Sunday, September 23, 2007

Program On The Line

Well, now that the hangover from last night has lifted, we now sit on the cusp of the most important week this program has faced in a long, long time. Lose this game this weekend @ the Mildcats and you can kiss it all goodbye. NO WAY do we even "sniff" respectability if we lose this game. The legacies of Doba and Brink will rest BIG TIME on this game. No ifs, ands, or buts about it...

With regard to the Conquest post-mordem, here are Brinkhater's takes:

1. Southern Cal was GREAT. Relentless depth at tailback and the fastest most punishing play that I've seen in the LB corps and defensive backfield from a Pac-10 team in a long time. Man, do they hit people. And their physicality of both lines was, again, really, really impressive.

2. Our defense is just beyond awful. Credit Doba, his scheme is such that he is keeping teams under 60 points--hence no plays longer than 25 yards. But, correct me if I'm wrong, DOES ANYONE CARE IF WE LOSE BY 70? Brinkhater sure doesn't, but I'd sure like to see us work a scheme that will allow us to win a game this season!!!! Like I've said, STANFORD will score 38 on us today, but I'm not sure we can score that much given our style of play....we just are NOT a quick hit team offensively...

3. Brink did not have a good game. But face it folks, what you saw yesterday is what you will see for most guys running for their dear life for the whole day. The only type of player who would do okay against a D like that is a top 5 or 10 NFL guy...and Brink is not that kind of player..if you ask him to do more than manage a game, he will fail you...Unfortunately, we are asking him to be too much this year....and frankly, it just isn't fair...Again, if we had ANY type of defense, we wouldn't be that bad...

4. Our special teams might be as bad as our defense...the formations stink, the players stink, the coaching stinks.....

5. Brinkhater's main man, Gary Rogers, looked simply AWFUL running with the second team O. Simply put: we saw last night what next year is going to look like if GR or whomever doesn't get some serious snaps this year. It made watching Brink seem like watching a Heisman trophy candidate.

The bottom line in all of this folks, is that last year was the year where we should have had our 1 in 3 year bowl game...Unfortunately, an array of injuries marred what woulda, coulda, shoulda been a Sun or Holiday bowl trip...and now, we are staring at a bleak season this year and next year as well.

So, feel free to start up the "its time to panic" engine, Cougar faithful. Win this weekend, and hope will continue for the coming weeks. Lose, and the whole darn program will come apart at the seems....Lose this game and there's NO WAY that we beat ASU or Oregon...and start the conference slate 0-4 and heads will roll...

Lets hope we can leave Tuscon on Saturday with a W!


longball said...

I am starting the Toby Turpin fan club, who's in? Since the SDSU game that kid has been my favorite up and comer, and then to get an interception, playing D tackle!

Anyway, yeah we ran into a WAY better team on Sat. I was dissapointed that we let them run away from us so early. the offenses consecutive 3 and outs in mid 2nd quarter, including one where we had that great kickoff return, were just brutal and the game ended right then and there. I do agree that we seemed to game plan against getting embarassed instead of actually taking a shot at winning that game. lo and behold, we were totally embarassed anyway, so there's no point to that kind of approach. But no worries, that was SC and we never had a chance anyway, so our season is just beginning and our kids are, if nothing else, very battle tested. Lets hope it starts to show against the beatable teams in the Pac.

On a positive note, i think our receivers, especially Bump and Gibson, looked WORLD CLASS on Saturday. Even some of the balls they didn't catch, they showed unbelieveable athleticism just to get a hand on, often while draped in defenders. They were the only athletes we had who looked like they belonged on the same field as SC. No matter what happens, i am going to enjoy watching those two play this year.

Sedihawk said...

All outstanding points, as usual. I also say that not only is Brink not capable to do more than manage the game and not "f" it up too bad, but look up the last time he was successful without a running game. I don't even know how we finished with 64 yards on the ground. It seemed like we never, ever could get it going, particularly on first down. Tardy had one nice run early on, but the rest of the day was a struggle. You put any QB in 2nd or 3rd and long, and you are asking for a rough go of it. Then you realize you are facing an All-Everything defense, well, it all adds up.

It's kind of amazing how much the offense has changed in a couple of years. Remember in 2005, Brink threw a lot of picks, but there were also a lot of successful deep balls to Hill and company. They seemed to stretch the field so much more back then, but over the last couple of seasons the offense has morphed into a short passing game offense. I guess it's Rosie's fingerprints, and clearly it's the right decision given the kind of tools Brink brings to the job, but the homerun ball has become an endangered species in our offense. I know we occasionally take a shot deep, but it seems like it's more for window dressing than anything with actual purpose, more like a keep 'em honest approach. Sort of like a pitcher throwing over to first to keep the runner from getting too big of a lead? They aren't actually TRYING to pick him off, but they want to keep things honest.

The thing that struck me is how far behind in terms of pure talent. It looked a lot like the 2005 disaster, although USC didn't look quite as lightning on offense vs. the 2005 team. Of course back then they had Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith and a cast of thousands that just went through us like swiss cheese, but these guys seemed to be more about power vs. flash-n-dash. When their 4th running back is running effortlessly through arm tackles, you know you are in trouble.

We just don't have the horses that we used to, even last year. Last year we took that team to the "Brink", and while SC did lose a couple of conference games last year and maybe weren't all they were hyped to be, they are better this year than last year, that much is clear. And we certainly lost a ton of skills from our program.

Remember, last year was the very last Price remnants, such as Mkristo who was a redshirt Frosh in 2002, etc, and they are now all gone. This is a 100% pure Doba program now.

The other thing that stood out on my HDTV experience was the sheer size of USC. My GOD, they dwarfed us, in pure muscle and body types. I know Aaron Johnson and Ropati are big boys, but I don't know, they just looked almost skinny compared to USC's girth. Their defensive line, wow, they are some thick dudes that are lightning quick off the edge too. our offensive line just looked small and weak compared to them. And those WR's?? They went 6-3, 6-5, 6-5, and then factor in yet ANOTHER TE WHO HAD A FIELD DAY AGAINST A DOBA DEFENSE in Fred Davis, who was so much quicker than Trent that Greg actually fell off the widescreen display trying to keep up with him on a crossing route. Davis is probably just as fast as Bumpus at this stage. That shows you right now the difference in caliber of the athletes that were on the field.

Finally, Brinkhater is right, Doba would rather have death by slow, painful poisoning vs. a firing squad. He'd rather allow 8 yards per play on bubble screens and at least 5 or 6 yards per carry than actually pressure the opposing QB into a mistake. I know, he's trying to protect his young, impressionable corners from making mistakes and having their confidence destroyed in the process. But back in the glory days, Doba would put Trufant or David or Paymah out on an island and would bring pressure from all over the place, and that seemed to work out (is it me or does that feel like DECADES ago??).

I don't know about you, but that looked like a scared defense Saturday. I know that's harsh, but when the coaches are playing the corners 15 yards off the ball and the safeties are off the screen, and all Booty has to do is take the snap and throw it in the flat without a defender in sight, and you know it's coming, I know it's coming, the American people know it's coming, and they STILL DON'T ADJUST?? You know they are coaching scared right now.

But no more time to dwell. They have their hands beyond full with Tuitama and Arizona. Just like UCLA last week vs. UW, it's circle the wagons time for Arizona. They were whooped by Cal, but also showed some dangerous life late when Cal relaxed. Tuitama leads the conference in passing yards per game, and he's got some good, experienced receivers. So it looks like they are figuring things out. And I think the worst medicine for our defense right now is to face off against a spread offense that throws the ball all over the yard and preaches tempo, tempo, tempo. I cringe to think about our linebackers trying to cover the underneath stuff or crossing routes, as they have failed to do all season long. And although Cal ran all over the place vs. Arizona, they still have a lot of talent and experience on defense. They play with a major chip on their shoulder at home, lest we forget their beating of Cal late in the year last year in Tucson.

Brinkhater is right though, the season is this Saturday. With the kind of schedule that is looming, they must have this game if there is any hope for a return to a bowl. Lose this one and then follow it up with a loss to favored ASU the next week, and we might be talking pull-the-plug-on-everything time.

Brinkhater said...

I really kinda shuttered writing that post. I mean, we knew we were going to get blown out, so when it happened, it seemed a bit unfair to act as if we were Louisville losing to Syracuse...

That said, my takes are based primarily on the play of our defense--which, as i've noted, is just beyond awful.

I also encourage all readers to think about that 2005 team when weighing the future fortunes of this group. Think about how good that offense was. Remember the holes that the offensive line would open routinely for Harrison? Remember what it was like to see the Ghost reach 100 yards by HALFTIME in most games? Remember what it was like to see Hill catching all the deep balls while Bumpus, Biennemen, and Boyd played possession ball? Remember how STINKIN' good that O was in spite of Brink's picks/and or poor finishing at the end of games (and Brink too was pretty darn good up until the final 6 minutes)

And then think about that D. Granted it was bad, but it was no where near AS BAD as the defense we have now.

In short, that team had a more dangerous/quick hitting offense than this one (think about the CAL and Oregon games)--even if this one is more disciplined and effficient.

And, as bad as that team was defensively, they are better than the D we have now.

And remember that 2005 team nipped a HORRIBLE UW team with a last second touchdown to win ONE STINKING GAME in the conference! ONE GAME!

My point is this: IF we don't win this weekend, there is a real chance that this year's team may be worse than 2005--we may be THE cellar dwellar. Even worse, looking at what we have coming back, one could make the point that we'll be WORSE next year--especially if Gipson bolts...

The ONLY thing that will change a bad outcome is a change in defensive philosophy. Either we go about "getting it" or we will die the most painful death via the bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, touchdown scheme we've employed for the past four weeks.

So, it ain't about Brink right now folks, he is a fine quarterback--even a great quarterback--for a team that has a defense and can therefore play ball control...But we don't have one..and that's not his fault..

But if Doba doesn't let the dawgs loose, we simply will not be able to score enough to win..Its just that simple

Brink, like any QB, needs tempo..he can't have it when he is off the field for a 14 play 75 yard drive everytime..and he and Rosey can't establish balance when you HAVE TO score a touchdown every stinkin' time you get the ball...

So, it's time to buck up, Mr. Doba...Your job is frickin' on the line...If you lose, lose...but go down trying to win a flipping football game!

longball said...

At this point, unless we have some more San Diego States on the schedule, this is not a bowl team. I have resigned myself to just enjoying some of the thrills this offense WILL provide us this season, and not letting any unrealistic expectations ruin it for me (this is a lesson learned from the Jerome Harrison year, and years way past, such as RPM, or the Pattinson and Gossen led teams).

Cougar football historically has been about high flyin offense, terrible defense, long odds every week, the occasional glorious upset and beer. lots and lots of beer. the 4 top 10 finishes in 7 years wet dream is nothing but legend now, it's time to re-embrace what it really means to be a die hard supporter of the Crimson and Gray.

Sedihawk said...

I don't think we've been unrealistic Longball, I really don't. We've been thinking we were going to be below-average, if not bad, since spring ball and the defense was in tatters. Nothing that's happened has changed that view, so I don't think any of us had lost sight of the facts. But I think the frustration is that the defense is probably the worst in the Doba head coaching area, and likely will be one of his worst units during his time at WSU. And that's WITH Idaho and San Diego State already in the rearview mirror! Can we even fathom what Cal, Oregon, even ASU is going to do to this defense?

And it's not just the lack of talent or experience or poor recruiting classes, but it's also the soft approach that we're just not used to seeing out of Doba that is really frustrating. Mike Holmgren said it best about young talent, in that "sometimes you need to shove them out of the nest and see if they can fly". In other words, you can only mother-hen them for so long before it's time to give them a push and see what happens. We're 1/3rd of the season in, we're already looking like this thing will unravel in a heartbeat, and Doba has shown that it's best to back off and protect these young kids, meanwhile we'll get nickel-and-dimed to death. The longest play USC had was 25 yards, but they still had all those yards and points and never even had to punt. Idaho had their way with us through the first half, and if Enderle wasn't so generous by hitting some of our DB's between the numbers, that might have been a totally different outcome.

So, enough is enough. Shove them out and see if they can fly. If they can't, then get some new bodies in there, but take some chances. Do something other than what he's been doing, which is so protective that in the end might even do more damage than good. How can we expect these young defenders to get any better if they are never really challenged?

longball said...

I completely agree, and the prognositcating on this site is very down to earth and realistic. I was simply announcing that i am officially abandoning my expectations for this team to achieve a bowl. I'll still be cheering my ballz off every weekend.

longball said...

on an unrelated note, while hangin round this site i often need to reference things like the schedule, or roster, etc. and have to navigate away from your site to do it. Anyway you guys could link to some quick info like that? It may not be worth your time at all, but i can assure you it will add at least 5 more minutes of "productive" time to my average work day and my bosses would be most greatful.


Sedihawk said...

Good idea LongBall. Check out the links. I also put up the Pac-10 stat home page. Great resource and they usually have it updated fully by Monday morning.