Response to Lawson – 8/23

1) THIS IS THE WORST HANDLING OF A QB SITUATION SINCE GARCIA V. BLEDSOE V. WHOMEVER…JUST AWFUL. That said, I am not surprised about the Brink thing, although I am surprised that things have gone this far, and that is where I think staff has just blown it. I mean, if you wanted Brink to be the QB in the first place, then he should have been named after scrimmage #1 or maybe even scrimmage #2 when all reports indicated he was ahead. As is, you now have Swoggs getting better and better to the point that he outshines Brink in scrimmage #3. So now, you have a real squabble on your hands and instead of taking a momentum guy who was your pre-camp #1, you’re then showing your hidden intentions by naming Brink instead of the guy you named #1 (who you HAD to know would get better with more reps). Whatever. The main thing, just like last year, is that both guys have been around the offense and both have seen it BROUGHT at them by the Pac-10…so it isn’t gonna be like there’s no experience there….

I actually disagree here. I think they have gone about it the right way, really, provided they didn’t have hidden intentions. Based on what that coach said a few weeks ago, really either the staff was/is split on who should start, or Swogger truly has had a below-average camp while Brink has stepped up his game both physically and mentally and is showing what the coaches want to see. You wanna see bad? Look back to the Degrenier/Deeds/Etc days. Although I’ll admit it, that was less about decisions and more about a serious lack of talent!

Either way, there is breaking news – Doba told KJR that the decision has now been made. TONIGHT, the coaches will sit down with both QB’s and explain their decision, and the story could break tonight or tomorrow. Doba did go on to say that both QB’s would “most likely” play against Idaho, but there will be a clear starter and backup situation. They have said from day one that they want a starter, and they don’t want the lines blurred, so they are making the decision. I’m personally glad they didn’t drag it out any further, as in what UW is doing right now with their derby in which nobody is doing anything to grab the job, so at least we’re further along than they are.

My prediction? Two days ago I would have picked Brink, but then when you read the last two days, Swogger is improving (at least according to the press) while Brink is staying about the same. And, in reading between the lines, Doba says he wants efficiency. That’s one thing Swoggs has done this pre-season, and that’s take care of the ball. He hasn’t thrown many picks, and while the team has moved under Brink, he has turned the ball over. Plus, if you remember, last year it wasn’t just the bad throws, but he put the ball on the carpet A LOT. I don’t know the numbers, but I know for sure I saw at least 3 games where he turned it over on sacks. Him being bigger and stronger will help, but he still appears to turn the ball over.

I’m going to now predict, in a very tight race, that Swoggs will actually be named the starter…….but big ‘ol Josh better not get too comfortable. If he lays an egg at, say, Nevada, they will pull his ass and it’s the Alex Brink era vs. Grambling and beyond.

Also, tonight at 5:30 PM, the dynamic running back from Mead, Skyler Jessen, will announce his college plans. His finalists are OSU and WSU, but no official inside word where’ll he’ll end up. There was one thing I read last week that said it was a “slight lean” to the Beavs and he was blown away by his visit, but he also just visited the Cougs again so we’ll see. He is announcing two weeks early, though, he was going to announce after Labor Day but changed his mind and is ready to pull the trigger. HOPEFULLY it’s WSU, being the announcement is in Spokane? Might be good news. It would be nice to get a big-name kid in a big announcement on TV and all. Heck, he could be a serious celebrity in Spokane. Imagine spending xmas break in Spokane as the starting tailback for WSU? If he’s into that, of course. 🙂

2) The Cougfan.com preview was simply great and I think the first REAL insider preview of the conference and its real key games. Did you see that the Beavs play ASU before us while we are resting with a bye. I tell you, THAT game is our season…win and we are 8-3 at worst…lose and I think were 5-6 to 7-4 with 6-5 being the probability.

I agree on the predictions, and the OSU game is THE swing game of the year. You are right and you have been all year, man, win that one, and there is a very good chance to be 6-0 going into Cal, or to dream further, 7-0 going in to USC? Wow. Just get through these first 3 games without major injuries undefeated, and I’ll take my chances! But, I do disagree, we will NOT go 5-6 again. I think the worst possible scenario is 6-5, and that’s if things go bad. I really see 8-3, with a Sun or Vegas bowl .

3) Saw a lot of the King Felix highlights…my dad (former all-state catcher in Ohio, seriously), who now has a summer place in Sequim, says that he reminds him of a young Pedro Martinez in Freddy Garcia’s body. After watching the highlights I couldn’t agree more…the 12-6 hook is really something, but nothing like the 97 mph gas that moves JUST like Pedro’s stuff used to…And ya, the 8th inning stuff was STUPID…we get 2 runs to tie the game up in the 7th, he holds to become the pitcher of record and then we throw him out there in the 8th with everything to lose…so he gets his ERA knocked down .15 by pitching that scoreless 8th, but who the f cares??? Absolutely horrible managing…simply put: until it matters (like a pennant race), that kid should NEVER throw over 110 pitches…but man what stuff….

Glad you got a good look at that kid’s stuff. Some of those curve balls are just freaky. Great comparison, too, Pedro’s stuff (with better velocity) and Freddy’s windup, yet as Bill Kruegor points out, a more fluid, repeatable delivery so the strain won’t be on that arm. A nice, big frame too, no 5-10 Pedro stuff here, he’s a horse.

Man what a star he can become with that stuff, and the best thing of all that they’ve been talking about? His makeup. Here we’ve seen him, twice, just battle in the first inning, but you know what? He minimizes the damage when he’s trying to find himself, basically getting by without his best stuff, and then it’s lights-out. He doesn’t get down on himself and things just don’t go to hell. That’s probably going to be the book on him, get on him early or else once he settles into a groove, he’s Pedro all over again. Since we’ve seen him scuffle in the first inning of two of his first five starts, that might be a trend. From what I’ve been able to read, that was more or less what the deal was with him in AAA. There are also theories that he was simply bored with AAA and knew he could get by for a while without his best stuff, he truly is THAT good and certainly that much better than guys several years older than him. Then you think about 16 singles, period, that’s just unreal. Still no extra-base hits in 30 IP!

4) My buddy here says that word around the NBA is that the KINGS are the BIG winners so far in the offseason and that Phoenix is the big loser….He says that Kings management thinks they are still behind Houston and Dallas and WAY behind the Spurs, but that they will get on of the top 3 seeds cuz of the division…I REALLY question their backcourt depth, but I am not sure I disagree…..must see on the Wilkins front + Dale Davis….very interesting on the Supes front and MAN is it quiet, or what?

I know, more Kings stuff. I’ll say this – on PAPER at least – they look like they could be a very good regular season offensive team. Will that get them a 3-seed? Hard to say. Shareef has been declining in every key category the last few years, and he’s had some health issues, so he’s no sure thing to roll out a 20-10 every night. But in the west when it’s wide open play during the regular season and teams pick and choose the games in which they’ll actually play serious defense, they are made to score a lot of points. They aren’t what Phoenix was last year, and they won’t be as good as some of George’s best teams up here, but they do have a legit shot at a high seed. BUT, it’s all paper, and bulletin board – chat room stuff right now, let’s see how these guys acutally play together first before we predict 58 wins and a division championship!

Dale Davis is a Piston, but it appears the Supes will match on Damien. They are holding Minnesota hostage for this week but the rumor is they’ll match at the last moment. Locke said so, at least, and he’s pretty accurate. Anyway, Damien and Vitaly will be back, and they are just sitting around letting Reggie, Flip and Vladi try to get great deals, but it ain’t gonna happen. I think for sure we’ll see Vladi and Flip back, but I don’t know about Reggie. I know you LOVE the guy, but doesn’t it at least say something that a player like that hasn’t even been rumored to be close to deal with ANY other team? I don’t think the rest of the NBA cares too much for him, or else he would have been snatched up by now, especially when you look at the free agents still available. So this lineup will be the team next year:

Rid – Brunson
Ray – Flip – Damien
Rashard – Vladi – Damien
Collison – Fortson – Vladi
Vitaly – Collison – Swifty

I’m down with it.

By the way, Locke says be prepared for a LOT of Vladi and Rashard on the floor at the same time, especially in the 4th quarter, with Collison playing the 5. Defensively that leaves something to be desired, but offensively? Phew! Pick your poison. I’d like to see Shareef have to run out to the 3-point line with Vladi toeing the line! Also means a ton of wide-open looks for Rid! Let’s not overlook the FACT that the Sonics have a SUPERSTAR 2-guard in his absolute prime, something they’ve never really had. We were lucky to get the best of GP and the best of Shawn, but we always lacked at that MJ-type 2-guard. Well, Ray ain’t MJ, but honestly, outside of Kobe’s pure scoring ability, I don’t think there’s a 2-guard in the west I’d rather have than Ray. Ginobli? He’s a GREAT player, not good, GREAT, but can he carry a team on his own without an all-star at the 4? Doubtful. Carmelo? Rashad McCants? Bonzi Wells??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You saw it in the playoffs last year, there’s no better feeling to know that you have a guy that absolutely, positively WILL TAKE and WILL MAKE that shot you need in a tight situation! That was always the biggest knock on the George Karl teams until GP grew up, and that was as talented as they were, nobody wanted the ball with the game on the line. Well, we’ve got that guy the next 5 years.

5) Could the Fleehawks be sneaking up on us…Telling you, with the 49ers on the schedule twice, they only need to go .500 on the rest of the schedule to go 9-7. I’m thinking 10-6 and a real street fight for the playoffs…Thoughts?

The Hawks looked sloppy last night, but that’s ok. It’s just preseason, and that’s expected to happen, especially since they just broke camp and are in Kirkland for the first time. Really, I don’t care if you lose 63-0 in the preseason, just survive and look decent with your 1’s, and I’ll take it. I will say this, though, they look a lot better defensively. Younger, faster, more enthusiasm, and best of all, a serious push up the middle with Tubbs and Darby combined with quickness and intensity off the edge with Wistrom and Fisher. They were much stronger against the run last night with their 1’s vs. Dallas and their 1’s, and Julius Jones against the revamped D really didn’t do anything until the starters were out of there. Quite a contrast to last year, no?

If they improve from 26th to, say, 15th on D, with that offense, I think they are easily 10-6, maybe even 11-5 or 12-4. I know, I know, I bought in after the Green Bay playoff game and predicted Super Bowl last year but I drank the cool-aid like everyone else with that smoke-n-mirrors start to the season. They had some really bad seeds and Ruskell has weeded them out. Plus they were brutally injured on defense last year, where at one point they only had 3 starters penciled in during training camp actually ACTIVE FOR THE PLAYOFF GAME, and that’s huge in the NFL. They say yeah, but injuries are a part of the NFL, everyone deals with them, blah blah blah. I tell you what, you take 8 starters off the Patriots or Eagles D from last year, and do you really see them in the Super Bowl? No way.

6) LAST WEEK WITHOUT COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!!!! iTS ALMOST HERE.

Just about 1 week away! I’ll be in San Diego tomorrow through Friday, then I’ll be in Priest Lake on vacation all of next week. I’ll have my cell phone with me, so give me a call Thursday night after the Cougs win 54-17!