Monday, October 31, 2011

Dirt or Paydirt?

Hello Followers.  Hope you had a terrific weekend.

As for me, well, in spite of having nearly two inches of snow on the ground in OCTOBER, I have remained in a surprisingly good mood.

So, if you want to find out why I think that Winter has not yet arrived for Washington State Football. Then read on.

Followers, last Thursday on the mothership, Ms. Aimeable posed an interesting question to the blog-o-sphere.  Specifically, she asked (something like), "Barring victory, what would constitute success this weekend against Oregon?"  My response:  "Move the football and put some points on the board."

And the reason for this stance was simple: Ever since Jeff Tuel returned, our once vaunted offense appeared to have completely disappeared.   And so, to the extent that we had any chance of making this season something other than a failure,  we needed to regain that mojo in a hurry.

Of course, what we all saw Saturday was a return of the offense.  Not only did we amass nearly 500 yards on the road against the #6 team in the country, we scored a legit 21 points, which would have been more had we not come out empty on 3 out of our 7 trips inside of the redzone.

On top of that, our defense, which has been particularly maligned by yours truly, actually showed that they have a pulse.   While there was still some seriously mediocre play by that unit, I also saw more speed and physicality out of that group than I have seen in years.  And what was particularly encouraging in my book was the return of Deone Buchanon and the continued strong play of Mr. Horton.  I also thought Chester Sua and Hoffman-Ellis looked and played fast (Laurenzi, Long, and Rankin also played well in spots as well)

Of course, what we don't know about this game is whether or not our play represented "Dirt or Paydirt."  On one hand, it was abundantly clear that Oregon came out completely flat in this one, and given that we did not win the football game, we take away nothing from it unless we parlay last week into something bigger and more tangible in the weeks to come.

At the same time, it's hard to ignore the fact that our offense continues to move the ball consistently with a healthy Lobster at the healm. And, notwithstanding our redzone difficulties, we have run the football extremely well in our last two road contests with Marshall at QB.  In fact, we have completely dominated time of possession in those last two contests.  So, to the extent that our defense can improve at all, and if Marshall can get just a little better with his decision making in finishing drives, this team portends to threaten a bit down the stretch.

So, enter the  CAL Berkeley Bears, fresh off an embarrassing thrashing at the hands of a UCLA team that was down about 50 players following the Arizona massacre 10 days prior.  Once again, CAL's quarterback situation is a total mess.  And, unlike last year, CAL does not have a bonafide NFL running back to lean on.

And because of all those factors, this game is BY FAR the most important game not only of this season, but of Paul Wulff's tenure.  Win this game, and I think its reasonable for this group to seriously think about a bowl game, since I think that Utah represents a team that we WILL beat at home on Senior Day. (which would make the Apple Cup for all the marbles)

Of course, lose this weekend, and the season and Wulff's job will be on serious life support.   And even though CAL is incredibly beatable, it "bears" noting that our longest current conference losing streak is against none-other than the Berkeley Bears (haven't beat them or SC since 2002).

So, its time to step up Cougies.  But to do that, we're going to have to complete the toughest task of all:

We're actually going to have to grow up as a program.

All for now.  Go Cougs.

(follow me on Twitter if you dare)


TruCoug89 said...

Is it just me or has Lobster looked better than Tuel this entire year?

Even with those two heinous picks in the redzone, we out-gained the #7 team in the country.

Honestly, can't put a bowl game outside of the realm of possibility. Even that ASU game looks doable. Game time is set for 7:30PM... should be a crisp 38degrees... and maybe you remember how terrible they played last time they were in Pullman in '09? Hopefully Lobs can redeem himself in eyes of the all the fathers who saw him throw 3 picks in the first quarter against UCLA that same year.

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

Yep, they always play terrible in Pullman--especially in November. And Utah is a team that represents the EXACT type of team that we can not only beat, but beat down. So, win this weekend, and there is a decent chance (40-60%?) that we could become bowl eligible by the Apple Cup.

And yes, Lobster has been much bettter than Tuel this year, so much so that I do not want to see #10 on the field for the rest of the year.

However, that is not to say that Tuel's loss in game 1 was trivial re: This season's fortunes.

IF Tuel had been healthy throughout, this team would have won at least 7 games....