There's some good stories about there, plus the FSN weekly highlights show is available for your viewing pleasure. It was a pretty good show this week, with a lot of Apple Cup talk. But be sure to pay attention towards the end of the video, and the HUMONGOUS hit on Jacquizz Rodgers, delivered by none other than Xavier Hicks! I'm not sure if you heard about the hit, and it obviously wasn't on TV, but wow, he laid the wood to young Rodgers. As Jim Walden said on the radio broadcast, "he's not even seeing stars, he's seeing MOONS!"
Some quick links for you, then the video. First, speaking of Xavier Hicks, a good, quick story from Howie Stalwick on the senior safety. Yeah, he made a lot of mistakes in his time in Pullman, and we don't need to rehash all of that now. But you now realize that Hicks hasn't had an easy road, raised by a single mother who had him when she was only 16 years old. But even with the mis-steps Hicks made in Pullman, Paul Wulff and the rest have stuck by him, and it appears that loyalty has paid off. Hicks has had a decent season, leading the team with 78 tackles and doing all he can while those in front and next to him have fallen by the wayside due to injuries in '09.
And, seeing how it worked out well for Hicks, here's a big hope that coach Wulff and the team are ready to welcome back Kevin Norrell to the program. If you missed the story last week, Norrell was finally sentenced for his incident in September that led to his season-long suspension from the team. It's no secret that Norrell was regarded as one of the most talented skill position players on the roster, and made huge strides heading into this year before his trouble at the beginning of the season. We're fans of Norrell around here, so let's hope the program is ready to embrace him again as one of their own!
Meanwhile, a Coug in dog's clothing - Bob Condotta - had this write-up in the Times, regarding the youth on both UW and WSU's roster. A little bit of a sobering reality if you want to know the truth. The gist is that yep, UW and WSU are both awfully young. But you know what? So is the rest of the conference. Want proof? Per Condotta:
However, the unfortunate reality is that while UW and WSU are admittedly experiencing growing pains, it's not as if the rest of the Pac-10 is ready for the Denny's Senior Menu.
Consider that of the top 10 rushers in the Pac-10, eight are underclassmen, and one of the two seniors — Stanford's Toby Gerhart — could be back next season if he's granted an extra year of eligibility for missing most of 2007 due to injury.
Also potentially back could be all but two of the top 10 passers. And one of the seniors is Arizona State's Danny Sullivan, who has already been benched.
Seven of the top 10 receivers are underclassmen, as are eight of the top 10 in sacks and six of the top 10 interceptors.
The only teams with even as many as 10 senior starters are the two Arizona schools and Stanford. No one else has more than eight seniors starting.
While there is still hope in the future as the Cougs grow up.....uh, well, the reality is that they have been getting beat pretty handily by some other young teams along the way. But instead of getting overly gloomy, maybe this isn't so much a downer for the Cougs as it is a reason to look at the Pac-10 and realize how GOOD it really is, top to bottom? Sutra and I had a conversation earlier this week, about how tough the conference is right now. I mean yeah, we have been the "layup" or "guaranteed win day" for every other Pac-10 team on the schedule this year, but, overall it's a good, deep conference. Given all the youth that has played so well, it's going to possibly be an even better conference next year. So, all that said, maybe it's time they revisit the idea, again, of ditching the round robin schedule format? The SEC doesn't play everyone in their conference, nor does the Big 10. Heck, the Big 10 only plays eight conference games every year, yet they have eleven members in the conference, and all without a conference title game! In 2008, Iowa missed both Ohio State AND Michigan, and that worked out well for them. They ended up winning nine games that year, including a blowout over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. This whole Pac-10 round robin schedule thing has gone on far enough!
Finally, the weekly highlight video....check it out after the read more:
Dennis Patchin in the host chair this week, as Buddy Nameck is up in the great state of Alaska for the basketball tournament. While I like Buddy, it's nice to have DP as the host for a change-up. He's more than capable, and if you've ever heard any of the post-game WSU radio coverage you know what I mean. Lots of questions, right to the point, and good questions at that. So, here's the recap. I hope you enjoy the last one of the year, almost as MUCH as I did!
One quick thing, before we get to it. What do you all think of these radio show recaps? We've done them for a few years now, back when Doba was around. I know many of you have given up on the team as it is, and clearly from comments, some aren't exactly going to be running back to the team when things resume next year. So maybe some of you simply don't care. But do you want to see this kind of post from us next year, that is, if we're still here doing this? With the coverage of Wulff's press conferences and the updated stories from Cougfan or writers like Howie Stalwick that are constantly flowing through the news feed, well, do you find this type of post informative in any way? And who knows, maybe next year they'll actually stream the show, and there won't be any reason for this type of post. But feel free to let us know, in comments or otherwise. I can take the criticism, and I/we are always open to suggestions. Anyway, here we go:
1) DP asked right away about Wulff's thoughts on the Apple Cup in general. Wulff said "I love it, just as a fan I love it. I'm still the biggest WSU Cougar football fan out there, so I know what this game means to so many people." Further, Wulff said that "we talk to the players, about how this game is an opportunity. It's a game you will think about and talk about for the rest of your lives. People who played 50+ years ago still have memories of this game, and they will take them with them until the end of their lives. And it's a special week that is obviously important to a lot of people. We still get messages from former players and coaches and we share them with the team. It's great."
2) DP asked about the motivation, and how do you get them pumped up yet keep their focus? Wulff said "We really try to simplify things for this game. Remind them of their keys, keep them focused on the game plan. Don't spent too much time anyway in talking about everything else. They will get that from their friends and family as it is. Just continue to stay on track, stay the course, focus on the task at hand." DP asked about what they allow the players to say to the media before the game, and if they discourage that type of thing? The Kavario Middleton quote about scoring at least 50 points was brought up for example. Wulff said "we tell them don't say ANYTHING that they can put up on the wall. But, they are young men, and the media will talk to them more this week than any other time in the year. Young kids like that, they can slip up easily and something may come out of their mouths that they didn't intend. But all you can do is remind them not to say anything."
You know, I don't blame Sterk one bit about talking up the expectations. The thing is, if anyone remembers back to the 2000 season, Jim Sterk was quoted on KJR as saying that "Mike Price needs to win now" after three straight last-place finishes. I remember driving to work that morning and listening to that interview, and kind of raising my eyebrows at the whole thing. It was the first time I heard Price more or less called out like that. I guess I thought like everyone else, that Price was simply living in Free Pass world, based on 1997 in Pullman. But three years of awfulness was just about enough, for Sterk and the rest, and it was time to turn it all around. Sure enough, the greatest stretch in school history went down from 01-03. Will it work? Is it realistic? We'll get into next year, well, later. But it's going to be tough. Remember, Sterk also warned earlier this year that 2010 could mean another losing season, so even he's aware with the schedule and youth and all that for next year that it's going to be a challenge to turn this thing around.
Finally, Twilight. I know, I know, not a real popular topic around here I would imagine? It's off to a super-terrific start in the box office, even threatening my Dark Knight for most ever in the opening week?!? How dare they!
Now, many of you may have a wife/girlfriend/significant other dreaming about the vampire or warewolf or whatever else they come up with to sweep them off their feet and out of the mundane, ordinary existence in FORKS, WA?? You know, for a while I didn't "get" Twilight. But now, after reading this post? I do "get" it. And the "get" in all this? I'm not SUPPOSED to "get it". I mean I love a great drama like the rest of them, but this story just missed with me, and now I know why. Thanks to "The Oatmeal" for showing me the light.
Now, where's Blade when you need him? Anyone? Can I get Blade, please??
Now that's a sequel I want to see....
Enjoy the rest of your day, and GO COUGS!
This week's release has been, well, released. Some glimmers of hope as well, as both Bernard Wolfgramm at d-tackle and Chima Nwachukwu at strong safety now have the "or" next to their names, meaning they COULD either play or start? We'll see. The rest of the week will tell the tale there. Talk about a defense that needs reinforcements right now! You know, with this week's release, there are only THREE cornerbacks even listed?? Aire Justin at one corner, Terrance Hayward at the other corner, and Shane Thomas is the backup to both positions. Brandon Jones, nursing a back injury suffered vs. the Beavs, isn't even listed on the depth chart. Get ready for a ton of 3-man defensive fronts, with every linebacker dropping deep into coverage. They have no other choice.
I guess if Justin or Hayward need a breather, they might be able to throw Chima in there at corner for a few plays? Grippi's post-practice report says Chima was running with the DB's on Monday, so that's good. I guess if Chima can't go, Easton Johnson, still sporting jersey #81 as a WR, will start at safety. Johnson, you might remember, logged 10 tackles at the strong safety spot after switching positions last week from wide receiver to safety(!). Amazing.
It also sounds as though Jeff Tuel practiced a little bit, and he's got that "or" next to his name on the release as well. But as Sir Grippi points out, even if Tuel can play on Saturday, according to Paul Wulff, Kevin Lopina will start.
Meanwhile, Paul Wulff's conference call yesterday came with some news - Wulff says he and his coaching staff are welcome back next year, per Howie Stalwick:
In a conference call with reporters ahead of Saturday’s Apple Cup against Washington, Wulff said Sterk has been “very reassuring about what we’ve been doing.”
“(Sterk’s) very excited about how much work we’ve done and moving forward. It’s been outstanding,” Wulff said. “As we move into next year you’re going to see a hugely improved team, one of the most improved teams around. We’ve got all the ingredients to take a giant step as a team.”
That's great for Wulff, if true. I mean we all want to believe this, that Sterk and the rest are all on the same page, excited about where this thing is headed, not where it's been. And maybe he's right, and things are about to take a huge step forward next season with yet another year of off-season conditioning, growth, a return to health for an amazing number of injured, and of course, more recruits to come in and provide the depth they so desperately crave in Pullman. But will the entire coaching staff get off scott-free? That might not be as clear. I guess we'll see what happens after Saturday, but it sure sounds promising for Wulff.
Moving on, Bud Withers absolutely NAILED the current WSU "situation" with coach Wulff and the program in general. Among the many things to see here are Wulff's continued avoidance of the JC quick-fix, the absolute lack of playmakers and speed and how that's about to change, and his absolute belief that they are killing it in recruiting right now (despite the national recruiting rankings in the 50's or somewhere in there). A good perspective on pretty much everything, as we've come to expect from Withers.
Finally, we heard from Richard Bray, director of Donor and Community Relations, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle/King Co. There is a good cause going on this week, in an effort to help Seattle's homeless. Check it out:
As the weather turns bone-chilling cold, Washington Husky and Washington State Cougar fans are being challenged to see who can bring more blankets and coats for the homeless and needy as part of St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle/King County’s “Competition of Caring” drive-- part of the Apple Cup football game on Saturday, November 28. Fans are invited to bring an item to Husky Stadium between noon and 3:30 pm as they enter the stadium. There will be a Cougar Bin and Husky Bin at each location. Fans will place items in their favorite team’s bin. One hundred volunteers from community will be on hand to encircle Husky Stadium to collect donations. St. Vincent de Paul will announce the Competition of Caring winning team by twitter at www.twitter.com/svdp_seattle.org.
That's it for now. Enjoy your Tuesday, and as always, GO COUGS!
Then again, when you are only able to have 13 defensive players in uniform who can actually play, as was the case when Brandon Jones went down with a back contusion vs. the Beavs, well, they are the definition of the walking wounded.
Why is it good news though, this whole underdog thing? It's actually good for this Apple Cup game. You know why? Well, since 2001, the underdog has covered the spread in SEVEN OF THE LAST EIGHT TIMES these two teams have gotten after it. That's right, the underdog is now 7-1 in the last 8 against the spread. We actually looked at this last year, prior to the 2008 game, and at the time it was 6-1 in favor of the dogs. Remember, the defeated UW'ers were a 7.5 to 8-point fav heading into last year's game in Pullman, and we all know how that turned out.
Does any of this actually matter? Who knows. But I think it clearly shows one thing. In recent years, WSU has had seasons where they have been better than UW, and there are years where UW was favored with what was thought to be the better team, and yet somehow the rivalry game turns up the juices on the underdog. And come on, we're WSU. No matter how depleted the team is, no matter how young, injured, etc, the roster happens to be, does anyone really think they are just going to go into Seattle and lay down? I know it's only Monday, and we don't even know if it's going to be Kevin Lopina or Jeff Tuel at QB, but if recent trends are any indication? Take the underdog to cover.
Enjoy the rest of your evening, and of course, GO COUGS.
Greetings Cougar Nation!
This post is coming to you all a bit late, but as promised long ago Amieable and I have a comprehensive report on the Cougar game-day experience. For the last Cougar home game of this forgettable season, we hope the brave few who make the trek to Martin Stadium will find a way to enjoy your stay, and for the rest of you we hope to remind you there are so many more reasons to come to Pullman then just the game!
Amieable and I celebrated the Homecoming weekend with a whirlwind tour of all the Cougar gameday goodies we could pack into our day. We graded each stop along the way, with a scientific and objective scale in line with the strictest standards of academia......We’ll also provide our comments and impressions, so those of you planning your next trip to Pullman can make an informed decision about the best way to spend those few precious hours. For those of you far away we can only hope that this vicarious journey provides you some hint of the incomparable comforts of home. Let’s begin…
I was awakened early Saturday morning, as I am on all Cougar Football Saturdays, by the thundering cadence of drums as the Cougar Marching Band played their wake-up call to the entire campus. There is no better alarm clock in the world, and it’s my signal to get up and turn on Gameday for the morning flag check. Amieable and I set out just before 11am, determined to stop at all four campus bars, the field house, Ferdinand’s, and the tailgates before the 2:00 kickoff. It was a perfect Fall day, cold, crisp and clear, the very best football weather that Pullman has to offer. The temperature had sunk into the teens the previous night and as we passed Reaney Park icicles still clung to the picnic benches. We climbed the Hill, shedding our warm clothes along the way, and approached the first stop on our gameday tour… Stubblefield’s.no comments
Welcome to another WSU Football Friday, where each week we belly up to the bar and throw down our takes for the coming Saturday, plus pick some of the other Pac-10 games. You know the drill.
First off, in this hailstorm of negativity in regards to the incredible struggles of late, we wanted to remember something, well, good. You know, when the Cougs were relevant on the Pac-10 scale? And since we're playing Oregon State this week, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at the last time WSU beat them in Pullman, all via video. Some of you may not remember, heck, 2003 was a long time ago. Jay Leno was still stinking it up on the Tonight Show at 11:30, long before he was exposed as a ratings-killing fraud at 10 PM. Howard Stern was on the free airwaves, battling the FCC and unable to say the seven dirty words that now flow freely on Sirius (check it out weekdays on Howard 100 and Howard 101!). Arnold Schwarzenagger became governor of California after Gray Davis was recalled. Oh, and a young, spry George W Bush had just started his first war in Iraq! Aww, they grow up so fast, don't they?
But enough of that talk. I barely remember what I had for breakfast, so if you've forgotten what happened back in '03, it's understandable to say the least. But the Beavs swaggered into Pullman with a 5-2 record, and some serious NFL talent, including Derek Anderson at QB and of course, the mack truck at running back, Steven Jackson. But this wasn't a pushover Coug team, not by any stretch. Coming off the '02 Pac-10 title, they were playing with a chip on their shoulder after Mike Price bolted for 'Bama. This was a crucial game, as WSU came into it at 6-1, 4-0 in the conference and #14 in the country in the rankings. WSU was staring at a showdown with USC the following week in LA for the Pac-10 title, but first they had to get past the rock-solid Beavs.
It was a see-saw battle, all the way. WSU jumped out to a 14-0 lead, which included a fantastic, leaping TD catch by Devard Darling. But then the Beavs would reel off 25 straight points to take a 25-14 lead into halftime. The Cougs would battle back, finally sealing it with a 4th quarter Jonathan Smith TD run in a 36-30 victory. Check it out (and be sure to listen to the crowd, pay attention to the atmosphere! Yes, it really used to be like this!):
Some really good players in this game. Jason David, Erik Coleman and Karl Paymah all have played in the NFL. Will Derting, be still my heart, one of the all-timers and easily one of my favorite Cougs ever. And I'll always love the speed on the edges with Isaac Brown and DD Acholonu. Man those guys could run! But it's easy to forget that with all that talent on defense, the offense had some pretty good players too? Devard Darling, an NFL wide receiver. Sammy Moore and his excellent speed, showing up in the big games with game-breaking ability (remember his plays vs. Texas in the Holiday Bowl?). Jonathan Smith and the quick feet out of the backfield. And you even get a glimpse of a frosh named Jason Hill on special teams. Lots 'n lots of talent.
It makes it easy to see what people like Paul Sorensen and others have been talking about in recent weeks, about the lack of depth and talent on this current team. You see this, you realize how far it's fallen, how much work lies ahead. But it's also important to remember where things used to be, and can be once again!
But overall, I have to be honest - not a great show. But when you get blown out, what else can they do at this point? It's not like they can show a bunch of great plays, TD's, etc. It is, as they say, what it is. They also replayed the Ken Bone "miked up" feature from last week, and I didn't include it this week. They are, clearly, 1) running out of things to say about the football team, and 2) ready to fire up the hoops portion of the sports schedule!
I know people aren't thrilled with Lopey, but what the hell. It can't get any WORSE, can it? With Tuel still not able to go (and it sounds ominous that he may not be back next week either), this is the best choice. And has Lopey been THAT bad? Not great, but not a complete trainwreck either. 56% completion percentage, a couple of TD passes, and a rushing TD, but he's barely played this year. I guess it could be worse? And hey, one of his starts this year was when the team had the second-most total offense yardage, 403 vs. Hawaii. And at least he's not hurt anymore, per Wulff:
“He’s throwing the ball well, he’s fresh, his body feels good, and it’s very refreshing actually. He feels good physically. He’s given us a great spark.”
Cool. Maybe he'll get us into the endzone a couple of times? And remember, he IS 1-0 in APPLE CUPS! If he survives this game vs. the angry Beavs, there is little doubt he'll get the call next week as well.
Meanwhile, I know Wulff mentioned this on the radio show on Tuesday, but Grippi points out that Jason Stripling is officially "suspended indefinitely". Bud Nameck asked Wulff about Stripling, and the reported quarter suspension, and while Wulff didn't correct him, he did say Stripling was "suspended indefinitely." Who knows what that means this Saturday, but maybe Stripling is done?
Moving on, I know there is some buzz about this, but Paul Sorensen came out with at STFU article for all those who DARE to doubt this coaching staff! I'm surprised he didn't USE ALL CAPS when hammering this thing out.