Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brinkhater and Beavs Bite It


Tonight, the Beavs lost their token chance at the Rose Bowl and Brinkhater lost his perfect season of Cougar prognostications, as the Cougs turned in a frustrating 24-10 defeat.

Overall, the defense looked quite inspired and Levy showed in my book that he is the man of the future. IF you saw the kid run and saw his arm strength, you know that he HAS to be the guy moving forward. He really does have the stuff to develop into a fine winning Pac-10 QB.



Here's what I saw via the online streaming option from the island:

  • Turpin had a really nice sack on Alexander late in the 4th where he blew off the center and guard and then chased and caught Alexander on the sideline. Very impressive.
  • The D actually looked really good. We obviously still have problems in the secondary, but the linebackers in particular looked really fast and we shot the gaps well.
  • We had a cool (almost) 3-8 look on defense in the second half where we were stunting guys all over the place. We were fast and aggressive and were actually quite fun to watch.
  • I think we'll really miss Trent at times next year, but watching Bland and Mattingly yesterday was quite exciting.
  • That said, the offense still lacks so much imagination although there were a lot of missed opportunities. Levy has the happiest of happy feet right now, but as I noted on the post, he has good Pac-10 speed for the position and has the type of arm strength that Brinkhater has been dreaming of for the last five years.
In reference to someone's comments tonight, we DID have a chance to win that game. Levy missed Gibson by 7 inches for six in the 3rd on a go pattern. We missed recovering a fumble on a punt that would have made it a 7 point game late, and Levy overshot Norrell on a surefire touch late in the game.

Plus, Giles' fumble following the blocked FG was beyond ridiculous.

Final notes: Tardy again ran like a champ--really, really hard. With a healthy Ivory, Mitz, and Montgomery entering the fold, expect more ball control next year. That said, if you saw the action on the play action with Levy in the game, it makes you wonder what could have been.

You can all be proud of the effort they put into the contest. In the end, they bought in.

Kudos to the defensive coaching staff for bringing the boys along in the last three games.


The offense, meanwhile, needs a whole lot of work.

Thanks for sticking with us through this season. Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Last Call for Seniors

Hoping for TV coverage of the game tonight? If you are on the islands you are set, but you are out of luck if you are in the greater 48. What's weird is how ESPN had the game on it's schedule as part of the ESPN Game Plan. It was listed all week as one of the options.....until yesterday. SEE!?!?



However there is a streaming option via the web, if you feel so inclined. It's showing as available tonight via something called Oceanic-Time Warner, an outfit that streams UH games. Tonight's game is listed at $12.56, not totally unreasonable.

Now for the bad news. It's not exactly a slam-dunk that you will be able to get the game, even on the web. From someone named "RosiesBoy" on Cougfan, some valuable information has been passed on:

I think some people who are planning on buying that stream might be setting themselves up for disappointment. There have been at least two games with problems this year, one meant both the island and mainland feeds on cable and internet pay per view customers missed the entire 1st quarter. The company refused to refund the 10,000 customers who were affected in that instance and said they weren't responsible since the overload on the system was caused by the Fresno State fans.


Oceanic claimed no fault because the outage "was on the Fresno side of the ledger," vice president and operations manager Norman Santos said. "Our position is we delivered substantially the whole game," Santos added. "We controlled what we could. If we're looking at the end of the game it's a whole different scenario. That would have resonated."

"The only thing off the table is a full refund," said McNamara.


http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:5AhDNqKcTGYJ: www.starbulletin.com/columnists/davereardon/200810 07_oceanics_answer_not_our_fault.html+hawaii+footb all+streaming+requirements+oceanic&hl=en&c t=clnk&cd=8&gl=us

Another PPV problem: Associate athletic director John McNamara said a resolution has been reached to compensate PPV purchasers for the problem at the beginning of today's telecast that blacked out the first four minutes of the UH football game against New Mexico State.UPDATE: McNamara said purchasers will be refunded 1/12 of what they paid for today's game via credit. No calls required.

http://blogs.starbulletin.com/uhsportsextra/anothe r-ppv-problem/

So, if you DO decide to fork over the cash for the feed, just be prepared in case something doesn't go quite as planned.

On the game tonight, whether you watch it, listen to it or follow it online, one thing lost in this bad season is that this is the end for some pretty good seniors. Greg Trent has been playing regularly since early in 2004, taking over for an injured Will Derting in the fourth game that year. After some serious growing pains, he evolved into a pretty good tackler, albeit a bit undersized in the middle. We'll never forget how hard Trent played, no matter the situation.

But the biggest "headline" senior has to be Brandon Gibson. In what was regarded as a real boost to the team last year, Gibson decided to return to WSU after being informed he was a sure 2nd-day NFL draft pick (rumors had him pegged for the 4th or 5th round). It's easy to forget how big Gibson was in 2007. He led the PAC-10 in receiving yards per game (107.3) and had a team-high 1180 yards, as well as nine TD's. This year it's been a different story:

2007:
Catches: 67
Yards: 1180
TD: 9
100-yard games: 6, including the last 4 of 2007.

2008:
Catches: 56
Yards: 655
TD: 2
100-yard games: 1

It obviously hasn't gone as planned for Gibby, for one reason or another. I think back to the very first game of the year and wonder if things could have been different? You don't want to over-react to how things go early in a season, but the team showed some fight vs. Okie State, even with some horrible special teams play. They never gave up and rallied for a couple of scores in the third quarter to make it somewhat interesting. But then there were those drops.

Gibson had at least one deep ball that was flat-out dropped, and another that he probably could have had. Both catches could have changed that game. And who knows how his season could have gone from there? Maybe it helps loosen up defenses, knowing they have to respect the deep ball from Gary Rogers to Brandon Gibson? Maybe Gibson's confidence gets even better and he uses that opener as a springboard into 2008? Instead it's been one frustrating week after another.

That said, it's hard to fault Gibson for 2008. We saw FIVE different QB's play for WSU this season - Gary Rogers, Kevin Lopina, Marshall Lobbestael, JT Levenseller and Dan Wagner - after basically one guy started for 3 1/2 seasons. So how could anyone develop any continuity? Besides, several WSU receivers opposite Gibson were hurt from the get-go, like Jeshua Anderson, or others were far too young to have any impact, like Jared Karstetter or Kevin Norrell. And you can't forget tight end Devin Frischknecht and his bum ankle. Frischknecht was set up to have a big senior year, at least I sure thought so, after showing some real upside at the end of last year. He had a huge Apple Cup in 2007, five catches for 88 yards and two TD's, and you could see that he might have been a big boost to the passing game this year. But it just wasn't to be.

The best news for Gibson is that he's now the leading WR in school history, passing Jason Hill's career yardage record. So even with a tough final act in 2008, he will still have a secure place atop the WSU record book. Here's hoping that Gibson has one last big performance tonight to cap off an excellent four years at WSU!

ENJOY THE GAME tonight, and GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments

Friday, November 28, 2008

Football Friday Week XIV - Letdown Style

Brinkhater Addition Edition: Update 11:26am Saturday

Greetings Cougar Nation. Hope you all have had a joyous start to the Holiday Season.

On my front, I've got family galore in town. So, this post is going to be especially uninformative and brief.

Nation, as you all know, today I am playing for my second consecutive national championship. With a correct prediction today, Brinkhater goes a perfect 25-0 over the last two football seasons. Add to that only 2 losses last year in basketball (blew BOTH Arizona games) and you can see that its time for some serious streak breaking! Thankfully, I have two really, really great games to test my final mettle.

Nation, in my mind, both contests today are either going to be blowout losses or major upsets won with great moxy and execution.

First, on the basketball front, while I was too late to predict our win yesterday, I am not too late to predict our shocking upset of Pitt today. Obviously, Taylor is going to have to play much, much, much better than he did yesterday. And Mr. Thompson is going to have to play even better. But, as we've noted here before, our little Ole Pack defense is just really hard to figure out if you haven't seen it before. And, as we've seen so far this year, no one seems to have figured us out yet, and I think Pitt becomes another victim of T-Bone's genius.

Cougs make really nice statement for the Selection Committee as November Ends thanks to clutch free throws by Rochestie down the stretch:

Cougs 59 Pitt 55


Now onto football.

Nation, we have seen many a GOOD team finish badly over the last few years. From the 2006 Washington State Cougars to the 2007 Oregon Yucks and CAL Bears (and maybe the 2008 Arizona Mildcats), sometimes a good year just falls to pieces down the stretch.

And with that in mind, Brinkhater believes that the opposite may be true for us this season. While this group will always represent the worst WSU team of our lives in my mind, something tells me this group is headed to 3-10 for some of the same reasons Sedi noted below.

Simply put, I think our Defense is going to be stout. I think we're going to keep the turnover ratio down just like last week, and I think that our running game and emergent short passing game is going to be enough to pull off this ball-control shocker.

WSU 25 Hawaii 24

Elsewhere:

Beavs 38 Oregon 30. You don't win last week at AZ if you don't win the whole thing. Its in the Cosmos, Beavs head to Pasadena as Canfield comes off the bench to rally the Beavs from a 20-7 halftime deficit.

SC 24 ND 3. I really don't like SC's O, but I really, really like their D.

BIG ONE:

Clay Bennett University 41 Clay Bennett State University 30

Enjoy the Game


Ah yes, Hawaii. The only state in the union that good 'ol McLovin would actually pick for a fake ID. "McLovin? One name? Who are you, Seal?"




McLovin, the 25-year old Hawaiian organ donor. FANTASTIC.

SO, for this week, Hawaii. After a desolate season of seasons, the end of the road is finally in sight. As Paul Wulff has said for several weeks now, the moment this season is over this will be a much better football team (no disrespect to the current seniors who will ride off into the sunset). So clearly a lot of people, coaches included, have been anxiously waiting to turn the page of 2008.
What do we know about this game? Here's just a few things:

  1. It's REALLY important for Hawaii to win this one. At 6-5 and a bowl bid on the line, they must get to seven wins to guarantee post-season play. A check of their schedule shows #16 Cincinnati coming in next weekend, and in reality Hawaii will be the underdog in that one. This game is circled as "must win", big-time.

  2. What will be left in the Cougar gas tank? Last week was, let's face it, the epitome of dropping loads of emotion on the football field. It's awfully tough to get it cranked back up on the road after such an emotional home experience over your in-state rivals.

  3. Hawaii struggled early with their QB situation, but now that they finally settled in with Greg Alexander, they are playing closer to the Hawaii team we are familiar with. They still can drop 40 or more points on a lot of teams, scoring 49 last week vs. Robb Akey's Idaho Vandals and 42 the week before that against New Mexico State. Alexander is hot, 118 pass attempts and counting since his last INT. Things are clicking all of a sudden, and this is not the best week to play them.

  4. You cannot forget the WSU defense. Yes, it's been better of late. A lot better actually, holding our last two opponents under 400 yards of total offense (398 to ASU on the road, 323 to UW at home). There really has been a sense of improvement since the overall change to the three-man defensive line, as well as the return to action from Toby Turpin, the big lug in the middle who has been making some plays at nose tackle.

  5. We know the Cougar offense will have some issues moving the ball, as we always seem to do on a weekly basis. Even with the big pass play to Jared Karstetter that will go down in Apple Cup lore, Kevin Lopina was hovering in the low-100's in passing yardage. Not good. But maybe something clicked last week with the running game? For the first time all year, they stuck with the run into the second half, and it worked, with a season-best 171 yards rushing (discounting the Portland State I-AA game). The run was the key to that win in the second half and in OT as well.
    The bad news for the Cougar O is that Hawaii starts NINE seniors on defense, so they are experienced. Linebacker Solomon Eliminian is a machine, now over 400 tackles in his career. When it's all said and done he will go down as one of the greatest linebackers in WAC history. They play well in front of their fans, as they get an extra jolt from the home crowd. Like Paul Wulff said earlier in the week, you can feel like you are down 14 points before you even take the field against these guys in their house.
So there's the basics. On paper you can see why Hawaii is such a big favorite, opening at 28 points and actually moving to 29.5. There is one thing I think about, however, one shining light, that might make this a much better game the odds-makers are saying. I think the WSU defense will keep this one interesting. Seriously. Why? Because of the run-n-shoot style Hawaii will throw out there plays into the strength of the WSU defense.


In 2008, "strength" and "WSU defense" haven't always existed in the same sentence. Except when headed by "lack of".......but when you think about the Coug D, you don't think about size. If you do, you think SMALL, not big. They are a smallish, speedier defense that has trouble against the power running teams who get five yards on every single rushing attempt. But against the pass, the Cougs are respectable, giving up 185 yards per game through the air or #5 in the PAC-10.

I know stats can be misleading, and several games earlier in the year, the team was so far behind early that opponents barely threw the ball down the stretch. But moving Andy Mattingly back to linebacker was a big boost in the pass defense last week, and he should be even better this week after a full game of getting familiar with the position. Don't forget what that guy did in 2007, and a lot of his success came as a 3-4 linebacker. And Louis Bland played with the heart of a lion last week, making huge plays all over the field. He is a rising star by all accounts, and having him team with Mattingly and Greg Trent makes the linebacking corps our best position BY FAR on the football field.

And with the three-man front, that scheme enables them to drop more into coverage and handle the passing offense like Hawaii will roll out tomorrow night. The three-man front in football was basically invented to better handle passing offenses like the west coast offense, or even the run-n-shoot. Clog up more passing lanes with more bodies back there who can run, and it could be interesting.

In the end, I think Hawaii has too much on the line to let this one get away. They are one game away from getting back to a bowl game, and they won't let the opportunity slip through their fingers, especially at home. They are playing much better with Greg Alexander at QB, and they should keep it going this week. I do believe the Cougar D will come to play, and keep things interesting, but I just don't think we can bank on much from the offense. Combine all that with the emotion letdown that is likely for these young kids, and you can see where this one is headed. While I don't believe this will go exactly the way Vegas believes, I do think Hawaii wins it by a couple of scores. I'll go Warriors 31, WSU 17.

Other games:

Oregon 31, Oregon State 28 - The Rose Bowl dream comes to an end. The Beavs escaped big-time last week, and they are doing what "teams of destiny" tend to do, and that's find ways to win games when all appears lost. But Oregon has had an extra week to get ready for this one, and with the Beavs minus Jacquizz Rodgers, one of the best impact frosh running backs the PAC-10 has ever seen? I just think the Yucks break some hearts in this one.

ASU 35, UCLA 20 - ASU can still salvage a bowl game, even after their terrible start. They are at home, and clearly the better team here.

USC 47, Notre Dame 13 - Are they really going to buy out Charlie Weis? I heard Beano Cook say earlier this week that after talking to some of his sources, Weis is in BIG trouble. The players hate him and will lay down this week to grease the skids out of town.

BIG National game:
Oklahoma 42, Okie State 38 - Great match-up of exciting offenses in a rivalry game. It's at Okie State, but Oklahoma is probably the hottest team in the country right now. Let the BCS bitching begin.

ENJOY YOUR DAY, and GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy T-Day Cougs

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all, a great day of feeding your faces.

GET SOME EA! Girl's gotta eat, even if it's on TV.

But even with her scarfing down what looks like your typical foot-long hoagie(?), well, we still love EA for simply standing somewhat close to the WSU flag.

We love her A LOT, actually. As the latest polls have shown:

Not sure how a poll can be 98% - 3%, but whatever. Close enough. It is what it is (fake).

Oh, and we wish our friends in Oklahoma City a very happy T-Day. You know, Oklahoma City? The "major league" town that now boos their beloved, hijacked, 1-win OKC Thunder? Have a bucket of KFC with extra skin and a nice warm Bud on us.

But at least they won't have PJ Carlesimo to kick around anymore.


Moving on, Hawaii. Thought it might be a good idea to think about this week's game and try to put last week behind us(in honor of Ted Miller, a 16-13 win).....hard as that is to do. We remember Hawaii from their unbeaten season in 2007 and Sugar Bowl wipe-out vs. UGA. We remember yards and points from Colt Brennan and all those WR's in the run-n-shoot. But what do we know about Hawaii in 2008?

After starting off a rough 1-3, including blowout losses at Florida, Oregon State and a tight one at home vs. San Jose State, they have circled the wagons a bit. Maybe not in the Oregon State style of circling the wagons, but still, they've been tough. Hawaii is 5-2 in their last seven games, including a win over then-#22 Fresno State to kick off their current seven-game stretch.

What's weird with Hawaii is how they are winning. It certainly isn't how it used to be, which was overwhelming yards and points through the air. Right now they are averaging 25 points and 364 yards of total offense per game. Not bad, but a far cry from 2007's 43 points and an amazing 512 yards per game. But however it's happening, they are still getting it done in the WAC.

QB Inoki Funaki is/was their leading passer. I say is/was because he's not the starter anymore. Ever since a 5-INT game vs. Boise State last month, his PT has been slowly disappearing in favor of JC transfer Greg Alexander.

Alexander was a big-time QB recruit out of Santa Rosa, CA, setting a national JC record with 71 TD passes in two seasons. Good size at 6-3, 230, and a decent arm, he's been very good since taking over after Funaki's 5-pick disaster in Boise.

Hawaii is 3-1 in their last four games with Alexander getting the majority of the action. After throwing two INT's in the season-opening blowout at Florida, Alexander has an 8-0 TD/INT ratio in just his last four games. Even better, he's now at 118 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. Sure sounds like the right fit in the run-n-shoot.

But Hawaii has had a weird year at 6-5. Included in some of their losses were the early-season home game vs. San Jose State, as well as a 30-14 loss at Utah State. Not to poke fun at Utah State......they've been a regular in the ESPN Bottom Ten with....uh.....WSU.....but that loss was a head-scratcher.

Anyway, Hawaii is still a winning program looking for another bowl game. Greg McMackin only had four starters coming back on each side of the ball for '08, yet they've been able to keep their heads above water. You have to respect how they turned things around after starting 1-3. They could have easily started to gripe about not having June Jones, but when smacked with adversity, the switch went on. And this is a program that is used to winning. Hawaii's been to five bowls in the last six seasons, and a win over WSU will clinch another bid for 2008. You know they'll come out firing.

That's it for today. We'll get more into it as we hit full preview mode for Football Friday.

ENJOY YOUR THANKSGIVING, and GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Fun With Video

Well well well....look who's missing from this week's ESPN "Bottom Ten"? Or better yet, look who's #1?


Ouch. Never mind that we would probably be seven-or-more-point underdogs to at least half the teams on that list, but the point is we're no longer there.

Kind of a weird week, what with the holiday and all. So I thought we'd take a look at some of the video from this last week, and there is some great stuff out there. We'll look at Hawaii later, for our usual Football Friday, but for now, some video.

First, of course, the Apple Cup. Our own Hooty had a great shot of the game-winner, and the mad dash to the field. If you haven't seen it already, or would like to see it again, you can check that out here.

But there are others out there who got some video up as soon as that game was over. CougarChris624 had this great look at the game, with photos and actual video from the game (including the Wulff shuffle).



Sorry coach, I think Jean Claude Van-Damme's dance is better.

Image and video hosting by <span class=

Anyway, good work Chris. CougarChris624 is actually Chris Boyd, a 2006 WSU grad who has done some other excellent Coug video. We will likely do some things with him in the future.

Another clip, this one from KXLY. It has some good sideline shots, but the big thing here is to hear Bob-Rob & Jim call the winning kick.



NICE!

Finally, Saturday was ESPN's Gameday feature on the WSU flag. It's quick, only about three minutes and change, and they do make fun of us as being pretty bad. But still, hey, it's nice that they threw us a bone.



It's pretty amazing to think Crimson and Whitey have made the trip for 74 straight shows!?!? Always a source of pride to see it Saturday mornings.

That's it for a light Wednesday. Enjoy your day, and GO COUGS!

Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap - Week Fourteen

A light-hearted radio show last night, as you could probably imagine. I'll keep it brief and to the point, at least I'll try to. Here we go:

  • Right out of the chute, of course, they talked about the feeling of winning the Apple Cup. Wulff said it was simply a "great day for everyone" and that he was so happy that they found a way to win the game. It wasn't pretty but they found a way. Wulff said it was great for the fans and that they deserved to celebrate when you consider all they have been through this year, and he thanked them for their patience. But he was especially happy for his seniors. All they had been through in their career and then this season, to go out and win their last home game vs. UW is very special, and a moment that will live with them for the rest of their lives.

  • Bud asked him about the dance, compared by some to the Tommy Lasorda dance when Kirk Gibson hit that famous home run. Wulff said he honestly couldn't remember what he did at that moment, and that he doubts he could re-create it! All he cared about was getting to the middle of the field to get to his players, and it was just a blur.

  • Wulff was asked about Hawaii this week. Wulff said that they are extremely tough at home, one of the best home field advantages around and they get up for BCS opponents. He said sometimes you feel like you are already down 14 points before you even take the field against them at Hawaii. But he said he is excited to see how his players handle it. He especially wants to see how his young players bounce back after such an emotional win, and that no matter what, it will be a good lesson for his young players. However it's NOT like a bowl game to them. They are not getting there until mid-day Thursday, so they will literally have one day, and then it's Saturday. They are approaching it as a business trip, and they are going to play a good game.

  • A caller asked about the progress the team has made lately, and suggested they watch tape of the Cal game, and then watch tape of the UW game to compare the efforts. Wulff said without question, as a staff they have felt that they were playing better. He stressed again that the scoreboard hadn't been showing it lately, but there were areas that they were coming along. It's hard to see it when the end-results have been so poor, but they finally took a step last week.

  • A caller asked about Jeshua Anderson's chest injury, and noted that he seemed to stay in a few plays after it happened and didn't look very good. Wulff said that Anderson thought he could shake off the injury and tried to play through it, but he just couldn't and had to leave the game. They will re-evaluate him this week. The caller also asked about getting another QB for this year's recruiting class. Wulff said right now they have one verbal commit at QB (he didn't name him but it's Jeff Tuel, a 3-star QB from Fresno). Wulff did mention that they MIGHT look at another QB for this class, but they have so many areas they want to address with their scholarships that they will likely just take one.

  • A caller asked why the PAC-10 has destroyed the tradition of rivalry week at the end of the season, and noted that all those games are now spread out over multiple weeks. Wulff said he agreed and wished it was like it used to be, and then hinted that something might be in the works? One thought was that the PAC-10 would move all the rivalry week games to the week of "championship week", when the BIG 12 and SEC have their title games. Jim Sterk was in the room and Bud yelled out "what's the deal Jim?" and Sterk just kind of shrugged and said "no comment". Maybe the cat is out of the bag? Anyway, they also mentioned that the WSU 2009 schedule hasn't been released or finalized in any way, so there might be some movement there.

  • A caller asked about the offensive line for next year, and how they are looking. Wulff said he was pleased with how the youth has played this year, thrown to the fire so to speak, and they are looking better and better. But he also pointed out that they only have ONE senior in their entire 12-man offensive line rotation, so 11 out of 12 will all be back next year. They also have some young players redshirting right now that they are really high on who will step right into the mix next year (Zach Williams?). Personally I'm excited to see how that o-line looks next year with another off-season of lifting and eating right, and a season of game experience under their belts. They might really take a big step next year.

  • The same caller asked about Gary Rogers and his attempt at a medical redshirt. Wulff said that Rogers has applied for it, but they really won't know until this spring if they allow it. They really don't know how it will go, but Wulff said he believes right now that it's a long shot at best. The rule is that if you lost two full seasons due to injury, you could apply for that sixth year, but that isn't exactly the case with Rogers. We'll see. On a side note, Jake Locker applied already for an extra year of playing time and UW sources said he was denied the extra year, based on the fact that he played a full month of this season, plus his other year he missed was due to a redshirt, not an injury.


    The caller asked about how Marshall Lobbestael is doing. Wulff said that he is doing really well in his knee rehab right now, and they are pleased with his early progress. However, he said that he will very likely not be available this spring as they want to take it easy. But they are confident that he'll be OK by fall camp. That is one of the hard parts of this season, losing Lobbestael so early in the year when it looked like he was going to get an excellent opportunity to learn on the fly. They really like him, and the kid has showed something to be excited about in the future.

  • A caller asked about the worst play in the playbook right now, the "jailbreak screen". Even Jim Walden howled about it during the broadcast, and why they were still running that play was beyond him. Wulff said he agreed, and the timing has to be perfect on a play like that. However "we didn't actually call that play this week." Turns out Lopina checked off into the jailbreak screen play, and it obviously didn't work out. It was a good read, as the defense was coming on a blitz, but it just didn't work. Wulff said that play is great against the blitz, but we honestly haven't been blitzed a whole lot this season.

  • A caller asked about the impact of having Dick Bennett talk to the team, and does Wulff use him at all as a resource? Wulff said that he does talk to him, and they talk about all sorts of things. But mainly they talk about the tough seasons in rebuilding, and what Bennett's experiences were compared to what Wulff has gone through thus far. Wulff then went out of his way to say that "when you are rebuilding, there are tough things that all programs go through. And you can't really listen to the outside criticism that always comes with it. Only people on the inside of the program REALLLY know what is going on." Kind of some sharp criticism from Wulff for all the crap that has been written about them this year? But Wulff said that's just part of the deal when you are trying to turn it around, and there will be some things they do that aren't popular. Wulff also said that Bennett has given him some great advice, as far as doing things the right way, staying on course with his plan, don't veer too far off the right path. But also don't be afraid to re-evaluate what you are doing, and always think about the things you are doing and their impact on others.

    Most of all, Wulff loves and respects Bennett because of who he is and what's he's been through. The guy is a "program builder" and has been through exactly what Wulff is going through right now. He's a tremendous resource. Look at where the hoops program was when Bennett showed up? Look at it NOW? I know it's apples and oranges, hoops to football, but it's still about turning around a culture and changing the way things are done, from the ground up. The road isn't always a smooth one.

  • A caller asked about the D-line play, and how they seem to be stepping up their game a little bit. Wulff immediately pointed out the impact of Toby Turpin, and how well he's played at nose tackle for the third straight week. He has been a big part of them playing better. Not that they dominated, of course, and UW's offensive line was pushing on them all game long (and had about 50 pounds per man on each guy), but the line hung in there and fought hard all the way to the end. Wulff also said Ahmu, Mullennix and even Eichelberger did OK out there. Wulff also said that they really seem to like the 3-man defensive front! The players like it, and it also gives them a chance to get a little extra rest as they can rotate bodies in and out a little more by simply not having four defensive linemen on the field at once. Wulff did say that they will likely go back to a four-man defensive line next year, but they have taken to it pretty well this last half of 2008.

  • Bud asked about going for it on fourth and one and a half in the first OT. Wulff said that they not only wanted to get the first down, but they really believed they would get it. He wanted to keep staying aggressive in that situation and the sideline was happy they chose to go for it. Wulff wouldn't say for sure if that was the defining moment, but he did mention that it could be, and that all programs have that "moment where you can build off an experience like that, something they can look back to and think about in the future as to how they went for it and got it in a tough situation." Besides, Wulff also said "there was no guarantee UW was going to make their field goal, even if they didn't make it!" and that brought a few howls from the crowd at the radio show!

  • A caller asked again about recruiting. Wulff said that it's going well right now (they just got a new top-100 offensive line commit). But Wulff said that no matter what, he's never seen a coaching staff work so hard at recruiting. These guys are giving everything they have to find some new talent, and there isn't a coaching staff around who will outwork them in recruiting. They do believe there are some special players that they will get in this class, and that the hard work is going to pay off.

  • Nameck brought up "Cougar Pride" and how even in this tough year, it's still out there. There was a story of a soldier in Afghanistan who got up at 3 AM to try and listen to the game online. When the Internet connection dropped, he called a friend in Washington and sat on the phone with him for the last hour of the game! Very cool. Nameck also brought up how this is the first-ever time in the 101-year history of the Apple Cup that WSU has won four out of five in the series, and that Matt Mullennix is the first-ever WSU player to be on the team that won four Apple Cup games. No other WSU player has ever won it four times. Very cool. Mullennix's dad called into the show and thanked Wulff for the win, and that he was proud of Matt. His dad also said that it helped ease the sting of the 1975 game that WSU blew, where UW came from a couple of scores down late to win. That was a game in which Mullennix's dad played in. Ouch.

  • One last look at the UW game - Wulff said the two biggest things were 1) they stuck with the run in the second half, and they knew they had to do that or else they couldn't win, and 2) they didn't lose the turnover battle! Wulff said again that they talked at halftime and decided no matter what, they were going to stick with the run. And of course, the run was a huge reason they won. The big TD by Mitz, but there were other times where they ran effectively with Dwight Tardy in the second half and even in OT. The 171 rushing yards were the most since the Portland State game.


    And the turnovers, finally, they didn't lose the turnover margin battle! They only "tied", giving it away once, but they took one away themselves. It can be a drastic difference when you aren't giving the thing away three or four times a game, isn't it? That's one thing that was kind of lost in all the excitement, that they didn't play hot potato with the football.

  • JT Levenseller - he WILL PLAY this week. Wulff said they "want to get him as many plays as they can this week" and get him some solid game experience. They also brought up the idea of a redshirt in the future, and Wulff said that is certainly a consideration. Unfortunately he didn't get enough snaps this year and it wasn't an ideal scenario for burning his redshirt, but we'll see how that all plays out. He didn't flat-out say it, but I kind of got the idea that we'll see a lot of JT this week?

  • Finally, one last thing on Hawaii - Wulff said they have been running the same offense this year, and while they've played a few QB's, they are still doing pretty well on offense. But where he said they have improved is their defense. They start nine seniors on defense, and they have a very strong, experienced, active defensive front. Some of their key backups are also seniors, so there is a lot of experience there. Hawaii also has a lot riding on this game. Even though they are 6-5 right now, they have to win this game to be bowl-eligible. If they lose it, they will likely miss out on a bowl game, even though they would be at six wins. So Wulff knows they will be highly motivated this week.

That's about it for this week. A light-hearted show and a very appreciative crowd, and lots of congrats from the callers. Wulff still kept it in check, but you could tell he's still on a high from that game. And in a year like this, who can BLAME THE GUY for being happy with how that game went down? Like Wulff said last week, the day he took this job and the whole "Cougars hunt and kill" comment, well, that was said for WSU fans, and deep down he's a fan as well as the coach. He played at WSU and his Cougar pride runs as deep as anyone. So imagine how you would feel if you beat UW in double-OT?

ENJOY YOUR TUESDAY, and GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments

Monday, November 24, 2008

Now What?


It's Monday morning, and I think the fans are STILL ON THE FIELD.

As we bask in the glow of another Apple Cup triumph (now four out of the last five), even in this worst-ever season, it never gets old to win your rivalry game. The beer tastes better, food tastes better, hell, the mundane like going to work or school gives you a little pep in your step.

Now, sure, no crowd has probably ever stormed the field after beating an 0-11 team.....at least I doubt it has ever happened.....but does it even matter? Look, if you are a Coug, you have suffered this year. You have been there debating on message boards and leaving comments about what is wrong today, how difficult this change has been on the players and coaches, and maybe even more so, you have dissected when and how it all went wrong. We all have our theories or sources or whatever. It has been that kind of year.

But all that frustration of 2008 came rushing out late Saturday afternoon. After all the hard work, all the embarrassing blowouts, all the local and national talk of WSU looking like one of the worst BCS teams of all time? That all went away - at least for a while - when Grasu calmly drilled his third and final field goal of the day.

Quick side note....what did I tell you about taking the underdog in a rivalry game?? Especially when the teams are relatively even in terms of record, etc. Said underdog has now covered the spread in seven of the last eight Apple Cups. It's no fluke. But I also have to raise my hand to say that yes, I called UW to win this thing, 17-16. ON a field goal by UW! Whoops. Never, ever been so happy to be so wrong.

Speaking of predictions. Brinkhater and I were talking, and decided to actually tally up our picks from 2008 Football Friday on Thursday, and how we stood up to the experts. And who better to compare ourselves against? How about the top local guy and national guy who do these things on a weekly basis, in the people's choice, Vince Grippi, and ESPN's Ted Miller?

Even if you aren't curious, here are the updated numbers, through Saturday's games (note that these are NOT against the spread, only winners/losers):

Ted Miller: 54-15
Vince Grippi: 53-16
Brinkhater: 52-19
Sedihawk: 51-20
Longball: 22-9

Note that we've picked more games than they have, as we usually make a national game pick outside of the Pac-10. But still, not bad for a few hacks in blogger-ville.

But seriously, now what? There is, after all, a game this Saturday night over on the island. Will coach Wulff get them excited to do more than hang out at the beach? It's pretty clear, at least what Wulff said yesterday in his Sunday presser, that he has his work cut out for him.

"It can be (difficult) if we don't handle it right," said Wulff, the WSU coach. "The other thing is, you come off a big, emotional game, then you go to a place that's historically challenging to play at for anybody.

"So yeah, this is going to be a tough, tough test for our psyche."

Maybe that's at least part of the reason they are a 28-point underdog to a 6-5 WAC team?? However, WSU has now covered the last three games, so we've got that going for us....but let's face it, college football is one of the most emotional sports on the planet. As Keith Jackson has famously said, trying to predict what 18-22 year olds are going to do on a weekly basis will drive you crazy.


That said, maybe, just maybe, this Apple Cup win, a game they pulled out in the face of adversity, will be a turning point? A game in which the team had so many chances to just give up, when it looked like UW was going to salt this thing away, yet someone kept stepping up to keep it close? Maybe, just maybe, some of these guys are starting to believe?

We'll take a closer look at Hawaii later this week, in our usual way. And the Wulff radio show will air TONIGHT, so we'll have our usual recap up tomorrow morning. As always, ENJOY YOUR MONDAY, and GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What a Day!

My CFS (Cougar Football Saturday), started at about 8AM with an omlette and a few Bud Lights. It's now 10:30 PM and that means I have exactly 1 hour and 27 minutes left (I'm a really slow typer) in the best day I've had in a long time! Seriously you guys...this day is in my top 5...

#1 is the day I married the beautiful (and incredibly patient) Mrs. McBoob.
#2t is the day my best buddy in the entire universe - Mini McBoob was born.
#2t is the day my little ray of sunshine (with scattered thunderstorms) - Girl McBoob was born.
#4 is today.
#5 was the '91 Apple Cup when I broke the nose of the asshole husky fan (you know who you are) who kept spitting on my friend's future wife while "woofing" in her ear, as we sat in those wooden bleachers in the East endzone of husky stadium. Stay classy, montlake.

You know who thought it was pretty cool that her 21 year-old, beer-bonging, frat dick, apple of her eye, broke the nose of that asshole husky fan? My Mom. That's who.

You know who just reached her goal of going to the Apple Cup to cheer on her Cougs - only 3 months removed from surgery to remove most of a malignant brain tumor; and just a few weeks removed from more than one month of daily radiation treatments? You guessed it...my Mom!

Here's Ma McBoob, the critters and I in front of the new statue after the game.


Even better, here's Ma McBoob on the field before the game (thanks to one of the best friends in the world) with Coach Tony.

Here she is cooling down after meeting Coach Tony.


Here she is with one of her Cougar heroes, Mike Utley

Before she met Mike, she got to see this. Note to apathetic Cougs around the planet: If you can't get fired up for Apple Cup - even in a year like this one - you need to turn in your badges...


video

There are very few good excuses for missing an Apple Cup in our own stadium - because moments like this one are worth every ounce of abuse we get from our husky “friends” every other day on the calendar...

video

This “meaningless” football game turned out to be HUGE - for both programs.

If you don’t believe me, you need to watch (or maybe re-watch) the clips, sound bites and interviews from after the game. On the good-guys' side you have Wulff running onto the field like a maniac, fans pouring onto the field and Greg Trent making sweet, sweet love to the Apple Cup trophy. Wulff said it himself as he ran off the field: this kind of game, in a season like this makes kids finally BELIEVE in what they’re doing. All of a sudden, young guys like Louis Bland, Logwone Mitz, Toby Turpin and Romeo Pellum look less like stop-gaps and more like building blocks for the future of the program.

On the bad-guys' side, you have hundreds of annoying Husky fans going from chanting “Who’s house? dawg’s house!” - to just whining about being really, really cold, within a span of about 10 minutes; and then you have Ronnie Fouch who when interviewed after the game, looked and sounded as if he had just run over his own dog as he backed out of the driveway.

Both of our programs have nowhere to go but up and I’m looking forward to the day when we’re playing with bowl games on the line instead of pride. For now, we’ll take it: One monumental victory in an otherwise dismal season.

While the fight on the field is more pillow than prize, the fight in the fans is still intense and actually, a little stupid. After the game, everyone apparently had the same idea and rushed to the new statue for some snapshots. As I took one, I caught this husky jagoff (you know who you are) jumping up on the statue...

As you saw from the other picture, I was there with my family. When I realized what was happening, an angel dressed in white appeared on my shoulder, warning me not to do anything stupid in front of the kids - but in an instant, another devil dressed in Crimson appeared on my other shoulder and I guess I liked what I heard. It all happened in a split-second but I did what everyone else should have done - and ran up and knocked his ass into the garden behind the statue. Not wanting to ruin my chances for Dad of the Year, I later turned this into a lesson of respect for my children. Never disrespect others or other people's property - especially if you're a douchebag dressed in purple.

Truth be told, I'm more teddy bear than timebomb but something about obnoxious husky fans just brings out the worst in me - though I don't usually act unprovoked. A few years back in husky stadium, I was dressed as Santa Coug (a tradition I put on hold this year because the kids came with us) and some punk came up behind me and knocked off my hat. I bent down to pick up the hat and as I came up, I saw three guys laughing at their hijinks. I had no idea which one did it so I approached the tallest one and open-hand slapped him across the face. I then put my hat back on, turned and walked away, waiting to get jumped. Note: If you really don't like someone and would like to bitch-slap them in public without them fighting back, get a Santa suit.

Today my wife and I both had to walk through the gaggle of huskies in the endzone bleachers a couple times. One little lush had a smartass comment for me, so I politely told him to go fornicate himself. I accidentally caught another one in the stomach with my elbow. My wife had to go through them once by herself and she said they were giving her a ration of shit too.

I suppose I could have said "excuse me" instead of elbowing that guy, but otherwise, I don't think I owe any apologies...

If you need another prime example of husky smugness, check out the FSN postgame show and watch Angie Mentink, who even in defeat was able to get under Jason Gesser's skin. I guaran-damn-tee you that he would have loved to tell her to go fornicate herself after that final kick sailed through the uprights - but he apparently has more composure than I.

I certainly am not going to be doing any bragging about this game because I'm acutely aware that it could have very easily been another loss. But a football team is only as good as it's worst player and for today anyway, the worst player on the field was the husky kicker. That's not to take anything away from our Cougs though. They battled hard and never gave up - even as many fans had either left or had an eye on the exit for a quick departure. I myself, readied the family for such an escape two times: first on the play before the long pass to Karstetter and again when the huskies had the ball in the first OT. Instead we stayed inside and celebrated an incredibly satisfying Cougar victory.

The new regime has it's first signature victory and we can officially lay to rest the Mike Price/Bill Doba era. Of course one of the signature moments of that era was the 1998 Rose Bowl where the final two second mysteriously slipped off the clock and we were left wo wonder "what if?" Today in Martin Stadium, we got those two seconds back at the end of the 4th quarter when Kevin Lopina spiked the ball, making way for Nico Grasu's game-tying field goal with two ticks left on the clock. The Cougar world is back in balance.

Go Mom! Go Cougs!

Butch in the tunnel before the game

I actually liked the all-crimson lookSome good-looking Cougs in the student section


I knew it...

See you on Sundays, Brandon.

Read more ...plus comments

Congratulations

What a finish, what a game. Who cares about how low both programs sunk to this year. Let the national media make fun of this game. Like we said earlier in the week, you can throw out the records and watch the kids compete, but it IS STILL the Apple Cup! It's a game that still means a hell of a lot to a lot of people, and in particular the players on both teams. So I think we all knew the kids would sell out today and play hard, and while not the prettiest game in the world, the effort on both teams certainly didn't disappoint.

We could try to break down this game, and look at what happened. But I don't want to get too deep into it, but for a few things:
  1. How the HELL does UW not score more than 13 points in this game? They had one running back in Griffin go well over 100 yards and almost had another with Dailey, and as a team they had a net rushing yard mark of 225 yards. Anyone watching that game knows that UW's front line, for the MOST PART anyway, had control of the line of scrimmage. And with that running game, they also dominated time of possession, holding the ball for over 35 minutes combined to just 24 minutes and change for WSU. So it was set up for UW to grind our young skinnies into the ground with their big fatties, but they just never seemed to be able to kick down the door.

  2. I was impressed by our ability, at times, to run the ball ourselves. 171 yards rushing is a good day. Dwight Tardy wasn't 100%, but he sure ran tough, 76 yards on 4.2 yards per carry. He came to play today. And Logwone Mitz, WOW, what a time for a big play! That 57-yard TD definitely got some extra juice in their step, no doubt, and suddenly it was a 3-point game. I heard Wulff on the radio after the game, and he said they really stressed the idea of sticking to the run at halftime, and that without it, "we were not going to win this game." He was right too. If they don't stay committed to running the ball, they probably wouldn't have pulled this sucker out.

  3. The little things just killed UW today, a microcosm of their season. Mitz's TD was great, but there were two UW players totally out of position on that play. And on the big throw from Lopina to Karstetter, the free safety made a horrible play on the ball. But both the safety and the corner bit incredibly hard on the fake to the flat, and Lopina pumped fake just enough to freeze the corner, and Karstetter got free.

    And the missed field goals, JUST WOW. You make any one of those in regulation, you probably win the game. But again, when it mattered most, they couldn't close the deal. It's the same thing as what went down vs. BYU, where they could have at least forced OT but had an extra point blocked. The situations were a little different, sure, but the outcome is the same.

To win games, you HAVE TO DO THE LITTLE THINGS (listen to me, like we're "used" to winning around here all of a sudden! :) But you can move the ball between the 20's all you want, the name of the game is scoring points. We used to be the kings of the 300-yard passing games and very little to show for it the last few years, so yes UW fans, we know of what we speak. Whether on missed field goals or sudden surges by the Cougar D, UW just couldn't get it done.

Anyway, enough of the over-analysis. Somehow, the Cougs found a way, for the first legit time in 2008. They fought through the adversity and when the chips were down, made some plays that did the job.

I think some hearty congratulations are in order, for many of these guys who never gave up.

TO Greg Trent, kissing that trophy in the pic above, congrats to you. You busted your butt all season long, you tried your best to lead with pride and passion, and even though the season was lost a long time ago, you never gave in. A team-high twelve tackles today to cap your career in style in your home finale. You deserve every accolade you can get this year, for you must have felt truly alone in the middle. You had very little help in front of you, as the defensive tackles were eaten alive from the first game of the year vs. Okie State, to even today vs. UW. You had converted safeties in Louis Bland and Myron Beck on each side of you at linebacker, both 200-lb youngsters just learning to play the game. But still, you stuck you neck out there and fought with all you had. So kiss that trophy, coddle it, change it's diaper. You deserve it.

TO Kevin Lopina, way to hang in there. A rough game by any standard, just 167 yards and again, no TD passes. But you never gave up, you took some huge shots, and you kept getting in there. That throw to Karstetter was FLIPPING MONEY. As "Atlanta Coug" said in comments, it doesn't matter what happens in the future or whatever, but you are now forever alive in WSU history. And speaking of Karstetter, how big a play was that for the true frosh? Karstetter had THREE, count 'em, THREE CATCHES IN 2008 coming into this game, yet he saves his best for last. They say he's got a big heart and that we are really going to like Karstetter's future, but way to step up and make a play when WSU nation needed it the most.

TO Nico Grasu, great job! A perfect 3-for-3 today, 2-for-2 on field goals and one XP. Grasu hadn't made a field goal since October 4th vs. UCLA, so to calmly step up and nail those big kicks from the right hash, just huge, huge, huge. GREAT JOB.


Congrats to coach Wulff. This season has been a nightmare in terms of injuries and playing kids who clearly weren't ready. But you also fought against the resistence of the older, lazy players who were used to floating around the pool at Club Doba. So you pulled your boys through, and you deserved to dance like a little kid at the end. Maybe, just maybe, this will be a turning point??

Finally, to the FANS WHO WERE AT THE GAME TODAY, CONGRATS
! It was awfully easy to decide to opt out and miss this game. The game was on TV, the weather forecast was awful, the teams were at historic lows, but yet you still made the trip and cheered these guys on to victory. You deserve to storm the field and celebrate. You played a part in this thing, so to you, congrats.

So there you have it. 2008 is in the books. That's now four out of five, the first time ever in the 101-year history of the series where WSU has done that well. And what do you know, for the third time in the last four Apple Cup wins, WSU came from behind in the fourth quarter to win this thing. So much for "cougin' it". Maybe it's more like "UW dawged it"?

ENJOY YOUR SATURDAY NIGHT! AND as always, GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments

Game On - Apple Cup '08

Here we go.


4:40 1st Quarter (Brinkhater): Iron Triangle is playing inspired football. Bland and Trent are shooting gaps nicely. Offensively, why either team throws is beyond me. Totally agree on the comment that Fouch v. Lopina is the worst QB match-up ever. We need 3 first downs on this drive!

1:34 1st Quarter (BH): 2 yard punt gives the Defeateds good field position. Too bad. This game really deserves to be 0-0 at halftime.


End of 1st: 1/4 of the way to a 0-0 Game. We can only hope

12:17 2nd Quarter (BH): The dream ends. 7-0 Dawgs. How we respond on this next drive will be crucial. You know you're bad when 7-0 feels totally out of hand.

11:43 2nd Quarter (BH): Game Time. Lopina shows he's in a league of his own--I've never seen a guy do a better pre-snap Peyton Manning Routine. Amazing. If D doesn't hold, we'll fold.

9:39 2nd Quarter (BH): See, see, see! 1-2-3 Kick! First three and out of the season. Meanwhile, I'm cramping up from typing. Someone get me off the field!

7:42 2nd Quarter (BH): Damn it, do NOT take Lopina out. 0 touches and 11 picks is not a large enough sample.

5:00 2nd Quarter(SH): Nice 30-yard screw-up by the refs. Aren't two knees down, uh, down? Yeesh. (BH). Time to start drinking...

4:00 2nd Quarter. (BH) Thank god Lopina is still in.

3:00 2nd Quarter (SH) Jeshua Anderson and Tony Thompson both out. Anderson with a chest injury. Walden ripping Lopina on the radio for throwing off his back feet!

2:00 2nd Quarter (BH) Thank god Lopina is still in. (SH) Nice fake. Get some points here please?

1:13 2nd Quarter (BH): Thank god Lopina is still in.

10-0 Halftime. (SH)AWFUL. Willie Griffin already at 87 yards rushing. Our defense is fighting but they can't hold up like this over a full game. They aren't getting any help at all at offense. Lopina is just off, there is no other way to say it. Someone asked if he was still injured from that concussion and there might be something to that. He does look off (even more than usual).

NOT looking good.

14:55 3rd (BH). Thank God Lopina is still in.

11:21 3rd (BH). Now, I'm really going to make my first drink. How Wulff and company justify Lopina's play is now beyond ridiculous. I would venture that every fan in Cougar land would rather watch JT lose 52-0 then watch Lopina's 31-0 suck fest.

9:00 3rd (BH). At least our D is playing hard.

6:41 3rd (BH). Ice Cold Martini in tow and now I realize that we're only down 10-0. We have a chance!

3:00 3rd (BH). I HAVE A DREAM, COUGAR NATION!!!!!!!!! PUT-IT-ON-DA-MITZ!

END OF 3RD: 10-7 DAWGS. What do you think will happen? At this point, I'm thinking a 14-13 win.

12:35 left: HUGE STOP on a 3rd and 2 followed by a missed FG by the pupps. WE have the MO, we have the MO!

11:30 left: MO, no mo....Bad three and out. Watching Lopina get blasted was painful. REEEALLLY Painful.

8:30 Huge 3rd and 2, completed to Daley. We MUST hold them to 3.

5:08. Tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock. Its getting REALLY late. If they get 6, we're done. If they get 3, we might be done.

3:24: Dawg kicker misses chip shot. WE'RE GONNA COVER!!!

2:56. Lopina throws a ball away instead of taking a shot or loss. Finally, PROGRESS!

2:02. Brinkhater's streak ends fittingly in a 5 yard throw when we needed 7. Classic end to a happless season.

0:56. Ball on 20, only 3 to tie

0:00 10-10 after K gets inexplicably behind the defense. We barely make a chip shot to tie as time runs out. Greatest Apple Cup of All Time

REMARK: UW FANS. YOU GUYS SUCK--simply because you are tied with us after 60 minutes--wow you are bad!!!!!!!! ALSO TOO: WSU. THANK YOU FOR SHOWING SO MUCH STINKING HEART. GREAT HEART. GREAT HEART. GREAT HEART!!!!!

1ST OT (O): Great call to go on 4th and 1.

1st OT (O): 3rd and goal from the 1 1/2. Go to a full set, please!!!

1st OT (O): Lopina blows an easy touch. Too bad. Lets go D

1st OT (D): Put 10 in the Box. YES! Now 3rd and 6.

1st OT (D): Now the field go attempt (We held).

START OF 2nd OT:

Both teams are so bad!!!!! Lets hope we're the second worst!!

2nd OT: HOW the hell does UW NOT score points with a running game like this? They get 5 YPC.

NO GOOD AGAIN! Mattingly almost picked it before, but NO GOOD! Hold your breath...

2nd OT (o): Cougs win. Brinkhater's streak lives.

Final Thought til Later:

This game was won for four reasons:

1) The heart of the defense and the Iron Triangle.

2) Great, clutch kicking.

3) Willinham's inexplicable T.O at the end of the game.

4) Lopina's heart

Congrats Coach Wulff, Congrats Seniors, Way to Go Cougs. Read more ...plus comments

Apple Cup Primer


Still hanging in there, week after week. Great job Will and Stephanie Walker, yet again with the screen caps. There is supposed to be video of Don Pounds' interview with Gameday to come, and we'll try and link to that as soon as it's available.

So Apple Cup is here. Excited? There have been so many fantastic games over the years, even last year was a real shoot-out. But no matter what happens, I can't get 1992 out of my head. I watched some of the replay the other night from that game, where Drew Bledsoe absolutely cemented himself into legend on that crazy day.

The game was something else, with the snow and cold and all that. But one player rose above it all. Bledsoe, wow, just wow. Watching some of those throws he made in that game were truly remarkable. There was one deep 25-yard slant where he hit the WR right in the chest with an absolute bullet. And there was another deep crossing pattern in the end zone where he hit the WR in the corner for a TD with such touch and precision.

But the throw of throws, the catch of catches, was the Philip Bobo deep post, where he slid into the snow bank as he held on with one HELL of a catch. Who can forget that?



BRILLIANT.

The kid was in the zone that day. I mean we knew Bledsoe was going to make millions playing on Sundays, but to see him again on TV this week, after all these years, just stand in there and throw lasers, it really was something else. And even better, he still says to this day that even after the NFL career, the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowls, etc, the most fun and memorable game in his entire life was that Apple Cup.

The other cool thing about that game was what Don James said, after the fact. He said flat-out that WSU was the better team that day, they beat UW, no excuses. But also something else. This was only years later in an interview, but he said without a doubt, the way Bledsoe played in those conditions, the level at which he stepped up his game? It is probably the greatest individual performance in the history of the Apple Cup. Very, very cool indeed, to hear that come from him.

One other thing to take from that game? The size and strength of the athletes, on BOTH sides of the ball. To see those athletes with their speed and strength, some of those guys were just ripped. Maybe that's where both UW and WSU have fallen a bit, in terms of their size and strength? We know we have stepped back, but UW as well. Just take the "eye" test today while watching the game, and you'll know what I mean when I say that.

Anyway, great memories. I hope we get something special today as well. You never know, it is the Apple Cup after all, and things just seem to happen in rivalry games. Most of all, I'm just going to have fun with the game today, root for my Cougs, and hope they can pull it out and ease the sting of the worst-season-ever.

That's it for now. We will probably have a game thread, for those of you not at the game, so drop by if you feel so inclined. ENJOY THE GAME, and GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments

Friday, November 21, 2008

Football Friday Lucky Week XIII: Crapple Cup


"I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray..."

"But when I woke up this morning, could've sworn it was judgement day..."

Greetings Cougar Nation! Welcome to Football Friday Week 13--Crapple Cup style.

Nation, I have to admit that I am both excited and on edge about this one.

I am excited because it is the 101st Birthday of the Apple Cup!

And if you're a Coug, who in Holy Hell doesn't get excited about this game no matter what our stinking record is???

At the same time, I am on edge because, for the first time in about 365 days, my streak of perfect Cougar Football projections is squarely on the line. Win this one, and I head to Hawaii with a second consecutive National Championship squarely in sight. Lose and I become a veritable BCS also-ran.

In terms of the game proper, I have to admit I am a bit at a loss. After all,I haven't seen our team play in just about a month. So, given the fact that I haven't seen what I haven't seen, I am really left to guess about what will happen at 12:00 this Saturday. But, here is what I am looking for:

1) Washington's Size versus our Iron Triangle.

As was noted in today's Seattle Times, many a person in the print media has remarked that you can tell a WSU Football player anywhere simply by their lack of size. Conversely, while the UW lineman may be dumb, bad, AND slow, they sure are BIG and fat.

Of course, our defensive line is anything but(t). And our lack of size, strength, and depth may wind up being a really, really, really big problem for us once again.

Fortunately, there is many a tale about slower, less talented football teams that have won big games. Normally, those upsets are not only about getting the breaks, they're also about how Team leaders inspire their teammates to believe--not that they COULD win--but that they are going to win the stinking game.

And this is where our Iron Triangle comes into play:

Nation, it is not only the performance, but the swagger and commitment that Greg Trent, A'i Ahmu and Matt Mullennix bring to this game that will be a HUGE deciding factor. If these three seniors adequately inspire the others on the defensive side of the ball, we will be squarely in this game--especially with the 3-3-5 which will WRECK the U's pathetic passing game.

2) Play Makers Making Plays:


When your combined record is 1-101, it is easy to conclude that there are NOT very many playmakers on either roster. After all, if there were such play makers, then neither team would be 0-10 or 1-10...

For the UW, we know that they have burners at the receiver spot, injured but capable RB's, and a QB that has a gun a la Dick Cheney in the fields of Texas. Powerful, yet erratic.

Where we are concerned, we have a QB with ZERO Touchdowns and TEN interceptions, two capable albeit erratic RBs, an All-American type receiver, an NCAA track champion at the other wide-out, and an honorable mention-type All-Conference tight end.

In other words, both QBs SUCK. And, with a balmy 43-degrees and rain in the forecast, you can bet that the passing game is going to look about at bad as Bad can get:


That said, with a TIE out of the question, somebody on one of these teams is going to have to make a play, right?

3) Homer Delirium and Turn-Overs

I was telling Sedihawk a month ago about watching an exhibition game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings. For the past couple of years, I would occasionally talk up the upsides of Petro, Wilkins, Weezie, Collison, and company as I would dream about a resurgence of our then-Seattle SuperSonics. But, as I watched this basketball game, the TRUTH became horribly apparent to me:

THOSE GUYS ARE STINKING AWFUL PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS!!!!!

So, where our Cougs are concerned, it is really hard at this point not to wonder about whether or not our version of BAD is in an entirely different league as Washington's. I tend to think not, but a 31-3 loss is not out of the question in my book.

4) Turnovers

Washington is really bad and they don't turn the ball over much. We're really, really bad and we turn it over a TON. Last time I checked, we're -237 in turnover margin this year.

Obviously, for us to be able to hang in, we're going to have to be AT WORST -1.

FINAL ANSWER:

I've gone back and forth on this one, Nation. But here is my bottom line:

1) I think we want it more than them.

2) They're playing to not be "defeated" which is the same as playing "not to lose" in my book.

3) I think our leaders are stronger and better leaders than theirs.

4) I think that our players want to play for our coaches MUCH more than the other way around.

5) Both ground games will be mediocre and quasi-effective.

6) The rainy weather will take away the long passing game.

7) The game will be decided by the short passing game.

8) Our TE and WRs are better.

In the end, we head into Hawaii the worst 2-10 team of all time.

Cougars 24 Defeateds 21

Elsewhere:

Zona 38 Oregon State 37. Riley loses FANTASTIC bid for the RB with a late failed two point conversion (Put the Beavs in the RB if they win this one. NO WAY the Quack beats them next week if they escape).

Stanford 24 CAL 21. Poor QB play spells doom for the Bears, AGAIN.

BIG GAME;

Texas Tech 41 Clay Bennett University 35. Ever since the cheap chop block by the Defeateds, Clay Bennett University has gently headed south defensively. Texas Tech moves on to lose in the Big 12 Title Game--setting up another BCS Title game with a team that couldn't win their own conference (Texas)

Enjoy the games. AND GO COUGS!!!!!

Sedihawk says:

Another year, another Apple Cup. First of all, a moment of appreciation for Alex Brink. The only WSU QB to hoist that Apple Cup trophy on three different occasions, no matter what history will say about the kid, he was always strong in this game. Last year was flipping fantastic, 27-for-40 for an AC record 399 yards and FIVE TD's, including the game-winner in the final minute. And hey, Brink did become the top-ranked passer in WSU history in nine different categories. He never got to post-season play, but he sure got the most of what he had. Alex Brink, we salute you.

NOTE - if you would like to see a video of that final TD drive from 2007, check it out here.

But alas, it's 2008. Although we can all agree that this is being talked about as the worst ever in the history of the series, and uh, yeah, it's hard not to agree with all these assessments. The facts are facts, and have been painstakingly laid out for you here, there, and everywhere over this last week. It's not a slump, it's simply two teams that are, well.....
I can also say that, at least in my opinion, this WILL BE the lowest point for both of these programs. We are already assured that the 2009 Cougars will be better than the 2008 version, given the issues of experience gained from this year in so many young players, as well as some true quality talent currently stashed away in redshirt-land. It's not blind homerism, but the 2009 Cougars will be better than 2008.

And even this Coug can honestly look at UW and say if the right coach gets in there, they could be walking into a situation that is, believe it or not, ready to win NEXT year. Not a PAC-10 title or anything like that, but one that could flirt with bowl-eligibility. Laugh all you want at our defeated brothers to the west, but when you have a junior-to-be QB next season, who will have healthy legs and all the talent in the world in Jake Locker, and a ton of frosh and sophomores who have learned their hard lessons this year? It very well could set up to be a breakthrough 2009 at Montlake. I'm serious.

A big question though is who that UW coach will be? There was a hot-n-heavy rumor a couple of nights ago that Jim Mora will be the next UW coach, and even suggested some high-level boosters were told of this. However, our dialed-in UW source downplayed it, big-time, and basically said relax, Mora is still a very, very, verrrrry long shot. And the reality is the only two people who know who UW's next coach will be are Mark Emmert and Scott Woodward. End of story. They are likely to get their guy in early December, so ignore anything you hear right now until something official is out there. But in my own rumor-mongering, I do have a prediction as to who that coach will be.....

He was interested in 2004, and he's interested again, today. Does the idea of Jeff Tedford at Montlake worry you? At first I was worried. He's got an excellent reputation, he's blazed a recruiting trail to Berkeley where they are nabbing NFL talent left and right, and his teams are built around a strong running game and some dynamic offenses, while not being afraid to change defensive schemes to meet the demands of opposing offenses in today's game. Plus the guy has totally figured out that Duck spread offense, better than anyone else outside of Corvallis.

I think the more painful reality there is that he would take Jim Michalczik and Bob Gregory, both former Coug players from the 80's who have turned into some fine college assistants and would likely follow Tedford north to Seattle.

But then I thought "You know what? WE need to worry about OURSELVES, and not freak out about who is at UW." And I think, Coug Nation, that is the deal. No matter who they hire, whether it's Tedford or someone else of higher-than-high profile, RELAX. We've got a plan in place and our guys have been hard at work since last December to turn it around. It is being rebuilt the right way, and it will come. But as the old saying goes, almost nothing of value comes easy, does it? Look at your own life for a moment. Look at where you are today. How much of that came easy? How much of what you have today was just given to you, or just happened? Unless you were born into wealth or won the lottery, it's likely you are where you are today by paying some sort of price, through hard work and determination to make something of yourself.

And it really is the same thing in almost every walk of life. Think of the WSU basketball program. Not necessarily where it is today, as it looks again like Tony has a heck of a team for the third straight year. But think about the price that program paid to get where it is now. Think about Paul Wulff's journey. Look at what he's been through in his personal life. And in coaching, the guy started for free at EWU and lived in a small trailer at the beginning of his career. Think he doesn't know the meaning of hard work and perseverence in the face of adversity?? Nobody will outwork Wulff on the recruiting trail, and he and his staff are on the same page. They will do all they can to protect the current crop as well as add to this class as signing day approaches. But honestly, relax. We'll be alright.

OK, I've gone off the rails. Now on to this week.

This is a tough one to call, isn't it? I mean you have a team in UW that has been bad, but they were at least close to beating a decent team in BYU. They were outgained in that game by a wide margin, but if not for Jake Locker's penalty and the blocked extra point, they would have gone to OT. And isn't it almost always the best bet to take the team that came from behind to force OT, with all the momentum in the world, and playing at home to boot? That game could have easily gone to UW's side of things that day, and while it likely wouldn't have made much difference in their 2008 fortunes, well, they were at least CLOSE to a win over a pretty good team.


Now look in the mirror. Can we actually say the same thing? Quick, what is the closest we've been to beating a BCS team this year? If you said UCLA for 25 points, a WSU Football Blog T-shirt is on the way to you right now(not really). But think about that for a moment. The CLOSEST we've been to beating a BCS team is a 28-3 loss? REALLY? Good Lord that's bad.

That said, I'm not suggesting we don't have a chance here. We do. But I boil this one down to what it's always been about since week one, and that's the one thing this team has done better (or worse) than anyone else in the country - TURNOVERS. I know, I know, it's a bad word around here, but it cannot be ignored. I don't know our worst-ever turnover ratio in school history, but I have to believe that minus-25 with still two more games to go has to be in the basement. But it's not just giving the ball away all the time, but the lack of the ability to take it back that is also killing this team. And sadly, I don't see it suddenly turning all around just because it's Apple Cup. If they lose that turnover battle, they will lose this game.

All that said, I'm taking the underdog at home in a rivalry game. If you are ever unsure about a game like this, take the home 'dog. And the betting line has gone down slightly. As Bob Condotta pointed out at the Times the other day, the line is trending back towards WSU. And as Condotta also pointed out, when the line has moved away from UW, you've subsequently seen it reflected in that week's game. UW has actually played how the line has moved, if you can believe it.

In the end, I believe that UW does have slightly better players compared to the young skinnies we'll roll out there. We'll want it more, we'll play with more passion and intensity in front of the friendly Martin Stadium crowd, and it will be a very tight game. But I think Ronnie Fouch makes a couple of big throws, and Ryan Perkins, injured kicking leg and all, boots one through in the waning moments, giving UW a 17-16 win. Sorry. I didn't want to do it. I almost picked us to win this thing. But I simply believe they are slightly better. We'll cover the line at home, but I think they will pull it out.

Other games (weird that almost half the conference has a bye this week?):

Oregon State 33, Arizona 30. The Oregon State Rose Bowl express once again finds a way. But this is a very dangerous game for the Beavs. They have yet again circled the wagons in spectacular fashion, and haven't lost since choking away the game at Utah on October 2nd. And Arizona's defense looks to have lost some steam, giving up 28 to us and then 55 last week.

CAL 27, Stanford 23. Cal has lost a couple lately, including a bitter loss last week in Corvallis. But they have revenge in mind from last year's loss to Stanford. The Cardinal looked bowl-worthy a few weeks ago, but now wobble into this one at 5-6 and needing one more win to get to the postseason since Ty Willie roamed the Stanford sideline. It won't happen. Cal has more weapons and will make a few more plays, and that will be it. But this might be the last season for a while that Stanford misses out on the post-season. With Harbaugh set to ink his contract extension, watch out for Stanford in '09 and beyond.

BIG GAME:

Oklahoma 44, Texas Tech 40. The dream ends for the weirdo coach in Mike Leach. Oklahoma at home will get it done. And the debate really heats up for the BCS title game.

That's it. ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and GO COUGS! Read more ...plus comments