Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Post Cup Stuff

So, WHAT A WIN. I know, they are 1-10, we're 5-6 and lifting weights for the bowl season, but you know what?? It felt AMAZING to run on that field. As Doba said after the game, don't let ANYONE say this game doesn't mean anything, because it means a hell of a lot!

I told anyone who would listen to me pre-game that we would win 28-10, and halfway through the 3rd quarter it was looking good, but then UW has to go and pull the worst QB in school history in favor of a wildly erratic (but really talented) kid in Stanbeck. Man is he quick, but as DJ Talarico pointed out, you have to be more than fast to effectively run the option. Sure enough, a couple of times they tried it he did NOTHING. And, aside from two deep throws and a few scrambles, Stanbeck really isn't ready to do anything over a full game, let alone a full season. As bad as Paus was, it probably screamed volumes that Stanbeck couldn't beat that guy out!

Remember, before people get too carried away about the dreadlocks, all of Husky nation was a-twitter over Paus last year when he came off the bench to go 5-for-8 with 100 yards passing vs. Oregon last year in their 42-10 rout! Many said Paus was the next great one at UW, and look how that worked out. Stanbeck's line from Saturday? 5-for-8, 100 yards, and a LOSS. So there you have it. Let's not hand him the Heisman, not just yet.

What blew me away was watching the replay of the game on Sunday night, and how disappointing it was to see how BADLY both safeties bit on the last TD pass! Stanbeck goes back to pass, play-action, and both safeties took like 5 steps toward the line of scrimmage. Totally fooled, there was virtually no chance for them to recover, and Stanbeck beats them deep with Chambers. Boy oh boy, starting with that Oregon game, any team worth a damn just killed us this year with the over-aggressive safeties! I will always point to that game as being the entire season. Easy to say now, of course, I mean we win just that game and we are in a bowl game today. But it was more than just that, it was the whole confidence thing for a young team that was just destroyed. Win that one, they probably beat Stanford the next week too, and we're probably sitting here today at 7-4.

Oh well. In reality, maybe a 5-6 season was a good thing for a great young nucleus. Keep them focused on getting back to a winning unit, that extra motivation to prove themselves, all that stuff. And, to hear Doba talk, as badly as we are injured it might be an ok thing to not have another game on the schedule!

Speaking of young teams, I know I've been saying it lately, but it's really fun to think about how much we have coming back next year. 9 starters on offense, 9 starters on D, man oh man it could be a special season next year. Take a look:

OFFENSE:

SE – 83 - Jason Hill – 6’, 198, JR
19 – Greg Prator – 6’, 210, SR
86 – Tremaine Murray – 5-10, 183, SR

LT – 71 – Spencer Hollison – 6-6, 290, JR
LG – 70 – Bobby Byrd – 6-7, 300, SO
C – 66 – Nick Milhauser – 6-3, 290, SR
RG – 76 – Norvell Holmes – 6-2, 310, SR
RT – 55 – Charles Harris – 6-6, 315, JR

TE – 81 - Troy Bienemann – 6-4, 250, SR
80 – Cody Boyd – 6-8, 251, JR
47 – Jesse Taylor – 6-3, 242, JR

SB – 5 – Michael Bumpus – 5-11, 175, SO
6 - Marty Martin – 5-10, 186, SR
36 – Jevon Miller – 6-0, 195, SR

QB – 9 – Josh Swogger – 6-5, 250, JR
10 – Alex Brink – 6-2, 204, SO
18 – Gary Rogers – 6-4, 215, R-FR
12 – Arkelon Hall – 6-2, 200, TRUE Frosh

RB – 1 – Jerome Harrison – 5-9, 192, SR
4 – Allen Thompson – 5-10, 209, SR
20 – Kevin McCall – 5-11, 209, SO

FL – 2 – Chris Jordan – 6-1, 204, JR
88 – Trandon Harvey – 5-11, 193, SR
87 – Thomas Ostrander – 6-2, 200, SR

PK – 27 – Loren Langley – 5-7, 150, SO
18 – Graham Siderius – 6-2, 207, SR

Total – 9 offensive starters back from 2004 team, including kicker

On Jason Hill - think about this. A redshirt sophomore who only played WR this year and only on special teams last year, with these young QB's and no running game early in the year, and he STILL sets a team record for TD's in an 11-game season?? WOW. What a player! And a BIG play guy at that. 45 catches for 1007 yards and 12 TD's with green QB's and no running game to speak of for half the year?? Even bigger - OVER 22 yards per catch! Now that is a big-play guy. He's the home run threat every team needs, yet he's more than just Daryl Turner redux.

The other player who really looks like he will be special is Harrison. 900 yards rushing on 174 carries, 5.2 yards per carry and 9 touchdowns??? This is a guy that didn't even get double-digit carries until the 4th game, and didn't even start until the 6th game of the year. What a season for that guy, and what a year he should have next year! As Rooster will attest, the guy up close and personal is more 5-foot-7 than 5-foot-10, but he's got some guns on him and certainly showed he's not just a speed guy.

DEFENSE

WE – 94 – Mkristo Bruce – 6-6, 245, JR
82 – Adam West – 6-6, 248, SR
59 – Rayshawn Bobo – 6-2, 230, SO

LT – 40 – Aaron Johnson – 6-6, 303, SO
58 – Matt Mullenix – 6-6, 250, SO

RT – 75 – Ripoti Pitoitua – 6-8, 275, SO
19 – Odell Howard – 6-3, 287, JR

SE – 13 – Adam Braidwood – 6-5, 265, SR
54 – Paul Stevens – 6-3, 250, SO

WLB – 42 – Scott Davis - 5-11, 230, JR

MLB – 51 – Will Derting - 6-0, 235, SR
56 – Chris Baltzer - 6-0, 225, JR
43 – Brian Hall (6-2, 228, JR)

SLB – 49 – Steve Dildine - 6-2, 220, JR


LCB – 32 – Omowale Dada - 5-11, 190, SR
25 – Don Turner - 6-0, 187, JR
27 – Shelton Danzy – 5-10, 185, FR.

SS – 24 – Husain Abdullah – 6-0, 188, SO
**Wildcard – Michael Willis – 6-2, 210, FR
FS – 37 – Eric Frampton - 5-11, 195, JR
34 - Christian Bass - 6-2, 195, SO

RCB – 21 – Alex Teems (5-11, 176, JR)
12 – Tyron Brackenridge (5-11, 180, SR)

P – 8 - Kyle Basler (6-3, 230, SR)


Total – 9 starters returning from 2004 team, including punter and a superstar in Derting??? Uh, let's see, that's 18 starters next year that started games this year on both sides of the ball.

I'm really excited about the d-tackles, for good reason. Johnson will be back from the knee injury, and Ripoti has a REAL chance to be something else. You can't coach 6-8, 280 with great feet! Wait until he reports next year at 300.

Of course, the LB's are stacked. I wonder, though, as many have been speculating lately, but will they slide Derting back to his natural position for next year? Or do they hope he puts on more muscle to survive the year in the middle? Can't underestimate how the wrist injury + green DT's + broken wrist + new position hurt him this year, but he still rallied for a good (but not great) year. He sure was big in the AC, though, no question the best player on the field. He sets up for a gigantic season next year, provided health is on his side.

There are also several players that will make themselves known this spring and summer with the workouts and all that. Plus, there are probably bound to be a few guys that fall off or disappear due to injury, academics, etc, but the foundation is there for a 9-2 season next year.

There are weaknesses, sure. Kicking game needs to get better. The safeties have to better defend the pass in a pass-first league. Both Bruce and Braidwood need to rush the passer a little better this year, but hopefully the depth will help them out next year.

Glancing at the schedule, here's the way it looks (and I'm already predicting wins and losses, I know, WAY too early to do that. I'm also going to call one of our bye's a gimmie-win based on rumblings that we'll schedule a creampuff-city opponent. Fine by me):

2005 (Arizona missing)
W - September 3 IDAHO AT PULLMAN
W - September 10 Nevada at Reno
September 17 Open + -or- (FCD, BD)
W - September 24 Open + (CREAMPUFF STATE???)
L - October 1 Oregon State at Corvallis
W - October 8 Stanford AT PULLMAN
W - October 15 UCLA AT PULLMAN (HC)
L - October 22 California at Berkeley
L - October 29 USC at Los Angeles
W - November 5 Arizona State AT PULLMAN (DD)
W - November 12 Oregon AT PULLMAN (AFD)
W - November 19 Washington at Seattle

That's 8-3 right there. I think the Oregon State game at Corvallis is a swing game, could go either way. We'll be better than them, top to bottom, but at Corvallis, we just don't play well. I know Cal loses a lot of guys on paper, but Tedford has done an amazing job of stocking that team with depth that is USC-like, so I really don't think they'll drop off much. We won't beat USC at LA, and it might be a while before we can take them again (maybe in '06?). Otherwise, I'm confident in all those games, including UW at Seattle who will be a losing team again next year, virtually guaranteed.

One more final thing - there is now some whispering that Jonathan Stewart is leaning towards USC after all. He is visiting there THIS coming weekend, which happens to be the Notre Dame game. For what it's worth, Notre Dame has offered him a scholarship and has him highly rated, so both schools are after him. There was talk two weeks ago that people had been told off the record that he was coming to WSU, but there has been new info after this weekend that point to him going elsewhere, USC being the leader. There was even scuttlebutt that a WSU coach told someone on Sunday that they feel like Stewart is "slipping away from us."

Again, it's just one running back, and if he wants to go be another horse in Pete Carroll's stable, then go for it. However if he wants to come in and compete to play - right away - behind Harrison and get 10 carries a game as a true frosh, then come here. It is also just recruiting, and you never, ever know how someone will pan out until they get into the system.


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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Lawson picking UW??

Lawson:

"this weekend: I still think the Dawgs win this one..why? because we can't score if we don't get six (our kicking game is HORRIBLE!) and I have ZERO confidence in Brink and ZERO confidence in our pass defense....So, the way I see it is that Harrison gets 175...we will rack up 500 yards of total offense and lose 24-21...and yes, we will miss at least two field goals....Hope I am wrong, but I think Paus will play well, and I think Brink will make a couple of HUGE TOs...one that will directly lead to 6 for the puppies and the other that will take 6 away from us...But, man, the difference between 5-6 and 4-7 is HUGE...and man, do we need to get that Husky Monkey off of our backs!!!!!"

Michael, COME ON. Let's think about this for a minute.

First off, on offense for WSU - we will run the ball like crazy on these guys. Not only have they lost several decent players over the course of the season, but in just the last 4 days they have officially lost two of their best defensive players in Lobendahn and now the big d-lineman, Mike Muliapuloioa. That's two HUGE losses for them, two players that really helped them play good, aggressive D that we saw for 30 minutes a game the last month for UW before wearing down based on the 117th-ranked scoring offense in the NCAA (that would be DEAD last!).
Trust me, if we commit to the run - and STICK to the run, no matter what - just like we did vs. UCLA, well, it won't be all about Brink making a key mistake. He'll only be asked to throw under 30 times, max. I see a repeat offensive performance from the UCLA game, and I believe Brink will be just fine.

Next, offensively for UW - easily their 3 best players, their 3 offensive captains to begin the year, will ALL be out of the game - Khalif Barnes, their best lineman in years, Charles Frederick, and all-everything fullback Tuiasosiopo, all OUT. The apple cup hero from last year, Corey Williams, also out with a broken wrist. They won't even suit up. Their tight ends are beat up to all hell. The running game has been below-average, at best. The passing game has been "fools gold" so to speak, racking up some OK numbers of late, but it's very misleading. On paper it looks ok, but what you've seen is numbers coming after the games were WAY WAY WAY out of hand and the dogs have been "called off" so to speak, and the other team just kind of sits back and surrenders the 8-yard out vs. giving up the home run ball. Don't worry. Paus is AWFUL and sure, he might throw for 300 yards, but he'll also throw a couple of picks in crucial situations and even when guys get open, he'll throw it in the dirt of 5 feet over everyone. He's horribly inaccurate, incredibly slow and predictible in his delivery, and even a weak WSU secondary will be all over these guys.

One more thing on UW's offense - I heard Hugh Millen, former UW QB great and really a very good analyst on KJR yesterday, talking about the offense. He said that Chambers, the young WR, was coming along and does possess big-play ability, but he also said that overall as a group they are terrible and very inconsistent, not only do they have bad hands, but their route running is horrific. He said as a group, top to bottom, what's on the field right now is the worst WR group in 30 years at UW. EASILY the worst. He even said on one play in the second half, all 3 WR's ran THE WRONG ROUTE! IT was laughable.

One other point on the offensive game play for Saturday - weather is going to be a factor. Kickoff is at 4 PM, and already forecasts are for the temp to only be in the upper 30's during the day, but it will be into the 20's as soon as the sun goes down by about 5:30 or so. Paus is a SoCal boy, and for UW to beat us, they are going to have to come up with some gigantic, quick-strike home run balls. In 20 degree weather where the QB is from SoCal and also practices in Seattle where it's been in the upper 40's - low 50's for the whole year, and they've been practicing inside, to expect them to throw the ball all over the yard on us in the cold?? I don't think so.

Let's look at this realistically - the last 3 years, WSU was favored to win this game, but UW got big performances from players like Reggie Williams, Cody Pickett, Kai Ellis, Terry Johnson, Charles Frederick, Rich Alexis, etc. Guys that were, when they were excited to play a game, were as talented as anyone in the Pac-10, and they have been SKY HIGH for playing WSU. This year??? I don't care how excited they'll be, they just don't have the talent. I'm not saying we are the top-10 team we've been the last 3 years, but we're not 1-9 with the only win over lowly San Jose State! As Clint told me on Sunday as we discussed what the opening line would be, "you just don't go 1-9 by accident! We should lose by at least 14 points, maybe more."

Think about that again - 1 AND 9???!??! Even when Mikey Price was the King of Poop Island, we always went at least 3-8. Put that in proper context. Remember how bad some of those WSU teams really were? Steve Birnbaum or Paul Mencke anyone?!?! UW has been shut out this year, and a couple of other times they never even scored a TD. Even when we were blown out at ASU, we still scored 28 points in garbage time. UW, in so many games blown out this year, never scored more than 21 points IN ANY GAME THIS YEAR, even when the other team had the 3rd or 4th string in garbage time! It's so bad, last week they lose a game 42-12, at home, to Cal, and the entire hour of their coaches show was all about how hard they played, they never gave up, how if they could have gotten a couple of breaks, etc......DUDE, you just lost by 30 points at home! It's SHOCKING how far and how fast they have fallen apart.

Couple that with the idea that they have this 6-year jinx on us, do you REALLY believe a team this awful will stroll into Martin Stadium and beat us? Don't you know how badly we want to beat up on them!?!? We are 4-6 right now, and with one more stop vs. Oregon and one last push vs. Stanford when we were first-and-goal from inside the 5 - twice - and both times came away empty - and we'd be 6-4, in position to go to 7-4, maybe even win the bowl game and go 8-4! Reading Doba's comments this week, he is absolutely focused on winning this game. During his weekly press conference, some questions were asked about next year and recruiting or whatever, and even though he talked about it somewhat, he really just wanted to talk about the Apple Cup. Doba even said that last year he felt they took too much of a "ho hum" approach, and he wouldn't do that ever again. Make no mistake - we'll be ready.

Bottom line? This game isn't about WSU and what we can or cannot do. We will do exactly what we want, in that we will dominate the line of scrimmage, run the ball all night long with Harrison, Thompson, even Bruhn will get into the act, and Brink will be efficient. It's really all about what UW cannot do. They just don't have the talent, they don't have the leadership on the field, and bottom line, they have no idea how to win a game, especially a rivalry game like this where we can't WAIT to kick their butts.

WSU 28, UW 10.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

New hope for J-Stew??? Plus other notes

Found this today via the "members only" message board from a certain WSU site I joined. Take this with a HUGE grain of salt, as the same guy also thought Stewart was ready to commit to WSU on his visit, yet he didn't. However I do believe this guy, as he has forecasted some Stewart stuff a couple of days before it hits the news:

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!
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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

No Snoop....at least not yet?

Since the season is a disaster and we'll probably lose out, I thought I'd focus on recruiting right now.......

Well, Jonathan Stewart did NOT commit to WSU. It was widely rumored that he would give Bill Doba his pledge on Saturday night at dinner at Doba's home, but he did not. Stewart is very tight-lipped right now about his future plans, and while he likes WSU and many close to him have said he has WSU at the top, the inside word is he and his mother have decided it's important to take his visits and keep an open mind. He will be headed for USC on 11/20 (scary) and also will go to Tennessee in December. He still has Oregon listed as a potential place to visit. Who knows how the UW coaching change goes over, maybe a rock-star type will swoop in and nab a kid like that, but then again, all indications are he's got a great head on his shoulders and wouldn't be swooned over like that. HOWEVER, can't forget these are high-school seniors who probably change their minds as the wind blows.

There are some good things out there, though, as Arkelon Hall, the WSU verbal QB from Fresno hung with Stewart for most of the trip. Hall was quoted as saying "Jonathan had a REAL, REAL good time and it was a great trip. I think he'll come to WSU. In fact I'd be real surprised if he doesn't come to WSU now." So that's a good thing, when one of his buddies is talking like that.

STILL, it's just recruiting! Hell, Paul Arnold was going to win a Heisman trophy as a tailback, and he ended up being a slot receiver. So who the hell knows.

All other recruits did well over the weekend, and we nabbed an all-state D-lineman from Moses Lake. He's a 6-5, 300lb ultra athletic kid named Wilson Holman that many feel could be special. Big run-stuffing d-tackle, very athletic, motor runs huge.

Another kid who is highly touted and has Cal as his leader, Jesse Canada, had a great visit as well. He was surprised by Pullman and how great the atmosphere was, and didn't really care that the game itself was such a blowout. He really liked the family feel, etc. He would be a gigantic "get", a 6-3, 190 lb WR that runs a 4.42 40. A true 4-star recruit regarded as a top-25 WR in the nation.

Some direct quotes from various players:

Stewart: The highlight of the weekend visit to Washington State
"I ate a lot," Stewart said with a laugh.
On talking with coach Bill Doba this weekend"That was pretty cool. He's very down to earth."
On which assistant coaches he spent some time with this weekend
"We talked with everybody."
On meeting Wilson Holman and Jesse Canada for the first time
"They were really good guys. Really down to earth, too."
STEWART SAID he had no leaders but he did say Washington State is among the schools he's strongly considering. Stewart has visits scheduled with USC on Nov 20 and with Tennessee on Dec 10.

Wilson Holman:
"I told coach (Robin) Pflugrad," said the senior from Moses Lake, adding that Pflu was thrilled he would be coming to WSU. "Pflugrad then announced it to all the recruits that were down there on their official visits." The place erupted with cheers.

Asked if he had a message to give to the Cougar Nation, the newest verbal had this to say: "I'm just proud I'm going to be playing there...I'm going to work hard."

Jesse Canada:

Canada had a lot of questions he hoped to get answers for -- on the campus, how friendly the people are, if Pullman is a real football town.."It was exactly like they said, it was a real college town. It's not big on all the city-type of stuff and all of those things. It was just a real nice, down home kind of place...Everybody was real nice, real friendly. I felt very welcome there. I got a real good feeling."

Going in to this weekend, Canada had a top three of Washington State, Cal and Oregon State. How he feels coming out of the WSU visit:"I would say definitely that its still the same, that Washington State is still definitely in that top group. I can easily say more so now that its even more narrowed down as far as the feel I got -- Its a school where I can definitely see myself being...It definitely answered my questions, having not ever been there in (the state of Washington) so it definitely helped a whole lot and answered a lot of the questions that I had."





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