Happy Humpday morning Cougs, as we reach the middle of the week and yet find ourselves just two days away from another WSU football game! Can't wait for Friday night. So it's on to the morning links and such.....
Christian Caple's post from last night has a rundown of practice on Tuesday, as well as details on Deone Bucannon's suspension and the QB situation at this point. If you haven't heard by now, Bucannon was suspended for the 1st half of the UNLV game by the Pac-12 for this hit on an EWU receiver, which was awfully late and pretty high on an overthrown pass that really had no chance of being caught (gif courtesy of Cougcenter). Bucannon has owned this so far, he's been quoted as feeling bad about it after the incident and all that so you believe he wasn't trying to "thug it up" out there. Did he screw up? Absolutely. Was it a headhunter's type play, where he was trying to put someone in the hospital? I would seriously doubt it.
The thing is, it's a fine line with these big hitting safeties. Fear of getting blown up over the middle is part of the game for wide receivers, and even with the emphasis on proper tackling and not using your helmet as a weapon these days, fear is still part of the game. As a defensive player in the secondary, you want to deny the opponent from catching the ball first and foremost. Beyond that, if they do catch it, you want to make them pay the price for it and have them think twice about coming back into your area to catch the ball. It's really that simple. I mean our secondary isn't out there just to run around and look cool in crimson-n-gray, they have a job to either deny the catch or punish the pass catcher! And while Bucannon's play was unfortunate, I would have to admit that if I had to choose, I would rather that these guys make an error on the side of aggressiveness vs. being passive, know what I mean? It was a terrible decision in the play itself that could have seriously injured someone, and it was a costly play at that as it gave EWU a critical first down late in the game that ultimately led to a TD. But if the secondary is going to make mistakes, I guess I would prefer that it is on the side of trying to make a play instead of just standing there while receivers run free across the secondary.
I do like the way that Mike Leach has reacted to it, taking some ownership of it as well:
"It was a late hit and I can see where action was justified. We shouldn’t have done it. We addressed it Sunday so it’s over from here, but the Pac-12’s reaction doesn’t surprise me and it’s our fault. All that’s our fault.”
Anyway, Caple also has the news on the QB's. Turns out Tuel did some light jogging out on to the field and participated in some throwing drills, but once 7-on-7 started it was all Connor Halliday and David Gilbertson while Tuel watched from the sidelines. Let's see, we're two days away from the game and Tuel hasn't really had a practice rep beyond some throwing drills? You can probably feel safe at this point to take Halliday as your starter on Friday. And I'm excited what the tall, lanky sophomore can do with what, his 2nd start ever (came off the bench vs. ASU really early, then started vs Utah, so yeah, this would be his 2nd start).
You know, on Monday I was definitely more in the "give this some time" camp. But after Sutra's post on Monday afternoon, about points and all that with Jeff Tuel, I started to wonder about it all. Then I went back and watched the rewind of the game, and this time just only watched the offensive passing plays from Tuel and Halliday. And you know what? I'm starting to wonder about the bigger picture here, and what could be best for tomorrow. Halliday has the tools, there is no doubt about it. That long completion to Gabe Marks, I mean that ball was ON Marks so quickly that I think it even caught him by surprise that it came in "HOT" like that.
But I also thought about another program in the conference with 1) a brand new coach, 2) an oft-injured senior QB, and 3) a talented youngster QB who people are excited about. This other program went with the talented youngster at QB, and right now they are ON FIRE after just two games.....
That's right, UCLA was faced with a similar QB situation compared to WSU coming in to 2012. Jim Mora as the new coach; Kevin Prince as the UCLA senior QB who has started a bunch at UCLA (26 starts) but is known more for his game manager-type skills and being hurt - A LOT; and of course, the young talent at QB in Brett Hundley.
What does it have to do with WSU? Well, they are/were faced with a similar situation - do you go with the known quantity, the established senior QB who has seen a lot in his three+ years and 19 starts coming in? Or do you go with the younger QB who, while still awfully inexperienced, has what many believe is the higher upside between the two? Do you go the safe route, or do you roll the dice and take your chances? UCLA went with the younger "upside" guy, and it's already paying off huge just two games in. But what was some fall camp drama as to who would be the guy has turned into "WOW is Hundley a star or what??" and nobody in Westwood is looking back right now!
We'll see what happens on Friday. Maybe Halliday goes out and just, well, sucks, firing INT's left and right. Or maybe he throws for 400 and 4 TD's while moving the team up and down the field, ala NCAA Football 13 and the "Four Verticals" money play! But we're already up to game 3 in 2012, which amounts to the preseason if you want to look at it that way. Conference play begins in another week and these first three games of evaluation will be in the rearview. At that point, we can probably all be assured that Leach will go with the guy who is going to give them the best chance to win - PERIOD. And that might just be Connor Halliday, this Friday and beyond.
That's it for this morning. Enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!
Tuel has proven that he is so inept in this offense. I was at the Eastern game and watched the BYU game. What I saw was a guy who has no idea what to do in this speed offense. He takes way too long to get rid of the ball. He wants major and obvious separation between defenders and receivers instead of throwing quick strikes when there is that small separation. Put it up where your receiver has a chance and let them do their job. We have good receivers, have confidence in them. Halliday in the other hand is more decisive, and allows receivers to their thing. Sure does he make dumb mistakes sure. But hey if he put up lots of points he can screw up once in while. UNLV game will once and for all show us if he deserves to get the job or if we with the steady but slow Tue. As Leech said Halliday brought some spark to the EWU game when he came in, and that spark is what we need. Not freaking 4 and outs without gaining more than 4 freaking yards.
If Halliday starts Friday, and that looks likely, and he doesn't put up 400+ yards and several touchdowns he doesn't deserve nor will he have earned the starting job. This is UNLV for crying out loud. Not BYU or even EWU. I like both QB's and would hope they would/will compliment each other. If I were coach, I'd have Tuel start until he proves beyond doubt he isn't capable of doing so. IMO he hasn't done that yet. He has still earned the starting job...for the time being.
@Ambush184 I think the debate is moot at this point, since Tuel hasn't practiced this week. Connor will almost certainly start and we will get a very good look at how ready he is to run this offense. Of course, it is UNLV, so....
NO NO NO NO NO!!! Never compare Jeff Tuel to Kevin Prince. Never again! Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!!!! I put my fingers in my ears, while scratching my head and screaming to block out the sounds of this insane statement. Never let me read such inanity here again.
You want to compare Halliday to Hundley, fine. But no no never utter Prince and Tuel in the same sentence again unless its about how we lay a beat down on him. (Not that he'll ever see the field again).
@WallaCoug He's just comparing the situations...not the capacities of the player (s)
@SeanHawkins @Sutra @WallaCoughttp://espn.go.com/college-football/player/stats/_/id/380716/kevin-prince Tuel http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/stats/_/id/482620/jeff-tuel To say they shouldn't be compared is 100% silly and just shows a compleltely illogical emotional attachment to Tuel. Prince's season last year has a higher QB rating than any Tuel season. Just look at the numbers and no names or colors. I don't like Prince, but I also think Tuel should be benched as it is way better for the future of the program to start halliday and will be just as likely to win today as Tuel.
@Sutra @WallaCoug You want to compare the two directly, that's your choice. But that is not what I did. I only compared the situations as a whole, and it's working for UCLA going with the youngster. That's it.
I saw Bucannon get beat badly twice over the middle and can't help but think that was weighing on him. I saw the hit right in front of me,in real time, and it brought back memories of Rico Tipton --- oooooh nooo, you didn't!!!!!!.
Think the rule that senior has to be clearly beaten out for the position is a good one -- even (or maybe, particularly) in a building mode. Players need to know that if they "stay the course" their turn will come. Halliday certainly will take more chances than Tuel but that cuts both ways. I am really looking forward to seeing Halliday NEXT season, with another year under his belt.
I'm not a huge fan of the UCLA/WSU comparison. Prince was fairly highly rated coming out of high school but, and please correct me if I am wrong, he never strung together more than a single impressive game. And even those were relatively rare. Tuel has managed to consistently put up yards when healthy. Throw in a large the amount of sacks he took while doing so and I still believe he has proven much more than Prince.
@something snazzy True that, I agree. I don't think I meant to compare Prince and Tuel directly though, just more the overall situation than anything else. Prince has the 26 starts but hasn't really been a huge success/winner, been injures, etc, and they have the talented understudy waiting in the wings. New coach takes a cold hard look at it, decides Hundley is the best fit, and they are off and running. But I don't fault Leach in the least for starting Tuel thus far, but maybe with the offense still trying to click, that a change might be a spark. I think we're about to find out! I love Tuel though and still marvel at some of those throws he made in the '10 Apple Cup, but the timing and rhythm just seems off so far.
While I love the upside Halladay has, still we need to stick with Tuel. I agree Tuel was hesitant, but the guy did put up the only points from a QB in the game. Halladay had some glorious looking throws but still put up a zero in the scoring column. If the OL pulls their head out and starts blocking Tuel wil be great. He is a smart QB so he is thinking too much right now, that will change and he will be slinging it in there very soon and winning a ton of games. Halladay is the future and I see a top 25 team during his time, but Tuel is today and we need to give the guy a chance cause he deserves it.
@Cougzilla I think one of the tough things about sports is that you don't really "deserve" anything; you always have to earn it.
I'll write about this more later this week, but Tuel to me is more than a football player, he has been THE central fixture in the program's rebuild. And he's a great young man....
So, I'm beyond rooting for him to do well, but ultimately, the guy who deserves to be on the field is the guy that puts up the numbers--as in POINTS...Meaning, 9 of 31 with 7 touchdowns is better, all else equal, than 34 of 41 with 2 scores....
Spoken like a true Millennial, forget the past it is all about me and today, blah blah blah.
I have no problem admitting that I am "stuck" pre 2010 cause that decade or so was by far the greatest in Cougar athletics and I think the team today has a lot to learn from those cause they were winners. http://espn.go.com/college-football/team/schedule/_/id/265/year/2002/washington-state-cougars
Halladay/Tuel or even freaking Aaron Rodgers isn't going to be successful without an O Line. So you can expunge your love for whoever, but unless we get some blocking and a run game teams are throwing 8 - 9 guys in coverage and you could be the best QB in the world and you aren't finding guys.
I know today's generation is all about the quick and easy fix but I will make it simple for you, we don't block we don't win, simple...
would argue Tuel's interception throw agianst BYU was much worst as he is a senior, warmed up, first team reps, and most of all it was much worse throw.
Tuel was a symbol for the program yes, but who cares!!!!!! Really we decide on starters based on symbols, wow reasoned logic is out the window... Tuel has way more losses than wins at QB but he is somehow this enduring figure. Wilson should have this mantel if anybody.......quit living in 2010, that team is gone and so is the coach and the offesnive scheme. If tuel can't produce in the current super QB number system he doesn't deserve to play. Leach had crap tellent putting better numbers than Tuel this season. Grrr, makes me so mad that I have to be this huge dick to Tuel to get it across to people that he is not an All star QB and highly highly likely to never come close. Statistics say his 2010 season was fluke and he is regressing to his mean.
You are entitled to your opinion, we have always welcomed that around here. But after calling me like your Grandma a week or so ago, playing grammar "police", the anger, I've had enough. You don't have to be here, you know that, right? Didn't you start your own blog or something?
Let me qualify this by saying that I'm not an x's an o's genius, and I was only able to watch the BYU game and listen to the Eastern game, but Tuel has not kicked butt thus far this season.
And the bottom line is this: what have you done for me lately?
Has Tuel been sharp? Not especially.
Halliday has had one great game, and one in which he struggled. He was playing with a severe injury that was immensely painful, but he struggled nonetheless.
He's a bit of an unknown, but we do know a couple things.
He's got confidence out the butt. This can go both ways, but in an offense that is predicated on quick reads, I have to imagine this is a good thing.
He has a hell of an arm. Leach has often said that in his system, he would rather have a guy that is accurate than one with a cannon for an arm, so maybe this isn't as big of a deal. But if he can put more heat on a ball, that makes the tighter windows he is going to face a little easier to hit.
Let's give Halliday a chance. If he runs with it, let's not give the ball back to Tuel just because he is the established senior.
@cougarben @Cougzilla @Sutra No, I wasn't crying when Lobster obviously lost his edge after being injured so badly in Wulff's first season. The reason: Tuel was clearly better and it showed throughout spring practice and fall camp, and Tuel continued to prove it on the field.
The short attention spans of all you people that want Halliday over Tuel at this point is George Castanza-short!
Let me reiterate: Halliday had one outstanding game, and another very poor game. Saturday, he couldn't put the ball in the end zone, which yes, the holding call could be held responsible for. But don't forget the extra touchdowns Tuel would have had against BYU if not for holding calls.
I know its hard for you to remember all the way back two years ago with your short attention spans, but Tuel kicks butt. And as long as he's healthy and until he shows that he consistently can't get it done, then he should start.
@Cougzilla @Sutra @WallaCoug You could say a lot of the same things about Marshall Lobbastael. Great Coug, came on at a horrible time, outplayed by younger quarterback. If anyone deserves something just for being a nice guy it was him. But nobody was sad when Tuel came on and showed he was the way of the future. If Halliday comes out and does the same, I wouldn't have a problem if the staff gave him the starts the rest of the way.
I am a big fan of Halladay, he has something we have seen in just a handful of QB's that have come through WSU in my time (Bledsoe, Leaf, Gesser, and yes Brink.) BUT just look at the pass he made on the INT, that was just a bad play and for how amazing the pass was to Mark, that was equally as bad.
I should rephrase, you earn your way on the field, you don't just deserve to start cause of what you did in the past. Tuel has shown more Cougar Spirit during his tenure then any of the QB's listed above. The kid was thrown into a startng role on two of the worst teams in NCAA history (not just Coug history) and as luck has it right when things are turning around last year he gets hurt on another bad decision by a Coach who was way out of his element.
He has earned the right to start this year because he is a great Coug even if the stats don't show it...
I’ve gone back and forth on this, like a lot of people on the blog here. My immediate reaction to the EWU game was to stay with Tuel…but now I have this overwhelming feeling of relief that it looks like Halliday will be starting on Friday night…which was kind of surprising to me, since the conscious, logical part of my brain told me to give Tuel a couple more opportunities to learn the offense. Deep down though, I think we all saw the difference on Saturday; Halliday making quick decisions with deadly accuracy, while Tuel hesitated in the backfield, before making mildly accurate short throws. I’m excited to see how Halliday plays with game preparation.
That being said, for either QB to find success, the run game is going to have to step up in a major way. Also, our downfield blocking has to be much, much better (cough-MarquessWilson-cough) if we want to find success as a team.
Time to see what Halliday can offer as the starter. One X-factor if he starts (sure looks like he will based on the practice reports this week) is that this would be his first playing time (I think) in a road game, which obviously presents many different factors than playing in the comforts of your own stadium. Obviously the quality of opponent makes things a little easier, but it will be interesting to see how he responds.
I was encouraged by what Halliday showed during his limited time on Saturday. His ability to get rid of the ball quickly was there and although that INT is one I'm sure he would love to have back, he squeezed that ball into some tight windows on a couple of throws! Just dating back to games against Utah and ASU last season, the kid really seems to have a moxie and brings the best out of everyone around him, especially Marquess.
Last point. Does anybody else think that for about 85-90% of the snaps that Tuel has taken so far, he has looked completely lost? Doesn't know where to go with the football, indecisive on whether to take off running or stay in the pocket, poor decision making. I just have not been at all impressed with what he has done so far.
Besides the pass that Marks caught, Halliday threw one to the homefield sideline to Meyers (I believe), there was triple coverage converging on him, and Meyers didn't get his hands up in time to catch it and it bounced off his shoulder pads. I think he was surprised how fast it got there and the window Halliday threw it through. It was impressive.
@ptowncoug3012 Don't forget the money throw in traffic to Wilson that would have been a TD had the holding not happened.
@ptowncoug3012 With two QBs throwing with what appears to be completely different timing, you gotta think there is a tricky adjustment for the receivers. I think a lot of people are hung up on Halladay's vs. Tuel's arm strength, but I don't think it is as big a deal as timing. I think Halladay is much more likely to sling a ball in sooner so it arrives just as a receiver is breaking out of their cut.
Watching Tuel hesitate to unload the ball kinda reminded me of catcher Macky Sasser. I remember collecting all his rookie cards, sure he was going to be a star. Then he could no longer throw the ball back to the pitcher. It was strange and frustrating and hard to watch. He was pretty proficient at everything else, but that one simple thing became a huge struggle. It pretty much ended his career as a catcher. I think Saltilamacchia is having the same issue right now. It is such an easy, routine throw, but they just cannot do it. I don't think that a fear of being injured is necessarily at work, since hanging onto the ball too long is a great way to get hit. When I watch him it just seems crystal clear to me that come game time, something is not clicking right upstairs.
But enough armchair psychology, we need to go with the guy that gives us the best shot to win. We may find out more about who that is this weekend. Whether people want one, or not, we do have a QB controversy on our hands. Can Tuel shake off the cobwebs? Can Halladay be more than just a poor man's Phillip Rivers (lots of TDs and even more Ints)?
P-town made a good comparison to the Bledsoe/Gossen/Garcia days. A lot of people don't remember this, but Gossen was a lot like Tuel. Very capable QB who even lead the country in passing efficiency, while Bledsoe was all "Upside" and "gun slinger". QB controversies suck, but at least ours is more of the Bledose, Gossen, Garcia variety and not the Menke/Birnbaum variety. Two more games to sort it all out, then we need a clear cut field general against Oregon.
@Longball Wow. Referencing Mackey Sasser. That takes the award for best comment right there.
@Longball Mackey Sasser!! Loved him, thought his bat would be great in the lineup from the left side (he was a lefty I think?). He could hit but it was sad watching him double pump and try and throw it back. Weird. I might have his Rates Rookie card in a box, somewhere!
@Longball Ditto on all fronts...I'm just excited to watch us play on Friday....
Hard to believe but by about midnight eastern the season will be 25% DONE. Crazy..