Good morning, Cougar fans, and welcome to the last day of May. Monday, as the calendar turns to June, we know that we're more than two-thirds of the way through the dark period, also known as the time without Cougar football. The more cynical among us would say that the dark period almost always extends right through the actual season. But this is a time for hope and optimism, often seen through the eyes of previews in magazines and on websites.
As an old person, I'm a little fond of the magazines, even though I rarely buy them anymore. Back in highschool and college, I'd be at the store every Friday looking for that year's Athlon (the 2015 version featuring River Cracraft), followed by Lindy's, then Sporting News and Street & Smith's. I'd even send away for the Big Ten (Iowa cover) and SEC (Florida cover - I used to be a Florida bandwagoner, mistakes were made) magazines, making my room a veritable college preview mecca. If you inferred from those last few sentences that I didn't spend a lot of my formative time talking to girls, you'd be right.
Now that we've become far more web-centric, there are scores of sites that put out previews. One site that has been doing it forever is College Football News. This past week, they published the WSU preview, which comes in two parts. The first is an overview, which talks a good bit about Alex Grinch and the task in front of him. Further on, I thought this portion hit the nail on the head:
The team will be far better if… it shifts the turnover margin dynamic. The Cougars tied for last nationally with eight takeaways, while turning the ball over a Pac-12-high 25 times. Finishing minus-17 in turnover margin is something no program can overcome, let alone Washington State. It must improve on offense and defense, jumping more routes on D, while getting better decisions from their own quarterbacks. This program has to start doing the little things better, including special teams, which has been a perennial nightmare in Pullman.
There is also a good schedule breakdown, which points out something many of you surely noticed, the fact that WSU's bye comes in September. Once that's over, the Cougars face a daunting schedule of nine games in nine weeks. That's really tough on any team, but more so on a team like WSU, which has paper-thin depth to begin with.
The second portion of the preview goes a little more in-depth, especially regarding the individual players who are key to a successful season. One statistic on offense that needs to be remedied is the gap between yardage and scoring, as the preview points out.
Access to quality receivers will not be a problem. Dom Williams, River Cracraft and Gabe Marks, who sat out 2014, will make sure of it. Execution and efficiency, however, might be different matters. A year ago, the Cougars ranked second in the Pac-12 in total offense, yet were just seventh in the league in scoring, the result of turnovers and stalled drives. This season, it’s incumbent on a veteran line and the new quarterback, likely Falk, to spearhead an offense that produces more points per possession.
If WSU can keep up the yardage totals, and improve the scoring to even fourth or fifth in the conference, six wins is in play. If they continue to stall near the endzone, and can't find a kicker consistent inside 40 yards, it will likely be another frustrating season. But as I wrote earlier, this spot on the calendar is the time for optimism and hope, so let's all count on the fact that the Cougs will take more advantage of their scoring chances, and the wins will follow.
Scout.com: Preview 2015 - Washington State Cougars
Welcome to the Palouse, where one step forward is typically followed by one in reverse.
Scout.com: 2015 Washington State Preview: Need To Know
Preview 2015 - What You Need To Know About Washington State & Top Players
Track and Field
Stevens and Two Relays Punch NCAA Tickets Saturday - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
WSU qualified a total of 10 competitors to the NCAA Championships: Jesse Jorgensen in the men’s 800m, Kyle Stevens in the men’s javelin, Audrey Ketcham in the women’s high jump, Liz Harper and Brooks-Johnson in the women’s 400m hurdles, and both the 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay. Brooks-Johnson was already qualified to compete in the heptathlon with Dino Dodig competing in the decathlon.
A craft beer change is brewing - The Denver Post
While Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and other large craft brewers continue to gain market share, the number of small breweries including "nanobreweries" at the other end of the spectrum is exploding, providing adventurous offerings to a new generation of beer drinkers who increasingly place a premium on locally produced beer.
This is about a week late, since Memorial Day was six days ago, but I thought these stories were worth sharing.
A Name On The Wall: Bob Kalsu was the only U.S. pro athlete to die in Vietnam - NFL - SI.com
We all have our own definition for the word "hero." Bob Kalsu probably fits every one of them.
Americans gave their lives to defeat the Nazis. The Dutch have never forgotten. - The Washington Post
In Margraten, Dutch families have adopted and cared for each one of 8,300 U.S. graves for 70 years.
A Civilian's Guide To The U.S. Military
This is a pretty good basic synopsis of the military, in case you ever wondered. The only thing I disagree with is the closing statement. That always makes me feel weird.