Hello Cougar Nation. A terrific Friday to you all.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME COUGAR FOOOOOTBALLLLLL?
In case you can't tell, I am as jacked for tonight's game as just about any that I can remember...
So, without further ado, let's click on the ole jumperoo...
Nation, I gotta tell you, this one tonight feels like a new beginning. I mean, ever since we laid a big one in the first half of that BYU game..
Twitter and the rest of the interwebs has been flooded with comments and questions about whether Tuel should be replaced by Conor Halliday.
And clearly, those questions didn't go away in Week 2. In fact, I think they may have been even more pronounced had Tuel not been injured.
So, barring some crazy change of heart, health, and mind, Conor Halliday is going to make his first start in the Mike Leach era tonight. And, if he plays well, my sense is that a new era of Cougar Football is upon us. And if he doesn't, then we can all stop the handwringing that's making Huddy CRAZY and just move on to next week knowing that #10 is our man for the rest of the season.
Again, I simply cannot wait. Now, on to the keys:
1. Protect, Protect, Protect
We all know that Dan Spitz has been dealing with a "course issue" this week (my interpretation, someone hasn't been going to class and has a LOT of work to take care of). And so, the Gunnar has been playing in his stead....Anyhow, the only thing worse than having one quarterback down with an early season knee injury is having two. And while I think that Gilby probably could lead us to victory tonight, I would just assume have our starting and back-up quarterback come out of this one unscathed. After all, conference play begins in earnest in one stinking week.
2. Let it Fly
I spend almost an hour on the treadmill this morning watching the 60 minute rewind of the Arizona-Oklahoma State game this morning, and let me tell you, both of those quarterbacks just let it FLY.....
Yesterday, Cougcenter posted this excellent "Fanshot" which charted the average amount of time it took Tuel and Halliday to get rid of the ball. The results were pretty startling: Tuel took almost 4.5 seconds, while Halliday about 2.5 And, if any of you have read swing your sword, you know that the Air Raid is build to have the QB get rid of the ball in 2.5-3 seconds..So, if we're going to start being more Leach-like, we're going to have to let it fly.
3. Run Defense
UNLV runs the ball pretty well. So, the key tonight will be to put them in third and long, send the Kennell, and get Halliday, Wilson, RG5, and company back out on the field. Pretty simple stuff, so its on you Hair Raid defense.
4. Play Tough
For the most part, I think that our defense has played just about as hard as they can play all year. But, as Leach noted at the end of the Eastern game, this team has yet to string a bunch of great plays/series together. Tonight, this team needs to show that it has the ability once it gets up to really, really, really step on the throat of the other team. So, if we get up 7-0, we need to get a stop and go up 14-0. Get another stop and go up 21-0...and then STEAMROLL them in the second half as wel.
In essence, this team needs to present more of a Killer Instinct. And for goodness sakes, you're on National TV:
HAVE SOME FRICKING FUN BOYS!!!
Final Thought and Prediction:
Jeff Tuel is a great guy and really, really good quarterback. And he might still prove himself to be THE GUY in Mike Leach's system. But, based on what I've seen of late, Tuel has become the type of quarterback that seems better suited for a CAL or Stanford type offense than Leach's system.
Halliday, on the other hand, feels like Ryan Leaf meets the Air Raid. Will it be ugly or heart-stopping at times? Absolutely. But if you want to score points, you've got to fire away--you can't sit back and manage the game. Not in this system and not with our defense.
So, here's to thinking that Halliday connects on a 50 yard touchdown on our first possession and the Cougs never, ever look back.
Call it 59-21 as we finally see our WRs really run away from folks in the second half.
We'll be back after the game with a few thoughts. Until then: