Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Conference of... Running Backs?

Lets face it, it's a down year in the Conference of Quarterbacks. There is talent, for sure, but up and down the conference there will be a conspicuous lack of experience lining up under center. However, the Pac-10 may just make up for it by temporarily becoming the Conference of Running Backs. In fact the conference is so stacked at this position that even the lowly Cougs have more talent in their backfield then they can really use, and our rivals across the state are going to line up their best running back at QB!

This year two of the very best running backs the conference (of running backs) has to offer will serve as bookends to our home campaign. On September 5th Stanford's Toby Gerhart will provide a stiff early challenge for our rebuilding defense, and on November 21st, Jacquizz ("Quizz") Rodgers will try to make a new highlight reel out of WSU's Senior Day.

Quizz checks in at around 5'7", 190 lbs, and while Gerhart is a more hearty 6'1" 230, they will provide completely different challenges to our defense. But at the same time, they may provide an interesting measuring stick about how far our team has progressed, or lack thereof, as the season wears on.

It's a little early to hit the panic button just yet, but It looks like Gerhart is going to face a Coug D that does not include Louis Bland. And by November 21st, who knows what other casualties will occur by the time Mr. Rodgers makes it to the Palouse. Either way, I look forward to seeing them both live and hope our guys can hold their own.

So where do the Cougs stand in this new-fangled "Conference of Running Backs"? Frankly, from a WSU perspective, it is the only position I feel downright giddy about going into the season. Having a talent like James Montgomery fall into our lap is enough to be excited about, but even without him the stable is plenty full. He joins a group that includes two other Cougs in particular that I'll be rooting extra hard for this Fall.

Logwone Mitz

Arguably one of the great Cougar names of all time. I guarantee if all the potential this kid has comes to the surface over the course of his career, you will hear that name a lot more around Pullman. People will name their pets, boats, guns and first born sons Logwone. I have some first-hand knowledge that Logwone is a class act off the field, a consciensous student, nice guy and one of the many players we can be proud to have on our roster. Players like Mitz don't seem to get enough attention these days. His Apple Cup run has already won him a small place in Cougar lore, but I look for him to give us many more memorable runs over the next couple years. Just stay healthy big fella!

Dwight Tardy

Tardy gets my vote for our current spiritual leader of this team. The senior has been through all the upheaval around the program and has been a steady performer and leader through it all. He is another kid we can be proud to have wearing Crimson. He has never been overly spectacular nor a particularly flashy player. I always considered him "serviceable" while we waited for younger talents like Chris Ivory or DeMaundray Woolridge to develop, if not take over the position entirely. But, alas, many of the challengers are gone, and it is Tardy who is still standing. It looks to be a showdown between Tardy and James Montgomery for the honor of handling that first hand-off on Sept. 5th. I'll be watching this battle closely during Fall camp, but I have to admit, Dwight Tardy is my sentimental favorite to win the job.

So tell me, Cougar Nation... who are your sentimental favorites this fall? If there are any position battles you are especially interested in let me know in the comments. In the coming days ahead I will be taking in fall practices, and I'll report back on how I see things shaking out. And on that note? It's a shame I wasn't able to make it to camp today. Apparently I missed seeing a few spirited altercations (FIVE fights!?! Really???) that make the first days of contact so exciting.

On a side note, has anyone else noted a bit of a change in Sir Vincent Grippi this year? He seems to be shedding his impenetrable veneer of objectivity and becoming a bit of a, dare I say... "fan" of whats happening with this team? Or maybe its just me?

Hang in there everyone, it's almost Cougar Football Saturday! Remember, I'll be checking out some practices in the next few days, so tip me off in comments if there is anyone or anything in particular to watch out for.


Sean Hawkins said...

Good work Longball. Can't wait for your recaps of the upcoming practices. Here's what I want to hear about:

1) The D line! How does it look? Are they bigger/meaner/stronger this year compared to what you saw last year? Is Wolfgramm's back alright? Does Turpin look like he'll become a major force? How do Feagin and Kooyman look at the ends?

2) How does the middle linebacker situation look? Is Hoffman-Ellis looking like the answer, or will Ledgerwood (a favorite around here) take the job? And speaking of linebackers, how does Stripling look? Vince had a feature on him and said he's up to 245 on his 5-11 frame. Does he look tentative with the rebuilt shoulder or is he flying around?

3) Finally, on offense, the QB's and WR's. Obviously how is Marshall moving, how's the knee, etc. But how about J.T. Levy? Or the kid in all this, the true frosh, Tuel? And the WR's, in particular Norrell and Karstetter. They are the future of the position for the next three seasons, what with Jeshua and the track deal. Do those guys look better compared to what you saw out of them last year?

kaddy said...

I read that Kooyman put on 18 lbs...from 242 - 260. Those might be the most important 18 lbs for the team this year.

Selahcoug said...

Tardy is a sentimental favorite of mine as well. Everytime I hear interviews with him, he is just all Coug. I do think Mitz is headed in that direction as well. There really needs to be more stories on these guys in the media, rather than just the guys on the police radar.

I will have to go with Sedi on this, I want to know how the D-line looks. I think Turpin should be good again, but how do Wolfgram and Luopo look?

And of course the QB battle. Has anyone looked considerably better than the others? Is Tuel the next big time WSU QB? Probably too early to tell on that, but I am curious as to how he looks.

Brian said...

My sentimental favorites are anyone Sophomore or below earning playing time. We're going to lose alot again this year and so we might as well lose with young guys again to gain more of that valuable experience. Plus, it's fun to watch a guy from his Frosh/Soph year and how he develops over the years.

I agree with Hawk about topics to look forward to hearing more about, especially the defensive front 7. With so many good RB's in our schedule, the front 7 will need to be stout and not give up 80 yd untouched TD runs this season.

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

Great job, LB.

My sentimental favorite is Andy Mattingly.

To me, Mattingly feels like a Will Derting do-over on several fronts.

I am really hoping that his return to linebacker helps him move toward the possibility of playing on Sundays. I am also hoping that his style of play helps the defense develop an identity and intensity it can use to move forward.

If you remember, ALL of our good teams had a turnover machine that relied heavily on the play and pressure created by our outside linebackers.

I'm hoping that Andy can start to re-pave that road this year.

Anonymous said...

I want to know who jumps out at you. Anyone that is better than advertised. And since you saw a lot of the team last year how does it compare to this year.

Brian said...

I'm going to make a bold prediction and say that Aire Justin emerges as a star on our D. I really liked what I saw from the young kid last season and I think he has alot of potential.

Longball said...

Howdy Brian,

I'll be watching the battle at corner closely. Simmons had actually jumped past Justin on the depth chart and seems to be holding down that starting corner spot... for the moment. Of course that could really light a fire under Justin. We'll see, but its nice to hear there is some spirited competition at what is arguably one of our thinnest positions.