Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Perfect 10th

Hello Followers. Hope you are having a great week.

Well, with training camp now almost half-way in the books, I thought it high time to remind you what a perfect 10 looks like:

Oops~ What I meant to write was "I thought it high time to remind you what a Perfect 10th looks like."

Much better, right?

Of course, being the bright Cougar fans that you all are, you all know what happened to those Crimson Hoopsters of the 2005-2006 season: A young group of freshmen and sophomores finished DEAD STINKIN' LAST in the Pac-10.

But along the way, those merry young lads also managed to have a few nice W's over the Puppies of then Sweet 16 fame; and the tough learning and development they encountered that year set the stage for two MAGICAL runs into national prominence in the two years that followed.

And now, after being the laughingstock of the Pac-10 conference for nearly a decade, we have a SOLID basketball program.

So, today we stand at the cusp of what could be either a very interesting rebuilding campaign; OR we could be about ready to embark on what could be an apathy building, disgust and disdain filled losing season.

And so, in view of those two possibilities, I bequeath upon you all, the faithful, to allow me the following MEGA RANT:

Followers: Last year, when describing the nuances of our total stink fest of a season, our very own Hooty McBoob situated the campaigns of this year and the year past as follows. He said: "Next year (2009-2010) will be a rebuilding year for our program. This year (08-09) is a transition year."

For the past nine months, I have wholeheartedly believed that Hooty was right. And I took a great deal of solace in his (however temporary) infinite wisdom. But alas, there are troubling signs that another year of transition may nonetheless be on the way for the Crimson Company...

For example, there is a very troubling sentiment out there that Coach Paul has to win this year--e.g. sniff bowl eligibility--to keep his job. And, as I have noted here before, the ONLY way that Coach Paul loses his job after this year is if we LOSE, LOSE BADLY, AND SET OURSELVES UP TO LOSE AGAIN NEXT YEAR in the process. So, when you read what notables like Longball are saying about the strength of our young talent, it sure seems like Coach Paul and company will have to do A LOT wrong to put Coach Paul in any hot water this year.

At the same time, there are also troubling signs that Wulff and company might be prepared to find ways to have it all unravel by trying to "go for it" this year. And, while there is at least some evidence to suggest that we can be a non disaster this year, there are also some grave and lingering fallacies (however implicit) that need to be addressed by the Blogfathers. Here's the first:

"Kevin Lopina is as good as Alex Brink"

Okay, so maybe no one is saying that directly. Hell, maybe no one is even actually thinking that. But, when I continue to read that Kevin Lopina is slated as our #1 guy, I feel as if that is stated implicitly. And when I start thinking that other people are thinking along those lines, well, I return to the Todd Sturdy and Paul Wulff sponsored fallacy from last year:

"Kevin Lopina is as good as Gary Rogers"

That all said, for the sake of argument, let's say that Lopina IS as good as Little Alex was his senior year at WSU.

So, with that assumption in hand, let's ask ourselves the following questions:

1) Are our WRs as good as what Alex had in 2007? Nope.
2) Are our TEs as good as what Alex had in 2008? Nope.
3) Is our offensive line as good as what Alex had in 2007? Maybe.
4) Are our running backs as good as what Alex had in 2007? Could be.
5) And, is our defense as "good" as the group in 2007? Maybe.

So, in view of these questions, I think it is fair to say that we MIGHT have some aspects of our team that MIGHT be as good as 2007. And, of course, all of that ASSUMES that Lopina is AS GOOD as Alex Brink. Now, lets take a good look at what that 2007 team did that season:


In other words, even if we seriously believe that we are as talented as that group, we STILL would have a hard time coming up with a convincing rationale about how we could possibly have a winning season--especially since the league slate top-to-bottom this year is better than in 2007.

So, if you feel what the Sutra is cooking, then you'll know what I've been getting at for 10,000 words now: WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE A WINNING SEASON THIS YEAR. So, if we're not going to win, then what are we trying to accomplish this year by playing dudes who can't build the future of the program?

Consequently, I implore you all to join me in sending the following questions out to the Cougar Cosmos:

1) Are we trying to take our lumps this year and set ourselves up to be bowl eligible next year as Howie Stalwick suggests?

2) Or, are we trying to implement our "system" this year with the hope of winning so we can later see how Wulff's "real guys" mesh NEXT year?

For me, taking lumps now means "rebuilding" now. Conversely, implementing our system now, feels like an inevitable path to transitioning AGAIN, which pushes rebuilding off for yet another painful year.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the possibility of a perfect 10th THIS season (and who knows, maybe even a perfect 7th!)--a dream I am clinging to that has at its center a VISION of watching Jeff Tuel develop THIS season along with a cast of characters that could be good next year AND really good the year after that.

So, to make sure we're all clear, if Ocho Rojo can never become a Coug legend like Osho Rojo, then so be it.

But please, spare us all from the "we can win this year" mirage and lets start building toward next year RIGHT NOW.

Start Jeff Tuel on September 5th. We'll all be glad we did.


Sean Hawkins said...

Love the idea, but don't love it either. I would hate to see Tuel get ruined by starting too early. Remember he didn't even start until his senior year in high school. I know he was really, really good, and now he looks like he might be an absolute gem of a recruit that a lot of other teams missed on, but to go from starting one season of high school ball to starting at QB for a BCS school the next year just seems like too much. The game is an adjustment at this level for any player, but for a QB it's got to be that much tougher.

That said, who knows. Maybe it could be a Terrelle Pryor situation, where they work him into a QB rotation, but it's not 100% on his shoulders. Then after a month or so worth of games, if he's clearly the best choice, you roll with him and get the necessary experience. Then it could not only show that he is better than the other QB's (if he actually is in game situations, we have no idea if he is or not right now), but he could still have a lot of teeth-cutting this year, setting up for a better 2010.

Anonymous said...

If it is obvious Tuel is going to be the guy in the future and at least even with Lopina this year, I'm in favor of working him into the starting role by at least the ASU game. Play him a series or 2 in the early games and get him lots of reps in practice.

Chris '04 said...

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO...should I keep going?

'03CouveCoug said...


I agree with your infinite wisdom regarding people’s expectations, so thanks for the rant. As the case usually is in fall camp, optimism is very high right now. I sure hope that all of the fans that expect Wulff and Co. to sniff bowl contention this season calm it down a notch. While I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong by our men in Crimson and Gray, it is my opinion that it would take an intervention from the football gods for this team to win any more than 5 games. I’m almost certain that Wulff is not yet on the proverbial “hot seat” even though that seems to be the popular sentiment circulating right now. I think that the administration just has higher expectations in terms of still being in games in the 3rd and 4th quarter this year and nothing more.

That being said, I disagree with you and the Cosmos regarding the burning of young phenom Jeff Tuel’s redshirt. In order to truly set this team up for sustained success, we need him playing as a 5th year senior in 2013, when he can realize his full potential. I say this because it appears to me (through Grippi and other sources) that Lobbestael is still very much in the fight for the #1 QB spot. I say let Lopina and Lobbestael fight it out in camp and maybe even split time during the season. Come next year, if Tuel can beat out Lobbestael after Ocho Rojo has another season’s worth of experience at game speed, then so be it.

I will however add one caveat: I could be convinced that getting Tuel in the fold this season makes sense if we’re sure that Connor Halliday is the real deal and is going to redshirt for sure next fall…

Palmer said...

Hawk is right. Tuel is too green. The point about not starting until last year in preps ranks is valid. Let him ripen in the system for a year then all bets are off next yr. Redshirts can be good out of the chute it is possible.

Brian said...

Your argument is that unless we put Tuel in to get him game experience then we are not building toward the future?

Could not disagree more. Anything less than redshirting him is a sign that we are not building toward the future.

I don't think there is ANY pressure on Wulff to win this year. There sure as hell SHOULDN'T be. Even someone who's never watched a game of football should recognize that expecting a team that lost every game by 50 points to win over half their games the next season is completely unreasonable.

I LOVE that picture of the hoops legends as freshmen celebrating a win on UW's court though. Memories...

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

My argument is that unless we start next year with a QB that is dialed in, NEXT YEAR becomes a rebuilding year (and unnecessarily so). Conversely, if we take our lumps with a guy who will be around NEXT YEAR, then I think next year carries the real possibility of a bowl game.

Based on my knowledge, the ONLY WSU QB who has ever done well in their first "full year" of starting was Matt Kegel--who also happened to enjoy some serious time as a frosh...

I too like the Pryor idea by the way...

At least the Stanford game is on TV!!!!

LucasCoug said...

But if we start Tuel and give him his lumps, does Halliday commit elsewhere? Does Marshall transfer? Are we then again, one QB injury away from a nightmare?

Wulff and Co. have said from day one their goal is to get players into this program, redshirt them for a year so they can soak up knowledge, acclimate to college, and understand the program. I say this undermines everything they have been preaching to us and their players since December 2007.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see Tuel play some this year and gain experience--not like Levenseller's 15min on the year, REAL experience. I can see using redshirts for guys to bulk up and produce solid lineman and develop guys with raw skills, but I don't think it's as necessary for a QB with real talent. If this guy can play now, he will still have 3 more years of playing and who is to say by then that we won't have another talented QB recruit who HAS redshirted his freshman year while Tuel is playing. I feel confident that he can do it. Plus, didn't Bledsoe leave after his junior year?

Anonymous said...

Also, I doubt Halliday would decommit if Tuel plays right away. He seems like he is a true cougar and on Tuel's highlights from HS he compared Tuel to Gesser...but better...

Hooty McBoob said...

I don't disagree with the principle of taking lumps this year to make next year better - but isn't that what we did last year?

Give our guys a chance to prove what they can do THIS YEAR and stop judging them exclusively on what happened LAST YEAR.

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

What we did do last year was red-shirt a bunch of guys that could have helped us last year so that we could build depth for this year (and in the years to come, of course). THAT was a big part of the transition. That said, while I could be wrong, I am unaware of where we sat upperclassmen last year in favor of developing youngins..

In terms of "judging" people on past performance, well, isn't that the evidence from which we all base our opinions? At the same time, I have ZERO interest in creating the same misconception that was out there in the Alex years. Whoever, the QB is, I will root like hell for them to succeed. Period.

Dinkndunk said...

Tuel playing in 09 is a disaster. Wulf has a locker room to manage and Lopina is not only the starter but will be a captain. Lopina beat out Rogers last year when they were both healthy. I was at every home game last year and the scrimmage on Sat. and Lopina looks so much better its is a joke. He is in control and comfortable in the system and is moving better than Ocho Rojo. Tuel has the ability wow is he a good looking prospect, but Lopina is earning the chance to start and right now no question he is they guy.

Hooty McBoob said...

Despite the fact that he was a junior last year, Lopina hadn't started a game since he was in high school. He fell on the grenade last year. He took his lumps and as a result, SHOULD be a better player for it this year.

LucasCoug said...


What does Bledsoe leaving after his Junior year have anything to do with my statement? Bledsoe left because he was the best QB in the country. On Tuel's highlight tape, who compared him to Gesser? He is 3 inches taller with a way bigger arm; besides, comparing a kid who has never taken a D1 snap to the most successful QB in WSU history is absolutely FOOLISH!! Lopina took his lumps last year and is poised for a solid year if he remains healthy. Not to mention he was the unquestioned vocal leader when the lockerroom was divided this year. Who was the last freshmen QB to succeed in this conference? I would prefer Tuel RS and have 4 years, than anything else.

Stiffmiester said...

Just a quick link to a Brandon Gibson interview

Anonymous said...

Halliday is the one who left that comment on Tuel's page which is why I said that I'd doubt he would mind. I know the Bledsoe comment was stupid but I'm much more of a college basketball fan so I know leaving school early if you have the talent isn't all that uncommon. I wouldn't mind redshirting Tuel--not at all--but if he is playing better than the other guys at the end of fall camp I think he deserves to play. I have no doubt that he'll be starting next year so I can see where Sutra is coming from. We'll be starting a guy with no game experience when we have the opportunity of being bowl eligible so why not let him get game experience now?

Sean Hawkins said...

Love the Gibby Stiffmeister! I would sure love to have him as part of a "do-over" for this year. An impact WR would surebe nice right about now, hopefully the young pups can venture away from Momma a little more this year and we can see what they are capable of.

Is it possible to be tired of this debate, even though it has only been going on for the better part of a week?? :) Seriously though, I say evaluate the situation as it unfolds into the season. Sutra mention it earlier to me, but break the season into four "quarters" an re-evaluate as you go. Start Lopina for the first quarter, or first three games, and see where we're at. If they are, say, 2-1 and things are looking up, then keep going. But if you are 1-2 or dare I say, 0-3 and not looking good? Then you make a change, either to Marshall or even start getting Tuel some playing time. Split it 50/50 if you have to, and see who can rise to the challenge in real game situations. At that point you have nothing to lose. The season is falling apart anyway, so you might as well get out of it what you can with an eye towards being pretty tough in 2010.

Meanwhile, some of you may not care but I heard Brock Huard on Kiro today. He went to the UW scrimmage last night to watch Locker. I expected to hear major fawning, but guess what? He said (and I quote) "from what I saw, Locker has a LOT of work to do." He commented on all the check-downs and dump offs Locker had to do, a lot of hesitation and ball-tapping while waiting for something to develop, etc. Granted, Locker only had two drives, and he was 4-for-8, so small sample size. But it sounds like they are going to have some struggles ahead in their new system. We are NOT ALONE perhaps??

Stiffmiester said...

The Times had a report from today's Fuskie practice and they was wore out and sloppy. It specifically mentioned the frustration of both Jakey boy and the twitter king. I wonder if he is so Sarked up now.

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

We had a lot of comments last year regarding how Gary Rogers was simply NOT a fit for the new offense that was brought in by Wulff and company.

Well, the Defeateds are going to really face the same predicament having a tremendous read-option type guy being forced fed a pro-style offense.

I'll be hitting on comparisons between us and the Infidels next week, probably same time.

Anonymous said...

This is the "dog days" of camp too, so UW and WSU are going to look a little ragged. They are nearly halfway into it, still quite a ways to go until they are done, and it's tough so I would imagine all schools go through a period where they are sloppy or unfocused especially when it is hot and that finish line feels like a long way off. I bet fights will start to happen more as guys are sick of wailing each other.

Longball said...

Bottom line folks - If on Sept 5 Tuel is our best QB and is ready to face the fire... he should get the go. There is a lot of camp left and I haven't made my mind up yet, but there are a couple possibilities I am now open to that I wasn't before:

1 - Lopina is better than Lobs.

2 - Tuel is better than both and ready to play at this level.

These are impressions from seeing them in person. I am curious to see how the hold up in the coming weeks.

Soze said...

Longball... I know I shouldn't be judging this years team against last years performance, but if Tuel is tearing it up in practice, do you think it will transition to the field against better defense's in the Pac-10?

My personal opinion, (keep in mind I haven't seen a single pracitce this spring/fall) is to let him redshirt, regardless of whether or not he's the best QB in our program. I'd rather see him play on 4 teams that are .500 or better (fingers crossed for 2010-13), versus burning a year this season when I see us winning 2-3 games.

Longball said...

I agree Soze, he needs to do it against legitimate defense, and that's why i want to see him go against the ones more. But he also is doing it with the 3rd string offense as his weapons. As far as our defense this year, guys like Kooyeman, Hicks, Turpin, Jones, Chima, Sterling, Bland, Bland and well, Bland... are giving the offense a pretty good look. It ain't USC, but they aren't same swiss cheese as they were last year.

Sir Geoffs Shin Pads said...

Interesting for me to see the passion and enthusiasm that you display towas your club, compared to what we see in the UK for our football teams.

Seem to be a lot of similarities, except we dont tell you that your sport should be referred to as soccer :p

Good luck with your season guys.

West Ham United fan, London.