Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Season Forecast: HOPE or NOPE?

Hello followers. Hope you all are having a great week.

Well, as promised, here is my annual take on the upcoming 2009-10 Cougar Football season.

Unfortunately for me (and for you by extension), my entire rant was pretty much gobbled up by Lucas' comment last Friday, as well as Theodore Miller's attempt at Crystal Ball Gazing on Monday.

In any case, as I looked through the schedule and weighed our strengths (cough!) and weaknesses (cough! cough!), one thing became increasingly striking: This is the first Cougar Football season that I can remember where there is not one "gimme" on the schedule. In other words, this season carries the possibility for an O-fer.

As a consequence, as we gaze forward into the upcoming slate of games, I have divided our potential fortunes into one of two categories: Games in which we have "hope" and those that we do not. In the latter case, I label those games in the following way:


Read on...

Sept 5. Stanford. As we have noted several times on this blog, the Trees represent a team that we think could do some big things this season. For that reason, if we were to play Stanford after the first weekend, this game would unquestionably be in the "Nope" column. But, alas, it is the first game for both teams.

As we know, Stanford has possible issues at Quarterback--particularly in the season's early stages. Moreover, as we saw last year in our opener against a FAR superior Clay Bennett State University squad, talent gaps can often be severely masked in a first game--particularly when the underdog is at home. In addition, if you can think back to the CBSU game, I encourage you all to remember the Okie State defensive line grabbing their knee-pads in the third quarter due to being so darn GASSED by our no-huddle offense (and hell, we weren't even moving the ball very well).

So, it really isn't much of a stretch to imagine a scenario in which we put 8 or 9 in the box, send Mattingly and crew on a bunch of early stunts, their QB gets no rhythm and maybe gets rattled, we get up by a score or two early and hang on for dear life. Mind you, I see a close third quarter game turning into a 38-13 laugher for them (just like last year against CBSU). But, if we stay healthy through training camp, this one is a slight possibility. HOPE.

Sept 12. Hawaii (@Seattle). As our last game of the year showed, and their bowl game with ND demonstrated MIGHTILY, the Rainbows were just not very good last year. To top off matters, they figure to be considerably worse on both sides of the ball this year. This game, in no uncertain terms, figures to be one of two MUST wins for us as the season moves forward. That said, playing these boys the week after a tough training camp and difficult opener against the Trees makes this one anything but a gimme. But anyway you cut it, if this ain't HOPE, I don't know what hope is.

Sept 19. SMU For this game, the question is not whether or not we can or should beat a totally hapless run-shoot-punt SMU team at home in the season's third game, the question is whether or not we can beat them in the event that we have a bad showing the week before in Seattle. Let's hope we don't have to find out. HOPE.

Sept 26. @USC This game represents a Pac-10 football version of what happens when the freshman/JV all-stars take on the varsity. You know you are going to get killed, but can you show that you have ANY promise for making the varsity in the future? The goal for this game: 21 points and 350 yards of total offense. This is a glorified practice game--for them. NOPE.

Oct 3. @ Oregon I want you all to know that I have been in serious negotiations with Facebook to see if there's a way to use e-mail records to block any Oregon Duck fan from being able to access this blog within six weeks of this slaughter fest. Ducks will make the three year running total in the series about 245-31. Have I mentioned lately that we beat them THREE TIMES last year in basketball? NOPE.

Oct 10. Arizona State (Homecoming) So, we enter the ASU game having lost our previous two Pac-10 games by a total of about 90-28. ASU in the meantime will have taken a nice week off watching how HORRIBLE we are on tape.

Thankfully, ASU isn't as good as they think they are. In addition to being overconfident about how horrible we look, they'll also forget that they never play very well in Pullman--even in early October. They'll also forget that when everyone else was up 56-0 at half last year, they had us down by only a couple of touchdowns. This one has upset special written all over it. HOPE.

Oct 17. Bye The only question about this week is whether or not any kids get suspended for partying after a homecoming win. We all should be quite worried about this one. HOPE.

Oct 24. @CAL Sometimes your Best isn't good enough. But in the case of CAL, it certainly is. NOPE.

Oct 31. @ND (San Antonio). There are two possibilities for ND for this game. The first is that the Irish have already lost 4 or more games. In that case, the world is calling for Charlie Weis' head and the Irish enter this game in shambles.

The other possibility is that they enter this game with only ONE or no losses following a great game and moral victory over their Touchdown Jesus counterparts, Boston College. I expect ND to carry a near top 10 ranking into this game while their fans are singing BCS tunes all the way down the river walk on Friday night. In either case, the end of October marks the first of what are often called "Separation Saturdays" in College Football. Every year, there are a couple of upsets that the national media would NEVER muster up before hand.

Now for us, you can bank that Wulff and company have had their eyes set on this game as a potential "splash maker" for the program, so not only will our boys be ready, but my sense is that we already have a pretty detailed game plan dialed up even before the season starts. Moreover, if ND thinks that we will fear their junk after having already played USC, Oregon, and CAL (all) on the road, then they have another thing coming. Finally, you want a recipe for an upset? Try games where the underdog has a running game that won't let the favorite's offense get on the field after they fall behind. Sound familiar? HOPE.

Nov. 7 @Arizona So, the Mildcats are free from Willy T. And who knows, it may make them struggle. Problem is, this is November, and by the time this game rolls around that Desert Swarm will be amped up and ready to go--not to mention what a dude named Grigsby will bring to the table. NOPE.

Nov. 14 UCLA. Bad team, bad quarterback, impotent offense, and a Walker-less defense (why is nobody talking about THAT loss?). Plus, they never play well in Pullman. Tricky Ricky has our number, but not without 4,000 yard passers who double as underachievers. HOPE.

Nov. 21 Oregon State If this game were played on the Blue Turf or any place east of the Mississippi and before September 20th, this might be a game we could conceivably steal. Unfortunately, for this weekend, Pullman is going to double as Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. NOPE.

Nov. 28. @Washington The Battle of Attrition: Part Deux. Will we be the walking wounded by then? Will we have established ourselves offensively and have players left on the field to prove it? Will Locker be standing? More the point: Will Jake the Snake find any semblance of touch in hitting wide-outs over the middle? This game could be a hot contest, or an exercise in really knocking the hope and spirits out of either program--both of which could be experiencing catastrophic seasons that neither can afford. HOPE.

End result: 4-8. We beat the Bows, the Stangs, ASU, and UCLA--meaning that we win 4 out of the 7 games where it is conceivable that we COULD win (that means, my max for this team is 7 games--and that's if we catch lightning in a bottle for an entire season). The swing game is Hawaii: win that game and the season has possibility for respectability and progress. Lose that game and we will be looking at 0-2 wins for the season which will be TOUGH to swallow. For that reason, I am not sure I will be able to even remotely enjoy this year until Qwest field delivers a 18-17 sneaker on September 12th.

Have a great rest of your week, and to all, "Coug-De-L'Amor.


Sean Hawkins said...

Hey, there's always hope Sutra! Realistic or otherwise, you never know.

I've suddenly got renewed interest in the bye week. Not sure why.

Anonymous said...

You think we're going to lose to Washington Sutra? Come on.

Outside of USC and maybe Oregon we can win any of those games.

Are you even a fan of WSU Football?

Lucas said...

Anybody see the rankings / preview that Stanford's site did on the Cougs? Wow, that guy is really dumb. On a scale of 1-5 he ranks our position groups. Nobody earned higher than a 2. I would think Offensive Backfield would at least be a 3 or 4.

Hooty McBoob said...

How is saying we have no chance against Arizona any different than Condotta taking a stab at the Apple Cup point spread?

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

Hooty: As you know, I seldom have answers for good questions.

But here's a weak stab at it:

1) Arizona will be good by then, the UW will not be good-even if they beat us.
2) We never play well down there (see 13-10 win in 2002 when we were great and they were NOT).
3) I don't like our chances to play well in our third consecutive road game--including a San Antonio road trip that is going to be exhausting from Pullman whether we win or lose.
4) If or when we beat the Irish, I don't like our chances of being able to sustain that effort the following week. Typically, young teams get full of themselves and don't "Bear Down" the way they need to (That is what they have in UA's Stadium, no?).
5) I don't think this team has enough weapons to win three games in a row under any circumstance.

That all said, you all should know that before the 2001 season, I e-mailed Hooty and Sean and said that we would win two games: The reason, no Wide Receivers.

Think I was wrong about that 10-2 team?

Anonymous said...

Good job. I like the kids graphics for our opponents. Funny.

I am also nervous about Hawaii but I also think we have a chance in some of the games that you write off like Arizona.

I also don't understand why you think we'll lose to UW since you've bashed them so much.

Sean Hawkins said...

I will back up he Sutra on the Mildcats. I think they are set up to have a pretty good season, and their defense is going to be the best they have had in years. They will be fine on offense, and the Grigsby/Gronkowski matchup is one we haven't solved since we first saw them in '07. They are NFL talents and have exploited our D, big-time. I think AZ goes bowling again. And Lawson is right, we never play well in Tucson! And they have always been tough, now 23-13 all-time against us.

Did The Sutra make a mistake in picking us to lose to UW? He put us in the Hope pile on that one? Sutra??

Sutra isn't alone on the 01 team. A lot of people missed on them that year. I believe oneof the websites, or something, picked us to go 0-fer? And Athlon's or Lindy's had us like 87th. So there you go.

I wonder how many thought after Erickson's 3-win first year that he had a 9-win, UCLA shocking, total offense machine team that won an Aloha Bowl that second year? You JUST. NEVER. KNOW.

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

Re: The Defeateds

Last year, I picked us to beat the Huskies in the pre-season. Why?

1)I was pretty darn sure that Gary Rogers was going to have a great season (WRONG!).
2) I was convinced that Jakey Poo would be knocked out for the year by the time that we played them (RIGHT!)

This year, I don't know about Jake's health. But, I do know that they have no running game and their offensive line is just terrible (Brother Bob, how could you give them a SEVEN for god sakes!). I also am pretty sure that the reason why Jake can't hit wide-open dudes across the middle is that he just isn't a very good quarterback (but he sure is an amazing athlete).

But I also don't know about us. IF our D develops (and within stays healthy) and IF we get decent quarterback play, then we'll win this game. But, I am not liking what we're going to look like health wise the week after a bruising game against the Beavs, and as much as I like "Ocho" Rojo, I'm really concerned about QB and QB health. That's why I am saying "L" at this time but this game in many ways might be the most winnable game outside of SMU and Hawaii. And I certainly think its within 11 stinking points.

Brian said...

I agree with Sutra's write-up, except for the L against UW. I think that is a very winnable game, although I can't really argue with Sutra's reasoning for picking an L.

If we don't win at least 1 of our first 3 games, we probably will go 0-fer. We need at least 1 of them and preferably 2 just to have any sort of confidence for the rest of the season, as USC, Cal and Oregon are going to crush us soon after those opening games.

Soze said...

Everyone put their money where their mouth's are! I hear the O/U in Vegas on Cougar wins this year is 3?

(if anyone can find a link, please post it)

Hooty McBoob said...

I am placated and would go so far as to say that I have zero confidence in the Cougs when we play anywhere in the state of Arizona. Tempe, 1997.

'03CouveCoug said...

I like your prognostications…I also say 4-8, but a win vs. the mutts as opposed to ASU. However, I think that you bring up a great point about the Sun Devils always having a hard time in Pullman, regardless of the time of year. Add to that the fact that it’s Homecoming (meaning a buzz on campus all week long, a likely sellout, a fired up crowd, etc.) and our only home date over a TWO MONTH span (thanks, Pac-10 schedulers!) and I think our guys will be as pumped up and ready to go for this game as any besides the Apple Cup. For selfish reasons, I hope this is true, as Homecoming is likely the only game in Pullman that I’ll be able to attend this season.

I also agree with those that feel the direction of our season will hinge on early matchups vs. UH and SMU. Lose both, and I’d bet a wooden nickel that our Cougs will be the new defeateds.

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