Friday, August 31, 2007

Wisconsin Writer Sees a Tight One Tomorrow

My cohort at AOL sees a tight game tomorrow. Pretty good read and a highlight of the one key area we have a shot, and that's up the middle -brand new MLB, plus two new safeties, all sophomores, could be an area Brink can exploit.
But our downfall is pictured above. PJ Hill plus 4 out of 5 starters returning to an excellent o-line is going to wear us down. I know, this isn't exactly news, but IF WE HAVE A SHOT TO UPSET THESE GUYS, WE HAVE TO STUFF THE RUN! I'm cap-locking that sentence to show how paramount it is for tomorrow. I don't care how inexperienced your secondary is, you get any team in the country in 2nd or 3rd and long, and put a QB in obvious passing situations where your d-line can pin their ears back and bring the heat, then we'll hang with 'em tomorrow. Seriously.

But let's get real. These guys did go 12-1 last year, and while Michigan and Ohio State took the gaspipe collectively, Wisconsin did beat Arkansas in their bowl game. The same Arkansas that played in the SEC Championship for Gawdsakes!!?!?! How can we expect to stroll in on a humid day and beat these guys? With all those starters back? It just won't happen.

But man, I'm excited for tomorrow.
  • I'm excited to see how much Brink has improved with his arm strength and mechanics. What if he's suddenly throwing 30-yard laser beams on slants over the middle? What if he's drilling it between the numbers on those 15-yard outs? What if he just shrugs at the crowd noise and the nonsense and just picks apart their secondary??
  • I'm excited to see what Matt Mullennix can bring to the table now that he's healthy. Last year we had someone who logged in as anonymous tell us that Matt was the real deal in every way and would be worlds better than Braidwood, but we never knew who it was. Our hunch was that it was a real "insider" based on some of the things this person said, but who knows.
  • I'm excited to see if Dwight Tardy and Chris Ivory are the real deal and become our version of lightning and thunder. What if they get the job done and take the heat off Brink and the pass rush that you know will be coming in waves tomorrow?
  • I'm excited (if not a little sick) to see the new DB's. What if Chima and Giles are up to snuff? What if they really are ready, NOW, and earned their spots based on a great camp, and not because the incumbents SUCKED!?!?
  • Most of all, I'm excited for the season to start. Last night, seeing teams get it on for real, just got me exicted to see how things are going to play out.

I know, I know, a lot of WHAT IF played out here. But that's the beauty of being a fan, right??

Read more ...plus comments

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......

Prediction:

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!!!!!!!!!!) Read more ...plus comments

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why Do We Hate Brink?

First of all, props to my good friend Brinkhater. His "senior thesis" on why he adopted the moniker should be on the short list of best post of the year. Very, very good view as to why he's "hated Brink at hello" (great line btw).

That said, for all the hatred and disgust towards the young man, isn't it somewhat amazing that we're sitting here on the verge of a QB set to break every passing record in the WSU media guide?? How did we get here? Why does Brink have such a polarizing effect on WSU fans? It's not an easy answer is it?

Some point out that he's never stepped up in the biggest games, like Auburn last year where he was a woeful 11-for-24 for 67 yards and several 3-and-outs, helping to wear out our defense in the humidity that led to a huge second-half fade. Or at ASU, where the entire team laid a major egg and Brink got a ton of the blame for not "stepping up" without Bumpus and Hill with a bowl game on the line. Or the horror show vs. USC in 2005, where the team was embarrassed so badly that they were outgained 745-284 and USC had an amazing 40 first downs to only 13 for the Cougs! That's a game where you just wish in hindsight that the plane never left Pullman.

Yet that same haters conveniently ignore the efficient 20-for-23 game vs. Oregon in a game that they absolutely, positively had to have. If you remember last year, that Oregon game was coming off a disappointing 21-3 loss to Cal that left them at 4-3, and the season was teetering on the edge of disaster. Brink responded by playing a nearly flawless game against a ranked team. But how about the next week, where he topped the Oregon performance by winning POW honors in a 28-for-38, 405 yard win at UCLA to get the team to 6-3 last year, a game that nearly returned them to the post-season? Wasn't that a big game? UCLA, by the way, had a very good defense last year and even held the vaunted Trojans to just 9 points later in the year. Going down to Pasadena and having a game like that, maybe Brink's best game ever, was no small feat.

So why is it that the majority ignore the positive and write it off as basically saying "he should do that every week" and then as soon as he doesn't play well, he gets a ton of the blame? It's never been an easy question to answer.....but....I think I understand it better today than any other time.

He's just NOT A LIKABLE GUY, in many different ways. Think about it - On the field, he doesn't have the Bledsoe or Leaf tools, with the dream size and cannon arm who can make any throw that John Elway could make. He is a very strong 6-3, 215-220 now, however, and the word is that the velocity and accuracy at this point are better than it's ever been. 6-3, 215-220 is not small. In fact he's actually a little bigger than Jake Locker, a guy who's already loved so much he's rumored to actually walk on Lake Washington.

Ok, so he's not the most "toolsy" guy around, and in reality he's closer to Gesser than the Bledsoe/Leaf group. But "I've watched Jason Gesser, and I've watched Alex Brink. And you, Alex Brink, are no Jason Gesser" or something along those lines seems appropriate. Why? Because the team, from the moment Gesser showed up, saw that Gesser had an extra quality about him that players just gravitated towards. Many stories are about how much love other players had for Gesser, even during his scout team performance his true frosh season, and later that they were just so confident when they took the field that he was THE GUY. In the end, they were right. Even Davard Darling credits the time he spent with Gesser on a recruiting trip post-FSU that Gesser was just the greatest guy and the best recruiter WSU had, and was one of the reasons he not only came to WSU but also roomed with Gesser. But it was never about the tools with Gesser. He had some great games with fat numbers, but he also had his share of stinkers, especially early in his career. But some of that gets overlooked because of the total package. Gesser is the most successful QB in the modern age at WSU, and, maybe the biggest winner in the history of the school, in any sport. Does Brink have anything close to what Gesser brought to the table in terms of the total package? Absolutely, positively not. Yet here Brink sits, roughly a half-season of stats away from bumping off Gesser at the top of the career charts.

Today's Times opened my eyes to one thing. Maybe it's not just the fans, but also the players, that realize something about him. For example, Brink shows up late to lunch, and instead of sitting with other teammates? He sits by himself, and nobody invites him to sit with them, and nobody comes to join him. Can you imagine Gesser walking into lunch late and sitting down, eating all by his lonesome, without even getting invited to sit with them? Neither can I. It doesn't sound like it's a big deal, but deep down, it is.

Brink also lives alone, something I never knew until today, and that might speak volumes. How many players do you know of, outside of the ones that are married or have a wife-to-be or whatever, that actually don't have a single roommate? Why? He's only got two friends that are acknowledged in the article, Bobby Byrd and Chris Baltzer, one of whom is a high school teammate. But that's it? And how many players are quoted in the article? ONE, Jed Collins, who just says that Brink is smart and knows where everyone should be in every play and that he leads by example. But not one other player was quoted in the article? Nobody coming forward to say Alex is misunderstood and is really a great guy who takes a while to really get to know? And think back over the last few years. How many players have ever really stepped forward to say that we're all wrong about him and that he's a great guy? I remember Hill and at times Bumpus being quoted last year as saying Alex is the QB and there shouldn't be a controversy, but never, ever did you see the article about the great leadership and the intangibles that other players respect so much.

One more thing, and this is purely anecdotal and/or rumored. The whispers on Brink are, basically, that he's very aloof and appears arrogant to the general public. One very good friend (and potential writer this year on this blog) was down in Pullman during spring ball this year, and being a great Coug, of course he ventured down to the Cottage one evening for a few cold ones. Who does he see? Brink, and Byrd, and maybe someone else (Collins?). But what did he see? Brink, wearing a tank top, with SUNGLASSES ON AT NIGHT, sitting in the corner and looking like, well, let's just say looking like a guy you glance at and shake your head, "who's the jackass with the sunglasses on at night?? What a CLOWN."

Look, Brink isn't a thug, or anything close too it, off the field. He's not running a dog-fighting ring, he's not raping or hitting women or shop-lifting or getting DWI's or starting brawls, or even getting into confrontations with coaches or reporters. He's just simply being who he is, kind of a recluse that comes across arrogant and self-serving and someone that just doesn't have that extra-something special in a magnetic sense. The same quality that drew us all to Bledsoe, Leaf (at least in 1997), and of course, Gesser, that same "thing" that we were so happy to have in our QB, is the same thing that Brink simply lacks.

And sadly, what Brink lacks off the field, is something that he also lacks on the field. 12-16 as a starter, coming off the most successful 3-year run in school history, is just poison for him to be loved. All the come-from-ahead losses in 2005, where the onus fell to him to lead one more late-game drive, yet continually coming up short, did him in. I for one was extremely hopeful that the 2005 Apple Cup win, where he finally led the team on that game-clinching drive, was going to lead to huge things the rest of his career. I told Brinkhater, FINALLY, he did it, and now it's all about turning the corner. But when the chips were down late last year, without his best weapons, he couldn't get it done.

In the end, Brink is going to go down to a similar fate of someone like Cody Pickett or Damn-it-Damon Huard at UW. Guys who put up big numbers, but rarely got the big W. Guys who, despite their overall fat numbers, never got to the big game, and basically under-performed in the eyes of fans everywhere. Don't believe me? I was at Husky Stadium when Damon Huard broke the UW passing career record vs. the Cougs. And there was, easy, about 40% of the stadium that booed him. And the only thing UW fans will remember about Pickett, other than being a great athlete who was a rodeo champion from Idaho, was great numbers with Reggie Williams, but he never won the biggie.

All that said, the book isn't closed on Brink. At least not yet. He's got 12 more games to go, and every week is another chance to shut us all up and bury the difficult past. 12 games to not only break records, but do the thing that senior QB's are supposed to do, and that is perform at the highest level when the chips are down. We've gone through nearly 3 seasons of ups-and-downs with Brink, and we're nearing the end of the line. How will the legacy be cemented? Will he explode this year, when the predictions are generally for an 8th or 9th-place finish? Will he come through when it matters the most? Last call Alex. Now go prove us all wrong. Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wisconsin a Bandit Program?

Hmm, this is interesting. That's a pretty key guy in the Badger d-line mix that won't be on the field next Saturday (wow, just 1 week until the season starts??). Cooper was supposed to start at one end opposite the talented Matt Shaughnessy, so this is a blow for them. The backup, Kurt Ware, has had a troublesome knee that required surgery, so they may have some depth issues up front.

Let's hope we can sustain some long drives, and maybe get some success running the ball? Long drives will not only help wear them down a little bit, but man, our D is sure going to need some rest. A repeat of Auburn last year with all the 3-and-outs, and having to slow down P.J. Hill, that just won't cut it in the MW humidity.

Wisconsin has had some adversity this offseason. The QB controversy ended with Donovan getting the nod to start, which really isn't a shock. But Everidge did put some heat on him, and we'll see if there is dissention over who should be the guy.

In the thug department, their best corner, Jack Ikegwuonu, did some really stupid stuff this winter by trying to steal an XBox. He'll play against the Cougs, but there have been some discipline issues with Bielema that even the local media has picked up on. Bielema doesn't really punish people either. The five major disciplinary problems that have arisen in the Bielema era have combined for a combined loss of five downs of football for those involved. All those missed downs came against Bowling Green. So if they have booted Cooper, you KNOW he did something he really, really shouldn't have done.

While I've been a pessimist at best this year, and see 4 wins as the the high-water mark, I do agree with Brinkhater and some of the new commentors that have graced the blog of late - this might be THE YEAR where we really surprise people. Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, August 23, 2007

An Open Letter To Alex Brink (and his Fans)

Dear Alex:

I am writing you this letter in regard to my moniker: Brinkhater. As you may know by now, I developed this moniker in jest because I have been your #1 anti-fan since Day One.

As a result of my admittedly over-the-top stance on you as a quarterback, much has been written on this Blog to note how incredibly unfair and unruly I have been toward you over the last couple of years.

Given that sentiment, on the eve of your final season with the program (YESSSS!!!), I feel the need to explain myself a bit.

First and foremost, I want you to know that the Brink that I profess to “hate” is the character of you as a football player. It is not about “you” as a person. Nor is it about you as a competitor. As I have noted on this site numerous times, you have a lot of moxy, Alex. And you not only try to do your best all the time, I believe that you consistently exceed your talents. And that is to your credit.

I also want you to know, Alex, that despite the fact that you are a 20 something year old kid, I do not pity you in the slightest.

As you probably do NOT know, for one season, Brinkhater competed in Division I athletics at a mid-major school before transferring to WSU where my athletic talent was relegated to beer bong Olympic style events. But during my time as a Division I athlete, I started all of ONE—check that—ZERO times. In fact, I played in just enough games to NOT letter.

So, believe me, I more than know that the fact that you have started at a major college program for four years places you in the elite company of athletes. Simply put, no one can ever take that away from you—let alone a near middle age couch potato like myself and the other thousands of die-hards that have frequented or visited this Blog.

Because of your longevity as a starter, you have had the unique privilege of being able to play in front of nearly one million sports fans against some of the most storied programs in some of the most storied venues in our wonderful country. You have played against the greatest of Great USC teams, played a nationally televised night game on the road in the Southeastern Conference, and have played in front of capacity crowds at every Pac-10 venue. That, is an experience that less than 1% of all athletes will ever have. What an experience. What a privilege. So, I don’t pity you one bit.

At the same time that you are experiencing the rush of being a “star” player at a BCS conference school, you are getting an education at a world class, Research I university for NO COST. Moreover, unlike some of your teammates who are unlikely to graduate with a leg to stand-on, you have been an Academic All-American. When your time at WSU is done, you will be able to write your own ticket. Undoubtedly, with your football knowledge and connections, you will be positioned nicely to make a nice living staying close the game you love. Few people get such an opportunity, Alex. And because of that, I don’t feel sorry for you. Not in the slightest.

Of course, all of this is to point out that, without question, you are an exceptional student-athlete, Alex. It is also true that ANY father—including the dads like myself who write on this blog--would beam with pride and joy every single day were we to have a son who accomplished as much both on the field and off the field as you.

There are really no ifs, ands, or buts about that.

That said, this blog and my moniker are not about you as a person. They are directed toward you as the leader of a football program that we all love and there is nothing that I love about you and your legacy to the program. But don't take that personally.

And with that in mind, and for no fault of your own, Alex, it is also true that I hated you (as a football player) at “Hello.”

You see, when you came on board this program had just finished THREE STRAIGHT seasons finishing in the Top 10 in the country. The ONLY thing that this program had not accomplished was a top 5, or dare I say, top 2 finish nationally. As a result, I took high expectations for the program into the start of your tenure.

With that in mind, following the 2003 season, I was absolutely enamored with the new offensive philosophy implemented by Doba’s new staff—particularly by Timm Rosenbach.

Unlike the Price-coached teams that scored in bunches, the Doba-Rosenbach era marked a return to the Dennis Erickson philosophy of running the ball as a chief focus out of the one-back. As a result, following the 2003 year, we all saw the promise of being a high-powered offensive machine that did not sacrifice the ability to play ball-control against Big Teams in Big Games. Our victory over Texas was Exhibit A-Z about what a big-time program we could (and would) become.

For me, the tall, strong-armed QB was built for that system. Given the lack of pass protection afforded in the 1-back, the strong armed, tall QB can quickly see over the blitz to hit the 3 yard slant over the middle. The strong-armed QB can quickly fire the ball outside for a one yard look-in that turns into a 5-8 yard gain. And the strong-armed QB is always capable of hitting the cross-field option (#4) if the first two or three reads aren’t there.

When you add a solid running game to that calculus, and emphasis on the running game, you have the basis for the types of teams that we saw Miami Florida have in the early 90s. And, again, those were the types of teams that I thought we could become.

Hell, just writing about it makes me drool.

But the shorter, more mobile, weaker armed QB can’t throw over the middle as well because he can’t see the middle when the 6 foot 5 trees come blazing up in his face. The weaker armed QB can’t throw the out-pattern for 6 yard gains, but instead struggles to get the ball to the WR in time for a 3 yard effort. Moreover, instead of sitting back in the pocket and letting it fly, the more mobile QB has to throw across his body, off his back foot and so forth (on the run) CONSISTENTLY—making every effort much harder with much smaller room for error. Moreover, when you roll-out and play misdirection all the time, if you don’t have the arm strength, you take half the field out of the picture—when the one back is built to SPREAD the field and put the WHOLE field AS THE PICTURE.

In short, when I read columns that suggested that Gesser was the new “prototype” for the one-back I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “Gesser was the exception, not the rule.” And so, when they talked about you being the “next Gesser” my answer was “huh?” I mean, why start in the direction of trying to recruit and employ over-achievers when the program is known for recruiting, training, and producing prototype, top 5 NFL draft picks???? Put another way, why try to amp up a Corsica when you have consistent access to buy and drive a Porsche???

And so, in my view, the past three years has been an exercise is proving that Gesser was, in fact, the exception to the rule in our 20 year old system. After all, everyone knows you know the offense like no other. Everyone can see that you make smart plays with negligible mistakes. You aren’t throwing picks, and when you do, it isn’t because you couldn’t figure out what a defense was doing.

In short, it isn’t like you haven’t hit your upside. You have. You’ve done everything that you can do with your talent to help this team. But, in my view, your best simply has not been good enough to make us an upper division team. Period.

So, on we go to your senior season. And, as I’ve said before, this season really isn’t about you anymore—although if WSU lands a winning season it will be ALL because of you (that and Doba’s return to Defensive Coordinator)

But, since this gloomer doesn’t think we’re going to be any good, playing you seems like a lack-of-investment in the future. Unfortunately, your head coach’s job security is such that he will keep his best option of winning NOW (you) on the field until hell boils over. And I think that pot will boileth over around Week 9.

In the meantime, I will be rooting for you each week even if I rail against you if and when you continue to be the same quarterback that you’ve always been: a good guy, with great heart, who doesn’t make mistakes, but doesn’t make too many plays that change and decide games (favorably) either.

And if you win, I will gladly eat crow with both hands and feet. But that won’t stop me from dreaming of a future with a Rogers-Leaf-Bledsoe-esque body standing behind center and restoring us to an upper-division program. Because, in my view, it is THAT type of quarterback, dear Alex, that will take us back to the Rose Bowl once again.

And that is truly where we belong (but I’ll take San Diego too!).

Best Wishes and Good Luck on Your Senior Season.

Sincerely,

Brinkhater Read more ...plus comments

Monday, August 20, 2007

Conference Pre-View

Not into a whole lot of blather given the current state of affairs on Neo-poop Island.

So, here's my two-second run down. For more info, check out Sedi-Hawks AOL stuff.

Or pick up the latest issue of Lindys and sit (or smoke) on the pot for a while.

Whatever you choose, this is how Brinkhater sees it:

1. USC (9-0, 12-0)

Lights Out Til They Lose The Championship

2. Oregon State (7-2, 10-2)

Should be no surprise to anyone paying attention to what they did last year. BearCat road game could be sneaker given the Beavs tendency to get punked in pre-conference road games.

3. UCLA (6-3, 9-3).

FSU Game last year showed that Bruins aren't ready for contention

4. Arizona (6-3, 8-4)

Good but don't know how to win consistently. They'll wish they had a few close ones back.

5. Cal (5-4, 7-5)

Tough to rebound after loss at home to the Volunteers when they realize they have have no defense.

6. Arizona State (4-5, 7-5).

Denny rides soft September to Bowl

7. Oregon (3-6, 5-7).

Stewart runs wild in the Big House as Ducks lose 35-31 heartbreaker. They fold thereafter...Just like Belotti's babies.

8. UW (2-7, 4-9)

They should be 9th but they beat us, so they get the tiebreaker. I'm giving them both the Cuse and Boise State. Merry Christmas Dawg lovers. You're still gonna suck.

9. WSU (2-7, 4-8).

A close finish in Madison could make a lot of difference. But close losses to Arizona and Arizona State make an 0-3 conference start too much to bear.

10. Stanford (1-8, 2-10)

Doubled win total from the previous year leaves something in the Cards for next year. Read more ...plus comments

WHHHAAAAAAAA!!!

Oh my god, you can hear the crying all the way down here in No-CAL.

First, the normally on-the-ball Go 2 Guy continues his fantasy that Brink somehow possesses something Gesser-like (I know that because he--the Go 2 Guy--told me):

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/moore/328251_moore20.html

Next, another article that also shows how Poor little Alex can't get the love he deserves.

Check this one out:

http://washingtonstate.scout.com/2/670307.html

(WHAAA! WHAAA!!!!)

If you have limited time, the "scout" article is the best--it includes a section where Alex talks about how hard it was for him to watch Boise State win last year because Alex wonders "what could've been" had he gone there...

HUH?

I'll tell you what would've happened little Alex: we would have gone to a bowl game once in the last two years and you would have had your butt on the stinking bench at BSU.

Too much. Too much.

Two weeks now until the journey to Wisconsin where Alex gets his chance at Redemption over the evil Brinkhater and other "non-football fans" who care more about winning than about individual statistics..

Or, he gets another excuse to blame his teammates about why the Cougs don't win.

I don't know, maybe its because Brinkhater is knocking on 40's door that I am so out of touch, but I thought that quarterbacks were supposed to shoulder blame for a team's shortcomings, not the other way around...

On even gloomier fronts, word from across the planet is that Gary "Fred" Rogers has been stinkin' it up against our scout team defense (that would be a Big Sky lower division team, by the way). That news should not be encouraging to Cougfans who know that we NEED a good season from our back-up (even in mop-up) to pave the way for a good 2008 campaign.

Two weeks til Kickoff!!! Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pac-10 Previews are Rolling

The Biggest Shoes to Fill, Impact Frosh and Most Underrated Pac-10 pieces are now live at AOL. I went with Gibson as the #3 most underrated player in the Pac-10, based on his status as the #4 WR coming back in the Pac-10 this year in total receiving yards and receiving yards per game, but he's a guy that if you mention his name outside of Pullman, people are like "who??" :)

For honorable mention on Biggest Shoes, I went with Mixon and Bass for Frampton. Mixon is on the list, but who the hell knows if he'll do much of anything this year. He's overweight and injured, so Bass might be the guy after all. And for Impact Frosh I went with Chima, as it's pretty obvious right now that he'll be starting vs. Wisconsin. I don't know if that speaks volumes for how impressive Chima is, or, how thin the corners truly are back there!

Coaching hot seats are up next. I'll be kind, but, I think it's obvious who's going to be on the short list of coaches that need to win - NOW.

I'm sick of the whole Sonics mess. They are doing what they set out to do from day 1, and that is to hijack this toy and take it back home. It's been crystal clear, but now it's out there. What a ROYAL F-UP by McClendon though, man, you just don't open your mouth and say something like that! Either these guys are really stupid, or they are liars. Either way, I'm less inclined to give them a penny for anything and I'm almost to the point to say fine, you want the team, just take it and get out of our hair. Go lose millions in OKC and whine to them about a new arena. Just leave the name and the history, a local ownership group led by David Sabey and/or other Microsoft millionaires will emerge, a new Pepsi Center-style arena will get done with the proper time and planning and one day, the NBA will return.

And, think about this - who wants these guys to own our team?? McClendon is sure a winner. Other than being a billionaire with a capital B, he's donated big money to anti-gay marriage groups and was part of the John Kerry smear campaign, Swift Boats for truth or whatever the hell that was. Good riddance.

Meanwhile, Art Thiel....what can you say? HOME RUN today. Art is pretty negative at times, but, I had a few LOL moments reading it today. Great, great stuff. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

At Least We'll Steamroll Idaho

So sayeth EA Sports anyway...

Brink hits Gibson deep on a PRETTY deep ball. Not sure why the Idaho fans in the stands are cheering, but you get the idea. Hmm, you can almost hear Bob and Jim right now:
"One back and 4 wide receivers in the formation, Brink takes the snap and gives to Tardy, NO, he's going to throw. Sets up, throws the home run ball down the left side, got a man out there it's GIBSON with the catch and HE'S GONE, 30, 20, 10, 5, TOUCHDOWN WASHINGTON STATE!"
Jim: "GO YOU SUMBITCH GO! YEE-HAH!":



Bumpus takes a kickoff to the house. Talk about breakaway speed:

Bob: "Bumpus takes the kick at the 10 yard line, now up the left side, gets a block at the 30 AND LOOK OUT, HE MAY GO! 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, TOUCHDOWN WASHINGTON STATE!"
Jim: "YEEE-HAW! OUR GUY GOT HELD BY ONE OF THEIR GUYS ON THE 40-YARD LINE BOB, I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY LET THAT GO, BUT I'LL TAKE IT!":



More to come this year. I'll sim each WSU game before they play, and report back with full stats. Kind of a different, fun angle to take on the upcoming season. Read more ...plus comments

Monday, August 06, 2007

2007 Cougar Preview: Season on the Brink(hater)

Greetings, Cougar Nation.

Although I tried my darndest to try on a new moniker for the past nine months, the sad reality is that the shoe just didn’t fit.

And so I return to the name that made me what little of a man I have grown up to be…. In other words, BRINKHATER is back!

So, now that Brinkhater is back again in full-force, here is my once again stellar 2007 season preview:

As those four (4) of you who have kept up with this Blog over the past year know well by now, the staff of the WSU Blog have not been optimistic about this upcoming season.

And, despite the occasional quasi-blog-blast that suggest that I, Sir Brinkhater, are the doom and gloom machine (or even worse a Husky-lover of all things), it should be known last year was the first year in the current decade that I predicted us to have less than 9 wins.

(By the way, I nailed last year’s 6-6 season on the head if anyone is still interested).

But before anyone jumps off the ship before the season even starts, you should all know that the last time that I picked the Cougs to have a losing season was in 2001. I picked that year’s team to go 2-9. Our final record was a gaudy 10-2.

Nuff said.

So, I am hoping and praying that this year will be the year that shows you, once and for all, that I am the true blazing, know-nothing-bout-sports idiot that you all have wanted me to be.

And believe me when I tell you that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would make me happier than to be proven, dead, dead wrong about this upcoming debacle that will be painfully known as the 2007 Cougar Football Season.

Now, onto the preview:

Since this season is truly, the season on the Brink, let me be clear:

IF THE COUGS GO 6-6 THIS YEAR, IT WILL BE BECAUSE ALEX BRINK PLAYS LIKE AN ALL-AMERICAN.





No ifs ands or buts about it. If we are even to sniff mediocrity this year, let alone a bowl game, Alex will have to show that he’s got “it” and then some.

Of course, I don’t think that he has “it,” unless “it” is something that has to do with football's version of the clap. But trust me, as bad as he is, Alex is not the point of concern anymore.

What is relevant, however, is that this year’s schedule sets up beautifully for a bunch of interesting twists, turns, and subplots (kinda like putting your junk in a vice). For me, the key question of the season is “What is our record following our October game @ Belotti’s Babies?”

The answer to that question is crucial because following that game, we have a bye week, which, as I will suggest later, will prove to be a major cross-roads for the Cougar program.

So, in order to keep this preview under 7,000 words, here are the main themes and assumptions that I am taking into this year:

1) Bill Doba’s return to the defensive side of the ball is going to yield dividends. And I’m talkin’ BIG TIME Dividends. All things being equal, I think that by the end of this season, we will see that a BIG reason why Doba’s tenure will end horribly is because Leaping Rob Akey was a DISASTER at Defensive Coordinator. Yes, as much as I blame Alex Brink for a part of the demise of our beloved program, I think Akey takes a bigger piece of that cake. Our defense WILL improve over last year—which will leave us wondering “wha-happenned?” the last three years?
2) The first two games of the year will show whether or not anything has changed in the world of Alex Brink and the Cougar offense. Yes, I know that Alex played SUPER against Oregon and UCLA last year. But outside of those performances as well as a gutty job against SC (although the gimme 2pt conversion that he blew to Boyd cost us the game), our offense really struggled to score for much of last year. As a result, a big stat to look for early is our yards after catch. By the end of last year, we were consistently throwing 3 yard outs for 3.5 yard gains. High completion percentage, low turnover ratio, but very ineffective. If this team has ANY chance of competing, it is going to have to score 35+ a game. To do that, we must obviously improve red zone efficiency and have a much larger yard-after-catch average. As Cougar diehards know, we have made our Bread and Butter over the years turning 3 yard hitches into 25 yard gains.
3) San Diego State is a HUGE game for us. Lots of returning starters for them on offense and we will be coming one week off a probable drubbing against some really big boys in the heat and humidity of the Midwest (Let’s hope we catch a break in the weather like we did against Auburn last year). If we enter battered and lose a close one in that contest, we will need to have 5 conference wins to make 6-6. That’s a real, real tall order when you take a look at how the schedule shakes out—especially with this being a 4-5 year for us (home-road split).
4) The next set of swing games are our games against the two Arizona schools. If we have ANY shot at a positive season, we MUST at least split those two games. That said, we never play well against Arizona in Tuscon, and the Arizona State game is too early for the Devils to get the type of yips that they often get playing in Pullman in late October or November. Simply put, I don’t like our chances in any one of those games.
5) For the past three years, the strength of our defense has been our Defensive Tackles. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to keep them healthy for even Fall practice. Now, entering the season with Johnson and Ahmu as real question marks, our D line is in real trouble. With our Defensive Ends suspect at least on one side, and with a questionable secondary, injuries to our Defensive Tackles will prove fatal once again. As a consequence, sssssoo much of this season will depend on the health of Ropati who has not been able to stay healthy to this point. NOT a good sign.
6) Chris Ivory has been given all the buzz in the world that he is the next big thing. Tardy looked like he was going to be a really nice back for much the year last year. IF Ivory can emerge early, then we might have the 1-2 punch to take some pressure off of Alex and the Offensive line’s pass protection. If that happens, we might really be in the game at Wisconsin. If he can’t, then we’re in real big trouble from that game forward, since I don’t think that Tardy is durable or bruising enough to carry a consistent load in the 1 back.

So, those are the main themes and issues to look for. Now, I present you with three scenarios for how this season will play out:

Scenario #1: Brink and the Gang Turn the Corner

If Alex Brink comes out strong and shows that he actually deserves to have been a four year starter in this program, then this season could quickly become a surprise story. We’ll see if this scenario plays out early it the season in both the Wisconsin and San Diego State games. Simply put, if this team comes out and puts 4 touchdowns on the board against Wisconsin and puts up a 40 spot on San Diego State, then we will have the type of firepower to make this season interesting. Even more to the point, the chance of us winning a 45-42 type game against UA or ASU becomes possible. And, if that’s the case, winning at what will be a MESS of an Oregon team will also be a possibility.

If all that plays out and we enter the Bye Week at 3-4, 4-3, or better then this team will win 6 to 8 games. Again, this scenario will be because Alex Brink kicks it up four notches to become a real All-Conference type performer and the defensive line will stay healthy. Again, I suspect that the defense will be MUCH improved by season’s end.

Scenario #2: Brink Tanks and the Good Ship Cougar Goes Down With Him

If Alex comes out and plays like the Alex of old—good numbers in every place put the win column—and the D performs as expected (not good) then we will be 2-5 or 1-6 at the Bye Week. In such a scenario, the Cougar program will be at a crossroads heading into the bye-week. At this point, my sense is that Doba will announce his retirement upon year’s end. This announcement will then take the program in one of two directions.

The first direction is that Doba decides at that point to stick with Alex Brink since he will at that point be on the verge of breaking all school records. This decision, in my view, will cause the kids to virtually tank the rest of the year. We lose a heartbreaker to UCLA, beat Stanford, and then get blown out in the next two. In this scenario, we end the year 3-9.

Scenario #3: Brink Tanks and The Good Ship Cougar Build for 2008

The second direction that Doba takes after the announcement of his resignation is to build for 2008 with the thought that he will be leaving the Cougar Cupboard in really, really good shape for the 2008 season. In this scenario, Rogers takes the helm for the UCLA game and we lose both that game as well as @ CAL. However, we return to the game at Stanford and get some confidence. That confidence, combined with an improved defense, and a motivated group to send Doba out well, wins out. That ends our year at a 5-7, Doba gets carried off the field after winning his Finale in Husky Stadium, and the program will set us up for a top 3 finish in 2008. With a new coach in tow, the future again will look bright for the Cougar faithful.

End Analysis:

When you start the season with questions about your secondary and offensive line, and when your head coach says that IF things come together you can be “competitive” in the conference, well, that is really not a good sign. As many of you know, I am a HUGE Doba fan. But, as with many of us, Doba’s greatest strength has been his greatest and most critical weakness: the man has been far too loyal.

In the end, his loyalty will cost us dearly this season. We will be brutal headed into the bye-week, he will announce his resignation at year’s end, and he will stick with Alex Brink—who once again will show that he will NEVER, EVER get hurt.

And it will be brutal.

Every rational bone in my body says that this is a 3-9 team with 6-6 potential (last year it was a 6-6 team with 9-3 potential). But judging by previous Cougar teams, and judging by our continued ability to play hard even when losing, I think we will scrape out one more win somewhere along the way.

In the end, we will finish: 4-8 (2-7) in Conference. A brutal end to a brutal era that really should not have ended this way.

In the end, we’ll all look back at Akey and Alex being the culprits that took us down the drain. And of course, all of that will have been driven by Doba’s overly fierce allegiance to his players and coaches.

Hope I’m wrong, but I know I won’t be.

Conference Predictions will come in two weeks.
Read more ...plus comments

Friday, August 03, 2007

Clay Bennett - MORON

"Just smile Clay, just smile, pretend you're going to make a good faith effort....that's it...where's my check again?"

Totally/completely non-Coug related...but....after reading this? I just hope it's another thing to pile on Clay-Clay's fat head. A few nuggets, Muckleshoot-style:

"Based only upon the market data, it is apparent that Seattle is a strong NBA market that compares favorably to all other NBA cities," the report said. "Most notably, individual wealth is concentrated in the higher income brackets with entertainment spending patterns that are among the highest of all NBA markets."

Remember, Clay says Seattle isn't a "viable" market anymore. OKC > Seattle. WHA!?!

"An attendance and market capture analysis indicates that the Seattle area has the capacity to increase attendance at NBA games while the premium seating market is competitive with a limited ability to absorb a significant increase in the luxury suite inventory. Lastly, the drive time analysis data reveals little if any identifiable difference between the markets accessible by KeyArena and a new facility at the Auburn site."

Remember, Clay says the 25 miles from Seattle is just too far. HUH!?!?

Clay Bennett, if you move this team, you are a MORON. Read more ...plus comments

How 'Bout Those WSU Verbal Commitments?

So with Washington getting their 9th verbal commitment, I thought I'd check in on the Cougs to see how it's going. There are new stories posted every day that WSU is on different players "short lists", so I thought hmmmm, maybe I've missed a few guys that have verballed, and heck, I thought it was a good idea to check in on how we're doing out there.

GUESS WHAT?? Right now, there are zero. None. Zip. Goose-Egg. Nada. Zilch. Etc. That's right, zero. Not a single NCAA prospect has pledged their love to WSU and decided it would be a good idea to play football in Pullman, getting a full ride scholie in the process. Excuse me, but WTF is that all about!?!? Have you seen UCLA's list? 23 bad-ass dudes of the 4-and-5 star rating have already said YES SIR to Dorrell and the powder-blue uni's. As I wrote on AOL today, UW has 9 commits now, 3 of which are 4-star players. UW is dead serious about becoming the "BIG DOG" of the NW again. Like it or not, we're getting our asses handed to us out there. I know Doba hates the early offers, and he made that very clear at the football dinner in February, but come on. If everyone else is doing it, and doing it well, what is the hold-up?? I don't get it. When is basketball season?? Read more ...plus comments