And this is how I am feeling. If you are a young, impressionable toddler, Please stop reading here. Trust me, it's for your own good. I separated my rambling thoughts into categories, but they are in no particular order because I don't want to.
The defense is beginning to deliver on it's promise. It is very talented, but it is also very young. The youth and talent in the secondary was especially apparent, as we often had receivers covered but just could not make a play on the ball and stop the reception. I have a lot of hope for Bucannon, Horton, Simmons, Carpenter, Locker and Toomer. These guys can really play, and all of them are in their second year or earlier of eligibility. Once they learn to feel the ball coming they will be making plays for us.
AHE went too far with the bulking up, from my estimate by about 10 or 15 pounds. He is more than a step slower than last year and it is showing. Kyle Padron's TD run, while not at all AHE's fault, would have been stopped at the 5 if AHE is as fast as he was last year. I also think Ledge could stand to cut it back, I think a lot of their tackling woes are stemming from their new bulk.
For all the talk about their great running back, I thought the Cougs did an excellent job of bottling him up for the most part. Take away two good runs and we held him to under 50 yards, though he only carried the rock 8 times. Our tackling looked significantly improved from the OK State game, which makes me very happy.
Having rewatched the game, I really can see just how close the cougs were on a lot of plays. Myron Beck was a half step late to blowing up Padron on the touchdown play where they went up 21-14. Daniel Simmons was all over a pass but it slipped though his grasp. Travis Long was right there 3 times in the second half, only to have Padron scramble out or get the ball out at the last second.
Speaking of Long, I do have one serious gripe about the defense, mainly because we lost and this can't all be sunshine and fucking rainbows. Travis Long is spending WAAAAYYYYY too much time out in the flat covering nobody. I see it with Kafusi, he is really fast and is more like an OLB than a DE. Travis Long is NOT an OLB, he is a DE and a damn good one. Putting him out in the flat decreases our abilities to stop the run and rush the quarterback while putting an otherwise good player in a position that works against his natural skillset. FUCKING STOP IT! RIGHT NOW! Please....
Marquess Wilson is special, possibly the most talented offensive player the cougs have seen in a decade. Obviously he has to work hard and mature well, but if he improves at a normal level then by the time this guy is a senior I can't fathom where his ceiling will be. The kid just makes plays, whether you throw it to him long or just dump it off and let him move. Watching him and Tuel develop is going to lead to great moments for Cougar Football.
Todd Sturdy is holding this offense back. There is no other way to put it, we are playing at a massive disadvantage with him calling the plays. Refusal to adjust to what the defense is doing, not playing to our strengths and bland, vanilla play calling is hamstringing our offense.
Our offensive line is awful at all facets of their game. There are very few redeeming qualities to the unit, and much of their woes fall on Sturdy, who demands that they run traditional plays that require an excellent offensive line. Run, run, pass is a dogma reserved for the Alabamas of the world. Washington State will never dominate the point of attack on a consistent basis. We do not pull 300 pound lineman and dominant running backs out of our hats, and that is what it requires to run the offense that Sturdy is desperately clinging too.
Two deep threats in Wilson and Barton, Possession guys in Karstetter, Simone and Solomon. Todd, when corners are playing ten yards off your best offensive weapons, throw them the ball. Just snap it and throw it. Let them move in SPACE, PROTECT your QB and SET UP THE RUN WITH THE PASS! Playcalling is a chess match and Sturdy is playing Hungry Hungry Hippos; he just keeps slapping the fucking handle with the run and hoping that some of the balls roll in front of gaping mouth.
Not only is the offensive line poor, but our running backs are mediocre at best. There is a feature back in Monty, but he is definitely not 100%. Other than that we have a collection of third down backs that are just OK. My opinion is that we should use them more as blockers and safety valves for our Tuel, and only run the ball when their defense is conceding the run.
Overall opinion on the first quarter of the season:
The team is markedly improved in many areas, notably the physical changes in the players and their ability to be in the position to make a play, even if they do not make the play in the end. Defenders are filling lanes, generating pressure, staying with receivers and, most importantly, are getting opponents offenses off the field, though not consistently. Offensively, there are legitimate play makers on the field in Wilson, Karstetter, Tuel and Monty. This offense will have to rely on the big play because marching down the field with consistency is going to be a major issue. They are also not turning the ball over at nearly the rate they used to. Tuel had the one INT against MSU, and other than that there have been a couple fumbles but nothing more. This is the good stuff.
The bad is that the defense is still giving up a lot of points and not MAKING the plays that our offense needs them to make. They are not turning tight coverage into picks, big hits into fumbles and contact in the backfield into TFL's. Offensively, our Line is awful and our play calling is worse. Because of this, we will struggle to move the ball with consistency.
Finally, and this was the first time I saw this this season, we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties yesterday. Bucannon was clean but a little late (an acceptable learning moment) Simmons hit was blatantly dirty and Williams was picking fights. Couple those big ones with false starts, holds, PI etc... and it really hurt us down the stretch. However, penalties are the mark of inexperience and immaturity on a team, and are arguably the easiest things to fix for a coach and are mistakes that decline with time.
Outlook for the Season:
I am done with Sturdy. Just done. I hope Wulff asks him to step down this week and has a meth addled chimp call the plays. At least they would vary and the defense wouldn't be calling out our plays before we know them. Please, take the power away from him. He cannot hack it, and if he can his system will not work with our players, and we have the ability to compete THIS YEAR with THIS TALENT.
If we change up our offensive play calling, I truly think we find our way to conference victory this year and I think we will compete with some Pac-10 teams. We have the talent, and it is time to use it..