Thursday, April 28, 2005

Good Pac-10 story on ESPN Insider

Nice story by Ted Miller. He's high on the Cougs this year (as he should be!). Interesting about Cal and the challenges they are facing as well. They do have some names to replace for next year, no question, but they have recruited well and have some serious talent that will get their chance to shine:

There's been a lot of talk this spring about the "Tedford Effect," most of it associated with the NFL draft and how California coach Jeff Tedford is such a wizard with quarterbacks that it's dangerous to assume one of his former acolytes — see Aaron Rodgers this year — will match their college production as professionals.
There's also apparently a lesson-known version of the "Tedford Effect."
This one emerges from a respect for Tedford's Midas Touch, which over the past three seasons restored the gold in the Golden Bears, and earned Cal a spot in most pre-preseason polls this spring, even though his team was drubbed by Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl and lost a gaggle of big-name starters.
"It's different; so many faces are gone," Tedford said. That quote has been taken out of context in order to sound rueful, but, in reality, it was uttered with the same measured, matter-of-fact delivery that distinguishes almost everything he says.
Tedford doesn't get distracted and is obsessive about consistency. Cal hasn't been a consistent winner since face masks became common. Pre-Tedford, the Bears last recorded three straight winning seasons from 1950-52.
So this isn't the sort of program that would automatically receive respect following significant personnel losses, a la Florida State or Oklahoma, particularly with the glaring departure of 13 starters, including the potential top pick in the draft (Rodgers), a 2,000-yard rusher (J.J. Arrington), the school's career reception leader (Geoff McArthur) and a defensive end who set a school single-season sack record (Ryan Riddle).
There's no reason to think much of Cal's chances in 2005, other than the "Tedford Effect."
That's why he received a new contract that guarantees him $1.5 million a year and is worth well over $10 million if he stays at Berkeley all five years. That's why construction on a stadium renovation many thought the school could never pull off will commence at the end of the 2005 season.
That's why ESPN.com's Pat Forde ranked the Bears 22nd in his Top 25 for '05, and even noted that he "erred" when he left them out of his original poll in January. Whose name brought about the change of heart? Yep.
"That's news to me — I haven't seen anything," Tedford said of the ranking. "That's good though. It says something good about your program."
So what's up with the program? Much of the attention this spring has been on the quarterback competition between touted junior college transfer Joseph Ayoob and sophomore Nathan Longshore, but that won't be settled until the fall, after Ayoob has had a chance to gain his footing with the offense.
And don't fret about the Bears' offense. With four linemen back from a crew that dominated last year, as well as the nation's best sophomore tailback outside of Norman, Okla., in Marshawn Lynch — he only averaged nine yards a carry and scored 10 touchdowns last year — the ground game will be hardy enough to carry things until the passing attack finds its rhythm.
However, things could be interesting on defense, where only three starters are back from group that ranked eighth in the nation in scoring (16 ppg).
"We've still got a little work to do," rover Donnie McCleskey said. "We lost some big names. But other cats have got to come in and play."
McCleskey is one such cat. A first-team All-Pac-10 performer in 2003, he struggled with injuries last year and is sitting out spring after knee and shoulder surgery. Defensive end Tosh Lupoi also was a 2003 starter but he missed all of last season with a foot injury.
Most of the defense, however, will be made up of members of Tedford's three highly rated recruiting classes. He has been particularly adept at finding ready-to-play junior college talent (see Rodgers, Arrington, Riddle), and two stars of spring practice indicate that golden touch remains. Linebacker Desmond Bishop and defensive end Nu'u Tafisi, two of the five JC All-Americans signed this February, appear likely to crack the starting lineup and make an immediate impact.
Certain folks smirked at Cal's embarrassing 45-31 defeat in the Holiday Bowl, viewing it as proof the Bears didn't belong among the elite. They were, noted the gadflies, just a new flavor, a boy band soon to fizzle. This, after all, is a program that earns a top-five ranking every 50 years or so.
Others put more faith in the "Tedford Effect," and that might include the man himself.
"I don't believe in rebuilding," Tedford said.
Cougs lurking in familiar territory Things are perfect again for Washington State. The Cougars are being mostly ignored.
How soon everyone forgets three consecutive 10-win seasons that preceded a hiccup in 2004. Or how last year's team, with only seven returning starters, still finished a respectable 5-6, despite critical injuries at quarterback, tight end and on the defensive line.
Coach Bill Doba's message after spring practices concluded last weekend was simple. He thinks, if you don't mind him saying so, that his team's going to be pretty good.
"We've got some talent," Doba said. "And this is a unique team. These guys are tight and they take care of each other. We practiced smart."
Last year's growing pains should pay off with 17 returning starters as well as numerous backups who saw significant action.
Tailback Jerome Harrison, who ran for 247 yards against UCLA last season, was the star of spring practices, rushing for 253 yards on 28 carries over three scrimmages.
"He's dang hard to hit — nobody gets a good hit on him," Doba said.
That's probably good because the Cougars are perilously thin at the position. One or two incoming backs probably will see action this fall, and coaches are high on 5-foot-8, 175-pound scatback Lorenzo Bursey.
Quarterback also is a position to watch, though not because of a lack of depth. Alex Brink performed admirably last year in relief of starter Josh Swogger, who sat out spring still recovering from a foot injury. Brink had a good spring and made it clear that he believes he's got a shot to win the No. 1 spot.
While Doba emphasized that Swogger won't lose a starting position he previously earned due to injury, he also pointed out that Brink could win the job outright.
"That's a competition," Doba said. "(Brink) deserves an opportunity to challenge for the job."
The offensive line appears solid, while the pass catchers — receivers and tight ends — are as deep a group as any team in the conference. Sophomore receiver/return man Michael Bumpus appears headed for stardom.
Though the secondary has some issues, a healthy Will Derting at linebacker — a wrist injury made him underachieve last year — means the defense with have it's tone-setter back.
"He's the kind of guy you'd want with you in a bad part of town," Doba said. "He gives us confidence." Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

FINAL spring wrap-up

Good read on the end of spring ball, and things to contemplate heading into the summer:


Spring Rewind: Bright spots and question marks

PULLMAN--There were plenty of question marks headed into the spring for Washington State. Two tackles and a cornerback needed to be found. What would a running attack with but one scholarship tailback available going to look like? And that's just for starters. Many questions were answered this spring, and some sharp play by the offensive line along with a few jaw dropping runs authored by "The Ghost", gave the Cougar Nation reason to believe this season.
Jerome Harrison (5-9.5, 208-pound) had them jumping up and down out on the Palouse this spring, ripping off 302 yards and 7 TDs on 37 touches -- over 8 yards a carry. But it was the way he got those yards that was cause for celebration.The Ghost --- a nickname given to him by coach Ken Greene and his teammates --- turned in so many highlight reel runs it became customary to expect at least one a day.Proven depth behind the senior, however, is cause for concern. Starting fullback Jed Collins (6-1, 245, So.) saw extended time at backup TB to rest Harrison and try his hand at that spot if needed in certain situations. The incoming freshman RBs will have ample opportunity to earn significant PT behind Harrison this fall.Just as big a story as Harrison --- the offensive line. Usually, the o-line will lag behind the defensive line during a camp, but the 2005 Cougar steakeaters were firing on all cylinders by Week Two.Center Nick Mihlhauser and sophomore left tackle Bobby Byrd anchor a new unit that made a near seamless transition. RG Norvell Holmes (6-2, 300, Sr.), LG Sean O'Connor (6-5, 279, Jr.) and RT Charles Harris (6-6, 311, Jr.), all solidified themselves as starting members.Along with the future -- Andy Roof (6-3, 315, Fr), Eddie Vickers (6-3, 330, Fr.) and Dan Rowlands (6-4, 285, Fr.) -- Riley Fitt-Chappell (6-7, 320, Sr.), provides depth at guard or tackle, with Fitt-Chappell a solid game day performer over the course of his career at all three positions.Center Josh Duin (6-2, 307, Jr.) had a solid camp, lending coach George Yarno confidence he can ably back up Mihlhauser -- a contender for all Pac-10 honors.Currently, WSU has two potential starters at quarterback in Josh Swogger and Alex Brink, with Swogger the starter headed into fall. Brink showed more consistency this spring. In drills, Swogger looked to have the accuracy, strength and quick release that won him the starting job as a sophomore headed into 2004.This spring also saw an increase in the maturity of redshirt freshman Gary Rogers.

THE TE POSITION is one worth bragging about. Troy Bienemann (6-5, 255, Sr.), Cody Boyd (6-8, 255, Jr.) and Jesse Taylor (6-3, 240, Jr.) consistently exploited the middle -- and Bienemann could be on the verge of something very big this year.The receivers spread out the defense with Jason Hill (6-0, 198, Jr.) shining brightly before pulling a hamstring towards spring's end. With Chris Jordan sitting out, Greg Prator (6-0, 210, Sr.) saw more live reps, and no two receivers were as sure handed as Michael Bumpus (5-11, 185, So.) and Marty Martin (5-10, 186, Sr.)Coach Mike Levenseller diligently worked with Benny Ward (6-4, 184, Fr.) this spring -- the lad providing plenty of reasons to be excited about his future at WSU.AS FOR THE Cougar defense, the only thing decided at cornerback this spring was that WSU has a lot to chose from. Wally Dada (5-11, 194, Sr.) and Tyron Brackenridge (5-11, 185, Sr.) are the leading contenders to start at left corner. Don Turner (6-0, 187, Jr.) and Ian Bell are also in the mix. Alex Teems (5-11, 184, Sr.) is the established starter at RCB.The CB who best shows the ability to hit and wrap up could determine which of the four gets the start. There's also a possibility Dada will move from corner to safety, where he spent the latter stages of the spring.Safety Eric Frampton (5-11, 205, Jr.) emerged this spring as the anchor of the Cougar secondary.

THE STARTERS on the d-line, Adam Braidwood, Aaron Johnson, Ropati Pitoitua and Mkristo Bruce, were never in question. The rotation was, as this year there find quality depth on the defensive line not present in seasons past.Odell Howard established himself as the first option off the bench at tackle. At end, Adam West, Matt Mullennix, Jason Roberts, Reyshawn Bobo and Paul Stevens all had their moments.

LINEBACKER IS BLESSED with starting talent -- and paper thin at experienced depth. Its another position doubly important for the Cougs to stay healthy. Coach Leon Burtnett expects the five incoming freshmen to be ready to play while Doba pointed out the LB's don't rotate like other positions -- Unless there's an injury, expect Will Derting (6-0, 228, Sr.), Steve Dildine (6-1, 226, Jr.) and Scott Davis (5-11, 230, Jr.) to be on the field.Chris Baltzer (6-0, 225, Jr.) had a good spring, with Doba saying his pass coverage is as good as any linebacker's on the roster.

THE KICKING GAME has not been straightened out, and remains one of the biggest concerns headed into the summer workouts.With a number of misses from short range, kickers Graham Siderius (6-1, 212, Sr.) and Loren Langley (5-7, 150, So.) will both need to work on their consistency this summer. Read more ...plus comments

New stadium info on WSU site

Check it out, WSU has now put out new stuff on the official web site regarding Martin Stadium renovation. Follow the Private Suites link, and you'll see a brand new picture, this one from the perspective of the end zone opposite Stadium Way (on the side close to the bookie):

http://wsucougars.collegesports.com/trads/martinrenovation.html

It appears that the school will be contacting several season ticket holders to get the pulse of what the fans what for the new Martin. Personally I don't want to see us go hog-wild on suites and luxury boxes, when the reality is they would be half-sold, at best? Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Many updates as of 4/19/05

Several new updates, from the fan site and Spokesman. First some recruiting news, and then some stories from the Spokesman.

Michael Willis has finally been approved and will be competing for playing time this fall. He's a monster talent, huge and athletic. Take a look at this:


THE LAST HURDLE in the path of Cougar Michael Willis has been cleared, the strong safety having received the SAT Board and NCAA's blessing. The phenom will suit up in the crimson and gray beginning with fall camp and the Tacoma native is in line to do the rarest of rare -- contend for a starting position as a true freshman.

And even should Willis (6-3, 215) not start on Opening Day, he'll add much needed quality depth to the position. Right now, the Cougars rotation at the safety positions figures to be Eric Frampton, Husain Abdullah, JC transfer DeWayne Patterson and true cornerback Omowale Dada, who is taking turns at safety for depth reasons.

MICHAEL WILLIS learned he had passed the SAT -- again -- on April 7. There is still paperwork to complete, but Willis, who is taking classes at WSU and has remained 100 percent committed to the Cougs from Day One, will finally be allowed to suit up for Wazzu later this summer when fall camp opens."I signed my name on the dotted line," Willis told CF.C previously, referencing his 2004 letter of intent to WSU. "I'm a man of my word. Plus, they stuck with me through a lot of stuff."Willis was asked to take the test again at the request of the SAT Board, who had red flagged his passing score at the end of 2004.

Note: The NCAA Clearinghouse was not the impediment in this case, it was the SAT Board. It's been a long journey to get to this point. Willis did not achieve a qualifying test score in time to enroll at WSU in the fall of '04. He spent the fall months working his tail off getting his academic house in order. And when Willis took the test in December, he prepared with a tutor and studied for the SAT itself, not just the content.Willis achieved such a high score, the SAT board questioned it. For Willis, an intelligent and thoughtful young man, the difference in preparation was like finding a key to a locked door. And after he blew it off its hinges, the powers that be partially closed it again.

Because the SAT board would not initially certify his score, Willis was ineligible to receive scholarship assistance from Washington State and was forced to pay his own way this term. As noted, there is still paperwork to complete but Willis will be wearing the crimson and gray and laying the hat out on the Palouse later this summer.

ITS A RARE PLAYER who can, as a true freshman, sit atop veteran upperclassmen on the depth chart. Rarer still, is a true freshman who can start. Safety is not a position that lends itself to early playing time. But Willis is such a player.There will undoubtedly be some rust to shake off, Willis hasn't played since the 2003 season. But it is expected Willis will quickly return to the form -- and beyond -- that made him the Cougs No. 1 target during the 2004 recruiting wars.Another salient point has come out of this. Some players who have difficulty in achieving a qualifying SAT score can make quantum leaps with the proper help -- whether that be a tutor or other assistance.Studying for the SAT itself, in addition to the subject matter, can make a world of difference and did so in the case of Willis. Of course, it may take an interminably long time for the SAT board to certify such improvement.

And the bottom line here is this -- Willis is a player who bleeds crimson and gray and possesses uncommon talent..a player who has now been granted final clearance to embark on his career at Washington State. And that's something worth celebrating.

One quick note is the Cougs had their "big 4" recruits in for the spring game and Junior day - Jake Locker of Ferndale, all-state QB who has every Pac-10 school drooling; Skylar Jessen, a RB from Mead who has a ton of interest from all over the country (already offered by the likes of BC); Ryan Tolar, monster O-lineman from Pasco; and Keith Rosenberg, a do-everything WR/RB from Bellevue. The first of the stories about this group, Locker, had a good visit and really hit it off with Rosie. Take a look:


ONE OF THE top recruits in the state of Washington -- Ferndale's Jake Locker -- was in Pullman for the WSU junior day this weekend . The All-state performer had a jammed-packed travel weekend, visiting two schools in two states over two days. The weekend shuffled his leaders list.

The highly sought quarterback and WSU coach Timm Rosenbach hit it off this weekend on Locker's trip to Pullman."It was nice to be able to visit with the coaches," said Locker (6-2, 210). "I spent quite a bit of time with coach Rosenbach and he was awesome. I really liked him. So it was a good time."

Headed into the weekend, Locker had the UW slightly ahead of Washington State, Oregon, Cal and Oregon State, saying the UW was the only school he had a chance to visit as of yet. His trip to Washington State -- and his trip to Oregon -- changed things up a bit. But neither visit was enough to make WSU or UO his new leader.

"Everybody is now pretty even," said Locker. "Its just a matter of being able to go and look at each one. Its going to be a very tough decision when it comes time. Being able to go out and meet the coaches and check out everything makes it a lot different."

Before heading to the Palouse, Locker was down in the Beaver state on Friday. He had planned on traveling to both the campuses at Oregon State and UO but the way the weekend unfolded, he only was able to visit Eugene. He came away impressed with the faculties.

"The coaches were all really nice and the facilities were amazing," said Locker.

Of his Washington State junior day experience, Locker said the time spent with the coaches, the spring game and the campus at WSU were among the highlights that stood out for him."It was very good," he said. "I liked it a lot."Locker is also a top baseball prospect and plans on choosing between the two sports later this summer. If it's football, he wants to have the decision made on where he'll be headed to college before his senior season begins."Over these next couple months, it will just be who I start to feel really comfortable with -- who I want to spend the majority of the next four years of my life around," he said.Locker, a very strong Christian, said his trips will play a big role -- visiting with the coaches and taking in the campus environment will be important in helping him make the call.

ALTHOUGH LOCKER ALSO seemingly has the skills to play defensive back at the next level, virtually every school is recruiting him to run the show on offense, including Washington State. Athleticism and arm strength set him apart as his ability to accurately throw on the move or wing it deep is uncommon.Over his high school career, Locker has made a habit of making plays with both his arm and his feet -- as well as his football savvy. In a run-oriented offense, he threw for 1,314 yards and 16 TDs, while rushing for another 987 yards and 15 scores in 2004. He had a hand in all Ferndale's scoring in the state 3A title game against Bellevue, running for over 150 yards and 3 TDs -- while passing for another score in a thrilling 31-28 setback to the Wolverines.Academically, Locker carries a 3.8 GPA. He is considering a major in Architecture or possibly Communication.



Spokesman - Story #1: Recap of spring:

PULLMAN – There were no highlight-reel runs or offensive fireworks for the 1,500 fans or so who filed into Martin Stadium for the final day of Washington State's spring football session.
Unlike the first two scrimmages this year, defense found a way to control much of Saturday's scrimmage, formerly called the Crimson and Gray game. And while that pleased head coach Bill Doba, he exited the spring session realizing that his team still has a ways to go before it's ready for the season's opening kickoff on Sept. 1 against Idaho.

"You never get everything accomplished. But we got quite a bit done, to be honest with you," he said. "I think there's talent. But when you go against each other, either our defense isn't very good and the offense is good or vice versa. It just depends on the day. But we'll find out against Idaho."

As Doba had planned, the final scrimmage bore a striking resemblance to the earlier versions in format if not in the results. First, second and third units took turns on the field with no set teams aligned against one another.

For the second consecutive Saturday, the Cougars were able to work on a four-minute, kill-the-clock drill as well as a two-minute drill. And WSU capped off the session with multiple overtime periods, with the defense having its best day of the spring coming out victorious in just about every one of those drills.

"We made some mistakes, but I think we played with a lot of emotion today," said senior defensive end Adam Braidwood, who totaled four sacks in the scrimmage. "We proved we can be a big-play defense like (we were) in the past.

"A lot of the stuff we've been working on came together today."

Cornerback Tyron Brackenridge made perhaps the most impressive individual play, intercepting a pass from fourth-string quarterback Cole Morgan and going 64 yards for a score. On offense, running back Jerome Harrison, the team's most impressive individual player over the course of the spring, scored twice on runs from 6 and 4 yards out.

Punter Kyle Basler also impressed the crowd with kicks of 54, 55 and 56 yards, aided by a strong tailwind.

"Overall I was really pleased with our progress and I really like the attitude of this ballclub," Doba said. "Spring ball is super important. People act like you don't need it, but spring is when you teach fundamentals."

Even with the defense having its day under the warm spring sun on Saturday, the offensive units were clearly more impressive over the course of the 15 practices and scrimmages, a welcome change after last year's off-season workouts, when first downs were a rarity – not to mention touchdowns.

As a result, both Doba and his players have reason to look forward to the new season as they step away from the gridiron until fall practices begin in the first week of August.
"Most of the spring we did well," senior center Nick Mihlhauser said. "We had the whole offense in and we found some key players to fill some spots. Now we'll just be getting ready for the season."

Notes
Defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua, a sure-fire starter this fall and a possible breakthrough star for WSU, strained his right medial collateral ligament during the scrimmage. It's serious enough that it appears Pitoitua will be out of action for 4 to 6 weeks, but the timing of the injury means it should have little effect on his preparations for the 2005 season. … Wide receiver Marty Martin also suffered a slight concussion and a neck strain after making a reception, but head trainer Bill Drake said it doesn't appear to be anything serious. … Cornerback Alex Teems sat out the scrimmage – as he has for all the previous scrimmages this spring – to protect a sore neck. Teems is slotted to be the Cougars' top cornerback. … Defensive end Adam West sat out the day with a hamstring injury.



STORY #2 - ticket sales on great pace, plus other notes, including no more FSN replays!?!:

PULLMAN – Washington State football season ticket sales are likely to exceed last year's record-setting total, according to WSU director of external affairs Pete Isakson.
With the school still counting final season ticket renewal forms, it appears the Cougars will almost certainly push past the 15,447 sold in 2004. That was the most the school could sell because it had blocked out the remaining seats for other uses, but this year WSU has 1,000 additional seats – formerly part of the visiting school allotment – that will be dedicated to season tickets.

Isakson said during weekend that approximately 1,000 accounts had not been renewed, but the postmark deadline just passed Friday and WSU is still processing renewals. Already, there are more than 400 names on a waiting list, and each account could mean multiple season-ticket requests.

"Our hope is that we renew at that 90 percent clip. That's kind of the clip you want to have year in and year out," Isakson said. "And then our waiting list will help take care of the rest."

Television changes
While the Pac-10 is instituting instant replay for all its conference games this fall, Fox Sports Northwest will no longer show replays of Cougars games on Sundays, as it has in recent years.
Isakson and athletic director Jim Sterk said FSN was getting low ratings on the replays and refused to include them in the contract renewed with WSU.

In return, however, the Cougars will be featured in a weekly magazine-style show on the network. The show will be a half hour and run at the same time each week, according to Isakson, though the exact time has not been worked out. Overall, WSU stands to gain from $50,000 to $75,000 a year under the new agreement.

For non-televised games, with no Fox crew present for the day-after replay, Isakson and Sterk said there will have to be at least three cameras set up by the school for the purposes of instant replay.

Notes
Isakson said the Cougars' second game of the season, Sept. 9 at Nevada, has been confirmed as a nationally televised game on ESPN. Kckoff time has not been set, but it's likely it will resemble WSU's Friday night ESPN game last season at New Mexico, which started at 4 p.m. … Contracts have not been finalized with Fox Sports Northwest to televise the opener against Idaho on Sept. 1, but it appears to be just a matter of time before that deal is completed. … Sterk said the Grambling start will probably be in the late afternoon Sept. 17 at Seattle's Qwest Field.


Finally, story #3 - New captains elected, with one notable exception:

PULLMAN — Washington State University has elected its captains for the 2005 football season, and this season one name not on the final list is as notable as those on it.

Middle linebacker Will Derting, a defensive captain last season, and punter Kyle Basler, a special teams captain, are both returning to the role as voted by their teammates on Wednesday. Joining them are two newcomers to the title on offense, tight end Troy Bienemann and running back Jerome Harrison.

But the list of four does not include quarterback Josh Swogger, a co-captain last season as a sophomore. "It's a great honor just to have the respect of your teammates," Bienemann said. "That's the biggest thing, to be up there with guys like Will and Kyle who have been up there before. It's still (Josh's) team. It's still his offense. He's still the leader and, as far as I'm concerned, I'm still under him. He's a go-to guy."

All four of the players elected will be seniors this season, and all have already served as leaders on the field in some fashion. Derting, despite missing the spring, will receive more accolades than any other Cougars player this year, though he did have another unexpected surgery on his injured left wrist Friday morning, performed in Spokane.

Derting had one screw removed from the wrist and two pins added. The wrist, dislocated in August, was originally operated on in December. The recovery time is expected to be 6-8 weeks.
"We knew about mid-June he was going to be turning loose either way we went," head trainer Bill Drake said of the decision for a second surgery. "You don't want to be revising hardware in July or August. So it's a good decision to do it now."

The other captains, Bienemann, Harrison and Basler, are all returning starters who have had standout performances in spring practices.

Swogger was able to start just the first six games of last season before going down with a broken foot and didn't participate in any contact drills this spring because of the continuing rehab. He's also not guaranteed the starting job entering fall camp, as Alex Brink will receive a shot.
"He's missed the whole spring, and out of sight, out of mind," head coach Bill Doba said of Swogger, turning his attention to the four chosen this year. "They're excellent kids, good leaders and good people. So we're really happy with that."

Swogger said he was a "little bit" disappointed to not be a repeat captain, but he's been more frustrated by the inability to take the field for spring scrimmages. The junior quarterback unsuccessfully lobbied Doba to play in Saturday's spring game, and must turn his attention to helping lead drills over the summer – captain or not.

"It is (humbling). But I wasn't really expecting it," Swogger said. "I'm just going to do everything I can in the summertime to take control of skellies and get guys out there, to get everything rolling and get things back to the point where the Cougars are winning bowl games." Read more ...plus comments

Monday, April 11, 2005

Scrimmage #3 notes

Found this online - one guy's unofficial take on the scrimmage on Friday, 4/9/05. Interesting:

Watched the scrimmage this morning. There were about 300 people (cold & cloudy). A few of my amateur observations...

1) Wally Dada took quite a few reps at the safety position. Depending on what happens with guys getting in, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see him playing there some next year behind Abdullah and Frampton.

2) The defense looked much better this week. In years past, the speed was obvious on the defensive side, but this year's unit stands out for its size (IMO). The front-4 are all 6-5 or taller, and the front-7 are physical - the weight room work is apparent.

3) I was concerned early, as Rogers & the 2nd-unit completed a nice pass and then Collins bowled over 3 1st-unit defenders on his way to a near 20-yard gain, but the D stepped it up as the practice went on.

4) Collins could be a very nice compliment as the FB to Harrison. He had several physical runs from the RB position, including the last play of the scrimmage when he ran around the corner for a 30-yard TD, plowing over Dada at the goal line.

5) Harrison had a sportscenter-type highlight run of the day against the 1st-unit. He started left, then reversed his field and raced through and by defenders (with good WR blocks) for a near 50-yard TD scamper. Reminded me of Reggie Bush and 'SC this year - Harrison looking like he was playing on another level, and our D helplessly waving at air.

6) Frampton made a nice pick against Rogers (on a blitz) and returned it for about a 40-yard TD.

7) The TE's early were unstoppable with Brink throwing pitcture-perfect passes to them. Bienemann especially looked uncoverable. However, Boyd gave a bad flashback to last year as he dropped a perfect throw from Rogers over the middle in the endzone - the ball going through his hands, off his chest, and to the ground. Other than that, he did make some nice grabs too - but you gotta have that TD catch.

8) Prator caught a couple of nice balls (one that should have been a TD), but also had a long-ball go through his hands in which he seemed to have trouble adjusting - should have been at least a 30-yard gain. Martin did the same thing.

9) With Hill & Jordan out, Bumpus, Harvey, & Prator started with the 1st-unit.

10) Jason Roberts played today. Looked physical and athletic. He & Bobo look good, while Graise again looked athletic (just needs more size).

11) Basler had a couple of great punts that could have been downed inside the 5 but our guys kicked the balls into the endzone. Also had a poor kick out of his endzone that gave the ball to the O inside the 40.

12) Langley was his usual inconsistent self. He squeeked a 47-yard FG over the bar, but also missed a couple around the 30-yard variety.

13) Bumpus had nice 40ish-yard punt-return.

14) Rogers threw a beautiful bomb to Scott Selby for a TD, throwing a spiral 55-60 yards into the endzone, where Selby outjumped the DB's for the score. Rogers had some good throws, but for the most part struggled today - the D seemed like it was forcing him to throw too early.

15) I would say the O & D-line's squared off to a push. The line gave some good pass protection and opened some decent holes at times, while at other times the D got some good pressure on the QB and clogged things up on the ground.

16) Ward didn't have nearly the day he did last week. He did beat Brackenridge over the middle which could have been a catch-&-run for a possible score, but dropped the ball.

17) There was good energy on the field. The defense at least seemed a lot more enthusiastic this time.

18) I'm stating the obvious, but after sitting out today due to the hamstring injury, it was more apparent than ever - Jason Hill makes a huge difference. Read more ...plus comments