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Happy Halloween ‘n stuff

USC’s ass-kicking paid off, as they are the new BCS #1. I guess as Doba said, maybe the computer watched film this week? “Pedal to the metal” was my phrase for that game, and it sure was that way from kickoff to kneel-down. I can’t believe how much better they were than our Cougs, but things went exactly the way they should have. That’s why they are USC.

Anyway, as Doba loves to say, “the sun came up. I wasn’t sure it would.” Gotta love Grandpa Bill, but is he a head coach? That’s an argument for another day, such as after we lose out and go 3-8, 0-8 in the Pac for the 2nd time since 1998.

There are always some bright spots, even in that disaster. The O-line once again didn’t allow a sack, Jerome had another 100+ in the first half – again – and really, they are kicking ass. That might be one of the best, most athletic, smartest o-lines in WSU history, hands down. They are at an extremely high level right now, and we get 3 of those starters back next year. They always say how important line play is on both sides of the ball, well, with 3 of 5 o-lineman back and 3 of 4 d-lineman back next year, we should be strong on both sides.

And, recruiting is doing well, quite well in fact. Not in the form of verbal commits, yet, but we are certainly pushing on some higher-level kids. Here’s a long, premium article on where we are with some key names, and how great an impression the coaching staff is making on these guys. AND, a good synopsis on the class of 2002 (after the 2001 Sun Bowl, btw). Enjoy:

WASHINGTON STATE’S close-but-no-cigar season doesn’t appear to be hindering the Cougars’ recruiting efforts as they enter the stretch drive for the class of 2006, which will be signing letters of intent in just three months. WSU is in the serious hunt for a number of standout prep and JC standouts.
Among them:Xavier Lucas, a 6-4, 190-pound receiver out of Tempe’s McClintock High; WR Anthony Houston (6-4, 200, 4.46) from San Diego’s Mission Bay High;
cornerback Jamathan Ingram-Lyle (6-0, 175) out of Boulder’s Mullen High;
Long Beach Poly CB Vincent Joseph (5-9.5, 185, 4.4);
B.T. Walker, (5-10, 175) a corner and east coast native finishing up his JC stint at College of the Canyons in California;
WR Charles Dillon, (6-0, 190) a one-time Cougar signee tearing it up for Ventura College, and more.

Lucas told CF.C, “I have to put Washington State ahead, but that’s also because I haven’t visited anywhere else.” Hometown Arizona State could have the inside track, but the Sun Devils have yet to offer. He said an official visit is in the works. Oregon is also lurking. Lucas will trip to UTEP Nov. 11.

Of his visit to Pullman, Lucas had raves for offensive coordinator and receivers coach Mike Levenseller and assistant head coach Robin Pflugrad, saying the WSU coaches were genuine and he liked their coaching style.”I liked how the fans were all into the game,” said Lucas, echoing the comments of a fellow Arizonan and WSU verbal commit, Marcus Richmond, who tripped the same weekend. “They get a good crowd there. They really made me feel at home. When I came in, all the crowd was yelling my name.”

IN SAN DIEGO, Houston has a new top four of Washington State, Miami, Nebraska and Oregon State. All have offered, in addition to several other schools. Houston could play either receiver or defensive back at the next level, with WR his preference. Miami has offerd him as a corner, with WSU, Oregon State and Nebraska like him more as a receiver.”I like everything about Washington State,” said Houston. “From academics to playing on the field.”Houston trips to Washington State the weekend of November 11, saying the academics and football program will be equal considerations when making his choice.

SINGING WITH THE Cougs in 2004, Dillon says WSU is his clear leader but he’s keeping his options open.Arizona has suddenly jumped head first into the fray, offering Dillon in writing the day after he returned from his WSU trip. Stoops and crew are trying to schedule an official visit to Tucson for Dillon the weekend of December 9.

ONE POSITION OF need is cornerback with two senior starters and unproven depth on the WSU roster. Among the top prep targets are Long Beach’s Vincent Joseph, Carney and Ingram-Lyle. From the junior college ranks, Walker has a WSU offer and Justin Tryon, Walker’s teammate and fellow corner might garner one before it’s all said and done.Vincent would be a very good get and the Cougs have made up ground. An outstanding corner with skills, confidence and a good head on his shoulders, Joseph had a great visit to Washington State. Oregon retains a slight lead while nearby USC has been imploring him to wait to make his decision while they decide if they will offer. He visits Eugene next weekend. That trip will go a long ways towards deciding where he plays his college ball.”Washington State has really, really moved up in my rankings,” said Vincent. “It’s basically what I know. What I’ll do is compare when I take my trip to Oregon.”

RECEIVING A WRITTEN offer from the UW this past Tuesday was Ingram-Lyle. He says his final four are now Washington State, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon.”They’re all even because they all present different opportunities,” said Ingram-Lyle.Running down his four finalists, Ingram-Lyle said felt comfortable on his Oregon visit earlier this year, that Wisconsin looks poised to compete for the next several years, Washington State has a very high graduation rate among their players and he believes Tyrone Willingham will be successful at Washington.”It’s important to me that I get my degree and I’m not just saying that to say that, or just some cliché I’m just throwing out there,” said Ingram-Lyle. “And Washington State has a reputation of sending their DBs to the NFL and not only do they send them to the NFL, they actually play and are starting. And coach Willingham, given the chance, I feel he will turn that program around. It’s a matter of if they give him the opportunity to build that program because he’s basically starting from scratch.”

Ingram-Lyle’s rescheduled trip to WSU is this weekend, he visits Wisconsin Dec. 15 and plans on scheduling a visit to Washington. He’ll be a corner at the next level but in the game he sprained his MCL, (he is scheduled to return to the field this weekend), Ingram-Lyle had about 280 yards of total offense in just over three quarters, including 96 and 86 yard kickoff returns for touchdowns and a 59 yard touchdown reception. He also had seven tackles.”I was having the game of my life,” said Ingram-Lyle.

NOT MUCH HAS changed for Carney over the last few weeks, other than scheduling a trip to Iowa State for the weekend of Dec. 9. He holds offers from Washington State, Iowa State, Wyoming and Northern Colorado. Carney hasn’t heard from nearby Colorado lately, but continues to get calls once a week from all the schools who’ve offered.”I won’t start picking frontrunners until I actually go the the school because I don’t want to make any early judgments before seeing what the school is like,” said Carney. “Just the feel of it will be important. I just want to make sure everything feels genuine, I feel comfortable and it’s a family environment.”Through eight games, Carney has 72 tackles, including 45 solo, and two interceptions for Mullen High. He’s also the gunner on punt coverage and has made a pair of touchdown saving tackles coming from the other side of the field.”It’s nice to hawk a guy down,” said Carney.

NOTES:Jeffrey Solomon‘s calling at the next level looks to be at wide receiver, but the Seattle product has quarterbacked his Ingraham High team to a 8-1 record and has played a pretty mean safety this season. Ingraham’s been a wasteland for both winning seasons and Div-IA talent in recent years but coach Anthony Carter has done a phenomenal job developing Solomon, Mondala Green, Myron Beck and others and WSU and others are taking notice. WSU already has Keith Rosenberg in the crimson fold at receiver and signing Dillon, Stephen Carr, Houston and Lucas would be a pretty big coup, so a sleeper like Solomon is someone who could very well garner a WSU offer later in the recruiting season.Unless something changes, and rather dramatically so, Washington State appears unlikely to offer a quarterback this cycle. While conventional wisdom says to sign a QB every recruiting class, the amount of talent on the WSU depth chart at the position coupled with some significant needs at other spots makes it unlikely the Cougs sign a signal caller.

A look back at the 2002 class

The heart of any good team is almost always the fourth and fifth-year players. If you look at the Cougars’ recruiting class of 2002, all of whom are either fourth-year juniors or seniors or departed JC guys, the Cougars aren’t getting a lot of contribution from them right now.Of the class of 25, only three are turning heads in 2005: Nick Mihlhauser, Scott Davis and Adam Braidwood. Two others are in the starting line up and coming along, Steve Dildine and Eric Frampton. (Dildine has been making a surge of late, and by the end of the year, might be considered as one who “turned heads” this season.) And Don Turner and Jesse Taylor are also contributing.But injuries have limited Cody Boyd, Chris Jordan and Matt Mullennix. Each of those players have shown the ability to be special — but only when healthy, obviously. Brian Hall, Odell Howard have so far been unable to step up and seize the opportunity. Spencer Hollison has had a few flashes but has been unable to earn any significant measure of playing time.

But here’s the kicker. Seven members — that’s nearly 30 percent of the class — washed out in one form or another: Flamingo Malone, Robert Franklin, Aaron Ware, Lionel Arnold, Wes Rainwater, Kevin Sperry and Carl Bonnell. Four out of the six JC transfers did well — Jonathan Smith, Don Jackson, Sammy Moore and Jermaine Greene — but, as is the downside with JC guys, one of those years is usually spent climbing the learning curve and you only have them for two — the JC talent from this class is all long gone here in 2005.

So there you have it. Maybe a big explanation as to why things have been bleak this year, and why so many young kids have played early. And maybe, just maybe, the success of the ’03, ’04 and ’05 classes will show themselves over the next 3 years?