On TD’s, Sacks and Turnovers

What up Peeps?

Here’s hoping you are enjoying/have enjoyed your holiday weekend.   With that, the Cougs scrimmaged on Saturday and there’s tons of stuff to link to, etc….

So here…we….go:

Cougfan leads it off with a ton of info, and the article appropriately titled “Holy sack-fest (batman)!”  There was some good, with Jeff Tuel throwing for a bunch of yards and a couple of TD’s, and Gino Simone and Andrei Lintz combined for almost 200 yards in receiving with a couple of TD’s.  And on D, there was some strong pressure on the passer as Logan Mayes had four sacks and Xavier Cooper had three of his own.   And there were four total takeaways on D, again something that the new staff is emphasizing.  Create enough pressure, and the turnovers and big plays on D will come when you force the issue. 

Great to hear of the defense attacking the passer, I mean that’s what we’ve all been hoping for with the new scheme and all that on defense, right?

Ah, but then there’s always the “rub” when dealing with scrimmage situations.  One player or group of players on one side of the ball or whatever does something good?  It comes at the expense of YOUR team as well.  And in this case, the bad is that there were reportedly twelve – TWELVE – possible sacks in Saturday’s scrimmage, out of 110 offensive plays.  Yes, that is far, far too many to surrender, period.  What’s interesting is that in the Leach era at Texas Tech, his offensive lines had one of the best sacks-allowed-ratio in the country on several occasions, including just 2.4% in 2007 and an NCAA-best 1.96% sacks allowed in ’08. 

Doing the math on Saturday, let’s see – 12 divided by 110 = almost 11% (or 10.9% to be precise, so says my calculator). Now I’m no fancy big-city mathematician, but even I can tell you that’s NOT. GOOD.

Per Cougfan, it was so bad that at one point offensive line coach Clay McGuire made the linemen and running backs do between 15 and 20 up-downs as punishment. 

Then again, there are some reasons.  Maybe they were a little too lenient in deciding what was a sack and what wasn’t?  After all they aren’t allowing full contact on the QB’s, so as long as the defender got his hands on the QB it was recorded as a sack.  Would Jeff Tuel have been able to get out of a few of those?  More than likely, sure, I mean his body of work suggests he’s been able to get out of trouble on many occasions in the past.  Tuel has excellent feet and there are many instances on video of him not only getting away from pressure but making something out of nothing when all looks lost.

Or, maybe some of the WR’s weren’t getting open, as the report highlighted some tighter coverages by the secondary?  That can lead to a QB holding the ball too long, trying to make something out of nothing while still learning a brand new system and trying to get on the same page as his receiving corps, all at the same time??

And maybe the O-line had their own kind of “dog day”, where they just weren’t clicking?  110 plays is a LOT of offensive snaps, almost double the amount of snaps you might see on a given Saturday of Cougar football.  But maybe as a group they had an off day all around, with Jake Rodgers going down with an injury to his left foot, contributing to less depth and possibly more fatigue up front? 

I guess we could go round and round about it, and I’m sure some of you will go out of your way to comment that everyone SHOULD CALM THE EFF DOWN over the sacks(!).  But it’s just, I don’t know, kind of hard to feel positive about 12 sacks allowed in any situation.

Meanwhile, Christian Caple blew it out with a couple of stories, here and then a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG blog post here.  There is so much here I don’t even know what to react to, but Caple does an outstanding job of recapping pretty much everything.  And he does have this little snippet that I think we all can appreciate, from Joe Salave’a (who is quickly becoming one of the favorite coaches on the new staff around here??):

Defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said his unit is still a “work in progress,” and that he’s more worried about getting their alignment and technique where it needs to be than he is about the number of sacks they had Saturday. “At one point, it used to be a madhouse up here. You didn’t want to come play here because it was tough, it was hard, it was cold, it was everything,” Salave’a said. ‘We’ve got to get our guys to understand that there is a degree of responsibility and pride in wearing the crimson and gray.”

No doubt many of you who hang out here can recall how great a gameday experience Pullman can be.  Not 72,000+ loud, mind you, but being so close to the action, almost 40,000 fans making a ton of noise can make Martin Stadium a headache.  EA Sports several years ago used to rank the NCAA stadiums in a “toughest to play” category, and during WSU’s 30 wins in three seasons from 2001-2003, they were always in the top 25

It’s easy to forget after the apathy that set in over the last several losing seasons, and those days are now firmly in the rear-view.  But when the team is good and the place is full, it can be a great experience (and tough on the opposition!).  And how can you not love Salvae’a emphasizing the attitude and intensity of defending the home field, how tough it used to be, and can be tough again one day!

You can get the official scrimmage recap here at WSUCougars.com.  And of course, the videos:

Is it me, or does Andrei Lintz look a LOT bigger than before!?  What a nice, big target out there for the QB’s to utilitze in the passing game!

Finally, on a sad note – the Seattle Times has a couple of interesting articles on Ryan Leaf and addiction.  Check them out here and here.  Danny O’Neill does a great job painting the picture of how Leaf had unraveled under the weight of addiction, and it’s just a sad read all the way around. 

Real quick on Leaf – I may have told this story before, so bear with me for a moment – I met him last fall at a Seattle Team shop, where he was seated at a table to sign autographs, but nobody was there.  So we said the hell with it and approached him, and he spent a good 15-20 minutes talking to my sons and myself about all sorts of things.  Mainly we talked football of course, and he was really good with my kids, signing footballs for them and talking about his best memories as a Coug.  But what struck me was that he was very open about his past mistakes and also about his ongoing treatments for his brain tumor, even showing my kids his scar from the surgery, and how he was getting ready to go through more treatments in the weeks and months ahead.  We weren’t rude with our questions, but he was very quick to talk openly about all that stuff to complete strangers. 

I guess I can say that overall, he was “as advertised”, just like so many others who have come across him in recent years had reported.  It seemed pretty clear that the self-serving jerk who treated people poorly and roamed Pullman in the mid-90’s was gone, and this was a new man. 

So it’s very sad to see the current state of affairs.  Whatever demons are haunting him now, here’s hoping he gets the help he needs going forward.  Whether that’s in a correctional facility or some sort of rehab center, whatever the case may be let’s hope he finally beats this thing and has some sort of peace of mind in his life.

All for now.  Happy Easter and as always, GO COUGS!

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