Thursday, August 31, 2006

Football Friday: Week One

Its hard to believe, but Football Friday is actually upon us. Now that the plane is fueled and the Cougs are heading to Auburn, its time to break down the game. As Brinkhater sees it, the keys to the game are amazingly simple:

1) Can we score?

If you look at Auburn's defense, you will see a team that is LOADED with pro-caliber athletes and bodies. At the same time, Auburn currently is facing injuries to their D-Line, have an inexperienced secondary, and have two LBs suspended for this game. In other words, the cupboard is RIPE for an offensive juggernaut to really make this game interesting. But will we?

If you look at all of the pre-season prognostications, the fact that the Cougs are picked so low in the conference is because many people think that we will NOT be nearly as good on offense as last year. This belief is obviously fueled by the loss of Harrison, the depth on the O-Line, and Brink's HORRIBLE play in key stretches last year.

Well, we're gonna find out on Saturday about all of those issues and question. Can the O-Line protect Brink? Can Brink hit the intermediate pass to the slot or TE early? Can we hit the short out effectively to move the ball on the first few plays of the game (Vegas has set the line at 1:5 that the first O-play of the game for the Cougs is a quick look-in to the right side)? If we score twice early, we stay in this game. If we don't, we will be in for a a lllllllllong night.

2) "Its not the blitzing that's the issue, its whether or not you have the blitzers."

This quote is well known by WSU diehards over the years and for good reason. After all, if you don't have the horses, you simply can't deliver the results.

But, what we learned last year and this offseason is that opponents knew our blitzing schemes to a "T". In other words, we were fooling NOBODY over the last two years and WSU coaches recognized that they had to implement new wrinkles into the system. Looking at quotes from Tuberville this week, you can see that theme of predictability "they've been running the same system for years."

Obviously, WSU coaches must have something up their sleeves for the game and the season. Perhaps injuries will cramp that plan, but we will find out what kind of adjustments the coaches made defensively in the first 15-20 minutes.

3) Will the real WSU coaching staff please stand up:

The last time this coaching staff had this much time to prepare for a major opponent, we were playing Texas in the Holiday Bowl. We know what happened there.

This is a huge opportunity for the staff to show that all of their work and decisions (e.g. Brink) will pay off. Man, I would love to see Doba carried off on the shoulders of a victorious Cougar squad!

The Result:

The Cougs have the ability to play this game into a shoot-out. They also have the ability to get Auburn on their heels, force them away from their running game into a passing game, and pull off the shocker.

That said, I now believe that the pundits have picked the Cougs low for a reason. And, my sense is that we are going to find out how much this group needs further development on offense, particularly the Offensive Line.

This game is gonna get ugly early after a 10-7 first 12 minutes. Then, the ambush will occcur.

The final: Auburn 41 WSU 13 (two Tds and a missed PAT).

Elsewhere in Crap-10:

UCLA and CAL will show that both CAL schools are over-rated this year:

Tennessee 24 CAL 9
Utah 31 UCLA 24
UW 49 San Jose St. 21
Oregon 41 Stanford 17
USC 34 Arkansas 17

Enjoy the game Read more ...plus comments

BOTH kickers to travel!?!? Have you LOST YOUR MIND COACH!?!?


Per Glenn this afternoon:

One other note, just to drive you all batty: Doba has shifted course and decided to take both kickers to Auburn, see which one performs best in warm-ups, and go with him as his guy. Good times.

WHAT!?!? So Tuesday he says how important it is to take a "football player" on the plane and not an extra kicker.....only to change his mind and have two kickers travel, one of which will absolutely not play!?!? What a waste. And what a bad idea. I know the Ahmu injury factors into it, but wouldn't it be wiser to take someone that can actually HELP the football team?!?! What about Peanut!??! Have things completely changed in 24 hours!?!? I love Doba, but man, this is a bad idea.

I put my Pac-10 preview up on AOL tonight, but it's nothing like "Pluto no longer a planet!" or anything close to it. Although I do have to say things feel pretty wide open this year. I think Cal, USC and Oregon are the class of the conference, and but I had trouble with the rest. Literally anything can happen between 4 and even down to 10. It seems that fluid. I think there will be some big surprises this year.

I guess I'm feeling cranky this evening, sort of like my 3-year old who really needs to go to bed
already, but did anyone catch any of the Beavs tonight?? I know we take heat for scheduling the likes of Idaho or Grambling, but Eastern!?!? What's really embarrassing is to watch the Beavs prance around and pose and celebrate against a I-AA opponent. They should be ashamed. I know they are young men, but why party like it's 1999 when you are up 4 TD's in the second quarter against a team that really has ZERO business playing against a Pac-10 foe? Pretty sad. I hope the paycheck was good for Paul Wulff, because they are going through a major humiliation on TV right now. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

2006 Cougs Preview - Defense - now live @AOL

Check it out.

Don't worry about losing Ahmu! So they lose a backup d-tackle, so what?? Just gives Big Eichelberger and Tarkington a shot to play more, that's all. We ok baby! :) Read more ...plus comments

Gidee-Up GLOOM Train

Two bits of doom and gloom from Glenn Kasses at the Spokesman review today.

First, on the injury front, Ahmu appears to have a stress fracture, meaning ONCE AGAIN we start the year off with D-Line injuries. That, as we've noted before in the past two years, has been DEVASTATING to our aspirations for bowl eligibility.

Second: Glenn picked us 8th in the conference. If you read his daily coverage both in the paper and on the blog, you know that the guy knows his stuff. For him to pick us 8th in what I think will be a down year in the conference is downright scary.

Of course, all could change with a strong showing on Saturday. At this point, though, Cougar fans should be entering this season ESTATIC if we simply make it to a bowl game. Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

2006 Cougs Preview Live @ AOL

Here's my first part of a 3-day preview. Tonight's feature is about the 2006 offense and what I think we can expect. A little hint - more of the same, but probably even better.

Tomorrow will be the D, Thursday the Pac-10 overall, and Football Friday will preview Auburn.

Also, Auburn's new AOL guy is writing about the Tigers and their prep for the game. Check him out here. There's some pretty good writers over there, hopefully some of you will check it out a few times a day once the season gets rolling. I know I'll be working hard with new stuff as much as possible! Read more ...plus comments

Monday, August 28, 2006

Getting closer, but not quite there yet

The NCAA launch has been postponed for one week, until Tuesday 9/5. I know, doesn't make much sense when the season starts this week, and when you realize that AOL launched the NFL blog stuff today! Seems like they got it backwards. Then again, it's probably easier to set it up for 32 NFL teams vs. 117 NCAA teams, so it's just taken longer.

Here's a link to the NFL site, for now anyway. You can click on the team names on the left and get that content. There are some really good writers out there covering the NFL, guys that are totally on top of their teams (from a fan's perspective).

And, if you want to take a little peek, off the record, do a search simply for WSU, and you'll see some of my stuff. You can click on my name after you find a post I've done and you'll see everything I've written so far (just 1 post a day so far, but it's going to increase).

Ah, what the hell. Check it out.

On a totally WSU Football-related note, what the heck happened to Jennifer Love Hewitt?

Look at the size of those child-bearing hips!?!??? Yikes. She was soooooo sweet on Party Of Five, but I guess we all get older. I think I actually prefer this version:



Read more ...plus comments

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Week One: Biggest Upset Ever?

Welcome, Cougar nation to Week One. So far, you have seen and heard the predictions of the blog crew:

1) Rooster has us at a solid, albeit waffling 8-4.
2) Brinkhater has us at a less than solid 6-6 (ditto College Football news)

Hawk will make his final predictions via AOL in the coming hours, methinks.

So, onto Week One of the college football landscape. For those of you who have been out of the country, Auburn is ranked #4 in the country as we head into Saturday's opener. They are also a trendy pick to play in this years national championship game.

For those of you who also visit Glenn K's blog at the Spokesman (which you should because he's simply the best), you will also notice that a little hurricane/tropical storm portends to play a factor in the game.

This much we know: the storm, in whatever severity, will leave things WET and STEAMY.

What this means to all newcomers to August-early September football in the South and Midwest is that turnovers will be experienced often for those who don't wear gloves and who can't take a hit....

In terms of the header of this post, we open it up for comment. What would a Saturday upset rank in terms of the greatest Cougar upsets in history? Off hand for me, it would have to rank it #3 behind @ UCLA in 88 and @ USC in 97 (when we hadn't won there in like 50 years).

In other words, win Saturday, and this team is ALREADY affiliated with greatness.

Unfortunately, the upset won't happen. While we'll post predictions for this weekend's game later in the week, Brinkhater has regained his senses and now KNOWS that we will get blown out in this game.

You want reasons? Just think about the USC game last year with weather and CROWD being an additional factor. The biggest shocker: we will have SUPREME difficulty moving the ball. Brink will be bad and we won't run the ball well at all. Defense will hold up well--for one half.

Expect a relatively close game through 1.5 quarters, and then the avalanche will start. It won't be pretty.

Stay tuned throughout the week for game week picks and a post-mordem on Saturday's disaster shortly after the game. Read more ...plus comments

2006 NCAA Football Schedule -- Now With Helmets!

I found this and thought I would pass it on. Just some nice bells-n-whistles to what is normally New Times Roman text somewhere in cyberspace:

2006 NCAA Schedule w/ Helmets

Other news has Mkristo going down with a hand injury scare but it isn't serious, plus redshirts burn bright before the opener. Read more ...plus comments

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rooster's Take

Okay, I've been way overdue to post. In fact its been so long it took me a while to figure out how. But in case you are wondering I am writing this in the lounge at Hill's Resort on beautiful Priest Lake Idaho. There is a red beer right next to me and it is going to be responsible all the stupidly obvious stuff I'm about to say.

As far as Cougar football goes this year, like everyone else, kicking is my worst fear. Until recently I didn't realize that long snapping was an issue too. Scarey! Last year there was 5 games that the Cougs were in it within 4 points. My first thoughts for this year were that we will have improved enough, returned enough key players and found an ample replacement for Harrison to take at least 4 of those 5 close games this year. With the kicking game the way it is right now, I'm holding off on claiming the Cougs go 8-4.

My other major concern for the season is Greg Trent. Sure the guy was an animal against the run last year picking up a big number of tackles on a minimal number of starts. However, hopefully someone has taught him to read the pass a little better, particulary picking up the tight end across the middle. His name escapes me now, and albiet he is a stud, UCLA's tight end single handedly won the game for them last year by catching an ungodly number of balls right behind Trent. Nothing against him, he was a freshman and filling some BIG shoes, so hopefully that has been worked on in the palouse last spring and these last few weeks.

If the Cougs take care of these 2 problems, I think 8-4 is very attainable. Regardless, the offense is going to be fun to watch this year and has enough depth to spend time on the field if the defense starts getting beat up. What the heck, I'll say it, Cougs are going 8-4. They will lose to Auburn (close game similar to the Ohio State game), ASU, USC and UCLA. It's hard for me to say they will lose to UCLA but its away and they might be beat up by then. I went to the Cal game last year and I thought they were over-rated and I don't see why they aren't even more over-rated this year.

No matter what, it is going to be a wild ride this season and we are going to get to see there potential on game one because I don't imagine there will be any Cougs not up for that game. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

START LANGLEY; BLOG GOES BIG TIME

First and foremost, stay tuned to this blog for a new link shortly (like in days) that will provide SediHawk's on-going takes on the WSU football season (via our friends at AOL). Since there are legal issues surrounding Hawk's ascension to the big stage, this season's blog will largely focus on the sterling takes of moi, El Brinkhater, and the mighty, albeit elusive Rooster.

As the header here indicates, Coach Doba will be making the HUGE decision later this week about which kicker he will take to Auburn: Langley or 15Letters (which will be his official name all season).

Those who have been a part of this blog for the ages know how critical we have been of the kicking game in the post Dunning era--as well we should be. Our lack of a kicking game has cost us dearly over the last couple of years--and may have cost us bowl eligibility whether it be from missed kicks or decisions to "not kick" based on lack of confidence.

Obviously, Langley has proven himself to be the pinnacle of D-II or I-AA with his leg strength and accuracy. In other words, in my humble book, LANGLEY SHOULD NOT BE OUR KICKER THIS YEAR.

But, in the spirit of keeping my second moniker (the King of Contradiction), it is also clear to me that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should his replacement, 15letter, make his collegiate debut @ Auburn.

Here are the primary reasons:

1) Forget about college experience, 15letter has NEVER PLAYED A REAL FOOTBALL GAME!!!!! In my book, if you wanna go with the kid, put him in a situation where we can succeed and build CONFIDENCE. Playing in one of the loudest, ominious stadiums in the country, in humid weather with a new holder with copious sweat dripping into his eyes and on his hands, ain't the way to get off to a good start. Don't put him in a position to fail!

2) If WSU is going to have a chance in this game, it MUST make extra points. While Langley has shown himself to be capable of blowing the gimmees, it is Brinkhater's take that 15letter will undoutedly miss one (or three) in his FIRST REAL FOOTBALL GAME! Again, don't let him fail unnecessarily.

3) If the Kicking game is going to fail in week one, then let the awful incumbent be ruled out early and start a new. There's plenty of time to get things right @ home against Idaho and in the friendly confines of Quest Field.

As I noted earlier in the month, I believe that the Cougs will lose a heartbreaker in the opener. I hope and pray, however, that the loss is not due to 15letter missing two PATs en route to a 28-26 loss. Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Offense much better, but kicking game a mess?; Mattingly won't redshirt?

A couple of AM stories about the scrimmage last night, and things sound a lot more "normal". The offense made some big plays, including Woolridge with a 60-yd run, Brink threw for a couple of scores and was 14-20, and Gary Rogers had a couple of TD's. Just nice to hear the offense clicking so well, and let's face it, we KNOW offense isn't going to be the issue this year!

Some other highlights - Darrell Hutsona made his first big impact play, returning a kickoff all the way to the house. A lot of people have compared him to J-Smooth (Smith), for the 2003 team, but I've heard some say he has even more speed. Doba mentioned that right now, Hutsona is set to get some PT not only running back kicks, but also from the RB spot. Hutsona had a lot of success in high school, the San Diego Tribune athlete of the year in 02-03, so he's got the pedigree. Maybe it'll take him half the season to adjust to Pac-10 play, but he might be a real nice asset later this year.

Jordan had a nice night too, 6 catches for 74 and a TD. While he won't get the headlines Hill or even Bumpus get this year, I have a feeling if that knee can hold up he'll be a big cog in the passing machine this year. Very encouraging to hear about that.

Sadly, the kicking game sounds like it's even worse. Langley and Romeen missed their first four kicks before making their last four. No matter who wins the job, 50% isn't going to cut it!

Doba mentioned that young Andy Mattingly continues to impress, with a 57-yd INT last night, that he said per Cougfan: "If he continues to improve, we probably won't redshirt him," Doba said of Mattingly. "We'll go ahead and put him on special teams, and get him some playing time." I'm not wild about burning his redshirt for special teams play, but in this day and age, freshman are somewhat important. Gone are the days of redshirting entire classes, especially at a place like WSU where, as we know, depth is always going to be an issue.

Cougfan:
http://washingtonstate.scout.com/2/558047.html

Times:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2003204439_coug17.html

I'm out the rest of the week, so Brinkhater, Rooster, go ahead and post to keep things alive around here! Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

D-line not as dire as we thought?; Cool Youtube highlights

While it's been widely reported that Matt Mullenix is out with a broken hand, in today's TNT Robb Akey says that he will return in a few days with his hand in a cast. Akey even goes as far to say that he expects Mullenix to play in Saturday's scrimmage! That's very good news. Still, playing with one good hand might be a bit of a detriment at DE. Hopefully it won't hold him back too much. Some speculate that he'll be a "poor man's Braidwood", whatever that means, basically solid against the run and pass, but not great at either. We'll see.

Also, Aaron Johnson should only be down about a week with the bad hammy, much better than "indefinitely". Johnson probably will miss the scrimmage, and you never know with hamstrings, but let's hope an extra week of rest and he'll be good to go. Really, what does he have to prove in camp? We know he's huge and has a lot of ability at the DT spot, so don't push it big guy!

Glenn Kasses also has a tidbit on Bryan Tarkington. He SHOULD finally be eligible to play after some academics should be cleared as of today, and he will be a welcome addition. There has been some decent buzz about him as well, and many think he'll be an impact guy inside. many believe he will move ahead of Eichelberger and into a 4-man group with Ropati, Johnson, and Ahmu.




The even better news is that Brackenridge and newcomer Markus Dawes should be ready to go by 9/2. Dawes is especially interesting, as several reports so far have raved about his ability at CB. But he had some strange cramping issues, so far as to have some blood tests done. Luckily everything appears fine there.

And, finally, according to the Times, at least the team is in great shape! That will hopefully bode well playing in steamy Auburn in a few weeks.

"Doba is convinced they're in shape.
He says conditioning coach Rob Oviatt implemented a "pirates" theme with the players, telling them that it was customary for pirates to either raise a white flag to signal they were about to surrender, or a red one to indicate they "would fight to the death."
"He got a red flag with a skull and crossbones, and everybody on the team signed it," Doba said. "Midway through conditioning, they'd go out and stick the red flag in the ground to remind them they were going to fight to the death. At the end, they'd take a victory lap, raise the red flag and everybody got to carry it.

"I had more than one guy come up and say this was the toughest summer they'd ever been through."

"All you little Hulka-maniacs out there, train, say your prayers, take your vitamins, be true to yourself, true to your country, and be a REAL American!"






Finally, someone has made some cool WSU highlights from last year. You'd think we went 11-1 last year after watching some of these big plays! Some serious talent coming back this year, obviously, but we're also going to miss #1 just a little bit.....but man are we going to score points!






Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

D-line suffers more injuries; Lack of bye week that big of a deal?


It's a small note today, but it's a big hit- the Cougs have suffered a loss to injury to projected starting DE Matt Mullennix. He has a right hand fracture and is out indefinitely. He was #1 on the depth chart opposite Bruce at DE, but now the job is open until he can come back. But even one of the backups, speed rusher Mike Graise, has a hip pointer so we'll see how that goes. Losing Paul Stevens to suspension could end up hurting the team more than we thought.

Maybe this totally opens the door for Lance Broadus to show what he can do? If you remember, Broadus was a highly touted speed guy coming out of high school in 2003 and was a surprise get for the Cougs last summer. He signed with Oregon out of high school, choosing the Ducks over USC, Oklahoma and Arizona among others, but academics didn't work out.


Aaron Johnson is also down with a bad hammy. Don't know how severe it is, but the term "out indefinitely" is being used, so not exactly good either.

Also, Arkelon Hall has a broken fibia, so that clinches the #2 spot for Gary Rogers. Even if Hall was healthy, the odds were strongly in favor for Rogers to be the backup. I have to say, I'm starting to wonder when you look at all the QB's on the roster and the fact that Brink is still just a junior if we will ever see Hall play a meaningful down at WSU. With the way kids transfer these days, you would think that if not Hall, then someone is going to transfer. Even with the loss of Swogger, there are 5 QB's on the roster (Brink, Rogers, Hall, Morgan and Lopina). It should be interesting how it all plays out.

As usual, Glenn covers the Cougs from all angles and is the best read going. Some good reader e-mails, including the interesting tidbit about the lack of bye weeks. Did you know UW and WSU are the only two Pac-10 schools without a bye week??? Great.

http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/wsu/

Read more ...plus comments

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Scrimmage even worse than mainstream media reports!?!? Yikes

Glenn is, as usual, the best WSU writer around. And he spares no details in his assessment of the first scrimmage. Contrary to the less-than-glowing reports, it sounded, well, pretty bad. If there's any solice, we can just repeat to ourselves "it's only a scrimmage, it's only a scrimmage, it's only a scrimmage....."

http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/wsu/archive.asp?postID=1821#more

So many great tidbits in his story, I won't even attempt to regurgitate them here. But good nuggets nonetheless. But the long-snapping?? Sounds scary-bad. If they can't have decent snaps in a mid-August scrimmage, what the heck will happen on 9/2 in Auburn!?!? "It's only a scrimmage, it's only a scrimmage, it's only a scrimmage...."

Kind of like last night's Seahawks game was only preseason. I watched most of the first half when I could, and while a ton of guys are out with injuries, they made Tony Romo look good. TOO good. But let's get real - this was August 12th. It means nothing. They didn't look great last year in preseason, in fact they lost to Dallas 18-10 last summer, so who cares. And the injuries are just huge at this point, although most if not all should be back by the opener. Let's see, D-Jax and Stevens from the O, two of their best receivers, and on D, 3/4ths of the starting d-line in Wistrom, Tubbs and Bernard, Boulware is out from the secondary, on and on it goes. No worries. That said, it was cool to see Julian Peterson wearing #44 out there. I don't know if it's just me, but he looked skinny, almost smallish in a way?

I thought he was bigger back in his San Fran days??

















Well, at least we know he digs the ladies. And the ladies dig him too apparently.

You GO Julian! Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, August 12, 2006

OL suffers big loss already; Little Loren loses his job?

Defense ahead of the offense?? WHAT A SHOCK!?!? :)

http://wsucougars.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/081206aaa.html

The biggest news is Andy Roof broke his thumb and will miss 4-6 weeks. That's a big loss. He's a big-time prospect for this year and had a starting guard position all his own, but this is a setback. 4-6 weeks puts us into mid-September to maybe even through the USC game. Not good. Brink was sick too, barely played at all with 3 snaps, and Rogers got the majority of the action. Oh yeah, Hall sprained his ankle as well, but Rogers will be the backup anyway so maybe not a huge loss (in fact, some have speculated that Hall is a transfer candidate, especially with Lopina on the scene).

Little Loren was woeful, just 1-for-4 in the scrimmage, and is he now losing his job to a guy who is a walk-on junior in Romeen Abdollmohammodi?? Hey, he is 6-0, 225, so maybe he'll hold his own on kickoffs...

Boy has Loren hit the skids. Too bad. But I hope he doesn't just give up, because this guy who's winning the job right now is a complete unknown. It's one thing to shine in a scrimmage, but let's see what happens when September rolls around. Dobes did say it's still open, so may the best man win. and I have to say I'm glad that the job is open. Everyone will tell you that Peanut isn't a slam dunk by any stretch, and if the competition is tight, well, probably should go with the better player vs. the experience. Read more ...plus comments

M's are SOOOOO done; Scrimmages - do they mean ANYTHING?; Kicking game questions galore

Rick Rizzzzz: "AND THEY ALLLLL WILL SCORE! HOLY SMOKES!" I guess the picture would have been funnier if Beltre was wildly waving his arms, running down the line sending them home. Beltre, love the guy, and the Mariner stat nerds claim he's been an MVP level 3rd baseman the last couple of months, but he must lead the league in the 100-yard stare.


If it wasn't already over for the M's, last night's 2-TD loss would secure the white flag. No surprise they would batter Gil MESS, but geez man, ONE IP!?!?? That's the suckiest performance in the history of sucking. I know there was shoddy defense behind him, but come on. Meanwhile Gil will parlay all this into 4 years, $40 million from some sucker who will point to his age and career numbers being better than AJ Burnett. Good luck with that! Hopefully the M's are already ordering up the uni's for Jason Schmidt and Matsusaka next year.

On to the real story - are you ready for some FOOTBALL, scrimmage-style!?!? Much like the NFL preseason, do scrimmages actually mean anything? As Doba said today, "we already know that Alex can play QB." Ya think so?? 2800+ and 24 td's last year might help clear that one up.....seriously though, while scrimmages are nice in regard to getting the youth and JC's some simulated in-game action, they aren't really anything to hang our hat on in what to expect this fall. I remember last year everyone raving about how great the defense looked, but we know how that worked out. It's that golden rule, really, right now the D is just ahead of the O, not just here but everywhere, even the NFL. A timing offense like ours, especially, is going to be behind and out-of-synch. So it's probably going to be pretty predictible about what we'll actually hear post-scrimmage in the media.

Meanwhile, the Times has a story about little Loren Langley and how that kicking job isn't exactly his on a silver platter. After a strong start, he did just go 14-for-22 last year and really slumped late, including that chippie miss in the AC and even getting yanked for the XP that gave the Cougs a 4-pt lead.

153 lbs though??? He's going to get killed on kickoffs! Good God son, as soon as you kick the ball just run to the sidelines. Maybe nobody will notice if we somehow sneak Michael Willis onto the kickoff coverage team as soon as the ball is in the air??

Or, hey Michael, CAN YOU KICK!!?Probably not. Anyway, we know little Loren wasn't a star to begin with, and we know he doesn't have much in regards to leg strength (never hit one over 50, career long was 48 that just snuck through.). You hope for the logical improvement that comes from experience, but if this team is indeed going to compete for an upper-division finish, they are going to need him to come through. 2003, even though Dunning missed a few at Notre Dame that would have won the game, he saved their bacon in other games and who knows if we would have been in the top-10 that year if we had a kicker go 14-22 instead.


Nice to read that super-frosh Andy Mattingly is showing as much promise as we hoped for when he signed with the Cougs. Overwhelmed, absolutely at this point and you can kind of see why it's difficult for true frosh to play meaningful minutes, offense, defense or otherwise. Kind of says a lot for Greg Trent, averaging 10 tackles a start last year?

Jessen and Mattingly keep the Mead pipeline flowing - Jessen, Mattingly, Jason Hanson, backup kicker RobinWhorley....


Story links:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/cougars/281030_coug12.html

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2003193405_coug12.html

Finally, check out the new link on the right - Kissing Suzy Kolber. Funny stuff on things Patriots, Boston, and the sports world in general. Man there are some talented people in the blogosphere! I'm going to also update the links to some other Pac-10 bloggers. There's some good stuff out there and it'll be kind of cool to see some fan reactions throughout the season. Read more ...plus comments

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cougs air attack oozing confidence; Scott White out at UW?

Seems as though the confidence in the passing game hasn't been this great since the Gesser days. When you look at them on paper, you get it. We'll go over it later exactly how deep they are, but check out the great write-up in the Times:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2003190629_coug11.html

"I really like this group," Levenseller said. "This year, we'll probably throw it to run it, whereas last year we ran it to throw it."

You can probably predict that quote before he said it, knowing the strength of their receivers. Hill, Bumpus, Jordan and Gibson are as strong as you will find in the west in 4-receiver sets. Factor in Benny Ward and who people are already raving about, Charles Dillon? And of course, 6-8 Cody Boyd? (is 6-8 actually his first name by the way??). 489 yards and 33 points a game last year, I don't see any reason they won't be right there again this year. This is a top-10 offense in America, PERIOD.

Not happy to see that Brackenridge is nursing a hammy. They really need him at corner, no doubt he's the key to the secondary this year.

Meanwhile, Go-2-Guy steps up with a good read on MKRISTO. Let's face it, he's going to be a force this year and while he runs the mouth a bit, hey, why not?? He's a senior, the leading returning sack guy and TFL guy from last year in the Pac-10, he's earned the right to say what he wants.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/moore/280861_moore11.html

Finally, Scott White, who I always thought was one of the best of UW's defensive players, appears to be close to leaving the team. For some reason he's been 2nd-string since camp opened, and he was a no-show to practice yesterday after having a talk with Willingham. White told the Times that he was considering leaving the team if he wasn't a starter, so it makes you wonder what's going on. Maybe someone in the know from UW can explain what's happening there, but to me, I always thought he was strong, fast, and a decent tackler who was going to be looked at as one of their top returning starters this year? Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, August 10, 2006

15-pt dogs? Seems a little high

The current line has Auburn a 15-pt favorite. To me, and others, that does seem a bit high for the fact they are facing a wide open offense that was #8 in the nation in total O last year. I just don't see Auburn putting up that many more points than us. Now if it was 8 or 9 points? That's a little more realistic.

The Go-2-guy has a good Coug article today. I especially like this quote from Brink.

As for Auburn, Brink said: "People say we haven't seen a running game like theirs. Well, they haven't seen a passing game like ours."


http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/moore/280708_moore10.html

I guess that's true, although Florida is similar over the years so they have in fact seen a passing game liks ours. The game is just going to be a contrast in style, they are going to try and run it 60-65% of the time, we'll probably throw it that same ratio, and we'll see what happens! I love the quotes so far though, and Akey even said it best in that there is a different sense of urgency when you open against a team like Auburn vs. a team like Montana State. Granted it's just the first week of camp and everyone's spirits at this time are naturally high, but let's just hope they keep it up, stay healthy and focused and give Auburn a fight they never saw coming!

Craig Smith has some good notes on the 5th year seniors and their impact this year.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2003187472_coug10.html

Interesting that Duin is ahead of Alfred at this point. Alfred has shown a ton of ability so far in his time in Pullman, and a lot of people thought he'd be handed the center job, but Duin is a gritty, experienced dude who you like to have as the leader of the 0-line. I also like that Don Turner is looking like he'll start opposite Brackenridge. Turner is an interesting guy mainly in that he just hasn't panned out like many thought. I still remember he started out well back in 2003, getting an INT vs. Idaho in the opener that year and seemed like a young DB that was going to be something, but injures and consistency were issues all along. This is his last shot, so hopefully he'll put it all together. Nice to also see he's bulked up to nearly 200 lbs and is showing more focus! Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

QB intrigue? Not this year; New clock rules an issue?

Decent story in the Times about the numbers game at QB, and how Lopina is going to figure into the mix next year.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2003184789_coug09.html

Something to really feel good about in the story?

"Brink, the only quarterback in Cougars history to beat Washington two times in a row, looks better than ever. The fellow who looked like a cross-country runner when he arrived in the fall of 2003 is now 6 feet 3, 215 pounds and looks like a big-time college quarterback.
When coach Bill Doba was asked Tuesday to discuss how Brink had improved from last year, he said, "No comparison. He's more mature, more confident. He's taken the team and he's doing a nice job."

About 15 minutes earlier, the fourth-year junior had gone 6 for 6 in a two-minute-drill touchdown drive that culminated with a pass to All-America candidate Jason Hill.

After all the heat that kid has taken in the message boards and elsewhere, there's one thing to think about this year that could be a huge difference compared to last year. Not just the fact that this will be basically his 3rd full year of starting, and he's really been in every situation you can think of at this point, but maybe what's going to be the biggest thing?? Josh Swogger isn't even an argument. As we heard through the grapevine, last year there was some split in the locker room about who should be starting, even up to the last game of the year. That had to be a distraction, no matter how they spun it in the media, bigger than we can truly know. Hard to remember this is a game played by human beings, kids at that. Now? There is NO argument. Brink is the guy, end of discussion, now get on the wagon or shut your mouth! :)

The Tribune has a good mix of news-n-notes, touching on the new NCAA clock rules.

http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/story/6013190p-5281646c.html

Also too bad to see that Grady Maxwell is having knee issues and will have surgery. He had some good pub coming out of Tacoma, but more than likely he wasn't destined to see PT this year. Get that knee injury out of the way now, take the redshirt, rehab it with the medical staff and be ready for next year!

Finally, per Cougfan, B.T. Walker is due to show up this afternoon. It'll be nice to have another body in the d-backfield, particularly at corner. Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cody Boyd healthy? Watch out WSU opponents!


A lot of reporting now that camp is underway. The P-I and Times both do stories on the return of super-matchup-freak Cody Boyd. At least the Times (who I've heard from a few people that some higher-ups despise all things WSU!) covers the Cougs with their own guy. All the P-I can do is lift stories from Glenn at the Spokesman. Ah well. Check out the links below and you'll see what's up.

Interesting that they would touch on Boyd. As the AC showed last year, he is capable of being just a monster safety valve when healthy. 6-8 and can jump, and most of all, showed he can find the soft spot in the zone D makes him a nightmare matchup for many NCAA LB's. Does Auburn losing two LB's, including Kevin Sears, for that first game make this a spot we'll try and exploit come game #1!?!? Hmmm. You MIGHT see that mentioned when the full-blown previews for that game start making the rounds!

Also good notes in the free part of the Cougfan recap about how quick Brink seems right now. That's one of the most underrated things about his game last year, something that was easy to overlook with the passing #'s, but he did rush for 244 yards last year. Subtract sacks and the numbers come down, and no doubt he made some poor decisions by trying to "Gesser" around back there, but using his feet could be a great thing for him this year.

Glenn's story:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/cougars/280447_coug08.html

Times news-n-notes:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2003182431_coug08.html

One final note - the Cougs appear to have landed a Vandy recruit that had an issue with a math class! Chris Bush of Puyallup, signing with Vandy in February, now will be in Pullman to begin his NCAA career. Bush started at offensive tackle his junior and senior years for Rogers, earning second team all-conference and all-area in the P-I. He also cited his friendship with Brandon Gibson as a good thing!
Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Krueger warned of this on Friday afternoon

Not Coug related, but I have to say I heard Bill Krueger on KJR Friday afternoon. There was actual anticipation for an M's series for the first time in a while, and even talk of how if they swept the A's, they'd only be .5 games back!?!

Well, Krueger is quite knowledgable, as we know, but he really laid it on Friday and left one very strong impression. He warned, flat-out, that the M's are in trouble in this series and why this is such a nightmare of a match-up of these teams.

The difference, he said, is that the A's are a team with a "clue" up at the plate, meaning they have a true game plan. Moneyball laid out what Billy Beane looks for in position players. Not big-time power, not speed, but disciplined guys at the plate that work counts and get on base. He said that matches up really well with the M's, one of the big issues with M's starting pitching, in that overall they just aren't that strong and some could argue their rotation is actually a weakness. As a group they are in the upper-half in the league in regards to the AL ERA, but in reality they are regarded by a bunch of scouts of nothing more than #3-#5 starters at best. Not only do they lack a true ace, but you could argue they don't even have a true #2. As much as we love the idea of who Felix CAN be, right now he's nothing but a .500 power pitcher prone to long stretches of losing his command.

So, as a group, the A's strategy is to make a pitching staff work. Make them rack up a lot of pitches early, and try to get into the middle of a team's bullpen, which is the white underbelly of ALL AL teams, including the M's (their mid-long relief isn't very good, their back-end of Lowe, Sherrill and Soriano is tremendous leading up to Putz, but their mid-long guys like Mateo? Soft white underbelly!).

Anyway, that's exactly what we've seen the first two games of this series. The A's have made the M's starters with their mediocre stuff, Washburn and Pineiro, work like crazy early in the game and run out of steam by the 6th for Wash, and by the 4th for Jo-EL. TEXTBOOK.

Krueger went on to say how this is why Oakland isn't a great team, far from it, but they are successful against teams with average to below-average starting pitching. But go against a team with really strong starting pitching, like the White Sox or the Red Sox or a team like the Tigers? They get eaten alive, and is one of the biggest reasons that they cannot win a playoff series.

Krueger went on to make his best point yet. He compared the A's offense to the M's offense, and he'd take the A's any day of the week. The M's biggest problem? Not only are they just 9 guys up there with their own agendas, trying to put up numbers but no real game plan, strategy or otherwise, but did you know they are the LEAST-walked team in baseball?? Krueger said you see that with youth overall, you get young players that just let it fly at the first pitch that looks good. And, you also have to realize that literally half the lineup the M's put out there wasn't even in the big leagues about a year ago. Lopez, Betancourt, and Jones were all in the minors until midseason last year or this year. Johjima was overseas. Ichiro, Beltre, Sexson and Ibanez and whoever they start at DH are the vets, but even Beltre and Sexson, two key vets new to the clubhouse and struggling this year, are making everyone wonder if they'll ever be what the M's thought they were getting when they spent $100+ MILLION on them.

When half your lineup has no plan but to hack, and some other big-ticket parts of your lineup is right-handed power that hits about 100 points less at home than on the road in the worst park for right-handed power, I guess it's no wonder this team leads the majors in being shut out, and they just can't get over .500.

Finally, Krueger said the A's coming in 9-1 vs. the M's is just not a fluke. He said "the A's might as well have packed their home whites, because they OWN the M's in every way imaginable. On half the payroll." Ouch. Read more ...plus comments

Friday, August 04, 2006

CFBNews.com bowl projections

http://cfbnews.com/2006/Bowls/Bowl_Projections.htm

Hawaii Bowl? I'll take it.

The meaty games?

Rose: Iowa v. Florida State
Fiesta: Texas v. Utah
Orange: Miami v. Ohio State
Sugar: LSU v. Oklahoma

Title Game: USC v. Auburn

I am not sold on Auburn, especially after they start 0-1...... Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

PRE-SEASON WITH BRINKHATER

Yes, you’ve waited all year. As well you should have, cuz wait to you see what Brinkhater and his army of correspondents have cooked up for you.........

In the coming weeks, you will read similar season outlooks from the rest of the gang. In the meantime, here are Brinkhater’s pre-season predictions for Cougar Nation as well as for the Pac-10 as a whole.


Let's start with the Cougs!

As both Cougar and Non-Cougar affectionados SHOULD know, whenever a Cougar team returns a third-year starting QB, the results have been sterling. Since the days of Rosey, no Cougar team has won fewer than NINE GAMES when returning a quarterback entering his third campaign as a starter.

On top of that 16 year history of DOMINANCE with experience behind center, we have a bonafide 1st team All-American at wide-out, a tight end with four years of big game experience, a game changing slotback, a RB with more breakout speed than Harrison could dream of on his best day, a set of additional burners for wide-outs, plus a solid D-Line, a fast and capable group of LBs, and despite concerns, a secondary that has real potential to make good things happen all year (especially with an effective and diverse blitz package).

And, on top of THAT, we have a coaching staff who, despite recent woes, has shown the type of scheme that will allow THIS TEAM to play with the big boys—even on their home field (see the Auburn game as Exhibit A-Z which will be close and a HEARTBREAKER!).

In as many words, there is a REAL REASON to believe that this team WILL CONTEND for the Pacific 10 Conference Championship this year!

Yet, despite such optimism, there are also the CCCCCCCCCOOOLLLD hard facts that can not be denied where this group is concerned. First, despite his experience and MASSIVE upside, Little Alex has not shown that he is capable of throwing the intermediate pass. With our slate of burners, and with a running game that will be questionable to start the year, Brink will have to establish intermediate routes OVER THE MIDDLE for this team to have success. Expect most teams to mimick SC’s two deep shell to force Brink to throw over the middle against sagging LBs. It won’t be pretty.

On top of that, while the line is solid, there are GLARING ?????? at the Center position. While Yarno has supposedly simplified his schemes, Brink’s reliance on audibles as HIS STRENGTH is bound to be compromised by a rookie Center. This mix does NOT bode well for early season games—especially in tight fourth quarter situations. This “growing period” will cost us both @ Auburn and @ Stanford which will be CRUSHING to our upper division and national/BCS aspirations.

Finally, also on the gloom side, this team will PAY for a lack of kicking game, not only in the field goal department, but on kickoffs. In Brinkhater’s book, the kicking game will be responsible for not one, not two but THREE losses this year.

In as many words, this season will be a near repeat of the last two years. This COUGAR team could, and perhaps SHOULD contend for the conference title, and perhaps, a top 10 ranking. However, Brink’s weaknesses, coupled with a green OL—particularly at Center, and a poor kicking game will do this team in. And yes, IT WILL BE PAINFUL when you see what this team is capable of—especially early the game @ Auburn and against Oregon at Home.

In terms of the CRAP-10 race, Oregon, USC, and ASU will represent the cream of the crop in what will be an uneven, but competitive slate of games. Expect to see blowouts and unexpected blowouts in the mold of UA and UCLA last year, as well as UW and UA last year.

The Big Surprises? Both UCLA and CAL will suck. Ditto Oregon State, although they will clip the Cougs in Corvallis. Arizona will prove much better than anticipated.

Washington, though Terrible again, will escape the cellar, despite an abysmal 4-8 mark for the year.

Thankfully, when its all said an done, the Cougs will beat both the Quack and the Dawgs to provide a couple of moral victories to an otherwise lackluster campaign.

Now, to the standings:

Brinkhater's Pac-10 Pre-Season Predictions

Conference Overall

Team W L W L
Oregon 8 1 11 1
USC 8 1 11 1
ASU 7 2 10 2
Ariz 6 3 8 4
WSU 4 5 6 6
CAL 3 6 5 7
UCLA 3 6 5 7
UW 3 6 4 8
OSU 2 7 5 8
STAN 2 7 4 8


Enjoy the season and the boundless coverage to come from the ONLY source for WSU football: the WSU football Blog Read more ...plus comments

ESPN Blue Ribbon predictions; Coug coaches take in the Hawks

Interesting. Take at ESPN. WSU is 4th?? That's the first prediction I've seen where they are considered "upper division" finishers. Of course it's an ESPN insider deal to get anything beyond the usual fluff of finishes, first-teamers and the like. Still, 4th. Not bad. Oh, and check out who's 10th.

Meanwhile, KJR had Doba on tonight for an interview, as the Coug staff showed up at Seahawks camp today in Cheney where KJR was broadcasting. Apparently the Wazzu staff has been doing this for a while, as the entire staff watches Holmgren and company run an NFL practice. They stick around for lunch, and then head back. I guess that tradition will end once the Hawks move to Renton starting in '08, but who knows, maybe they'll make the trip west. You have to believe they get something out of it, other than hand-delivering a resume here and there! :)

Doba's interview wasn't much you won't find elsewhere, other than he hit on one key thing that I think has been repeated elsewhere. He said that if the Auburn game was scheduled for 2005, he absolutely would have squashed the idea from the get-go. He always felt that he they were too young last year in key spots, and as the mistakes and failure to close out games showed for all of 2005, he was right. He went on to say that not only is he glad they are playing down there this year, citing some strong, experienced leadership on both sides of the ball, but he's actually glad it's the first game. He said provided they don't suffer any major injuries, it could really set up their season, no matter what happens. He also mentioned that while it's changed recently, still, the prevailing style down there is very basic offensive systems. Of course with Superior in South Carolina and Meyer's spread offense at Florida, this ain't your traditional SEC game where the QB might throw it 15 times, all to the TE and all from the I formation!

But Auburn does play a rather conservative offense, a between the tackles kind of attack with Irons and Cox takes care of the ball. What does that mean to us? Well, that COULD mean that Auburn's D isn't exactly 100% ready to see an offense that spreads the field and exploits mismatches like our Cougs always seem to do. Auburn will be finishing up with a month of scrimmages, and other than watching film, you don't really know what you are in for until the ball is kicked off.

We'll see. I'm not calling a win, I'm not making predictions or anything - that stuff is coming - but there is at least a feel that this could be the ultimate snake in the grass, low expectations, opening game shocker that sets some people on their collective asses! Read more ...plus comments