One of the reasons you didn't hear a whole heck of a lot from me over the past month is that, frankly, I got really tired of making crap up.
The summer months can be brutal on a college site, because you either get real creative with your posts, or you don't post. I've had to be creative for three years with this football team -- in season, too -- and as of about a month ago, I didn't have much in the way of creativity. I was just really, really ready to get on with the season.
Thankfully, we now have less than 48 hours until we actually get to talk about real, live football results. You know, analysis of stuff that's actually real, not just informed speculation. I'm so beyond ready.
So, with that, here are five things I want to see from the Cougars this weekend against what should be an incredibly overmatched opponent.
- Dominance from the lines. I want to see enormous holes for Logwone Mitz and Rickey Galvin to run through. I want to see Jeff Tuel with five seconds to throw without having to move his feet. I want to see Idaho State repeatedly stopped within three yards of the line. I want to see Kevin Yost on his back about 15 times with only a four-man rush. If the lines simply look "meh" against what is a terrible FCS opponent - as they did last year against Montana State - thoughts of "here we go again" will be running through my mind.
- Linebackers in the right place at the right time. (Looking squarely at you, Alex Hoffman-Ellis!) I find it interesting that my man Vince Grippi wrote a cool piece on the role of speed in the college game that noted the difference between raw speed and "football" speed, then paired it with a story on the speed of Hoffman-Ellis, perhaps the antithesis of "football speed" for the past two years. Too often last season, the linebackers - especially Hoffman-Ellis - got themselves out of position with either slow play recognition or over pursuit. The coaches have been raving about Hoffman-Ellis; I want to see if the improvement is real.
- Sound play in the secondary. It's probably a bit much to expect these guys to play shutdown football with their youth, so I'll settle for something a little less daunting: No blown coverages. Perfection is probably asking too much, as well, so let's just say I'll be happy if there are no major blunders. This unit needs to make major strides before heading to San Diego in two weeks.
- Focus from Marquess Wilson. Sacrilege, right? Not really - Wilson developed some dropsies at the end of last season, which we all were willing to chalk it up to fatigue at that time. Fine. He's not fatigued anymore, so I expect the drops to go away.
- A pass rush from Travis Long. I suppose this goes a little bit with the first item, but I want to single out Long here. Last year, Long played the "strong" end, where his primary job was to remain stout against the run. He's been moved to the rush end, something I believe he can do. But I want to see it.
What will you be watching for?