Bye weeks are the worst, except when they're not.
Good morning and Happy Hump Day, Cougs! Normally I hate bye weeks, but this season, I'm relieved to have a week off. I'm not sure what I'll do with the extra three (or four) hours normally reserved for shaking my head, saying, "Damn it", and all the other frustration that has come with the first 7 weeks of this season. Ideally I'll play some golf, but it's more likely that I'll end up watching a bunch of college football and living vicariously through the fans of programs who see their teams look competent for more than a few minutes at a time. I don't want an entire post to be a bunch of whining. We've all seen what's been happening and there is no need to point out all the failings of this team for the umpteenth time, as cathartic as it may be. So, with no game to talk about this week and a steadfast refusal to re-live the past, what does that leave? Well, my friends, it leaves a bunch of semi coherent rambling. Let's do this.
How come we have a whole bunch of different jersey combinations, but wear the same thing all the time?
Is there any surprise I'd lead off with something as arbitrary as clothes? For real, though. Why haven't we seen the gray jerseys yet this year? There has been nary an anthracite sighting this year. This may be the dumbest conversation ever, but at least on an anecdotal level, it seems like this sort of thing matters. Even Notre Dame and Nebraska have bucked tradition this year and busted out some flashy ugly new unis. If we aren't going to win, we can at least try to look cool. We can trick those silly high school kids into thinking we're big time!
Speaking of recruits....
We haven't talked about it much since a bulk of the verbal commitments Mike Leach and his staffed have received to date occurred over the summer, but the WSU recruiting class of 2013 stands at 14 commits. We'll feature much more in depth analysis on all the commitments on This Here Blog as Signing Day approaches, but for now, here are a few notes on this class.
There are four commits from the state of Washington, none of whom has been offered by UW, according to Scout (the artist very temporarily known as Fox Sports Next). The good news is that two of the locals are offensive lineman, or at least projected to be one when they grow up. The other good news is Peyton Pelluer from Skyline. Preliminarily, the Bridgeport Pumped-O-Meter rates him pretty favorably.
The highest rated player in the class, Tyler Bruggman, is a Quarterback. As I understand it, the quarterback position is important to the game of football because in today's football you have to be able to throw the football to win football games. This is true in the National Football League and big time college football. I also understand that we have a head coach who values the quarterback position and seems to be somewhat dissatisfied with the players at his disposal currently.
We have received verbal commitments from three running backs because...well, I'm not sure exactly. Three commitments at running back seems a bit much for any team, but for a team that doesn't...you know...run, it's even stranger. But hey, they look like playmakers and when this whole Air Raid thing gets running like we think it will, "playmaker" is a more appropriate label for a position than "running back". The more the merrier I guess.
Three commits from Texas and one from Alabama. Look out, SEC. The Cougs are coming for you.
Remember when we had that other coach and he had a propensity to point the finger at players during press conferences and we got all huffy about how he shouldn't be doing stuff like that and then we got a new famous coach who calls out players during press conferences, but does it in really wacky ways and we're all, "Oh coach. You're such a silly goose."?
I mean, what's that all about?
Accentuate the positives
If you follow me on Twitter (@Huddlestron), you're probably used to my pattern of saying snarky things for a long time as games are going poorly, then eventually get fed up with myself and start pointing out positives, no matter how trivial they are. I like to call this puppy dogs and ice cream mode. Since this season has gone further off the rails than any of us envisioned (don't like; you didn't envision 2-5), my "everything is rainbows" defense mechanism has really kicked in and I'd like to focus on the positives through the first 7 games of the gong show that is WSU Football 2012.
WSU is 12th in the nation in passing offense! I could hardly believe this when I saw it myself since it seems like the offense has been...uhhh...bad. I'll now stop looking at statistical rankings because we're accentuating the positives.
Youth is being served. Let's look at key contributors who will return next season. Decide for yourselves whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. Nolan Washington, Anthony Carpenter, RG5 (sad face), Damante Horton (the use of "key" here has become stretched, but still), Connor Halliday, Darryl Monroe, Kristoff Williams, Brett Bartolone, Deone Bucannon, Eric Oertel, Casey Locker, Leon Brooks, Teondray Caldwell, Jared Byers, Cyrus Coen, Chester Su'a, Mike Bowlin, Andrew Furney (assuming he doesn't forego his Senior Year to be a first round draft pick), Justin Sagote, Gunnar Eklund, Jake Rodgers, John Fullington, Dominique Williams, Bobby Ratliff, Logan Mayes, Gabe Marks, Marquess Wilson, Isiah Myers, Ioane Gauta, Xavier Cooper, Destiny Vaeao and Toni Pole. That doesn't include youngsters who are either redshirting or really only playing a role on special teams. We can argue forever about just how good these guys are and we probably will, but the new staff has plenty to work with as they incorporate their own guys over the next couple years. Yes, we've been waiting for next year for almost a decade now, but if there aren't names on this list that have you at least somewhat excited, I don't know what to tell you. Get a new hobby I guess.
Every game has been televised!
Assuming that you don't have DirectTV, you've been able to watch this 7 game debacle play out in stunning high definition! Hooray! Even my positives have to be qualified at this point. This is getting dicey. Just a couple more things, then I'm outta here.
Travis Long, Ioane Guata, Darryl Monroe
I love you guys.
There is no quarterback controversy.
If you've watched this season and think that Connor Halliday should start at Stanford in a week-and-a-half, you're a crazy pants. There is plenty of time to worry about the future in the future. For now, let's try to stop embarrassing ourselves and win some ball games. I can now say without equivocation that Jeff Tuel gives this team the best chance to do that moving forward. I feel better now.
At this point I would have led off with the uni comment myself. I was shocked that they came out in the traditional uni on Saturday night. I thought for sure we would see the combo we saw in Seattle last year, or some variance at least.. Still hoping that there is a anthracite jersey that they haven't revealed yet, as you can buy a replica. I think those would look sick. Why have we never seen the grey helmet with the "ghost" logo on it yet? They showed it at the reveal but have never worn them. Has anyone else noticed how many team now have grey alternates? South Caroline, West Virginia, Okie State....
BTW, Rypien is T-37 right now. I don't know for sure where he needs to finish to qualify but I'd bet it's a lot higher than 37.
Okay, here's probably the BEST bye week blog topic ever because it takes our minds off a horrible football season.
Mark Rypien is trying to qualify for the Champions Tour in golf. Steve Sands, a guest host on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, and huge Washington D.C. sports nut also thinks he, Rypien, should be in the Redskins Ring of Honor.
I say, GO MARK. Not many athletes can cross over to another sport with much success at a high level. This would be pretty cool.
I'm confused Stiff. Did you miss the nattering nabobs of negativity against Wulff for the last two and a half years? Certainly among the commenters you couldn't have missed it. I've been giving Leach more static because he's a big hire, for very big money, promised much, and delivered nothing... no, less than nothing. He's cost us one game for sure. And the most frustrating thing is our offense scored more last year under Wulff than under the point per minute Air Raid was supposed to. And Leach has better players this year than last. As far as Erik goes, he's just a bombastic homey. He's over the top, but I like him.
As far as the blogfathers, well, I don't think they're being overly critical and I think that they are engaging intellectually honest debate, which is what I'm trying to do also. Hope you change your mind!
Dam Right. Over The Top is also an underrated Stallone movie.
@WallaCoug Leach may have made some game decisions that we didnt agree with, but the defense gave up that 17 point lead against Colorado.
@YakiCoug The kids don't get paid $2.2 million. The kids have large margins for error (even if it's infuriating). This coach has none.
Any follower of this team or casual fan would have kicked the field goal and run clock. He did neither and cost us the game to a terrible team. AND WORST OF ALL made us out to be the worst team in PAC-12 for the fifth straight year--another year of being the butt of everyone's jokes. Yeah, Yaki, that's Leach's fault. And going backwards offensively (when you're comparing him to a "D-II coach" to quote BPCoug and various others on multiple occasions over the last few years) is also his fault. It's costing us games! We were supposed to win in shootouts and lose in shootouts. We are losing very meekly. And that is unacceptable.
We've both said it, we're still a ways away. Will the faithful be willing to wait as much as 4-5 years to be revelant?
Right now, I don't think anyone is really happy about the state of athletics. It started way before Moos took over, and may last past when he finally retires. We are making strides though and it's thanks to Moos we are. I for one intend to keep my season tickets. The OPS building will be finished and we'll be starting all upperclassmen along the biggest O line in WSU history.
I can't wait for the Apple Cup in 2016. We will be eligable for a bowl, and a victory over a 5-6 oir 4-7 Husky team will put us into a higher one.
@Ambush184 @YakiCoug @WallaCoug Yeah Ambush, it seems like a broken record doesn't it? "Hang in there, we'll get there, we're just young/injured/dealing with less talented players from the prior regime/etc!" Sounds all too familiar doesn't it!? But I don't think I'm right and I'm not blaming it all on the players. I just think all things being fair, that it's tilting more towards not having enough talent or depth at a higher level that is hurting us above everything else. But Leach isn't perfect and has made some baffling decisions at times, and his comments to the press don't help either. I just want to see what happens the next few years. If it continues with the bad losses and flat offense and he can't recruit, then it's a failure. But I want to give it a chance to grow.
Now that the football OPS building was approved, our facilities will no longer be a source of embarrassment compared to the rest of the conference (in all seriousness, I heard yesterday that a kid in the Bellevue area was high on WSU and took a visit last year. He saw our football facilities as they are right now, and he just couldn't believe how far behind we were compared to everyone else! Needless to say the kid went elsewhere. But the OPS building is an absolute WIN for this program).
Watching UW get run off the field last night must have been pretty awful for a U-Dub guy. Especially when you look at their recruiting headlines the last few years, I mean their expectations are 10x what ours are right now. But to put yourself in their shoes for a moment, just imagine the angst if in year four of Leach, if WSU was to lose 52-17 at Arizona, a 3-3 team?? That's exactly what happened last night with UW. I know there have been some "Sarkhaters" out there, but this might be the first time that he really gets some noise from the faithful. Those kinds of losses aren't supposed to happen in year four, you know? Maybe years 1 or 2, but year 4? Yeesh.
@SeanHawkins @YakiCoug @WallaCougSean, you're right! We have a few talented players. Not enough for a championship, but I believe enough to make a go of it in the Pac. Injuries have really hurt, especially up front where there wasn't any depth to start with. We're at least two recruiting classes away from really making any real noise in the North more probably three. We will get there. It will be painful for a while, but better times are on the way. Where have I heard that before?
I would hope CML and the others are out beating the bushes for every O lineman they can find. We need guys that can make holes the we could run through. He, Leach needs to take Halliday (and all the other QB's) and put them through a PAC-12 training course.
I believe Leach knows what he's doing for the most part, and you/we can be certain he has a plan he's working on. Being who he is though, we won't ever find out what that plan is until it's already in place.
@YakiCoug @WallaCoug Here is where I don't understand Walla, when you say about this "level of talent" we have and that WSU should be a .500 team right now. Seriously, look at the depth chart and go back and look at some of the names on the roster, look at who these guys are right now. It is hard because you are a fan, we all are, and we naturally tend to rate our young players in high regard much like MLB fans rate their minor league prospects higher than any other team's GM might. But look around the rest of the conference, now that we've played a few conference games, and tell me where we are actually better than anyone else, in any position, talent wise? I can agree that we are slightly better than Colorado in a few areas, but it isn't like the field is tilted our way when we lined up against them. Where is all this Pac-12 talent on the WSU roster right now? I seriously am asking you, please point it out?
Did you see the difference in talent last week vs. Cal? I know they only won 31-17, and Maynard isn't a very good QB. But I don't know what your eyes are telling you, but to me we look several years of highly regarded recruiting classes away from talent like that, I mean Cal has speed and size all over the field. You can look at their three running backs, I mean is there is any doubt that any of those three guys would start on this team? Or better yet, how many WSU players in the starting lineup would actually start at Cal right now? Two, maybe, Marquess Wilson and Jeff Tuel?
A perfect example is I saw a play where Bartolone went out on the perimeter and tried to block a Cal safety on a bubble screen. He was blown backwards FIVE YARDS upon the initial contact, and that safety then made the tackle on the play for a very short gain. It looked like man vs. boys in a lot of ways. Maybe in a couple of years, when Bartolone is a junior and has hit the weight room for a couple of seasons he can actually make an effective block on a play like that, and maybe it gets sprung for a nice gain. But not right now, right now he is an overmatched frosh getting overwhelmed physically.
And that's just Cal, granted they have recruited extremely well under Tedford and are probably right behind Oregon and SC in terms of raw talent. But Oregon State manhandled us up front, and they definitely had excellent speed in their linebackers and secondary, more speed and strength than we have right now.
The reality is we are young, just 3 seniors starting last week. We are inexperienced at the skill positions, after Marquess Wilson coming in to 2012 Bobby Ratliff was second among all WR's with 28 career catches. Our starting QB was knocked out in the second game of the season and Halliday had to play with barely any reps with the 1's in fall camp, and ZERO reps in the spring. We start two walk-ons on the offensive line, a group that has been banged up since the start of fall camp.
The bottom line is especially once conference play starts, the weekly battles become a war of attrition. Our entire program is living on what Wulff built over the prior four recruiting classes, plus some frosh and JC's Leach brought in last February. I am not blaming Wulff, for I really believe he did the best he could given the circumstances. And he did find a few excellent players in Marquess, Jeff Tuel, Deone Bucannon. But overall we were consistently ranked in the bottom of the conference in recruiting, and as painful as it is to admit, that stuff matters. When you don't have deep recruiting classes and the injuries start to mount, you just don't have the depth to rely on to keep things at a high level.
Look at UW right now. They had a lousy first recruiting class under Sark, but he has recruited very well the last two years and is again set for a top-20 class this year. Yet they are still dealing with injuries and depth issues, week after week. As well as their last two recruiting classes have been, they still don't have the depth to reach down and elevate someone and keep things moving forward at a high level, and now they are sputtering at 3-3. It takes several strong recruiting classes to build those layers of depth that Wulff always talked about in regards to others, like Oregon State under Mike Riley.
Anyway, that's my point. I don't see the talent that you and others are seeing, and that's where I think we are at a huge disadvantage, especially during conference play. I hope Leach can recruit, and we are going to find out what this staff can do over the next 3 or so years. If by then we are still a mess, then I will side with you that Leach is the problem. But I just can't right now.
@WallaCoug I dont know if it is all on him or not. I dont think any of us can say that. We are still not at the talent level of any other team in the Pac 12 in my opinion. We SHOULD have won the Colorado game. What other game than that? But we all have our opinions, right?
The one thing I will say about not kicking the fg in the Colorado game is that in fact we WERE up by 17 and there is no way we should have given up that lead. In all of the other instances that I can think of where we took the fg we have been behind and needed a score.
I dont know, but I doubt that Leach takes anyone's criticism into account! He is a riverboat gambler with a big ego and he's gonna do what he thinks is right.
That said, I am glad that we hired Leach, and I truly do think he will get this program to where we all want it to go.
@YakiCoug As I've said before, I think Leach will ultimately be successful. But there is no real good reason that he is not at least .500 with this team, with this level of talent. That is on him.
@YakiCoug Did I say or imply you were less of a fan? No.
Would my mind have changed (about Leach) if we'd missed the field goal? Yes. I would have a positive view concerning Leach if he'd kicked--make it or miss it. No one in their right mind would go for it in that situation with a good kicker. Had we missed I would've put the game all on the team then, not the coach (but only if he had also run instead of pass to run some time off the clock).
BTW, have you noticed that Leach is taking the points now--kicking the field goals. I think he's been stung hard by the justified criticism and he's not doing it again. Maybe Moos stopped by his office and gave him a little "encouragement".
@WallaCoug You do realize that his salary is only mid-tier for Pac 12 coaches, right? So the money thing is a moot point in my opinion.
I am not a fan of everything that Leach does, but I also realize that he is in the process of building this team. I am just as disappointed as you or anyone else with how this season has gone.
I AM a follower of this team and certainly as much of a fan as you or anyone else, and just because my opinion varies SLIGHTLY from yours doesn't make me any less of a fan. Nor does it make any of us right.
What if they had tried a fg and missed it? Would that changed your opinion?
I certainly dont like Leach's clock management, but I am a fan of old-school smash mouth football, not so much of these spread, "fast break" offenses. But that is what we are going to do, so we have to roll with it.
I am in no way putting all the blame on Leach for this season. Does he deserve some criticism? Sure. He needs a couple of years to build HIS team. This team had NOWHERE the talent on the roster that some people thought it did. If we are looking at this type of season 2 years from now, maybe even next year, I will join your mob with my torch and pitchfork.
@WallaCoug I can't speak for Stiff but I can tell you this - the negative tone of the comments are beyond tiresome and kill any joy that I have left to actually write. I know you all feel like you need to have a place to vent, and writing comments under phony names makes you feel better vs. screaming at the wall. For some reason you have decided that this is the place you will do it. But there is absolutely nothing fun or entertaining about any of it. The whole thing is a gigantic waste of time and I certainly don't need to be a part of it. What's sad is that at one time, this used to be a place of entertainment and some real good back and forth between us blogfathers and you, the readers. But those days are long gone and I am sad and embarrassed for what it has become.
@SeanHawkins I don't understand. What would you like this blog to look like? I am being serious.
Should we be more like an informative news site, breaking down all the position players with stats, and strategies? I would love to, but most people defending the coach are too busy blaming our players' lack of talent. And that's been going on for the last 3 years. We don't tout our players anymore--highlight them and the good things any of them do. We don't rah, rah them and stay positive. So many of the people defending this coach run down the team, the players. "They aren't D-1 talent," they say. "We have to wait until Leach gets his guys in here." I, meanwhile, have in the last couple weeks said some positive things about individual players--last week it was Sagote and Bucannon.
On a side note, I for one thank you for your gigantic waste of time. It helps me waste mine.
I am so seriously sick of the negative vibe that I don't know if I will be back. I have enjoyed the debates we have had CPW vs Oh a big name name coach that WSU should step up and hire, but the suck a #* attitude is making me say SEE YA! when posters like the FU#@WAD eric get more attention than the reasoned debate I am used to the then will say adios. I will still troll the blog but I am confined by moral constraint to do nothing other than that as long(ball) as the unchecked angst flows from this site. To end it I wish the blog well and hope that you realize who the real fans are
@Stiffmiester I'm like Walla, weren't you here when chatter was against CPW. It'd be really great if we could all write about how good the team is doing and what a wonder coach and play caller Leach is. Not the case though is it. "When life throws you lemons, make lemonaide." Well lemonaide needs sugar. Tell me where the sugar is this year. Sorry Stiff, but I'm not with you here.
@ErikAnderson You probably got a Big Chicken Dinner from the Corps too. You also spent maybe three years in and got out as an E3. In my years in you would have learned how represent yourself in the public eye better, whether through brains (not your strong suit) or corporal punishment.
Why don't you go grab your fuc**ng tube of Vagisil and sit on the hill with the rest of the pussies
From your picture it looks like you got into the chicken and Vagisil and ate too much of it.
Couple of notes on the season:
(1) Not at all surprised about Direct TV. They are sort of the Ichiro of the broadcast industry (god knows why). When dealing with the smaller fish they do it their way or they don’t do it. I think the Blazers are still waiting for them to pick the games on the Blazer network.
(2) All coaches have warts. I had gotten used to Wulff’s warts, to the point I was sorry to see him go. I will get used to Leach’s warts – even if he continues to play Russian roulette with the quarterbacks.
(3) I cannot believe the Soze does not have a radio. I read that three times trying to figure out what I was missing. I have heard people bragging about not having a TV but never heard of anyone without a radio.
@oldsavage I suppose I could go sit in my car, but I don't have a radio in my house. What's the use? I have a television and an iPod dock. I'm so 2013!
Yep, I suppose its an age thing. Like wrist watches. I have a stereo with a tuner and a radio for sitting out on patio listening to Mariner games in summer, camping, etc. A while back we had to drive sixty miles just to get a Cougar game on the radio -- would sit in a Park in Longview the a half case -- I think it may have been more fun.
@oldsavage And THANKFULLY, the PAC-12 has joined me in the year 2013 by televising all their damn football games!
Glad you feel better...I agree Tuel is our best option @ QB for the remainder of the season, not just against Stanford. And for the love of football, let him make plays with his legs if he needs to. Don't make a pocket passer out of him. It didn't work before, it won't work now.
Next year always looks better going forward. Look at last year's posts about this time...no better not. Wait until early December to do that. I do have to agree there's reason to feel better about next year, but the schedule really doesn't favor us much. Halliday will need LOTS of maturity if he wants to play more than late 4th quarter with a big leads or big deficits. The rest of the team should have some reasonable chops by then, but translating that into wins is where it's at. Might not happen.
I think the televised games mention was understated. It was so frustrating in years past to watch this team on ESPN Gamecast (I don't have a radio) and not understand why we were losing. At least watching it on TV, I can hang out with some buddies and drink some beers. It's been a live-saver for me, win or lose.
If you have DirecTV, get with the program.