Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Spicy 4-star WR to Cougs; 04 USC rolls 91 UW

Charles Dillon, Coug commit before but failed to qualify, has re-upped with the Cougs, giving a verbal. A REALLY nice get, as we continue to land potential impact WR's that can get on the field immediately. Dillon has prototype Pac-10 size (6-1, 190) and speed (4.5) and the Cougs beat out several schools, including Arizona, to get him back in the fold. While playing time is never guaranteed to any recruits, and that included J-Stewart last year, you can bet that Dillon will be fighting hard for time on the field next year. There are some WR openings, hopefully not another one with Hill of course, but some guys like Harvey and Martin are gone, so the chance to play early must be part of the appeal for WSU to land some of these WR's of late.

Finally, 2004 USC struggled early with UW, but ran away from them late, winning 35-20. Some notes from the simulation:

The game was simulated at Husky Stadium on a warm, sunny, 70-degree afternoon. Corso and Herbstreit both picked USC, with Corso donning the USC helmet in the pre-game show (they actually do this in the game, it's kind of funny but gets old).

UW took an early lead as Reggie Bush, trying to do too much in a game this big, fumbled a punt inside his own 10-yard line. The ball was swatted and kicked around and finally rolled into the endzone, where USC recovered. Safety. UW then took the ensuing punt and drove inside the USC 20 with Hobert throwing for about 60 of the 70 yards on the drive, but was sacked on 3rd down. UW kicked a field goal to go up 5-0.

USC then took the ball 87 yards in 9 plays, culminating on a Reggie Bush 10-yard slant over the middle for a TD. Bush carried 4 times on the drive as well, and Steve Smith caught a big 3rd-and-short pass in the flat that he broke Shane Pahuokoa's tackle and went 30 yards. This early in the game, it was absolutely clear that USC was the faster team. Maybe this is because EA Sports didn't think much of 91 UW, or they loved 04 USC so much that everyone was rated with a speed of 90 or more, but it was looking like a track meet.

UW then tried running the ball, but no success. USC's linebackers of Grootegood, Lofa and Dallas Sartz were just too fast and physical. Beno Bryant and even frosh Napoleon Kauffman couldn't get outside. USC-s D-line of Jackson, Patterson, Cody and Rucker were amazing. Every pass play Hobert had pressure, and either had to step up or roll out. They had a huge advantage up front. USC took the next punt and in two plays, Leinart hooked up with Smith for a 40-yard TD pass and it was 14-5, just like that.

The half ended with each team stepping it up on D, Leinart getting sacked on consecutive plays in two straight drives after Lendale White was able to get some good yardage inside. UW, meanwhile, started to abandon the run and while Hobert got some yards through the air to TE Aaron Pierce and WR Mario Bailey, he fumbled as he was sacked on the last drive of the half deep in USC territory. USC 14, UW 5 at the half. A big momentum changer at that point, as even with 04 USC's talent on D, UW still moved the ball.

The second half saw UW come out on the opening kickoff and drive right down for a TD, making it 14-12 (why they didn't go for 2, I don't know). Hobert was great on the drive, going 5-for-5 and scambled for 17 yards on 3rd-and-9 deep in his own territory. The crowd was going nuts, it was a 2-point game and you felt like UW might have figured something out. But the momentum was short-lived.

Leinart, Bush and the rest were too much on the next drive, steamrolling right down the field for a TD of their own. Bush had a couple of runs where he made at least 10 yards out of what looked like nothing, and was clearly the fastest player on the field. This time the TE, Byrd, made a beautiful diving catch on a deep 25-yard fade into the corner of the end zone. 21-12, USC.

This is where the whole game changed. Hobert went cold, and went only 1-for-9 on his next 4 possessions of the 3rd quarter and was sacked 3 times. UW ran for a negative - 5 yards for the quarter. USC meanwhile mixed run and pass perfectly, getting a Lendale White 15 yard TD run and a Dwayne Jarrett post in front of the 2-deep safeties for a 37-yard score, and suddenly going into the 4th quarter, it was 35-12!

UW made a QB change at this point and went with Mark Brunell the rest of the way (not sure if the CPU did this because the game was over at this point, or if they thought they would rally with Brunell, but either way they made a change). Brunell was good, going 6-for-11 the rest of the way for 136 yards and a TD, but was also intercepted twice late in the game, the last coming on the last play of the game.

Leinart was his usual, efficient self. 298 yards, 3 TD's, 1 pick. However he did take a beating, sacked 6 times and hit several other times. He even came out for 3 plays in the 3rd quarter and John David Booty replaced him for the series, going 0-for-2 in the air.

Bush was OK early on in the game, then kind of disappeared. However the 4th quarter was all Reggie, as he had 17 carries for 108 yards alone in the 4th. For the game he had 21 for 123.

Some mismatches - As good as Dana Hall was for UW back in the day, he couldn't handle Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith one-on-one. UW blitzed probably 70% of the time, and while that worked some times, it still was too risky to leave the UW corners out on the island with those guys. Leinart made them pay in the 3rd quarter as they ran away and hid from UW.

UW never could get it going on the ground. Hobert's 17-yard run was the longest of the day for UW. UW's o-line wasn't rated very high, other than big Lincoln Kennedy the rest of them were just average, and it showed against USC's D-front. And when USC blitzed, forget it! It was take 4 steps and then look for a place to lay down.

To sum it all up? USC 2004 is one of the greatest, most complete teams in Pac-10 history. I have no doubt that if you lined them up against any of the Pac-10 teams in the modern era, back to OJ Simpson's teams, 2004 would come out ahead. Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cougs sign some JC's early; 91 UW THAT good??

First, Cougs landed a couple of impact JC's for next year at the early signing period for JC's. A BIG WR (as in 6-6 big) named Finas Rabb, who has only played football for a couple of years but can jump out of the gym and has soft hands. Might be a nice jump-ball candidate for those goal-line fades? The other guy they got is a rising TE prospect named Jason Price, who really is coming on strong. 6-4, 256, catches everything, reportedly a great blocker from Texas. He was overlooked coming out of high school as he was only 210 and not fast enough to play WR, but has put on 40 LBS and suddenly was on the radar for a lot of teams. Chose the Cougs over Oklahoma among others.

With WR still up in the air in regards to Hill and guys like Harvey, Prator and Troy B. leaving via graduation, both kids could be in for some serious PT next year. They will be competing this spring so we'll see if they live up to the hype.

Finally, I disagree with Michael, at least to an extent, on 1991 UW. Yes, they had some very dominating performances in that unbeaten year. But, don't forget, they also had some very close calls that year. Cal was at the 10 yard line in the final seconds before losing 24-17. USC fought them hard in the LA Coliseum before Beno Bryant broke a long one to win 14-3 in a game that was a lot closer than the final score. I know, UW had speed, speed, speed on D and a scary push up the middle. They manhandled Michigan (a VERY overrated Michigan BTW) in a way that was something to behold. I remember walking out of Husky Stadium after the Apple Cup actually feeling good that we led for a brief moment in that game, and we ONLY lost 56-21! No, UW was very, very good, and one of the most complete Pac-10 teams we've ever seen. But, could they have stopped USC of 2005?

I think '91 UW PROBABLY could have beaten '05 USC, but if they played 10 times, I think USC would win at least 6 of those 10. Still, it would have been extremely close. For as complete as UW was that year, they really didn't have the explosiveness on offense that they would need to stay with USC's offense. I mean Mario Bailey and Orlando McKay were good WR's, but they aren't even close to what USC can throw at you. The UW running game had Beno Bryant and a few others, but it wasn't close to what USC has with Bush and White. Billy DUMB at QB was above average, but he wasn't a great passer by any stretch. He got the job done and took care of the ball, but in a shoot-out that would be likely with USC, I wouldn't put my money on him. Brunell barely played until later in the year, and he was pretty much a non-factor.

I know USC this year has had some close calls, like at ASU, and the Fresno State game, and SC's '05 D just isn't that great. But oh, that offense. 580 YPG and 50 PPG?? Are you serious?? I don't think ANY defense could fully shut them down. Huge and fast with the WR's on the outside, lightning and thunder in the backfield, a QB with about 10 seconds to throw every play with an o-line among the greatest in Pac-10 history?? It would have been fun to watch just USC's O vs. the '91 UW D scrimmage all day (I also would have loved to watch 1994 WSU's D vs. this year's USC O, just to see if we could have slowed them down, but I fear that USC would have beaten us deep with those WR's leaping over Torey Hunter and company. Leinart really is amazing in that offense too, just about perfect.)

Now for the computer-geek in me. I'm curious enough that I'm going to simulate 1991 UW vs. 2005 USC tomorrow morning on the xbox. EA's NCAA game has classic teams, including 1991 UW. I'll have them play on a neutral field with perfect weather, and just let the CPU play the CPU.

And just for kicks, I'll also match up '91 UW vs. '04 USC. For what it's worth, and I don't think you'll get many arguments, but I believe '04 USC is the greatest Pac-10 team in the modern age - offense, defense, special teams, nobody can match what they brought to the table. You look at the talent from that team that will be in the NFL over a 2-year period, from Patterson and Cody up front, Lofa at MLB, and then this year will be ALL THAT OFFENSE in the NFL?? Amazing. But, we'll let the CPU settle it on the field!

AND, finally, I also am curious to see how those great Miami teams from 01 and 02 would match up with 91 UW and 04 USC. Those Miami teams, in sheer number of players put into the NFL, now that was some sick talent too. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mike Sando knows how to cover the Hawks

Nice to see him get some national stories. And you know what? He's right.

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5187160

I love being this snake in the grass. The hand up Mona Lisa's skirt. Never let 'em see you coming, and then when they win the NFC and go to the Super Bowl, 99% of the country will be going "Damn, they really are good." Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Puppy Legacy Crumbles?

Don't know if you guys have caught the hypothetical match-up between this year's Trojan army against the Dawg's national championship team of 1991...In short sum, 78% of ESPN readers gave the nod to Troy while Herbstreit and Mark May said that the game "wouldn't be close."

Not that I want to give the Puppies any props, but are you fricking kidding me? Granted, the Dawgs NEVER faced a group like Leiny or Bush, but have people forgotten how stinkin good that defense was and how potent their offense was?

If you match up the 2004 Trojans versus the 1991 Huskies, I give the nod to Troy because of how good that D was last year....and all we need to do is look at the Hawks MLB and then think about Patterson, and that's all you need to know...

But, when you think about what Fresno State did, and think about what ND did against this year's team--I mean, Notre Dame would lose to that Washington team by four touchdowns in South Bend!...

So, with that in mind, my who cares prediction of the century is thus:

91 Puppies 30
05 Troy 21

Thank god those days are over!!!!!! Read more ...plus comments

Friday, December 09, 2005

What up fellas?

First of all, real life - The move is over! Everything went well, although I couldn't physically function for two days afterwards. Diane and I moved the whole frickin' thing, over Friday and Saturday, and we're in the new digs. It's a great change too. Much more space, brand new construction, the whole 9. Just about 2500 square feet, and we are utilizing every inch so it feels even bigger than that. Rooster, we're planning on a house warming in January, after the holidays and all that stuff. MAYBE even a Super Bowl party in early February?!?! Hmmm, would be interesting if the Seahawks and Colts were on the schedule that day.....

There is always a downside, though, and I have to say the homes are very "cozy" as there isn't a whole lot of space between homes. That's the rage today, though, especially up here, as builders are building bigger homes on smaller lots as the days of a big back yard are starting to disappear with new homes. But, our builder isn't as bad as some of the others I've seen, where it literally looks like you are living in a town house. And, we got a decent back yard, not big but not exactly miniature like I've seen some other new developments, where it's literally you walk out the back door on your deck and you can reach out and touch the fence. The best part of all is that we back right up to protected green belt so we have a lot of privacy. The area is nice in Mill Creek, too, very little traffic for now, and for the commute, my office is only 15 minutes away on local roads. No more 45 minutes on 405! It is SO quiet too, it feels like we are way out in the country compared to the heavy traffic by our old house (Michael wouldn't know as he's never been there, but Rooster, if you remember, that road we lived next to over the last 3 or so years has really gotten busy!).

Plus, we got great news - we accepted an offer on our old house! And the inspection has come back very positive, already, so things are moving forward to a 1/13 close. Of course anything can happen between now and then, but we feel like we've cleared some major hurdles.

This has been a huge learning experience, selling a house for the first time, and I'm convinced more than ever that a great agent MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE on a lot of levels! We changed agents over a week ago and it's been night and day. I could write a novel with how many things our original agent screwed up, it's really pretty laughable now that this thing is going to wind down.

Ok, on to the Cougs - You've all read the articles, but it sounds like Hill is going to wait a few more weeks as he has asked for an NFL opinion. Apparently Jerome was on an ESPN chat yesterday and said flat-out that he expects Hill to come back for his senior year, and that he SHOULD do it, but anything can happen. An NFL scout meanwhile remarked that he "isn't real physical, doesn't have the best hands, doesn't like going over the middle". Sounds like second-day draft, and then released on waivers by August if you ask me! That kid NEEDS one more year to get better, and, get that degree in December '06, which would make him the first member of his family to achieve.

In recruiting, it sounds like the Cougs are in hard on JC WR Charles Dillon, a kid they signed out of HS. He could be a perfect fit to compete right away next year. Arizona is recruiting him very hard as well, but he's leaning Cougs. Also, RB JT Dietrichs (sp) is tripping this weekend and there is a real strong hope that he will end any speculation and announce he's coming to Pullman for sure. Apparently in an interview he said that Jerome's season had a huge impact on him, seeing how he could be extremely successful in this offense! But he's also said all along that he's got his ears open to other schools as well. He's now grown to a crazy 6-2, 225, and he runs with power and speed we haven't had around here! Getting him would be HUGE. They are still linked with some DB's, but I don't know much on that as I'm not an insider anymore :(

By the way, on the M's - sounds like they whiffed on getting Juan Pierre, and IF they would have landed him? It would have triggered at least two more trades to fill other holes. Personally I'm glad they didn't get him. Pierre didn't really fill a need, at all, unless they were committed to moving Ichiro down in the lineup....or trading him??? Who knows.

Speaking of Ichiro - I heard David Locke last night say that after covering Ichiro since 2001, he is convinced that Ichiro is the MOST selfish, individualistic, non-team player he has ever seen, period, end of discussion. It's not so much his manner in the clubhouse, but it's the known facts of what he does on the field that play out those theories. Locke says it's absurd that Ichiro still uses an interpreter, and if you talk to any of his teammates off the record, they think it's the biggest joke ever and that Ichiro speaks GREAT english behind the scenes! It's weird. He NEVER gives himself up to move runners, on more than one occasion he has bunted in key RBI situations, on his own, just trying to get a drag base hit vs. doing the thing you need to do in a situation like that, and he's proclaimed in interviews that he will rarely dive for the ball or crash into a wall because he wants to stay healthy!

I don't know what to make of Ichiro anymore. I read his book, Ichiro on Ichiro, and it was really interesting to the extent of how hard he works on his game, how much he prepares, I mean he must work harder and prepare more than any other player in MLB. He's truly a samurai with a bat. His old man pushed him harder than you can believe, too. One year, when he was 7 or 8 years old, his dad made him hit and field ground balls and fly balls every single day, for 2 hours, for an entire year! 365 days, even when he was sick, or on holidays, or lousy weather, every day he was doing that work. He even said one day he was so tired of it that he just laid down on the field at the end of their workout. His dad just left him there and he cried for a while, then got up and walked home. They never discussed it, only his dad said something like "you are now starting to understand what it is like to work hard." He's just a different dude.

I love the Johjima signing. I've read a lot about him, and many say he projects to about .275-.280 with 15 - 20 HR power, as well as great defensive weapons. Bobby Valentine said in an interview that he could be an All-Star quickly, he's that good. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with the pitchers, but that could be overrated. I mean it's not like he's trying to play QB and call offensive plays in the huddle! It's just 1 for fastball, 2 for curve, 3 for whatever else you got. That's pretty much it.

I don't like hearing 5 years on Millwood. Boras is trying to top the AJ Burnett deal, even by $1 dollar, and trying to match him in years, and there just aren't teams out there ready to do it. Meanwhile I've read that a couple of "insiders" believe Millwood will sign with the M's, but it might not be for a few more weeks, if not even into January. Remember, Boras has a great relationship with Bavasi and they were very successful on Beltre last year. But, back in October of last year, Boras was talking between 8 and 10 years for Beltre at $100 million, but in the end? 5 years, $64 million got it done. Same thing with Beltran, he said 10 years minimum, but it ended up 7 years including a couple of options. So Boras will throw out stupid numbers to the media, and will even go as far as saying "there is a "mystery" team involved in the bidding", etc, but in the end they'll just take the best available offer. It sounds as though 4 years, $44 million will get it done eventually, but nobody wants to go to 5. The one team that might have done it just went 5 years on AJ Burnett, so that pawn is gone.

The other thing is the M's didn't make any splash at the winter meetings, but then again, they really didn't last year either. They agreed to terms with Richie Sexson on the last day of the meetings, but didn't announce the deal until the following week in Seattle. Same with Beltre, they only got that deal done after the meetings and after the Dodgers wouldn't go 5 years or $64 million on him (I think I read 3 years, $33 million, with a 4th year option that would have taken him to about $45 million or so). So, just because they didn't get in on the fun like a lot of other teams did doesn't mean they won't do anything. I have to believe they will get at least one, maybe even two starting pitchers, and will also finally land that hitter they have been looking for on the left side, be it Carl Everett, Jeromy Burnitz or Jacque Jones. Personally I wouldn't even consider Everett, he's a complete idiot, and while I like Burnitz, his skill set is taking a slide. I would do what it takes on Jones. He only hit .249 last year but reached 20 HR's and plays excellent D. That left-handed bat would be perfect in the lineup. He's got some good years ahead of him still as well.

I predict:
1) M's won't land Millwood, but they'll instead sign Jeff Weaver for 4 years, $40 million or so.
2) M's will sign Jacque Jones, 3 years, $8 million per, plus 4th year option
3) M's will ALSO take a flier on Kevin Brown, 1 year, $5 million plus incentives (don't be surprised at this one)

1) Ichiro - L - RF
2) Reed - L - CF
3) Beltre - R - 3B
4) Sexson - R - 1B
5) Jones - L - LF
6) Ibanez - L - DH
7) Johjima - R - C
8) Lopez - R - 2B
9) Betancourt - R - SS

You could move some guys around to break up the lefties, but no matter what you have to keep Sexson at 4. Maybe Lopez at 2, Jones at 3, Sexson at 4 and Beltre at 5, something like that. Lots of mixing and matching. Still, the bench will be weak and it's something they'll have to shore up.

rotation:
1) Weaver
2) Felix
3) Brown
4) Moyer
5) Pineiro

Meche most likely heads to the bullpen, if he isn't dealt or even non-tendered? Weaver is opening day, then Felix just based on less pressure as the #2. Brown #3 and he could have a big season. I like Moyer at #4 and Jo-EL as the 5-guy. That's a solid rotation, if not STRONG, if everyone is taking their vitamins. Read more ...plus comments

Monday, December 05, 2005

Spurning the Rainbow?

Could it be that in the midst of a thrilling b-ball victory last night, that the U-Dub has actually hit a new low with regard to their football program?

Don't know if you all caught the link last week, but Washington just announced that it CANCELLED its scheduled match-up next year at Hawaii. Why? Apperantly, they felt that playing that game wasn't "good" for a "rebuilding" program. Say what?

Does someone at UW believe that if the Dawgs were good enough to go 6-6 (and be bowl eligible) that they would somehow not be up to "the test" of a Hawaii team that lost by 58 points this year to Michigan State??????????????? Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, with all 9 Pac-10 opponents next year, plus a non-conference tilt that includes Fresno State and Oklahoma, the Dawgs just aren't going anywhere next year no matter how you slice it.....so its so nice of Coach Willingham and company to deny his seniors of a nice trip for all of their effort in being undermanned, undercoached, and underfanned...

3-9 next year is the best bet for the puppies (SJSU, Stanford, and one other 'luck out' win)...

Thank god they don't have to face Hawaii and risk going 3-10! Read more ...plus comments

Dynasty Per Haps

B-11 Title Game: Reardan wraps up triple crown
By Craig Smith
Seattle Times staff reporter
TACOMA — In a high-suspense game that wasn't decided until the final play, Reardan held off DeSales 14-10 to win the Class B-11 football championship Saturday.
The win gave Reardan (11-1) its third title in the past four years and made top-ranked DeSales (12-2) the second team in state history in any classification to lose three consecutive championship games. The Irish join Brewster, which lost B-11 titles from 1974 to 1976.
"It feels the same way it's felt the last two times," said DeSales senior Jack Dickson, who has played quarterback in all three championship games. "It hurts."
Wide receiver Casey Worth said, "It's the worst feeling in the world to lose three straight, especially this one because it's my senior year and we had it. We just couldn't come up with the big play."
The loss also was the fourth in five years for DeSales, a Catholic school in Walla Walla.
Fourth-ranked Reardan took the lead with 1:39 to play on a 9-yard run by junior Jon Jayne to cap a 55-yard drive that started after he intercepted a pass. Jayne kept the drive alive by converting on fourth-and-two at the Reardan 27.
Jayne had fumbled on the previous series.
"That was horrible," he said. "I screwed it up and I had to get it back for the team."
He did.
DeSales wasn't done after Reardan took the late-game lead. The Irish used a double-pass trick play — from Dickson to Casey Worth to Michael Richard to advance 48 yards to the Reardan 9 in the final minute.


Two incompletions and a sack set up the final play of the game, and Dickson tried to hit Trevor Buckley at the back of the end zone, but he was well-covered by Jayne and Chance Ackerman as time expired.
"My heart was in my throat," said winning coach Eric Nikkola.
This matchup between DeSales and Reardan, a farming community outside Spokane, was a rematch of the 2003 championship game won by Reardan 13-3.
DeSales took its first lead, 9-6, with 7:15 left in the third quarter on a 23-yard, fourth-down pass from Dickson to Worth, who also kicked the extra point for a 10-6 lead.
Worth appeared well-covered by Brad Alberts but the pass was underthrown. Worth put himself in reverse, caught the ball as Alberts went sailing past and was all alone as he stepped into the end zone.
The low-scoring game started with an easy Reardan touchdown. Bob Christerson ended a four-play, 58-yard drive with a 14-yard run around right end. The extra-point kick was blocked.
Things got tougher after that. In the second quarter, Reardan lost the ball on downs at the DeSales 17 and got to the 9 on another drive that ended with a fourth-down sack of quarterback Eric Everett by Jake Moore and Ryan Hawkins.
DeSales cut the lead to 6-3 with 1:15 left in the half on a 20-yard field goal by Worth. Freshman running back Bryce Hayunga had runs of 13, 17 and 20 yards on the drive and finished with 113 yards on 21 carries. Read more ...plus comments