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Monday, September 30, 2013

Cougar Football Reaction: Week 5

The Washington State performance did not match up to the hype before the game. The Stanford Cardinal convincingly defeated the Cougars 55-17 on a wet, rainy night in Seattle at CenturyLink Field. Although, the Cougars trounced two lower teams and even had an upset over USC, I still though the game was going to go the way it did Saturday. This is the reason:  dominating the little guys has no correlation to playing on the same level as the alpha males. Stanford was No. 5 in the country for a reason and to hear Cougar fans talk like Stanford was going to be like USC, that's a disrespect to that program. The Cardinal are a nation title contending team and proved it. In my opinion, the Cougars underestimated the talent on Stanford and paid for it dearly.

Points of Optimism
All hands on deck
On a night where the Cougars looked outmatched in every aspect to Stanford, the receiving core was ready and able to catch the ball (minus a few key drops). The offense was as inconsistent as at USC, but multiple receivers were able to catch the ball for the Cougars. The Cougars had 13 different players register a catch.

Bright Spot at Back-Up
I know he threw pick and was playing against Stanford's second team for much of the second half but Austin Apodaca was still effective. He's got to work on his accuracy but still, he was able to lead the Cougars down the field for two touchdowns. It is hard to call this a great performance but there is a good sign at backup if Halliday were to get hurt, which he did during the Stanford game. No status has been given about Halliday.

Points of Concern
Secondary: Stats are NOT Reality
The Cougars came into the Seattle Game first in pass defense in the Pac-12. I always thought that this ranking was unrepresentative of what the Cougars defense actually was.

Don't believe me? I'll go in small detail each game. At Auburn, Nick Marshall was making his first start, he has only thrown for more than 200 yards twice this season, and  has only thrown 4 touchdowns this season. At USC, Cody Kessler is not that good. He has only had one game where his Quarterback Rating was above 50.0. Against Southern Utah and Idaho, the Cougars were supposed to dominate against a smaller opponent.

To focus on Saturday, there were six times Cougars corners and receivers were burned. Three by Damante Horton, two by Nolan Washington and one by Taylor Taliulu and Deone Bucannon each. The Cardinal four out of the seven chances into big plays. Horton looked completely outmatched against all the Stanford receivers. Washington had trouble matching the crisp route running of the Cardinal receivers. Although, Bucannon had one interception, he got burned on a long pass to Michael Rector. I think the secondary regretfully underestimated the talent of the Stanford receivers.

Protection? What protection?
It's been a while since I've had to talk about protection struggles. The offensive line was over-matched and over-powered by the Shane Skov and Tyler Murphy and the rest of the Cardinal front seven. There was constant pressure on Halliday and Apodaca. Both quarterbacks had to take place off on the sideline because they were hit hard by a defensive player.

Lack of Explosiveness
It is great that the Cougars receiver caught a lot of football but the did not do anything with the rock. No Cougar receiver registered more than 75 receiving yards. How do you win a game against a strong defensive team if you cannot break a big gain? The receivers and runningbacks need to find a way to put themselves in more opportune positions.

Wrong Mindset?
I think the Cougars came into this game overconfident. Don't get me wrong, a win @ USC is big and two dominating wins against Southern Utah and Idaho are nice. However, how can you think you can do the same thing to Stanford as you did to USC? The idea flusters me because Stanford is on a whole different galaxy from USC. The Cardinal are the defending Pac-12 champs, the Rose Bowl Champs and the No. 5 team in the country. If the Cougars players thought they were going to be able to hold Stanford down easily, then shame on them. I heard fans say the result was "unexpected" or "I did not think Stanford would do that against us." What are you talking about? The Cougars have yet to establish themselves as a Top 25 team, what makes you think they can compete with a Top 5 team. I really hope I am wrong about my inferences but when Leach has to waste a timeout to get players' spirits up, that's a sign of overconfidence being shattered.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cougar Football Reaction Week 4

Another weak opponent means another Cougar blowout. No offense to the Vandals from Moscow but the teams from the WAC are nothing compared to those of the Pac-12. A 42-0 beat down from the Cougars is what I and many others expected. However, maybe not in that fashion. The Cougars recorded their first shutout win since 2003 and their first home shutout since 1999. The competition ramps up as the Cougars will the Top 3 finishers of the Pac-12 North (Stanford, Oregon State, and Oregon) in the next four weeks. The very pass happy and explosive California Bears team is the other team in that four week period. The test begins with the Seattle Game against Stanford. However, the Cougars have plenty of optimism going into it.

Reasons for Optimism
The impressive tackling display by the Cougars continued on through this week. There were plenty of solo, open field tackles the Cougars made this game that they would have missed Week 1. Led by Darryl Monroe, the Cougars linebackers were making the tackles that needed to be made and it shows with the scoreboard showing the Vandals with zero points.

Finishing the Game/ Playing until the Clock hits Zero
It was great watching the Cougars holding the fort when it was 1st and goal on the Cougars' 3-yard line. For four consecutive plays, the Cougars held the Vandals from scoring a single point. This may seem small outside the Palouse and it means more than the first shutout in a decade. This four down stand shows the change in philosophy from Paul Wulff to Mike Leach. The players were still playing hard. They took pride in keeping the Vandals scoreless. How easy it could have been to concede that touchdown, but the players would have none of it.

Some life in Running
It is clear Leach would rather run a screen play than hand the ball off to the runningback. This is a fine philosophy as long as when you do run it, you run it with some efficiency. The Cougars averaged 4.7 yards rushing on 15 attempts this game. The magic number for yards per rush is 4.0 (on average, every three runs means a first down). The Cougars were over this mark so it is a success in my book.

Explosive Receiving Depth
Last week, Dom Williams was the star receiver for the Cougars. This weekend, it was Gabe Marks with 11 receptions for 146 yards receiving. If nobody has notice, they now know the Cougars have a deep and lethal receiving group. There are three receivers with big play potential (D. Williams, G. Marks, and Bobby Ratliff) and the remainder of the group catch the ball like glue is on their hands. Also, the runningbacks are always threats out of the backfield. 11 different players registered one reception on Saturday.

Reasons for Concern
Sloppy Offense
This game could have been 7-0 within the first 2 minutes of the game. Idaho forgot to line someone p against receiver Isiah Myers as the Cougars set up for the play. Myers was wide open 15 yards down the field and Connor Halliday overthrew him. The offense also committed four turnover; two fumbles and two interceptions. The Cougars a very lucky the Vandals are not a very good team. Other teams would find ways to convert those turnovers to points. In order to beat Stanford, the Cougars must take of the ball better and capitalize on mistakes by an opponent.

Shades of Bad Halliday
I know Connor Halliday had a good game but there were a few signs of bad Halliday (from Weeks 1-2) reappearing. He threw two interceptions by trying to force the bad into an area heavily covered with Vandals players. There were also more inaccurate throws although his stats do not show that. Some of his receivers made nice catches Saturday and bailed him out. If the Cougars want to make a bowl game or even be competitive in the Pac-12, Halliday needs to play crisp and smart. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cougar Football Reaction: Week 3

Now not to be cruel to Southern Utah, the Washington Sate Cougars were expected to play the way they did Saturday afternoon. They were supposed to dominate the game. The 48-10 victory sums up what was supposed to happen. I do not want to take anything away from the win because a win is a win. We just cannot overreact to this victory. Halliday played well and the defense did not play horribly but it was Southern Utah.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cougar Football Reaction: Week 2

So we have found a team more offensively inept than the Washington State Cougars. No don't get me wrong, I will enjoy a Cougars win until I die. However, if we that this is a win the Cougars deserved I will and might actually disagree with you. I was under the impression USC was overrated coming into this season. I give the Cougars credit for a good defensive performance but I also do not want to give 100% credit for that performance to the Cougars.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cougar Football Reaction: Week 1

For about the first five minutes of the game versus the Auburn Tigers, the Cougars looked like a brand new team. For the remaining 55 minutes, the Cougars returned to a similar team from last year. However, there were plenty of signs of optimism to go along with the signs of concern.

Friday, August 30, 2013

They're Back!

After seven months, college football fans can come out of their respective holes and ruts. It's time to proclaim your team number one in the country again, even if they have no business up there. Time to show your pride, time to let it all hang out. Painted faces and chests will once again flood the stadiums. The gladiators will don their respective colors and enter the arena to wage war on their opponents. With the first night in the books, it's time to take a look at what we can expect out of this college football season. I know what you're thinking, "One night? How can we know?" Well, we can't. But it's always fun to try and predict the future. Looking at the three games played last night it is evident that this season will be no different than years past. No one is safe, all games are up for grabs. Players and fans throughout the country have been waiting to see what can happen this year. Will Alabama win a third straight BCS Championship? Will Ohio State return to prominence after their one year bowl ban? Will Oregon be able to "survive" without Chip Kelly? Can USC figure out how to win a dang game?

Friday, August 23, 2013

CFB Northwest 2013-14 Preview: Washington State Cougars

Last year, the Washington State Cougars finished with a 3-9 record and a shocking upset win over the hated rival Washington Huskies. The Cougars came into the 2012-13 with high and probably unrealistic expectations. The Cougars lacked strong veteran and senior leadership and the quarterback position was constantly in flux. This year, the Cougars look to get to a bowl game. This is a good goal to set but it is all dependent on the quarterback position. Leach has said Connor Halliday will be the starter but do not be surprised if backup Austin Apodaca plays if Halliday struggles early.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

CFB Northwest 2013-14 Predictions: Washington Huskies

The Washington Huskies did not live up to the hype and expectations of last year. With a 7-6 record, they were overwhelmingly inconsistent. They won close games over Stanford and Oregon State but were knocked around by Oregon and Arizona. There was also their tremendous collapse against Washington State in the Apple Cup. This year should be a different story. Keith Price, reportedly, has been more focused than ever to lead the Huskies to greatness. Skillful runningback Bishop Sankey will add to the firepower Washington has retained.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

CFB Northwest 2013-14 Predictions: Oregon Ducks

The difference between Stanford and Oregon came down to two missed Field Goals in their matchup in Eugene last year. If Oregon bothered to kick a field goal once in a while or actually recruit a top notch high school kicker, they would have won the north title and the Pac-12 all together. The Ducks finished with a 12-1 record and a Fiesta Bowl victory. However, this year is a different story. Chip Kelly is gone; Mark Helfrich is in. The Ducks have to replace a few playmakers on offense and defense such as outside linebacker Dion Jordan and runningback Kenjon Barner. The Duck still have Marcus Mariota and DeAnthony Thomas. Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe the Ducks should increase the workload of Thomas. He is much more effective with less touches and it will prevent him from burning out or getting to many hits.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

CFB Northwest 2013-14 Predictions: OSU Beavers

The Beavers come into the 2013-14 season with confidence but also with something to prove. After a 9-4 season last year and a disappointing loss to Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl, the Beavers will look to challenge the Stanford and Oregon for the Pac-12 North Division. The Beavers currently have an ongoing starting quarterback battle between junior Sean Mannion (who was 6-1 as the starter last year) and senior Cody Vaz (who was 3-3 as the starter last year). I believe Mannion is the better quarterback and should be the starter Week One.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Losing Patience in the Rose City

Now I am a Portland Trail Blazers so it does pain me to think about the "what could have been" team. I am talking about the team led by Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden. Well, Brandon Roy's knee troubles ruined his promising and electric career. Greg Oden has been out of the league for almost 4 years now and is attempting to come back from his ridiculously fragile knees. There is only one piece that remains from Portland's "Rise With Us" campaign and his patience waning.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

NBA Mock Draft 2013 -- Zimmer

For my NBA Mock Draft, I have attempted to have a best available and a need pick for the whole first round. I'm not even going to try and say I'm an expert yet. I'm hoping to get better. Here we go! Good luck to all the draft picks!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

2013 NBA Mock Draft - Nishida

In my opinion, this draft does not provide any team with a "superstar." I think at best the top level players of this draft can become No. 2 guys/ stars on the teams they are drafted to. However, while the overall superstar talent is low, I think the overall quality of talent is above average. I think teams early after the lottery picks will still be able to get quality players. The need pick is who I think the team NEEDS to take. The Best Available is who I think the team WILL take and SHOULD take.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

King Reclaims his Throne (for the moment)

LeBron James did everything he had to in order for the Miami Heat to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. If you look back to Game 1, this series could have ended after 6 games.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Selected Preview of the 2013 NBA Draft

While Kyle, Justin, and Matt have been previewing which NBA prospect will go to which team I decided to take an in-depth look at some of the top headliners in this years 2013 NBA draft that consist of each prospect’s strengths and areas to improve on based upon what analysts have compiled and an analysis of what team would be a good fit for each of these prospects.

1.     Ben McLemore: 6-5, 190 Ibs, SG, Kansas, class: FR.
·      Finishes strong to the basket.
·      Incredibly athletic.
·      Great range, strong ability to shoot 3’s.
·      Plays bigger than advertised, listed at 6-5, has the wingspan of a 6-9 guard.
·      Very disciplined.

Areas to improve on:
·      Still maturing, has only scratched the surface with his capabilities.
·      Can be too aggressive at times.
·      Needs to improve ball handling.
·      Can be a streaky shooter at times.

Team that would fit him best: Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the 1st overall pick in the draft and Ben McLemore could fall in their lap If Cleveland chooses McLemore they will be getting a tremendous athlete that can score in more ways then one. While McLemore does need to improve his ball handling, the Cavs have Kyrie Irving to distribute the ball and call the plays on the court. The Cavaliers with picking Ben McLemore will have two franchise players to build a team around and could have one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

2.     Nerlens Noel: 6-11, 206Ibs, PF/C, Kentucky, class: FR.
·      Game impact on defense, rebounding, and athleticism.
·      Great shot blocker.
·      Dominates in the paint.
·      Very athletic for a big man.
·      Has the wingspan of a 7-4 player.
·      Fundamentally sound, makes good decisions with the ball.

Areas to improve on:
·      Needs to improve his game on offense.
·      Listed as a PF/C but might be small as a C, needs to put on more weight.
·      Raw player needs to improve on his shooting.

Team that would be a good fit: Charlotte Bobcats.
Nerlens Noel might be taken off the board before the Bobcat’s 4th pick but if available during the 4th pick the Bobcats should pull the trigger. Though the Bobcats have been a horrible team for the last several years the organization is slowly rising based on the talent that has come from previous draft picks (Kemba Walker). By adding Noel the Bobcats would be getting a standout defender that is one of the best-shot blockers to come out in recent years. While Nerlens Noel needs to improve on his shooting, the Charlotte Bobcats have players that are standout shooters in Kemba Walker and another good shooter in Ben Gordon. Picking Noel would greatly improve the Bobcat’s defense that as a team allowed over 102 points on average per game to opposing teams last year.

3.     Anthony Bennett: 6-7, 240 Ibs, SF/PF, UNLV, class: FR.
·      Has a good jump shot. Good ball handling for a guy that does not play the 1 or 2 position.
·      Can shoot the 3 pointer.
·      Very athletic, plays with a 7-1 wingspan.
·      Very efficient player, does not get tried easily, would play 40 minutes a game at UNLV.

Areas to improve on:
·      Oversized as a SF, undersized as a PF.
·      A Major concern is his health issues; in high school he could not finish his junior or senior season.
·      Can be frustrating at times by not giving his all.

Team that would be a good fit: Washington Wizards.
The Washington Wizards have point guard in John Wall who is an outstanding shooter and passer and center in Emeka Okafor who is one of the best true defensive centers in the NBA. However, the Wizards are missing a player that can posses both Wall’s attributes in scoring and Okafor’s in rebounding (Bennett averaged 8 rebounds a game at UNLV). Anthony Bennett would be able to bring both attributes to the Wizards. While Bennett has been flagged for not playing his all, a motivated coaching staff can turn him into an overall fantastic player that will mainly be used as a small forward.

4.     Trey Burke: 6-1, 190 Ibs, PG, Michigan, class: SO.
·      Fierce competitor.
·      Gives it his all every game, great leader.
·      Great ability at running plays and being a floor general.
·      Strong ball handler and pesky defender.
Areas to improve on:
·      Undersized as a point guard.
·      Could struggle to compete with bigger and more athletic point guards.
·      Averaged less then 7 points a game at Michigan last year.
·      Lacks speed and is not a dynamic finisher.

Team that would be a good fit: New Orleans Pelicans.
Trey Burke is projected by many mock draft sites to be selected by the Pelicans at pick #6. Burke will not necessarily be the lights out shooting guard like former New Orleans guard Chris Paul but that is ok because the Pelicans have scorers in power-forward Anthony Davis, and shooting guards Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers. With the addition of Burke the Pelicans would get a solid defender and a great floor general that will be able to feed the ball down low to Davis or kick it out to Gordon or Rivers to nail down a 3 pointer.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Voice that Transcends Time, Silenced

Detailed concise descriptions were a staple of his persona. Sport was his passion, sharing sport with the world was his calling. May 10, 1930 one of the best and most influential sportscasters was born.