Sunday, April 15, 2007

Spring is Over - Thank God

Sure sounds as though yesterday's scrimmage ended with the offense going out of spring like a lamb. Brink was 7-for-12 for 67 yards, a TD and a pick. But one of those completions was a pretty 39-yard TD fade to Brandon Gibson, a player that is clearly emerging as the guy to replace THE GUY (read: Jason Hill). But seriously though, remove that 39-yard pass, and what do you have? 6 completions for 28 yards. That's less than 5 yards per completion. Dink and dunk, nickel and dime, ball-control underneath stuff, bubble-screens and 3-step drops, well, get used to it. It's been that way for the last few years, and it's not going to change!
Interesting story from Glenn today, about Brink. This part caught my attention:
"Alex Brink will be entering his fourth season as a starter, and he's on pace to break almost every record in book for a career at Washington State. And yet, it is inarguable - based on the boos raining down from the stands on multiple occasions last season, the potshots taken at him on countless Internet sites, and perhaps also from the level of interest in WSU football - that this one player's march towards the history books has failed to connect with many Cougar fans." Brinkhater (Duckhater), I think that he might be looking in your direction on that one....
No matter what happens this year, Brink will be all over the WSU record books. Like it or not. And it's clear that he's likely going to go down as our own version of Damon Huard, only not as many wins. You know, the guy that put up a lot of decent passing numbers, yet faced some boos in the crowd and was never really a big winner? Same kind of deal here. And while I had defended him to no end last year, I think I finally admitted to seeing his shortcomings for what they are after seeing him live in games vs. Cal and even UW. He's got a big heart, he's a tough kid that has taken numerous blows but hasn't missed time due to injury, but he just doesn't have the physical toolbox to be a great player. A good player? Sure. Even in a down year last year in the Pac-10 QB department, he still made 2nd-team as a junior, which is a pretty big accomplishment. And you can't fully fake your way to the top of the WSU record book, I mean have you seen some of the names in that thing? Bledsoe, Gesser, Leaf, Rosie, Rypien, Thompson, to be in that group is pretty special.
I do also think that it's obvious there were things out of his control that led to his downfall. Injuries to the WR position late last year, and even some injuries and inconsistency the year before that, and a pretty lousy defense all added up to frustrating losses the last few years, and of course, when the team comes up short, the blame falls to the head coach and the starting QB.
But it all comes to a head next year. Is Brink only as good as having Jason Hill and his 32 career TD's? Is he going to really go backwards without #83 running those 4.32 40's down the middle of the field? What about the running game beyond Tardy? Is Ivory going to return, as is now the speculation, and be ready to be a solid backup? What about Woolridge or Hustona, will they even be on campus this fall? Far too many questions for a part of the team that you would think would be pretty solidifed by now.

AH well, now we move forward to the 2007 season. Overall, I had low expectations coming into the spring, and based on everything you read and hear? I'm feeling about the same right now. I do admit to being cautiously optimistic about our young linebackers, particularly Evans and Mattingly on the outsides as well as a healthy Stripling. They could go from being young and talented in 2007 to pretty damn special in 2008. However, I'm beyond worried about the corners, as whatever they have on campus right at the moment doesn't appear to be anything more than backups, at best. These new JC transfers better be ready to go in August. And I'm extremely worried about the d-tackles and how the heck they are going to survive. The reality is, right now with Ahmu and Johnson both big question marks, we're likely going to get a healthy dose of Tarkington and Eichelberger in the middle. And probably Kooyman if they can bulk him up a bit more.
Finally, it's nice to hear the kickers have improved. Both guys made all their field goals yesterday, including both making their 45-yarders. Who woulda thunk it? And, in typical Doba fashion, a few days before Romeen was given as the name who would start, but now, it's wide open again, and it'll probably come down to whoever kicks better in warmups at Wisconsin. The post-Drew-Dunning era has been dreadful, but it would be nice to actually have the field goal as an option around the 25-yard line next year!?!?
So how about those FIRST PLACE M'S!?! :) It's a marathon, not a sprint, and the division looks rather mediocre to put it kindly. Once they start hitting they might be a slightly-above-average team, which in the West might mean postseason play for the first time since 2001?


Anonymous said...

In terms of the Little Buddy-Hurad Comparison, Last year was a great case-in-point:

Damon Huard won ALL of his games as a backup while Trent Green was down with injury. IF memory serves, he had a similar run with the Dolphins a few years ago as well. The point: "Damnit! Damon" was just like all of his other underachiever teammates at the UW who also went on to have NFL careers. He had talent, he just couldn't put it together consistently.

Lets not put Alex in the same camp. Out of all the things that Alex bring is NOT, he is NOT an underachiever. And he certainly is not an NFL player.

And that's the problem.

So please: lets not think that Sir Brinkhater did not know Alex's many virtues. For one, Alex is smart. He plays super hard. And he largely does EXACTLY what the coaches ask of him. And within that, he audibles like a flipping champ.

The problem with Alex is that he is a MASSIVE overachiever. As we noted last year over and over and over, there is no more upside to this kid, what we've seen is what we're gonna get.

All you need to do is mozey on over to the AOL blog and watch Rogers in that Auburn game to see the MASSIVE difference in talent between those two. And, yes, the difference is MASSIVE. Damon Huard, too, was super, duper talented and heralded.

Our coaches banked that Brink's moxy would make the difference in the same way that Gesser's moxy made up for his noodle of an arm.

OF course, Brink is no GESSER, and our defense of the past three years does not belong in the same league as the NFL laden Cougar defense of that age. (nor does our pathetic kicking game which changes the ways that the offense is handled and defensed against inside the 50)

But Brink is no HUARD. He is Trent Edwards--although Edwards was better. He's a WAC QB that found his way to the PAC...if he wasn't so well coached and tough minded, we'd be the Beavs circa the early 90s.

And we may still be this year.

Lets just hope that the pain leads to progress...

I happen to think that Doba's return is going to make a BIG difference for what this team could be and do by the start of 2008

Sedihawk said...

I agree with a lot of what you say, but, let me clarify ONE thing - My comparison to Huard isn't one of comparing their "tools" or NFL potential or anything like that. Huard always had the bigger arm, always had the bigger frame, and clearly had hype coming into the program. My comparison to Huard was for one thing, and that is the fans lack of embracing him while said player cements himself high atop the school record books. You were in Seattle during Huard's time, don't you remember all the booing that he endured? I was at Husky Stadium and saw USC tie UW, and the fans booed the hell out of Huard. I was also at the 1995 Apple Cup, a game UW won with a field goal late when Leaf was just a cocky redshirt frosh at the time, but I remember that they stopped that game briefly to announce Huard was now the all-time leading passer in UW history. There was some cheers, but also some boos.

The point is, to me, that fans of UW saw Huard much in the same way fans at WSU see Brink. Pretty good player, decent overall career, nice guy, yet never able to win a huge game and the overall frustrations with the program only magnified each player's failure in the clutch. Then again, Brink never went down and won at Miami, so one can probably argue with success that Huard had a much better body of overall work than Brink. But that same UW fan will also tell you that those were frustrating times, and a lot of what went wrong during that time fell at Huard's feet.

Oh well, it doesn't matter. Like you said at Glenn's blog today, we're going to lose big next year, our 4th year in a row without a bowl, the first time since the mid-80's. Doba will likely be asked nicely to step down after the season ends, and that will be the end. The moral of Doba's career will be what we've seen throughout college football in the last 20-30 years - NEVER be the guy who comes right after THE GUY. Or, put another way - never be the old assistant that takes over for THE GUY, because it'll never work out long term. Maybe things are fine initially, but after a couple of years, the reasons come through as to why they weren't a head coach all those years, and the holes in the dam can't be plugged up anymore. Want an example? How about Ron Zook at Florida? Or the old Jedi at "The U" who took sick talent left by Butch Davis, won a national championship the next year, and then fell all the way to having the Hurricane program barely bowl-eligible 3 years later? How about Nebraska with Solich?

Each team had initial success with the old man coordinator, and then it all goes to hell. And that's exactly what we're seeing with Doba. He won initially with MP's guys, and now that's all LONG gone.