Information on Portland State football can be hard to come by. It doesn't appear the state's largest newspaper even devotes a full-time reporter to covering the program.
Enter Scott Hood, proprietor of Viking Tales. He does an incredible job of covering Portland State football, given the paucity of reporting; and if you recognize the name, that's because Scott also covers WSU football for WazzuWatch.com. That means he actually probably knows more about this game than any of us, so we're very lucky to have him here, as he has graciously accepted our offer to answer some questions about the team in advance of Saturday's season opener against WSU at Martin Stadium.
On to the questions!
CougCenter: Since everything starts with the quarterback, what can we expect from your new one, Alex Kuresa, who was just named the starter?
VikingTales: Kuresa signed with BYU after a legendary prep career at Mountain Crest HS in Millville, UT. He went to BYU hoping to get a shot at playing quarterback. He left after a year to go on a mission. When he returned, he was moved to WR. But he left BYU and looked for school that would give him a shot at QB. He ended up at Snow Junior College. Portland State saw him there. Surprisingly, PSU was one of the few schools to offer him a chance to play QB. Some FBS schools showed interest. but nothing developed. Kuresa is a poor man's Johnny Manziel. At Snow last year, the fans started referring to him as "Alex Football." He has the same type of skills as Manziel, except not at that level. But he should be a very good FCS QB. He has good speed with the ball in his hands.
Previewing Steven Long and PSU's offense
Will the Vikings get unusually pass happy against the Cougars for the second straight year?
Coach Bruce Barnum has named Paris Penn his "UQ" - utility quarterback. What does that mean? What might we see Penn do on Saturday?
It just means he will lineup anywhere on the field except for OL. He could be a QB, RB or WR. Penn is one of the best athletes on PSU, but has been injury prone. He had a great game in last year's opener at Oregon St., including a long TD run. But he got hurt a few weeks later and missed the second half of the season. Here is Barnum's quote on moving Penn to UQ: "We have a number one UQ. It's Paris. He is first on the depth chart and there is nobody at number two. He will play any position on offense except offensive line. He will be used in many facets, and we will strategically place him wherever it takes to help us win games."
Besides Kuresa and Penn, who is an offensive weapon that could surprise WSU fans?
Running back David Jones. He is PSU's biggest and fastest RB. He was moved from WR, where he was accomplishing little, and appears to have taken to RB pretty well. I think he will get a lot of carries on Saturday. Barnum likes what he has done at RB during preseason camp.
You've got a new defensive coordinator Coug fans are familiar with in WSU alum and former defensive line coach Malik Roberson. However, we don't know anything about the scheme he'll employ. What are we going to see?
Roberson told me this week that because of injuries along the D-Line, PSU will utilize a 3-4 with a Bandit 'Backer that will line up close to the line of scrimmage. But he will stand. Roberson has implemented a simpler, more aggressive scheme (just like WSU did) that allows the players to play instinctively. They have a solid D-Line when everybody is healthy, a very good MLB in Lutali and two experienced CBs in Sibley and Coleman. The pieces are there for a very good defense.
If Portland State is going to upset WSU, this is how it's going to happen:
1. Win the turnover battle by at least +2
2. No big plays from the Cougs' offense
3. Take advantage of all scoring opportunities - TDs in the red zone
4. Don't get overwhelmed by the environment