Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Greetings Cougar Nation and Brinkhater Army!
Welcome to the 1/3 marker of the 2009 tilt.
Good news to you all: this week, we are going to win!!
Granted all hell could break loose, the skies could part to rain hot hail, the waters of the Snake River could part, the wheat in the Palouse could start singing Gregorian Chants, and we could lose.
But we won't. Not this time, anyway.
Our kids WANT to win, our kids are focused, and PSU is a mediocre Big Sky team that has FAR lesser talent than our struggling bunch.
We'll blitz, we'll sit back and cover, we'll hit, we'll alternate formations, and we'll get our offense on track.
The running game will work, DBs will struggle to stay within 20 yards of Gibson and Anderson, and the rest will unfold in nothing but happy ways.
Brinkhater WILL extend his (this time) HAPPY streak of successful Cougar Predictions to 16 games:
WSU 45 PSU 21
ASU 31 Georgia 30. Ya, the Crap-10 sucks, but now Georgia thinks ASU isn't any good and Erickson and the boys will be MAD. The key in this one is for ASU not to fall behind 17-0 in their typical fashion. If they come out ready to play, this will be a really nice, entertaining quasi shoot-out.
Oregon 35 BSU 21. Ya, the Quack lost their QB. Ya, BSU is stingy. But the Quack are too good and that D is REALLY good if it starts play after 12:00pm PDT (or PST).
Stanford 28 SJSU 21. If you pay any attention to this game before the Sunday paper, you have no life. In other words, watch this and you're worse off than Brinkhater. (In other words, Don't do it!!!!!!!!)
Arizona 41 UCLA 13. Think last week's yuck fest was an aberration? What til the Mildcats rebound against the pitiful Bruins.
Enjoy the games and GO COUGS!!
I know most of you have your bookie on hold until you hear Longball's predictions for this weekend, so here goes..
The Cougs are going to officially enter the win column!
I know, not much of a stretch, but for this team I think this Saturday will provide a much needed whipping boy in Portland State. No doubt these guys are frustrated, but as they start to taste some success against the Vikings, i think all that will be forgotten for a couple hours and they will put the hammer down.
I am curious to see if we make the wholesale changes that have been discussed, or do we try to avoid tipping our hand too much to the Ducks? Frankly, we aren't beating Oregon either way so I say lets try some new stuff out now.
Cougs 38 Vikes 17
Wow, Brinkhater takes Sparky over Georgia! He makes a great point and almost has me convinced he's made the brilliant pick of the week, but... I say Georgia after being on their heels early, figures it out and rallies just in time to keep their BCS title hopes alive.
UGA 35 ASU 30
Other games of note:
Ducks 45 BSU 24. I think Oregon lays waste to BSU, plain and simple.
Arizona 28 UCLA 10. UCLA defense finds some life after getting humiliated last week, but not enough to make up for not having an offense
Utah St. 35 Idaho 21 Akey's Army continues its version of the Bataan Death March.
Auburn 17 LSU 9 More than any other conference the SEC throws up a lot of baseball scores. Auburn gets the edge at home.
East Carolina 28 NC State 14 Are the Pirates the best story in college football this year?
Thats all for now folks, have a great weekend and GO COUGS!!!
Well, I'm back from the House of Mouse, but it was no play/all work. Ah well. But one good thing to come of it? I got to listen to Joe Theismann speak for about 30 minutes, talking about himself at length (what a shock).
I've heard a lot of things about Theismann. Things like Joe Theismann is the biggest Joe Theismann fan on the planet. I heard one radio show host say that the two biggest a-holes he ever met were 1) Joe Theismann before his leg injury and 2) Joe Theismann after his leg injury.
But there were some interesting tidbits in there - some good locker room stories and such. He talked about the name change (it's a true story btw, the Notre Dame AD demanded he change his name his senior year to rhyme with Heisman). He talked about how much he hates the Cowboys. He made the camera zoom in on his rings, one a SB champion ring, but the other the SB runner-up right. He says some people ask him why in the world would he wear a SB loser ring as well as the SB winner? It's to remind him of how they let down that game and to not do something like that again. He talked about how great they were that season, and still laments that Super Bowl loss to the Raiders. They went 14-2, losing only two games by the slimmest of margins. They set NFL records for points scored. They were simply amazing. But he also talked about how cocky they were that week in Tampa, how hard they all partied and thought hey, we've already won this thing once, let's enjoy the SB experience. Final score - Raiders 38, Redskins 9.
I've heard a lot of good speakers in the past, and he's somewhere in the middle I guess. I always try to take something from what speakers have to say, and he said one thing above all else that I'll remember - EMBRACE CHANGE.
And he's right. Change isn't easy in anything we do. When we are hauled out of our comfort zone, it's tough. Part of you wants to resist so you can be in your "happy place" or whatever, and it's a big reason humans don't like change. With change comes unpredictability, uncertainty, anxiety, you name it. And in the case of WSU and Paul Wulff, could there be any MORE change right now? Think about what these young players have been through. The Doba change-out, Wulff taking over with an entirely new approach and new staff, new routines, new plays, new discipline, new players in key positions, etc, etc, ETC. You name it, it's new.
Maybe that can help explain this lousy start. They aren't robots or videogame characters, you know? They are 18-21 year olds who are still trying to adjust in a major overhaul in their entire lives, and adjusting to that change takes time. But it's not just WSU. We pointed out in a comment earlier that since 1960, 29 Pac-10 teams coming off losing seasons have changed their coaches. Only five times the following season did that losing team actually post a winning record (Jeff Tedford's first year at Cal is the most recent example). But all the rest, in their first year, had losing records.
I know I have been trying to stay positive, where some of you have jumped off the bridge. But folks, it's THREE games into a monster changeover. Disappointed? Absolutely. But when you put it in perspective, you can at least understand why this will take a while. And at this point, as a fan/alum/whatever, you can make a choice. You can freak out, go crazy, call for Wulff's head on a platter and absolutely rip the talent on the field. Or, you can think bigger picture, realize what we're dealing with right now and where they are coming from, and just understand that this will take a while. You can choose to be negative about things in the glass-half-empty mode, or, you can look for some positives with the half-full approach. It's entirely up to you.
Ok, on to this week. I am going to fall in line with the rest of the blog brothers, and I'm going to call for a win as well. And for one HUGE reason - we will win the turnover ratio this week! I read an excellent article about turnovers, and what a huge impact they have on a team's success. In our season previews, we talked about Oregon State's successes of late, and how strong they have been in the plus/minus turnover ratio over the years. In our home humiliation to Oregon State last year? We were MINUS-8 in that game. And looking at our turnover ratio right now?? YIKES. We are dead last in the conference at minus-8. We are giving the football away at an alarming rate, with 10 turnovers in three games, while we have only taken it away twice. That, my friends, is not good. And in our history, turnovers are absolutely huge in our success/failure on the field.
Remember that crazy 55-16 wipeout of Oregon in 2003? We had seven - SEVEN - interceptions in that game, a school record. Our two best interception seasons of all-time? 2001 and 2003. INT's returned for TD's? We had five in 2001, four in 2003, both marks are 1-2 in school history, both 10-win seasons to boot. In 1996, we were minus-10 in turnover ratio, and finished 5-6, with some close losses to USC and UW among others. What happened in 1997? Yes, Leaf went crazy and was third in Heisman voting, but the turnovers changed big-time, finishing in the "plus" category.
Remember the 1997 Apple Cup? We think of Leaf hitting Chris Jackson for those deep TD throws, but what about Lamont Thompson? Three INT's in that game by the frosh safety, and a gigantic reason we won it.
So, take care of the ball on offense, take the ball away on defense, and you can win a lot of games. And I think we'll be OK this week. PSU's QB, Drew Hubel, looks like a player, but he's young and INT's have been an issue for him from last season.
He threw nine INT's over his last two games in 2007, so, he's got a penchant for the turnover. He has thrown two INT's in two starts this year, so he's probably going to be better in that category, but still, there will be opportunities for takeaways given all the times these guys will put the ball in the air. Getting Xavier Hicks will be a huge boost for the secondary, and moving Alfonso Jackson back to the other safety spot will help everything calm down.
But more than anything, I believe our interceptions will be the difference. Let's remember that last week was Lopina's first-ever NCAA start, and it was on the road after a 3.5 hour plane ride. This week will be different. Portland State doesn't have BCS talent or BCS speed on defense, and they should be a welcome sight for our QB's eyes on defense. Plus, our receivers are starting to get more comfortable in this offense. Brandon Gibson had his biggest game last week, eight catches for over 100 yards. But Jeshua Anderson had five catches in just his second game of the year, Daniel Blackledge is looking better, and even Kevin Norrell almost had a TD if he didn't fumble at the goal line at the end of the Baylor game. In other words, if you look closely at it, you can see they are starting to improve as a group.
I also love the overall message from Wulff and company this week. They are fed up, more than any of us for sure, so they aren't sitting still. Three weeks of frustration should disappear as we get off the mat, 42-17-style.
The rest of the story:
Game of the week - UGA 22, ASU 16.
I still think ASU is legit. Look-ahead city last week, in a huge way. Meanwhile UGA has had a ton of hype thus far, but, have they really been very good? They walloped Georgia Southern and Central Michigan at home, but went on the road and squeaked out a 14-7 win over the Steve Superior's in South Carolina. And you have to consider when an SEC team comes west, and how that will factor in. We saw Tennessee lose to UCLA in crazy fashion, and consider that Georgia hasn't played a game this far west in FIFTY YEARS. However, this one will be won with Georgia's defense. They fly around and hit like trucks, and they will have a huge advantage up front against ASU's beleagured offensive line. They will make life miserable for Rudy, sacking him at least five times, and UGA will win it.
Ducks 34 BSJCU 13. Oregon's down to QB's #3 and #4 now with losing Costa and LIKELY Justin Roper. That said, Chip Kelly is the best offensive coordinator in the Pac-10, and it's more about the system than the individuals. But Oregon has elite speed at their skill positions, and that's all great. It's their O-line that carries the mail on offense, and they are right next to Cal as the best in the conference. They will strike a blow against the hated WAC!
Arizona 31 UCLA 17. Both teams looking to bounce back from bad losses last week. But I think Arizona reasserts themselves in the conference. They are just so loaded on offense, and this is a game they have circled as one they have to get. UCLA meanwhile crash landed in a monster way last week, and the projected issues they were supposed to have on offense sure showed up didn't they?
Stanford 24 SJSU 20. Agree with Brinkhater here. Just catch the score on the ESPN ticker.
Auburn 13, LSU 10 Agree with Longball here. This will be a bloody-knuckle fist fight, but Auburn wins it late to avenge their heartbreaker at Baton Rouge last year.
ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and GO COUGS!