Hello Followers. Hope you had a great week.
Well, yesterday proved to be an interesting one for Cougar Nation. First, we received news that funding for our 60+ million football operations building was approved by the Board of Regents. Then, we heard that we've completed the internal investigations of our football program. And then last night, our Hoopster Cougs went scoreless in the last 5 minutes of regulation en route to losing to Pepperdine in OT…
And my reaction to that? Well, it kind-of-sort-of amounted to this…
And so, as I finished doing some morning work and sat down to write about the Cougs, I realized that my passion for all things Cougar needs a real, powerful spark.
So, to see whether I think our date with Sparky this afternoon will provide such a gift, then read on.
Followers, it there's one thing I've learned since the days of Doba, its that the start of basketball season tends to make the end of football that much harder. I mean, when we're bad or questionable in hoops, it makes the losses in football hurt that much worse. And, in contrast, when we're good at hoops, the amount of losses–and/or lack of wins–in football becomes even more pronounced.
I mean, consider what would have happened has we beaten Pepperdine last night: In three games, our basketball team would have ALREADY EXCEEDED the number of wins of our football team.
How depressing is that?
And as I look toward today, well, things just don't seem like they're coming up Puppies and Rainbows.
I mean, we're playing at a place where we haven't won since the days of Gesser, agianst a team that has the type of multiple look/read offense that gives us fits, as well as a defense that sacks (gulp) the quarterback as well as anyone…
The upside in all of this is that, just like 2010, this team feels like a group that has potential but just needs to find a way to put it all together. And so my thoughts for this game is really simple: Move the ball early, score, take an early lead, and the Sun Devils may be quite likely to fall all over themselves.
And so, as we look toward the keys to the game for the penultimate game of the year, two things come to mind:
1) Win first down on defense.
2) Hit the Hot Routes and Score Some Fricking Points!
Where the first point is concerned, the success of Kelly and the ASU offense has revolved around their ability to be multiple. When they have been able to get 4-6 yards on first down, they look FAST and they have been LETHAL. When they are held to 1-3 yards on first down, Kelly tends to become erratic and ineffective. So, in addition to needing to replicate last week's performance against the run, the HAIR Raid defense is going to need to be agressive and phsyical on the edge, especially against those damn bubble screens.
Finally, on offense, we're going to need to get the ball out quickly and we need to score points. Simply put, even if we wind up going 2-10 this year, I think we'll all be much more enthused about our prospects moving forward if we could end the season scoring 35+ points in our last three games.
And while Sparky's pass rush is something, their DBs are not–even if their leading pass efficiency defense suggests otherwise. We simply need to get the ball out quickly and use our X-Factor, Caldwell judiciously and efficiently enough to keep them off balance. And honestly, I think we will.
Every rational bit of me feels another Utah-esque pounding coming today. But, in spite of that, I also can't shake the way that we moved the ball against UCLA early and scored against them late. What's more, when I think about how much better this team is than 2010, well, I just can't image that this team will go winless in conference. So, while it certainly could be that our lone conference win comes next week against the Dawgs, here's to thinking that the Cougs gain a bit of credility in this one before I completely lose my own.
Cougs win 35-27 in a game that provides me and the rest of the faithful with something that is oh-so-desperately needed before dusk falls on this oh-so disappointing of a season:
All for now. Go Cougs.