Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween 'n stuff

USC's ass-kicking paid off, as they are the new BCS #1. I guess as Doba said, maybe the computer watched film this week? "Pedal to the metal" was my phrase for that game, and it sure was that way from kickoff to kneel-down. I can't believe how much better they were than our Cougs, but things went exactly the way they should have. That's why they are USC.

Anyway, as Doba loves to say, "the sun came up. I wasn't sure it would." Gotta love Grandpa Bill, but is he a head coach? That's an argument for another day, such as after we lose out and go 3-8, 0-8 in the Pac for the 2nd time since 1998.

There are always some bright spots, even in that disaster. The O-line once again didn't allow a sack, Jerome had another 100+ in the first half - again - and really, they are kicking ass. That might be one of the best, most athletic, smartest o-lines in WSU history, hands down. They are at an extremely high level right now, and we get 3 of those starters back next year. They always say how important line play is on both sides of the ball, well, with 3 of 5 o-lineman back and 3 of 4 d-lineman back next year, we should be strong on both sides.

And, recruiting is doing well, quite well in fact. Not in the form of verbal commits, yet, but we are certainly pushing on some higher-level kids. Here's a long, premium article on where we are with some key names, and how great an impression the coaching staff is making on these guys. AND, a good synopsis on the class of 2002 (after the 2001 Sun Bowl, btw). Enjoy:


WASHINGTON STATE'S close-but-no-cigar season doesn't appear to be hindering the Cougars' recruiting efforts as they enter the stretch drive for the class of 2006, which will be signing letters of intent in just three months. WSU is in the serious hunt for a number of standout prep and JC standouts.
Among them:Xavier Lucas, a 6-4, 190-pound receiver out of Tempe's McClintock High; WR Anthony Houston (6-4, 200, 4.46) from San Diego's Mission Bay High;
cornerback Jamathan Ingram-Lyle (6-0, 175) out of Boulder's Mullen High;
Long Beach Poly CB Vincent Joseph (5-9.5, 185, 4.4);
B.T. Walker, (5-10, 175) a corner and east coast native finishing up his JC stint at College of the Canyons in California;
WR Charles Dillon, (6-0, 190) a one-time Cougar signee tearing it up for Ventura College, and more.

Lucas told CF.C, "I have to put Washington State ahead, but that's also because I haven't visited anywhere else." Hometown Arizona State could have the inside track, but the Sun Devils have yet to offer. He said an official visit is in the works. Oregon is also lurking. Lucas will trip to UTEP Nov. 11.

Of his visit to Pullman, Lucas had raves for offensive coordinator and receivers coach Mike Levenseller and assistant head coach Robin Pflugrad, saying the WSU coaches were genuine and he liked their coaching style."I liked how the fans were all into the game," said Lucas, echoing the comments of a fellow Arizonan and WSU verbal commit, Marcus Richmond, who tripped the same weekend. "They get a good crowd there. They really made me feel at home. When I came in, all the crowd was yelling my name."

IN SAN DIEGO, Houston has a new top four of Washington State, Miami, Nebraska and Oregon State. All have offered, in addition to several other schools. Houston could play either receiver or defensive back at the next level, with WR his preference. Miami has offerd him as a corner, with WSU, Oregon State and Nebraska like him more as a receiver."I like everything about Washington State," said Houston. "From academics to playing on the field."Houston trips to Washington State the weekend of November 11, saying the academics and football program will be equal considerations when making his choice.

SINGING WITH THE Cougs in 2004, Dillon says WSU is his clear leader but he's keeping his options open.Arizona has suddenly jumped head first into the fray, offering Dillon in writing the day after he returned from his WSU trip. Stoops and crew are trying to schedule an official visit to Tucson for Dillon the weekend of December 9.

ONE POSITION OF need is cornerback with two senior starters and unproven depth on the WSU roster. Among the top prep targets are Long Beach's Vincent Joseph, Carney and Ingram-Lyle. From the junior college ranks, Walker has a WSU offer and Justin Tryon, Walker's teammate and fellow corner might garner one before it's all said and done.Vincent would be a very good get and the Cougs have made up ground. An outstanding corner with skills, confidence and a good head on his shoulders, Joseph had a great visit to Washington State. Oregon retains a slight lead while nearby USC has been imploring him to wait to make his decision while they decide if they will offer. He visits Eugene next weekend. That trip will go a long ways towards deciding where he plays his college ball."Washington State has really, really moved up in my rankings," said Vincent. "It's basically what I know. What I'll do is compare when I take my trip to Oregon."

RECEIVING A WRITTEN offer from the UW this past Tuesday was Ingram-Lyle. He says his final four are now Washington State, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon."They're all even because they all present different opportunities," said Ingram-Lyle.Running down his four finalists, Ingram-Lyle said felt comfortable on his Oregon visit earlier this year, that Wisconsin looks poised to compete for the next several years, Washington State has a very high graduation rate among their players and he believes Tyrone Willingham will be successful at Washington."It's important to me that I get my degree and I'm not just saying that to say that, or just some cliché I'm just throwing out there," said Ingram-Lyle. "And Washington State has a reputation of sending their DBs to the NFL and not only do they send them to the NFL, they actually play and are starting. And coach Willingham, given the chance, I feel he will turn that program around. It's a matter of if they give him the opportunity to build that program because he's basically starting from scratch."

Ingram-Lyle's rescheduled trip to WSU is this weekend, he visits Wisconsin Dec. 15 and plans on scheduling a visit to Washington. He'll be a corner at the next level but in the game he sprained his MCL, (he is scheduled to return to the field this weekend), Ingram-Lyle had about 280 yards of total offense in just over three quarters, including 96 and 86 yard kickoff returns for touchdowns and a 59 yard touchdown reception. He also had seven tackles."I was having the game of my life," said Ingram-Lyle.

NOT MUCH HAS changed for Carney over the last few weeks, other than scheduling a trip to Iowa State for the weekend of Dec. 9. He holds offers from Washington State, Iowa State, Wyoming and Northern Colorado. Carney hasn't heard from nearby Colorado lately, but continues to get calls once a week from all the schools who've offered."I won't start picking frontrunners until I actually go the the school because I don't want to make any early judgments before seeing what the school is like," said Carney. "Just the feel of it will be important. I just want to make sure everything feels genuine, I feel comfortable and it's a family environment."Through eight games, Carney has 72 tackles, including 45 solo, and two interceptions for Mullen High. He's also the gunner on punt coverage and has made a pair of touchdown saving tackles coming from the other side of the field."It's nice to hawk a guy down," said Carney.

NOTES:Jeffrey Solomon's calling at the next level looks to be at wide receiver, but the Seattle product has quarterbacked his Ingraham High team to a 8-1 record and has played a pretty mean safety this season. Ingraham's been a wasteland for both winning seasons and Div-IA talent in recent years but coach Anthony Carter has done a phenomenal job developing Solomon, Mondala Green, Myron Beck and others and WSU and others are taking notice. WSU already has Keith Rosenberg in the crimson fold at receiver and signing Dillon, Stephen Carr, Houston and Lucas would be a pretty big coup, so a sleeper like Solomon is someone who could very well garner a WSU offer later in the recruiting season.Unless something changes, and rather dramatically so, Washington State appears unlikely to offer a quarterback this cycle. While conventional wisdom says to sign a QB every recruiting class, the amount of talent on the WSU depth chart at the position coupled with some significant needs at other spots makes it unlikely the Cougs sign a signal caller.

A look back at the 2002 class

The heart of any good team is almost always the fourth and fifth-year players. If you look at the Cougars' recruiting class of 2002, all of whom are either fourth-year juniors or seniors or departed JC guys, the Cougars aren't getting a lot of contribution from them right now.Of the class of 25, only three are turning heads in 2005: Nick Mihlhauser, Scott Davis and Adam Braidwood. Two others are in the starting line up and coming along, Steve Dildine and Eric Frampton. (Dildine has been making a surge of late, and by the end of the year, might be considered as one who "turned heads" this season.) And Don Turner and Jesse Taylor are also contributing.But injuries have limited Cody Boyd, Chris Jordan and Matt Mullennix. Each of those players have shown the ability to be special -- but only when healthy, obviously. Brian Hall, Odell Howard have so far been unable to step up and seize the opportunity. Spencer Hollison has had a few flashes but has been unable to earn any significant measure of playing time.

But here's the kicker. Seven members -- that's nearly 30 percent of the class -- washed out in one form or another: Flamingo Malone, Robert Franklin, Aaron Ware, Lionel Arnold, Wes Rainwater, Kevin Sperry and Carl Bonnell. Four out of the six JC transfers did well -- Jonathan Smith, Don Jackson, Sammy Moore and Jermaine Greene -- but, as is the downside with JC guys, one of those years is usually spent climbing the learning curve and you only have them for two -- the JC talent from this class is all long gone here in 2005.

So there you have it. Maybe a big explanation as to why things have been bleak this year, and why so many young kids have played early. And maybe, just maybe, the success of the '03, '04 and '05 classes will show themselves over the next 3 years? Read more ...plus comments

Friday, October 28, 2005

HAPPY GOOD FRIDAY

Is it the Friday before the crucifixion? Or the Friday before the resurrection? Time will tell....

The picks:

USC 48 WSU 28. I have a hard time believing that our offense is going to score less than 28 points. I also would be SERIOUSLY thinking upset if it wasn't for our horrible defense and special teams play. I think when its all said and done, we will look at a first half Reggie Bush punt return (to the house) as the thing that made this a blow-out and not an interesting game in the second half. Harrison will, however, get his 100 yards...

But I also think, upon further reflection, that my initial take on how the game will play out was a bit flawed. USC will stack the line of scrimmage to stop the run, but drop their DB's WAY back to stop the deep ball. I also think they'll gimick linebacker blitzes to fall back into pass coverage. The idea: keep the ball in front of them and bait little Alex into throwing the ball over the middle....in other words, for us to stay in the game, we will have to effectively use Biennemen and find an intermediate passing game. I think we'll have some success, which will keep the score down because we will keep the ball for a while. But eventually, our lack of D and special teams will kill us. Also, I think we'll know a lot about the game early. How will little Alex react to what Carrol has in mind? Will we be flat? Will we turn the ball over and get into a quick 14-0 hole? It WILL be fun to watch--at least initially.

OSU 35 Arizona 21

Arizona State 38 UW 21

UCLA 41 Stanford 28

Fla 21 Georgia 17 Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Brink stuff (and some eye-candy as requested by Rooster)

First, this from Rosie today via the Go-To-Guy, on Brink:

On replacing Alex Brink with Josh Swogger. It's just not going to happen.
"He's playing good, man," said quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach. "A lot of things have happened to him that are not entirely on him. He's not making as many mistakes as people around here would have you believe. Right now if we score 50 points and we lose, it's his fault ... He's doing a great job moving the football. We're happy with what he's doing."

Swogger supporters point to some sorry Brink interceptions in the past four games that tarnished his prolific passing-yardage totals. They'd like to see Swogger get a sniff of the field, perhaps in a second-quarter series, but there's no chance of that either.
"You pick a starting quarterback you feel gives you a best chance to win the game. So he plays," Rosenbach said. "We're not losing because of the quarterback."






Though Brink's mistakes are mystifying to untrained eyes like mine, he's still in his first full season as the starter, and his stats are better than the sophomore stats of a player he is often compared to, Jason Gesser.

"I'm sure it's frustrating to people, frustrating to anybody who doesn't have any perspective," Rosenbach said. "If you look at it in the right light, the frustration will subside. Perspective is everything."

I suppose. But as I sat there the other night, watching consecutive picks, perspective was impossible to find.

Rosenbach doesn't have that problem. He's been a backup and a starter, at WSU and in the NFL, who has also heard comments about his inability to throw deep. When those concerns were expressed about Brink, Rosenbach laughed.

"I hope people keep saying Alex can't do a lot of things because he will prove them wrong," Rosenbach said.



Once again, I know NOTHING about playing QB beyond the 8th grade. I'm going to side with the guy's opinion that played at an extremely high level in college and the NFL, and has been coaching this kid since the day he set foot on campus. There is a reason it's Alex Brink for today and beyond, and barring a Gesser-like broken leg, it's Alex Brink until he graduates.


The only thing I do know is our history, and how Brink is stacking up vs. the rest of our decorated QB's. And I can sit here today, and tell you flat-out, that Alex Brink is doing things as a sophomore that NO WSU QB has done at the same stage of his career. Does he F-up and throw terrible interceptions?? OF COURSE HE DOES. But didn't Rosie/Bledsoe/Leaf/Gesser/Kegel all do the exact damn thing when they were learning?? OF COURSE. What will be most interesting will be to sit down and really look at what he accomplished in 2005. A 3,000 yard, 25-TD season is not a stretch by an measure right now, something no sophomore WSU QB ever did.


Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

THE "LOGIC" AND THE GAME PLAN

If Brink is so bad then how come you think the Cougs can score 38?

The logic is simple and evident in the numbers: this offense is as good as the 94 defense was through three quarters. I mean, the offensive production is RIDICULOUS when you consider that this team has not been blown out once. You can understand outrageous numbers from a juggernaut that gets most of their yards and points against 3rd string defenses (as one would expect with an 0-4 conference team). But the fact that we've been blasting first units speaks both to the fact of how bad our defense is and how leadershipless our QB is when it matters most.

You can also say what you want about ND and Weiss, but our offense is BETTER than ND's and just about anyone outside of USC for three quarters--don't believe me, just look at those OUTRAGEOUS numbers. I also don't care what anyone says--USC will NOT be ready for us in the first half because those kids can't possibly be taking us seriously given our record and their stature. The only caveat to that is if our boys don't come to play. But with Hill talking about NFL aspirations and Harrison wanting and needing desperately to show that he's something on the national stage, I doubt that the O is going to lay down.

The question is, how do we keep the game competitive to keep things interesting, and dare I say, put us in a position to stage the biggest upset in the history of college football?

Here's my take:

1) Do NOT play conservative in the first half. Carol will stack the line of scrimmage early to slow Harrison and thwart our attempts to keep his offense off of the field. So, do what we did against CAL, throw the ball to Hill or Gipson and strike early and often. The goal: score 28 points in the first half.

2) Play overly aggresive on defense. Last week was PERFECT preparation for Bush and White. Stack the line, pinch whomever to shut off the sweep and try to knock Leinahrt out of the game. If you give up 400 yards passing in the first half and 28 or 35 points--so be it. But don't allow the D to stay on the field for more than 15 of the first 30 minutes.

3) Game plan for the second half before the game. Continue the theme of the first half and go deep whenever you can. When USC finally has to drop back, unleash Harrison as much as you can. Play bend but don't break defense (only in the 3rd) to further shorten the third quarter. If we can Shrink the game in the 3rd quarter, if we're lucky, we'll enter the fourth within 7--I'm thinking 42-35 SC.

4) In the 4th, play all out. If you lose 70-42--so be it. But, play ALL OUT. Gamble on defense in the same mold as the first half, and give your offense a chance to win or tie the game at the end.

In the end, we will lose no matter what--be it because SC blows us out, because Brink just can't get it done when it matters, or because the bottom line is that both their offense and their defense is better (particularly their defenses ability to stop us a few times when our d may not be able to stop them once).

In any case, we will score--the question is how we play. If we play wide open on both sides of the ball, then we can make it interesting.

And you just never know what kids will do on any given Saturday.

I just hope it doesn't come down to the kicking game. That's one thing I can't handle...

Good thing I won't have to... Read more ...plus comments

Gooooooo Trojans!

Just keeping with the theme from UCLA a few weeks ago......

All I know is, the tone at USC changed pretty quick after the latest BCS standings were released. USC is pissed. A few players said on Monday "What, do we have to win 100-0?" That leads me to believe USC is going to come out, on national TV, and put the pedal to the metal for the full 60 minutes, from kickoff to QB kneel-down. We're in deep shit. Just think how good Oregon has been on offense, and how they were shut down when it mattered vs. SC, at Autzen. I know Notre Dame moved the ball when they needed to, but Brady Quinn has turned into a darkhorse Heisman candidate, and Charlie Weis is the best offensive mind on the planet, college of pro. Alex Brink, Josh Swogger, hell, Arkie Hall, are NOT Brady Quinn, and Levy is NOT Charlie Weis!

BrinkHater, I have one question with your logic to the Cougs scoring points on Saturday. If Brink is so terrible, how will they put up 38 on USC on the road?

USC 63, WSU 16. Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Time to re-name this thing to Seahawks blog?


This just in - the Big Tuna is pissed!

Seriously though, that must be one of the top 5 greatest W's in Seahawks history. With all the adversity, for Hass to take the bull by the balls and drive them into the endzone to tie it up, without his top THREE WR'S (DJack, Engram inactive, Jerivicius out with a stinger) against a top-flight defense, is just HUGE. This is the kind of game that changes an entire personality of a franchise, and who knows? Maybe in the near future, they'll look back to this game and say "yeah, that was the game that made this season." In the wide-open NFC, anything can happen!

By the way, Lofa Tatupu. WOW. I keyed on him the whole first half of the game, and I swear, it's like he's reading minds. It's amazing. I've never seen a guy anticipate so well. He moves players around, in complete control of what is happening, and never, ever takes a false step. It's amazing. Next chance you get to watch them play, for a series or two, just watch him in the middle. Sure, he's on the small side, but he has something that you just can't teach - instincts for this game beyond any rookie linebacker to come into the NFL in years, and he's a GIGANTIC difference from last year to this year! There was an article at Seahawks.net in the beginning of the year, after Lofa won the MLB job, that said the Pats were frantically trying to trade up in front of Seattle to pick him in the 2nd round. He's exactly that brainy, instinct, winning, team-first type of guy that Belichick gets hot for, and Ruskell nabbed him! What a tremendous pick.

Also, Walter Jones - another WOW. They had iso cameras on his so-called "battle" with DeMarcus Ware, but what a domination that was. Ware didn't even sniff a sack, and only had one TFL on a Alexander cut-back. That was it. In fact, in the first half, there was one play where Walt just drove him 15 yards up the field behind the play! Another time Ware took like three steps, and Walt just shoved him to the turf! Truly, Walter Jones is the greatest tackle in the NFL right now, and will be wearing a yellow blazer in Canton some day. Put that in INK. Just like Lofa, when you watch them play again, just watch what happens when Walter blocks. It's just amazing how much better he is vs. the guy across from him. Read more ...plus comments

Monday, October 24, 2005

Swogger - "I'm a Coug!"

Forget the Swoggs-to-transfer rumors. The story is up now that he talked to cf.com and shot down any rumors of his transfer.

Rumors of a Josh Swogger transfer have been building for a couple of weeks -- and took on new life over the weekend. But the strong-armed junior says he's not going anywhere."I'm a Coug," Swogger told Cougfan.com Monday morning. "That's the way I look at it. That thought hasn't even crossed my mind. There's always going to be stuff like that. Pretty funny, really."

"I think there's two ways you can handle a situation like this," said Swogger. "One is the bad way, to say you're getting a raw deal and all that. What I try to do is help out the guys, almost acting like a coach and help out the guys on the sideline."

And Swogger reiterated that while many people will probably always have a tendency to automatically accept rumor as fact, this one has no basis in reality."People are going to talk," he said. "They're going to say, 'Oh I'm from his hometown and my second cousin's girlfriend or whatever says....' But I'm a Coug. And its going to stay that way for as long as I know."At the end of the game, the Cougar Radio Network's Bud Namek asked head coach Bill Doba if the staff had considered replacing Brink with Swogger at halftime. Doba was succinct: No.Still, Swogger remains as loyal a crimson and gray foot soldier as ever."I'm doing good," said Swogger. "I'm just hanging in there, and just seeing when I'm going to get my shot." Read more ...plus comments

BREAKING NEWS? - Swogger transferring to Youngstown St

Per many inside sources on the "premium" stuff, several rumors popped up late yesterday that Swogger was asking for his transfer. Then, Sunday evening, a media source spoke with an athletic department source at both WSU and Youngstown State, and both sides confirmed that Swogger and his father are due to request his transfer from WSU this morning. More to come as I hear it, I'm checking in with the little birdie that would know. Read more ...plus comments

GOING TO VEGAS

If there was ever a time to break the pledge of NOT betting on 18 and 19 year old kids, this is the week.

The early line has USC as THIRTY ONE point favorites. Time to bet the farm on us +31.

We may not have the lead in the 4th quarter, but unless we have a terrible start, we are gonna be close until late.

USC is already talking about being done with the hard part of their schedule, we're 0-4 in conference and a seeming doormat to wipe ones feet on.

The question that comes into this week is whether or not we will give a damn when the ball gets kicked off.

I'm betting that these kids and the staff will get up for the nationally televised game and the opportunity at history.

USC's defense hasn't seen an offense like ours, and I really like our chances to score in the 30's once again. That means that SC has to score 62 at minimum to be able to cover and I think Harrison will keep our O on the field long enough to make that tough...

So, as of Monday, I am predicting that SC is winning 38-31 going into the fourth quarter. The only question is whether or not the final will be 59-38 or whether or not we will see another heartbreaker in the mold of 52-38 when they score near the end to put us away.

The key will be the first two offensive possessions for us. If we score early, this game may actually be pretty darn fun to watch.

I'm hoping we can take the pressure coat off an have some fun. Read more ...plus comments

Sunday, October 23, 2005

2005 = 2000

So many heartbreaks, so little time.

This year really is shaping up to be Y2K all over again. That year featured erratic performances by a sophomore QB before he got hurt, and of course, 3 OT losses which could have swung a 4-7 season into 7-4 fairly easily (in fact, that was the Vilaskuhl at kicker season, and in 2 of those 3 OT losses, he missed field goals that would have won the game! I went back and looked it up. So truly, 6-5 was quite possible and should have happened). That team had young players EVERYWHERE, defense, offense, etc, and they grew up together and we saw what followed.

This year? Now 3 of 4 losses in which the Cougs had double-digit leads, 2 of those in the 4th quarter, yet couldn't close the deal.

Is hope lost entirely? No, I wouldn't say so. It's STILL not totally over. ASU was absolutely crushed by Stanford (who led 45-7 in the 3rd quarter!?!?) and they appear to be a sinking ship, even benching Keller in the 3rd quarter. Oregon lost the 2nd best QB in the Pac to a broken ankle and they even lost their scary-quick backup QB to an injury, so who knows where they'll be in a few weeks. Regardless of which QB it is, I'll tell you, without Clemens, that Oregon team will be entirely different. Just ask UW how good he really is. Then, of course, there is the AC, which who the hell knows there. It's looking a hell of a lot more possible to find 3 more wins than it did, say, even last week!?!?

As Michael said last night, we will score points on ANYONE, including USC next week. Cal was the #1 D in the Pac-10, and even though they had some d-lineman beat up, to put up 600 yards of total offense on the road?? I don't care who that is against, that's hard to do against air in practice. Simply amazing.

The absolute biggest thing to me? In the hindsight of the pain of blowing the games earlier this year, and as lousy as things were looking going into the locker-room at the half, the way they fought back was unbelievable. Who'd a thunk it?!? They totally rallied and that shows me a lot. Maybe in years past, even last year, we would have laid down with a 28-10 deficit on the road, but they fought back big-time. For that, I"m proud and optimistic. As I told Michael last night, I have given up, but they sure as hell wouldn't.

All that said, we very well could be 5-5 going into the Apple Cup, and then all bets are off. Then again, the pessimist in me says no matter how big the lead, how can we ever feel comfortable again with this group!?!? They can't possibly blow more games this year.....can they??!? Read more ...plus comments

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ho Hum

I'm not really in the mood but I've got to get my predictions out of the way so I can go get on a plane to watch WSU UPSET CAL 35 - 32. COUGS COUGS. Well that was my weak attempt at some school spirit this morning.

USC will cover the 31point (last I looked) spread against the Pooches because they have two players who are in the Heisman hunt and need big stats.
USC 62 Probation Nation 17
UCLA 35 Beavs 31
Ducks 42 Cats 30
ASU 45 Trees 21 Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Recruiting class of 2001 and 2002 breakdown

First, a really quick stadium update from the source.

1) The plan is nearly official at this point. The biggest change cosmetically will be the building upon the student side of the field, basically they will build up and behind that side, creating more seats and in a move that follows the Beavs, a "donors club" type facility. All students will be moved down and spread out over the entire side, leaving the upper sections open to season tickets. This new seating will happen NEXT year, by the way, opening up another $900K of additional revenue per year. They have no doubt that they will sell the extra seats made available by the move. Other improvements will of course be to the facilities, such as bathrooms, concessions, etc.

2) The "silent" phase is well under-way in fund-raising. It has gone EXTREMELY - I repeast - EXTREMELY well! Better than they thought. However, they will NOT go public with fund-raising efforts until $30 million is raised privately, leaving another $27 million to the rest of the donors.

3) V Lane did in fact stand up and say at a big meeting a few weeks ago, "our academics have been reviewed and we are first-class. Our research has been reviewed and we are first-class. Our facilities have been reviewed, and we are NOT first-class. We MUST get this stadium upgrade done, period, or else the odds increase every day that we will no longer be a member of the Pac-10." The mandate has come down from the Pac-10, get that stadium improved, or else.

4) Paul Allen was in Pullman last weekend. He brought a group of 25 to the game, and was very nice, very approachable to all. He even hung out at the Page on Friday night, throwing down some beer. He has officially said no to the stadium fund-raising, by the way. Too bad.

We're still years away from the upgrades. Probably will all take place after the 2008 season, with everything done by kickoff of 2009. If the fund-raising goes as better than hoped, it's at least possible they could break ground after 2007 in time for the 2008 season, but it's doutful right now.

Now, on recruiting the first few years of the new millenium. I just thought it was interesting to look back and see the players and the thoughts of these players coming in. What's most interesting is how many "misses" there were in '01, yet in '02, they recruited several starters on today's team. I guess it's true, if you are winning, you'll get quality kids. If you are losing? Well, the odds are you'll keep losing!

Check it out:

Class of 2001 (following the 4-7 2000 season):

QB: Chris Hurd: QB; 6'3, 185; Deer Valley, CA (Deer Valley); 1772yds and 28 touchdowns (23 passing & 5 rushing) against 3 interceptions in season slowed by knee injury; considered top QB prospect in Northern California; mobile with strong arm; Long Beach Press Telegram 2 votes out of 10 Best in the West; TNT Western 100; SuperPrep Farwest

CougZone Says: Hurd style-wise is like a slightly taller Jason Gesser - a mobile guy who can throw the ball. Hurd was slowed by a knee injury during his senior season which led to a lot of schools backing off him while WSU stayed tight. Hurd recovered from the knee, and went on to have an outstanding season. The fact that Hurd was considered one of the best QB prospects in the west says a lot considering the strength of the western QBs in 2000. Hurd will certainly redshirt and then get a chance to crack the depth as a redshirt freshman. GRADE: A

RB: CougZone Says: Well, geez. The Cougs signed Jimmy Wilson, Roger Smith, and Dwayne Wright in this class. Smith never showed. Wright didn't make grades, went to JC, and is scheduled to enroll in August 2003. Wilson enrolled, ran into a depth logjam, was asked to move positions and decided to leave. Considering that as of January 2003, the sum total of this class is zero, the grade ain't gonna be good. GRADE: F

WR: Trandon Harvey: WR; 6', 175, 4.4 forty; National City, CA (Sweetwater); intelligent prospect looking to major in sports medicine; 1999 - league MVP, all-state, all-CIF, 77 catches for 1789yds and 19 TDs; played most of his senior season out of position at RB due to team injuries; considered one of the top WR prospects in California; Prepstar all-region; SuperPrep Farwest; all league, all area, all state; 49 catches, 1000+ yds, 13 TDs despite splitting time at RB

Marty Martin: WR; 5'11, 170; 4.5 forty; Puyallup, WA (Puyallup); good speed in state prospect; 1999 - 24 catches, 446yds (18.6 avg), 4 TDs in 9 games played. Martin attended the WSU football camp over summer and impressed the coaches with his hands as well as his developing speed, recording a 4.4 forty; named Seattle Times preseason all-state; all league and all area by the TNT after finishing up the season with close to 800yds receiving on 39 catches with 13 TDs.; honorable mention AP all-state 4A; Tacoma News Tribune Honorable Mention Northwest Nugget; Team MVP; Seattle Times Red Chip; SuperPrep Farwest

Tyjuan Mayfield: WR; 6', 180; San Bernadino, CA (Eisenhower; San Bernadino CC); 2000 - 11th of California JC WRs in yards per game, avgd 6.1 receptions per game, all conference and conference's leading receiver

Thomas Ostrander: WR; 6'2, 185; 4.6 forty; Yakima, WA (East Valley); good sized WR who creates well after the catch; considered rising sleeper among Washington state prospects; reportedly clocked a forty time as high as 4.4, named AP all-state 2A; 2000 - 43 catches, 768yds (17.9yd avg), 14 TDs; Prepstar all west; league co-offensive player of the year; all league on both sides of the ball; SuperPrep Farwest; Seattle Times Red Chip

CougZone Says: Trandon Harvey is potentially big time. Harvey can be a go-to target, has speed, and can break the big play. The Cougars might look to use him in 2001 especially if Milton Wynn is not granted another year of eligibility and no clear successor to Wynn emerges in spring. A lot will be up to Harvey come fall camp. Mayfield can probably expect to get a chance to get into the mix right away. Ostrander and Martin will probably redshirt. Martin received more attention from playing in Pierce County, but Ostrander was on the other side of the mountains quietly having a big season. Both are productive receivers who can find the endzone. All told, the Cougs addressed the position well, but no one guy stands out as an odds-on instant contributor. The Cougs may really need and miss that kind of guy if Wynn isn't back and the existing guys don't step up in spring. GRADE: B

TE/OL/DL: Brian Boyer: DL; 6'4, 230; Lapwai, ID (Lapwai) outstanding citizen and very impressive rising prospect; 4.0 student who hasn't had a B since 4th grade; great attitude and work ethic and great motor on the field; considered the best prospect in the state of Idaho and is extremely athletic on the field; all league on both sides of the ball; TNT Western 100

Riley Fitt-Chappell: TE/Ath; 6'7, 240; 5.0 forty; Eagle River, AK (Chugiak); prospect from same high school as current Cougar Phil Locker; athletic prospect; Tacoma News Tribune Honorable Mention Northwest Nugget; SuperPrep Farwest; all league on both sides of the ball; SuperPrep Farwest

Bryan Olson: DE/OL; 6'4, 250; Covington, WA (Kentlake); athletic and versatile player who could play on either side of the line but is being looked at primarily for defense; playing LB in high school; Olson was all league this season and also SPSL Lineman of the Year. He's got good movement and footwork and will get his first look at DE. Depending on how he matures physically, Olson could end up on the interior line on either side of the ball; has timed a 4.8 forty; TNT, AP all state and all area; 144 tackles with 10 TFL, 5 sacks; league top D-lineman; Seattle Times Red Chip; SuperPrep Farwest; Team's "Mr. Defense"

Adam West: TE/OL/DL; 6'6, 225; Venice, CA (Venice); all league at TE; 28 catches, 600+yds, 9 TDs CougZone Says: Around his first years at WSU, Coach Price talked about his recruiting philosophy of going after the "Top Ten Tight Ends." Price's theory was that big rangy guys who play TE in HS can project to play TE, O-line, DT, or DE in college depending on how they fill out and their skills. The approach goes more after athletes than guys who are necessarily going to be in one spot. WSU somehow got away from that for a couple years, but went back with a vengeance this class. West, from California, has receiving numbers that are impressive - he could be a sleeper at the TE position.

Fitt-Chappell is one of the best big athletes out of Alaska this year. Boyer and Olson will both go on the line, but it's an open question as to where. Both can move well. Olson at 250 might project more on the O-line or at DT, while Boyer will probably get his first look at DE. All of these guys will almost certainly redshirt and have the time to hit the weights, the training table, and develop a bit. A real strong group overall: GRADE: B+

PK/P: Adam Holiday: PK; 6'3, 230; Moorpark CC, CA; JC prospect with two years to play; Holiday will likely be a kickoff only specialist for WSU as he didn't do FGs in JC. Holiday has a strong leg and is able to get the ball into the endzone for touchbacks and also get a good hangtime

Graham Siderius: PK/P/QB; 6'2, 195; 4.6 forty; Reno, NV (McQueen); one of best placekickers and punters in the nation, but also is team's starting QB; very athletic prospect and also a baseball standout; PrepStar All American; 1999 - as PK, all state, all conference, all area, long of 47yds and hit 8 of 11 attempts, 75% of kickoffs were touchbacks; 1200 SAT; Siderius is more than just a kicker, the guy's an athlete as shown by his part in leading his team to the state title at QB; On the year, he was 11 of 15 on FG attempts with a long of 54yds. 82% of his kickoffs were touchbacks, and he even put one kickoff through the uprights. He could also punt for the Cougs, and averaged 42.3yds per kick.

CougZone Says: In 2000, the lack of a consistent placekicking game was one of the biggest factors in the Cougars losing three overtime games and ending up 4-7. Siderius was a vital signee to this class and will probably have the inside lane to take the starting placekicking job when he arrives in fall. As one of the best HS kickers in the nation, the Cougs will want to use him on the field right away. Holiday will very likely handle only kickoffs, and could be awarded a scholarship based on performance. Holiday has a reputation for kicking deep and getting touchbacks, and the Cougs can use that kind of leg as kickoffs last season typically fell around the opponent's ten or fifteen yard line, setting up good returns and favorable field position. This was a big need for WSU and the need was answered. GRADE: A

DT: Norvell Holmes: DT; 6'3, 285; 5.1 forty; Bellflower, CA (St. John Bosco); first team all league junior and senior years; 1999 - team captain and co-MVP, 47 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 Int, 2 fumbles recovered; PrepStar All Far West and SuperPrep All Far West; Holmes was a Cougar signee for the class of 2000, but an academics snafu kept him from enrolling; Holmes enrolled at WSU in January and will participate in spring football

Nate Mallory: DE/DT; 6'3, 275; Kent, WA (Kentridge; City College of San Francisco); Mallory originally committed to WSU in 1997 and was on the roster for the Rose Bowl team. Grades gave Mallory trouble, and he had to transfer out. Mallory ended up playing at CCSF, starting on CCSF's champion team; Mallory enrolled at WSU in January and will participate in spring football

CougZone Says: DT was not necessarily a position needing immediate help for WSU. For the first time in a while, the Cougs return depth and experience at DT and will want to see players already on the roster step up. Holmes was a high school standout who will get a chance to participate in spring football after grayshirting due to some academics holdups. He will likely redshirt and get a chance to break into the depth next year. Age and experience make Mallory a good prospect to compete to get on the field in fall, and spring practice will help Mallory adjust to being a Cougar again. Depending on WSU's needs, Mallory could project either inside at DT - especially if he can mount a penetrating pass rush - or outside at DE. If Mallory becomes a sudden impact guy for WSU, it will be gravy for the Cougs. Eventually, one of the TE contenders and possibly Bryan Olson, Brian Boyer, Jason Holmes, or others could find their way to this position. GRADE: B+

DE: Charles Harris: OL/DL; 6'6, 250; Spokane, WA (Mead); Seattle Times Red Chip; athletic line prospect who could play on either side of the ball and will probably get a first look at DE; Late signee due to family's move to Oklahoma

CougZone Says: During his press conference on Letter of Intent Day, Coach Price mentioned how much he liked the idea of Harris rushing the passer with his arms up. Harris has to be considered a player the Cougs view as someone they can develop. Due to LDS missions deferring enrollment, and players not showing, this group is thin. Consider that Harris seems destined for the O-line, and this position is downright empty. GRADE: F

LB: Patrick Bennett: LB; 6'1, 215; Forks, WA; three year starter at both RB and LB; very bright young man with a 4.0 GPA; all league 1999 and 2000; 2000 - league MVP, 1100yds rushing, 15 TDs on offense, 78 tackles and 2 sacks on defense; Bennett was named all-state by the TNT after finishing the season with 2448yds and 30 TDs on offense, and 148 tackles on defense. Bennett was also named by the TNT as their Washington Player of the Year; Bennett was named AP all-state 2A, and was also the AP 2A Player of the Year.; Bennett was named a TNT Honorable Mention Northwest Nugget; SuperPrep farwest; Prepstar all west; Seattle Times Red Chip

Will Derting: LB; 6', 205; 4.7 forty; Okanagan, WA (Okanagan); 1999 - all state at both LB and RB for single A and undefeated (13-0) state champ Okanagan, 1400yds rushing on offense, 70 solo tackles on defense; athletic player fitting into size mold of Cougar linebackers; Derting was named AP all-state 1A. Game observers have said Derting is a major sleeper who has excellent movement and is a sideline to sideline player; Prepstar All region; all league; Seattle Times Red Chip

CougZone Says: The Cougs are lucky that Bennett has Cougar blood. Bennett could be the biggest sleeper prospect of this class. He is a tough, versatile athlete who dominated his league. Bennett looks to have the tools to be another James Darling type LB for WSU. Derting probably projects as an outside 'backer at WSU. Derting's another small town guy who by all accounts can lay the wood and get around the field to do it. Both of these players didn't get the high-profile recruiting attention - although Bennett started to and stuck with the Cougs - but both are very good and athletic signees who physically are exactly what WSU likes to see at linebacker. GRADE: A

DB: Jeremy Bohannon: DB/WR; 5'11, 175; 4.5; Richland, WA (Richland); very athletic prospect who could play on both sides of the ball but may project as a cornerback in college; 2000 - league co-MVP, 6 picks on defense with two going for TDs, 31 catches for 755yds and 11 TDs on offense; academically qualified; AP 4A all-state; TNT Honorable Mention Northwest Nugget; on offense has 31 catches for 755yds (24.4 avg), 11 TDs; Seattle Times Red Chip; SuperPrep Farwest

Aaron Joseph: Athlete/DB; 6'2, 190; 4.5 forty; Tacoma, WA (Franklin Pierce); excellent all around athlete who also is a hoops and track standout; has played QB, DB, and WR for Franklin Pierce but likely projects as a college safety; 3.56 GPA; recruited by all Northwest schools and received some national attention; all league, all area, TNT defensive player of the year; Prepstar all west; Seattle Times Red Chip

Jevon Miller: DB; 6'1, 185; Anchorage, AK (East); Extremely athletic player who projects as a safety for WSU; standout player in his league; all league on both sides of the ball; second team all-state on both sides of the ball; hoops standout

Wes Patterson-Aumya: WR/DB; 5'11, 190; 4.4 forty; Bellflower, CA (Bellflower); regarded by the Long Beach Press Telegram as one of the best DB prospects in California; 35" vertical leap; all-league 1998 and 1999; projects as a college safety; LBPT dream team CB; LBPT preseason Elite 18; 63 tackles, 11 passes broken up, 2 Ints

Alex Teems: DB; 5'11, 180; Carson, CA (San Pedro); all league as both CB and RB, but projects as a college cornerback; team MVP; SuperPrep Farwest

Alan Thompson: DB/RB; 5'10, 190; Sweetwater, CA (Sweetwater); Teammate of Cougar WR commit Trandon Harvey; projects as college safety; league player of the year; all league as RB; team offensive back of the year with 1400+yds, 14 TDs

CougZone Says: A look at the Cougar roster shows some building depth concerns at DB, so it was important for WSU to sign a number of cornerback and safety prospects in this class. The Cougars did just that, and really addressed the need although WSU may need to develop some of the signees over time. Bohannon is thought to be very much a sleeper prospect with the tools to be an impact player. The same goes for Joseph - a pure athlete who was dominant in his league despite playing a number of positions. Patterson-Aumya is probably the most heralded of the bunch and has great speed for a safety prospect. It's possible that if Dwayne Wright doesn't get a qualifying test score, Thompson could get a look at RB, the position where he drew most of his recognition in HS. Miller's an athletic sleeper the Cougs noticed while scouting other prospects. WSU's been pretty successful in the past with Alaska players, so… GRADE: B

In hindsight, the 2001 class produced what, 4 starters!??! Derting, Harris, Teems, and Riley Fitt-Chappell. The rest were either backups or failed to ever play a down. I had forgotten about how much hype Hurd had coming in, and how great he was on the scout team until his knee injury.

The 2002 class was much better, and when you consider that was coming off the 2001 Sun Bowl win, this might be a good indication that we were on the rise.

Joshua Swogger: QB; 6'5, 242; 4.9 forty; Youngstown, OH (Ursuline); 1999 - all league, all state with 1800yds and 15 TDs passing, 483yds and 8 TDs rushing; Swogger had a very impressive senior season and was recently named first team Ohio 4-A and Ohio 4-A Offensive Player of the Year; CBS Sports AA; 2000 - 2300+ yds, 25 TDs in leading team to state title; grayshirted and enrolled in January 2002

CougZone Says: The QB who will join with the class of 2002 is Swogger. Swogger was all-Ohio everything at QB his senior year. Recruited in the same class as equally highly touted Cougar QB Chris Hurd, Swogger greyshirted in 2001. CZ Grade: A

RB Lionel Arnold: RB; 6'1, 205; 4.5 forty; (Contra Costa CC); big, physical back averaging over 5yds per carry and 139yds per game; 2001 - 1251yds on the season with 14 TDs with defenses keying on him; 2772yds and 29 TDs in his JC career; three years of eligibility to play two Steve Dildine: RB/LB; 6'1, 205; 4.5 forty; Spanaway, WA (Bethel); very much a rising prospect playing his first season of football since the 8th grade; returning to football after racing BMX bikes competitively; can project on either side of the ball and will get a first look at RB in college; knocked out of the playoffs in the semifinals by Carl Bonnell's Kentwood Conquerors; finished the season with 2265yds and a state record 45 TDs, 41 of them rushing.; named all area and all state by the TNT; TNT Player of the Year; named all state by the Seattle Times; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; named an honorable mention Northwest Nugget by the TNT

Jermaine Green: RB; 6'2, 225; 4.5 forty; Daytona Beach, FL (Spruce Creek; Butler CC); strong, big, fast, and physical JC prospect from Florida by way of very strong 10-2 Butler CC program in Kansas; 2001 - 1010yds (5.3yd per carry average) and 10 rushing TDs, 11 catches for 197 yds (17.9yd avg) with 2 TDs; enrolled in January

Jonathan Smith: RB; 5'9, 180; Pasadena, CA (Narbonne; Pasadena CC); smaller but fast JC RB rated the 74th JC player prospect nationally by JCFootball.com; had a huge season in helping lead PCC to a 10-1 record; set a national JC record with 2589 all purpose yards, with 2053yds rushing (over 10yds per carry average) and the rest receiving out of the backfield; named a 1st team all American JC, and was also all conference and the league offensive Player of the Year; rewrote the PCC record books, setting records for yards in a game, touchdowns in a game, total TDs, etc, etc.; In high school at Narbonne, Smith was all Los Angeles city and league MVP with 1679yds rushing (11.5yd per carry avg) and 22 TDs; all JC California

CougZone Says: Oh, my! The Cougs had an immediate impact need at RB. Graduation of David Minnich and the ugly departure of Deon Burnett in 2000 left a big hole in the lineup for 2002. Through injury or otherwise, no current Cougar back locked a claim to the job(s) in 2001. To help fill the need, the Cougs added three impressive JC backs to the mix. Jermaine Green is already enrolled and comes from JC power Butler after having a standout Florida high school career. Smith was arguably the best JC RB in the nation after the season he had in 2001. Arnold is the sleeper of the bunch. Arnold is physical and drew a lot of attention from defenses his sophomore year following an impressive freshman season. Dildine had a monster of a senior season for Bethel and has plenty of upside. He'll probably get a first look on offense, but based on how he fills out he could grow into playing LB.

CZ Grade: A

TE Cody Boyd: TE; 6'8, 220; 4.7 forty; Ferndale, WA (Ferndale); rangy TE prospect; extremely athletic and a strong receiver with good hands; hoops standout who will have opportunity to play hoops at WSU; PacWest Football considers Boyd the #3 TE prospect in the west; pre-season all state by the Seattle Times; named all-state by the Seattle Times; named one of three Blue Chip recruits by the Seattle Times; named a honorable mention Northwest Nugget by the TNT; named to the TNT Western 100 list; 5 votes in the Long Beach Press Telegram Best in the West list

Eddie Robinson: TE; 6'3, 240; Venice, CA (Venice; Tulane; Compton CC); very heavily recruited prospect out of high school as a mobile, receiving TE; was the subject of a huge recruiting war between Virginia and Tulane before signing with Tommy Bowden's Green Wave; played one season at Tulane before transferring back to Compton CC and the west coast where he did not play; played DE and TE in high school for 11-1 Venice team and named all CIF as TE and to the SuperPrep all west team

Jesse Taylor: TE; 6'4, 238; 4.7 forty; West Hills, CA (Chaminade); Prepstar preseason All American; total package TE prospect with good speed, size, blocking skills, and hands; PacWest Football has Taylor as the #2 TE prospect in the west; named to the TNT Western 100; three votes in the Long Beach Press Telegram Best in the West list; all league as both TE and LB in both 2000 and 2001; father played for UCLA

CougZone Says: As far as ratings, Body, Taylor, and Robinson make this group as good or better than any group in the nation. Taylor is considered a complete package of skills while Boyd has great hands and will fill out into a very large receiving target. Robinson was a very hot prospect out of high school and will come in August to compete for the job immediately. If depth is still unclear after spring practice, Robinson's chances of breaking into the lineup will be very good.

CZ Grade: A

WR Robert Franklin: WR; 6'3, 190; Gainesville, TX (Gainesville); big play receiver with great size and good speed who played on a running team; 2001 - led conference with 17 catches for 328yds (19.3yd avg), league co-offensive MVP; Pac-10 caliber long jumper who will probably compete in track at WSU

Sammy Moore: WR/Returns; 5'11, 175; 4.5 forty; Mesa, AZ (Bakersfield CC); highly regarded JC WR and return specialist rated #44 JC prospect overall nationally and #6 JC WR prospect nationally by JCFootball; first team all conference as freshman in 2000 and second team in 2001; highly recruited out of high school and originally signed with ASU; expected to contribute immediately as punt and kick returner

Chris Jordan: WR/DB; 6'1, 185; 4.5 forty; Kent, WA (Kentlake); standout athlete who can play on either side of the ball and also return kicks; named pre-season all state by the Seattle Times; hoops standout; received offer at WSU summer camp; named all state by the TNT; named all area by the Seattle Times; named all state by the Seattle Times; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times

CougZone Says: Sammy Moore is an impact guy by virtue of his ability to break the big play. He can do it receiving passes, punts, or kicks, which makes him potentially explosive from anywhere you can get him the ball. Franklin is a major sleeper. He has all the physical tools, but played in a league where they didn't throw so much. Jordan's a good combination of skills and will probably get a first look at receiver. This is a solid group, and the expected impact of Moore will help.

CZ Grade: B-

Line Troy Bienemann: DL/OL; 6'5, 260; 4.9 forty; Mountain View, CA (St. Francis); big and athletic prospect; league co-MVP as DE, 72 tackles, 1 sack; 27 catches for 313yds, 1 TD; Prepstar #5 TE on West Coast; TNT Western 100; several all-area teams; SuperPrep all west; grayshirted after suffering knee injury in late summer 2001 and joined the team in January 2002

Adam Braidwood: DE; 6'5, 225; 4.6 forty; North Delta, British Columbia, Canada (Seaquam); rising Canadian prospect who plays American rules football; named top DE at Oregon Nike Camp and attended WSU football camp where he was camp Defensive MVP; considered one of the top D-line prospects in the west with a great combination of strength, speed, and attitude; may have chance to play as a true freshman; all conference and all BC; all BC defensive MVP

Charles Harris: OL/DL; 6'6, 270; Spokane, WA (Mead); Seattle Times Red Chip; athletic line prospect who could play on either side of the ball; may get a first look on defense; greyshirted and joined the team in January 2002

Spencer Hollison: OL; 6'6, 265; 4.9 forty; Santa Margarita, CA; good sized line prospect with good technique and feet; all league in 2000; holds school record in career "de-cleaters" with 67; all league as senior; projects as tackle and protected three D-1 QB signees during high school career

Nick Milhauser: OL; 6'4, 265; Arroyo Grande, CA (Arroyo Grande); good sized line prospect named all conference as junior; as senior, named all league and all area; league lineman of the year; area lineman of the year; region lineman of the year

Matt Mullinex: LB/DE; 6'4, 235; 4.6 forty; Twisp, WA (Liberty); sleeper D-line prospect who impressed at the summer football camp with attitude, motor, and work ethic; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; all league on both sides of the ball (RB, LB); Will likely greyshirt and enroll in January 2003

Aaron Ware: DL/OL; 6'5, 230; 5.0 forty; Lacey, WA (Timberlane); two way starter at OL and DE; good pass rusher and will likely get first look on defense in college; 2000 - all league on both sides of the ball; all region; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; all league on defense as a senior with 105 tackles

CougZone Says: With this class, it seemed that Coach Price went back to his old adage of the "top ten tight ends." Price likes to recruit the big framed athlete who can develop into any one of a number of positions. The Cougs like their O-linemen a little slender coming out of high school and like to get guys who are athletic and can move, but are still filling out. WSU got a real good player in Milhauser who has a great combination of skills. Hollison was sought after because of his ability to move and lay a big block. He also brings the experience of working with passing offenses. Mullinex will greyshirt while Harris is joining the team after greyshirting in 2001. Before he greyshirted, Harris was expected to get a first look on defense. Bienemann was impressing before a late injury prompted his greyshirt. Braidwood could get a chance to play right away. Braidwood was dominant in his league, has good skills, is quick and big enough to play now - something the Cougs may need to help depth at DE. Ware will get a good look at defense, but could transition to offense. All around, a bunch of very promising players to develop plus some possible immediate depth. Nice job recruiting to the line, an annual need.

CZ Grade: B+

LB Scott Davis: LB/RB; 6', 205; 4.5 forty; Kennewick, WA (Kamiakin); Seattle Times preseason all state as LB; named all state by the Seattle Times; league co-defensive MVP and all league at both LB and RB; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; team and league MVP as sophomore; all league and league co-MVP as junior; team 25-7 over his three years playing

Brian Hall: LB/DE; 6'3, 220; 4.65 forty; Walla Walla, WA (DeSales); athletic and versatile prospect from strong football program; has played LB, TE, and RB in HS and could project as college LB, DE, or TE; All league in 2000 as both LB and TE; Attended WSU camp and received an offer; helped lead DeSales to the state title game; named all-state by the TNT who described Hall as a big talent in a small school; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; Washington Prep Report B-11 Player of the Year; named all area and all league

Donnie Jackson: LB; 6'1, 218; 4.7 forty; Natchez, MS (Grossmont CC); Mississippi born JC prospect by way of Grossmont CC; hard hitting, speedy and athletic LB who likely projects outside for WSU; helped lead Grossmont to 9-1 record before loss in CC bowl game to Cougar commit Johnathan Smith's Pasadena CC team; 2001 - all conference, all state CC, 3rd team JC all American

Kevin Sperry: LB; 6'2, 225; 4.6 forty; Los Angeles, CA (North Torrance; Los Angeles Harbor CC); good sized, hard hitting player with speed rated 75th best JC player nationally overall and the 14th best LB prospect by JCFootball.com; three years of eligibility; 2001 - 12 sacks, 17 TFL, and set team record with 17 tackles in one game; all conference in 2001; named a second team JC all American, all JC California, and all league; enrolled in January

CougZone Says: Along with RB, the Cougs were looking at an immediate need at LB for 2002. Graduations leave holes, and the existing roster was looking too young and thin. The Cougs hit the need with Sperry and Jackson who will be expected to compete immediately for substantial playing time or starts. Both players are highly regarded and mobile. Physically and athletically they both fit the mold for Cougar LBs. Sperry is on campus and will make a strong claim to the start at MLB, while Jackson will come in August to lay a claim to one of the outside spots. For the future, Hall looks like a heady player who projects at MLB. Davis was a huge factor in his team's success over the years and has a motor. If Steve Dildine ultimately makes the switch to LB from RB, this group puts some nice players in the pipeline and plugs the immediate needs.

CZ Grade: B+

DB Eric Frampton: DB; 6', 177; 4.6 forty; San Jose, CA (Oak Grove); sleeper prospect whose senior year ended after three games due to a broken collarbone; all league as junior; projects at either safety or cornerback; named to the TNT Western 100 list

Wes Rainwater: DB/RB; 5'11, 180; 4.5 forty; Kent, WA (Kentridge); rising prospect who impressed as one of top DBs at WSU camp; considered a good cover DB and likely projects as a cornerback; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; named a honorable mention Northwest Nugget by the TNT; all league and league special teams MVP

Don Turner: DB/WR; 6', 170; 4.5 forty; Spokane, WA (University); standout player on both sides of the ball for U-High with 2 Ints on the year and a 15yd per catch receiving average; track standout who projects as a college safety; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; named a honorable mention Northwest Nugget by the TNT; all league as DB

CougZone Says: Rainwater was a playmaker in high school and has good cover skills and speed. Frampton is probably the most highly regarded despite missing most of his senior year - something that makes him a mystery. Turner has good tools and speed. A solid group, but all will need some time and work to develop. The Cougs need to build long and short term in the defensive secondary. This group will help, but there's not much margin for error if the Cougs want to avoid the need for JC help down the road.

CZ Grade: C+

Athlete Mkristo Bruce: Athlete; 6'5, 210; 4.7 forty; Issaquah, WA (Liberty); all league on defense at LB and second team all league as a QB; Projects as college LB or TE; named a Red Chip recruit by the Seattle Times; attended summer WSU football camp and earned offer based on attitude and athleticism

Odell Howard: TE/Athlete; 6'4, 235; 4.6 forty; Pomona, CA; big prospect athletic enough to play WR in high school; projects at any number of positions in college, but will get a first look on offense; hoops standout averaging close to 20 points per game and 15 boards; league and region player of the year

Flamingo Malone: DB/Athlete; 6'5, 205; 4.7 forty; Wilmington, CA (Banning); athletic and heavily recruited player; played WR, LB, Safety, and DE in high school; could play on either side of the ball in college and position projects more on how his frame fills out; standout small forward for hoops team; named all region at LB; all CIF in both 2000 and 2001 as a DB

CougZone Says: When the man is named Flamingo, you know he's gonna be tough. Malone was a dominant athlete and DB in high school, but could easily fill out physically and grow into a completely different position in college. If he ends up at DB, he could make a fearsome strong safety. Malone probably projects on defense and will bring a lot to whatever spot he plays. Bruce could find a niche and emerge. He has an excellent work and team ethic. Bruce will likely need a year or two to fill out and find a position. Howard is something of a question. At times a huge receiver in high school - and a great small forward - where Howard ultimately ends up will depend on how he fills out. It could be almost anywhere except DB, RB, and QB.

CZ Grade: B+

By the way, the 2002 class also coincided with the arrival of Robin Pflugrad. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blitz killing Brink, Cougs

Good read on beating the blitz, or getting beat in the process. Explains what we've been seeing for the last 3 games:

BY THE TIME THE COUGARS lined up for overtime Saturday, the defense was already emotionally headed for the woodshed. Forget the three-point stances. We’ll get the message and beat the traffic. The overtime sequence looked pretty much like this. Eleven guys on offense, followed by 11 on defense, waiting for the ax to fall.

And, of course, fall it did. I’m sure everybody feels bad but a 44-41 overtime dart to the heart is really tough on those of us who can’t tear our eyes away. We can’t take out our aggression by hitting somebody late, like the defense can. We have to sit around wondering why? How? Whadaya mean we’re outa beer?

The Blame Patrol is out in force this week. Cougar offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller is the juiciest target. Great game plan (21 early points), the boo birds are chirping, but lousy adjustments (the first three offensive series in the fourth quarter were three-and-outs).Pushing the 12th-ranked team in the country to change what it was doing, and scoring 41 points in the process, is no small feat. But the fact is that the offense suddenly froze in the fourth, setting off a meltdown that took place at an agonizingly deliberate pace.The young and banged-up defense is in serious decline. It’s very good once in a while. Adam Braidwood is playing hurt. Two starters were holy terrors last fall. In high school. For now it’s up to the offense. It’s not fair but the Cougar offense has to do it all, not only start but finish.Because it initially hummed, only to falter and flutter and die, Levenseller’s offense finds itself eerily akin to George W. Bush.They both have the same dismal approval rating.How many times have you seen this? The Cougs are 0-1 when a running back goes off for more than 250 yards. Has anybody done that, ever?

SADLY, DELVING INTO THE video, seeing what quarterback Alex Brink saw down the stretch, alternatives are not all that clear. I mean, what would you call? UCLA shifted into a 4-3-3, layering 10 defenders from WSU’s tight end to the Cougar weakside tackle. The Bruins came in waves, blitz after blitz. With three and four WSU receivers running pass routes, Brink -- under pressure always -- had no time to look off receivers and shift to second and third reads.Did I mention we’ve seen this before? Mike Price’s first season. 1989. The Cougs won six of their first seven. In came Arizona with a second-half blitz package that kept the quarterback under siege. Washington State lost a lead and a game that day.The Cougars never did pick up the blitz.

(NOTE - GOD what a horrible memory that game was. I was right around the 50-yard line, next to Tyler Dion, and it was somewhat wet that day, it was cloudy, etc. It was a low-scoring game, and I think Aaron Garcia was the starter. We got an early long pass for a TD and looked good for a while, but AZ brought the house, we turned the ball over, couldn't get the run going, etc. That was the birth of how to stop the one-back offense!)

They never did win another game that year. It was George Santayana, or possibly Tom Landry, who said that those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it. So pay attention; the Cougs won’t win another game until they counter the blitz.

To say that UCLA was keying on Jerome Harrison in the second half is like explaining why robbers key on banks. That’s where the money is. Harrison was easy money in the first half. It had to be everybody’s guess that UCLA would gang up on Harrison and make the Cougs find another way.It didn’t happen. The first play of the third quarter signaled what would come. WSU guard Norvell Holmes pulled to lead a Harrison sweep right. You see the UCLA safety taking one, two, three steps in as the ball is snapped, cheating, anticipating. When the ball goes to Harrison, the Bruin DB abandons deep coverage and scrambles to the corner. The deepest defender on the field is suddenly in run support mode, forcing Harrison to cut inside where he is poleaxed by converging UCLA linebackers.It was the first of too many second-and-longs. Antidote? The tailback pass comes to mind. That’d work once, anyway. Beyond that?I’M NO HEAD COACH, AND I don’t play one on TV, but if I were I’d go to the section of the playbook that has a fullback in it.

The slotback, Michael Bumpus, was all but ignored Saturday, not because he’s not a potential big-play guy but because all Brink had time for was to lock on his primary target, Jason Hill. Too often, for Brink, it was put it up and hope you don’t break something while they’re taking you down.It’s time for tinkeering. Tight ends who block and catch, receivers who break off routes and adjust to the ball, maybe a fullback or H-back who blocks first, delays a count or two and slides into a short pattern. Give Brink an option. At the risk of sounding like Les Richter, two words come to mind here.

Safety valve.

In the steady, predictable, fatal drone of Saturday’s three-and-outs, there was only one really awful terrible crummy call from the sidelines. That came on third-and long-with less than six minutes remaining, the Cougs clinging to a 38-31 lead. Moments before, UCLA had turned it over on downs at midfield.Thank you, Cougar defense.The offense rode all that emotion to this: Harrison is thrown for a four-yard loss on first down. Hill catches a two-yard pass. This is where it got irretrievably worse. The Cougs on third and long sends Harrison in motion. Bruin linebacker Spencer Havner goes lateral, shadowing the Cougar tailback, pointing, shouting, sensing. Brink’s pass finds Harrison but Havner beats a block and leads the stampede that dumps the Cougar tailback a distant eight yards from the first-down sticks.That was every bit as predictable as Idaho going Republican.

Momentum, momentarily snatched, slipped away. Incredibly, with less than five minutes to go, the Cougs were ahead and losing at the same time. The next tormentor on the schedule, Cal, must be savoring those images. The Cal Bears will bring the house down on Brink. The challenge is fairly obvious.

Beat the blitz or pay the price. Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Quick Derting story




FYI, I spoke to Talarico during and after the game on Saturday, and again on Sunday. He told me after the game, as they were milling around where all the RV's are stationed, they walked by the Derting family RV. Of course the whole family was there, but also there, in the flesh, was big Will himself. Brandon looked right at him, and he said his eyes were beat red, definitely from crying his eyes out. He also was throwing down the beer, and was visibly shaken. He was surrounded by family, etc, but Talarico still decided to approach him. However he didn't get far. Some huge wall of a man was standing between them, so he backed off without talking to him. He then told the guy to tell Will to keep his chin up, get healthy and get after it the rest of his final season!

Hmm, maybe the D misses his leadership more than we could have imagined? Again, obviously we aren't around the team at all, but to hear a story like that sure makes you realize how much a kid like that really cares about winning! It must be killing him not being out there, because who the hell knows, IF he's healthy and making plays in the middle, MAYBE we're bowl-eligible RIGHT NOW!?! MAYBE they hold on vs. the Beavs if he makes that sack. MAYBE he doesn't vacate the middle of the field and shadows Trent Edwards? MAYBE he covers better vs. Marcedes Lewis and makes just one more play, just one more stop??? MAYBE we'd be 6-0 today!?!?

Just something to think about in this almost-lost season. Read more ...plus comments

SECOND SEASON

Saturday will mark the 12th game--or second season--with little Alex at the helm of the sinking good ship Cougar.

After hearing nary a word about the Quarterback position from the coaches, I am left with one conclusion: CAL's upset loss to the Beavs--where the Beavs's Bernard ran for 187--left the coaches with the impression that the season is still salvagable with a win this weekend.

With that line of reasoning, it makes a little sense to stay the course and see what happens in Berkeley this Saturday night.

That all said, after we lose, and after another poor showing against CAL--AND YOU CAN BET THAT CAL WON'T WAIT UNTIL THE SECOND HALF TO STACK THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE--Brink's continued presence in the lineup may reallymake me write off my favorite sports team in the history of ever.

Again, Saturday marks the second season for Alex. We really should see him turn the corner right now.

Hawk told me on Sunday that every single bowl team we've seen had a junior or senior quarterback starting. Well, Brink may be a sophomore, but he red-shirted a year and now has a full season's worth of experience behind center. In other words, he's a junior now--all the way.

THIS is the week for him to step forward. And if he fails, and the coaches stay the course, then I am off the bandwagon until I can recruit and organize the Brinkhater nation to take over Cougworld.

Go Seahawks. Read more ...plus comments

Monday, October 17, 2005

Notes From the Weekend

One more complaint about Brink and then I'm done. He follows his receiver the whole way. Even Thrasher noticed that at the OSU game and its the reason he had 4 picks in that game. Not because Bienemin ran the wrong route.

I have a few other obscure notes from Saturday which I actually wrote down as they hit me:

1) Cougs need to Sh!t or get off the pot on the 2-back offense. Using it occassionally like they have produced nothing. I think it produced negative yards in this weeks game. I've been a big fan of the 2-back set but with #1 back there we don't need it. If we had a mediocre back I wouldn't mind taking one or our mediocre receivers off the field to run it. Just as long as we consistantly run it.

2) Mercedes is a girls name. And while we're on that subject you can't call it a mismatch when that guy runs across the middle and no one is covering him. Trent was lost back there, whenever Lewis ran by him he didn't know what to do. How about a little help back there though. Maybe the safeties could keep an eye out for that guy. The play I'm remembering, when he caught a pass all alone across the middle, was after he'd already caught a TD pass along with a few other 1st down passes. Easy for me to say I guess.

3) I think I would rather pluck hairs off my sack one by one than listen to Mike Goldberg, D'Marco Farr and Billy Ray Smith talk football.

4) Can Leinart get inducted into the Hall of Fame without actually playing pro ball. I suppose not. Can you imagine how disappointing it would be if (God forbid) he had a career ending injury and never played a down in the show. I can't wait to see what he can do. Read more ...plus comments

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I KNOW NOTHING


That's right, nothing. I never played organized football past my sophomore year in high school. I've never coached football, at any level. I'm not there on a daily basis with this team. I don't break down film, I don't help the offense or defense game-plan on a weekly basis. I don't know these players, except for their last name on the back of their jersey and some sound bites to the media. I have no idea what the players and coaches are really thinking, and except for a random "insider" tidbit here and there, I have NO IDEA what's going on behind the locker-room doors and in the coaches offices. Repeat - NO IDEA.

That said, I'm not a complete moron. I feel like I understand the game, somewhat, and have a general understanding, after playing a little and watching a lot of football my whole life, to have a basic idea of what is good and what isn't, of what an offense and defense might try to do on a weekly basis, how a team might try to exploit a known weakness, etc. And, even the most fringe fan can see that there are problems at the most important position on the field.

There must be reasons that Joe Football Fan like me will never know as to why Alex Brink will continue to start. To be ok as a coaching staff with these collapses due to a failure of the QB to execute when the pressure is on, to continually defend this kid when even my wife can watch the second half and say "why is he even playing?", that says a lot to what is going on. Have they decided to accept his success and failure this year, no matter what, with the idea he'll lead us to a bowl game in 2006? Do they care about this year, or are they of the mindset that we're young and playing underclassmen all over the field, and this is their learning experience? Well, LAST YEAR I WAS OK with that approach, but not this year! After our recent success, sure, a 5-6 season is acceptable as long as it happens during a "transition" season, and young players are on the field learning those valuable lessons of how to close out a game.

That said, we are really in a weird position. Suddenly our losses don't look at that horrible. The second-half collapse vs. the Beavs is bad, but we were up 31-13 on that team, that same Beav team that is now 4-2 after winning at Cal. The Stanford loss looked bad, but now they just went down and won at Arizona, which is never easy to do and Stanford has won 2 road games in the Pac-10 already. That's saying a LOT. UCLA is a top-10, undefeated team, albeit a little overrated, probably, but losing in OT is no shame. To hear Doba talk, the team is both fired up and pissed off about the loss, and they are keeping their spirits up big-time. That could be huge for the rest of the season.

Don't many experts say that only through adversity do we grow, as human beings? There is an old belief that some monks actually pray before a long journey that they will actually experience adversity, so they can grow and learn from it! It's easy to sit back and relax when everything is going your way, but in your life, you have dealt at some point with a serious setback or two. It's how you learned from that setback and dealt with it is what helps define who you are today. Let's just cross our fingers that this ISN'T the 2004 team that never learned a thing after collapsing vs. Oregon last year. Let's hope they will grow from the last three weeks, and will be a stronger, better unit from top to bottom over the finishing kick of the '05 season!

By the way, the bowl game possibilities just got a lot harder. By viture of a tiebreaker situation that bowl committees will use this year, EVEN if we get to 6-5, a bowl game isn't a slam-dunk. Losing to two teams already, OSU and Stanford, that will probably be in the lower tier of bowl-eligible teams by the end of the year, REALLY hurts. Think about this:

Bowl-teams (guaranteed)
USC
Oregon
UCLA
ASU (they'll finish strong)
Cal

Probable:
OSU
Possible:
Stanford

On the outside:
WSU
Arizona
UW

Not only do we have to finish 6-5, but we're going to have to hope to pass a Stanford or OSU, two teams that will win any tiebreaker scenario possible.

Let's just turn this thing around and get a W this week?

By the way, Michael, Reardon's Reddest will be at the Cal game this week. You guys might want to try and meet up???

On the bright side, there WAS some very positive recruiting news from the game. While we didn't get any official commits, we did get some great feedback. Check it out, via the premium board:

Does not sound like there were any verbals this weekend. Marcus Richmond said his visit rated a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, and that the trip certainly solidified his verbal. Richmond talked in terms of "we" when speaking about Washington State. Said he was surprised at how loud the stadium was, said it was louder at WSU than it was at ASU when he took in a game earlier there this year. He said the food was great, and had a "big 'ol burger, it was like the size of a frisbee." He loved the way the offensive line performed. Said Harrison's performance was "spectacular", and that he looks forward to trying to fill his shoes at WSU. Habben called the visit "awesome" and said he had a really great time with his host, Kenny Alfred. He needs to have something to compare it to, since this was his first official visit. He said the fan atmosphere was fantastic, and he couldn't have picked a better weekend to go with regards to that. That was one of the things he talked most about going into the visit. His parents drove over there and he said they had a great time and really liked all the WSU coaches. But expect his recruitment to go on for a while, with the earliest he might make a decision probably sometime in December. Read more ...plus comments

"ITS NOT HOW MANY YARDS YOU RUSH FOR"

Its not how many yards you rush for, its how many times you rush the ball.
-Charlie Weiss, yesterday..


Those words represent my thoughts entirely. When you have a 17 point lead in the 4th quarter, run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. And when you're tired of running the ball--be it for 1,2, -2, or 3 yards, run the ball some more. So what do we do?--run the ball, throw the ball for a 1 yard gain, throw the ball for a 3 yard loss--with everything to the outside and NOTHING up the middle. Even worse, instead of eating 2 minutes per possession at minimum, we eat all of 41 seconds...

I suppose that the Coaches argument is that running up the middle was impossible with the safety pinching up--which leads me to the question: then what the hell was Brink doing? If you have 15 guys and their mothers at the line of scrimmage, is the best that you can do is -3 yards passing (excluding the last 42 seconds)?

Again, this is the SECOND time that Brink has TOTALLY COLLAPSED in the second half. The THIRD time that he has been absolutely unable to rally the troops to get a game clinching score. How much longer can that be defended?

Either Brink needs to be benched, or the coaching staff needs to be fired (other than Yarno, who has these guys playing better than ever--did you notice no holding or procedure penalties)?. Either its time for some of the coaches to step down, or its time to bench little Alex..

The saddest thing of all, is that we will see #10 run out in the Berkeley night next Saturday. He'll lead us to a halftime lead, and then we'll lose again in the second half: the coaches will talk about the need of the D to finish, blah, blah, blah...

Until Josh Swogger plays and flails for a couple of games--I can not stomach watching Alex Brink anymore. And as long as #10 is on the field without seeing an alternative, quite frankly, I don't care what they do anymore....

Consider me a 3 day a week poster instead of 7..

But, if we can just win next week........................ Read more ...plus comments

Friday, October 14, 2005

Recruits for the weekend - BIG time

First, Rooster, you are right. Your reasonings make perfect sense as to why we'll lose. If I could change picks right now, I would, but I don't know, something tells me that even if we DO lose, it will be a close one. I'm still going to stand by my gut though, hey, you gotta believe, right?

Let me say this, if we lose by 1 point and we show improvement in all areas, including QB, are you more encouraged by that? Or are you more discouraged by letting another chance slip away and falling to 3-3? I know I'll be sick if they let another one get away, yet I'll be encouraged that they stood toe-to-toe with a team some of the national guys are starting to slurp.

HUGE HUGE HUGE recruiting weekend coming up! Just huge.

1) Marcus Richmond, big-time RB from Dobson High in Arizona. He's the kid who verballed to WSU last spring, but he's never been to Pullman before....a lot of insiders point that Pflugrad has been on this one since he was a frosh in high school. Anyway, he's had a GIGANTIC year so far. His last five games, Richmond has rushed for 278, 230, 384, 240 and 215 yards. In seven games this season, he has carried the ball 193 times for 1593 yards, averaging 8.25 ypc and 227.5 ypg. He's big (6-1, 205), fast, and physical and could be the ideal weapon in the one-back. The bad news is that the big boys are hard-charging at him right now, UW and Oregon specifically, and the Ducks even wanted him to visit this weekend but he said "Hey, sorry, I'm going to Pullman. You know, WSU, the place I verbally committed already!??" Still, it's going to be a long haul and some nervous moments until signing day with this one, because he's now saying that even though he's verballed, he's going to take more trips. Yikes.

2) Xavier Lucas - tall drink of water at WR (6-4) from Tempe, he's big-play all the way. He averages over 25 yards a catch (WOW) on a running team. He leads his team in catches, yards, and is only behind the kicker in scoring. Not much else is known about him, but he's another late bloomer that is starting to really get noticed.

3) Cody Habban - we've written about him before, but he's the big o-lineman from Skyline that the Cougs have been after for some time. He's got a big list of schools that are coming hard - The Cougs, OSU, Iowa State, ASU and UW are among the most interested, but more offers keep coming from places like Colorado and Utah. He's been credited with 29 pancakes in 6 games this year, and he's already big (6-5, 280) and real athletic. He fits that WSU mold of tall, quick lineman really well. The good news on Habban? He's very interested in the Cougs, and he's been to Pullman twice already, as well as attending the Grambling game on the sidelines, so he knows what he's in for.

4) Jeffrey Solomon - Big (6-1, 185), fast, athletic safety/QB hybrid from Ingraham. He was one of the MVP's at the Cougs summer camp this year at safety. He's having a good year this year, too, 1001 yards and 10 TD's passing in 6 games, plus 200 yards rushing and 2 TD's. He even caught an 84-yard TD. He flies to the ball and loves to hit, though, and is always around the ball. Cougs, Beavs and UW are all working on him.

5) Vincent Joseph - Maybe the biggest "name" recruit of them all this weekend, this kid is a starting CB at Long Beach Poly. He's been talking a LOT to the Cougs of late, and says he's very excited to set foot on campus. Cougs, USC, Oregon, Cal and Colorado are his top five, in no particular order. He hasn't yet received an offer from USC, but everyone else has. UW also just offered a few days ago. He's not real big, 5-9 1/2, 185, but he's VERY fast (4.39 40 at the USC camp last year). He had a gigantic season in '04, notching 27 pass break-ups, 3 fumble recoveries, and (get this) 5 BLOCKED field goals! He also runs track, the 100, 200, 4X100, 4X400 and even long jumps. Also has a 37" vert, 2.8 GPA but more importantly, a passing SAT of 920 already. He's got visits to Colorado and Oregon in the next month, so this one has a long way to go.

Obviously, on the field this game is big, but off it, it could be even bigger. Get an emotional win in front of a revved-up crowd, it could be one of those games that pushes a kid over the edge. Then again, we had a lot of games like that in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and I must have missed all the high-school all-americans that verbally committed?? Believe it when Pflugrad says that what actually happens on the field is just a small piece of the puzzle in regards to getting recuits! Read more ...plus comments

I Hope You're Right Hawk!

I'm expecting that even if UCLA's offensive time on the field is limited, they'll make the most of it. Unless they totaly change the defensive scheme (5 guys on the line?) Drew is going to work the spot vacated by Will Derting and run wild. Jerome Harrison will keep us in it, UCLA 34 - Cougs 27.

USC 35 ND 21
Ducks 37 Huskies 17
Cal 42 Beavs 24
Trees 27 Cats 24 Read more ...plus comments

Why the Cougs can win, plus other picks


GOOOOOOOO BRUINS! :)

Ask yourself, are you REALLY afraid of the powder-blue and gold?

Seriously, reasons why the Cougs can win:

1) Jerome Harrison. Nearly 250 yards rushing last year at the Rose Bowl. UCLA has been weak against the run all year long. On paper, it's by far the biggest mismatch you can hope for in our favor.

2) Improved efficiency from the QB. I have a hunch that they won't ask the QB (Brink or Swogger) to throw more than 25 times, total, and just take care of the football by running it 45 times, controlling the clock and all the while keeping your young defense off the damn field! Forget Jason Hill, if he can't play and it sounds pretty bleak, they have to figure it out, get the tight ends more involved, hope that Bumpus and Prater and Jordan will do what they are supposed to and catch the ball, and let's go. Let's own them on the ground and in time of possession. Let's do to them what Stanford did to us. Keeping their talented, experienced offense off the field is the biggest key to this whole thing.

3) Letdown-City - UCLA just won their biggest game in the Dorrell era, by far, beating Cal in a comeback, emotional game. I believe they will sleep walk through the whole first half before they "wake up". We need to take advantage of what is bound to be a flat, uninspired effort early on. Even better, as mentioned above, take advantage of that edge you have in the running game and just pound the ball the entire first half, keeping that O off the field and out of their rhythm! Remember, these are kids, and UCLA has been getting a ton of positive pub about how they could challenge USC, etc. This game is a serious landmine for them.

4) UCLA hasn't won at Pullman since 1993, when JJ Stokes went wild vs. an undermanned Cougs defense. UCLA HATES coming to Pullman, even the quotes this week of racial taunts show they hate Pullman. Tight games, blowouts, it doesn't matter, the Cougs have done a number up here on these guys.

Oh yeah, and UCLA hasn't even had to leave the state of California for a game this year, and we're already to mid-October!?! Their only road game was at San Diego State, hardly a tough venue against a weak team. This is up in the great northwest, where it'll be chilly as the sun sets by halftime, in a place they publicly admit to hating. Heck, they will not be up for the Cougs anyway. For proof of how they perform when they don't give a damn this year, look back at their game vs. UW. They were dominated on the ground by a below-average rushing team, and needed a 4th-down conversion and a last-minute TD drive to beat them on their home turf! UCLA has historically shown they are famous for fast starts and amazing letdowns to their seasons, only to fade once they hit adversity in the middle of the season. We have lost our last two games and looked bad doing it, so you know they will come in thinking blowout.

5) Finally, backs against the wall, circle the wagons, do or die, win one for the gipper, ABC TV, you name it, this is a BIG, BIG GAME for our Cougs. Certainly the biggest since the 2003 game vs. Oregon in the Doba era. Old Bill said it best, 6 quarters ago we were a pretty damn good team. It's funny how things can change in a game and a half! Reading Pflu's comments, it sounds like we have practiced extremely well and you know they are dying to get that bad taste out of their mouth.

Call me crazy, but.......Cougs dominate the ground game, they get up 21-0 or 24-7 early, and survive a furious UCLA comeback and hold on. Cougs, 31-27.

Other picks:

USC 44, @Notre Dame 38 (in OT, no less.)
@Oregon 34, UW 17
@CAL 40, OSU 27
@Arizona 17, Stanford 14 Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, October 13, 2005

NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND

Good news is never long for the Coug Gloom Squandron (SAE)..Courtesy of Mr. Glenn at the Spokesman (3:19pm Thursday):

Hill doubtful
It appears that Jason Hill's quadrceips bruise is still not healing as well as hoped. The Cougars' leading wideout practiced on a limited basis Wednesday after injuring the thigh at Oregon State on Oct. 1, but head coach Bill Doba said this afternoon that Hill is doubtful to play against UCLA.
That would, of course, be a huge blow to the WSU offense as it hasn't been the same since Hill went out with the injury. The junior will attempt to warm up before the 3:30 p.m. kickoff and either way Doba said Hill's availability will be determined there.

Get ready for the pounding, fellas...it ain't gonna be pretty Read more ...plus comments

Good practice news; Pflu chat recap

First, as you'll read today, Hill and Jordan practiced the entire way on Wednesday. That is good news guys. VERY good news. Obviously it's good in that we'll be at full strength on Saturday offensively, but also, it's good in this sense - if Brink still sucks for another half, then the excuse of not having his weapons will die, along with his playing time. One way or another, it's going to be a wild thing to see this team this week, because SO MUCH can happen, so much can change with just one game!

Here's a recap of Pflu yesterday, who was in a luxury room chat. Pretty good stuff, enjoy:


COUGFANcom:: Welcome coach Pflugrad!!! Let's open it up for questions from the Cougar faithful here on CF.C !!
DobasD03:: Coach...how is the team attitude after the last two games?tfcoug:: What is the mood/attitude of the team this week after two tough losses?

CoachPflugrad:: We had an excellent practice on Tuesday. The players were flying around, the coaches were flying around. The attitude was awesome. Very, very positive practice. The coaching staff is excited about getting out there today and continuing where we left off yesterday afternoon.

tomcoug:: How do losses affect the recruits' viewpoint of their trip to Pullman?

CoachPflugrad:: We had two recruits in last weekend. We believe they had positive visits even though the outcome of the game wasn't what we, or the entire Cougar nation, had anticipated. Losses obviously can affect recruiting, but it is just one piece of the pie. There are many other issues that we stress.

Kennewick Man:: Kids who plays within 10 miles of I-5 gets lots of recruiting hype while those from smaller schools don't. How come that doesn't change?

CoachPflugrad:: The only way it will change is if the highway structures change. The population base governs many things. That's why many citizens of Pullman, we know we are paying for the roads in Seattle. It's the same in recruiting, you don't ever change that. You continue to work on your own strengths and minimize your weaknesses

wsufootball:: Coach Pflu-I hear Coach Greene might be looking at #81 (editor's note: Pflugrad's son) from Pullman H.S. as a possible DB recruit. . .can you comment?

CoachPflugrad:: I can't comment on No.81 other than his mother makes dinner for us every night.

dgibbons:: How do websites like this one affect recruiting?

CoachPflugrad::Websites are one of the biggest changes in recruiting in the last 5-6 years. Our entire staff really doesn't get too involved in the websites, if we did I would be concerned we were spending too much time away from football. It is a little like the I-5 situation. We don't have any control over it.

DobasD03:: Coach, are the coaches talking about getting the TEs more involved in the offense? It seems that the blocking has been pretty good from the O-line.

CoachPflugrad:: We have involved them more this season and we will continue to involve them. We have some very solid players at that position. They have been blocking very consistently this season which is obviously helping Jerome Harrison, who in my opinion is the most underrated player in America. If he was at an I-5 school, he would be on the Heisman ballot.

tomcoug:: How have the hurricanes affected recruiting in Texas and other parts of the country? Do some parents want their kids to get away from that mess and go to a place that has basically no natural disasters? Also, have you been in contact with anyone directly affected by them?

CoachPflugrad:: We have discussed the Gulf Coast region in recruiting. One of our best recruiters, Leon Burtnett, has a great handle in that area. We all have great confidence in Leon that if there is news or a player wants to move out of the area, Leon is going to know ASAP.

sselfcoug:: A lot of the fans have been critical of the coaching staff the past two weeks do you think that is fair?

CoachPflugrad:: I'm a firm believer if someone pays for tickets and is a booster or supporter, they have a right to their opinion. You would always hope they use this right or privilege in a constructive and positive manner. The last two games have obviously been extremely disappointing to our football staff and we are working diligently to improve our football team.

JMKCoug:: Typically, what position is the easiest to find talent for in recruiting?

CoachPflugrad:: To find talent is probably the running back position because it is marquee in every video. You get a change to evaluate that position. Many times you do not even see the WR or DBs on video tape.

ScottsdaleCoug:: Coach, you have a pulse on what recruits are looking for. Does not being a "Nike school" hurt us in recruiting?

CoachPflugrad:: We actually are a Nike school, to a certain extent.tomcoug:: Coach, Do you find it hard to recruit athletes from certain schools(O'Dea) that don't traditionally send their students to WSU. Also, do you run into kids who have parents that are Huskies that REALLY don't want their son going to WSU. If so, how do you deal with that?

CoachPflugrad:: Certain schools are a challenge. Many times the toughest one to get is the first one. And if that recruit has a positive experience it is much easier to sell WSU and what we have to offer. That is also similar to certain geographical areas, if you get one recruit you have a much better opportunity to get more: i.e., Texas.

COUGFANcom:: Coach, any guess on if the Texas-Louisiana area will be paying dividends again this year for WSU?

CoachPflugrad:: I certainly hope so. Our young players from that region are all playing football as true freshmen.

Kennewick Man:: How badly will Derting's injury-prone history hurt his NFL draft status? CoachPflugrad:: It's hard to tell on Derting's injury. Many, many, many scouts are still extremely interested in Will Derting and in my opinion the ones that aren't, should resign immediately.

RoseBowlCoug:: Coach, as a result of the past two games, have any athletes become more vocal in the locker room or at practice; i.e., tried to assume a greater leadership role? If so, who?

CoachPflugrad:: Leadership role: I think the senior class is exerting more leadership as an entire class. Adam Braidwood and Troy Bienemann are two names that immediately come to mind.

ScottsdaleCoug:: Sorry, Nike Uniforms as well. When ASU switched from Adidas two years ago, there was a big deal made down here about the impact it will have on recruiting...not just by media, but "Dirk" as well. Please beat ASU, by the way...!

CoachPflugrad:: Apparel sponsors, facilities, shopping malls, will always make an impact in recruiting. It is not always the sizzle that we are after. We are after the substance and the total person in our recruiting philosophy.

derting51factor:: Do you consider this next game a must-win in order to reach a bowl? CoachPflugrad:: We all look at must-wins as an 11-0 season. When we talk about it in the summer, that's what our goal is. Therefore, every game is crucial to the success of our program. Our backs are against the all and we will be facing an improved and talented UCLA football team, that is also well coached. I'm excited to see how we respond.

tomcoug:: Are there any things that fans such as ourselves do that actually hurts our recruiting? If so, please let us know and we will try to get the Cougar nation to remedy that. If there is anything that could help also inform us.

CoachPflugrad:: Recruiting Help: Under NCAA regulations, there is little if anything that the Cougar Nation can help us with. Positive support is the number one way to help the staff and football team.

04Coug:: What position/positions do you see major needs at?

CoachPflugrad:: Positions: We need some immediate help at the wide receiver position, at the DB position. We need some young talent at tight end. We nee to recruit to every position to have the depth to be competitive in the Pac-10 Conference.

IBC2991:: How big of a piece to the picture to recruiting do you see the plans for expanding/remodeling Martin Stadium?

CoachPflugrad:: Martin Stadium: Martin Stadium remodeling is HUGE! It is important to keep up in the arms race even though we are about the total player. Teenagers like to see glamour and glitz to a certain extent. A remodeled stadium would greatly assist us in the initial first response, the oh-WOW syndrome. Most people like new, clean, shinny cars, and it is becoming that way in stadiums across America.

ScottsdaleCoug:: follow up on Martin expansion: will a full Martin with it's current capacity have a better affect than a 3/4 full expanded version?

CoachPflugrad:: Martin follow-up: Yes, the new, remodeled expansion would have much more positive. If you build it they will come. I went through that process while at the Univ. of Montana. A lot of people came to see the stadium and really liked the stadium and the product and became season ticket holders.

tomcoug:: Coach? What position to you enjoy recruiting the most? The least? The Hardest? CoachPflugrad:: I enjoy recruiting the position that we need the most.I enjoy recruiting all different positions. I enjoy the speculation involved in the process and I really enjoy your gut and heart feeling about a player and standing on the table for that individual.

sselfcoug:: Let the players know they have the support of Cougar Nation and that we will all be there in Spirit if not in Person this Saturday and Every Saturday. No Cougar Jumps off the Band Wagon because we are the Band Wagon. Once a Coug, always proud to be a Coug!COUGFANcom:: Coach, what goes on in the locker room at halftime. Adjustments? Knute Rockne speeches? Gatorade and retaping and then back to work?

CoachPflugrad:: Halftime: Halftime adjustments are done sequentially: Staff interaction, then positional breakouts, as a position coach these are the 2-3-4 things that we need to do better. Then Coach Doba motivationally talks to the players and it's time to get back out. I wish there were a few more minutes but it's all relative. Each team has the same amount of time.tomcoug:: How do you pick which players to hook the recruits up with each weekend?

CoachPflugrad:: SIMILAR INTERESTS ARE ALWAYS IMPORTANT, geographical regions, if our player happens to know a recruit, similar positions, similar academic interests. We meet bi-weekly to evaluate our hosts and set them up with our recruits.

COUGFANcom:: Coach, what do you like about working with and for Bill Doba.
CoachPflugrad:: On Doba: His integrity, his honesty, his ability to treat you the way you want to be treated. he respects you as a person and as a football coach. He also respects you as a husband and a parent. He doesn't second-guess, which allows you to feel confident in your day-to-day activities as a coach.

RoseBowlCoug:: Coach, rate, if you can, how each of the previous several recruiting classes are contributing to the current team?

CoachPflugrad:: Recruiting Classes: The last class has really helped our special teams. We have made a few mistakes because we are young but our team speed has greatly increased in the last two classes. We are playing a lot of true freshmen, which I think bodes well for the future of the program.

CoachPflugrad:: Time for one more question?

JMKCoug:: What are your plans for your personal future
CoachPflugrad:: Personal future: To beat UCLA!!

COUGFANcom:: Coach Pflugrad, thanks for all your valuable insights. Truly a pleasure. ONWARD CRIMSON SOLDIERS !!!!

CoachPflugrad:: Thanks everyone. Read more ...plus comments