Take this for what it is worth... my mouth dropped when I heard this from two sources who are close to a certain player from Timberline High School.As most of you know, my alma mater played Timberline this weekend. I happened to know a few of the Prosser students and parents who attended the Timberline game at Lacey this past weekend. X student athlete from Prosser is close to this " X recruit" we desperately want. The parents of this athlete from Prosser asked recruit X where he planned to go to school for college. He told them WSU... and had made up his mind... just waiting for the right moment. Parents didnt think anything of it because they dont follow WSU RECRUITING like I do. I only happened to find out because I was in a meeting today and the Prosser game came up. Said parent stated that "X recruit" was flattered to see Tennessee fans there at the game, along with a few other recruiters. But that he really sees WSU as his place of school and choice of football. Said parent also noted that when they talked after the game... they confirmed that he really wants to stay local and close to family. I really beleive that it is only a matter of time before we get to hear from this "X Recruit". Please don't pass this along... many speculate a lot and none will be known until he makes his verbal. But nevertheless... intriguing to me and some of you too!
So, not to get too hyped up/crazy, but sometimes "grapevine" stuff like this plays out. All indications are he will still take his trips, including the USC trip this weekend and Tennessee in early December, and I have also read that Notre Dame is a new player on the scene. Along with Oregon battling like crazy to land him with their crazy locker rooms and all the other flashy Phil Knight crap, we have our work cut out for us. If he DOES commit??? We got someone who really wants to be a Coug.
On to the matter at hand - the game - let's get real. UW is in the 100's nationally in offense. In fact they were DEAD LAST IN D-1 in total offense going into last week! And, another possible good sign, at least in my opinion, is that UW sounds fairly heartbroken about losing to Cal. The emotional sendoff of Gilby and 16 seniors in their last home game, they played Cal tough for 2 1/2 quarters before being overwhelmed. IT wasn't like they were humiliated and started thinking about the AC at halftime, they really thought they had a chance to win.
Another huge issue - injuries. We all know that UW is beat up to a pulp, but now it gets worse. Their best player and last original captain standing on defense will not even suit up. UW lost their "Derting", in that Joe Lobendahn has been an inspiration in the middle all season long, making huge plays with superior quickness and just a nose for the ball in an otherwise dismal showing. Lobendahn broke his wrist tackling Aaron Rodgers and will be out. Want proof of the difference he makes?? One of the big things to watch from last week was how easily Cal ran the ball in the 2nd half after struggling early, and you can attribute a huge part of that to Lobendahn breaking his wrist before the half. After that, they were a mess.
Another angle - The one thing that we have become really damn good at is running the football. The UCLA and even the ASU game is proof that no matter how erratic Brink is, we can still give the ball to Harrison and Thompson and run on pretty much anyone.
So, let's look at the facts - 1) newfound success on the ground with a strong combo in Harrison/Thompson, 2) UW gives up over 180 yards per game on the ground, 3) UW is so beaten up on D that they start 3 true frosh on their d-line and their best overall player won't even suit up, and finally, 4) it will be in the upper 30's by game time, and will probably get colder as the night goes on, perfect weather for running the ball all evening long.
I expect at least 225 yards rushing, probably a 16-for-27, 150 yards, 0 int, 1TD game from Brink, and a relatively easy 28-13 victory on Saturday.
That sets up a good feeling of a 5-6 season heading into a winter of a lot of hard work, knowing two huge things - 1) Virtually EVERY SINGLE skill position player returns in 2005 on offense, with only 2 starters gone from the O-line; and 2) The ENTIRE front seven, sans Steve Cook, will return defensively for the Cougs! Combine that with a successful start to recrutiting, at last count 8 strong verbal commits from some of the top players in the west, and the rebuilding is over. I'm not ready to say that next year we'll be in the Rose Bowl, but there is no reason to think we can't win 8 or 9 games.
Some other things for next year, though, of course, we have to get better. The kicking game must improve, either Siderius grabs the job or Langley just gets better over time. The D-backs will lose 3 senior starters, but really, if you've watched much this year, is that such a huge loss? There are capable young backups that have seen time and I don't think it'll be that big an issue next year. Will Derting return for his senior season? Nearly everyone asked agrees that he has taken a step back this year with both the broken wrist and the position change. Will the coaches decide he's better to wreck havoc on the outside, and either uncover a JC this winter to start at MLB or put some pounds on Steve Dildine and slide him inside?? All I know is, very unscientific of course, that Will Derting and Scott Davis as OLB's are a scary thought for any team!