Sports Sound-Off is revamping! We're going to podcasts now! Kyle Nishida & Matthew Zimmer will discuss all the major components of today's sport topics! Coming soon to

Previously, SSO was a radio show on on Saturdays from 8-10pm, starring Kyle Nishida, Justin Rice, Matthew Segal, and Matthew Zimmer.

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.