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, disgusting...you 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.
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.
ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and as always, GO COUGS!