Longball is attending a family event this weekend and he left the reins to me so I’ll apologize in advance.
Longball the salty dog proposed Friday night and I said yes, so we did what every Cougar couple does: we drank a bottle of wine and took a self-portrait with a cell phone in front of the Cougar statue in downtown Pullman.
Now that I am one step closer to being a legal member of the Cougar family, it is fitting that I made my way to the game by myself to watch, text updates to Longball and give some thoughts from the Pullman contingent of the WSU Football blog. Plus, since I graduated in May this was my first Homecoming!
I was afraid that I would be there with 17 other Cougar fans and a buttload of annoying Ducks, but the Crimson crowd pleasantly surprised me. Given that everyone thought we would be killed, I was worried that no one would show up. The student section was strong, the horseshoe was filled and even the “grown-up” side wasn’t embarrassing.
I am not an expert and can’t talk to you about the merits (or not) the 3-4 defense, but I will share what I do have going for me: I was there. I know many of you couldn’t make it and couldn’t even watch it on television, so read on for a random selection of observations:
1. My mantra for the past year has been “Mo’ Mitz, Mo’ Better.” I had a class with this guy and I like him, and Logwone’s from Redmond High (Eastside represent!). But more importantly I think he’s strong and can get more yards after contact. Longball and I have been clamoring to see more of him, yelling at televisions from Whidbey Island to Washington DC.
Well on Saturday we got lots of Mitz. During the drive after the Mizell-forced fumble, we had a series where we gave the ball to him three times in a row and he got us a first down. He also had the wherewithal on his one-yard TD run to stretch the ball out over the goal line, so when we all had a collective flashback when they reviewed it, it was clearly a TD on the big screen. I like having him in there to switch things up with Montgomery.
2. The defense, while still not consistent (there were some horrible missed tackles in the open field), had some swagger this week, made some key plays and got the crowd excited. Mizell forcing that fumble after the long run got us all whipped up and actually made it a game. Rankin and my new interest Kaufusi (is he good?) made some plays and urged the crowd on. Oh and lest I forget: yes, the hit by Carpenter on Kenjon Barner was ALL THAT. It looked like he was going to rip that guy’s head right off. I actually screamed and the crowd erupted before we saw it again on the replay and then everyone gasped. Thank God the kid got himself up and into the ambulance. I hope he’s okay.
3. There were other high-flying circus plays as one of the refs got upended in the endzone (and I think he lost his hat), and then Blackledge got creamed on his TD catch. From where I was sitting it looked like he landed on his head, but he popped up with the ball and stared long and hard at us in the stand as if to say, “don’t doubt me” while the team mobbed him.
4. The Oregon cheerleaders seem to be more slutty than other cheerleaders. They do this crazy butt-shaking thing when Oregon kicks off that is mesmerizing. Hey – I just got engaged so I’m always looking to learn a thing or two.
5. I hate those stupid plastic duck head hats and I was so tempted to see how much loft I could get if I kicked one off someone’s head.
6. This game was fun. More fun than I’ve had a Cougar game in a long time. Sure the Montana State was fun for the last few minutes, but mostly it gave me an ulcer and Longball and I had a big fight in the hotdog line we were so tense. This game had the players amped and the crowd responding with excitement. My section, which is NOT in the student section, stood for almost the entire first half. Strangers were high-fiving each other and raising babies in the air.
Cynics might say that it was only fun because our expectations are so low, and maybe that’s part of it. But I think this is an exciting time to be a Cougar fan. I haven’t been one for long, but I was raised a Mariner fan, so I know me some lean years. Being a fan of a downtrodden team makes the climb out of the cellar so satisfying. We are watching this team created from scratch and the players grow up before our eyes and get better every week – Tuel, Wilson, Mizell. I hope this is one of the games that will really start to turn things around for these guys. I think you could see it in their demeanor as they realized “hey we are hanging with this team.”
Pro-Wulff or Anti-Wulff we are all fans of the team and these kids. Let’s not give up on them just yet.