S.Review – WSU corners under the spotlight

First, before I get the WSU story up, HOW ABOUT FELIX!?!?

8 IP (again)
99 pitches (2nd start in a row under 100 pitches yet still 8 IP)
67 strikes, 32 balls, continuing a better than 2-1 strike-ball ratio
11 K’s
1 BB
3 hits – ALL singles (one of which was an infield single)

Absolutely FILTHY all night. His 11 K’s are the first teenager to fan more than 10 in a game since Doc Gooden in 1984 (Kerry Wood was 20 when he got his 20-K game). Go to MLB.com and check out the recap, and watch the 1+ minute video on him. Some of the pitches he throw are not of this earth. The curve he strikes out Joe McEwing is amazing, McEwing actually dropped to one knee he buckled so much!

One more thing that is really interesting – 21 IP on the year, 21 K’s, 3 BB’s, 11 hits, 2 ER. Pretty impressive. Then consider this – ALL 11 HITS ARE SINGLES! In fact, a Baseball Prospectus writer wrote today that 9 of the 11 hits were ground-ball singles that bounced within 3 feet of the plate, and that there hasn’t been a single ball hit yet that even came close to being a double/triple/hr. In fact, not a single ball has yet to be hit that even made the warning track. Just amazing. And, his 1 ER last night should not have been an ER at all. Mike Morse botched two double-play chances in the 8th inning, when he was extremely slow getting the ball out of his glove and Yuni had no chance to turn two. It was VERY frustrating, and last night was a perfect example as to why Morse should be a DH/LF, and NOT a shortstop! 2-run HR and a double, but can’t field a valuable defensive position, period.

Here’s a good write-up from espn.com about his start last night. Just think what the hype would be if he were throwing for the Yanks or Mets or Red Sox?? There would be 1-hour specials, interviews with his kindergarten teacher, you name it.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=schoenfield/050816&num=0

Now, the Review’s write-up on our DB’s. Encouraging that they are doing well, yet this is a green group. We should have the luxury of a strong pass rush with the D-line, plus blitzing LB’s like Davis and Derting that have a clue about how to get to the QB. :

PULLMAN – They know full-well that they sit in the bull’s-eye of every critic and opponent they’ll face this over the course of the fall. They’re aware that for every touchdown they allow people will grumble about inexperience — and worse, inability.

And, with just more than two weeks left until the 2005 season starts, the cornerbacks of Washington State don’t really seem to care.

“We don’t have all those blue-chip players like USC has or anybody else like that but we work hard over the summer to be as good an athlete as we can,” said senior corner Alex Teems, the one established link on the outside of the Cougar defense entering this season. “Right now, we’re doing well in camp and hopefully the hard work will pay off.”

With an improved front seven returning and an offense that seems poised to put more points on the board this fall, the concerns over this year’s team have fallen in the laps of WSU’s cornerbacks, who will soon be charged with covering the likes of Trojan star Dwayne Jarrett and Arizona State speed-demon Derek Hagan, among others.

The concern largely stems from the fact that Teems, who started for the first time last year, has little dependable help on the other side of the field – and for that matter, didn’t always blanket receivers himself in 2004.

Omowale Dada and Don Turner have limited playing experience – Dada made one start last fall because of an injury – and they will be the ones sharing the onus on the opposite side of the field.
“I think that Wally and Donny Turner are both doing a good job,” secondary coach Ken Greene said. “I’m real pleased with the progress they’ve made and I’d be real comfortable if things stay as they are right now that we’d be able to rotate all three of those guys around so they all stay fresh.”

In reputation, both Dada (not athletic enough) and Turner (too many injuries) have their faults. But Greene said both have impressed this fall, and went especially far to defend his fifth-year senior, who is the likely starter opposite Teems.

“Every year Wally continues to impress me with his ability to keep pushing that ceiling up,” he said. “He’s a very heady player, he’s jumping better, he’s running better, he’s leaner this year. I think he’s a legitimate Pac-10 corner and I wouldn’t have said that probably two years ago, maybe last year.”

When asked about the importance of cornerbacks in the defensive scheme he helped piece together as a coordinator, head coach Bill Doba launched into an explanation of how the cornerbacks’ abilities can affect the types of defenses WSU can play on every down. Long story short, he and the Cougar defensive staff knows that poor corner play means few options in a game plan. And that can easily spell doom on Saturdays.

Behind the top three corners are two unprovens, freshman Ian Bell – who’s currently battling an ankle problem – and junior college transfer Lorenzo Bursey, an offensive player thus far in college. Doba said Bursey is making the transition well, but he still stands just one or two offensive injuries away from going back to wide receiver.

Once again, it seems, the cornerbacks find themselves on an island.
“What we may lack supposedly in size and speed on paper, we make up in heart and togetherness,” Dada said. “We all work together and we’re all on the same page on every single play.

“We’re going to go harder than every other team, every other player on the field. We’re ready. It’s exciting, because people can look down upon us, but we love being the underdog coming out and knocking somebody out.”

NOTES
WSU is down a couple of running backs because of a pair of injuries. Sophomore Jed Collins fractured his left thumb during Thursday’s practice but didn’t report the pain to trainers until Sunday. He’s currently in a cast and able to participate in limited workouts during practice. -Freshman runner DeMaundray Woolridge, who showed off some nice moves in Saturday’s first scrimmage, has a right knee sprain that’s keeping him out of practice. The injuries mean Kevin McCall and freshman Dwight Tardy, along with senior fullback Brandon Asuega-Stark, are the primary options behind starter Jerome Harrison.