Monday Links – Back in the Saddle Edition

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"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like X-Mas!"

 

Happy Monday Cougs, and as you can see we're back in the saddle again with your morning links.  But first, a little explanation of what went down, and what's going to happen moving forward.

First and foremost, as Sutra announced last night the blog will continue.  See, we all kind of felt we had reached a crossroads of sorts with this thing, now 8+ years in existence and a helluva lot of losing along the way.  And we're all busy with the blah-blah-blahs of real life, you all know that, and our postings the last few months just weren't up to our normal amount of quantity that we used to churn out.  But this season, this 2012 season of Cougar football, it just really zapped a lot of "juice" from us as a group, and especially yours truly.  It's not so much that we lost, but it was the way we lost and the self-imposed promises of better things immediately with the hiring of Mike Leach that made it that much more difficult to swallow in year one.  

And in real life, things changed a little bit for me as my wife and I really attacked the idea of running the Seattle half-marathon.  That took a lot of dedication and a strict training schedule so we could make it, but it also ate into my window of opportunity to post, which is basically between 5:30 – 6:30 weekday mornings.  But the half-marathon is now over (we made it by the way, myself a little over 2 hours, my wife at 2:30 or so!), and now it's back to our regular morning routine of writing and exercise a little later in the AM.

But enough of all that.  I wrote about it earlier in the season, asking the question "Why do we fall?", with the obvious answer that followed – SO WE CAN LEARN TO PICK OURSELVES UP AGAIN.  And you know what?  We are picking ourselves up, right here, right now.  The last thing we should ever do is quit when the going gets tough, know what I mean?  I mean I just wrote about picking yourself back up again after you take a spill, so wouldn't it be a little hypocritical to take a knee because things went south??  The Cougs didn't quit when it was 28-10 in the 4th quarter of the Apple Cup, so we sure as hell can't quit either! 

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Going forward, I will continue to write in this morning window with links-n-such, but really just to get the ball rolling on the day ahead.  It might not always be about the Cougs – in fact, I can guarantee it WON'T always be about the Cougs – but it will be something worth reading…..I hope?  Longball, Huddy and Sutra will continue to do their thing as we have all reaffirmed our commitment to content.  And LucasCoug might not write on the blog much anymore, but he will continue to run our Twitter account.  So there you have it.

On to the morning links!

Since the season ended, there has been a lot of looking back/looking ahead style type things.  One article that I thought was very good was done by Joe Doyle at Cougfan, where he weighed in on his impressions of what he saw in 2012, from the first to the last practice of the season.  I know it was posted a week or so ago, but I thought it was an excellent read/take from Doyle and definitely worth reviewing if you want some decent first-hand feeling on what went down in Pullman this fall.  Some things that caught my eye from Doyle:

1) The defensive starters – From the beginning/first half of the season to the last game of the year, they sure did shuffle faces in and out during the year.  But to see that only three starters who were in place for game one also started game 12?  To me that was remarkable.  I know that injury had something to do with it, but it does show that the Leach mentality will be a highly competitive environment with very little in the way of entitlements, and that's a great way to approach things when you are trying to develop a winning culture.  That whole "compete" thing is ripped right out of the Pete Carroll principle of coaching, but it's a great approach that breeds intensity and rewarding talent AND effort!

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WIN FOREVER!

2)  The O-line mess was far, far worse than we thought.  I mean I think we all knew it was thin, thin, THIN up there, but Doyle really puts it all in perspective.  JUST SIX LINEMEN healthy at the end of the year??  And shifting walk-on quarterbacks to offensive line, just so they could practice??  YEESH.  So as much as I made the O-line my point of contention all year long, and I lamented their lack of stopping much of anything?  I now understand that it wasn't just a lack of talent, but a lack of capable bodies – PERIOD – up front.  We ended up giving up 57 sacks, the most since, well, at least as far back as 1997 that I could find (seriously, I looked it up and found that as far back as 1997, it's the most sacks allowed by the Cougs in a season).  But it's at least understandable when you factor in the 1) lack of depth and experience and 2) brand new system that was predicated on WR's and QB's making multiple reads on each and every passing play.

Moving on, in the recruiting front there was some good news.  Peyton Pelluer and Cody O'Connell were both named TNT First-Team All-State, which is cool.  Per Cougfan's write-up, Pelluer had 377 tackles in 3 years (wow!), which according to my dreadful math skills is almost an average of 126 tackles per year.  And Cody O'Connell might have only played four games due to an injury that he is expected to recover from, but he's HUGE at 6-8, 350!  Now that's the kind of size that the Leach offensive line system is in search of, and if the knee heals up there is certainly an opportunity to come in and compete for playing time next fall?  

It also sounds like the recruiting has picked up a bit coming off the Apple Cup, including the latest news last night that WSU leads for a big-time JC standout, defensive end/OLB hybrid Chris Martin.  Martin was originally the #1 rated player in the country at his position of outside linebacker in 2010, and he signed with Cal before transferring to Florida, and then ended up in the JC ranks.  JC's are always a risk of course, you just never know.  But this will be an interesting story to watch up to signing day, as the opportunity for the 6-5, 260 lb BUCK linebacker has a chance to make an instant impact on the Coug D in '13!  

Finally, a 2012 Apple Cup highlight video to wrap up your Monday morning and get the week off to a good start.  Enjoy!

Enjoy your Monday, and of course, GO COUGS!

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