The tailgater's guide comes to you a little bit late this week. You see, I'm on vacation in the great white north of Canada. As such, I'm moving at a slower pace than usual. It also happens that I've had the impeccable luck of my vacation week aligning with the coastal Northwest's one week of summertime weather. Believe me, I couldn't be happier. But you should feel lucky, too. This gives us adults a prime opportunity to laugh at all the kids who just went back to school this week. That's what you young bucks get for all your free time and breaks and summers. It's karma, really.
All the brightness and optimism swarming around us outside align well with Cougar football at the moment. Well, minus Jeff Tuel's injury, obviously. Week 2 feels like another start to the season. This time, it's for real, against an opponent with enough talent on their roster to compete with the Cougars. And yet, there has to be a little bit of fear surrounding the UNLV game. Can Lobbestael run the offense competently while Tuel's out? Will the defense continue its climb toward respectability? This week, we come closer to finding out.
As far as Lobbestael is concerned, I'll ask you this: two years ago, wouldn't you have been thrilled to have a redshirt senior at the helm of the Cougar offense? A competent redshirt senior, no less? I find professional sports tend to overvalue experience over talent at times, but in college sports experience tends to mean more. Not just from a mental standpoint, either. I think it goes without saying a 23-year old is a lot better developed as a complete athlete than an 18-year old who just stepped on campus.
It's sad that Jeff Tuel isn't coming back in the next few weeks. And a lot of people are noting that Paul Wulff's job may hinge on his backup quarterback's performance. But at least Wulff has this going for him: this is the deepest the Cougars have been at the quarterback position than any other time I can remember. Connor Halliday - possibly the quarterback of the future - is QB number three (at the highest) on the depth chart... when everyone's healthy. David Gilbertson is a promising young talent and carries the namesake of our favorite Husky head coach of all time. Depth issues put Wulff on the hot seat to begin with. I find it kind of funny to think that depth at the QB position might just be the thing that saves him in the end.
I've heard numerous people say that at least the timing of Tuel's injury was fortunate, since he may only miss the easiest part of the schedule. But I'd argue his injury comes at a worse time now, precisely because winning games over the softer opponents on the slate puts WSU in the best position down the stretch. The Cougars' final five games brutal: at Oregon, at Cal, vs. Arizona State, vs. Utah and then at Washington (in CenturyLink Field). The Cougars need to win early and often to have a shot at a Bowl game, since they may only be able to eek out a win or two in the final five. Tuel puts them in the best position for that, but the team has to get a few wins first. Nevertheless, injuries happen all the time in sports. Sometimes a team falls apart after a key injury, sometimes your team has Tom Brady as the backup quarterback [Note: I'm definitely not saying Marshall is Tom Brady, just saying that crazy things happen in sports].
Onward we go. I'm confident the Rock Lobster is ready.
No player or matchup breakdowns today, because I'd rather not spend my vacation time scouting UNLV. Now, let's go Canadian for this week's recommendations.
Recommended Canadian Activity - Good heavens the Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler is incredible. Unobstructed views of the gorgeous Canadian Rockies; all while riding along the largest unsupported span of Gondola line in the world.
Recommended Canadian Food - Tim Horton's - A fast food restaurant with good coffee, donuts, sandwiches, bagels and so on. Why isn't this in America? My theory involves Howard Schultz funding a vast government conspiracy against this establishment crossing the border.
Gametime Snack of the Week - Smarties. Another Canadian (and European) candy that is seemingly unavailable in the U.S. And it's available in a more pleasant variety of colours [sic] than its American counterpart. CAN NO ONE STOP THE M&M LOBBY IN CONGRESS?
Gametime Cheap Beer of the Week - Molson Canadian. I could see drinking this at a hockey game.
Gametime Premium Beer of the Week - Howe Sound Lager. A refreshing, delicious, German style lager from Squamish, BC.
Gametime Canadian Song of the Week -
Arcade Fire - Wake Up (via disastroh)
Prediction - Cougars 31, UNLV 17