Saturday, September 27, 2008

What is Your Hope Today?

First, the obligatory flag-spotting on a Gameday Saturday. Another week, another sighting, this time in Athens. Nice job, and thanks to Coug Will Walker for posting.

So, what is YOUR hope for today? Not your expectation, because I think everyone is pretty much lock-step that Oregon should take care of business today. But stranger things have happened, history is littered with examples so we'll spare the details. But you know what I mean there. Thursday night we saw an example of a team that didn't care about point spreads or media pundits declaring victory for USC. Just like Stanford didn't care last year either, no matter they were a 41-pt underdog. It's happened before, it will happen again.

Anyway, here's what I'm hoping for today (beyond the obvious):

1) CLEAN UP THE TURNOVERS AND PENALTIES

I don't think we can undersell this point in any way, shape or form. This team is not as talented as some of their BCS brethren, and it's been obvious so far. The talent and size/strength line is heavily in Oregon's favor, no secret there. But turnovers are something else. A team that doesn't have the same size, speed and talent level simply cannot play giveaway. 14 turnovers in four games, a minus-9 in turnover ratio, it just doesn't work.

We are excited by how Marshall played last week, and for good reason. Decent completion percentage, four TD drives in the second half, a willingness to go to the tight ends instead of forcing the ball in Brandon Gibson's direction. But the best part? No INT's. He at least shows some sort of comprehension of the offense to the point that he could potentially take care of the football, something that is just so important. We'll see how it goes today, and who knows, maybe he'll play like a nervous frosh trying to be Brett Favre every play. But man, lose the turnover battle, prepare for the worst possible outcome.

The penalties are another issue. The most penalized team in the conference, averaging eight penalties a game. Just like turnovers, penalties can absolutely kill your momentum and/or take away a productive result on the field. Now, the Pac-10 refs are brutal, nobody is arguing that here. But like turnovers, you cannot shoot yourself in the foot repeatedly by your own mistakes and even hope to stand a chance on a weekly basis. Maybe you can get away with it against a middle of the road 1-AA opponent, but against a BCS team like Oregon? Uh, no. Clean up the penalties, and you have a much better shot of at least hanging in there.

2) KEEP THE GAME IN FRONT OF YOU

Oregon's going to come at the WSU D with every wrinkle imaginable. It doesn't really matter who is at QB. The scheme is something else, and when it's clicking, it's about as unstoppable as a college offense that you will find. But one thing to maybe cling to is that when Oregon has played a defense that is disciplined and, for lack of a better word, keeps the game in front of them? They've had some trouble with those kinds of defenses. What I mean by that is don't get sucked in by the slight of hand that is the spread read-option!

It's very simple to sit in my lofty perch and say that. And Chip Kelly is probably the top offensive coordinator around in terms of not only the approach, but all the different things that can happen from just each individual formation. There is so much to think about as a defense that often times you are chasing ghosts out there. UW's EJ Savannah had a famous quote after last year's UW loss to the Ducks, where they gave up over 600 yards and 55 points to them, in that half the time, "we didn't even know who had the football." They were that good.

SO, it's a big task, but I'm HOPING that our defense can stay at home. Tackle well, sure, but don't make the huge mistakes of being out of position or biting too hard on all the fakes and such that they will see today. Oregon absolutely eats young, aggressive, undisciplined defenses for breakfast, so the Coug D is going to have to play better than any other time this year. Let's just say a performance a lot more like we saw vs. Okie State will be encouraging, and a lot LESS like what we saw vs. Baylor or Cal!

3) A COMPETITIVE GAME INTO THE SECOND HALF

This is one thing that I think we all want to see this week, and I sure hope we get it. Down 15-0 at the half vs. Okie State and 25-6 early in the third quarter, so it was an uphill battle in that one. 42-3 vs. Cal at the half that was just a disaster. 28-14 at the half vs. Baylor in a game where they showed some fight early, but Baylor took over before intermission. So for all three games we've played vs. BCS teams, we've been down AT LEAST two TD's at the half, and it's much worse when you factor in Cal. Add it all up, and in three BCS games, we've been outscored 85-17 in the first half! YIKES.

Just think, if this team can get off to a good start, what it could do to the confidence and momentum. I know Martin Stadium is the smallest venue in the conference, but we also know that when the place is full and the fans have a reason to be excited, it can be as loud as any other stadium in the west. It's homecoming, so the crowd should have a little extra juice. Wouldn't you just love to see a game go into the third quarter where they weren't at least a few scores behind?? I know I would.

So there you have it, my top three things to hope for today. Enjoy the game, and GO COUGS!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope? I hope we cover the number. Bad week for daddy on the market so I took the 20.5.

Anonymous said...

Luv how you post the game day flag pictures. No better way to start a saturday. My wife and I laugh every time we see it.

This was on Cougfan about today's experience.

Athens is a 75 mile drive so got a little extra sleep this week compared to last. Up at 5:00 and out the door at 6:15. I've never been to Athens so have my trusty Google Map at my side and am planning on arriving a little earlier than needed to find the stadium and GameDay site. Half way there and I'm in pea-soup fog that lasts all the way to Athens which makes it a little difficult to find the stadium. Around 8:00 I find a free parking lot and the women working the gate tell me it's about a half mile to the stadium and that GameDay is set up on the other side of the stadium.

I thank them and start the walk to the set. Let me tell you, that was the longest half mile I've ever seen. If that was a half mile, I'm 12 feet tall... (and to add insult to injury, it was all uphill).

I found the set with no difficulty and let me tell you, there are about twice as many people here already as there was at Auburn. The mosh pit is about 1/2 full but they are not letting anyone else in and the outer fence is 5 or 6 people deep. I pick a spot near the middle and stand about 10 feet back of the crowd as I don't want to whack anyone with the pole. Before I even pull a flag out a student notices my WSU shirt and asks if I've got the flag. When he finds out that I do, he wants to shake my hand and get a picture and I'm happy to oblige.

The set director begins telling the crowd that we're going to do a live shot for the opening of Sports Center so I start getting the pole ready and attach Ol' Crimson which brings more people over to ask about the flag. Again, as in Auburn, all comments are positive and everyone thinks it's a great tradition.

Time seems to fly this morning and soon we're in the opening shots of GameDay. Around the first break I notice I have a message from CougWill and he indicates that he and his lovely wife have gotten a great shot coming out of the break and that he's happy I made it and didn't run out of gas (if you're not aware, Georgia gas stations are, for the most part, out of gas and the lines are miles long when they do get a tanker). A few minutes later, I get a tap on my shoulder and a couple want to know if they can take a picture with me and the flag as their nephew (who is a huge Georgia fan) from Myrtle Beach has called and begged them to get a picture with the WSU flag and WSU guy because the guy and flag are legendary. Moments later, another request from a couple who's son attends Georgia Southern and wants a picture of the Coug Flag and Coug guy.

About 45 minutes in, I find that I'm standing by a father who has his son on his shoulders and is trying to see himself on the big screen. I tell him that I'll hold the flag over his head so he can have a reference point and in the next shot, he finds himself and is excited that he got on TV. The young man (Ryan Wieland and his father Gene) gives me a high five and I take the opportunity to make a new Cougar Fan. I ask Ryan if he could give me a hand and help fly the Cougar Flag as my arms are tired and being that he's on his father's shoulders, he's higher and in a better position. Ryan quickly agrees and dad gives his permission so on the next wide shot I hold the very bottom of the pole and let Ryan have the rest. I have a great view of the big screen now and Ryan does Ol' Crimson proud, he's got better position and waving action than I could have ever hoped for. I don't have a sharpie with me but promise Ryan that I'll add his name to the signature flag when I get home. Although Ryan and his father are both huge Georgia Bulldog fans, I bet they both have a little Coug in them now too.

We're an hour in now and so Ol' Crimson goes in the pack and Whitey makes an appearance. It's warm, it's humid and to steal a phrase from CougWill, I'm sweatin' like I stole something. About then, my guardian angel shows up in the form of a Georgia fan who has noted that I'm working hard waving that flag all by myself and wonders if I don't need some liquid refreshment. I do and he happily provides me with one of the best tasting beers I've ever had.

As the show goes on, outside of the fence clears out a little bit and we get a little more room to breath. I meet people who were originally from Walla Walla and Everett and speak with and take pictures with dozens of others who either know of the tradition or want to hear the story. As I say, time is flying and soon the show is over. Corso has made the crowd angry by predicting a Bama win. As I'm packing up the gear, I get two last requests for pictures with the Cougar Flag and its back to the parking lot and trying desperately to remember where it was that I parked. At least this time, it's all down hill...

This was GameDay #3 for me in 2008 (2 in a row) and I've had a blast at each of them. If you ever get the chance to make a show, do it, you won't regret it.

By the way, as Georgia was ranked #3 and Bama #8 and there was a sign at the show that said #3 > #8. Hey CougWill, 3 GameDay > 2 GameDay, time to step it up.

HatefulCoug said...

Great job with the flag, I hope one day I will be in a position to do the same.

kaddy said...

Wow - how cool to find so many people that know about our tradition! Gameday gave a good 10 second shot of one of the flags, and mentioned how dedicated the Cougar alumni are with regards to being at every single Gameday. This is good publicity for WSU, even if times are bleak right now, as Chris Fowler says. Go Cougs!

Stiffmiester said...

Looking forward to seeing the progress of Loebs. We shall see just how much Icewater he has in his viens. Go Ocho Rojo

Anonymous said...

Sigh. What did you say, Turnovers and penalties. turnovers and penalties. Turnovers and penalties. What happened already, turnovers and penalties. This is the bad football team.