A cool, blustery spring day greeted both the WSU football and baseball teams Saturday in Pullman, and while the football team could be partially excused for not performing perfectly in the windy weather, the baseball team could offer up no such excuse. This morning we'll start with football, where the offensive line(s) and defensive backs showed that the 2015 Cougars will likely go as far as those two units take them.
As is usual in the Air Raid system, the quarterback competition was front and center Saturday, with Luke Falk and Peyton Bender getting nearly equal reps and showing once again that the competition won't be over any time soon. Bender averaged a little more in the YPA category, and Falk threw the only interception between them. Also, nothing heats up our little corner of the internet like a good ol' quarterback derby, so keep it going fellas.
A couple new names emerged on offense, as Daniel Lilienthal paced the receivers with 100 yards, while freshman Keith Harrington had by far the most explosive day on the ground, picking up 85 yards on just six carries. Lilienthal has yet to appear in a game at WSU, so any contribution he makes will be a big help. Harrington, meanwhile, could be vital in adding depth behind Morrow and Wicks. Additionally, given the impressive mane that he shows off, maybe we'll start calling him Keith HAIRington, AMIRITE?
On defense, I get the feeling that what we saw Saturday will be largely what we see in the fall. Namely, it's going to take a great pass rush to offset what will, once again, likely be a pretty shaky situation in the secondary. Tyler Hilinski took the brunt of that heavy pass rush, and the defense collected nine "sacks" on the day. While I don't expect the offensive line to be that leaky down the road, they need to shore it up just a bit. There are a couple reasons for hope with the DBs. They'll likely get better as they adjust to the new defense, and there are a couple talented JC signees that will take the field for fall camp. We need them.
Over on the baseball diamond, the Cougars literally booted away a chance to sweep the Huskies and continue their upward climb. Staked to a 2-1 lead, they gave up the tying run without the ball leaving the infield. Later on, they couldn't execute a simple force play at second base because Shane Matheny dropped an easy ground ball. The flood gates opened shortly after, and didn't close until WSU trailed, 5-2.
One thing we've learned (especially those of us who are Mariner fans) is that if you have a team that is deficient in the run-scoring category, your margin for error is such that you can not afford to have a slip-up on defense. WSU has cost itself two consecutive opportunities to earn a sweep because of defensive mistakes. Still, two straight series wins are a definite improvement over what was a disastrous start to conference play. WSU delves back into nonconference play this week, beginning Monday with a home game against the Aggies from Las Cruces.
WSU quarterbacks sharp in scrimmage - Spokesman.com - April 11, 2015
While the offense, in its fourth year with the Air Raid, is able to spend its time training in the minutiae of success in a system the players already know, the defense has had to focus mostly on big-picture stuff, and the difference in time spent drilling technique was evident.
Observations from WSU's scrimmage | The Spokesman-Review
Washington State's secondary still looks a work in progress and the offensive linemen are probably ready for a do-over. But overall, with the exception of one inauspicious drive, the Cougars were energetic and it looked like a productive first scrimmage.
Practice Recap April 11 - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Here's a quick video recap of the first spring scrimmage.
Huskies win game but Cougars already had series - Spokesman.com - April 11, 2015
With the exception of Sagdal at second base, the Cougars start an entirely freshman infield. That inexperience hadn’t caused too many growing pains in the field for the Cougars, but on Saturday some youthful mistakes cost the Cougars a shot at the sweep.
Former UTEP coach Jason Rabedeaux's death remains a mystery
This is a tremendous article about a former WSU assistant, and Wright Thompson's writing is unparalleled.
States rewrite microbrew laws as demand for craft beer grows
Speaking of Arizona craft beer, if you ever find yourself in Scottsdale, head over to Papago Brewing Co. Not only do they have some great in-house beers (Coconut Joe and Orange Blossom are tremendous), they have a wide selection of beers you can take home. Great pizza too.
A Better Way To Find The Best Flights And Avoid The Worst Airports | FiveThirtyEight
I'm kind of an aviation junkie, and I found this article to be pretty informative. The interactive map is the coolest part. A lot of it tells us what we know...avoid Chicago and New York if possible.