Huskies Defeat Cal On The Back Of A Mid-Game 38-Point Run

This was a disjointed affair through the first 21 minutes of the game.  Our offense looked both inept and world-beating; our defense looked both dominant and susceptible to the big play; and our special teams:  the less said about them, the better.  The Huskies had a 21-13 lead after the first quarter, and with 9 minutes left in the first half, were clinging to a 21-20 advantage.  My worst nightmares were being realized.  Going into this game, my only fear was Cal pushing this game into shootout territory and keeping it close throughout thanks to our offense not being on top of its game.

I don’t know how you score 21 points in the first quarter and still feel like your offense is spotty, but it was.  A couple of 3 & Outs deep in our own territory, followed by a couple of the most miserable punts you’re ever going to see, gave Cal good field position on our side of the 50.  We essentially spotted them 6 points on a couple of field goals, and it certainly could’ve been a lot worse.  Beyond that, our three scores were on two bombs to John Ross and a trick play where Dante Pettis threw a TD to Darrell Daniels.  None of these were sustained drives, and we had no semblance of a running game early (against the worst rushing defense in college football).  Cal was only a couple of tweaks in their secondary away from making a game of this!

But, when Cal pulled to within 1 point, the Huskies finally turned on the jets.  38-unanswered extended our lead to 59-20 before the Bears finally got a late garbage time touchdown.  We followed that up with a lengthy run for a score with our backups in the game, and there was your final, 66-27.

In the end, we finished with 287 rushing yards on a whopping 44 carries, with both Gaskin and Coleman going for scores.  Browning had a great game, going 19/28 for 378 yards and 6 TDs against 0 INTs.  On the Heisman front, it looks like too-little, too-late, but in the Husky record books, we’re talking about a guy who – in 9 games – has already broken the single-season record for TD passes (34, over Keith Price’s 33).  He needs just 10 more to break the all-time Pac-12 record, held by Jared Goff (43).  He’s still pretty far off of the pace for the single-season Husky record for yards held by Cody Pickett (4,458 in 2002), but that’s what happens when you don’t play in the 4th quarter of most of your games because you’re blowing teams out too much.  But, assuming all goes according to plan, Browning should be alone in 4th place on the all-time Husky passing yards list, on pace to absolutely shatter the record if he stays in school all four years.

The aforementioned John Ross had himself quite the night, with 208 yards receiving on only 6 receptions, 3 of them for touchdowns.  Pettis, in addition to throwing for a touchdown, caught 3 others en route to an 8-catch, 104 yard evening.

The stars were out in full force on both sides of the ball.  The Huskies nabbed 3 picks, 2 of them going to Sidney Jones.  The line only managed 1 sack, but even though they were depleted, they were able to harass Cal’s quarterback with regularity most of the night.

I’d say, if the playoff selection committee went to bed after the first quarter, they wouldn’t have been all that impressed with the Huskies.  Considering the game didn’t start until after 10:30pm eastern, I’d say those odds are pretty good.  But, on the whole, a 66-27 drubbing has to look pretty good.

If I had to bet the family farm, I’d wager the Committee will have Ohio State in the top 4, with the Huskies on the outside looking in once again.  If, however, they wise up and put Washington in at #4, as long as we win out, I don’t think there’s any chance of us ever falling out of the top 4 between now and the end of the year.  Tomorrow could be big.  I’ll have more on the issue on Wednesday, once everything has sunk in.

Next up, the Huskies host USC at 4:30pm on Saturday.  Thanks to a bunch of early-season losses, the Trojans haven’t been on my radar, so my last impression of this team is throttling them down in L.A. last year, followed by the dramatic fall from grace for Sark.  Those Trojans would somehow rebound to climb into the Pac-12 Championship Game (because the Pac-12 South is the God damned worst), only to lose to Stanford before rounding out their season with a bowl loss to Wisconsin.

This year, USC came into the season ranked 20th, and was immediately humbled by Alabama.  The Trojans would lose 3 of their first 4, including games to Stanford and Utah, before turning things around and winning 5 in a row, including handing Colorado their only conference loss.  A big part of that turnaround is attributed to the Trojans dumping former Husky recruit Max Browne in favor of Freshman Sam Darnold.  Darnold looks like the real deal, and a perfect fit with all-world receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (who is somehow still a Junior, but will hopefully be declaring for the draft after this year).

I would also argue that part of their turnaround has to do with the schedule easing up.  It’s probably no coincidence that their conference losses were on the road (the Alabama game was played in Texas, but still probably more of a road atmosphere).  In their 5-game winning streak, 4 of these games have been at home (including the victory over Colorado).  The other wins, against the Arizona schools, Cal, and Oregon, are about as soft of a landing as you can get.  I don’t know if any of those teams have a defense that’s worth a damn.

ESPN College Gameday is coming back to Montlake for the first time since 2013, when we were ranked #16 and hosted the #2 Oregon Ducks.  That game turned out to be a disaster for all involved (unless you’re a Ducks fan, in which case, yes, I will have fries with that).  This time, the tables have turned though.  USC isn’t ranked, though they’re 26th in both the AP & Coaches polls.  People are touting the Trojans as the biggest test we’ll have faced all year.  I’d say that honor still belongs with the underrated Utah Utes, but this is what happens when one of the L.A. schools goes on a 5-game winning streak.  Everyone loses their minds and starts writing checks their asses can’t cash.

The fact of the matter is, yes, we’re talking about a hot USC team.  If the national rankings happen to be in love with that school, it’s all the better for the Washington Huskies.  Anything that boosts our national profile is good for our chances.  By the same token, it will have been 3 full weeks since our last home game.  It will have been a whopping 6 full weeks since the Husky fans have had an opportunity to get jacked up about a significant opponent (the Stanford game, on September 30th).  This is our last opportunity to get all lathered up on a national stage.  The next game is at home, but against a pretty hapless ASU team; then, we have the Apple Cup on the road.  My point is:  I expect Husky Stadium to be as loud and raucous as I’ve ever seen it.

GOD I CAN’T WAIT FOR SATURDAY!!!

Injured Huskies Come Away With A Victory In Colorado

This season has been a bit of a bummer in a lot of ways.  There’s a lot of talent on this team, but some of it is raw and some of it is leaving after this year.  The quarterback position has been hampered by injury, ineffectiveness, suspension, and quite frankly, learning a new offensive system.  This was always going to be Cyler Miles’ first year as a starter for the Huskies, but it also coincided with a new coaching staff, along with all the off-season uncertainty regarding his involvement in that post-Super Bowl brouhaha.  As such, he has struggled.  With that, so has the entire team.

A more-experienced quarterback probably leads us to a victory in that Stanford game.  Someone like Keith Price CERTAINLY leads us to victory against Arizona State.  As it stands, we’re only 6-3, and only 2-3 in the conference.  There’s good and there’s bad; straddling that line betwixt them, we have the 2014 Washington Huskies.

The 2014 Washington Huskies come out flat against the winless (in conference) Colorado Buffaloes.  They let arguably the worst team in the Pac-12 hold a 10-point lead deep into the first half, and a 6-point lead in the third quarter.  They also find a way to turn it on at the end, scoring 21-unanswered, by sheer force of the discrepancy in talent.

Shaq Thompson has less than half the carries of Lavon Coleman, and yet has only 82 fewer rushing yards on the year.  Really, he’s had two starts and some sporadic carries here and there prior, yet he has proven to be far and away the best running back on this team.  But, he’s so much more than that!  He’s our overarching best playmaker on this team.  Defensively, he can play all over.  He’s got four touchdowns just on fumble and interception returns!  He’s going to go down as the greatest talent that’s ever worn a Husky uniform and it might not even be close.  If you’ve ever wondered why recruiting matters in college athletics:  it’s 5-star recruits like Shaq that give you your answer.  Ever wonder why the same teams are at the top of the heap in College Football every year?  Because whereas the Huskies have one 5-star athlete, Alabama has a team FULL of them.

With our running backs starting to get healthy, I find it really interesting that the Huskies are looking to keep Shaq in the mix.  Why not?  Let’s face it, the offense needs all the help it can get.  We’re by no means perfect on the defensive side of the ball, but I think we can manage okay.  But, offensively?  We’re sort of a trainwreck without Shaq on the field.

Right now, Cyler Miles has no reason to feel comfortable out there.  The offensive line has been a decade-long work in progress (with only the names on the backs of the jerseys changing).  John Ross has been hampered by injury for most of the season.  And, quite frankly, the receivers we’ve got out there just don’t compare to some of the guys we’ve lost to graduation in recent seasons.

Which is why we NEED Shaq on offense, as an outlet if nothing else.  Let HIM be the focus of the offense instead of Miles.  Let defenses try to game plan around him instead of shutting down our passing game.  With some of the pressure off, I think Cyler Miles can be serviceable going forward.  He might not be the long term answer, but for right now he’s still the best we’ve got.

Also, I’ll be interested to see the continuing maturation of Dante Pettis, my new favorite Husky.  It’s nice to have that punt return game not only on lockdown, but as a legit strength of this team.  He was finally able to return one for a touchdown last week, for the first time in over a decade for the Dawgs, and I would expect that to be the first of many.  On offense, he also caught his first TD, on a nifty 28-yard reception down the sideline.  I’ll certainly look forward to him getting more involved on offense.  Whenever John Ross is able to get healthy, with Pettis and Mickens getting some serious minutes, we’ll have the kind of weapons all over the field that could make our offense quite formidable.

This week, we host the Bruins.  The Huskies haven’t beaten the Bruins since 2010 (the infamous Jake Locker Broken Ribs game that kickstarted a 4-game winning streak to finish the season, culminating with a Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska).  Overall, the Huskies have lost 8 of the last 10 games we’ve played against the Bruins (it might extend beyond that, but I only opted to look as far back as 2002).  Currently, the Bruins are in the Top 25 and still in the hunt for the Pac-12 Championship Game.

I’d be fine if we didn’t do anything else this season, if it meant we beat the Bruins and knock them out of contention.  There are precious few teams I hate more than UCLA (indeed, I can probably count them on one finger), so nothing would give me more pleasure.

Also, not for nothing, but the 2014 Huskies don’t have a Signature Win yet.  Even the most inept Sark teams always had a signature win!

  • 2013 – 69-27 road victory against Oregon State, where we ran the ball for a million yards
  • 2012 – 17-13 win at home against a Top 10 Stanford team
  • 2011 – 31-14 road victory against a tough Utah team (admittedly, this is stretching it a bit with the definition of “signature win”)
  • 2010 – 32-31 road victory against a Top 20 USC team
  • 2009 – 16-13 home victory against #3 USC, one season removed from the Huskies finishing 0-12

If we can’t beat UCLA this week, what are we looking at for our Signature Win of 2014?  A dominating road victory against a Cal team that MIGHT finish its season at 6-6?  I’m not gonna lie to you, that’s not going to make for a very satisfying season.

Looking ahead, the Huskies do go on the road to play a highly-ranked Arizona team, but I’m not so sure we’re going to be very competitive in that one.  Following that, we’ve got games against bottom-feeding Oregon State and Washington State.

So, really, if you’re looking at this thing realistically, a home victory against the Bruins is our only shot at a Signature Win.  No fucking around this week!  I want to shove it right in their faces!

The Huskies Head Into Their BYE Week With More Questions Than Answers

Mostly on the offensive side of the ball.  Primarily with the quarterback position.

Thanks to playing in Hawaii to kick off the season, the Huskies were blessed with four non-conference games.  Thanks to those four teams being terrible, the Huskies were blessed with four victories.  It had appeared, going into last Saturday’s Stanford game, that the Huskies were finally starting to gel.  The running game was pretty solid.  The defense was rounding into shape after a shaky first couple of games.  And while the passing game had yet to really flourish, if we just played our game and limited turnovers, we had as good a chance as any to beat Stanford on our home field.

So, what did we learn from our first defeat of the season?  Well, we learned that the Huskies have joined the likes of Oregon State, Utah, and Colorado among the winless in conference games.  That’s … less than ideal, even if it’s only the one game.  We learned that Stanford is EXACTLY who we thought they were.  A great defense, a pretty good offensive line, and a quarterback who doesn’t do much more than manage the game with his legs.  Kevin Hogan tied for the team lead in rushing attempts, going 14 for 53 yards and a TD; but he only threw 17/26 for 178 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Normally, that’s a pretty pedestrian day from a quarterback playing for an upper echelon program.  But, on Saturday, he out-played Cyler Miles like nobody’s business.

Cyler Miles just isn’t very good.  If Kevin Hogan is a Game Manager, Cyler Miles is a Game Towel Boy.  Yeah, he limits turnovers, but big fucking deal if we can’t move the ball down the field!

The offensive line is getting a lot of flak in this whole thing – and I’m not going to be the one to vociferously defend them – but look at it this way:  if the quarterback is no threat to either challenge the defense deep or make good on his long passing attempts, how would you arrange your players if you’re the defensive coordinator going up against the Huskies?  Wouldn’t you load the box and play man coverage on the receivers to take away the run and the little bubble screens we like to throw?  Wouldn’t you put wave after wave of blitzing pressure on Cyler Miles until he’s able to prove that he can handle it and make you pay?

With Keith Price and some of our receivers who have moved on, the Huskies had a deep threat to keep defenses honest.  That’s why our run game was so effective, with essentially the same exact sub-par offensive line performance.  Yes, Bishop Sankey and Chris Polk were both elite college runners, but there’s no saying that Lavon Coleman can’t also be an elite runner.  He just needs a chance.  And, he won’t get that chance if defenses are overloading the box.

But, here’s the thing:  what do we do?  Quite frankly, this BYE week couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the Huskies.  They can use this extra week of practice time one of two ways:  either groom Lindquist or Williams as your starter the rest of the way, or take advantage of the extra practice by refining Miles’ awareness and handling of the offense.  Figure out which areas he can improve upon and work on helping him improve, while at the same time tweak the offense to fit his skillset.  And, for the love of God, encourage him to pull the ball back on some of these zone reads and take advantage of the defense’s over-pursuit!

And, so help me, if you don’t figure out how to get John Ross a minimum of 10 touches on offense per game, I don’t know what else to do with you.  You’ve got an elite-level NFL talent at your fingertips, USE HIM!  Don’t try to force the ball to Mickens.  It’s absolutely unconscionable that Mickens has 29 offensive touches while Ross only has 12 (I don’t care if Ross missed an entire game with injury).  There’s no excuse for this offense to be this bad, regardless of who is at quarterback.

On the flipside, the defense is pretty great and it’s only getting better.  Granted, we’ve yet to play an elite offense at the FBS level, but I’ve been REALLY impressed with how suffocating we can be at times.  Timing can sure be a bitch when it comes to college football.  We’ve got all this amazing defensive talent that’s going to leave after this season, and we can’t take advantage of it because we don’t have a quarterback who knows what he’s doing.  It’s one thing to look good against the dregs of the conference, but if we’re going to stink against Stanford and Oregon and the like, then we’re no better than we’ve been the last four years.

I’m going to hold off on criticizing the coaching staff too much in this early going.  After all, we don’t really have a full allotment of Coach Pete’s personnel.  For instance, I wonder if he would’ve gone after ANY of the quarterbacks we have on our roster right now (at least the ones that aren’t redshirting).  But, I will say that fake punt was an unmitigated disaster.  Here’s a tip:  if you’re going to fake punt by direct-snapping to Shaq Thompson, then make Shaq Thompson a member of your regular punting unit.  So, you know, his presence doesn’t IMMEDIATELY tip off that it’s going to be a fake.  That’s pretty much bluffing 101 right there:  don’t tip your hand.

If I’m revising my outlook on this team, I’ll tell you this much:  the game on October 11th against Cal is a Must Win.  For starters, the Bears are not very good.  But, it’s a road game, so you can never be too confident.  Following that, we go to Oregon, then come back home for Arizona State (both pretty good teams).  Losing at Cal could see us embark on a 4-game losing streak to fall to 4-4 and desperately needing to scrape together two more wins just to be bowl eligible.

When you start the season 4-0, bowl eligibility should NEVER be a concern.  From head to toe, the Huskies are the better team when compared to the Cal Bears.  If we don’t beat them, then there’s a legit chance that we could theoretically lose any and all the rest of the games on our schedule (okay, probably not Colorado, but now that I said that, just watch what happens on November 1st).

Cyler Miles Is Back, Damore’ea Stringfellow Is Gone

You probably remember the kerfuffle back in February when these two crazy kids got into an altercation with some other people.  I most certainly don’t remember the specifics, because who cares?  The point is:  these two kids got in trouble with the law and were suspended from the team.

As it turns out, Cyler Miles wasn’t charged with anything, but Damore’ea Stringfellow was.  Neither one of them got any reps in the spring practices, and now here we are.  May 15th.  Cyler Miles has been reinstated, and Damore’ea Stringfellow has decided to transfer.

It’s good news for Miles.  This is a team that just lost its starting quarterback, running back, and tight end to the NFL.  We might have enough pieces to make up for the losses of Sankey & ASJ (obviously, we can’t say those pieces will be better, but if we can get 80 cents on the dollar, that might be good enough), but we need all the talent we can get out of the quarterback position.

This is a big year for Husky football.  The defense has improved by leaps & bounds the last two seasons, coming to a head in 2014.  This year’s defense is going to be as good as it’s been, probably since the last Rose Bowl team.  We can’t let that go to waste.

Also, you have to figure, the offensive line is going to be as good as it’s been since I can’t remember when.  I’m not saying it’s going to be All-World or anything, but we’ve got enough upper classmen on the line with starting experience, that you HAVE to expect remarkable improvement over the last five to six years.

The foundation is in place.  The foundation – defense & the O-Line – has been mostly pisspoor for the last decade-plus.  In the Sark years, we mostly got by on the talent of our skill positions on offense.  As odd as it sounds, the script is flipped here:  there’s a lot of question marks about our skill positions.

And it starts with quarterback.  Cyler Miles is the only guy on the roster with starting experience at this level.  That makes his missing the spring practices all the more detrimental to our chances.  Maybe he’s good enough to overcome this setback, but he’s still at a serious disadvantage.  Had he participated, we’d be looking at a clear front-runner, and someone with serious momentum heading into this season.  In short, Husky fans would have a chance to relax in the knowledge that we’ll PROBABLY be okay with Miles at the helm.

Now?  I’m anything but comfortable.  On the plus side, I guess it’s a LITTLE comforting to know we’ve got three viable starting candidates, and that the other two – Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams – probably helped themselves a great deal by taking all the spring reps.  So, at least it’ll be interesting heading into fall camp.  I just hope someone is able to separate himself from the pack and take control of this team, because it can be pretty special.

Of course, it won’t be as special as it would’ve been had the whole post-Super Bowl incident never happened.  That’s because Damore’ea Stringfellow is no longer a Husky.

There is A LOT of smugness on the Internet from the holier than thou Husky alums out there who write about this team.  A lot of “this type of stuff doesn’t belong on this team”.  How soon we forget, when we graduate from college, all the dumb shit that WE’VE done.  It feels to me like Husky Nation has been pushing Stringfellow out the door as soon as they heard about this incident.

Let me ask you this:  why are we holding these kids to a higher standard?  If they’re truly STUDENT athletes, then you have to accept that as students – as young kids – they’re going to fuck up from time to time.  It’s how they respond that determines their character.  Maybe Stringfellow didn’t respond as well as the coaching staff wanted.  If so, that’s fine.  But, to expect these kids to be perfect – to never get in a fight, or get drunk at a party, or God forbid drink and drive even though MOST of us have done so at one point or another – is a little unfair.  Get off your high horses, people!  He fucked up!  And you should be more disappointed that he’s no longer a part of this football team than smugly happy that he’s leaving forever.

And don’t pretend you’re thinking about Damore’ea Stringfellow, the person.  You know him as Damore’ea Stringfellow, wide receiver, and that’s ALL you know him as.  You read some shit about the incident that got him in trouble, but don’t pretend for one second that you actually care about how his life turns out.  You care about him being a Husky or not being a Husky, and that’s it.  Leave his personal life to people who are actually IN his life.

As a Husky fan, it sucks.  Stringfellow was only getting better as the season went along last year, and he was due to REALLY take that next step.  If we could’ve gotten two more years out of him, there’s no telling what he could’ve done for our offense.  In that sense, in conjunction with the quarterback battle, expect our offense to take a step back in 2014.  How far that step back goes depends on the players who step up in his wake.  I’m not going to doom the season just because we lost our number one receiver.  That just means someone else will have to take charge.

Say what you want, but 2014 will NOT be a dull season.  Here’s to hoping it’s also a special one.

Seahawks 2014 Draft Roundup

Well, Mel Kiper gave the Seahawks one of his worst draft grades, so we should probably expect a couple of All Pros and a few more Pro Bowlers in this class.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Paul Richardson, WR (2nd)
  • Justin Britt, OT (2nd)
  • Cassius Marsh, DE (4th)
  • Kevin Norwood, WR (4th)
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB (4th)
  • Jimmy Staten, DT (5th)
  • Garrett Scott, OT (6th)
  • Eric Pinkins, CB/S (6th)
  • Kiero Small, FB (7th)

At first glance, I like the chances of Richardson, Britt, and Norwood to make an immediate impact.  Marsh is the epitome of a wild card, though I think he’ll get every chance to win a spot in the LEO rotation.  KPL and Pinkins are practically guaranteed to be standout special teamers right away, with outside chances to be impact starters in 2015 and beyond.  I’ve got Staten as the leader in the clubhouse to be the first draft pick cut in training camp.  Scott looks like total practice squad fodder.  And Small could range anywhere from a starting fullback on this team (which, in and of itself doesn’t come with all that many snaps per game) and a key special teamer, all the way down to practice squad (if we can somehow sneak him through, which shouldn’t be too hard considering how fullback is devalued in the league nowadays).

This is a huge draft for the future of the Seattle Seahawks.  We’ve got a ton of guys entering their final year or two with this team.  It sounds funny to say, considering we just won the Super Bowl and were among the youngest teams in the league, but the Seahawks are really in need of an infusion of young talent.

I think it’s safe to say that last year’s class was a little underwhelming.  Luke Willson had the biggest impact of anyone, and he was a backup tight end who didn’t get a ton of snaps.  Our two defensive tackles rode the pine (one because of injury, one because he wasn’t ready/good enough for the rotation).  Our top draft pick hardly played at all considering the logjam at running back.  And, the guys with the most promise were a couple of unheralded offensive linemen who are looking to make a bigger impact in 2014.  But, when you compare the 2013 draft class to the three that came before it, there’s a lot for those guys to live up to.

We need these classes (2013 & 2014) to be future starters in the next year or two.  After a year with the 2013 guys, it’s reasonable to have your doubts.  It’s also a reason to be excited for some of the freakish athletes we picked up over the weekend.

Paul Richardson

LOVE this pick!  He’s a little under-sized, but so is Harvin, and what are the odds that BOTH of them get injured at the same time?

Richardson is a speed freak and a big play waiting to happen.  But, while Harvin is a guy you want to throw short to, in space, giving him room to create; Richardson is the guy we’ve been waiting for to seriously stretch the field.  I want to see him on the field as much as possible right away.

What are teams going to do with both Harvin AND Richardson on the field?  One guy will stretch the field and force defenses to protect the pass over the top, the other guy is going to use that space to his advantage for big plays underneath.  Or, if defenses focus on Harvin (as they rightly should), there’s the opportunity for deep bombs.

Kevin Norwood

Might as well keep it in the WR unit.  While Richardson is the speed demon we’ve been looking for, Norwood is the big body we’ve been looking for.  Unlike other big bodies we’ve tried out (Durham, Mike Williams, Sidney Rice), Norwood doesn’t appear to be an injury waiting to happen, a drop waiting to happen, or a big lumbering slowpoke waiting to happen.

One of Norwood’s gifts is his ability to find the quarterback after a play has broken down.  In case you haven’t been watching, that’s sort of Russell Wilson’s forte.  Norwood will improvise with the best of ’em, and he’ll make those twinkle-toe catches along the sideline.

Norwood’s presence makes Sidney Rice’s chances of winning a spot drastically reduced.  I’m seeing the Seahawks keeping:  Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse, Richardson, and Norwood for sure.  Rice might be able to win a sixth receiver spot, but it’s no sure thing.  It’ll depend on how the roster crunch plays out (doesn’t help him if the Seahawks opt to keep three QBs on the roster, with Wilson, Tarvar, and Pryor).

Justin Britt

One hope of mine was, if the Seahawks drafted a tackle reasonably high (as they did with this pick), it would be a guy who could, theoretically, shift over to left tackle in the event that the Seahawks aren’t able to re-sign Okung at the end of his deal.  Gotta find savings somewhere, and if you can use a guy on his rookie deal who isn’t a huge dropoff from the incumbent, all the better.

But, after listening to Tom Cable talk about the guy, it sounds like there’s zero chance Britt ever gets the nod on the left side.

Britt’s claim to fame is absolutely shutting down Jadeveon Clowney in the latest college season.  Don’t know if that’s one of those games that Clowney “took off”, but it seems to me Clowney playing at 60% is still better than most pass rushers, so I’ll take it.

Britt will come in and compete right away for the starting right tackle spot against Michael Bowie.  Love it.  Either he wins the job and we’ve got arguably an improvement at the position over the last few years, or he pushes Bowie to be even better than we thought.  That’s what you call a win-win.  At the very least, Britt should be great line depth for injuries (and you know there are ALWAYS injuries).

Cassius Marsh

As I said above, this guy is a total wild card.  If I let my imagination run wild, I’d tell you that he has the chance to be a J.J. Watt clone, but I’m not about to go that far.  My opinion all along has been that it’s VERY difficult for pass rushers to make an immediate impact.  Bruce Irvin did pretty well as a rookie, but he’s a beast with his speed rush.  Marsh doesn’t have his speed, but reportedly has some good hands, so he should be able to shed blocks pretty well.

I say if Marsh manages to find a way into the rotation on an occasional basis, improving as the season goes along, it’s a victory.  Failing that, I could see him as a guy who sticks to the 53-man roster, but is rarely active on gameday.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his hot-headedness.  That scares me a little bit, but if there’s any team that can rein that in and teach him how to use that aggressiveness to his advantage, I feel like it’s this team.  Also, don’t ask me why, but my gut tells me this guy is a candidate for failing the NFL’s drug policy in some way, shape or form.  I have no precedent to cite for this, but it’s just a feeling I have.

Kevin Pierre-Louis

This is EXACTLY what I was talking about when I said I wanted the Seahawks to draft a linebacker in the middle rounds.  He won’t play much on defense in 2014, but given his athleticism, he’s almost a lock to be a huge player on special teams (and probably force Heath Farwell out of Seattle).

And, if he finds a way to pick up the scheme quickly and refine his technique in the pass-coverage game, he should force his way into the starting lineup in 2015 when we have to make a difficult decision between K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith.  People are saying KPL is a natural weak-side linebacker, which is Smith’s natural position, so we may be seeing the final season of Malcolm Smith in a Seahawks uniform.

Eric Pinkins

Meet my absolute favorite draft pick of the 2014 class.  6’2, 230 pounds.  He was a safety in college for San Diego State; when the Seahawks picked him, we immediately thought of Kam Chancellor.  However, in interviews after the draft, it was noted that the team is looking at him to play corner.

So, now we’re thinking:  Brandon Browner.

This guy could be HUGE.  I’m, like, one interception in the preseason away from buying a Pinkins jersey and getting in on the ground floor.  You know the Seahawks are excellent at player development, especially in the secondary.  There’s no reason to think – with Pinkins being the athletic freak of nature that he is – that this coaching staff WON’T turn him into a viable starter.

Why is that big?  Byron Maxwell is entering his final season and is almost guaranteed to be playing for another team in 2015.  If Pinkins turns into a more athletic Brandon Browner, we’ve just fortified the Legion of Boom for years to come, and at a bargain to boot!

Other teams might have taken this guy and stuck him at safety where he’s comfortable.  The Seahawks see this guy and have the talent and know-how to convert him into a starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.  I’m tingling.

The Rest

I don’t know anything about Jimmy Staten.  Looks like he could be a 3-Tech tackle in the rotation with Jordan Hill.  Maybe there’s an outside chance this team bulks him up another 30 pounds or so and tries him out at nose tackle, but who knows?

Garrett Scott looks like a project along the offensive line.  I don’t see how this guy DOESN’T make the practice squad.  Considering the talent we’ve got on the O-Line, it’s going to be difficult to get him in on the rotation.  But, he sounds like he’s really athletic and a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme.  I’ve even heard that he’s going to get some play at left tackle.

Kiero Small is a fullback.  By the sound of things, he could be one to watch, but again, it’s fullback.  When you consider the fact that this team normally keeps five running back/fullback types, let’s count ’em out:

  1. Marshawn Lynch
  2. Robert Turbin
  3. Christine Michael
  4. Derrick Coleman
  5. Spencer Ware
  6. Kiero Small

It looks like it’s going to come down to Small vs. Ware, if he’s going to make the 53-man roster.  Which means it might come down to which of the two are better in special teams.  Ware might have worn out his welcome with that DUI last year, so Small probably has a pretty good shot.  We’ll have to see how he does in camp.

As for the undrafted rookies, the Seahawks have Keith Price.  Zero chance he makes the team.  Probably a pretty good chance he rocks it in the practice squad.  Then again, if you’re keeping three QBs on your 53-man roster, do you really need a QB on the practice squad?

It’s going to be tough for Price.  How often do you ever see four quarterbacks play in the preseason games?  You know how the Seahawks will play Wilson (a series or two in game 1, a quarter or two in game 2, into the third quarter in game 3, a series or two in game 4).  They’ll likely want to give Tarvar his share of reps to keep him warm and get him ready for the season.  And, you’d think they’ll want to watch Terrelle Pryor as much as possible to see if he’s worth keeping on the team.  And, don’t forget B.J. Daniels.

What does that mean?  If Price looks good in camp, MAYBE he gets a series or two in the entirety of the preseason games.  Don’t know if that’s enough to get him an opportunity with another team, but maybe just the fact that the Seahawks wanted him and brought him into camp, that might be enough for another team to pick him up and stash him.  We’ll see.

All in all, as I said before, I’m a big fan of this draft.  The best part?  Our entire coaching staff is intact.  We didn’t lose Cable, we didn’t lose Quinn, we didn’t lose Bevell, and we’ve got everyone else.  Considering how good the Seahawks are, and how coveted those guys would have been had the Seahawks not made the Super Bowl, it’s like we’re playing with house money.  Another year with this full staff intact?  That’s going to be an insane advantage for this draft class to eventually make the jump to full time starters for this team in the years to come.

Tui Gets His First Win As A Head Coach

There was a lot to feel good about in this feel-good 31-16 win over the BYU Cougars.  Keith Price – while getting dinged up towards the end of the game – still had a solid, Keith Price-esque game.  Bishop Sankey ran for a couple touchdowns and had an overall solid game.  ASJ – who declared after the game that he will turn pro in 2014 – added another touchdown to the pile.  While Sankey said he’s still undecided, you have to figure that all three of our studs from 2013 will be gone, so it was nice that they all played well and went out on top.

That BYU quarterback did a lot of things well, running for 133 yards, throwing for 293 yards, and just generally being a pain in the ass all game long.  But, to our credit, we mostly held BYU to field goals, and that was the difference in the game.

Just as this was the swan song for our Big 3, it was also the swan song for Justin Wilcox, who nailed down some righteous adjustments in the second half to hold BYU scoreless over the final two quarters.  I’m disappointed to see him go, and I’m even more disappointed to see him go to USC, but I take solace in the fact that in a few years, he will defect from USC to be a head coach somewhere else.  Ahh, the circle of life.

Mostly, I just feel happy for Tui.  I don’t know if there is a place for him on Coach Pete’s new staff, but I’ve got the sinking feeling that there isn’t.  We may eventually see him return sometime down the line, because I have no doubt that Tui will be an amazing head coach.  Who knows, maybe after he gets his feet wet coaching some small school like Idaho State or something, we bring in Tui to replace Coach Pete a decade or so down the line.

This is a weird, scary time to be a Husky fan.  A lot of unknowns out there surrounding the program.  A lot for us to learn about the new staff, the new offensive scheme, the new players stepping up for legendary departing ones.  It was nice, just for a night, to forget about all of that horseshit and just sit back and celebrate what has turned out to be a remarkable 2013 season.  9-4!  It feels weird to say that We’re Back!  But, doesn’t it kind of feel like we’re back?  Or, at the very least, much closer to being “Back” than being “The Worthless Pile Of Crap” on the college football spectrum?  Yeah.

2014 Will Be The Most Important Season In A Generation For Huskies

We’re jumping the gun here a bit, but that makes it no less a pressing concern.

As the Huskies prepare for their bowl game next week – the primetime, post-Christmas, Friday night spot against BYU – know that we’re seeing the end of an era.  An era that beat the hell out of the previous era, for sure!

It’s interesting to look at the ebbs and flows of the history of the University of Washington football team.  If you go all the way back to the Jim Owens era, you see a team in the late 50s and early 60s that was one of the best in the nation.  His first seven years brought with it three Rose Bowl appearances (two victories), before a long descent into mediocrity.  The Huskies of the mid-60s to the mid-70s weren’t terrible, but they weren’t all that good either.  Just sort of okay.

Then, Don James came in, and the mediocrity continued for the first two years.  His third year was probably the most important season in Husky football history, and we were all rewarded with a Rose Bowl victory.  Thus began the next great era of Husky football, lasting through the early 90s.

Once Don James left, the team fell back to the pack again.  Part of that was losing a legend, but most of it was due to the sanctions that really wiped out our ability to recruit the proper talent we needed to maintain our stay as one of the nation’s premiere football programs.  Just as we were starting to recruit, Lambright was replaced by Rick Neuheisel, who reaped the rewards and took this program back to the Rose Bowl in 2000.

Ever since then, it was a long, slow, brutal decline, culminating in the 2008 winless season.

So, if you’re keeping track, the Jim Owens era started off great, then went mediocre.  Then, greatness returned with Don James, and immediately went mediocre once he left.  Greatness returned briefly under Neuheisel, then the program plummeted to its nadir.  Sark came in here and brought us back to mediocrity, and that’s where we sit today.

Coach Pete’s first year will be the most important year for the program since Don James’ third season.  Any regime change is going to automatically see a hit in recruiting; that just comes with the territory.  How bad we’ll have it largely depends on where the assistant coaches end up.  If we’ve got Wilcox and Lupoi going to USC, that really puts us in a bind.  If they end up at Boise State, it’s not AS bad, but they’ll still be going after a number of the same players they recruited to Washington.  If they left the west coast, it would be ideal (but that’s probably not going to happen).  Just figure, this recruiting class won’t be as highly rated as some of Sark’s last classes.

Which, fine.  Long term, it could be a problem, but we can also make up for it by redoubling our efforts in our 2015 class.  However, that 2015 class will hinge on how well we do in 2014.  Of course, you can say that about literally every year, but the importance of this year outweighs any other.

You always want to put a good product on the field to show kids that if they choose Washington, they’re choosing to play for a winner.  No one wants to come to college and get their shit kicked in.  However, kids are going to be watching this team to get a sense of Coach Pete’s style and how they might fit.  We all know that Coach Pete is great when it comes to getting the best out of the talent he’s able to bring in.  Will that translate with a program that currently houses a number of blue-chip prospects – kids who never seriously considered playing for a “lesser” school like Boise State?  It’s one thing to coach up some kids who are just happy to be there; but does he have the ability to coach up kids who already expect to be great?

The Huskies, right now, are a team on the rise.  Sark brought us Top 25 & Top 30 recruiting classes the last few years.  We have A LOT of talent on this team.  But, we’re also losing some critical pieces.  Keith Price, Sean Parker, most likely Bishop Sankey & ASJ, maybe even Danny Shelton (among others, who I can’t remember off-hand right now). 

Whenever you’re looking at a quarterback change of this magnitude, you can’t help but think that the next year will be a year of transition.  Fortunately, Cyler Miles had a chance to get some meaningful reps this year, so we won’t TOTALLY throw a greenhorn into the fire.  Still, there will be growing pains.

And, on top of that, Coach Pete doesn’t get to work with the kids right now.  That’s falling on Tui and the rest of our M*A*S*H unit of interim coaches.  Just as Miles and the rest of our quarterbacks are fighting for the starting job in spring, they’ll also have to contend with learning a new offensive scheme.  That’s BOUND to set us back, especially when you consider this will be the third scheme-change in three years (from traditional pro style, to the HUNH-hybrid, to whatever Coach Pete installs).

Even under normal circumstances, with Sark and the rest of our coaches returning, I wouldn’t have been shocked to see this team to take a bit of a step back.  But, under these freak circumstances, a step back is almost expected!

And yet, we can’t have it.  If we want this program to be one of the elites not just in the conference, but in the nation, we need to continue with the momentum we built under Sark.  And THAT means:  not having two or three down recruiting years in a row.  2014 will already be down, because Coach Pete won’t have the time he normally would as an incumbent head coach, saying nothing of the players who will be poached.  To avoid a repeat down recruiting class, though, we’re going to have to show people we not only have the best head coach in the conference, but we’re already surrounded by the best talent in the conference.

There are a lot of reasons to come to Washington.  New stadium & facilities, located in a major city, most beautiful gametime setting in the nation, a premiere head coach, lots of player talent already here, we’re in a major conference and play against some of the best teams in the nation.  Now, we just need to win.  That’s it.  Sure, it starts with this bowl game next week, but there’s going to be a major asterisk next to this game.  The real fight will be next season.  If we’re able to show the kind of improvement I know we’re capable of, then it’s off to the races after that.  We should have kids banging down our door to come to UW.

Fuck You, Sark

If I take my allegiance for the Huskies out of it, then I understand.  USC has the broader national spotlight.  He will be able to recruit players to that school he just couldn’t hope to bring here.  USC will have an easier road to a national championship because all the major media drones already have that respect for the Trojans.  They’re more likely to be ranked higher in pre-season polls, which dictate how programs are perceived throughout the regular season (until you lose a few too many games and become downgraded accordingly).  If you start the season as a Top 10 school and you win a bunch of games, your road to the Top 4 in the BCS (or whatever they’re going to call it) is a lot easier than coming from the unranked and winning a bunch of games.  USC also certainly has more money to offer.  They’ve got nicer weather down there.  Prettier girls.  And he has a history with that school.  We gave him his first opportunity to be a head coach in major college football, but USC gave him his first opportunity to be a coordinator (which, in turn, led to his being offered a head coaching job).

I get all that.  If this were the Minnesota head coach getting hired away by Ohio State, I wouldn’t think twice; “Yeah, that sounds about right.  Who wouldn’t want to be the coach of Ohio State?”

And make no mistake, that’s a pretty apt analogy.  Minnesota used to be an elite school.  Now, they’re just kind of middle-of-the-road.  That’s Washington.

But GOD DAMN IT, it doesn’t have to be!

Just, fuck off Sark!  I hope you fucking fail miserably and are run out on the rails just like Kiffin!

Do I appreciate what he’s done for us?  Of course.  He took an 0-12 team and made us respectable.  Yes, he has us trending upward, but that was with the assumption that he and his coaches would stick with the program indefinitely!  You can’t say we’re still trending upward when we’re losing our entire recruiting base!  When we’ve got to start over again with a brand new staff!  Granted, they won’t be starting over at the nadir Sark was starting over with, but now we have that stigma again:  “Washington Isn’t Good Enough”.

We’re not USC.  We’re not Ohio State.  We’re not Alabama or Florida or Texas or Michigan or Oklahoma.  At best, we’re a stepping-stone to one of those schools.  Maybe we can aspire to be a Wisconsin or a Stanford or an Oklahoma State or a Nebraska – if everything breaks right.

What’s worse?  Sark proved us all right.  All of us with that inferiority complex.  All of us who feared from day one that he’d leave us for greener pastures just as soon as humanly possible.  His allegiance was never with Washington; it was always with the next big opportunity.

Could I blame him?  Yeah, I think I could.  This isn’t a situation where someone like A-Rod was a free agent and was blown out of the water by an infinitely bigger contract.  This was a guy currently signed, currently making millions of dollars, who will still be making millions of dollars, and probably not that many MORE millions of dollars.  He could have levereged USC into getting a raise at Washington and I would have respected the move.  But, dumping a program he built from scratch just when we were ready to take those next steps towards being elite again is just a selfish, chickenshit move.

I don’t understand people with Sark’s mentality.  Yeah, USC is probably a better opportunity, but it’s not THAT much better!  You could do here what they do there.  Believe me, it’s possible.  It’s been done before, under a much better man in Don James.

You know what happens when you succeed in a place like USC?  When you take that team to Rose Bowls and contend for championships?  Yawns.  The expectations are so high in a place like USC that something so enormous as going to back-to-back Rose Bowls is met with disappointment (see:  the been-there-done-that attitude of many players at Oregon this year).  You know what happens when you succeed in a place like Washington?  You’re adored for life and spend your twilight years on our Mt. Rushmore of Awesome People.

Do you think USC fans lionize Pete Carroll the way Husky fans worship Don James?  Fuck no!  Pete Carroll simply did what was expected of him!  Don James, however, did the impossible, turning a middling program into a national powerhouse.  Don James made it so current Husky fans can demand the best out of our program, because we’ve been there before.  We can be hard on our coaches and expect better than a 5-4 conference record, because we know we deserve better!

With Pete Carroll, I bet they look back with a bit of disappointment.  Not for the way things ended, but because he didn’t win them MORE games.  With Washington, if someone was able to do what Pete Carroll did down there, Husky fans would never shut up about how amazing he was!

Bottom line:  Sark just doesn’t want to put in the work.  He wants all the heavy lifting done for him.  In this case, the heavy lifting is the locale and the tradition.  He’s got an over-abundance of talent in SoCal and that talent is inherently aware of how great of a school USC is.  When you coach for Washington, you have to out-work your opponents to get the type of players you need (conversely, when you coach for Oregon, you can just out-spend your opponents, but that’s neither here nor there).

I was disappointed and saddened for about two minutes when I heard about Sark leaving for USC.  Now, I’m pissed.  Yeah, he seemed to be one of the good ones, and I had all the faith in the world that he’d get us where we wanted to go.  But, his leaving this way will not have me looking fondly on his time here, whatsoever.  He can eat shit.

Sark did a lot of good here, but let’s not forget he did a lot of mediocre as well.  7-6 comes immediately to mind.  0-5 against Oregon is right up there.  Our pathetic road record, getting blown out by the elites, having this team look absolutely un-coached at times.  Don’t forget that we were one blown Apple Cup away from shit-canning his ass after this season.  Sometimes, people can just see the writing on the wall.  He staved off execution for one year, but what would have happened next year if our record declined in the face of guys like Price, Sankey, and ASJ leaving?  He probably got out of here at the exact right time.  Nevertheless, even if he stayed and then was fired after next year, I would have been against it.

Sark is merely a footnote, Husky fans.  A 5-year intermission between being the worst and being the best.  Hopefully, the people in charge will poach from the right schools to get us going again.  I wouldn’t mind seeing anyone from the SEC (coordinators included, obviously) get wooed away to the Pacific Northwest.  I also would be heavily in favor of Jim Mora getting his shot at returning home.  If USC can do it, why can’t we?  At least we’ll know that Mora won’t constantly be looking for his next big opportunity.  #HuskyForLife

The Huskies Didn’t Beat The Cougars, They Survived The Cougars

Last year’s team would’ve lost this game, just like they lost last year’s game.  This year’s team damn near did the same thing.

For starters, I’m not necessarily convinced that playing Keith Price was the smartest decision.  Granted, the ends may justify the means, but that says more about the guys playing WITH Keith Price than it does Keith Price himself.  He wasn’t ready, bottom line.  He was erratic, he was tentative, he was playing scared.  Of course, with this offensive line, who can blame him?  But still, even when the line was DOING its job, he still got a case of the ants in the pants and found himself scrambling to avoid contact with that obviously-still-injured throwing shoulder.

I’ve said it before:  I hate it when guys play through injuries just to show how tough they are.  We get it!  You’re tough!  But, you’re also actively hurting the team’s chances with your selfish attitude.  Keith Price hadn’t practiced at all in the last two weeks.  He got some throws in before the game, but he did little more than watch Cyler Miles run the offense (and do a pretty damn good job of it, I might add).

We didn’t NEED Keith Price to beat this Cougar team.  I think Sankey’s 200 yards on the ground and 40 yards through the air speak to that point quite clearly.  What we needed out of our quarterback was to not fuck shit up.  Price’s fumble and interception went a long way towards fucking shit up, and left us in a huge first half hole (the score only being 10-3 didn’t tell the whole story).

Our defense did everything it could, but you’re not going to hold that Coug offense at bay forever!  If our offense didn’t come out on fire like it did in that third quarter, we most definitely would’ve lost this game.

And, if we DID lose?  Hoo boy, would there have been a SHITSTORM around this program!  I’m a pretty big reactionary when it comes to my favorite teams, but if I like someone, I tend to want to give them the benefit of turning things around.  Sark is one of those guys I like.  To date, I’ve never once said we should get rid of him, because I know the challenges surrounding a regime change.  The best coaches don’t want to come, especially if they’re always looking over their shoulders; the best recruits don’t want to play here if they have to worry about playing for someone else in a year or two.  I’d much rather the Huskies succeed WITH Sark than take our chances with someone else.

That having been said, at halftime of this game, I was all-in on the Fire Sark bandwagon.  He was going to go down with the sinking ship of his decision to start Keith Price in this game.  Lose, and Sark’s credibility and his competence would’ve been in legitimate question.  It’s tough to say someone’s coaching for his career, especially after we’d just beaten Oregon State 69-27 the week prior, but that was the case in this Apple Cup.

Will it make a difference?  I guess that all depends on what happens going forward.  I have to believe Sark has at least another year, and most likely another two years.  I’ll get into this area a little later in the offseason, but I’ll leave you with my overall impression of the program:

Regardless of what anyone else says, this team has improved each and every year since Sark arrived.  The record may not necessarily reflect that (we’re still, after all, 5-4 in conference for the fourth straight year, losing to all the usual suspects in embarrassing fashion), but it’s true.  Nevertheless, with Price, Sankey, and ASJ all most likely leaving after this year, 2014 will be a transitional year.  We should still have the talent to be bowl-eligible, but will that guarantee us making a bowl game?  And, if we lose out, what does that mean for Sark in 2015?  Something to think about.

The Last Chance For The Huskies To Make A Good Impression

Ugh.  Last week’s game against UCLA was SUCH horseshit.  It sucks when you’re a totally evenly-matched team, but thanks to some ill-timed mistakes, it looks like you were taken out behind the woodshed.  The Huskies only lost 41-31, but it wasn’t really all that close.  Not when you immediately dig yourself a 2-score hole and spend the rest of the game playing catch-up; it was like watching someone with no arms try to struggle his way out of a pit of quicksand.  There was never any doubt – once things started going the way they went – that the Huskies would lose that game.

Back-to-back fumbles on the first two drives are bad enough.  But, even then, if we’d managed to play a clean game, we still could have overcome it.  The defensive penalties were the REAL crushers.  When you’ve got a team on third down and you hold them shy of the line to gain, only to see that some idiot on your defense had his hands on an offensive player’s face …

It’s not even like you could blame the officials!  Those were our hands on that guy’s face!  You can’t deny it!  Except when you COULD blame the officials, when they called the same fucking penalty on our offensive lineman on that touchdown pass … because those were NOT our hands on that guy’s face!  Those were our hands on that guy’s shoulder pads or some fucking thing.

That penalty was probably the worst call I’ve ever seen, in an endless string of numb-nuts calls by Pac-12 refs.  It’s not even funny anymore how bad our refs are.  The NCAA needs to do something about this, because they’re seriously ruining the game out here on the west coast.

When you add it all up – offensive fuck-ups, defensive fuck-ups, referee fuck-ups – it equals one unwinnable game for the Washington Huskies.  A team like ours in a game like that could theoretically withstand one set of fuck-ups, but not three.  So, now the Huskies are 6-4 and the most underwhelming team in all of college football.

The Huskies sit at fourth in the Pac-12 North, one spot behind the Oregon State Beavers (who we play tomorrow).  The Beaves have the upper hand thanks to a 4-3 conference record (vs. our 3-4 conference record).  If we lose this game, then all of a sudden we’re ACTUALLY in a dogfight with the fucking Washington State Cougars.  Can you even stand it?  The Cougs have the same conference record as us, and they host the Utah Utes tomorrow afternoon.  If they win and we lose, guess what:  we might not even make a bowl game!

Don’t tell me that won’t happen, because losing the Apple Cup LAST year supposedly wasn’t supposed to happen either.

If we lose the next two games, that puts us at 6-6 with a 3-6 conference record.  That drops us to fifth in the Pac-12 North and it theoretically drops us to 8th or 9th (into a tie with Arizona) in the Pac-12 as a whole.  Either way, unless my math is wrong, the Pac-12 is only slotted for 7 bowl games.  Given that there likely won’t be two BCS bowl bids for the conference, the Huskies very well could be royally fucked.  Let us not forget, if we end up tied with Arizona, there is no guarantee that we’d be selected over them just because we beat them; as long as there is no more than a 1-game difference in conference record, a bowl can pick whichever team it wants.

So, why am I not slitting my wrists right now in anticipation of No Bowl for the Huskies for the first time since 2009?  Because this game could very well be interesting!  It could be interesting because Cyler Miles could be starting!  Now, on the one hand, I feel like we have a better chance of winning with Keith Price at the helm, so naturally I should be rooting for him to start.  But, really, rushing Price back just to salvage an opportunity at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl … is there any honor in that?  Who CARES about the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl?

I would much rather see Miles get a chance to get his first-ever start under his belt.  After all, he’s the leading candidate to be our starter going into next year, wouldn’t you rather give him the opportunity to not only get these practice reps, but to get honest-to-goodness game reps?  In a game he actually prepared for, and not just one he was thrown into because of injury?  Just imagine what kind of an ego boost that would be for a kid, to go into a hostile environment, and to come out with his first career win.  Imagine what that could mean for next year’s team!  Instead of having all of these question marks surrounding the quarterback position, we can look back at physical evidence of our starter being awesome.

Keith Price’s time has come and gone.  I understand being loyal to your seniors, but what is this team really playing for, aside from avoiding the embarrassment of losing out on a bowl opportunity to the Cougs?  I’m not saying I’ll be hopping mad if Price makes a miraculous recovery and starts this game, but I will be a little disappointed.  It’s too late to do anything for Price’s legacy; he’s kind of a lost cause at this point.  I’d rather move on to the next big thing and try to get an idea of what we have in store for us the next couple years.  If Miles does well, we could be looking at a seamless transition between quarterbacks.  And, if he struggles, then at least we’ll know we’re in store for a dogfight of a quarterback competition next spring.

Regardless of who starts, I don’t think this game is hopeless.  Unless we come out and stink up the joint like we did down in L.A.  So, how about this:  no more fumbles, and no more hands to the face.  Except when they’re hands to the shoulder pads, in which case, no more bullshit calls by the refs.  We can do this, I know we can!