Football Friday on a Thursday, Week Eleven of 2013


Football Friday on a Thursday, Week Eleven of 2013

Welcome to another bye week, folks, and a much needed breather from the 4 alarm fire that this season has become the last three weeks. We are now left hoping that our season will end up as one we will remember as a “roller coaster”. Usually that is not a term of endearment for a season that takes fans on wild ride of crazy ups and maddening downs. But for us, it is the best we can hope for. Being that we find ourselves currently mired in a very deep “down” with only 3 games to play, a “roller coaster” season would require one of two things… 2 more wins to achieve bowl eligibility, or a win in the Apple Cup like last year. If the football Gods would just bless us with one of those, LO THERE WOULD BE MUCH REJOICING!

Football Friday on a Thursday, Week Eleven of 2013

Can I get a “Go Cougs!”?

Alright, enough fantasizing, lets make some picks…

Longballs Locks:

My only prediction for our Cougs this week is that they will wish Bill Moos will hurry up and get that new indoor facility built. Lookin kinda chilly on the Palouse these days.

Oregon 42, Stanford 24

On a Thursday night in front of a national audience the Ducks will put the Pac-12 North to bed for good. Terrible week for Stanford to be without one of their top defenders.

USC 33, Cal 17

Tricky test for USC who has found new life under Ed Orgeron, but is still brutally thin in some key areas. Cal showed some fight last week, but I can’t imagine it continuing with the attrition they’ve suffered.

ASU 38, Utah 21

Rice-Eccles has become one of the tougher road tests in the conference and this is a matchup of the two biggest Jekyl and Hyde acts in the conference when it comes to road vs. home games. Still, ASU seems to be hitting their stride and I expect them to have enough to pull away.

UW 55, Colorado 14

Wanna get your season back on track? Try a home game against the Buffs. Huskies should look like who we thought they were before their recent tailspin.

UCLA 35, Zona 21

The Cats are a sneaky contender in the South, but UCLA will silence their bid to get noticed.

Enjoy the games, folks, and since the Cougs aren’t playing, Go Buffs!


SeanHawk sez:


Happy Football Friday on Thursday Cougs.  Here's hoping things are good.  For yours truly I'm absolutely buried with real-life stuff at the moment, nothing I can't handle but still it's kind of a crazy time with work and home stuff.  Not complaining, of course, life is GREAT and all that but it sure is busy at the moment!  This is a crazy time for me at work, and from now through the end of the year you go into survival mode and try to get 1) as much done as you possibly can, 2) as fast as you possibly can, and 3) without mistakes!  But no pressure….just my career, that's all.  


But seriously, I've got a really good job with a software company with a stock price in the 150's, and it's a cool, progressive company that shows it's employees a lot of respect.  It's a company that has been in the top 100 places to work from Fortune for the last few years, including a top-10 finish last year, so people are very happy there.  And my company pays for 100% of medical, dental and vision for me and my wife and kids.  With healthcare the hot-button topic du jour/hot MESS of the day, well, I can tell you without any doubt that getting a "full ride" from your company without a penny of out-of-pocket for you and your family is a huge perk that we all appreciate every single time we go to the doctor.


Enough of that.  We are back for another post, which is happening far too infrequently these days.  But what can we do?  We all have jobs, we are all busy, it's tough to find the time.  I know before I said that if you want to do something you'll find a way?  I still think the "want" just isn't where it used to be.


But I think part of that is simply because of the way this season has rolled on.  As Longball pointed out above, it's been a roller coaster, no question, but it's been a real "down" part of the coaster since the OSU loss.  I thought a lot about that one, and while different in terms of how that loss went down?  I couldn't help but feel like that OSU loss was similar to the Colorado loss last year, where high expectations came to a screeching halt in dramatic fashion.  But the OSU loss this year, I think that was the tipping point for the Leach/Halliday haters to really explode on message boards and social media.  Sure, many of them held back when the team was winning, maybe whispering quietly in the dark or posting some sort of passive-aggressive comment on a blog or something like that.  But once the wheels start falling off, they have come out into the light and the debate continues to rage.  Is Halliday the guy?  Is the program doomed under Leach?  And it's pretty clear to me anyway that as long as this team continues to lose games, the dissension will only grow louder.

I can't help but question everything either at this point if you want to know the truth.  I have been DOWN on our defense and felt like we were in big trouble starting with the OSU game, as I continue to see a unit that is big on some decent size but lacking some real athleticism in the back seven, Deone Bucannon the obvious exception.  And once we started to run into some of the more talented offenses in the conference, offenses that are designed to spread you out and gash you in areas you can't defend, well, it's been 50 points and several hundred yards per game along the way.

But my biggest concern is Leach and the approach on offense.  I do now worry about a scheme that just won't run the ball and make defenses pay for what they are trying to do, and I know I downplayed that part earlier in the year when it was brought up about a lack of a running game.  But after reading a bunch of articles about how effective Baylor has been for example, in that their approach is to spread you out to the extreme and then beat you multiple ways based on what you are giving as a defense, which includes a commitment to the ground game if that's what the defense is going to allow?  It got me thinking that once you get deep into conference play and not only are the teams you are playing more familiar with what you do, but the caliber of athletes you are facing on defense are a notch higher than the Southern Utah's and Idaho's of the world, will all this work???  I just wonder if over the long haul how you can get away with being so one-dimensional.  


Granted that Leach has more passing game knowledge in a single follicle of hair on his head compared to what I'll ever know in my entire brain.  But I have seen a one-dimensional offense struggle to hang with the better defenses this year.  And for the first time I really find myself questioning the entire approach – can you beat the really good teams in conference play without running the ball?  


One thing that should change going forward however is that the running game will hopefully improve over time??  At least that's what a lot of people are thinking at the moment, that it will be OK down the line.  The linemen Leach has been recruiting are supposedly what they are looking for, and so maybe the QB of the future will have more comfort checking in to more running plays and the like as the program continues to rebuild.  And who knows, maybe they will start to demand from the QB to not check out of what looks like a good running situation with more experience and time in the system?  I guess we'll find out but it sure isn't a whole lot of fun getting blown out every week!


On to this week's games:


Oregon 40, Stanford 17

DAT's 40-point prediction comes true, while the Kevin Hogan doubters can start forming a line out the door (seriously, watch Hogan closely in this game.  Watch some of his accuracy issues on the intermediate throws, and some of his throwing mechanics.  The guy has some issues, and Stanford's lack of speed at the skill positions will be a glaring contrast to what Oregon rolls out tonight).

USC 38, Cal 23

SC is rolling, although they just lost another good player on defense.  Still, they will have more than enough to handle the worst team in the conference this year.

ASU 42, Utah 21

Agree with Longball that Utah can be a tough place to play for the road team, but the Utes don't have the manpower to hang with the Devils.  And with what Utah has rolled out at QB lately, how can they keep pace with this ASU team clicking on both sides of the ball??  A close game early turns into an ASU runaway late.

UW 37, Colorado 17

Nice end of a two-game swing for UW through the two worst teams in the Pac-12 (Cal the last game, CU this week, both at home).  Lots of talk of "WE'RE BACK!" and all that after UW improves to 6-3, but we'll see what happens the rest of the way.  I had UW at 9-3 before the year started, but it gets real again when they have to travel to UCLA next week.

UCLA 45, Zona 27

AZ showed some holes last week by letting a downtrodden Cal team hang around, and that spells doom-n-gloom vs a much better UCLA team.  Brett Hundley goes OFF in this one!


All for now.  Enjoy the bye week, and GO COUGS!



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