Seasons Greetings to you, Cougar Nation and the rest of the Brinkhater Army! Hope you're all having a great week.
Well, if this Preview Week for the WSU Football Blog is titled "Of Mice and Men," then Sedihawk's and Hooty's two previews represent "The Men"
(AND this one's for you, Michele and Cougar Jen):
and I, Sir Alex Brinkhater (formely known as), represent the Mice.
So, for all you nibblers out there, this money-in-the-bank preview is for you!
Because my IQ is just above 86, I don't have the capacity to look at things real complex-like as the other Blogfathers.
However, as the past couple of seasons doth hath shown, I HAVE been able to use my limited faculties to develop a system that has kept established pros like the Evil Vince Grippy and Benedict Condotta scared and on their toes.
Well, I like to call it "Brinkhatertology."
However, for those of you Brinkhater-haters out there, you may refer to it simply as "stating the obvious."
So, without further ado, here is the framework I've employed to see the Forrest from the Trees.
Brinkhater-tology Principle Numero Uno:"In order to win games, you have to score more points than the other team."
(Its an amazing and profound fact when you really think about it!)
So, here is how I've squeezed all 12 of my braincells around the first (and ONLY) component of my methodology:
"In order to score more than the other team, you can do a couple of things:
1) Stop The Other Team From Scoring
2) Score A Lot Yourself
3) Stop the Other Team from scoring AND Score A LOT Yourself. "
(Are you feeling the genius yet, y'all???)
So, with the above all in mind, I have broken out my anal-y-sis into four neat little categories:
1) Teams that can score and stop
2) Teams that can stop, but not score
3) Teams that can score, but not stop
4) Teams that can neither score nor stop.
For this preview, each Crap-10 team is slated under a specific category and in rank order for that category.
You should also know that Brinkhater believes that defense ultimately wins more games over the course of a season, so I've tried to rank teams with better defenses ahead of ones that I believe are effectively "more worse."
TEAMS that CAN score and Stop.
1) USC. Not much surprise here. I will say, however, that I'm not totally sold on this Sanchez kid. If he hadn't gotten invaluable experience last year--most notably the Oregon game--I'd be pretty shaky on SC as an absolute shoe-in for the conference title.
While SC has shown itself to ALWAYS be the best 10-2 team of all time when they get to 2 losses, its REAL easy to overlook the fact that the ONLY first year SC QB to lead SC to a National Title was Matty L and even he lost a conference game that year. In the end, SC's Defense will be too much for other teams to overcome.
2) ASU. Lots of experience at both the QB position and on defense. ASU is a bonafide contender for the conference this year, but don't be surprised if they fall off if things don't go well early. For me, ASU has HUGE potential to make the BCS, but they also carry enough of a bandit quality that they can accomplish a complete nose dive if the team falls off their own lofty expectations early in the season.
Teams that CAN stop but CAN'T Score
1) Oregon. I know that all you quackers out there are going to rail at the notion that your offense will be slowed this year. But in reponse, I want you all to remember that part of a Duck's duty is to stick its butt up in the air for a little bit every now and then.
While the Defense may lead the Quack to a Top 2 finish this year, Oregon teams typically hit mediocrity in the face (over the course of a season) without established leadership on offense. And, as I've not-so-jokingly noted here before, the quit and fold factor is SO huge for all Belotti coached teams.
Granted, I think that Oregon has a real chance to contend, but a 7-5 type year is also a real possibility for this crew. Simply put, I'm not sure you can lose a Heisman winner (which Dixon would have been sans injury) and a first round RB and not drop off no matter how talented you think you are.
2) UCLA. New coach. Two elite coordinators--one of which is returning as the BEST D-Coordinator in the conference. The Bruins D is going to be stingy at times, while the offense will be absolutely atrocious. In fact, I peg them as the WORST offense in the conference.
IF UCLA finishes mid- or upper- division this year it will be because the Defense creates turnovers and the special teams are lights out. Don't count on it.
Teams that CAN score but CAN'T Stop
1) Arizona. This team is the darkhorse of the conference. On paper, you have ALL of this returning talent on an offense that was Brink-like explosive: LOTS of YARDS, very few points. In fact, the Mildcats ranked #56 last year in scoring offense. So, while Brinkhater loves their ability to move the ball between the 20's, real questions remain as to whether or not they will be able to score. IF they are able to solve their redzone woes, and IF their young defense improves during their cupcake non-conference, then this team will be REALLY good. IF not, Stoops will not have to worry about Stooping any lower.
2) WSU. This is where I differ from all the other pundits. As discussed last week, the general sentiment is that this offense will be as bad as our defense (maybe, the worst ever if injuries hit the line). I, on the other hand, think that the offense is going to be great. And when you factor in that there are going to be several teams that will have a REAL tough time scoring a lot of points--even against us--then you have a case for a middle-of-the-road finish.
I think our red-zone production is going to be solid in terms of generating TDs given Rogers' arm strength and I think our improved kicking game will mean more points and improved field position. That said, if Rogers sputters as others (NOT ME) have predicted, then this team falls near the bottom of the following list--and real fast. Remember, our defense threatens to be historically bad.
Teams that CAN NOT do anything (really) well:
1) Oregon State. Call me Cwazy, but I don't see anything bright about the Beavs this year (yes, Stroughter is good, but that ain't enough to overcome poor QB play and ALL of your losses on defense). But, the Beavs DO have the most moxy of ANY team in the conference over the last two years. In my view, this is the obvious "down year" for the Beavs. If they don't fall way off, then we will truly know that Riley has built the OSU program into who and what WE as Cougars want to become in the next five years.
2) Washington. Word to Cougar fans: NEXT year the Huskies will finish top 3 in the conference and, barring injury, Jake the Snake will finish in the Top 2 in the Heisman race. But this year, I just don't see it. Locker will be lucky to walk out of Autzen following the season opener. While I think that this kid IS special now, I see no weapons beyond his line to help him out. And that, my friends, won't translate into points. And ya, the D is improved, but could it be any worse? Not a lot of points, they'll score less than 22 a game, and no winning seasons in an entire generation. HOLD YOUR NOSE, Montlake. You should've fired Ty when you had the chance.
3) Stanford. I love Captain Comeback. And I love Pritchard's moxy. But this team will stink this year. Are they a winless bunch? Probably not, but a 1-8 or 2-7 finish sure looks to be "in the Cards."
The "I DUNNO" Category:
1) CAL. What can you say? The oft-injured Nate Longshore has a TON of big game experience. Gregory has done a really nice job with the D, and Tedford is a really, really good coach. At the same time, despite having ALL the talent in the world the past couple of years, CAL has not been able to knock down the door.
That said, perhaps Longshore takes a final step forward this year a la Clemens did with the Quack a few years back? If so, the Bears may be really good! But, if they struggle to move the ball like the second half of last year, then a Week 2 loss to WSU is possible. And if that happens, bring out the life boats on the rest of the Bears' season.
Predicted Order of Finish:
2) Oregon (yep the D is that good)
3) Arizona State
4) Arizona (a good offseason helps to iron out rough spots in last year's new offense)
5) CAL (Dunno what to do? Sit squarely on the fence!)
6) Washington State (It'll be a nice set up for when we REALLY finish 10th--next year)
7) Oregon State
9) Washington (I see no scenario where Locker makes it past week 7)
Give us your thoughts and enjoy the rest of your week!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
"Hey Lennie, when we're done with the Preview, do you think we can go pet some rabbits?"