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Let’s look ahead to Cougar Football 2021

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It’s never too early!

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. We should probably be talking about Washington State Cougars basketball today, seeing as how they take on the cross-state rival / 2.5-point favorite Washington Huskies on Sunday night. But the game pits one team, WSU, that has lost six straight (five by double digits) against another that has improved as of late but is still pretty bad. Like, so bad that they lost home games to UC Riverside and Montana.

Then again, the winner of Sunday’s game will solidify its grip on 10th-place, so maybe there is a lot on the line! It looks like WSU will be getting leading scorer Isaac Bonton back, after he sat out the Colorado game with the flu. But folks much smarter than I will surely provide you with an in-depth preview later in the day, so let’s leave it to the roundball experts. Instead, we’ll talk about another subject we don’t know much about, but that won’t prevent the requisite bloviating.

With the calendar turning to 2021, the “way too early” football previews have bgun to trickle out, largely from a conference-to-conference perspective. Over the last couple weeks, a few folks have begun to try and show us what the Pac-12 will look like it 2021 (provided we have a normal season which, please God!). Among the early forecasters are College Football News, Athlon Sports and Jon Wilner. The consensus is that WSU will have a potent offense but, as always, needs to get better defensively if it wants to be competitive. Some things never change.

Surprisingly, Wilner is the most bullish of the three, so we’ll start with him. He has WSU pegged at fourth in the Pac-12 North currently, ahead of the Stanford Cardinal and Oregon State Beavers. Key quote:

If Max Borghi stays healthy and quarterback Jayden de Laura progresses, points won’t be a problem. Preventing touchdowns might be, however.

Trivia time: Did you know that OSU signed just eight high school recruits so far? Jonathan Smith must really be counting on a glut of transfers. Otherwise, yikes. I learned that tidbit via the Podcast of Champions, which had an entire show on the Pac-12 North’s recruiting classes. If you listen until the end, you’ll get to hear what Brandon Huffman thinks of WSU’s new transfer from Tennessee. I won’t spoil it for you.

On to Athlon and College Football News, who both think WSU will be at the tail end of the pack next season, largely due to the lack of defensive production. Athlon also points out that WSU isn’t getting any favors with the crossovers, but I don’t know if that’s set in stone right now.

Also, the defense is a work in progress after giving up 38.5 points a game in 2020. The schedule isn’t kind with crossover matchups versus USC, Utah and Arizona State.

College Football News summed it up thusly:

Throw in the return of RB Max Borghi and WR Renard Bell, and there are plenty of skill parts to make the O go. In a strong North, though, the defensive improvements this offseason are everything.

One thing I found interesting was the opposing views on the Stanford Cardinal. While all three previews have some combo of Washington and Oregon in the top two spots, Wilner has Stanford in fifth, while the other two have them pegged for third. I trust Wilner a bit more in this case, as those other two predictions seem based on Stanford’s ever-fading reputation more so than the talent they have returning.

Can’t wait for spring football! (whatever that looks like)

Football

Pac-12 football early look: Our projections for the 2021 division races | The Spokesman-Review
Seven months from the start of the 2021 season, we’re calling our shot: The South will be the superior, and perhaps even the dominant division next season.

Early Pac-12 Football Predictions for 2021
A complete breakdown of way-too-early Pac-12 predictions for the 2021 season.

Pac-12 Football Rankings: CFN 2021 Pre-Spring
With OTs Abraham Lucas and Liam Ryan returning for another year, Wazzu has a solid pair of bookends to work around.

Basketball

Facing Washington team that recently lost eight straight, Washington State looking to break out of six-game skid | The Spokesman-Review
Few teams in the Pac-12 Conference have been mired in a losing streak like the one that’s followed Washington State’s basketball team for the past 22 days.

Volleyball

Cougs win! Cougs sweep! I had such an exciting and jam-packed Saturday night that I found myself streaming the WSU volleyball game against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Cougars looked really good, taking three straight sets after dropping the first one. But while volleyball has long been pretty entertaining, Saturday’s fourth set made me want to slam my fingers in a car door.

There were timeouts that seemed to last longer than NFL ad breaks. Then there were the replay challenges, which should absolutely not be a part of collegiate volleyball. But if they are going to be a part of the game, the review periods should absolutely not seem as interminable as they do. The players seemed to spend more time standing around during the final set than they did playing. It became almost unwatchable. But then the Cougs won so it was better.

Volleyball Completes Series Sweep of ASU - Washington State University Athletics
Washington State Volleyball completed the series sweep of Arizona State Saturday afternoon with a 3-1 victory over the Sun Devils.

This Week in Parenting

Still schooling from home, now until at least mid-February. I should put schooling in quotes, since it’s not anything like actual school. Anyway, the nine year-old had to complete an art assignment, which Mrs. Kendall felt compelled to share with me.

My response:

Apparently they were supposed to be sandwiches, but all I could think about was the cafeteria scene in Superbad. It’s absolutely NSFW, so I won’t link it here.

Later in the week, he called me because he was having problems with an app. The boys have that Lego Robot that they can write code for on their tablets, and he couldn’t get it to work. I told him that I couldn’t help since I couldn’t see his screen, and figured he was on his own. Then he goes, “let’s just do a Google Meet.” I said I didn’t know how to set that up. So he says, “Ok, I’m going to hang up, start a Google Meet and send you a link.”

He sends me a message with a meeting code, which I paste into the app. Next thing I know we’re on a Google conference call, and he’s sharing his tablet screen with me so I can talk him through the steps to access the Lego app. After we hung up I sat there, kind of in awe at the fact that he knew instantly how to work through the issue. I imagine many kids his age have this kind of thing figured out due to all the remote learning, but still. It’s like I told the other folks in Slack, I’m pretty sure I was doing little more than eating glue at his age.

The 12 year-old is apparently spending his free time honing dad jokes. They have movie night every Friday, and I asked if they’d seen “Up.” He responded, “No because I heard it had some really down ratings.” Gonna need a rimshot over here!

Sports-ish

RIP Hammerin’ Hank

Hank Aaron, Carla Koplin Cohn: The woman who read the home run king's hate mail.
In 1973, the baseball legend got 900,000 letters. It was Carla Koplin Cohn’s job to report the threats to the FBI.

Non-Sports

I am intimately familiar with what happened during the attack on the hospital described in this book excerpt, though I was not there. The vignette does a good job of summarizing it, but unfortunately lacks all of the details. Still, I am definitely going to read Eagle Down soon, having spent a significant amount of my adult life on Afghan soil.

The Hidden Cost of America’s Forever War - The Atlantic
A devastating incident in Afghanistan shows the perils of relying on Special Operations alone to fight the nation’s battles.

The Fight to Win the Pettiest Edit Wars on Wikipedia - The Ringer
Disputes over capitalization, André the Giant’s height, and myriad other minor matters may not be consequential to most. But for some Wiki editors, it’s a big deal.