Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Comments and Stuff

Happy Friday to you all. So nice to have football back isn't it? At least for a little while anyway.

I thought the picture was appropriate, based on the idea of how far the team has to go to compete up front. There is no question the offensive and defensive lines were rag-dolled most of last year, and the reasons were many - lack of size, lack of strength, too young, etc. But it does at least sound like we're seeing progress there, such as the article the other day where they ran down the new weights of several players.

And on that note, there were some great comments you have left over the last few days, and we thought it would be a good idea to highlight a few of them.

'03CouveCoug had some good thoughts on what ails the program, and what to do about it:

Alright Sedi, you asked what’s broke, and how do we fix it…so here goes. What’s broke is simple…both lines.

Until the Cougs can send out Pac-10 caliber lines, they will not win many games. It all starts up front on both sides of the ball. We need DT’s that:
1. Clog the middle and allow the linebackers to make plays when offenses run and
2. To occupy as many opposing OL’s as possible on passing plays so that the DEs and/or blitzers can tee off on the opposing QB. Remember Long, Tupai, and Williams? Or Sasa and Eaton? THAT’S why those defenses were so good!

We need DEs that:
1. Can not only pin their ears back and rush the backfield on passing downs
2. That have the strength and quickness to turn running plays back inside toward their friends. Does DD Acholonu have younger brothers or cousins?

The only way to fix this is to continue to recruit “big frame” guys with good feet that we can put weight on to become DTs and to recruit “strong motor” linebacker types that also have the frames to put on weight in order to make them ferocious DEs.

Do we already have guys like this on the team? I believe the answer is yes, we fans just need to give them time to develop. I also believe that it is slightly easier to make quick improvement on defense because playing D does not require as much precision and execution as offense and can be played with more instinct and emotion.

On the offensive line, we need more “big frame” guys that have great footwork, good agility and great smarts. Not to say that every player doesn’t need smarts, but it is my opinion that besides the QB, the o-linemen need to be the smartest guys on the field. I really think that these types of o-linemen are already on the roster. I think health and cohesion will promote a vast improvement amongst this group this year (fingers and toes crossed). Let’s just keep recruiting the TE type out of high school and make them big boys!

I think a great example of this is down the way in Corvallis. The Beavs have developed a very good program because they have the ability to throw out waves of good, if not great lineman on both sides of the ball, which they have the ability to do because of great coaching and redshirting. If we develop our lines like OSU (easier said than done) over the coming years our beloved Cougs will perennially be a team to be reckoned with.

Well said. I think we are on the same page here? I know we've been trumpeting what Oregon State has become for some time, and they are the perfect model for WSU to follow....

Except the part about CHOKING the Rose Bowl bid at home against your hated rival! OUCH. Moving on...

CalebCherry dropped in to say that WSU's future approach should be to focus a lot more on defense, ala the hoops program:

For us out here, I think if we are going to have one side of the ball dominate heads and shoulders above the other... especially in our conference, we stand a far better chance of getting to a bowl game with an offense that puts just enough points on the board and a defense that is our foundation and what keeps us competitive and turns peoples heads.

It seems like the most effective use of our time given we're still a couple years into an completely new offensive philosophy.

There shouldn't be any reason we can't supply some demand for local (even west coast) guys who only have USC (and maybe oregon?) to look to when they dream about playing some pin-your-ears-back defense.

The best way I can say it is... I'd love to have the same feeling I get when cougar basketball plays ANYONE! I know it's not out of the question that our defense will keep us in the game with literally... anyone.

Good takes. I remember Wulff saying on one of last fall's radio shows about how he learned from Mike Price the approach of stocking up on speed and athleticism on defense, and how important that was to our past successes.

It's easy to look at Price's best teams and see how even with some very productive offenses, the D was a huge factor ('92, '94', '97, '01', '02).

Chris'04 weighed in, saying the pound increase on these guys sounds good, but "FAT" isn't always a good thing....

This is GREAT news! I'm glad to see that Wulff has delivered on his promise to bulk up our guys. But, bulk does not always equal performance. Keep in mind that the Fuskies had the heaviest OLine in the Pac10 last year. Look where that got them. But I trust Wulff 100% that he is not adding bulk at the expense of strength and quickness.

Good point Chris. UW boasted about their large line, but yeah, didn't really do much for them. Funny how much hype UW's o-line had coming into 2008, but when they lost the scrambling Locker, suddenly they couldn't move or pass block worth a damn? Coincidence??

"BMels", a newcomer to comments I believe(?), had his thoughts and parallels with the WSU hoops program when the Bennett's started their program flip:

When considering the future of our Cougs, I must think back to the ways of the Bennett crew taking charge at Beasley. First years were atrocious, awful, ugly, painful, get the idea. And for the most part, that continued even when Tony took over and "the big three" (Weaver, Low, Cowgill) were frosh. Their sophomore year, they continued to lose but all games were close, often coming down to the last couple minutes or plays. And the next year, well, I don't need to tell anybody about our first trip to the Dance in recent memory. I honestly foresee the football team following suit and taking steps in the right direction.

No predictions but i see more competitive losses next year where we actually look like a football team with football players making football plays. We continue to grow and build, guys get bigger/faster/stronger, and team character builds. I think 2010 shows serious progress reflected in wins and losses but 2011 is the year where this year's incoming freshman have the chance to make some noise.

And there is no way Wulff has anything to worry about even potentially until after 2010 at the earliest. He's gonna get more than a fair chance to right the ship.

I know I have heard this comp a few times, as a lot of you have as well. While hoops and football are very different and, honestly, it at least appears that it is a little easier to change things in hoops more quickly than football, it is fair to compare both programs at this juncture to see if they follow the same path. Although Dick Bennett did coach at WSU for three losing seasons, and it wasn't until Tony took over in year four before they broke through to the NCAA's, well, we COULD see the improvement this year on the football field in terms of things are tightened up and the foundations are laid for future success. But I think it is difficult to compare the different sports and draw too much of a conclusion. Time will tell.

Finally, our own Hooty had this to say about the sour-face Governor during UW's loss to Purdue:

If Gregoire were green, she'd look exactly like the Grinch.

Good call.

There are some links and stuff out there as well, floating about after day one.

GRIPPI NAILS ONE TODAY with his day-one practice recap. GREAT to hear Lobbestael throwing TD's in seven-on-seven drills!

The TNT's Ryan Divish dives into the improvement expected for this spring.

And Cougfan has been blowing up the coverage. It's all premium stuff, but they are all over it.



Nuss said...

The difference is that the basketball team was NEVER as bad under Dick Bennett as it was this first year under Wulff. Bennett's worst record at WSU was actually his third year ...

Sedihawk said...

True Nuss. 2008 is hard to compare anything to, really. I agree with you there. But the way they lost early in the Dick Bennett era was pretty similar? You probably know the numbers better than I, but weren't there some brutal blowouts, like the Okie State game? Not that we lost by 40 every game.

And let's face it, Dick Bennett is a hall-of-famer, possibly, with a tried-n-true system that produces. I love the idea that things are getting better under Wulff, but it's too early in his era to know if his system and ideals are going to take and which way this thing is going to break.

Lucas said...

BMels, as in Brian Melhart?

casey b said...

Bob Melvin?

'03CouveCoug said...

Thanks for the front-page treatment, Sedi. It’s nice to have an outlet for my need to analyze our Cougs. When I try to talk about this stuff with my wife, she usually glazes over and eventually says, “Honey, I love the Cougs too and I want to see them win, but why do you think I care about this stuff?”

Anyway, although I thoroughly enjoy Nuss’s blog (must reading for all Cougs, along with this blog of course), I must say that while he’s correct about Coach Bennett the senior’s teams never being as bad as the 2008 Cougar Football team, that’s not totally fair to Coach Wulff. Perhaps I’m reading too much into Nuss’s statement…but I’m gathering that he’s implying that Coach Wulff did a very poor job last year (please correct me if I’m wrong Nuss). I would argue that it’s a helluva lot easier to change the attitude and system on 5 guys than it is on 22, especially because the football team was accustomed to ZERO discipline under Doba. Even though Paul Graham was a pitiful coach, he was a notorious taskmaster, so Bennett inherited guys that seriously lacked talent but were at least used to discipline.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that last year needs to be totally thrown out the window. The combination of undisciplined players who didn’t buy into the system until about week 9 of the season with a coach that was adjusting to FBS football equals a total inability to judge what we truly have in a coach. A full season of recruiting (that went very well by all accounts) and bought in players that have had a full offseason of study, weight room work and training table food will give us a much clearer picture of what we’ve got in a head coach. Personally, I think we’re on the right track. As I mentioned earlier this week, I think 4 wins is in the realm of possibility next season and we are NOT going to lose any games by 60, either.

Sedihawk said...

Bob Melvin?? :) Isn't that "BoMel"? I have no idea who BMel is, but I don't think it's the MLB manager who is afraid of clowns. But remember, ALL ARE WELCOME!

As far as Nuss, I would take it up with him at his site. I am not sure what he thinks of Wulff. I don't recall any venom but I am not sure.

And I am still not ready for predictions. FAR too long until 9/5, you know? Who knows what they are going to look like by the opener? Suspensions have already happened (Pellum and some others per Grippi). Plus we need to see how the rest of our opponents look post-spring ball. We will get to that stuff later this spring with the "spring fish wraps".

'03CouveCoug said...

I was just responding to Nuss's I said, perhaps I'm reading way too much into it. Not trying to stir the pot, I promise! Maybe he's just trying to point out how great Coach Dick Bennett was/is...certainly no denying that!

Looking forward to the fish wraps...

Anonymous said...

Hey any word yet on new uniforms for 2009? Or has the nike deal not gone down or will it?....also, are we going to use the crimson scripted helmets this year?? Aren't we 1-0 with them - can't remember if we used them vs Hawaii as well?? For a college that can't afford to complete renovations on the existing stadium, we sure have enough money to invest in helmets - what is it, 5 different coug helmets in the vaults?? - I think I have 3 of those mini-helmets myself at home - so when you do the schedule with helmets, how do you know which Coug helmet to use?? (joking)

Reno, NV
WSU alum '98

Sedihawk said...

Billy Blaze, what up?

The Nike deal is done, we are all NIKE, ALL THE TIME. And the uniforms are done as well. It is all hush hush right know. The best guy/gal we know hasn't even seen them but he/she has heard they are nice. Wulff spilled in the chat the other day that it will be the WSU logo on the helmets, with the script saved for special occasions (Apple cup).

I do think we will get a look at them soon, whether they want it public or not.

kaddy said...

Uni's are supposedly finished, just not unveiled to the public yet - not sure when they will be shared.

Wulff mentioned that they're leaning towards the logo for most of the games, as far as helmets go.

'03CouveCoug said...

Finally read Grippi's report...sounds pretty encouraging, especially because Vince isn't exactly the most optimistic reporter in the world. Glad to read that the practice was efficient, everyone was happy to be there and knew what to expect. Hopefully this means a much more efficient spring that will actually give us an indication of what we've got heading into the summer "voluntary" workouts.

Lucas said...

Brian Melhart (BMel) was on the equipment staff for the football team with my roommate a few years back. Just curious if it was him, and saying what up if it is.

Sedihawk said...

It's cool Lucas. The bmel left a comment this week but I don't remember which day (and I can't see all the comments right now from my phone). The comment is stiil up. I have never heard of bmel before, so who knows, maybe it is your bmel?

And, yeah, that Grippi report from day one was pretty good. Good in that he gave an opinion on what he was seeing, beyond just as a mainstream newspaper guy? It seems out of character for him, but if it's a whole NEW GRIPPI, I likey!

BMels said...

Yeah Lucas you nailed it. Didn't think it would take too long for somebody to recognize that one. I've been following the blog for a couple months but I guess finally felt compelled to comment. So, consider me a first time regular I guess.

As for the vast number of helmets: they are actually all the same. Each player is issued a gray and any guy on the travel squad gets a crimson. They practice all week in the helmet they are wearing that weekend. Each Friday evening, the appropriate stickers are added and the helmets are shined up (thanks to a stellar equipment staff) Not really one helmet in each style for each guy. Many schools have practice helmets and then game only helmets; this is how the Zeroes roll. (The ducks for anybody who didn't catch on)

As for the Nike deal, definitely signed and done. Heard lots of good things about the looks for football and baseball. Should be vastly improved over any Russell garbage from the last couple of years.

Enjoy your weekend fellow Coug fans!

Lucas said...

Glad you joined us Melhart. I heard a funny rumor about Nike a few years back. Apparently we approached them about uniforms around 1996 or 1997 and they basically laughed at us. And then in January 1998, they came to us after the RB and we told them off. Any truth to this rumor?