Hello Followers. Hope you’re having a great week.
You know, it wasn’t very long ago that I was receiving a litany of texts from my good buddy SeanHawk about all the things that were going on during the 2009-2010 “Night with Cougar Football.” And while there were several texts that I remember well—including a few about an incoming wide receiver named Marquess Wilson—none of them remain as vivid as his glowing remarks about our “Three Amigos.”
(Continue reading after the jump)
Of course, the three guys Sean was referring to were future roommates Jeff Tuel, Gino Simone, and Nolan Washington. And while Tuel and Simone have moved on to new horizons, Saturday’s game against Utah will represent the last time that Nolan Washington plays in Martin Stadium.
And the reason why that is significant in my book is that Nolan Washington represents just about everything that has been GREAT about Cougar football during a time in which there has been nothing great about Cougar football. And truly, every time I have heard Nolan Washington speak to the media about the struggles of himself and his team, I have left really impressed about his intellect and the overall quality of his character.
And all of that character was evident in spades on Saturday in the desert. I mean, not only did Washington pick himself up Saturday after being benched for more than half of his senior season, he came back after a horrible calf cramp in the third quarter to help his teammates thwart Arizona’s final drive. And when I watched him and his teammates celebrate that victory on Saturday, I found myself being so excited about the prospect of him and the other seniors being able to end a near decade of losing this Saturday on their home field.
And so, while Simone and Tuel were able to exit stage left with a thrilling come-from-behind Apple Cup Victory..
it seems only fitting for this group to end theirs by fulfilling their goal of leading us to bowl eligibility. And while I will save my final prediction for Friday, I’d like to congratulate Mr. Washington and the rest of this senior class not only for fighting hard, but for keeping their heads up through all the losing, coaching changes, controversies, doubts, and hand-wringing that would have made most young men crack.
These guys are true Cougs all the way. Now go get em on Saturday, boys!!!!!
Gameballs for The Arizona Game:
Connor Halliday: Best game as a Coug yet. Most importantly, the vertical touch pass showed itself a couple of times against Arizona on Saturday. With Utah expected to play more press coverage, Connor’s ability to throw over the top will be a key to our chances to close this thing out on Saturday.
Wide Receivers: Notwithstanding a drop or two, our WR’s played their best game of the year on Saturday. Myers was physical, Kristoff and Mayle were physical, RG5 showed himself to be the toughest SOB pound-for-pound on the team, and River Cracraft played outstanding! Oh yeah, and that doesn’t even include the fact that Dom Williams is once again showing that you can’t cover him 1 on 1. If these kids duplicate that performance the rest of the way, we’ll have a really good chance of winning out.
Even without hair, I'm still Mr. November
The Defense: Everyone gets a game ball for their step-up performance on Saturday. But the guy who stood out the most to me was Justin Sagote—a guy who I will refer to herewith as “Mr. November.” Don’t know if you all remember, but Sagote played like an absolute BEAST last year in the win against the Huskies—manhandling ASJ throughout. If we’re going to win the next two games, Sagote will have to play big against a couple of pretty talented TE’s. I’m looking forward to watching him dominate!
1. Stanford. Everyone and their brother is putting Oregon back on top because Stanford lost a close one to a really good USC team on the road. Problem is: If Oregon played the Trees tomorrow, Stanford would kick the crap out of them again.
2. Oregon. With one loss, I can’t slide the Ducks below a three loss team. But let me tell you, with Mariotta hobbled, I’m currently of the mind that the South winner is headed to the Rose Bowl.
3. USC. When you’re hot, you’re hot. And with Colorado an easy target this weekend, SC will be poised to steal the South if UCLA can beat the Devils this weekend.
4. UCLA. I know that Arizona State is hot as a firecracker, but I am still not entirely sold on their ability to stop the run. Meanwhile, even though UCLA doesn’t win pretty, did anyone else note that they scored 41 against UW last week without playing very well?
5. Arizona State. With a win this Saturday at UCLA, the Sun Devils may move to the top of these rankings next week. As of right now, I think they’d beat Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.
6. Washington. When it doubt, go with balance. But let me tell you, Washington better find a way to steal one this Saturday in Corvallis or the stars will be aligned for a very bitter trip to New Mexico as the Pac-12 North’s fifth place team.
7. Oregon State. When Mannion has time, there’s no one better in the country. When he’s hurried, he becomes a turnover machine. Sound familiar?
8. Washington State. A good chance to reclaim the sixth spot with a resounding victory over the Utes. Also a good chance to finish in the 10th spot if they get too far ahead of themselves.
9. Arizona. Paper (clap! Clap!) Tiger (Clap! Clap).
10. Utah. This is a dangerous team right now. Beware Coug fans: The Utes still have the post-season to play for. And their own home papers have been questioning their belonging in the conference. They are going to give us everything we want this Saturday.
11. Colorado. Mike Mac can flat out coach. What was CAL thinking?
12. California. Note to Pat Haden, see what CAL did when they went for splash (Dykes) over substance (Mike Mac)? CAL is on their way down folks. And I really couldn’t be happier about it.
Okay, that’s all the time I have for today. I’ll be back Friday with another sterling game pick.
Enjoy the rest of your week. Go Cougs!
Man, you hate you some Cal! Ha ha!
I am not nearly as sold on Oregon's demise as you are. When you falter on the road at Stanford there isn't a lot to be ashamed of. Mariota is important but Oregon is a "system" if there ever was one. With their running game, you don't have to ask too much of a backup QB. We'll find out, cause they will face a test in the championship game.
The gameplan for Halladay last week was fantastic. Im not sure how much was him checking into the right calls, or the coaches overall plan for the game, but it was probably a combo of both. Like I said before, focus on the throws he does well. His fades, whether sideline or corner end zone have been really great all year, and bullets down the seams are his signature throw. Those over the top bombs he was missing that had everyone so frustrated just aren't there, so stop giving defenses a free play 3 or 4 times a game. Also, after a game where his receivers finally showed up, you gotta wonder how many of his turnoverpaloozas were when he was overwhelmed with frustration. He is not a patient dude when it comes to drops.
Another strength of Halladay's that has emerged with his aptitude on fade routes, is his trust in his receivers. This is something we really took for granted in the Gesser years and something Tuel just never really had. We used to watch Tuel hang on to the ball interminably, waiting for receivers to be wide open so he could make the perfect throw. Back in the day, Gesser had a ton of success just getting the ball to where his receivers were and trusting Mike Bush, Devard Darling, Jerome Riley and Co. to out leap/strength/effort the smaller defenders and win the ball. Halladay is starting to trust guys like Meyers, Mayle, Dom Wil, etc. like this and when its a fade into single coverages on the outside its great. Of course when its a blind heave over the middle into multiple defenders, its not so great, but he did not do that last week. His mechanics and pocket presence are still a total zoo, but if we can continue to channel his game towards his strengths I have a lot more confidence this team has another win in them.
Some good observations on Washington and rest of the seniors.Guys like him are the real reason I make the 375 mile drive up to Pullman in November.
I find it funny that Utah beat writers are questioning Utah's right to belong. I mean did they think that teams like Oregon, Stanford, SC, UCLA would just say, hey Utah is in the league now, we need to simply step aside? I know the skiing is nice in Utah, but I put Utah in the bottom 4 places to play along with us, OR St., and Colorado. AZ schools have the warm weather. the 4 CAL schools have, umm...California, and UO and Upups have the money.
Utah's goals should just be like us, minor bowls every year, and big bowl once every 4 years. I just wish Boise St. fans would wake up to this, if they joined our league they actually may bump either Utah or CU out of the bottom 4, LOL.
@Longball I do hate me some CAL.
Also: I'm reversing course quickly on Oregon given that Mariota is saying that he's near 100% healthy.
We'll see how things look on Saturday with him. But when he's right, they're nails against anyone not named Stanford.
Can Saturday just get here now?
Savage my drive is much less than yours to the games. You are a great Coug fan!!
@oldsavage Me too brother, me too. (Also to see a win occationally)
@wrichstrom @oldsavage Seriously....400 miles is a pull and that's when you're driving on Interstates. Pullman is not only a nightmare to get to, but the drive in from points south, west, and southwest aren't very thrilling.
Hopefully, you'll be able to see us take that step toward respectability this weekend, OS.
@Sutra @wrichstrom @oldsavage Pullman isn't a nightmare, it's one of the easiest destinations in the state! How hard is it to take an easy right off I=90 just at the end of the bridge on the Columbia and drive an additional 150 miles. Hell, my car can nearly get there without me. See everyone there this weekend.