Tuesday, September 29, 2009

M's Clinch .500. Celebrate Good Times!...I Will

2008 was a tough year for being a Seattle Sports fan, there wasn't a franchise or program that wasn't abysmal or stolen from us. Even with the Hawks going 4-12 and the Dawgs going 0-12 the Mariners and their $110 million payroll for 101 losses stuck out as the clearest example of pure fail.

Coming off a solid season prior, many fans felt the addition of Erik Bedard via trade would be the key to success in '08. People hoped the acquisition of a "true number one" was the final piece to make this team a contender, paving the way for domination. Instead it turned out to be one of the worst trades ever. So terrible in fact that it caused many fans to actively forget about the Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb trade.

The M's were in such a terrible state of disrepair after Bill Bavasi's tenure it seemed that there truly was no floor. I felt that no matter who was hired as the next GM they would have a Chernobyl sized clean-up in front of them. Fans seemed resigned themselves to the idea of a long rebuild. Enter Jack Zduriencik.

As a former Director of Player Personnel for the Brewers many in the blogosphere, including myself, worried that Zduriencik was too much of an old school GM when hired. With a solid field of up and coming stat-oriented candidates Zduriencik seemed too scout oriented to complete the overhaul needed to make the M's decent again. Feeling wrong never felt so right.

Tonight, with King Felix making his second to last start(ever?), the M's won their 81st game this year, ensuring a .500 record for the season. I, for one, am at Billy Mays on the excite-o-meter. My beloved M's seem to be building towards something good. FINALLY!!

Equipped with the best defense in the league-a full 20 runs better than the next best team- and possibly the best defense of the decade, a pitching staff and line-up(however impotent) built for the stadium it look to have a solid foundation for the future. The upgrades all over the team have added 20(!!!) wins so far to this season's total all thanks to Jack Zduriencik.

I am very excited to see what moves he makes over the winter to upgrade the offense and tweak the bullpen. Seeing what he has done so far I expect nothing less than a philosophers stone type move of turning Carlos Silva into Albert Pujols somehow. I kid, but I know there will be some move he does that has me standing and cheering when I get the news, even if it's in the middle of class.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stanford Goes Mike Vick on Dawgs in Palo Alto

There have been many litmus tests for the coaching staff so far this season. The LSU game was a test to see how these new-look Dawgs would fair against a perennial power from the SEC. Despite the loss most eveyone would say that was a test the Dawgs passed. Next came Idaho, could the coaching staff, that had everyone patting them on the back for a good loss the week before, get their kids ready to play against an also ran of college football. A strong win in front of the home crowd, the first in almost two years, gave them a pass for the test. Then came USC. It was Coach Sark's chance to go against his mentor and his always high-powered Trojans. Another test passed. After the win catapulted the dawgs into the top 25 since god knows when there was another test to pass. Could the coaching staff keep the team focused on the road after a big win and get a win against an up and comer in the conference? That answer was a resounding "FUCK NO!"

The Dawgs played poorly from the start yielding a touchdown on the opening kick of, a rather ominous start to the game. Things went downhill from there. The Dawgs defense that had stiffened against the vaunted running games of LSU and USC provided as much resistance as Jeramy Stevens' date at a frat party. Big Toby Gerhart rumbled to the tune of 200 yards rarely finding anybody to run over til at least the second level. Though on one run he ran through a couple weak arm tackles on his way for a 60 yard touchdown.

The pass defense didn't fair too much better. Oh sure, they didn't give up near as many yards but when you're running the ball the way Stanford was you can get away with having your quarterback go 7/14 as Andrew Luck did. The dawgs might not have forced luck to throw as much as they had hoped but when he did throw it was on roll outs or off of play action. With the Stanford running game giving UW a Lexington Steele like pounding any play action was bit hard on and left Stanford players wide open for the reception.

After a decent looking first half marred by a single interception Jake came crashing down faster than the crew of the Challenger. Yes, he was hurried, but even when he wasn't his passes seemed to lack the certainty of prior games and his decision making was off as he tried to force the ball to his receivers to make plays. This is why Jake shouldn't leave for the NFL after this season, contrary to what all the talking heads were saying about him last week.

One thing that had seemed to be the hallmark of this new coaching staff through the first three games was their ability to make adjustments at half-time and learn from first half mistakes. Going into the half I had faith in the coaching staff that they could figure out how to stop the run and get some points on the board to erase the 10 point deficit. That was not to be the case tonight. The Dawgs got run over just as bad in the second half as they did the first. In fact they failed to even score the entire second half. Which is damn shameful. It's not like Stanford has an elite defense that should be able keep the number of UW offensive playmakers out of the endzone. And yet they did.

In my mind, if a team can beat USC they should be able to beat anyone in the Pac-10. That didn't happen this week and that worries me. Hopefully this terrible loss will allow the coaches to go hard on their players this week to make sure there is not a repeat performance this week as the Dawgs head to South Bend to play Notre Dame and Charlie Weiss's FUPA.

Oregon Is Killing My Stiffy!!

What is the opposite of a schadenfreude hard-on? Whatever it is that is what Oregon has been doing to me lately. I can't say I appreciate it too much either.

After their nationally televised implosion against Boise State it seemed Oregon was in for a dark season. They lost arguably their best player in LaGarrette Blount, head coach Chip Kelly looked like he dropped a load in his size 12 huggies overnights during his debut, and Newly minted AD and former headcoach Mike Belotti stalked the sidelines unable to relinquish the reins of the program. I was loving every second of it.

The next week Oregon barely managed to get past a weak Purdue team. It was a sloppy game on both sides and Oregon was lucky to have come out of the game with a win. Belotti was still down on the sidelines and not in his AD's booth. He continued to tell anyone who would listen about what the problems were that were haunting the Ducks. Despite the win I could smell blood. This was a weak team due for collapse at any given moment. Too bad they just kept winning.

After coming out of another sloppy game against an overrated Utah team with a win I was certain of one thing. This Saturday, against the Cal Golden Bears, Oregon would meet it's gruesome demise. I could picture Oregon being swallowed whole by the Cal juggernaut. Sure, I knew Cal had QB issues but I just assumed possible Heisman front runner RB Jahvid Best would run over the Ducks and QB would not be a factor for BSU. How wrong I was.

Oregon beat the holy hell out of Cal. I mean they did Cal like Monica Belucci in "Irreversible". It was a grisly scene at Autzen Stadium with the mangled corpse of Cal laying there after a 42-3 mauling by the Ducks. It turned my stomach worse than a Luis Buñuel film. My head is still spinning with confusion.

How had this team that seemed destined to fall on black days and start it's slow descent to the bottom of the Pac-10 managed to not only pull out wins out of it's ass but to also dismantle a Top-10 team like Cal?

I wish I knew how this turnaround has occured. Sadly, all I really do know is that Oregon's success has left me flaccid. And that's no way to be.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Leroy Hill Out Til Week 8. Fans Rend Their Garments.

I remember for my 12th birthday my dad took me to Toys 'R' Us and told me to find a toy a 12 year old would like. I figured this was his fucked up way of telling me to pic out my present. Vague directions such as these were nothing new, my dad was often rather indirect about what he wanted. It was easier for him to get mad later that way. Anyway, I frantically searched up and down the aisles for my present, admiring action figures, looking over board games, ogling legos. Then I found it, my excalibur, a Nerf Ballzooka. 8 barrels of ball blasting menace sure to make me the king of all Nerf wars. I was stoked. I could already imagine the pwnage I would inflict upon my opponents. I could picture them running from a hail of little yellow Nerf balls.

I took my prize up to my dad, doing my best not to lose my cool from my excitement. He brought it up to the cash register, paid for it, took it out to his Blazer and put it in the back. There it remained for weeks, mocking me. Every time I got into the back seat I would inevitably look into the back seat and see the ballzooka sitting there in it's box just waiting to be used. Every time I'd look at it and get depressed thinking of all the cool things I could be doing with it. My dad eventually gave it to one of those buy a present for a needy kid places in the mall.

Losing Leroy Hill for 8 weeks after just a few plays in the first game reminds me exactly of this situation. Hill was to be a integral part of the new look West Coast defense. His blitzing and ability to track down plays in the backfield made him an intriguing weapon for D coordinator Gus Bradley. Now Bradley has to sit and watch as hill stands on the sideline with a groin injury. He'll probably cast a longing glance at what he can't have, much like a 12 year old me. The difference is Bradley gets Hill back after a few long weeks where as I never got my ballzooka.

UW Upsets #3 USC. Sark asks Carrol "How's My Ass Taste?"

Many Dawg fans believed that USC was vulnerable after last week's tough win over Ohio State. I, however, was not one of them. I'll admit that. I was afraid that USC would run us over and leave just a purple and goal smudge on their helmet.

Such fear was not unfounded. USC looked solid playing a tough OSU team on the road and coming out with a victory. UW, on the other hand had a lot tougher game with Idaho than the score would indicate. If not for a few costly mistakes by Idaho there might've been a game. The defense looked less than stellar and against a monster like USC not a mistake could be afforded.

The first drive by the Trojans did little to allay my fears. It took all of 6 plays, 80 yards and a little over two and a half minutes for USC to score the first touch down of the game. The Dawg's defense looked over matched against an elite O-Line as they were gashed for big yardage. It was the moment I feared. Playing an elite team that already had a tough game to get everything in line for I worried we wouldn't be able to sneak up on them like perhaps we did against LSU.

A quick three and out by the UW offense did little to instill confidence in me. I was close to slipping into the abyss of dejection after a Trojans field goal gave USC a 10-0 lead but was thankfully saved the next UW drive when Jake ran the ball in for the score. That drive kept the Dawgs more than close enough to feel confident about their chances. A game that seemed almost out of reach at 10-0 felt damn winnable tied at 10 going into the half.

Even then I worried, though. I should have felt ecstatic about the former 0-12 Dawgs hanging with a National Championship contender. Instead I knew that USC was a second half team. I'd see too often USC not play sharp in the first half against a lesser opponent only to steam roll them in the second half. I feared a disembowelment when the Trojans came down the the tunnel and took the field for the second half.

Luckily, what I saw was a defensive battle throughout the second half punctuated with USC turnovers. Key turnovers at that. It seemed everytime USC would get into scoring position they would magically turn the ball over to the defense. That's not to take anything away from the UW defense, they played out of their minds. Holding USC to 13 points is impressive no matter what but the turnovers were uncharacteristic of a Pete Carrol coached team.

What impressed me the most about that game, more than the defense coming through, more than special teams doing a great job on Joe McKnight, was the continuing development and stellar play of Jake Locker. USC might very well have had the best player at nearly any position. There was one position where UW had a clear advantage and that was at quarterback. Despite consistent pressure and taking hits like the sham-wow hooker, Jake looked poised throughout the game. He did his best to stay in the pocket and make USC pay for keeping a spy on him.

The 3rd and 15 will be a play forever remembered in Husky lore. It was a perfect example of Jake's using his legs to keep the play alive down the field where in years past he woulda just ran with it. When Jake started to get flushed out of the pocket he kept his eyes downfield and spotted Jermaine Kearse open down the sideline and hit him to convert the crucial first down.

Jake went 21/35 completing 60% of his passes against a tough Trojans defense. He made reads, put touch on his throws and all around looked like the savior he has hyped to be when he arrived down on Montlake. Jake very well could be the best QB in the conference and I think he has the tools in his playmakers to have a great season. Best of all he allowed Steve Sarkisian to ask his old boss "Pete, how's my ass taste?"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Woooo!!!!! Holy Fuck!! Wooooo!!! Dawgs beat #3 USC!!!
I say this without hyperbole, that has to be the biggest win since the Rose Bowl win over Michigan for the National Championship. On another note, Jake Locker very well might be the best QB in the Pac-10.
How crazy is it that a year ago Jake was shakier than a Sodo bum going through DT's when he's dropped back to pass and this year he's making throws with precision and confidence. The turn around is amazing and has to be attributed to the ability of the new coaching staff to actually teach unlike the last regime who seemed to feeling learning was done via osmosis.

I'll have more on this game later. But, for now, Go Huskies!!!!!! WOOF!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seahawks Pwn Rams in Season Opener

2009 marked the beginning of a new era for the Seattle Seahawks under head coach Jim Mora. As often is the case with new things people worried about the changes to the team. How would the offense fair without offensive mastermind and devourer of clams, Mike Holmgren? With John Marshall gone would that mean no more zero blitzes for the defense? And if that was indeed the case people wondered what new surefire play would the 'Hawks design to give up first downs? All these questions and more haunted 'Hawks fans until Sunday afternoon.

I doubt anybody really expected the Rams to be any good this year, even Rams fans. That said the 28-0 ravaging of St Louis was still damn impressive considering all that separated the two teams last year was one win. If not for a turnover filled 1st quarter the game would have been even more of a blowout.

After a rocky start Hass looked as comfortable as ever under center. Hell, there was a decent number of plays where Hass took snaps from the shotgun, something Mike Holmgren only occasionally let Matt audible into.

Overall the thing that impressed me the most, other than Aaron Curry absolutely leveling Stephen Jackson, knocking him off his feet before escorting him to the turf with his shoulder, was the creative new play calls on both side of the ball. This was not The Walrus' ordered yet predictable West Coast offense. In fact, I'm pretty sure Holmgren must have knocked over his bucket of clams in anger and astonishment on more than one occasion while watching the game.

The quintessential play that demonstrated how far the play calling has come since the old full back draw was run out of a Sea-Cat formation. Seneca Wallace lined up at QB in the shotgun with Hass out wide on his right. After receiving the snap Wallace threw the ball to Hass who faked like he was going to go upfield with it before he threw the ball back to Seneca who took off up the sideline for a huge gain.

I've opined for years that Seneca, while a decent back-up QB, could be so much more than that given the chance. Like Antwaan Randle-el but with a better arm. I often dreamed of all the crazy plays that could be designed to use Senecea's athleticism and sighed knowing Holmgren would never dare to risk injury to Seneca even if the gain from such plays far outweighed the chance at injury. Seeing my dreams materialize in front of my eyes like that gave me a lot of hope for this season and a lot of love for this new coaching staff.

The run game looked decent with Julius Jones breaking off a 62 yard run that showed he still had some of his old speed still in him. Edge was serviceable, plodding forward and taking what he was given while always falling forward. Justin Forsett looked solid as a 3rd down back and proved worthy of wearing Maurice Morris' old number, 20.

The receivers went all Jack the Ripper on the Rams secondary carving them up all day. TJ Houshmazode(championship!) looked like Bobby Engram 2.0 running crisp routes over the middle, absorbing contact and making good yards after the catch. Deon Butler caught a couple passes and threatened with his deep speed. The true star was Nate Burleson. Always a great athlete Nate struggled with the demanding precision that Holmgren's offense required. The new coaching staff recognized his talent and instead of trying to force him into a role for which he is not quite suited they are trying to develop a role that takes advantage of his strengths. Bubble screens, quick hitches and getting the ball out to him fast if his man plays off were all part of the new Burleson repetoire.

Remember when people complained John Carlson was slow? Well, how does the fact that a slow player got off for 6 catches, 95 yards and 2 tubs grab you? I loved JC last year. In a lost season his play was a savior. As he develops more of a rapport with Matt he will become even more of a monster.

Defense was solid. Some fools worried that the 'Hawks had shown too much of their new defensive schemes in the preseason and that once the season started teams would be ready for our defense. Like I said before, no one expected the Rams to be good or even decent but a shut out is damn satisfying. The depth of versatile players on the defense means the days of zero blitzes with Brian Russel left in cover-1 are over. And thank Christ for that.

I have faith that the 'Hawks can regain their winning ways this season and prove last year's 4-12 record was a fluke. With the way 'Hawks played yesterday the division title will be back in our hands by the end of the season. And that, friends, is always a good time

Sunday, September 13, 2009

College Football Round-up: Jim Tressel Shits His Sweater Vest, Charlie Weiss' Fupa Loses To Michigan, Chip Kelly Escapes to Lose Another Week

I fucking love College Football. I love it even more than I love the NFL. I love the crazy offenses. I love the spread options, the pistols, the triple options, none of which would you ever see in the Pros. I love all the conferences and big time programs and their storied histories. I love the great monuments to sport with names like The Horseshoe, Death Valley, and The Swamp. What isn't to love about stadiums that become the largest cities in their state on game day? But more than all that I love all the teams, and I love their coaches.

Or, I should say, love to hate their coaches. After watching Dave Wannstedt attempt to coach the Miami Dolphins years ago I made a vow that I never wanted to see him or his mustache succeed. Therefore, I hate Pitt. I was never a fan of Charlie Weis or his gunt in New England and I've always hated the chi-mo endorsing Golden Domers of Notre Dame. Now that they've joined together I can focus my dislike of them into a burning beam of hate like the sun through a magnifying glass. It doesn't matter who the head coach of Oregon is I will hate them til my heart turns black. Ohio State is much like Ben Affleck, their undeserved earlier success has led them to have a false sense of importance.

The fun thing with College Football is the preseason rankings which the networks hold up as the one true barometer of how good a team is before a single game is even played. As one might expect with such a flawed system teams are often vastly overrated in the season. Often times the overrated programs have coaches on my hate list which makes my hatred for that school/person that much more potent. I'll sit intently staring at the screen channeling my will hoping it will cause them to fail. And when they do, how sweet it is!!

Saturday and Saturday night provided so much fail I could hardly keep from ripping off my pants and masturbating I was so excited. Let's do a quick lengthy recap, shall we?

I was at the Dawg's game when Michigan upset Notre Dame and Charlie Weiss' FUPA in the waning seconds on Saturday. Despite my inability to see Notre Dame's demise, my heart grew two sizes knowing that ol' Uncle Charlie might not be long for the head coaching job at Notre Dame. You see Michigan has been terrible in recent years falling from perennially proud contender in the Big 10 to a team that lost to Appalachian State just two years ago. Then the school that was built on the tradition of the I formation and running over people decided to switch things up and hire the architect of West Viginia's high powered spread option offense, Rich Rodriguez.

Sad thing is, the current personnel of Michigan fit Rich-Rod's system like Oprah in Britney Spears' "Oops...I did it again!" cat suit. I thought the Wolverine-spread experiment was destined to fail and all signs seemed to be pointing that way. However, after a win against hated rival Notre Dame and the man whose gunt enters a room 5 minutes before he does Rich-Rod just bought himself more time. Conversely, Charlie Weiss and his flap are now on the hot seat from the loss. A Notre Dame team on the rise isn't supposed to lose to a Michigan team in the doldrums rebuilding. That they did gave me a schadenfreude hard on at a rather uncomfortable time. It's tough to stand and cheer when yer worried about cock-braining the old lady in front of you.

The most anticipated game of Saturday was a rematch of last years rout of Ohio State University by USC. Despite losing 8 players to the NFL draft many thought USC's defense would destroy Terelle Pryor and the Buckeye's offensive while the Trojan offense would be able to make enough plays to win handily. Others like OSU Alum/former player turned announcer, Kirk Herbstreit, thought that playing in front of 106,503 fans would rattle USC's true freshmen QB Matt Barkley. That combined with OSU's tough defense would spell doom for the young USC team.

There is a reason no one really listens to Herbstreit, and scrotum sucking ball-fondling odes to his alma mater are a large part of that. Never trust Herbstreit to be objective when it comes OSU. Actually just never trust him in general when it comes to OSU.

USC trailed 10-15 starting their last drive of the night and they faced an uphill battle against a tough OSU D and the 100,000+ strong of the Horseshoe. A touchdown would win the game. However, USC should have never been given the oppurtunity to score and win. They should have been down at least 19-10 in the waning minutes of the game. But the Buckeye's went conservative and kicked field goals on two occasions when inside the USC 5 yard line. Buckeye fans can blame Jim Tressel for the loss.

Jim Tressel's attire is a perfect reflection of what kind of play caller he is. His short sleeve button up wants to say "laid back and cool guy" but is drowned out by his cinched up tie, glasses and trademark sweater vest all of which scream "The stick up this man's ass has a stick up its ass!!". Tressel's arch-conservative, anti-abortion, pro-deregulation leanings were on full display early in the second quarter when a long drive left OSU with a 4th and goal from the USC 1. The playcalling the prior 3 plays had been bad enough, a weak pass play, then two runs straight into the USC line. Then rather than do something crazy like spread out the USC D and let Terelle try and make magic happen with either his arm or legs or even try a QB sneak with the 6'6" 240 lb Pryor Tressel opted to just kick a field goal.

Now, I realize it was early in the game and common football logic dictates that you just take the points in that situation. However, you are playing USC who destroyed you the year before, you are at home, you know that you NEED points against a Pete Carrol team AND even if you didn't convert on 4th down you leave USC backed-up worse than me after a cheese binge. Your defense has been lights out all game and chances are you get the ball right back.

But that's not the Tressel way. Nor is it to try and create mismatches for your WRs by spreading out the offense every once and a while. Hell, if Tressel does that he might have actually have given Pryor some room to run, the one area USC had trouble with OSU's offense. Tressel however decided to rail against universal health care and kick the field goal. He lost as a result.

The night cap of despised coaches/programs was the University of Oregon vs. Purdue in a way less cool match-up of Big-10 vs Pac 10 than USC vs OSU. After last week's debacle against Boise State I was hoping to witness Oregon's descent into a season of hell. A loss to Purdue would be a healthy push down the stairs. Sadly that was not the case.

The head coaching job at Oregon is Chip Kelly's to lose and he looked perilously close to losing it last week. As Kelly watched his team fall apart due to sloppy play and mental errors you could see he had the Ty Wilingham face of "Oh shit, this is not how I thought things would happen. What do I do now? What do I do now, dammit?!?!". The whole while Mike Belotti the former coach turned AD was down on the sidelines giving pep talks to players and telling what they were doing wrong. Yup, the AD was down on the sidelines doing more coaching than the head coach. Not the way to start the season.

The were various times in the Purdue game, a turnover here, a missed assignment there, when the Ty face would start to creep onto Kelly's visage. Luckily the Ducks managed to stop Purdue on 4th down with a minute left to seal the deal. That didn't stop Belotti, again down on the sideline, from dispensing coaching wisdom to the sideline reporter.When asked when asked what he thought of the tams play so far he got rather specific saying something to the effect of "Well if the WR made a crisper cut out of his break and the QB wasn't drifting away from the line when he threw and the right guard kicked out instead of in on that last play I think we could've had a touch down.". In the brief interview Belotti also mentioned that he still hadn't figured out where he wanted to be on game day up in his box or down on the field, but the manor in which he said it made it seem as if he intended on being down on the sidelines but knew that his proper place, as an AD was up in the booth.

The fact that Oregon escaped another terribly sloppy game, this time with a W was rather upsetting for me. I'm an addict for Oregon fail. But still, seeing them struggled with a lower tier team like Purdue did warm the cockles of my heart. For I know that they are not the contender they painted themselves as to start the season. They are not in the top tier of the Pac-10 and since the second tier includes everybody but USC and Cal at the top and WSU at the bottom that means that there is a decent chance we can beat them when they come up here this year. That'd be sweet!

All in all it was a fun Saturday of football with lots of good game and some quality fails as well. Who knows what next week holds? Will Charlie Weis' gunt gain sentience and attempt to remove itself from it's host? Will Jim Tressel have tie too tight and suffer at stroke because of it? Will Mike Belotti push Chip Kelly out of the way and resume the mantle of head coach, the headset with it, while Kelly cries in the corner like a kid who had his favorite transformer stolen? Only time will tell.

Huskies Destroy Idaho. Vandals Rape Dawgs D

It was a beautiful late summer day down at Montlake. A slight breeze rustled through the trees as fans walked through the perfect 80 degree day to take their seats to see UW play The University of Idaho. Though the crowd was noticeably smaller than the week prior at the rainy LSU game there was still a feeling of anticipation and nervous excitement in the air. And how could there not be? The Dawgs were favored by 21 over Idaho to end their losing streak that had spanned parts of 3 seasons. The Dawgs were gonna win big and everyone knew it. The crowd wanted blood. A Roman coliseum crowd faced more uncertainty than those in attendance at Montlake today.

After a quick first down and then 3 and out by the defense Jake and company took up residence at their own 3 yard line to start their first drive of the day. And what a drive it was as the Dawgs moved at ease through the over matched Vandals defense. Jake Locker used his legs to scramble for the 3 yard td to cap the 97 yard drive. I'm not sure the last time The Dawgs had a drive near that long but the crowd ate it up. That drive gave creedence to most fans' thoughts that this game would be a cake walk and that the starters shouldn't be back in after half. Sadly, that was not to be the case. Idaho would not go quietly into their locker room.

The Dawgs defense that displayed dominance in the opener against LSU played as passively as possible. The second Vandals drive started with decent field position thanks to terrible kick-offs by kicker Eric Folk and poor coverage on the returns. Those expecting to see a complete and total mauling of the Vandals offense were sorely disapointed. The Vandals drove 40 yards and kicked a field goal. This seemed to be the story all day. The Dawgs would have a solid drive for a score only to have another shitty kick-off combine with lack of pressure on defense to result in a Vandals' field goal.

Field goals are not much to worry about and by halftime the Dawgs were up 21-9. But the Vandals refused to give up and after two second half touchdowns(one was in garbage time, but still) they covered the spread and only lost by 19.

I want to be happy about this win. The Dawgs amassed 374 yards of offense and moved down the field almost at will on the Vandals. The running game led by Chris Polk again looked solid. Johri Fogerson toted the rock and caught some passes and looked impressive while doing so. Jake Locker again spread the ball around completing 17/25 passes. He showed touch and timing that had never existed prior to this year. Yeah, he stared a couple receivers down like Oprah at a buffet line but hopefully he'll be coached out of that. Like I said, the offense was amazing.

However great the offense was the defense was inversely mediocre. Most pundits thought that UW would dominate the line of scrimmage and live in the UI backfield disrupting the QB all day. Sadly, this was not at all the case. Amazingly the same defense that manged to get adequate pressure against a far superior line in LSU was having massive troubles making a ripple against Idaho. And when blitzes were called the middle of the field was often left susceptible to big gains. It made for a maddening combination. It also made me shit my pants in fear at the thought of hosting USC next Saturday.

If the Dawgs play anywhere near this poorly on defense/special teams against the Trojans they'll crumble like R.Kelly's will around young women. Nick Holt needs to find something and fast otherwise the Dawgs'll just be a smear on the road in the wake of the big red USC machine. And I really would rather not see that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dawgs Dominate LSU. Lose Game. New Era Brings Hope

Keep this man smiling by winning some games this season!

I'll admit, when the Dawgs chose to receive the opening kickoff of the 2009 season I was rather nervous. The sickly sour taste of fear in my mouth was overwhelming. 14 straight losses can make even the most optimistic Dawg fan a cowering pup. This is especially true when playing a national powerhouse like LSU. A team like that could dismantle a 0-12 UW team and leave more psyches shattered than a Catholic Priest at camp full of Boy Scouts. With a violent defeat all the talk about coaching the players up and causes for optimism would drain down the players' legs. I worried about the ramifications of a quick 3 and out before LSU took the ball and scored.

All fears of failure were erased when The Dawgs marched down the field like Sherman through Georgia, consistently picking up good yardage on the ground as well as through the air on the first two downs allowing them converting manageable third downs. Then Jake Locker hit true freshman James Johnson for a 17 yard catch and run touchdown. A statement was sent, "These are NOT your 2008, 0-12 Huskies!" The stadium erupted in cheers and a huge burden was removed from the backs of UW players.

The entire team was crazy with excitement after the crowd caused Ciron Black, he of the Outland Trophy watch list, to false start moving the Tigers from 3rd and goal from the 2 to 3rd and goal from the 7. The Tigers failed to get a td and had to settle for the field goal. Momentum seemed very much on the Dawgs' side. Then the first costly mistake happened.

Jake Locker had improved much in the offseason under new head coach Steve Sarkisian. That much was one display during the first drive. But the fact that Jake still has a lot of work to do to become the QB he can be was shown very clearly to start the second drive. First play of the drive Jake dropped back and fired a pass out to his right failing to see linebacker Jacob Cutrera who tipped the ball to himself and ran for the TD. The Dawgs were all of a sudden down 10-7.

After a brief stint on the sideline during the kick off Jake and the rest of the Husky offense took the field again looking to make up for the mistake on the last drive. And for the most part they did as they drove 63 yards and were much like an early 90's junky on Capitol Hill, they were looking to score. Then disaster struck this team again as Chris Polk, who had a great night running the ball and ripped off a 33 yard run earlier in the drive, fumbled on the LSU 5 yard line. The defense held and forced a punt but the chance to go up was lost. On the next drive UW had to settle for a field goal to tie it up.

Those two plays, in my mind were the most critical in determining the game's outcome. If UW puts together a second drive to match their first or their third, sans the fumble, there is a good chance they are up 14-3. At that point the defense had been shutting down the vaunted LSU run game and it is entirely possible that they could have gotten the ball back with another chance to score before half.

That's huge when facing a superior opponent, to get on them early and not let up. The relatively Young LSU team might have been rattled and probably would have had to alter their game plan. In that case the Huskies would have been in control and playing like the favorites. Sadly, that didn't happen. While the Dawg's managed to stay within barking distance the rest of the game, a slow 3rd quarter combined with the expected come aparts in the secondary made the chances of them pulling out a win rather slim.

Overall though, I was very impressed with this team. They out-gained the Tigers 478-321 and absolutely controlled the time of possession 36:52 to 23:08. Chris Polk, whom I thought look way over-matched last year was dynamite all night. He was quick to and through the hole. He managed to get to the edge well and he rarely went down after first contact. My favorite play of the night was his dishing out two terrible stiff-arms tow LSU defenders on his 33 yard run, damn impressive.

Jake Locker passed for 321 yards and 2 tds in the game. If not for the interception it would have been a near flawless performance as he went 25-45. His completion percentage might have been a few ticks higher if some of Jake's receivers held onto the passes. Jake's scrambling ability for big gains was limited by the fast secondary of LSU. Patrick Peterson, a 6'1" 211lb corner made sure that Jake was kept in check and no quick passes to receivers were going to go for anything after the catch. Peterson seemed to be everywhere for the Tigers. Even being relatively limited Jake still managed to run for 51 yards and pick up crucial first down with his legs.

The Wideouts looked solid, Aguilar and Johnson really impressed. Though Aguilar did have a crushing drop in the 4th quarter on a perfectly thrown ball by Jake. It hit his hands but he just could not reel it it. Johnson, however seems to be the prototype for the new UW WR. Big, fast, strong and great hands. In just his first game he had 6 catches for 60+ yards. If the WR's can hold onto the ball Jake might have some fine options in the passing game.

The tight end, a crux of the pro-style offense Sark ran at USC, as well as a traditional position of talent for UW, seems to be making a resurgence. Both Kavario Middleton and Chris Izbicki saw a lot of playing time and did well with their blocking. However, it was Middleton who flashed his much talked about athleticism and pass catching prowess by snagging 5 passes for 45 yards and the last TD of the game. If the kid keeps it up he could be something really special.

The D game up some big plays and struggled a bit with the option last night. But for the most part they played damn well. Daniel Teo Nesheim managed to occasionally get into the LSU back field and get pressure which is incredible considering the talent on LSU's line. Also impressive was Ta'amu Alimeda who was constantly commanding double and triple teams all night. He even got a sack and a pressure on consecutive plays when he twisted left into the backfield on one play and then mirrored the twist to the right on the next. LSU's running game was supposed to run us down like a dog in the street. That the Tigers had to run the option to get to the edge says a lot of out the d-line and linebackers.

Special Teams was remarkable in that they didn't let any of the Dahmer-dangerous LSU return break loose for a long gain or a TD. Folk, the kicker missed a 42 yard field goal and was kinda shaky on a few of his PAT's but still I'll take it.

The entire game the coaching staff could be see right in the ears of their players coaching them up. Regardless of whether it was a successful play or not the coaching staff was wanting to talk with their players and let them know what to do better next time while at the same time letting them know they did good work. Compared to the old Willingham regime's style of coaching this hands-on approach felt almost like bondage. And who doesn't like a little pain with their pleasure?

I was also impressed with how varied our offensive sets were. When Sark was hired I was worried about his pro-style leanings and what that would mean for Jake's legs. I should have known that a bright mind like Sarkisian's would not let such a tool go to waste. Aside from the normal single back pro-sets and various I-formations seen last night there were also glimpses of the spread shown. Jake even ran a read option keeper, something straight out of last year's playbook. To keep LSU honest UW ran and threw out of the spread and had much success. Jake also had some designed rollouts and bootlegs drawn up for him. As the season wears on and Sark gets more comfortable with his personnel and his personnel with him I think we will start to see that playbook really start to open up. When that happens watch out because who knows what wrinkles Coach Sark will add to maximize his talent.

The refs were terrible missing a few calls and a calling a few they shouldn't have. All in all another day for Pac-10 officiating.

The broadcast crew was terrible. There was a real homosexual overtone to everything they talking about and that is aside from voraciously fellating the Bayou Bengals the entire game. There were numerous mentions by one of the broadcasters about how good looking the LSU's football players were followed by b-roll footage of the Tigers walking into the stadium. The broadcaster went on to say that he felt many of the Tigers could win beauty competitions. I'm not sure what relevance that held on last night's game but that didn't matter to the announcer. After the gushing over the (se)x factor for LSU the conversation turned to how much Jake Locker reminded them of Brady Quinn. To prove this point they showed Jake at pre-game warm ups, wind blowing his purple workout shirt against his body, steely blue eyes looking out across the lake, not a shot of him doing anything football related just sexy shots of Jake. The whole thing was hilariously uncomfortable. .I wonder what the folks in the smaller towns of western Washington thought about such homoerotic antics being beamed into their house.

From the way the Dawgs played last night I think it's safe to say that 2009 will be nothing like the dismal years preceding it. If the coaches can get their players up to play at that level every game, something I think they are very capable of, then watch out! This team could shock some people and maybe pull out 6 wins. I'm keeping my expectations muted until we get our first win and see if this intensity is as lasting as I hope it is. I'm predicting 4 wins on the season. Believe me though, it would not shock me at all for the Dawgs to beat some Pac-10 teams and make a bowl game for the first time in 7 seasons. WOOF!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Matt Millen on ABC

So, I'm sitting here basking in the glory of the opening Saturday of College football while watching Oklahoma State play Georgia on ABC. Life is good, I think, and then I recognize a voice. It's the same one I heard giving his professional opinion during the NFL draft. It's presence in the braodcast booth at this college football game is just as baffling as it's presence at the draft. I shake my head in disbelief, trying to tell myself that this voice I heard could not be the destroyer of Detroit dreams I believed it to be. Then I am greeted with terrible confirmation with a shot of both broadcasters in the booth. My ears hadn't deceived me. The voice I heard did belong to one Matt Millen. I punch myself in the face.

Last January I tuned into NBC to watch some playoff football. Normally I bypass the windbags on the pregame show and turn on the braodcast only right before kickoff. This day I was slightly off with my timing and what I saw shocked me. There was Matt Millen, recently fired GM of the winless Detroit Lions, sitting on the set going on about what this team needed to do to get their offense going and what that team needed to do to keep up on defense.

I didn't understand it. How could one so inept, who had failed so spectacularly on such a grand scale, be allowed to attempt to disseminate information on the exact thing he was so terrible at? How was anybody supposed to take Matt Millen seriously, let alone NBC for hiring this train wreck of a man? I know that sports are an old boys network that run more on who you know rather than how well you do your job but even given that knowledge Millen's hiring made no sense.

Then came the draft. I managed to miss most of it due to prior obligations(read: work crew) but what I did catch was Millen again going about why this player of that player will or won't be successful in the NFL. One of the most consistent failings of Millen's reign in Detroit was his failing to draft productive players and yet there he was telling America which college kids would or would not make in the NFL. The zombified corpse of Layne Staley giving out advice on how to kick heroin and stay clean could not have been more unqualified.

Now I'll be forced to listen to Millen every Saturday comment on the game I'm trying to watch on ABC. I can only hope that, somehow, Millen's stache grows over his mouth inhibiting him from talking. Either that or during a broadcast at Michigan or Michigan State a disgruntled Lions fan goes all Mark David Chapman on Millen. Otherwise it may a long college football season.

Another Reason To Drink Today: Seahawks Cut Brian Russell

It's the opening Saturday of college football today which means many of the readers of this site are out drinking somewhere in celebration. They now have another reason to beer bong another half rack of Pabst. Brian Russell, the ball cancer of suck, was cut today by the Seahawks.

BRuss has been much maligned not only here and Seahawks super-blog Field Gulls but his suck is so glaring that NFL humor site Kissing Suzy Kolber has a "Brian Fucking Russell" tag. That's right he's so bad and KSK mocked him so much he warranted his own tag. Fucking terrible!!

I'm not going to go into detail about the level of BRuss' suck or write a long mocking ode to a terribly incompetent player. The summation of the dark age of Brian Russel at free safety can be found here and here as written by intrepid 'Hawks blogger John Morgan. He details the depressing depths of suck that BRuss created far better than I ever could. Also, check out the gifs in the comments section here to relive the white terror that was Brian Russell. Then after you get done with that pound a couple drinks down in celebration over the fact that, as a Seahawk fan, you will no longer have to worry about Russel making nobodies like Domenik Hixon into stars.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Neck Beard Out, 6th Round Rookie In

That 2010 first round pick the Seahawks acquired from Denver in return for Seattle's 2009 2nd and 3rd rounders is looking better and better. First, the Broncos got rid of Cutler. Then, they had a less than stellar draft. More recently, WR Brandon Marshall was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team after fucking around in practice and batting passes down and generally acting like an ass. Now, the Bronco's will be without their starting QB, Kyle Orton, for the final preseason game and possibly the first game of the season.

After slapping the hand of Bear's player Adewale Ogunleye Kyle Orton received what is known as an open dislocation. Apparently this is when the dislocated bone cuts through the flesh and pops out through the skin, fun. The Bronco's are trying to be coy about this whole thing and are reporting that Orton will only miss the last preseason game this Sunday and that he should be ready to go by the season opener.

Now, I'm no doctor and have no medical experience outside of occasionally smoking medical marijuana. That said, I have to believe that when a finger is dislocated to the point that the bone is sticking out the person with the dislocation won't be able to throw the pigskin around for awhile. Let alone throw the pig-skin with 300+lb men chasing after you. Plus with dislocations and especially dislocations involving lacerations there is always a chance at ligament damage which means rehab would be necesary and that would push the time table for Orton's return back even farther.

Should Orton not be able to go and back-up Chris Simms out for another 2-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain the Bronco's playcalling duties fall to 6th round rookie from Fresno State Tom Brandstater. In other words, the game would be a sure loss.

This is great news for Seahawk fans. A top 5 pick is looking more and more like a real possibility with the way things have shaken out in Denver this season. I still find it amazing that one man could destroy a team so throughoughly in his first few months on the job. But damn if Josh McDaniel's hasn't done exactly that. Oh well, I'm on a schadenfreude high right now and will be cheesed out of my mind until the placement of the pick from Denver is official.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stay Classy University of Oregon

As a fan of the Pac-10 or of college football in general, for that matter, there are many reasons to hate the University of Oregon. They are a new money program in the Pac-10 whose fans think WAAAY too highly of themselves and their teams and are reputed for their assholish actions, Nike Founder Phil Knight bankrolls their athletic program and pays for cutesy uniform changes every few years like the addition of the silver wings on the shoulder pads this season, and the town of Eugene is a shithole from all accounts I have heard. Tonight UO gave fans a new reason to hate them, LeGarrette Blount and his über-classy sucker punch of a Boise State D-lineman.

Now, I'm sure the lineman said something rather unpleasant to Blount to elicit such a reaction, possibly having to do with the comments he made prior to the game about Oregon owing Boise State an ass-whoopin' after the embarrassing loss at home last season. And perhaps it was an even worse comment than that and he deserved to be punched. But for Blount to cold sucker punch the Boise State player as he turns away to talk to his coach is terribly low. Even for Oregon.

To cap off the altercation with a little more class Blount lost his damn mind on his way out of the stadium. A couple Boise State fans had a few choice words for Blount that did not sit well with the already steamed star. Blount shook his escort out of his shoes with a Barry Sanders like fake as he went to confront the fans. In the end it took almost 6 people to tear Blount away from the stands before he could decimate the offending asshole.

Again, the fans probably had some pretty fucked up things to say to Blount as he walked by. Blount's blow up probably stemmed from rather racist comments judging from Blount's reaction and the fact that the game was in Boise. Still, incredibly racist/fucked up comments or not there is no excuse for the player to attempt to get into the stands like that. No matter how much he may want to and no matter how much the fan(s) might deserve it.

Blount, who is arguably Oregon's best player, will more than likely be out the rest of the year if not kicked out of school and out of college football for good. I have a hard time seeing a different outcome.

As messed up as the sucker punch and following quasi-brawl were it's hard not to take enjoyment in this incident at Oregon's expense. I'll admit I got a nice little schadenfreude hard-on right now thinking about the ramification on the Oregon program. Thanks for the good times and stay classy fellas!