Good afternoon and Happy Hump Day, Cougs! Shortly after the debacle that was the fourth quarter on Saturday, I said to my fellow Blogfathers that I would not write about the 2012 Cougar football team again until they won another game. Since that time, a few things have happened: In the immediate aftermath, my son showed me his Victor Cruz Salsa Dance and unearthed a previously unknown affinity for "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys. It's hard to stay in a foul mood when a five year old is belting out, "Listen all ya'll it's a sabotage". Also, a few days passed and I realized I'm an adult who was pouting about a football team. In short, I gained perspective and cheered the hell up. Here we are a few days later and I've already given up my vow to become the Blog's WSU Women's Soccer beat writer. For the record, they are having quite a season, with losses only to ranked opponents and a draw away against the number 2 team in the country, UCLA. Big ups, ladies (or some other cooler way of saying, "Good job". I see you, women's soccer team). Given time to heal from the loss, which is a patently ridiculous notion since we're talking about a football game played by late-teenagers and early twenties-agers and the much needed clarity that the top of This Here Blog says "WSU Football Blog", I decided I had to write about the football team.
After all, this is what sports are, anyway. Sure, there are a fortunate few who are lifelong fans (or bandwagon jumpers) who regularly celebrate things like wins and conference championships and shoot, maybe even national championships. For the average fan (and for me especially), watching sports is really nothing more than a seemingly never-ending series of disappointment. With metaphorical crotch shot after crotch shot, I've been brought to the brink a couple times and said, "I can't take it anymore". Decades-long futility by-the-not-so-mighty Bengals of Cincinnati and whatever the hell is happening with Washington State Football right now have both led me to the point of saying I had to just punt on being a fan and get on with other enterprises in life (i.e. cheering for the other crappy teams I like). Ultimately, though, sports are nothing more than a form of entertainment. Yes, it's a form of entertainment that many, many people take very seriously, but there are far greater tragedies in the world than a team you root for losing. There is really no sense in getting so hung up on it that I would stop supporting a team. In reality, there is a certain romanticism in continually supporting a crappy team. Just ask Cubs fans. With all of that existential nonsense out of the way, I am hear to say that no matter how bleak things get, I will continue to get fired up for every Cougar Football Saturday (or whatever day that ESPN tells us to play) and even convince myself that we've got a shot to win each week - even this week, my friends. No matter how bad things look after losing to "the worst team in the country", I, as a fan, have to go into a game against "one of the best teams in the country" at least believing there is a chance. Otherwise, what the hell is the point? With that in mind, I present to you my keys to victory against Oregon on Saturday.
1. The Black Mamba comes down with Hantavirus
I'm not so sure that anyone on the Cougar defense possesses the ability to stop De'Anthony Thomas, but you know who might? A deer mouse. Look, I don't know how much time DAT spends around deer mice or their urine and feces, in particular, but let's say that totally hypothetically he contracted the Hantavirus and was way too ill to play on Saturday. That would knock at least a couple points off the spread, no? It's important to note that I would absolutely want Mamba to recover quickly and have a fulfilling career. It doesn't even have to be something as serious as Hantavirus, really. Anything that has him too ill to play at 7:30 on Saturday night would suffice. Hantavirus was just the first thing that popped in my head, which was weird.
2. No Drops
In a hypothetical universe in which the Cougar receivers catch every pass that they should, Wazzu is 3-1 and we wouldn't have spent this last week being all sad and stuff. I'm not saying this week's game is occurring in a hypothetical universe, but it is a home game several hundred miles away from home that will have thousands of opposing fans there. At the very least, it's an alternate universe so perhaps the Coug receiving corps will thrive.
3. No Stupid Penalties
Along the same lines, penalties have been a real bugaboo this season. Anytime you've got a bugaboo on your hands, things aren't going very well. Remember what really got things going for Colorado on the ill-fated final drive? An idiotic late hit. Penalties are a part of the game and will happen, but for the team to come remotely close to realizing its potential (whatever that may be), the needless 10 and 15 yard penalties need to go away.
4. Score At Least 49 Points
I mean, I'm just saying. The good news is that the Oregon defense gave up exactly 0 points last week, so I think they're due.
5. Allow Less Points Than However Man are Scored
Things get especially dicey here. Even assuming that Mamba is out with a horrible illness, the Cougar D has its work cut out for it. We do have the best defensive player in the conference* in Travis Long, which is nice. He'll have to have a massive day, obviously. Beyond that, there is cause for concern. Let me break this down for the casual fan. The Washington State defense has a major weakness when it comes to giving up what Mike Leach refers to as "explosive" plays. The Oregon Ducks are a team built on incredible speed and therefore thrive on explosive plays. Some might call this a recipe for disaster, but I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to work on our weaknesses. We should all thank Oregon for the many learning opportunities they will provide this weekend.
6. Connor Halliday Can Only Throw To Guys In The Same Uniform As Him
Here's the thing. I was never a Brett Favre guy. I don't like the "Gunslinger" label for a quarterback because it's just a jazzy way of saying, "Mistake prone". Well, we've got ourselves a Gunslinger in Halliday. For every miracle across the field throw he completes, a la the first touchdown to Gabe Marks last week, we are just as likely to see a terrible pick. He can't spot the Ducks any of those this week. They don't need the help.
7. Four Quarters
Going into the season, as all the praises of the Air Raid were being sung, one thing that was often mentioned was that it makes teams who run it excellent fourth quarter teams because opposing defenses will be so worn out that there is nothing left to do but feast on their tired bodies for the last 15 minutes. What's happened in real life is the exact opposite of that. Regrettably it has been the Cougar defense that has run out of gas each of the last three weeks. We've now seen plenty of glimpses of what the Cougs can look like when they are at their best (or at least playing well). Somehow, someway, they'll have to make this happen for an entire game. Three days from now. Just a week after a crippling loss. Against one of the best teams in the country. Yeah, no bigs.
So there you have it. If the Cougs can count on untimely rare illness to star players, play pretty much perfectly and probably catch some other breaks along the way, they'll be in prime position to pull off a huge upset on national TV on Saturday. In the words of Lloyd Christmas...."So you're telling me there's a chance!"
Tangential question, you think the good Doc Halliday would throw more short passes and hit the underneath routes if he didn't have a poster of himself and the caption "F*#k it, go deep" on his wall?
@something snazzy He has to live up to the hype his mom and Instagram created. That's a lot of pressure.
Awesome read Huddy! The Hantavirus! Classic! Just a case of the ankle sprainsees will do, but seriously we have to rally to the ball all day long. I think another thing that the Cougs have to do to pull this off is GET FIRST DOWNS! Halliday not only has to stay away from the turnover, but he has to continually move the chains. At times he gets too caught up on the big play, instead of making the easy one. I know the reads are deep to short, but it's important that we throw more short this week and let Brooks and Caldwell make plays with their feet.
It's gonna take a miracle to beat UO. A pirate miracle! Avast ye matees! There's booty off to port bow! ARRRRGGGG!.....to much? to far? I can tone it down a little. But seriously, it's gonna take a miracle. Ya know, during WW2 when the US was on the ropes in the pacific against the japaneese, the turning point was the battle of Midway (great movie BTW). We suprised the Japaneese navy because we knew where they were going to be, but they didnt know we knew where they were going to be, and they didnt know where we were going to be...and SUPRISE! We won, sank almost all their carriers, and turned the tide of the war (GO USA). So, Saturday, we need to know where we need to be in their coverage, and if they dont know where were going to be, then we can suprise them with wide open receivers and pass like silly! On defense, we need to know where they are going to be, and be there to meet them when they get there. It's pretty simple really because we need to know the known unknowns. But do they know that yet? Dunno. But there are also some unknown unknows, ya know what I mean? What I'm sayin is this: If we know where we need to be on our pass routes, and they dont know that, we stand a good chance of winning. But we also need to know where they are going to be on offense, without them knowing that we know, and be there to meet them with our defense. Just like the battle of Midway :)
Soccer by any other name in any other country IS football, so go ahead and promote the ladies soccer (football) team. Way to go ladies, keep it going. Other than that, I can't think of anything else we need to do Saturday. It could easily be a walk in the park so to speak.