Good afternoon and Happy Hump Day, Cougs! I'm back on the grid after admittedly having to take a brief hiatus from Cougar Nation for a few days. It's a good thing my Labor Day Weekend was packed full of fun activities to take my mind off of the Pooping in Provo. The level of excitement I had going into the game was immediately matched by my disappointment during and after. Suffice it to say, that was a lot of disappointment. If not for the Bridgeport Brewery and its new seasonal offering Witch Hunt, the pain may have been unbearable (OK, that's an exaggeration, but still....I was pretty bummed). All of that said, I'm ready to wash my hands of Week 1 and get on with the rest of the season. The only way I could go about doing that is to look for the silver Crimson and Gray linings for this Cougar Football Team. While there weren't many to be identified, I've got some for you. So check them out after the jump.
Crimson and Gray Lining #1 - The defensive front 7
I can hardly believe it myself! It seems fair to say that one of the biggest worries we Coug fans had going into the season was a pretty sketchy looking defensive line and an untested linebacking corps. After one week, I'm actually pretty darn excited about this group (insert commentary about depth being a problem here). Travis Long kicked off the season with a two sack effort, including a sweet Dwight Freeney-esque Spin-a-rooney effort in the second half. It was good to see Travis Long doing Travis Long things, and as the smarty pants number crunchers over at Cougcenter pointed out, he did it it from a variety of positions. It will be interesting to watch him continue to evolve moving forward.
The fact that Travis Long played well didn't come as a surprise, but the biggest and most pleasant surprise, at least to me, was the performance of Ioane (My Main Man Ian) Gauta. He was physical, played with a mean streak and has one glorious head of hair. As was mentioned in comments earlier, a potential three man front of Xavier Cooper, Toni Pole and Gauta looks pretty darn good right now.
Another player who caught my eye was Daryl Monroe. This came as less of a surprise to me since I've been high on him for quite a while, but he was as advertised. If he and Gauta can spread their level of "give a crap" to some more folks on the team, we'll be in good shape.
Crimson and Gray Lining #2 - "Form Fit" Furney
I mean, I should probably give props to the only dude who scored, right? He did have another, "What do you mean the play clock is running? I've got a pre-kick routine to get through!" moment, but since he made the kick, it didn't matter so much. Furney 4 Groza!
Crimson and Gray Lining #3 - Marquess Wilson is still really, really good
Was the diva wide receiver routine disappointing to see? Sure it was, but plenty of hyper competitive people have had moments of petulance when things started going the wrong way. Were it not for two iffy holding penalties (among a litany of iffy calls both ways; #Pac12RefsAreDumb), Marquess would have had a big statistical day with a couple of highlight reel catches. I'm not worried about him in the slightest.
Crimson and Gray Lining #4 - Mike Bowlin (Non-Punts Division)
That kid sure can boot the ball on kickoffs, can't he? He didn't get much work, but all if his kicks went through the end zone, didn't they? Now about those punts....
Crimson and Gray Lining #5 - It's early
Look, I overreact to things just as much, if not more than anyone else. After almost a week though, some perspective finally started to kick in. I'm not going to say that Thursday wasn't a disaster because it was, especially relative to our expectations. At the same time, it was a game that according to the experts, we were supposed to lose. What's more, there were legitimate opportunities for it to have been much closer than how it turned out. Now the time comes to find out what this team is made of. The should be able to pick themselves up off the ground to play in front of a packed house(!) in Pullman this weekend and hopefully turn things around in a hurry. If they can't do that, well, I don't want to think about it because I'm firmly entrenched in accentuate the positives time.