, the offense looked confused at times and was derailed by several penalties that prevented them from getting into a good rhythm. Summer conditioning is going to be huge this year – especially for the linemen, I would think.

On D, we saw a lot of 3-4 with a nickel back up near the line. The front 3 was Kooyman on the left, Ahmu and Mattingly. We did go with a 4-3 at times as well, but as promised, there was usually another DB up in the box. I thought both ends played really well, each getting to the QB a couple times as I recall. Dunn and Evans made several nice plays from their ‘backer spots and the nickel back with the first team seemed to be Myron Beck most of the time. Evans may take this defense over as their emotional leader. He was really fired up and made a few nice plays. Beck is new and unproven but made at least one really nice hit; on Perry after a (late) pitch from Lobbestael on an option left. We crowded the box on almost every play and were sending blitzes from all over the place. Sometimes, we’d drop back but it really seemed like someone was blitzing more often than not. Creating confusion seems to be a big part of this scheme. Generally speaking, we did a nice job of getting guys to the quarterback. Lots of pressure with guys flying all over the place. Pellum and Jackson manned the corner spots with Chima and Hicks at safety. I like that combo of thunder and lightning with those two. With his speed, Chima should be able to be an effective centerfielder this year.

Special teams was a bit of a mixed bag. Each of the three kickers on the roster made attempts between 40 and 53. Newly anointed 1st string kicker Patrick Rooney was horrid. I think he missed all of his attempts including a couple that barely cleared the heads of the linemen. At least one kick was blocked (can’t recall who’s). Penner actually made all three of his attempts from 53, though I believe he missed at least once from 40. Myers looks to have a strong leg – maybe strongest of the three – but was very inconsistent with his accuracy. Penner definitely won this competition for the day.

(Speaking of accuracy, I’m sorry about the lack of definitive information here. I don’t get paid to do this, so I don’t feel obligated to take notes…)

There was a kickoff returned for a touchdown, which is both good and bad, I suppose; the aforementioned blocked kick; and some pretty nice punting by Reid Forrest. All the punting was done east to west, with the wind at his back – but he looked very good. One real nice tail-wagger downed inside the 5 by Gibson.
I’d have to say that this team is definitely a work in progress but there was a real sense of excitement in the air. The energy on the field was good (not great) and it was great to see it from both players and coaches. I thought Todd Sturdy really stood out among all the coaches – he has tremendous enthusiasm. It was also in the stands. You can tell that there’s a lot of interest in what’s going on with the new system.

It’s going to take a lot more repetitions before this offense really takes off but once all our guys are healthy and clicking, it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. Definitely a breath of fresh air from what had become a very predictable brand of football. As big of a changeup as we’ll be throwing at the Pac-10 this year, I can definitely see us taking a couple games that we “shouldn’t”.

That’s all I got, Cougs. If I didn’t cover anything that you’re curious about, please feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to let you know what I saw.

Go Cougs!

Cal Hippies Abduct Mike Montgomery

April 4, 2008

I guess the lure of Berkeley was overwhelming. Per Andy Katz this AM, Mike Montgomery is back in the Pac-10, taking the helm at Cal. Are you nervous? He was a heck of a coach at Stanford and the rivalry there should grow new legs because of this one. If you’ve seen him lately, he’s looked tanned, rested and ready for the grind that is the Pac-10.

I know, the hippies thing is a shot at Berkeley. I guess it’s because of my lone experience there. A few years back, a bunch of us went down to take in the Cougs getting blown out in Strawberry Canyon. The game was forgettable. But after the game was what I’ll remember. First we went to some bar with a sun deck and all the Cal fans walked by after the game. Of course it was full of Cougs, and we were, well, getting our drink on…to say the least. I’ll never forget the shocked look on Cal fans as they walked by, and they would try to say stuff like “you guys lost, why are you celebrating?” I won’t repeat here what we said in response, but you can probably imagine what the response was.

I’ll also never forget Fat Slices. Great pizza. But I’ll also never forget the teenage burn-outs flipping over garbage cans, looking for pizza crust. I saw three of them right on the sidewalk devour half-eaten crusts. Gotta love Berkeley.


Then again…Cal can’t be THAT bad. They did land pole-vaulting sensation Allison Stokke.

Moving on, links are everywhere on our own coach handsome.

I won’t link everything, as you can see to the right of the page the latest. But the P-I was the strongest yet, stating Tony has agreed to some sort of restructuring. Raises for Tony, raises for the assistants, charter travel, the whole deal sounds as though it’s in motion. KJR has been reporting it as well, per favorite son Ian Furness. It really sounds like President Floyd stepped up huge to make it known his commitment to building a program, and that has to be a big factor to Tony. Beyond the usual things you hear, I think President Floyd is a huge asset to WSU athletics. Time will tell, but we’re in pretty damn good shape. Also, I don’t know how many have heard, but President Floyd was reportedly wooed by his alma mater, UNC, to become Chancellor. He said no, of course. It shows his desire to make our situation special. We couldn’t be in better hands!

Next, ESPN had a great write-up of coach Wulff. I would imagine if you are reading this you already know the back story on Wulff, which is remarkable. But this is a chance to get some national exposure for what he’s all about. Thanks to Ted Miller and his NW ties for getting after this story.

Speaking of coach Wulff, he sounded a little cranky in today’s SR.com story. He makes it very clear that these guys better bust their humps between the end of spring and fall camp, because there is SO FAR TO GO before they are good enough! I don’t want to get too down on things now, and it’s easy to over-react during spring ball. We know things are going to look a lot different by the opening kickoff at Qwest Field. But man, is it just me or do things not sound all that hot? Our own Hooty McBoob is possibly going to take in the scrimmage, so, we’ll see what his eyes tell us. But right now? Not feeling full of Cougar optimism.

Finally, Snap Shots. It’s that little preview window that pops up over links to give you a sneak peek at what follows the link. Do you like it? Hate it? Don’t care? I admit it, I stole it from Nuss and his hoops blog. I like it myself, but it can be killed easy enough. Let me know what you think.

HAPPY FRIDAY!