Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Football Friday Week One: 2nd and 3

Greetings, Cougar Nation and welcome to Football Friday, Week I style. Hard to believe that another year of mediocrity is upon us (of course, I am referring to this Blog and not the upcoming season. Hope springs eternal in the heart and mind of Brinkhater and his clone army!), but we're amped to get this ball rollin'!

Anyhow, although its not Friday, we’re gonna post a bit early to accommodate the start of the season on Thursday.

Now, onto the season opener.

For those new to this Blog, you should not look for “key things to watch for” stuff from Brinkhater as you will see in the typical mold.

For one, Sedihawk does that on the AOL side as well as anyone (check that, BETTER than anyone). For two (Brinkhater always goes for two), it is also hard to imagine that Brinkhater can compete with the pros who actually write this crap for a living.

As a result, what you will find here on the eve of each game are trends to look for—I’ll leave the x’s and o’s to people who actually know something about the game....

Anywho, as the header indicates, this game is going to come down to “2nd and 3.”

As I noted in the season preview WWWWWWWAAAY back, our greatest chance at an upset rests in our ability to score early, get the Badger defense on its heels, and then make them play catch up while we blitz like hell.

So, here is Brinkhater’s gaze into his soothsayer chalice of Ole Milwaukee Light (gotta drink Wisconsin Beer this weekend, you know):

First of all, call me cwazy, but I really think that there’s at least a 50% chance that we are going to win the toss this week. Given those great odds, Brinkhater foresees us actually winning the toss, electing to receive, and then running the ball out the 27 yard line.

Then, on trots Alex Brink and company... After a 3 yard out to Bumpus, we lose 8 yards on the next two plays. We punt from the 22 and Wisconsin starts their first possession on their own 41 yard line.

At that point, the question is simple: Can we hold em to 3 stinkin’ points?

I think we will.

For me, then, the second possession is key. Do we settle down, put a drive together and put the peddle down a bit, or do we go three and out AGAIN and then face a 10-0 hole early (which will signal onslaught, by the way...)

BUT IF WE PUT A DRIVE TOGETHER ON THE SECOND POSSESSION, the game will be interesting. IF we don’t, its gonna be a laugher. Its really gonna be that simple.

So, look for how our defense does on our first possession and how the O does on the second. For me, that’s the key to whether this “game” will, in fact, be a game.

Other thoughts:

1) With the humidity as well as the Badger’s depth and talent, you know that they are going to score 14-21 points on sustained drives.
2) With us starting three newbees in the secondary, you know that we are going to give up two touches based on big plays.
3) For us to win, then, we will have to score AT LEAST 35 points.

Here’s why we WILL:

1) The Big 10 showed themselves to be super slow in the big games last year. If we are anything, we are NOT slow.
2) Unlike the SEC who sees offense and talent every year (e.g. the Auburn game), Wisconsin’s schedule was lightweight with the exception of Michigan early in the year. In short, they are NOT prepared for what it is that we COULD bring at them on Saturday (e.g. with Brink on his A+ game and Gipson able to play). Moreover, our front seven is going to be a BEAST for Hill--at least early in the game.
3) With the DE out, they may not be able to pressure Brink sufficiently. And that will cause trouble for anyone.

Why we Won’t:

1) Despite Wisconsin’s schedule last year, NO ONE put points up against them. Part of that has to do with offensive efficiency and BALL CONTROL, but the other part has to do with the fact that they are ranked #7 (and won 12 games last year) for a reason: THEY’RE GOOD!
2) When its HOT and HUMID the name of the game is ball control. While I love the BIG front that we are throwing at them with Rapoti on the DE, I think the steamroll will start in the second half. After we give up a couple of bombs and Hill runs downhill like he's Bill Johnson in the 84 Olympics, its time to upshift from beer to the hard licks......


Anyone wanna say “Auburn-Ohio-State REDUX”? Brinkhater sure does..

This game will be interesting for nearly three quarters as we try to dig ourselves out of a hole early but just can't. Wisconsin rolls us late (insert the "I loved our effort quotes here").

Brinkhater has been wanting to pick an upset all week long but just can’t—especially with Gipson and Ivory questionable.

Badgers 41 WSU 17 (Ya, you go Romeen with that 41 yard squeeker in the first half!)

Other games:

Beavs 21 Utah 20 (it’ll be ugly but a win for the Chipmunks)

UW 17 Syracuse 14 (Don’t watch if you like yourself or football at all…two bad teams playing, well, BAD football).

UCLA 48 Trees 9 (Get ready to hear about an undefeated match-up between the Cubs and Troy for at least 4 weeks).

CAL 31 Tennessee 14 (First about face of the year: Ainge’s little Pinky allows CAL’s offense to roll)

Bowden Bowl 71:

Bobby 41 Tommy 16 (T-Bone gets his first sip of the bottle in his swan song season).

Enjoy the GAMES!!!!

And go Cougs.

(BTW: Alex's final line: 23-41-262-0(int)-2(tds) CLASSIC!!!!!!!!!!)


Sedihawk said...

My turn (and thanks for the props Brinkhater. I don't have the AOL stuff done yet for our game, but the Oregon State - Utah preview is up. Check it out if you care:

By the way, off-topic but the AOL stuff is now the #1 ranked sports blog site on the web. Over 115 million views and growing. Who'd have thought in one year it would be where it is. Ok, I'm done with all that.

On our game - Cougs will keep it close, but numerous secondary breakdowns will doom us. Wisconsin is actually less a 3-yards-and-cloud-of-dust offense than people think. Everyone sees PJ Hill and they think Ron Dayne all over again, but Hill actually dropped some weight this offseason and he does have some speed to go with the power. But the real story is going to be Donovan killing us with 8 of their top 9 receivers back from last year. TE Beckum is a nightmare, over 900 yards from the TE!?!? Yikes. Remember Marcedes Lewis frying the Cougar D in 2005? Beckum is a scary athlete. 6-4, 225, came in as one of the top linebackers in the nation from high school but is now a prototype TE/WR hybrid with size, speed, hands, you name it. VERY Scary.

Hubbard, their #2 WR, is 6-4 and is a mismatch vs. our under-6-feet corners. The other guy, Swan, averaged 17 yards per catch.

All scary, and a senior QB pulling the strings? 9 starters total back on offense? And our defense, man, we're already a mess.

1) We're already moving guys out of position. I personally HATE THE DECISION TO MOVE ROPATI OUTSIDE!!! Quickness on the edge has been a staple of the Cougar D, and 6-8, 300 lbs at d-end just doesn't fit unless we're in a 3-4 defense. He doesn't have the juice to get around the tackles. Ahmu and Johnson are held together with scotch tape, and sadly you know it's a matter of time before one of them gets cut by the o-line, or Ahmu limps off on the bad foot and Johnson has the back on ice by halftime. I hope Eichelberger and Turpin are ready to anchor the middle, or Graise is ready on the end when Ropati slides back inside.

MY GOD ARE WE THIN on defense.

2) New faces - just 5 starters back on defense? Who the hell is Kendrick Dunn and why is he starting at OLB? Who is Alfonso Jackson and why is he starting at strong safety? Those are the late JC signees in the spring, and they are starting?!?! When they signed from Blinn JC you would have thought they'd be special teams fodder, but starting against the #7 team in the country?? And where the hell is 5-star safety Terry Mixon!?! He's not even on the depth chart this week!


That said, again, we'll hang tough for a half. I think Tardy will surprise some people, and I also think Brink will be Brink, playing smartly and emphasizing the underneath stuff. But Brinkhater is right, Gibson on a balky knee is bad news for the down-the-field stuff. You want to believe what you've heard about Dillon in practices, but what's he ever done? 15 catches for a 7.9 yards per catch average? That doesn't sound like a guy who's ready to take a huge step forward.

Wisconsin's D is also very, very good, 7 starters back including starting corners in Ikegwuonu and Langford. Ikegwuonu was 1st-team All-Big-10 last year, team-high 11 pass breakups. Losing Cooper hurts their pass rush though, he was #2 on the team in sacks last year, plus the projected starter Kurt Ware has a bum knee, so we'll see how that shakes out.

ALL THAT SAID, in the end, I'm seeing a UW - Oklahoma kind of game from last year. Tight first half, but a worn-out defense with some major breakdowns in the secondary as the inexperience will be just too much to overcome on the road. 38-20, Wisconsin.

Other games -
Oregon St 27, Utah 20 - Utah has a lot of talent on O, but OSU's D will be up to task. The OSU offense will sputter with the 2-QB system, but the Beavs' proved last year that they can run on anyone, anywhere, any time. Their entire O-line could be all-league, they really are that good.

UW 24, 'Cuse 17 - Damn you Ted Miller, I was all set to pick 24-20 but you beat me to it! Despite Locker's inconsistency, Syracuse's QB Robinson will be worse. UW will have a surprisingly strong running game with Rankin, and defensively, and UW's front-7 is underrated. Their secondary sucks, but it won't matter as the 'Cuse won't be able to throw the ball and UW will supply enough pressure to make the difference.

UCLA 31, Stanford 17 - Call me crazy, but I have a weird feeling this will be much, much closer than the experts think. UCLA QB Olsen has had some health issues this fall, and while the USC game stands out in everyone's mind from last year, remember UCLA was just 7-6 last year, including blowouts to WSU (HA-HA!) and FSU in the Emerald Bowl. Harbaugh's first game and Stanford will play their butts off for Captain Comeback.

The biggie - CAL 30, Tennessee 23 - Score one for the Pac-10. DeSean Jackson takes one to the house late, and Cal gets revenge from last year. Tennessee's Ainge will be fine with the injured digit, but their lack of experience on D will do them in on the road (just 5 starters back on defense. In fact overall Tennessee returns just 11 starters in the SEC, tied with Georgia for 2nd-fewest in the conference).

Note - While on paper it's borderline cruelty, Idaho does play at USC so a prediction is necessary. To try and call a score is almost impossible, the #1 team in the nation with talent that could give some NFL teams a scare vs. one of the worst teams in the nation with a new head coach. I think Pete Carroll is ready to make a statement, however, with the BS from Les Miles and also Harbaugh this offseason, and wants to send a major message. Pity poor Idaho, the epitome of the lamb led to the slaughter. 63-3, USC.

Sedihawk said...

Damn, Brinkhater, we forgot the Arizona schools plus the despised Ducks (hey, it's early).

Arizona 24, BYU 13 - Mildcats good enough with new offense, but they are going to knock some blocks off on D this year. Not quite Desert Swarm levels, but outside of USC, this is the best D in the conference, better than UCLA.

ASU 34, SJ State 21 - Dennis The Liar gets off to a great start. Rudy is going to go bananas this year, and they'll run the ball like crazy with Torian as the feature back.

Oregon 40, Houston 23 - Quack attack is usually good early in the year, especially at home.

Brinkhater said...

It is early...sorry about the other games...they just didn't strike me as all that interesting....

Thanks, though, for making my point about why Brinkhater doesn't concern himself with the details of football (e.g. football) during his pre-game musings...its just too much info for my pea-brain to handle. My point about Hill was not to compare his to Dayne, but merely to suggest that when they start running the ball downhill in the second half, you know we will be done.

Its also nice to see our first disagreement of the year: I LOVE Rapoti and DE for this game. I really do (I actually think he moves quite well, actually)...for the PAC-10, it is different, but for this game, its a great move!

RE: Dillon. The dude is NOT a good WR. But he blocks almost as well as Hines Ward does for that position..He will be a HUGE asset on some of those sweeps to the right...Tardy and Ivory will benefit from his play greatly there...that said, without a healthy Gipson, its ain't pretty..

Is it Saturday yet??

Logan said...

i'm actually excited about all the new faces. christian bass and other returnees were supposed to be the starters coming in, and the newbies outperformed them to earn the starting spots? seems like a step up from what we had last year, to me (apart from frampton, going to really miss him this year). but the big thing i'm looking at is the SPEED we now have at the corner spots. if and when they make their newbie mistakes, they have the speed to sometimes recover from those mistakes. and all reports about alfonso jackson is that he hits like a "piledriver" to quote one of the coaches. while i'm not saying were going to be a great secondary, i'm at least a bit excited for possibly a better group all around.

go cougs!

Sedihawk said...

The Cal - Tennessee game just got a lot more interesting:

BROKEN pinky for Ainge, 3-4 weeks recovery time. GO PAC-10!

Brinkhater said...

Another quick post from Brinkhater Re: The Weather.

Trust Brinkhater when he says that humidity is easily the most exagerated measure of weather in the history of ever. People ROUTINELY site humidity in the south and midwest being in the 90 percent range (e.g. "twin 90's")when seldom (outside of when its raining or JUST after it rained)does it ever get that high.

I mentioned this because one of the HOTTEST, check that MISERABLE days that I've ever been in was when it was 81 degrees with 81% humidity. Just TERRIBLE weather--like walking in soup.

Relatedly, Brinkhater also spends LOTS of time in the Miami, FL area which routinely has humidity in the 75-79% range despite general sentiment that it is more humid than that. It isn't. But, 70% sure feels like HELL>

So, when you see a forecast for 76 degress and 75% humidity in Madison this weekend, know that the humidity will be BRUTAL for those kids. And I mean BRUTAL.

The good news is that Ivory and Gipson look ready to go...its all going to fall on Brink and company early to give us a shot, since outside of an early blowout, this game will be decided by whose defense wilts first.

I'm ready for kickoff.

Sedihawk said...

Great point on the weather/humidity. It was 90 in Pullman on Wednesday, but just 13% humidity. That's a nice, dry heat. Wisconsin is projected to have the temp (75) match the humidity (75% or somewhere in there). It'll be draining. Let's hope the defense is hitting the Gatorade right now, and all through tomorrow, or else the injuries won't be the only thing to worry about, but guys just getting worn down as the day goes on. Like you said Brinkhater, when you haven't been in that humidity, it's tough to deal with.

But we'll see. That's why they play the games, and anything can happen, especially early in the year. There's always a few upsets early on. This looks like a monumental task, and I had a lot more confidence going into Auburn vs. how I feel about this year, but I think we'll give them a game for the first 30 or so minutes.

Did you catch Oregon State last night? I think we both called it, that it would be sloppy. But man, Oregon State's D was fantastic. I'm talking fast, angry and physical. The Utah QB is known for having good wheels, but there was one play where he looked slow compared to OSU's LB's. They flow to the ball and hit like crazy. Their secondary was really physical too, just popping guys left and right. They were the perfect match-up for that read option offense, and Utah just didn't have the athletes.

Their D-line was fantastic too. Dorian Smith, remember that name and watch how many sacks he gets this year. He looks tremendous. They were in Utah's face ALL NIGHT. Canfield's stats sucked, but they dropped a ton of balls (5 drops in the first half alone) or else the numbers would have been much better. Canfield looks like Brock Huard, big-time. There was one deep throw he had from his own endzone that was just money for like 40 yards, and he threw it perfectly over the outside shoulder. He's got ability, no doubt.

Brinkhater said...

I did catch some of the Beavs game after watching bleached chin-beard loser walk home another M's loss. BTW: what was the name of that lefty that they picked up a few years ago at the deadline who also had a beard and who ALSO sucked ass? It drove me crazy all night.

Its funny, its JUST like the M's collapses of years past. Here's to 89 to 91 wins and a place home for the holidays..(Gulp)

Also: JUST got word that the game will be on ABC here--no money out of pocket for Brinkhater. That can only mean more money for beer and chitlins.

Also (squared): check out Ben Million's last couple of posts on the cougin ain't easy blog. Hilarious. In fact, maybe too hilarious. But, bravo, Ben.

Alright, enough of my yackin'--looking forward to seeing the Flag on GameDay and seeing that the Dawgs lost later tonight on the ticker. Seriously: why would ANYONE watch that game????

Sedihawk said...

Rick White has been dreadful. He's a nothing reliever who was hanging out in his basement when he got the call from the M's. I have no clue as to why McLaren would have him in a high-pressure situation. He's got nothing. One guy wrote that he's rather have the bloated corpse of lookalike Rod Beck RIGHT NOW vs. Rick White. Gruesome, I know, but not all that off. What I want to know is why the hell wasn't JJ Putz in that game last night? I know it was a non-save situation, but the season is on the line. Putz hadn't pitched all week so he's finally fresh, and they bring in White?

The thing with the M's is that their starting pitching is finally catching up to them. In the first half the bullpen put on a ton of miles as the starters were horrific early. The thing is, there's only so many quality pitchers in a reliever's arm before they run low on gas, and guys like Green and Sherill and even Morrow can only do so much before they start to stagger. Even Putz hasn't been what he was in the first half, and you have to think that all those 98-mph fastballs have taken a toll on his effectiveness. It's easy to say it now since they have lost 6 in a row, but this could be a really ugly fall from contention over the next 10 days.

I'm down on McLaren too. Why the hell he runs Sexson out, night after night, is flabbergasting. One article I read said that McLaren is too nice to his veterans, doing things like calling team meetings to discuss the idea of propects getting playing time. He's almost letting the inmates run the asylum, and that never, EVER works. He's so afraid of making Sexson unhappy that he runs him out there to flail away? When Ben Broussard starts two games out of 28!?!? Simply terrible. I also wonder exactly what the point is of having Adam Jones up here if he isn't going to play. He got the start yesterday and hit a Mike Cameron-like HR to right-center, but otherwise he's been rotting on the bench while Rauuuuuul has been watching flares fall in front of him in left or carry over his head.

I was at the game on Tuesday night, and while the M's got off to a blistering start, it became obvious over 9 innings that there is one huge difference between the Angels and M's - Vladi Guerrero is a BEAST. And the M's don't have that guy where you literally hold your breath with every pitch. They used to with Junior and A-Rod after him, but now? I love Ichiro and he's a plus-plus centerfielder with his glove and arm, and he's a samurai with the bat and made a great living out the slap-and-dash, but he doesn't change a game the way Guerrero can. Ichiro's great hitting singles the other way, but what good is that if you can't bring him home with the guys behind him? Vladi is the type of talent that can say "hop on, I'll carry us for a week" and sure enough, you wake up today and see the lead one week ago (1 game) vs. today (5.5 games) and you see what the M's lack is exactly what the Angels have!

They also really, really miss the early-season, pre-injury version of Felix. Those first two starts were just sick, and he's obviously nothing close to that level now. They may say he's healthy, but he isn't nearly the same. You look at a team like the Angels and you see a #1 starter like Lackey, or a #2 like Weaver, or even a #3 like Escobar? Any one of those 3 would be the clear #1 starter in Seattle, period, end of discussion.

It's like Jayson Stark always says, follow the pitching over the long haul. To think the Angels have those 3 guys, I guess it was just a matter of time before they would put some distance between themselves and the M's.

Oh well, nobody thought the M's would be a playoff-caliber team this year. The pitching is just too short in the rotation, and that has taken it's toll. Sexson and Ibanez have hit the wall in their careers, and it took a miraculous month for Ibanez to get back to respectible numbers. Betancourt and Lopez are a pretty good young duo over the middle, but they are wildly inconsistent and Lopez is in a major slump right now when it matters most.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see that people on this blog are also Mariners fans. The Mariners started my love of sports and I continue cheering for them despite the past couple years (the Mariners really do have loyal fans). I think you can't count htem out yet. This whole long road trip is whack but you have to figure they can't keep losing. And depsite htey're 6 game slide, they remain just 1 back in the wild card. Personally, I would consider this season a success with a playoff berth, even if we go 4-and-out.

About the Cougs. Unfortunate circumstances make it impossibe for me to watch the game vs Wisonsin. I am the biggest Cougar fan I know (I amazingly think you guys pass me though) and to not watch is killing me inside (and outside). I will definitely be following the game but right now this whole subject pains me (of all the days!) so I think I'll stop writing now. But the Cougs will win despite my not watching. Sniff. Go Cougs!