Nice to see that the Stanford game has been picked for national TV. Here’s this week’s release:
Good story today from the Times that talked about how much better the O-line has been playing. Just 1 sack in the last 3 games?? Wow. Although, Swogger is a big part of that, in that yes, his completion percentage is down (46%), but he is very good at throwing the ball away. However, the injury news isn’t great for old Swoggs, as it appears he is now also fighting a right ankle injury as well as the partially torn left knee ligament! Geez, what next? That WSU offense, just loves to get their QB’s beaten to a pulp. Brandon said that he was noticably limping between plays, not a good sign for the rest of the year. We’re one hit away from having Brink’s sissy-arm try to get us to 6 wins!
Also sounds as though Ropati will be back this week, which will be a huge boost to the defensive interior. Brandon talked to me yesterday about the game and said late in the game, the d-line was just gassed and you could see them losing their aggressiveness as shovel-pass after shovel-pass kept them guessing instead of reacting. Clemens also had times when he had ALL FREAKIN’ DAY to throw the ball. Brandon also said that flat-out, Akey was outcoached by Oregon. They were so good at having the TE delay, where he would hold as if he was blocking, then slip out over the middle uncovered. When we would blitz he would get way down field and the mismatch was there with the safety. When we sat back in coverage they would get him the ball in front of the coverage.
The bottom line? We just couldn’t stop them when we had to. I guess you can look at it this way – If you would have told any Coug fan before the game that we would score 38 points and run for over 100 yards, ANYONE would have predicted a 14-point win. AND, if there is a bright side?? All those yards, all those big plays, all the ease that Oregon showed in the second half that they would not be stopped, the Cougs STILL nearly won that game! Oregon never actually led in the ballgame until there was just over 1 minute left in the game. There was a 4th-down that they converted that was actually a poor spot according to Jim on the broadcast (but consider the source) and that would have salted the game away, but woulda, coulda, shoulda.
One other thing on our defense. Maybe it really was smoke-n-mirrors for the first 4 games. Think about who they played and where they rank nationally on offense – New Mexico, with a QB that is incredibly green and NO passing game to speak of; Colorado, easily one of the most basic, one-dimensional offenses that you will ever see; Idaho, one of the worst D-1 teams, by a wide margin considerably less talented that our Cougs; and finally, Arizona, very much in the mold of Colorado, very basic and just not very talented. So, is it a case that Oregon just flat-out destroyed us with their schemes, and they outcoached Akey in a way we haven’t seen since….well, since Oregon in 2001??? OR, is it a case where a lot of defenses could have padded stats against those 4 teams, and reality hit pretty hard on Saturday??
As Lawson said, Saturday night lays it all on the line for the rest of the season. Win that game, and you are suddenly 4-2 and feeling like you have righted the ship so to speak, and you are just 2 wins away from being bowl-eligible. You can even have some confidence that you will go in and win at OSU, given as badly as they have played this year and their year is now a lost cause for them, regardless if you play them at Reser or at home. Lose against Stanford?? You are 3-3, losing consecutive games for the first time since 2000, and staring at the rest of the schedule where you MIGHT be favored in just one more game, and that game being the Apple Cup where we know it’s completely unpredictible! That’s a lot of pressure for such a young team that is STILL trying to figure things out to have to win 3 of their last 5. NO PRESSURE!
I can’t help but feel like this season is starting to look like the 2000 season all over again. A few losses early where they could have won, a shootout loss to Arizona (this year, it’s Oregon) and then some heartbreakers down the stretch, including 3 OT losses to finish 4-7. We saw them start a lot of sophomores and juniors in 2000, so you had to feel good about the direction of the program even though it was a losing season. Then 2001 happened, we took off and never looked back.
So, ask yourself – If they happen to go 4-7 this year, but if they play well the rest of the way and show tremendous promise for another run at 10-win seasons the next 2-3 years, is that acceptable? Are we at that stage where it’s ok to have a losing season if it means success for the next few years? Or are we at a stage, after the 10-win season streak, where a losing season is just NOT acceptable!?!?