Thursday, September 30, 2004

This week's picks

As tempting as it is to pick the Beavs in an upset, I don't see it. Cal hasn't played in weeks so they have faded from memory, but let's not forget these guys are LOADED. OSU beat Cal @ Cal last year, with Aaron Rodgers worst game of his career. Don't expect a repeat.
CAL 34, OSU 23.

UW @ Stanford
A winless UW team might be considered dangerous, but I can easily say that now at 0-3, this is the WORST UW team in my lifetime (I wasn't born in 1969). Further, I can't remember a time when the deck was more stacked against UW. A frosh QB in Bonnell (although he is 21 years old?), both starting WR's out for the game, and the team's best overall player, Tuiasosopo, out for the year? A defense that is 9th in the conference overall and they couldn't even slow down Notre Dame, who certainly isn't an offensive juggernaut?? Combine that with Stanford and Trent Edwards maybe the most improved team in the conference this year?? Even though Stanford is a little down in the dumps after missing out on the upset last week, they will be ready for UW (note that no player on the Stanford roster has ever beat UW).
Cardinal in a rout, 37-13.

San Diego St @ UCLA
This is my upset special. UCLA has had a couple of weeks off since their rout of UW, and no doubt they've been watching TV and listening to how wonderful they are. Well, letdown-city comes this weekend. San Diego St could have won at the big house, and they play a lot tougher D than UCLA will be expecting. This is a no-win situation for UCLA. Aztecs win at the Rose Bowl, 23-20.

ASU @ Oregon
ASU has been the most "dissed" team in college football, so they have a chip on their shoulder. Oregon got fat on Idaho (who doesn't?) so it's hard to guage how good they are. They lost at home to Indiana in their season opener, but that was the epitome of a trap game (week before playing at Oklahoma). However, ASU has one huge weakness, and that is NO running game. They have lost their top 2 tailbacks for the year, one to suspension, one to injury, so that could be trouble. Oregon will be crazy-loud, and something tells me the Ducks will find a way. Walter is right there with Leinart and Rodgers as the best QB's in the conference, but with no running game, not many QB's win on the road facing loud crowd noise and 3rd-and-long all day. I still have doubts about ASU's D, too, but we'll find out. You can run, but in the Pac-10, you can't hide forever. Oregon in a squeaker, 27-24.

*Utah @ New Mexico
Earlier in the week I loved the Lobos in this one, another Friday night ESPN tilt. However, one big thing has changed - DonTrell Moore, stud RB deluxe, hurt his knee returning a punt last week and is doubtful! If you saw New Mexico's green QB, how could anyone have any confidence in what he can do without Moore?? HOWEVER, the news is better later this week, and Moore appears he will be ready to go. The Lobos beat Texas Tech at home a few weeks ago, one of their biggest wins ever, and with Moore doing his thing, they'll pull it out.
New Mexico 24, Utah 23.

Finally, national game of the week.
Auburn @ Tennessee
Auburn has lower expectations this year after the hype (and USC) killed them last year. This year is a different story - they are loose, strong and very fast on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile Tennessee is living on borrowed time. They should not have beaten Florida as an SEC official after the game admitted to screwing up the clock, most likely giving them an extra 45 seconds of time to move the ball into field goal position. The penalty for personal foul was just embarrassing, too, as the ref saw BOTH players throw punches, but only got the Florida WR for retaliating! It should have been an after the play, double-personal foul, both penalties offset and are ejected from the game, and it's a 1st down Florida. Instead, 4th down Gators, and they punt. There's good buzz on Ainge the frosh QB as he rallied the Vols to come back vs. Florida, but Auburn's D is even better than Florida. Auburn will also move the chains on the ground with the force that is Cadillac Williams.
Auburn in a classic SEC war, 19-16.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

9/28 coaches show recap

I'm battling food poisoning right now, not much fun as you can imagine. Hopefully today is the last of it. Let's just say I lost a lot of weight last night, so I'm on the road to recovery.

Coaches show recap from last night:

Doba said he was pleased with his coaching staff and their poise on the sideline. Said that when Stoops was involving the officials with his shenanigans at the end of the game it allowed our coaches time to put their heads together and pick the offensive plays they wanted to go with.

He said at kickoff the field temperature was 108 degrees, and it was over 100 for the entire game. He said all the H2O they were ordered to drink really paid off, but at the end the whole team was exhausted. Said on the plane ride home, he looked back about 1/3 into the flight and he swore every single player was asleep!

Mentioned how proud he was of Aaron Johnson, Odell Howard and Adam Braidwood in replacing Cook and Ripoti. Should really help in the future since it gives us the option for more rotations to keep the interior defense fresh - built their confidence and if Cook or Ripoti experience nagging injuries, those guys have the coaches confidence that they will continue to get the job done. He was hoping to use RayShawn Bobo as a rush end this week on those times that they would slide Braidwood inside, but Bobo had an injury in practice so he didn't make the trip. Compared him to Acholonu and Brown in terms of quickness off the edge, would be nice to have him for the Oregon game.

Talked about Bruhn and his fumble. One of our guys bumped Bruhn's ball carrying arm just as Bruhn had made a great cut that would have had him in the clear for a huge gain. Did say both Harrison and Thompson will continue to share the load and it will be a committee-type approach unless someone completely seperates themselves from the pack.

Doba talked about how the small things hurt us again - but you got the overall feeling that Doba sees this team as growing up and right on the verge - just a question of when they break through this season - not when.

Akey had a segment - he got lousy questions, but interesting point about how the defensive coaches match our Blitz packages against what they see in our opponents films. Said we didn't blitz much so far this season simply because we haven't had to. That we have been using zone blitzes a little more this year dropping a defensive end back into coverage. Says that the lack of blitzes this year will show trends that would be misleading with good teams we intend to blitz a lot on.

The assistant coahces are out on the recruiting trail all this week. Leon Burtnett is in Texas (do ya think that Holiday Bowl win is going to have some long term impact?). Cook, Ripoti, and Martin MIGHT ALL be back for the Oregon game. With Boyd out, we moved a back-up offensive guard who's like 6'5" and 268 who played basketball in highschool with good hands to tight end while we all wait for Cody Boyd to get better (missed the name). Doba really thinks the bye week is coming at a perfect time - they are beat up, they get extra prep time for a multiple look offense like Oregon, etc. Also mentioned that Oregon is going to come in to Pullman in a bad mood after last year's game, so they are happy to get an extra week.
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Monday, September 27, 2004

9/25 Weekly pick recap

Well, I went a perfect 5-0 from the pick-em, while Lawson came in at 4-1. Here's where we are this season:

Sean - 9-1
Lawson - 9-1 (you are really 9-2 but you picked one more game than me, so we won't count that).

Last week's picks:

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

This week's slate:

We'll try something different - we'll still pick the Pac-10, but we'll also do a "National Game of the Week" where we guess out-of-conference.

UW @ Stanford
San Diego St @ UCLA
ASU @ Oregon
*Utah @ New Mexico
*since WSU and USC both play B-Y-E, we'll go with this one other interesting West game.

Now, the game of the week nationally? A little Southern flavor:

Auburn @ Tennessee

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Swogger and Hill from Saturday

Interesting part of a story from yesterday's News Tribune:

Quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach was impressed that Swogger was able to lead the team back and shake off a sloppy game that saw WSU fumble five times.

"He grew up a little bit," Rosenbach said. "He's got confidence in himself and he demonstrated that today. There were some things we talked about on the sidelines today and he went out and did them."

Two of Swogger's biggest plays went through Hill, who had four catches for 74 yards despite not having a reception in the first half, when he said his legs felt weak.

"I was feeling sick. I've been sick for three days," Hill said. "It took a little while to pick up. When I picked up, I felt like myself and made some plays."

Trailing 13-7, Hill gave WSU the lead when he shook Wilrey Fontenot on an inside move for a 43-yard touchdown reception. Then, with 26 seconds left, Hill beat Fontenot again on a fade for the winning score.

In the past three games, Hill has six touchdown receptions. Offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller said Hill, who missed all of spring practice because of a shoulder injury, is coming on as WSU's go-to receiver.

"What's great about him is he corrects himself quickly," Levenseller said. "He's as smart as any young player that I've ever had."

Interesting quote from Levy about Hill being as smart as any young player he's had. 6 TD's 3 games into the season? He's going to have at least 10 TD catches this year, maybe more!?! Get out the shades, for it could be a "SUN"-ny New Year's Eve in El Paso this year!
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Sunday, September 26, 2004


Ok, I admit it - I gave up.

Much like I'm sure a lot of Cougar nation. Thank god Akey and more importantly, that defense NEVER gave up. 1:15 to go, only 1 timeout, first down for the Mildcats?? Take a knee, force the Cougs to use their last t.o., and kick the ball back to them with about 25 seconds to play, probably about 75-80 yards away from paydirt and no timeouts. Like Fouts said, Stoops and his staff wanted to have the game come down to their defense, but Swoggs found a way.

Levy said it best in the post-game, that everyone expects so much of Swogger but this was only his 4th start! As bad as Swoggs can look in stretches, the most important thing we saw was 1) the big-time 80-yard drive in the first half, and of course, 2) TWICE in the 4th quarter throwing huge TD passes to lead the Cougs back. 282 yards, 2 TD's and almost 2 others (the TD that was called back for holding to Harrison, and the Cody Boyd fumble at the 2). His oompletion percentage is down, that Colorado game really took it's toll and we had more drops yesterday (I thought I heard 6 drops?), but have you noticed that the kid now has 9 TD passes and only 2 picks? No picks yesterday?? It's strange, and I was one who thought he'd be a turnover machine early this year as he would force the action, as young QB's often do in this offense, but I'm damn impressed by how he has taken care of the football. He's a strong mother, too, on that completion to Bumpus he had a guy grabbing him at the waist. Maybe best of all, he's not afraid to stick his mug in the face of a pass rush and deliver a laser beam down the field. Sean Salisbury talks all the time on ESPN about a QB's eye level, and what they are really looking at it. He talks about how Kurt Warner changed from a few years ago, where all he ever did was look down the field and deliver the ball on the money, to the QB he turned into last year, where all he would do is take his 5-7 step drop, see that option #1 was covered, then his eye level would change from down the field to the oncoming pass rush. If you watch Swogger, he NEVER takes his eyes away from down the field, even when he's going down! IMPRESSIVE.

Random thoughts - My hat is off to the o-line. Only 1 sack allowed, and they really pass-blocked their butts off. The running game was spotty, of course, and the stats are skewed from the 25-yard loss on the shotgun snap that never was, but overall I think we've improved up front by a large margin since week 1! I'm also very happy with the play of Johnson and Howard at DT. You know they were worn out, but there were several plays Johnson was in the backfield. Even on the lucky TD from Heavner to Steptoe over Paymah, Johnson nearly had the sack and just manhandled their guard to get pressure. That ball should have been picked off or batted down, and 99 times out of 100 that would not have been a TD. As great as Paymah has been, he's going to get beat occasionally. Even Trufant gave up a TD here and there. dire as the New Mexico game looked, this one looked hopeless, yet they found a way! As Bud Withers wrote today, these Cougs aren't that good.....but don't tell them that!

Jason Hill was sick too. Had no idea, but still, he's our Go-2-Guy, 100%. 6 TD catches, man what a player. Makes you wonder what kind of team we're going to have next year when all these young kids are a year older, a year better. Swogger, Hill, Bienemann, Bumpus, Jordan, etc. WOW.

FINALLY, Jim Walden said it after the New Mexico game, and he said it again last night - the hardest thing to do as a coach is to teach kids how to WIN football games. So many teams out there can play with anyone for 55 or 58 minutes, but they just can't close the deal. Arizona and WSU are the perfect examples, young teams still searching for their identity. Arizona has found ways NOT to win this year, while the Cougs have found ways to pull it out. It's tough to do that, period, but to have such a young team with 36 of the 44 man 2-deep underclassmen, it's just such a testament to how great this coaching staff really is!

ENJOY 3-1 and a bye week before the hated Quack-Attack brings their annoying fans to Martin!

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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Stadium expansion details slowly surfacing....

Found this today:

Here's an external, elevated look of what the stadium will look like, post-renovation. It's not real impressive as a picture, though, hard to really see any good details, other than it'll be an actual bowl:

Compared to a model of what things look like today, you can see it's a step up:

This one is much better - Here is a pic from inside the stadium tunnel looking out the other way:

45,000 seats, plus numerous upgrades and amenities. I LOVE it! It's probably hard for you since you haven't been to Martin since what, 1994? You can't believe how badly we need to change things, especially when you are taking kids to that place. It's cozy, but it's so poorly outdated that even just 37,000 fans is a nightmare to get to the bathroom, or even something to eat or drink. The access to the stadium is terrible, too, so this will be wonderful! We certainly need to do this to compete with what the Beavs are going to look like when they are done.

The important thing to remember, however, is that the above pic of OSU is after PHASE 3 in their fundraising efforts. That would bring them to 55,000 seats, but that's only if/when they make it through 3 phases. It's a huge undertaking, probably going to be over $100 million, and that's a lot for a school like OSU. From what I've gathered through Todd, we're probably looking in the neighborhood of $75 - $80 million to totally accomplish what we want. We will probably have a couple of phases, but not 3. And, if things go as planned, we'll probably announce something by Apple Cup, and they'll break some ground early next year to have one phase possibly ready by kickoff of next year. They are still busting balls to get the big-time private donors wrapped up, and that just takes time. Todd says the good news is the money IS there to be had, though, so it's not like this will turn into the indoor practice facility disaster that was under the previous AD's watch!

On the game today - after a good night sleep, I think I've come to my senses. I'm going AZ 20, WSU 17. Pains me to say it, but I think we're going to suffer a heartbreaker today in the desert. It might even be an OT game, but Langley will lose one for us (and come to think of it, if he hits 3 of the missed/muffed field goals vs. Colorado, we'd be 3-0 today....).
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Friday, September 24, 2004

Hmmm, maybe I am too close to look at it correctly?

Interesting breakdown on the Arizona game, via

Here’s where the Pac-10 season really starts to take off. There’s one in-league game that’s basically a pick’em (Washington State @ Arizona), and two that the favorites ought to win by decent margins. Out of league, Oregon had better beat up Idaho if they want to have any kind of momentum when Arizona State comes into town, and Washington just has to hope the Irish are looking forward to Purdue’s visit and let themselves be vulnerable. Last week was a great week for the league, as there were some good wins and only one ugly loss. If Washington can somehow win at South Bend, the Pac-10 will have taken another big step forward. Oregon State at Arizona State is probably the game to watch this week, as both teams could really use a win. Arizona State is favored, but you never know; much, much stranger things have happened than Oregon State pulling out a win at Tempe.

Washington State (no line) @ Arizona
When looking at this game, it’s tough to identify one team that is significantly better than the other. This one ought to end up with a close line, most likely with Washington State favored by a point or two. At this stage of the year, that’s fair, since Arizona still has to show they can play well more consistently. They struggled against Northern Arizona, and didn’t look good against Utah. The Wisconsin game went better than expected for them, but you don’t want to read too much into one game.
Washington State has seemed to play at an overall higher level than Arizona. In the easy wins, Washington State blew the doors off of Idaho, instead of needing late cosmetic scores to make the game look good like Arizona did. Just as significantly, Wazzu has shown once again that they are able to play competitively outside of Pullman, playing decently at New Mexico.

The big key for Washington State, as always, is its defense and its ability to win the turnover battle. Heavner is a sophomore, so there’s a good chance he’ll make a couple of errant throws over the course of the game. The Cougars have to be watching for those and pick them off. Taking advantage of other teams’ poor execution seems to be a Washington State staple, so if Heavner is sloppy, they will get a couple of picks.

When the Cougars have the ball, they need just enough from their running game to keep the Wildcat defense honest and not focusing entirely on the pass. That may be a somewhat iffy proposition, as if you ignore the Idaho game, the Cougar ground game has been awful so far. Still, even if it ends up not being effective, simply their backs the ball once in a while may be enough to keep enough Arizona defenders in the box for the passing game to work. I think they may have to try occasional draws and screen passes to make sure that no one ignores their backs, but that’s doable for them.

On the Other Hand:
The thing with the Cougars is that it can be tough to pinpoint how good they are. It’s not unusual for them to get outgained on offense, but they usually win the turnover battle, and they rarely seem to make game-changing mistakes. That’s why the loss against Colorado was so unusual. It’s usually the Cougars who get that one or two big plays that turn the game around; they don’t have the talent to be competitive if they give any gifts to the other team.

Arizona seems to be improving every game. Part of that may be that teams don’t always take the Wildcats seriously, but I think that more of it is that they are executing better and avoiding mistakes. If they can play the same game they played against Wisconsin, spreading the ball around and avoiding turnovers, I think they’ll win.

On offense, the Cougars are way too dependent on Jason Hill. Even in the Idaho game, where they spread the ball around, he accounted for about half of their receiving yards. Do they have another deep threat? I’m looking through the stats, and it doesn’t look like it. Swogger looked good against Idaho, but that doesn’t say anything. The same thing goes for their running game. Until they can show they can run against a team with a pulse, no one’s going to bother respecting their ground attack, and will focus on stopping Swogger and Hill. If Swogger has to miss the game or is seriously affected by his injury from the Idaho game, Washington State may really struggle. Adding to their problems is the fact that against a much better Utah offense, with a much better quarterback, the Wildcat defense wasn’t bad. Against Wisconsin, who isn’t quite as good as Utah but still more explosive than the Cougars have looked, the Wildcats really took a step up and held them right until the fourth quarter.

If Arizona can avoid turning the ball over, I think they’ll be able to move the ball effectively and get themselves points. Heavner has been very good at spreading the ball around, though they’ll have to find a deep threat to keep the Cougar defense honest; otherwise, they’ll find themselves outnumbered in the passing game and Heavner will end up having to be very sharp to avoid interceptions. The Washington State defense has been playing okay this year; they were good for turnovers and bad for yards against New Mexico, and just the opposite against Colorado. We’ll see what happens here.

Bottom Line:
I don’t know what will happen when the Wildcats have the ball, but I think that it will be the key to the game. Can they move the ball without turning it over? I think they Cougars will put together a drive or two on offense, but not much more. If they can force turnovers, they can take advantage and put on extra points. If not, I think Arizona will overwhelm them with the yards they will gain, especially through the air. It’s just a guess, but I think that Washington State will only force one or two turnovers, enough to grab a few extra points, but not enough to overcome what Arizona is going to do.
@ Arizona 23, Washington State 20

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Football Friday 9/24 edition

Excellent points in your comments, Mikey. Once again, well put. Ah, the memories of Football Friday!

Here are my picks for this week, then I'll expand what I think happens tomorrow in our game:

UW @ Notre Dame
I have no real reason to say this, but I have a strange feeling that UW is going to battle like crazy. I have picked UW for the first 2 weeks and I'm 0-2 with them, and every expert on earth sees no reason they won't start 0-3 for the first time since 1969. But there is something to this game, I can't put my finger on it. Here's why you shouldn't like UW:
1) They gave up 400 rushing yards to the powder-puff blue last week;
2) Outside of Frederick they don't have a single receiver that is worth a damn;
3) It's the first road start of the career of Paus, and what a place to get your feet wet. Plus, have you actually SEEN Paus throw a pass? A glacial-like delivery and Kosar-like sidearm throw is about the ugliest I've seen in a long time;
4) Overall, UW looks young and dumb and don't seem to be able to make that play to win games, and really, sure they were stopped at the 2-yard line last week, but in reality they never should have even had the ball - the refs TOTALLY and completely blew a 4th-down offsides call, as UW was clearly in the neutral zone when Olson took a knee! That should have been a first down due to penalty, and UCLA ends the game wiht the ball.

However, Notre Dame is even tougher to figure out. They lost to BY-WHO, and have wins over Michigan State and Michigan. Well, the Big 10 is REALLY down this year, outside of Purdue and Minnesota it's a bunch of mediocre-at-best teams with serious questions marks. Michigan barely beat San Diego State at the Big House, while Michigan State lost to Rutgers....who lost to New Hampshire?!?!? Bad bad bad.

Here's why you should like UW - the last time everyone was saying they had no chance?? That would be the last 2 Apple Cup games. Just when you think they don't have a prayer....well....we know what happens.

Throw it all in the mixing bowl, what do you get? Notre Dame closes the deal late and wins, but UW gives them a fight. Notre Dame 24, UW 21.

USC @ Stanford
Some people see a close game here, as USC is still young on the o-line and WR's, but not me. SC has more talent that you can imagine. Can you really see Buddy Teevens beating them????? I don't think so. USC 45, Stanford 14.

The Beavs got their first W last week, but it wasn't the blowout they were hoping for. Meanwhile ASU not being ranked in the AP is nearly a CRIME. They are hot, they are pissed, and they are really good. ASU in a runaway, 38-17.

Idaho @ Oregon
Oregon wins their first game, 56-10. 'Nuff said.

Finally, the beloved Crimson Cougs @ the Mildcats.

All I know about us so far this year is a strange sample-set. 1) We won a big one on the road in week 1 where we looked shaky, yet finished strong, 2) we looked about as bad as we have looked since the 1994 season against Colorado, and 3) we looked like the co-conference champ last week! Add it all up, what do you get?? Most likely something right in the middle.

We're not as good as we were last week, we're not as bad as we were vs. Colorado. We're somewhere in the middle. As Mead loves to say, "You're never that bad, and you're never that good either!" It's very true. We have that classic look of a 6-win team, with some breaks maybe 8 wins, but that's the ceiling.

Like many of our games this year, this whole thing comes down to the 2 large issues - 1) how do we do at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball? And 2) How will Swogger handle the blitz?

For the lines, I can't help but wonder how we're going to handle the pressure that they will bring. They don't have a bunch of all-americans over there, but they are at least as good as Colorado, and they had a field day with our o-line. Then again, we've gone back to the scheme that we are comfortable and successful with, some 2-back and a lot of shotgun, so maybe we'll look like we did vs. Texas, NOT like Colorado or New Mexico! Word is too that Armstrong is getting healthier, so that can only help.

Defensively, you know they are going to try to run right at us. It's the old adage, how do you beat speed? You don't try to beat it outside, you can't. You run RIGHT AT IT. So look for a lot of stuff right up the gut. Just hope Johnson and Howard can hold their ground and keep the guards off Derting! All I know is those guys did one hell of a job against Colorado, so I expect them to fight hard.

I predict that we'll at least get a draw on the lines. We won't necessarily win the battle, but I don't think we'll lose it either.

2) As for Swogger, you can't help but feel good not only with the new approach to the running game, but he doesn't have to feel like it's all on his shoulders. He had his best game ever as a player with the 4 TD passes, and he looked really sharp last week. It's a wonder what a young QB can do when it's not 3rd-and-12 every single posession! Idaho didn't bring much of a pass rush, however, as they had to keep things honest against a running game that nearly had 300 yards. So, expect a lot of New Mexico type blitzing. Can Swogger get the ball out in time? Further, will the WR's cut off their routes properly when they see a blitz, as Levy alluded to after the Colorado game that it wasn't all Swoggs, that the WR's not only dropped the ball but did some bad things running routes?? Is last week a mirage, or do we get nervous as young teams tend to do on the road and fall back to poor habits!??!

The Bottom line? After what I watched of Arizona last week, before we played Idaho, even then I thought we are better than they are in all phases of the game. So they nearly beat Wisconsin, so what? They are part of that grouping of overrated Big 10 teams, they were playing without Anthony Davis and their game was delayed 90 minutes due to lightning, so that whole game was completely out of synch. Also, Arizona had a chance to win but didn't. That can really hurt a young team's confidence early in the year. It's possible they'll have a hangover from last week early on, and that is the time to jump on them.

One more thing on Swoggs. He does take care of the football. He only has 2 picks this year, one of which ESPN clearly showed was a horrible call vs. New Mexico and the ball clearly hit the grass, so while he has been a victim of drops and been a little erratic, he's not turnover-prone. In other words, he's looking like Derek Anderson minus the picks and fumbles! I think he has another strong game, not as good as last week, but he'll make a lot of good decisions, the WR's will make plays, we'll have just enough of a running game to keep them honest, and WSU WINS, 27-10!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

9/21 coaches show recap

Interesting stuff:

Bob: asked about Swogger

Doba: Practiced some today. Knee has not swollen, partial tear of the PCL, says he’s doing fine, was fitted for a custom brace Monday which won’t be here till Thursday, it's a game time decision,

Bob: asked how he got hurt

Doba: He fell on his knee, got tackled and fell directly on his knee. He said that "it didn't hurt, just kinda wiggles when I run, should I see the trainer?" Trainer said hell I don’t even have one of those PCL's. If there's any question, we won’t play him. The decision is up to the medical staff.
Made a point of noting that Basler throws the ball in the fake punt play and that he wants everyone, especially Arizona, to know about the FAKE PUNT PLAY!

--------- break -------

Paul from Tacoma: Why was the first team out there in the start of the third quarter?

Doba: The starters deserved to play that first series, we played 64 kids by the end of the game, we wanted to see if they could keep the momentum for future games. Wanted to get one more score before putting in the reserves.

Bob: Derting's stinger?

Doba: he practiced today, give credit to Idaho, their staff and team continued to play hard, our heart goes out to them with the loss of Eric, senseless.

--------- break -------

Gary in Spokane: O-line, Idaho had a pretty good surge against Howard & Johnson, still thinking about odd man alignments against Arizona

Doba: probably move & slant than change alignments. They are good and have a true freshman RT, rest are juniors & seniors.

Halle on a cell phone: Worried about inside d-line

Doba: Jordan Wright Frisbee, we tried like heck to recruit him

Bob: Jed Collins

Doba: Jed Collins, true freshamn at mlb, played three ways, career day for a freshman, blocking back, caught a pass, recovered a fumble, returned a ko 30 yards, he's five of the 64 but we just count him once. :-)

Bob: It's an incestuous (word he learned in Colfax, after Doba made fun of the big word) relationship. Livengood, Casey Dunn, Neil, Galloway, Delconte, all former wsu coaches also soccer coach, their o-line coach went to the same HS as swogger, their radio announcer is from Tacoma

Doba: That's a plethora of information (learned that from you last week after Bob teased Doba about the'big' word)

Bob: Ran down the pac-10 schedule

Doba: It's supposed to be 95 degrees, originally scheduled as an evening game, but money talks, playing much harder, defense is very athletic, safeties are excellent, good team speed, offense is getting a bad rap, QB is ranked 25 nation, Michael Bell, special teams are good, coach Dunn knows what we do, expects no blowouts rest of the season, lots of close games

Bob: Stoops?

Doba: Got to do some recruiting, tried to steal some of ours (Harrison was talking) got about four coach akeys over there kids obviously didn’t care for Mackovic,

Bob: Different starting times from week to week?

Doba: We have a routine, four hours pregame meal, arrive two hours prior then go to position meetings, same routine regardless of KO time. Bed check at 10:30. No family in rooms, all must meet in lobby - avoids the 'she’s my sister stuff!' Description og clap sessions, mental preparation. mental prep is essential but you can’t get stronger thinking about lifting weights.

Mark from Seattle: I see you took my suggestion on shotgun and what's the biggest change going from coordinator to HC?

Doba: Thanks it's good we have this show on Tuesday so we have time to work in your suggestions. I’ve become a cheerleader, I spend a lot of time with offense to learn, spend time with defense to lend expertise. Says he would be a better DC now, with what he's learned about offense.

Don from Spokane: Been a Cougar since his 1953 graduation – we had one penalty!

Doba: This group of players is a good bunch of kids, very disciplined, let's hand the ball to official, treat them with dignity and respect, don’t spin the ball, don’t make them chase it down, doubts if that [one penalty] will ever happen again but hopes it will Click here for more Comments

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

9/21 weekly press release

As the picture on the main site reads, "Josh Swogger will lead the Cougs against Arizona in the Pac-10 opener" pretty much salts it away who the starting QB is going to be?

Interesting thing to note - of WSU's complete 2-deep roster, 44 players, 36 of them are underclassmen! Only 8 seniors on the entire 2-deep. If we can pull out a winning season with so many kids, man oh man imagine what next year (and beyond) will bring! Let's hope these guys keep learning on the job, and with just 4 more wins, we have a winning year and bowl game (and extra practices to boot) and we're in everyone's top-25 next year. EXCITING STUFF!

Finally, on Jason Hill - 4 TD's in 2 games, all 3 catches were TD's last week. But there was one TD catch that was special, moreso than the others, and I'm not talking about the "I'm faster/quicker/more athletic than you" bob-n-weave on the bubble screen. I think it was the 2nd TD catch, but it was an absolute LASER beam from Swogger, who tried to hit Hill on the post in the end zone. What was amazing was how tightly covered Hill was, not only in bump-n-run with the corner but the safety was right there over the top, yet still 1) the ball got through the window, and 2) Hill made a great catch! Check it out:

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Weekly picks recap

I went 4-1 this week, missing on the weak-sister UW giving up 400 yards on the ground (WTF!?!?!?).

Lawson went 5-1, missing on ASU (but he didn't need to pick that game, really.)

Going forward, here's what we'll do - we'll pick ALL Pac-10 games and roll from there. Rooster, if you want to get involved, just hit Comments and enter in who you think we'll win.

The games we'll pick this week:

UW @ Notre Dame
USC @ Stanford
Idaho @ Oregon (seriously)
* UCLA and Cal are both off this week.

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Post-Idaho ramblings

First off, the big news - how is Swogger? Well, the news ain't the worst, but it's not great either. The official word is his PCL is partially torn. The good news? There is NO pain or swelling, and he's going to wear a brace and practice. He wants to play, and Doba said he'll be re-evaluated again Tuesday. However, a word of caution - reportedly they are STILL evaluating the MRI, so we're not out of the woods yet.

On the flip side? It's a good move this week, no matter what, to float a little doubt for Arizona's coaching staff. Make them guess a little bit until our offense takes the field as far as who is going to play. They are different QB's, so make Arizona prepare for both!

Plenty of good news from the game, as we were better in every facet - running game was strong, the o-line did a decent job with no sacks or holding penalties, Swogger had 4 TD throws in the first half, all was good. Also, Jason Hill - have we found a superstar?? Over 200 yards receiving last week, then follows it up with 3 TD's in the first half this week? Further, he's the guy who caused a first-half fumble on a punt return by Idaho, then scored a TD on the next play! He's got size and speed, and now he's showing a knack for just flat-out making plays. Hard not to be excited about a sophomore like that!

The running game was very strong, and Bruhn ran with purpose. Quite a few extra yards after the first hit, and he looked much less tentative. I think the Shotgun was a thing of beauty, and we even had a few 2-back sets which was a sight to behold! Much better approach to committing to the running game, and that gives some hope for the future.

Ok, ok, all things have to be taken in context. This was Idaho, who, if you watched the game, is nowhere NEAR WSU in terms of size, speed, depth, experience, you name it. They have to be one of the worst D-1 teams, hands down. Last year we actually struggled with them, only scoring 1 TD while Dunning kicked what, 6 field goals for a 25-0 win? So even though it was Idaho, so many positive things happened for a young football team that you can't help but be happy with the end result!

The most frustrating thing? As Lawson and I discussed late Saturday, Swogger looked exactly the same as he did vs. Colorado! The difference is these guys caught the f-in ball! ZERO drops. That's got to be a youth/focus problem more than a talent problem. There were a couple of amazing catches, Marty Moore specifically had a great catch, and a couple of catches Hill had that were absolutely perfect.

All that said!??! I'm scared about this game. I watched 3 quarters of the Arizona Wisconsin matchup, and we have a lot to be concerned about. Arizona's defense flies to the ball, definitely a Stoops-Oklahoma approach of speed and aggression, causing havoc. They are active up front and I see them giving us complete fits trying to run the ball! We get in 3rd-and-long, they are going to bring the house.

So, the big questions:

1) Will we see more shotgun? Did it actually help the offense this week, or was it just a product of playing a 5A high school team??
2) Will Bruhn continue to be aggressive? Or will he revert back to the dancing fool who looked slow and indecisive the first couple of weeks?
3) Can Swogger with a bulky knee brace avoid the rush and get rid of the ball to the right spot? Will the coaches give him extra pass blocking help with keeping a tight end in to block or keeping Bruhn or Harrison in the backfield to pick up the blitz? If we thought New Mexico and Colorado was tough, wait until we see what Stoops unleashes on Saturday. Ok, they aren't the desert swarm, I mean talent wise they aren't the same, but they are playing with a chip on their shoulder, a much different attitude than the last few seasons.
4) Have we really improved at catching the ball, or will the young WR's get nervous again, on the road against a physical team like Arizona?
5) How will we handle the heat? It is supposed to be in the 90's, but it's a "dry heat". Then again, it's going to be about a 30-40 degree temp change for these guys vs. what they've been living in since mid-August. Our depth is going to be crucial, especially on the D-line. Doba reported yesterday that both Ropati and Cook are extremely doubtful for this week, but he is hopeful for both returning for the Oregon game. The good news is Ropati showed some progress and will actually test the ankle on Wednesday, so you never know, but Cook is certain to miss the game.
6) Finally, Brink - if the injury to Swogger is worse as the week goes on or re-aggrevated early in the game, can Brink keep it together and win the game for us? Or is he just the remedy for Arizona to win their conference opener??!?! I hate to see what Stoops would do if Brink is in the game. Talk about deer-in-the-headlights. Click here for more Comments

Friday, September 17, 2004

9/17 News-n-notes


Interesting tidbits from the local papers.
First, looks like we're seeing some changes on the o-line. Great move if you ask me, let's see some hunger from the line!

From the TNT:

Changing the line - Doba said he expects two new starters on the offensive line for Saturday. Based on their performances this week, sophomore Charles Harris and redshirt freshman Bobby Byrd will start at guards instead of Patrick Afif and Norvell Holmes. Doba said Afif and Holmes should still play, however.
Line play has been a concern in the first two games. The Cougars have given up eight sacks and rushed for 46 yards after yardage lost from sacks are subtracted.

Not to keep kicking a dead horse, but Bud Withers in the Times goes over the QB situation, one last time:

Here's what led to the thought processes that put Alex Brink at the controls in the crucial moments last week:

In practice a week ago, Swogger was only average, not especially convincing on his understanding of Colorado's defense, while Brink was sharp. Swogger did an about-face, opening the game strongly — except his receivers treated the ball like the West Nile virus.

Swogger's play then went downhill, and quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach thought he detected him getting frustrated, a zone they don't want to visit.

Meanwhile, Brink threw a fatal interception, but Rosenbach didn't want to lift him then.

"I just felt at the time, it was technical," Rosenbach said this week of the interception. "The decision was late, because technically he wasn't right."

Rosenbach also knew Brink reads vertical routes well, and WSU needed to go deep. Indeed, the redshirt freshman threw a pass over the top to Jason Hill for a 60-yard touchdown.

It wasn't enough to win, reinforcing the coaches' belief that there would be some growing pains this year.

Rosenbach's take on Swogger's development: "He's got a work ethic that's pretty incredible. He's gotten a lot better technically. He's very good at putting the ball on people (accurately). His ability to throw on the run has improved dramatically. Those things, and his leadership."

And Brink: "Everybody talks that his arm strength is not great. It's a lot stronger than a lot of guys that have played there. He has a very good ability to see the field."

When you look at those comments, WHY IS THERE EVEN A QUESTION over which one should start!?!?!?!?!? Let's get a running game and some pass blocking, give Swoggs a chance!

Finally, a good read in the P-I about our two young D-tackles. Pretty good read (didn't know both were offensive players to begin with, same with Mkristo):

Finally, looks like JC transfer Tyron Brackenridge will miss another game with a sore hammy. He hasn't played since the New Mexico game, but to be honest, he wasn't missed last week and probably won't be missed this week either. Since Arizona doesn't throw a whole lot, it might be best to shut him down and wait until Oregon, who will throw it a TON.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

This week's press release

Looks like the weekly release is up on the Coug's website. Check it out, you need Adobe to view it however, it's a PDF file:

Something to note - 15 underclassmen are starters on the depth chart! 3 seniors on defense, 4 seniors on offense, and that's it folks. If you count both kicker and punter, that's 17 underclassmen out of 24 possible starters! As it's never to early to look ahead, we will be SCARY good next year, and with a real chance to beat even the mighty men of Troy (USC, not Troy, Ala.)!

Read today that Doba does have hope that either Ropati or Cook can make the trip to Arizona next week, so maybe one of them will improve.


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Weekly picks?

Every week from here on out, I think we should all pick the northwest schools games, plus the next opponent for WSU. Here are my picks for this week:

IDAHO - Cougs - I've got a funny feeling this one will be very close early, as we might really force things and make more mistakes. However, in the 2nd half, WSU's talent level and depth will take over, the running game will get loose, and we'll roll. Knowing Doba, he'll never run up the score on his neighbor, so look for something in the 38-10 or 42-14 neighborhood.

UCLA @ UW - VERY tough game to call. UCLA looked a heck of a lot better last week, but that was against what is considered the worst team in the Big 10, Illinois. Then again, UW looks like ONE of the worst teams in the Pac-10, so who knows! UCLA has been successful against UW lately, and they still have serious offensive weapons. It's the D that worries me, particularly the D-line. Look for UW to totally reign in the offense and run it about 50 times, with Paus throwing maybe 15 or 20 times, TOPS. They will control the clock, control the ball, wear out UCLA's soft defense, and ultimately, win it 28-24.

Oregon @ Oklahoma - YUCK (and I'm not talking about Oregon's uni's!). Oregon blows one to the (W)Hoosiers, at home??? Are you kidding me? What happened to Auzten anyway? Didn't that used to be a tough place to win for a visitor? Weird. Anyway, Oklahoma will run and throw at will and Clemens will throw about 3 picks in the first half, and it'll be ugly. The Ducks will get drilled this week, I'm thinking 44-16, something like that.

New Mexico @ Oregon State - Another hard game as well. New Mexico just had one of their biggest wins ever, beating Texas Tech last week on the last play of the game. Meanwhile the Beavs are absolutely lost. They are missing Steven Jackson and now that they have to rely on Derek Anderson, the turnovers are coming in bunches. New Mexico will be pissed after their embarrassing loss on ESPN last year to the Beavs in their bowl game, but will it be enough? I think the Beavs will be ready, playing at home and dying for win #1, and will pull out a tough one, 23-20.

Finally, WSU's next opponent - Arizona hosts Wisconsin.
Wisconsin will be without Anthony Davis, but it shouldn't matter that much. They have a lot of talent and many people like Wisconsin in the Big 10 this year. Their defense is really strong, especially up front, and will manhandle Arizona. The Mildcats played Utah tough last week, but still lost 23-6. Look for something similar this week, probably WISC 24, ARZ 10, something in that area.

Fire away with your picks! Just click on Comments, and enter what you think will happen.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

More from the coaches show

More from the coaches show:

Asked about the lack of early verbal commitments, Coach said they are being more selective this year. WSU only has about 13 spots for this year's class, almost half of what they had last year. Pointed to Arizona as one example of many early commits, but they have a brand new coaching staff competing hard to try and steal from ASU and that they have double the spots in their class that WSU does for this year. Says offering early can backfire, especially before the player has played his senior season. Sometimes you are only going off film from one good high school season, plus the word of their coaches and sometimes their principal! Of course, recruiting is an inexact science, always has been, always will be, but Pflugrad continues to do an unbelievable job.

Asked about more Cody Boyd in double tight sets. Coach says he needs to get stronger, and that he obviously has struggled with drops. He really is hoping for improvement, but probably won't see him split out in the slot like they had toyed with in the offseason.

Asked if Basler was lining up too short for the snap as a caller noticed that there have been some close calls and that Basler hasn't been kicking as well so far. Coach said he's at 14 yards since he's a one step punter. The block was the coaches mistake by the way. They brought their corner in and left our split end unblocked. We are supposed to call for a pass play, a fake punt, if that happens, but the coaches waived it off since we were on our own 15. We didn't want to have Basler throwing in that situation with the game hanging in the balance. He said they've addressed the blocking problem.

Asked about the Vandals:
1. They have a great qb
2. They have a great coach, 41-year old Holt who has done a great job
3. Their defense didn't quit and improved from week one to week two
4. They have several good receivers
5. They have a good young RB
6. They have a good defense that really flies around with a swagger. Holt is former USC LB coach so he knows aggressive defense.

Doba stressed that this will be a tough opponent, and as we've seen, anyone can beat anyone in college football.
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Lawson's response

All I can say is, wow!

Man, do I wish I lived in the NW to hear that coaches show.....

Excellent points made by coach Doba through Mr. Hawkins overall...

Did you guys read that the CU coach/ex-WSU assistant said that he thought the Cougs had a great chance to run the table with the defense????

It will be an interesting ride, for sure...lets just get out of the next two weeks alive at 3-1 and without further injury and then see how the season unfolds....interesting bellweather games this weekend though...notably UCLA-UW, OSU-New Mexico, Iowa-ASU (the Big 10 may be REAL overrated this year) and is it just me, or are you guys beginning to wonder if Stanford may be good this year????

I'm sticking with 31-7 sleeper for this weekend (and chalk up 3 missed field goals by our weiner kicker)
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Instead of throwing around e-mails all the time on all things WSU football, I thought it might be easier and more fun to have a running web blog. What do you guys think? I will send you guys a login in and password so you can log in with your responses, and we can just keep a running tally for the rest of the year.

Here is a recap of an e-mail that I just sent Lawson, but Rooster, I keep getting bounced by your e-mail:

Lawson thought are in for a serious QB controversy, where I responded:

Sorry Mikey, but I totally disagree. I heard him on the coaches show last night and he further clarified his statement. He said "Josh Swogger is the starter, period. He earned the job in the spring, he earned it again this fall, he's the captain, he's our starter." Bob Robertson then asked him "is this like a starting pitcher and a reliver situation, where the starter will go a certain amount and then the reliever closes it out?" and Doba said "no. If the starting pitcher is getting absolutely blown out, shelled, well, we know we have a capable reliever in the bullpen that we can bring in to try and save the game. But it won't happen often, if at all. Josh is our ace and he's the guy we're going to go with the rest of the year." He also said he made Rosie sit down with both QB's on Sunday night and they talked through a variety of things, then after films they talked again and the decision to stick with Swoggs was unanimous. There will NOT BE A QB CONTROVERSY THIS YEAR!

UW outtake - contrast that with UW, there one day it's Paus, the next day it's Bonnell, then it's back to Paus will play but so will Bonnell, then it's Paus will play the whole game, NOW it's Bonnell will get a few series! Now that is a QB controversy! A little bird told me that straight from the fat horse's mouth last week, that once things go to hell this year (and they are actually expecting to be bad the rest of the year, sub-500 for sure) that they are going to roll out Bonnell by the middle of the season and he will be the QB the rest of the way. The thinking is that the fans will accept a losing season much easier if they sell it as a "learning" experience with a young QB, vs. going nowhere with Paus who will be a senior next year, or struggling even worse with Stanbeck. Once that happens, you'll see Bonnell the starter, Paus the backup, and they are going to move Stanbeck to a slot position on offense to get the ball in his hands in the open field.

Don't worry, it's Swogger the rest of the way.....unless he STINKS so friggin' bad he can't do anything right, which I highly doubt.

Doba said some other interesting things re: Saturday. Said that Colorado blitzed only 4 times against CSU, but they blitzed 30 times (!) against the Cougs! Doba called up Craig Bray after the game (Bray was a WSU coach under Doba, now a secondary coach at CU) and asked why they did that, what did they see in WSU to make them blitz that much, and Bray said it was less about WSU and more about CU's DB's. He said they were way too young and vulnerable back there, and so they felt they had no choice but to blitz. Doba said the blitz packages were nothing they had seen from Colorado, so there were mistakes made not only by Swoggs, but by the WR's and o-line as well.

Doba also said that, of course, that it wasn't all Swogger's fault. The WR's were cutting off routes too early, or too late, or whatever. He said the drops were awful and that the WR's are working with Levy the rest of the week on some new things, so who knows?

Doba was asked where the shotgun offense was. He said that they have it in the offense, but they have been reluctant to use it. He said the reason is they are worried about Swogger taking his eyes off the coverage for a second or two to catch the snap, and that for a young QB, they feel that it's better for him to NEVER take his eyes off the defense, and if he takes his traditional 5-7 step drops, it's better for him to see the whole field at all times. Doba said they felt great about using it last year with Kegel because he was a senior who had seen a lot of things, and pretty much knew EXACTLY what to do before the ball was even snapped. It's not the case with young QB's as they continue to learn on the job. They are strongly considering it for this week, however, and Doba said specifically to help improve the running game.

Doba was asked about the running game, again, and if they would consider more 2-back or double-tights. Doba said "what, were you at practice today??" and he kind of laughed it off. He then said "I don't want to share any secrets for this Saturday, but that is an EXCELLENT question and something we will strongly consider!" It was funny, but also it sure sounds like we're going to see some extra emphasis on the run (no surprise, given it's Idaho).

Doba said that Cook and Ropati are both out at least 3 weeks with leg injuries. They are hopeful both are going to be back for the Oregon game, but for now, they are out for the next 2 games. They will start Johnson and Howard in the middle, and they will move some other guys around. They might even slide Braidwood into a DT slot on obvious passing downs and bring in a rush end like Bobo, something to that effect, to not only help the pass rush but to give those DT's a breather. They are concerned about the next two weeks, so much so that they are moving one lineman (Boyer?) from offense to defense, and they will also get another kid off the practice squad to help fill in. Doba mentioned the heat at Arizona, and even though the game is 9/25, it's been moved to the day hours for TV purposes, so it'll likely still be in the 90's. So depth will be important as that will be the hottest weather they've felt since mid-August, and that could be a concern, especially if we can't run the ball and the d is on the field for 40 minutes!

All in all, a great coaches show. It's never THAT bad (unless you are Idaho), and it's never that good (unless you are USC)!
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