"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like X-Mas!"
Happy Monday Cougs, and as you can see we're back in the saddle again with your morning links. But first, a little explanation of what went down, and what's going to happen moving forward.
First and foremost, as Sutra announced last night the blog will continue. See, we all kind of felt we had reached a crossroads of sorts with this thing, now 8+ years in existence and a helluva lot of losing along the way. And we're all busy with the blah-blah-blahs of real life, you all know that, and our postings the last few months just weren't up to our normal amount of quantity that we used to churn out. But this season, this 2012 season of Cougar football, it just really zapped a lot of "juice" from us as a group, and especially yours truly. It's not so much that we lost, but it was the way we lost and the self-imposed promises of better things immediately with the hiring of Mike Leach that made it that much more difficult to swallow in year one.
And in real life, things changed a little bit for me as my wife and I really attacked the idea of running the Seattle half-marathon. That took a lot of dedication and a strict training schedule so we could make it, but it also ate into my window of opportunity to post, which is basically between 5:30 - 6:30 weekday mornings. But the half-marathon is now over (we made it by the way, myself a little over 2 hours, my wife at 2:30 or so!), and now it's back to our regular morning routine of writing and exercise a little later in the AM.
But enough of all that. I wrote about it earlier in the season, asking the question "Why do we fall?", with the obvious answer that followed - SO WE CAN LEARN TO PICK OURSELVES UP AGAIN. And you know what? We are picking ourselves up, right here, right now. The last thing we should ever do is quit when the going gets tough, know what I mean? I mean I just wrote about picking yourself back up again after you take a spill, so wouldn't it be a little hypocritical to take a knee because things went south?? The Cougs didn't quit when it was 28-10 in the 4th quarter of the Apple Cup, so we sure as hell can't quit either!
Going forward, I will continue to write in this morning window with links-n-such, but really just to get the ball rolling on the day ahead. It might not always be about the Cougs - in fact, I can guarantee it WON'T always be about the Cougs - but it will be something worth reading.....I hope? Longball, Huddy and Sutra will continue to do their thing as we have all reaffirmed our commitment to content. And LucasCoug might not write on the blog much anymore, but he will continue to run our Twitter account. So there you have it.
On to the morning links!
Since the season ended, there has been a lot of looking back/looking ahead style type things. One article that I thought was very good was done by Joe Doyle at Cougfan, where he weighed in on his impressions of what he saw in 2012, from the first to the last practice of the season. I know it was posted a week or so ago, but I thought it was an excellent read/take from Doyle and definitely worth reviewing if you want some decent first-hand feeling on what went down in Pullman this fall. Some things that caught my eye from Doyle:
1) The defensive starters - From the beginning/first half of the season to the last game of the year, they sure did shuffle faces in and out during the year. But to see that only three starters who were in place for game one also started game 12? To me that was remarkable. I know that injury had something to do with it, but it does show that the Leach mentality will be a highly competitive environment with very little in the way of entitlements, and that's a great way to approach things when you are trying to develop a winning culture. That whole "compete" thing is ripped right out of the Pete Carroll principle of coaching, but it's a great approach that breeds intensity and rewarding talent AND effort!
2) The O-line mess was far, far worse than we thought. I mean I think we all knew it was thin, thin, THIN up there, but Doyle really puts it all in perspective. JUST SIX LINEMEN healthy at the end of the year?? And shifting walk-on quarterbacks to offensive line, just so they could practice?? YEESH. So as much as I made the O-line my point of contention all year long, and I lamented their lack of stopping much of anything? I now understand that it wasn't just a lack of talent, but a lack of capable bodies - PERIOD - up front. We ended up giving up 57 sacks, the most since, well, at least as far back as 1997 that I could find (seriously, I looked it up and found that as far back as 1997, it's the most sacks allowed by the Cougs in a season). But it's at least understandable when you factor in the 1) lack of depth and experience and 2) brand new system that was predicated on WR's and QB's making multiple reads on each and every passing play.
Moving on, in the recruiting front there was some good news. Peyton Pelluer and Cody O'Connell were both named TNT First-Team All-State, which is cool. Per Cougfan's write-up, Pelluer had 377 tackles in 3 years (wow!), which according to my dreadful math skills is almost an average of 126 tackles per year. And Cody O'Connell might have only played four games due to an injury that he is expected to recover from, but he's HUGE at 6-8, 350! Now that's the kind of size that the Leach offensive line system is in search of, and if the knee heals up there is certainly an opportunity to come in and compete for playing time next fall?
It also sounds like the recruiting has picked up a bit coming off the Apple Cup, including the latest news last night that WSU leads for a big-time JC standout, defensive end/OLB hybrid Chris Martin. Martin was originally the #1 rated player in the country at his position of outside linebacker in 2010, and he signed with Cal before transferring to Florida, and then ended up in the JC ranks. JC's are always a risk of course, you just never know. But this will be an interesting story to watch up to signing day, as the opportunity for the 6-5, 260 lb BUCK linebacker has a chance to make an instant impact on the Coug D in '13!
Finally, a 2012 Apple Cup highlight video to wrap up your Monday morning and get the week off to a good start. Enjoy!
Enjoy your Monday, and of course, GO COUGS!
Congrats to you two for finishing the half-marathon! That puts the full marathon in the realm of 'possibility' instead of 'no effin way'. You might get the itch to train for the full one. Be ready for 6 months of training, though.
I'm trying like heck not to get too excited for next year. Our effort in the AC was so great, with a legitimate win against a good team. Now I'm thinking bowl game again and I just....have....to....stop....doing....that.
Still, I'm excited to see what some of these young guys, including our redshirts, can do in the next few years. Hopefully the offseason attrition won't be too bad.
Glad you could work out the contract negotiations! Hawk drives a hard bargain of demanding $.02 a week as compensation for his work.
I enjoyed your guys radio show and if it is easier than writing at times, which I think it can be if schedules don't get in the way, that would be a great way to possibly lighten your burden.
It really has been tough being a coug fan especially the lasyt 5 years. I thought Doba's last season was nightmarish, but these past 5 have been difficult. However, the AC has re-lit the fire. I just hope Auburn doesn't throw a bucket of cold water on it next year to start us off. I have witnessed many Coug let down games, including a 2OT thriller in Fontaine years against Zona. We just don't come up with many huge comeback victories. This AC will fan the flame for the offseason. I needed it and it appears everyone else may have needed it as well.
@ptowncoug3012 Isn't it amazing how an Apple Cup win (especially one for the ages!) really does re-light that fire? I was dejected most of this year, and now I'm geeked up all over again!!
Great write-up and welcome back!
To be sure, nothing would treat me better than to have CJ Mizell meets Travis Long sign on the dotted line this February. After all, the best way to take pressure off a secondary is a good pass rush, right?
At the same time, do you think that it just might be possible for us to sign some fricking stud JC corners?
I mean, when I look at this year's team, the difference between 3 wins and 7 was about three good offensive linemen and two corners...Now that we've lost Simmons (our most improved player), we're down 3 corners.
Mind you, I like the way Carpenter played down the stretch--especially in the AC, but we need someone opposite of him + depth...Don't we???
@Sutra I think the addition of some big time pass rushers (DL and LB) would help our Horton and Washington, as well. Their style of play *MIGHT* go well with opposing QB's that are forcing the ball out early because of pressure...
@Soze The only problem is when our corners start playing 10-12 yard coverage....complimented with an aggressive pass rush. We got exposed quite a bit on quick routes because of this. And unfortunately for guys like Horton, I think the soft coverage is the only way he doesn't get burned deep.
@Sutra I'm hoping for miraculously big things out of Dockery and Alex Jackson at corner, but that seems unlikely. It would have been nice to have Raymond Ford in that mix too. I'm with you on Team Carpenter, but with Washington and Horton, we've all ready that book and pretty much know how it ends. Definitely going to need an infusion of talent at that position to help out the ridiculously awesome front 7 we'll have.
@Huddy I narrowed down the list of prospect to corners and it looks like we're in on a couple of JC burners. Hopefully, Breske will be able to close the deal on those dudes. Cuz man do we need em.
Can't believe I'm even thinking this, let alone writing it--but it could be that we need our D to carry us a bit next year..
@Sutra I know. Who would have thought that our defense would be the 'strength' of the team this year?!
@Sutra I think it is strange that they aren't going after any JC corners too. They must really be impressed with some of the redshirting guys like Dockery and Jackson because they haven't signed many high school corners either. They are really hitting the JC's hard for DT, DE and linebacker/buck though. I sure hope they can land another big DT like Combs and at least one of the DE/buck guys. Adding a couple other big JC guys to go along with Gauta, Cooper, Pole, and Mayes could make this defensive front pretty scary. Especially if one or two turn out to be as good as Gauta. I like the direction this defense is going. Glad you guys are keeping it going. I really like what you bring to the table for Cougar Blogs. Not just examining numbers, but putting your thoughts and feelings out there for us all to take in. Including second guessing and calling out coaches when they need to be called out. Would have been a big hole in the blogsphere without you.