Well, with the exception of some stragglers, we had one of our better weekend of comments that I can ever remember. For the most part, you all offered some really strong insights and conclusions. One of your remarks that stood out for yours truly concerned Brinkhater’s not-so-nimble prediction that we would finish 6th in the conference and would head to our first bowl in several years.
Obviously, I was deeply wrong about that. But beyond my idiocy, the question is “why?’
So, let’s revisit my cwazy line of reasoning.
At the start of the year, I reasoned that we would win a whopping 7 games. Our supposed Prey: An awful Baylor, a meek Portland State, a down UCLA and Oregon State, a woeful Stanford, a Lockerless UW, and a pitiful excuse for a Rainbow: Hawaii. In short, I predicted us to lose to every team that would finish .500 or higher and beat everyone who would be .500 or lower. Not that unreasonable in my book.
As of this writing, I have yet to be swayed about the fortunes of the teams that I thought we would beat. I thought they'd be bad, and from what I've seen, they look pretty bad.
Of course, that begs the most important question: What happened to US?
Well, when we offered our pre-camp predictions, there were several criticisms of us. And here they are:
We had no depth at DT and our ability to stop the run was a MAJOR source of concern.
We had no depth anywhere in the case anyone got injured.
Our kicking game was ranked worst in the conference.
IN relation to those criticisms, I reasoned that NONE of the above would prove relevant over the course of the year (silly Brinkhater). Why?
1) I reasoned that “the Roof” would provide needed depth and that Trent and the Safeties would compensate up the middle. I also believed that Mattingly and Mullenix would provide sufficient pressure to draw the attention of the defense. Obviously, Roof was expelled, the M&M’s have melted in the hands of every OT they've seen, and our play at DT and Safety has been absolutely abysmal.
2) Our quarterbacks HAVE been the worst in the conference as predicted by Ted Miller and Benedict Bob Condotta. Of course, my reasoning for why we would be at the top instead of the bottom was because we had 4 starters returning on the O-Line, had two terrific receivers returning with one gem in the balance (Willis), as well as two FANTASTIC running backs to set up play action.
3) Wulff ran our kids into the ground. Of course, he needed to. And, of course, he should not be held responsible for Anderson’s hernia or the rest of the onslaught to the WR corps. Nor can Wulff be held responsible to the miserable injuries that affected the O-Line during camp, or the shuffling that had to take place between Weeks One and Two. In any case, all of the nice constants I thought would be there with the line and the receiving corps? No where to be found. In fact, the instability and injuries to the WR corps and the line have made our suspect QB play even worse. Moreover, those injuries crippled our development and made our performance between Week One and Two not only non-existent--it actually made us REGRESS.
4) Our kicking game is still awful. We missed a PAT in game one, had a worm burner returned for 6 against CAL when we were still "kind of" in the game, and the punting (in Game One) arguably cost us our first competitive game of the year. While I know that our kicking game hasn’t come into real play yet, if we were nearly any good, it would cost us and cost us dearly. I thought we’d be almost reliable this season, but we still have to say 20 Hail Marys even before a dog gone PAT.
So what does this all mean? Where do we go from here?
Call me cwazy, but I honestly believe that this season can be salvaged.
It may not be great, it may not be pretty, it may not be impressive, but I do think that there are 4 wins (out of six winnable games) that are there for the taking. And yes, 4-9 at this point would be a SERIOUS moral victory.
Of course, based on our play and decision making so far (yes, this does mean you coaches), there are also 10 more losses that we can easily siege!
But, here’s my recipe for making the more positive outcome happen THIS YEAR:
Pray for health for the Offensive Line.
If there’s ANYTHING that I am certain of it is that Wulff can coach an O-Line. If this group can stay healthy, they’ll develop. Given the fact that they were previewed as high as #5 in the conference, you know that they have talent in that group. So, if they develop as expected, the talent at the skill positions WILL become apparent just like Brinkhater foresaw at the beginning of the year. You saw some clues last week that things can and will get better as the WRs started to run the correct routes with more consistency. With health at O-Line, we will start to move the ball. But we really can’t afford more big injuries.
Play both Quarterbacks.
May sound sacrilegious, but this team was MADE to follow the Leaf-Dixon combo that Oregon employed a few years back. Start with the guy who can scramble to offset the blitz early (Lopina) and then mix it up the rest of the game by inserting a guy that can really spread the field horizontally and vertically through the air (Rogers). In my book, alternate the two every couple of series until one guy gets the hot hand (or not). Then ride that dude into the 4th. I actually think both guys can learn better by doing and watching anyway and I think it will make us effective over the course of a season (and yes, 10 games qualifies as a season my book) while also avoiding a split locker room.
Move to a 3-4 or 3-3-5.
This is beyond a no-brainer in my book; and I, more than anyone else in the nation, am qualified to make that very statement because I, in fact, have no brain.
In Brinkhater's world, there is beyond 100% justification for Wulff and company to stick to their guns regarding their philosophy on offense. But where the defense is concerned, sticking to their guns makes no sense whatsoever. For one, NOTHING that they want to do with the 4-3 is so complex it can’t be taught in the spring and pre-season. For two, the current scheme does not play to the team’s strengths. For three, we CAN NOT become even remotely competitive with the status quo. For four, we are NOT as slow as we’ve seemed thus far. From what I’ve seen, we just look that way, cuz EVERYONE on the team is diving toward the center on each play to compensate for the fact that our DTs are the worst ever in school history.
To be sure, the addition of Hicks and the return of Jackson will help some, but where it will help is 7 yards down the field after the opposing teams’ tailback has picked up 8 on first down to make it second and two (instead of 1st and 10 following a 50 yard gain). I mean, I know I don’t know much, but when the other team has second and two most of the time, you gonna lose.
So, the return of Hicks in and of itself will mean NOTHING for our fortunes.
Moreover, given the fact that we have NO TALENT or depth at DT but have PLENTY at Linebacker, why in the WORLD would you sit that talent and start some fat, slow scrubs when you don’t have to?
It may not be this week, but I’d be SHOCKED to not see a change in Defensive scheme by the Oregon game. If we make the change, I like our chance to stay in games (assuming that the offense improves) with that game (the Quack) and the USC game as exceptions..
And I’d REALLY like our chances if they’d move Mattingly back to LB.
But what do I know, right?
Anywho, where this week is concerned, we will win and win handily, so you all can take a chill pill and relax--at least for this week.
Our first REAL test will be how we line up against the Quack in a couple of weeks. Granted, even without Roper, we’re gonna get blasted. But, it is the improvement we make in THAT game which will determine our fate for the rest of the year.
There are six winnable games left on our slate.
Lets get #1 this weekend.
ONE final note - Bellevue High School, the #1 AAA school in the state, and WSU recruiting target Jamal Atofau will play in Qwest Field this weekend. It's called the "Best of the West Classic".
Bellevue High School will host four football games Sept. 20 at Qwest Field, highlighted by the Wolverines playing one of California's top teams. The Best of the West Football Classic will
feature seven Seattle-area teams, with host Bellevue playing California High School from the Bay Area (San Ramon), a team that was 11-2 last season, at 7:30 p.m.
Kamiak and Shorewood will open at 10:30 a.m., followed by Woodinville and Eastlake at 1:30 p.m. Redmond plays Bothell, last year's runner-up in Class 4A, at 4:30 p.m.
Bellevue will play its third California team in five years at Qwest Field. The Wolverines, one of this state's perennial powers, beat De La Salle in 2004 and Long Beach Poly in 2005. All-day admission will be $7 for students and $13 for adults.