29 December 2008

Thank You

Yeah the Quest is over. No, the Cougs didn't have that perfect season. No, the jerseys in blue weren't able to see another conference championship. No, we weren't able to beat the heathen team up north. And no, we didn't win a bowl game. It was fun while it lasted. There's plenty of time now to reflect, regroup, and recruit. Yes, it's that time of the year (tis the season) for all the things to be thankful for. The tradition. The spirit. And the honor that the Cougs stand for. There were 117 Cougs listed on the roster this year (per the official website). The Cougs found paydirt 59 times while hittin 13 FGs for the season (I'm still waiting for one to run back). The season officially got underway with Lavell carrying out the alumni flag against Northern Iowa. It was a season receiving national attention while blocking a kick at Washington. This years performance included the stunning shellacking shutout of the tradition found in UCLA at home. It included the dismantling of Wyoming. The cougs remained perfect defending the home turf. Collie set all kinds of receiving records including consecutive 100YD receiving games. Over the past three years the jerseys in blue have gone 32-7. The future is still bright with incoming and returning players. There are still teams on the schedule (just not this season). There will still be big games. There will be conference championships and more opportunities to stick it to the yewts. To all the readers out the in blog-land thank you for making this all possible. Best wishes to each and everyone (yes even the yewts) in the coming New Year!

21 December 2008

Raising Arizona

Will the last one to leave please turn out the lights? Folks, unfortunately this seasons "Quest" is over. Arizona went into the bowl favored by three but might as well been favored by ten with the embarrasing performance. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, look at the photos and sadly they pretty much sums things up. It was supposed to be a bright picture heading into the season returning all the offensive weapons. The Cougs were to add another MWC crown. They were predicted to be this years collegiate BCS buster. Virtually the entire starting OL would be in the trenches again. However, there isn't always that fairy tale ending. Saturdays outing was no fairy tale (if anything was a nightmare) that included mental mistakes, sloppy plays, turnovers and too many penalties. The talent was there but certainly not the execution. Yes the bitterness and bleeding will stop but will take some time to lick the wounds, head back to the boards and make some adjustments(Photo Credit Max/Tom Smart & Reed/Trent Neilson).

With the wildcats first postseason victory in 10 years the Cougs now have lost 5 of their last 7 bowl appearances. Willie Tuitama saturday looked like a Heisman candidate throwing 24 of 35 for 325 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions. It seemed the Cougar defense had no answers and the offense threw away missed opportunities (3 missed FGs and 2 fumbles for starters). In the losing effort Austin Collie extended his consecutive 100 yard receiving games to 11 with 119. Constantly taking the backseat to Collie was Michael Reed who ended his collegiate career with 9 catches for 117 yards. Reed's playmaking on the field will be missed whether it was making the difficult catches or simply blocking downfield paving the way for Collie.

Yes, the mistakes hurt but great teams find a way to fight through adversity. Vakapuna went down early with a shoulder seperation and did not return. Fui's contribution played a vital role in helping Unga steamroll to yet another 1000 yard season.

Likely the biggest question on everyone's mind concerns Collie. Will he be back? Max has said he believe's he's staying another year. If it were you would you stay? When money talks one can't blame the who owns the most Cougar receiving yards in history (as well as in a single season) if he leaves.

15 December 2008

Complete Bowl-over

Tis the season again for the collegiate bowl games to be played out. Its that festive time of year for the teams to put up or shut up. Who will step up and who will hang their heads. College football is without question momental. Back in 2003 more than $210 million was distributed as a result to NCAA schools with that number increasing ever since. It is part of tradition of over 90 years. The tv audience has reached well over 125 million households. Increased donations, school visibility, endorsements, ticket sales and recruiting all factor into the equation. Bowl games generate an estimated $1.3 billion worth of econonic impact on host communities. In addition to the Cougs heading to a bowl this year's matchups include...

Dec 20th
Eaglebank Bowl (Wake Forest 7-5/Navy 8-4) ESPN 9AM This is deja vu. Navy came out on top back on Sep 27th (24-17) but will it be the same story? Wake Forest has been dependent on its 19th best defense nationally to create opportunities to win games. Yet, Navy has won four of its last five.
New Mexico Bowl (CSU 6-6/Fresno State 7-5) ESPN 12:30PM Could be somewhat evenly of a matchup posting two NFL prospects (CSU/Kory Sperry, FSU/Bear Pascoe). The rams last bowl was back in 2005. Should be a fun one to watch.
St Petersburg Bowl (Memphis 6-6/So Florida 7-5) ESPN2 2:30PM Memphis heads into the matchup with its fifth bowl in the past six seasons. South Florida has lost five of its last seven games but should clearly have a decided home advantage (roughly 30 minutes away). The teams are former Conference USA rivals. South Florida has the 9th best rushing defense nationally (only allowing 97.7 yards/game) and I like the Bulls chances in this one.
Vegas Bowl (BYU 10-2/Az 7-5) Sat 20 Dec 6PM ESPN
The Cougs are fast becoming a familiar tourist attraction in Vegas with their 4th consecutive appearance while the 'cats are just happy to be ending a nine year absence from postseason action. In 2008 the MWC went 6-1 against the PAC10 in regular season play. Arizona ranks 16th nationally in scoring offense yet 35th in scoring defense. The cats have dangerous sophomore Nic Grigsby in the backfield who like Unga went over 1000 yardswith 12 TDs. A closer look at the 'cats opponents reveal Cal (8-4) was its only victory over a team with a winning record. Likely a tight game but one has to like the chances for the jerseys in blue.

Dec 21st
New Orleans Bowl (So Miss 6-6/Troy 8-4) 6:15PM Superdome
Southern Miss has won 4 straight to reach bowl eligibility with their offense ranked 20th averaging 434 yards per game. On the other side of the field Troy's offense is 26th nationally. In Troy's 7 of 8 wins the "O" scored 31 or more. Could be a shootout with big digits thrown on the board by both sides.

Dec 23rd
Pointsettia Bowl (BSU 12-0/TCU 10-2) 6PM ESPN
This matchup could turn out to be one of this season's best. TCU brings in the nation's best rushing defense. BSU finished yet another undefeated regular season this year with a freshman quarterback. Kellen Moore ranks overall 10th in passing efficiency. Not too shabby for his first year guiding the Broncs to a top 13 ranked offense. BSU revamped its OL but will receive likely its toughest test against the horned frogs. Definately a game worth tuning in.

Dec 24th
Hawaii Bowl (Hawaii 7-6/Notre Dame 6-6) 6PM ESPN
Amazingly, the tradition rich Irish haven't won a bowl game since the 94 Cotton Bowl (def Texas 31-24). It won't get any easier since Hawaii have 4 of its last 6 and are playing yet another home game.

Dec 26th
Motor City Bowl (Flor Atlantic 6-6/Central Mich 8-4) 5:30PM ESPN
This is a battle of lesser heralded quarterback in CMUs Dan LeFavour and FAUs Rusty Smith. FAUs Smith was last years Sunbelt player of the year. LeFavour will be attempting to win his 2nd Motor City Bowl in 3 seasons.

Dec 27th
Meineke Bowl (W Virginia 8-4/N Carolina 8-4) 11AM ESPN
In only their second bowl appearance since 2001 the tar heels will look to spoil the Mountaineers and Pat White's final collegiate game. West Virginia has two capable individuals in their ground attack in Noel Devine (1228 yards) and quarterback Pat White (919 yards). Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was the star of the offense as sophomore with 958 yards and 5 TDs. This season Nicks went over the 1000 yard mark and 9 TDs.
Emerald Bowl (Cal 8-4/Miami FL 7-5) 6PM ESPN
Definately a step in the right direction for the 'canes getting back to a bowl in Coach Shannon's 2nd season at the helm. Miami after winning 5 in a row dropped their last two and have struggled against the run. That's not exactly a good formula matching up against Cal's sophomore sensation Jahvid Best who has nearly 1400 yards on the ground with an 8 yard average.
Champs Sports/Citrus Bowl (Wisc 7-5/FSU 8-4) 2:30PM ESPN
Could be a slow grind game with both teams preferring the ground attack. Badgers have PJ Hill and John Clay while the 'noles have Antone Smith who has 14TDs. Hill has over 1000 yards with 13TDs while Clay have 845 yards and 9TDs.

Dec 28th
Independence Bowl (No Illinois 6-6/La Tech 7-5) 6:15PM ESPN
This matchup features two fill in non-BCS teams squarin off making slots in for other that weren't able to provide bowl eligible teams. Yeah not very appealing. To make matters worse these two teams are making their entrance on opposite ends of the spectrum. NIU comes limping in losing 3 of its last 4 games. On the other hand Louisiana Tech has won 4 of its last 5 games. Tech will want to run the ball (averages nearly 200 yards per game) but can NIU stop it. At games end Tech should be celebrating.

Dec 29th
PapaJohns.Com Bowl (NC State 6-6/Rutgers 7-5) 1PM ESPN
Definately a rather intriguing matchup for both teams. Rutgers was 1-5 after six games while NC State was 2-6 after 8 weeeks with ACC/Big East bragging rights at stake. Rutgers has found a weapon in junior WR Kenny Britt who has tallied over 1200 receiving yards on the season. NC State fans preseason may have had jitters having a rookie taking snaps behind center. Russell Wilson had removed that doubt throwing for over 1700 yards 16TDs and only 1 INT.
Alamo Bowl (#21 Missouri 9-4/ #23 Northwestern 9-3) 6PM ESPN
Mizzo's QB Chase Daniel and WR Jeremy Maclin placed the Tigers back on the collegiate football map last season. In fact Maclin in 2008 set an NCAA record for a freshman with 2776 receiving yards. This year expectations were rather high even with hopes of a national championship. Those dreams have faded but redemption could take place in San Antonio. Northwestern this season was 4-1 on the road and have held opponents to an average of 19.3 per game.

Dec 30th
Humanitarian Bowl (Maryland 7-5/Nevada 7-5) 2:30PM ESPN
Terrapin fans will quickly learn the name Colin Kaepernick. The sophomore Nevada quarterback was the WAC player of the year and can hurt opponents through the ground or the air. Calling shots behind center he has run for 1115 yards and thrown for over 2400 yards accounting for at least 35 TDs. The terps were 6-1 at home but a dismal 1-4 on the road. Gotta like the Wolfpack in this matchup.
Texas Bowl (W Michigan 9-3/Rice 9-3) 6PM NFL
Staying at home Rice is seeking its first bowl victory in 54 years. To say the Owls have turned things around is an understatement. In 2007 they finished with a 3-9 record. The passing attack from Rice is ranked 5th nationally. Senior QB Chase Clement has 41 TDs with 7 INTs covering over 3800 yards. Clement has two capable targets in WR Jarrett Dillard (1224 yards with 19 TDs) and TE James Casey 1217 yards with 12 TDs). With 9 returning defensive starters Western Michigan only allowed 5 passing TDs over the last 6 games. Should make an interesting matchup.
Holiday Bowl (#13 Ok State 9-3/#17 Oregon 9-3) 6PM ESPN
Having both teams averaging over 40 points a game expect the scoreboard operator to be kept busy. At 9-3 the ducks have shown there is life after QB Dennis Dixon and RB Jonathan Stewart. Trouble defensively could be brewing in this game already where the Cowboys will be without its DC (Tim Beckman) who has accepted the coaching position at Toledo.

Dec 31st
Armed Forces Bowl (Houston 7-5/Air Force 8-4) 10AM ESPN
Location. Location. Location. Houston was 5-1 at home and this one will be played in Texas. Air Force on the other hand was 5-1 on the road. Which will prevail? Houston also leads the nation in the passing attack. Cougars sophomore QB Case Keenan threw for over 4700 yards with 43 TDs and 10 INTs. Yet the Falcons are 5th nationally rushing. Could be a interesting struggle ahead.
Sun Bowl (#22Oregon State 8-4/#18Pittsburgh 9-3) Noon CBS
El Paso brings this game "back" by popular demand. This matchup features two great young backs (Pitt's sophomore sensational LeShaun McCoy and OSU's PAC10 fab freshman of the year in Jacquizz Rodgers. Both rely on their ground attack and have more than capable defenses. Ironically both Pitt and OSU have played once previously back in 2002 Insight Bowl which was the panthers last postseason victory. Not sure I want to watch when Village People are performing at halftime.
Music City Bowl (#24 Boston College/Vanderbilt 6-6) 1:30PM ESPN
On paper the Eagles look to have most of the advantages offense and defensively) however Vandy should enjoy a home field advantage (campus is only a few miles from the Bowl site). In fact BC has only allowed an average of 18.5 on the scoreboard this season. Vandy is just happy to be in postseason play (first appearance in 26 years).
Insight Bowl (Kansas 7-5/Minnesota 7-5) 3:30PM NFL
To say the gophers have made progress is an understatement. Last season Minnesota was 1-11. Both teams are limping into the bowl (Kansas went 2-4 and the gophers was worse 0-4 down the stretch). Kansas is 7th nationally in passing yards. I see a potential shootout with the jayhawks prevailing.
Chick-fil-A Bowl (LSU 7-5/#14 Georgia Tech 9-3) 5:30PM ESPN
This season's bowl game can't come quick enough for the defending national champs with such a disappointing season (even lost 4 of their last 6 games). How the mighty have fallen. On the other hand the yellow jackets are having a sensational turnaround season under first year coach Paul Johnson. LSU will clearly have their hands full in this matchup as the yellow jackets are ranked 3rd in rushing with the triple option. Stopping Jonathan Dwyer will be high on the priority list who ran for over 1300 yards this season with 12 TDs while averaging 7 yards a carry.

Jan 1st
Outback Bowl (So Carolina 7-5/Iowa 8-4) 9AM ESPN
Coming into this contest the Hawkeyes are hot winning 5 of their last six including an upset over then #3 Penn State. South Carlina carries overall the third best pass defense in the nation (11th overall in total defense). Iowa junior RB Shonn Greene has run and down the field amassing over 1700 yards on the season with a 6.2 yard per average with 17 TDs. Despite neither team being ranked this could prove to be a fun matchup.
Capital One (#15 Georgia 9-3/#18 Michigan St 9-3) 11AM ABC
The stars of this presentation will be found in the backfield. Two of the nation's best will be showcased in Knowshon Moreno and senior spartan back Javon Ringer. Bulldog's sophomore stud Moreno ran for 16 TDs covering 1300 yards. Ringer has been unstoppable with almost 1600 yards and 21 TDs.
Gator Bowl (Nebraska 8-4/Clemson 7-5) 11AM CBS
Both teams are riding three game win streaks but that will all change at the end of this one. Nebraska QB Joe Ganz stepped in for injured Sam Keller last season and hasn't skipped a beat. In his first start he shredded Kansas for 410 yards and this season has compiled over 3300 yards throwing for 23TDs. In 10 of 12 games the Huskers have put 30 on the scoreboard.
Rose Bowl (Penn State 11-1/USC 11-1) 2:30PM ABC
How will the trojans fare without Sarkisian as the OC in this matchup? Will the lions have Paterno back on the sidelines (or will he coach again from the box)? Coach Carroll has elevated receivers coach John Morton for the time being for play calling. Both traditional powerhouse programs will have some amazing collection of offensive talent on the field but this contest could be defensively ruled. USC is ranked first nationally for total defense while the nittany lions are fifth.
Orange Bowl (#12 Cincinnati 11-2/#19 Virginia Tech 9-4) 6:30PM FOX
These teams have split the matchups evenly 4-4 with the first played way back in 1946. Bearcat coach Kelly is well on his way 22-5 after two seasons. Beating the hokies would be icing on the cake. Tech's run first offense is led by Darren Evans who has rushed over 1100 yards as a freshman. Cincy will test VT's defense with receiver speedster Marshawn Gilyard who has lit up secondaries this season for over 1100 yards and 10 TDs.
Cotton Bowl (#7 Texas Tech 11-1/#25 Ole Miss 8-4) Noon FOX
Ole Miss has seen quite the turnaround from 3-9 last season to this year's 8-4. The rebels also are riding a 5 game streak into Dallas but Ole Miss will surely be tested by the nations 2nd ranked passing offense that returns 10 starters. Tech's super senior QB Graham Harrell will lineup one last time with Crabtree hoping to make some more connections. On the season Harrell has thrown for over 4700 yards and 47 TDs.
Liberty Bowl (E Carolina 9-4/Kentucky 6-6) 3PM ESPN
Jeckyll and hyde story here with the 'cats. Which team will show? One that is riding a 3 game losing streak? Or one that hung with #4 'bama (L17-14) and #15 Georgia(L42-38)? The pirates head into the matchup winning 6 of their last 7 games. This will also be the third consecutive bowl game for both the ECU and Kentucky.
Sugar Bowl (yewts 12-0/Alabama 12-1) 6PM FOX
Crimson tide is 8-4 in the Sugar Bowl and more likely will add one more to it. The heathen team from up north runs the #12 ranked scoring defense and has won 6 straight bowl games which definately isn't shabby. A $17 million payout won't be easy for the yewts facing Alabama that ranks 6 nationally in scoring defense. The yewts are 0-6 matched up all time with SEC teams and I don't see that changing in the new year.

Jan 3rd
International Bowl (Buffalo 8-5/Connecticut 7-5) 10AM ESPN
Connecticut heads into the bowl like UPS (seein what Brown can do for you). The huskies have junior RB Donald Brown who is the nations leading rusher (1822 yards and 17 TDs) and have a solid defense with 8 returning starters. In 10 of 12 games the Huskies held opponents to 17 points or less. Ironically, Buffalo has scored 20 or more in all but one game. Coach Turner Gill has a talented trio that can create offensive havoc for teams. Bull senior QB Drew Willy can hurt opponents through the ground or the air with his weaponry. Willy has thrown for over 3000 yards with 25 TDs and 5 INTs. Drew's favorite target is clearly junior wideout Naaman Roosevelt has 1312 receiving yards with 13 TDs to his resume. If Roosevelt isn't doing the damage then good chance its junior RB James Starks who at 6.2/210 is a beast and has bulldozed to over 1300 yards himself with 15 TDs.

Jan 5th
Fiesta Bowl (#10 Ohio State 10-2/#3 Texas 11-1) 6PM FOX
Horns from Texas aren't happy to be in Arizona and have reason. Texas' only loss was a road game that came down to one play. Considering that Texas had a new defensive coordinator for the 4th straight year the longhorns have responded rather well only allowing opponents an average of 18.6 points per game. To say that junior Heisman Trophy finalist Colt McCoy had a decent year is an understatement. McCoy led his team to an 11-1 record while passing for over 3400 yards with 32 TDs and 7 INTs. The buckeyes have some serious experience and talent in this bowl returning 9 starters on the "O" as well as 9 on defense. True freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor found his slot quickly taking the QB reins from senior Todd Boeckman and hasn't looked back. Pryor has passed for 1245 yards with 12 TDs and 4 INTs and often handed off to junior RB Beanie Wells who has rushed for over 1000 yards with 8 TDs. Ohio State defense has held opponents to 17 or under in 10 of 12 games led by senior NFL bound linebacker James Laurinaitis. Unfortunately, the buckeyes don't have fond memories of recent BCS matchups and will look to change that.

Jan 6th
GMAC Bowl (#22 Ball State 12-1/Tulsa 10-3) 6PM ESPN
The Cardinals from Ball State is a team without a coach and winless in 6 bowl appearance. After turning around the program (7-6 last year) coach Brady Hoke recently accepted the position available at San Diego State and decided not to lead the cardinals into their second straight bowl game. Don't count Ball State out just yet as they have some offensive firepower (rank 17th nationally in scoring) and have scored 24 or more in all 13 games. The cardinals returned 9 offensive starters but are led by an amazing pair of juniors. Quarterback Nate Davis has accurately thrown (66.9 completion rate) for 3446 yards for 26 TDs and 7 INTs. In the backfield is a pint sized RB MiQuale Lewis (5.6/184) who has shown he has a nice set of wheels rushing for over 1700 yards with 17 TDs. Tulsa coach Todd Graham has gone 22-7 over his two years with an explosive offensive (rank 2nd nationally averging 47.4 per game) this season. The Hurricanes have a trio of phenomenal seniors directed by QB David Johnson. Johnson has thrown for 3866 yards with 43 TDs and 18 INTs (backup QB just happens to be ex Coug Jacob Bower) with Brennan Marion as his favorite target (1112 yards 8 TDs). Marion was the C-USA newcomer of the year last season. In 2007 RB Tarrion Adams ran for 1225 yards but upped that this year to over 1300 yards with 11 TDs.

Jan 8th
BCS National Championship (#2 Florida 12-1/#1 Oklahoma 12-1) 6PM FOX
Having two Heisman trophy winners in this matchup can't hurt tv ratings. Both teams can score points in bunches bigtime definately also helps. This will be the first matchup between the two. The sooners rank #1 in scoring offense averaging an insane 54 per game and the gators aren't far behind at #3 scoring 45.2. In fact, Oklahoma scored 58 or more in each othe last 6 games (not exactly against slouches either including then ranked #2 TX Tech, then #12 OK State and then #20 Mizzo). Last season freshman and Heisman Trophy winner sooner QB Sam Bradford set an NCAA freshman record with 36 passing TDs. This year's campaign included 4464 yards with an incredible 48 TDs and 6 INTs at a 68.3 completion including a nation's best 186.3 efficiency. His super senior wideout Juaquin Iglesias has compiled nearly 1100 receiving yards for 10 TDs. The sooner backfield thunder and lightning dynamic duo of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown both have over 1000 yards on the ground and average 5.6 or better per carry with a scary 34 TDs between the two. Sooner coach Bob Stoops will be seeking his second national championship. Florida's offense should still have some consistency for at least one more game. The gator's OC Dan Mullen was named the new head coach at Missisippi State but plans to stay the course through completion of the bowl game. Considering two new defensive assistants this year (Dan McCartney/DLs and Vance Bedford/CBs) the gators have answered any defensive questions losing only one game on a 4th and 1 with than a less minute remaining. Junior gator and multi threat QB Tim Tebow threw for 2515 yards with a 28 TD and 2 INT ratio with a 176.7 rating second only to Bradford.

13 December 2008

Dear Santa

Dear Santa

Quite a bit has happened this year and I've tried to be awfully good. I was hoping that you would be able to help me out with a few things (not in any particular order) that I would really like. I am wishing for....

Quality Incoming Class whether its recruits, JC transfers or even returning players. Help on the defense would be incredibly wonderful (Manti, Jray, Van Noy, etc). The offense could plug in a few replacement holes as well (McKayJ, Mahina, Manase, etc) to keep the flywheel turning.
Austin Collie To Stay another year. His experience, leadership, playmaking and consecutive 100 yard games will surely be missed and hard to replace.
"Veg" Bowl Victory that can help build some momentum heading into next year. Any wins against BCS type opponents (especially when away from LES) always helps with national credibility.
Coaching Staff Intact for the players and fans eliminating any gaps in learning transition of new schemes, etc. If needed to retain those individuals allowing the university to "pony up" rather than lose them to the yewts or wherever else they might head.
MWC Conference Champs Next Year outright (and yes that includes beating that heathen school up north) while continuing to defend our home field.
More Fully Invested Fans that are not disrespectful (foul mouthed taunting, throwing beverages, etc) who understand common decency and good sportsmanship for others. Fully invested fans show up on time (that means early) and wear BLUE.

...anything you can do Santa would be absolutely wonderful.

09 December 2008

Viva Las Vegas

This years Vegas bowl has a good chance of showing some serious offensive firepower from both teams. I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into another shootout. The Cougs are 9-11 overall in the series with the wildcats but have taken 3 of the last 4 from Arizona since they first played back in 1936. Head coach Mike Stoops has led this years squad to 7-5 overall record and their first postseason appearance since 1998.

The cats return 10 of 11 offensive starters. Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes installed his spread offense and the results have shown. Arizona's Wildcats are directed by senior quarterback Willie Tuitama (6.3/220) who ranks 24th nationally with nearly a 143 pass efficiency rating. Tuitama has thrown for 21 TDs and 8 INTs for 2763 yards. The wildcat offense averages just over 400 yards per game and 37 points thrown up on the scoreboard.

The cats to return all five offensive lineman to provide Tuitama protection as well as pave the way for the capable backfield. Arizona's ground attack consists namely of sophomore Nic Grigsby (5.10/178) and Keola Antolin (5.8/180). Grigsby has rushed for over 1000 yards with 12 TDs while averaging 5.5 per carry but can be fumble prone. Antolin is a fabulous freshman from Vegas and spots 10 TDs on the season with 525 yards to his stats.

The wildcats will throw the ball around no question about that. They have 4 receivers (technically 3 WRs and 1 TE) who each have over 450 yards. The receiving corps is led by dangerous Mike Thomas (who also returns punts and is ranked 17th nationally). Thomas (5.8/195) has 70 receptions for nearly 800 yards and 4 TDs as a senior. Delashaun Dean (6.4/200) is a super sophomore with 46 catches for 505 yards and 3 TDs. The lone junior of the bunch is Terrell Turner (6.2/190) with 39 receptions and 469 yards. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (6.6/260) is a physically imposing sophomore who will keep defenses honest. Gronkowski missed 3 games with mono this season but still had 43 receptions for 645 yards and 10 TDs. Gronk may very well be the offensive difference maker for Arizona. If the 'cats get into the red zone definately look for some balls to be thrown his direction.

Despite only returning 3 defensive starters (serious makeover) the cats rank 20th nationally in overall total defense (36th for scoring defense). If this matchup does become a shootout and turnovers become a factor Arizona does rank 27th in TO margin. One stat that also stands out is that they rank 14th in pass defense. The Cougs may have to take to the ground and pound this thing out. The longer the jerseys in blue can keep Harvey and Fui on the field the longer it means the cats shouldn't be able to get on the board. Senior linebacker Ronnie Palmer (6.3/245) leads the cats with 77 tackles. Free safety senior Nate Ness is the playmaker of the unit and isn't far behind with 70 tackles.

Games are often won or lost with field position and ball control. If that does become an issue the cats do have sophomore Keenyn Crier who averages over 44 yards per punt and ranks 12th nationally. Crier (6.1/200) last season earned All Pac10 honors with more than a dozen heading 50 yards or better. Don't look for Arizona to hand this thing over. The cats will be hungry and ready to play. It won't be easy but if the Cougs can execute at a higher level, play smart positive ball control and play some tough defense look for the jerseys in blue to grit this one out and come out on top.

06 December 2008

On Neutral Ground

Later today at 5PM the Energy Solutions will be the center of attention in the 225th meeting between the Cougs and the Aggies. The jerseys in blue lead the series 134-90 and this will be the first time for both teams in squaring off at a neutral site. Both squads are defending conference champs coming fresh off of victories (Cougs thumpin Weber 92-62 and USU 74-62 over UC Irvine). Neither team has seriously been tested yet and this should give a better indication where both squads stand. The Aggies are led by a dynamic forward duo of Gary Wilkinson (6.9/240 Sr) and Tai Wesley (6.7/240 Soph). Wilkinson averages 16.4ppg with 8.2reb. Wesley isn't far behind at 12.6ppg with 7.0rebs. The Cougs triple threat of Cummard, Tavernari and Jimmer will be tough to shut down. Clutch Cummard leads the way at 20.6ppg with 6.6reb. Tavernari brings 16.1ppg and 7.1reb to the contest. Fredette averages 12.4ppg with 5.3ast. Tipoff is at 5pm with tv action on KJZZ and KBYU.

05 December 2008

Sark To Seattle

Multiple sources across the internet are saying former Cougar quarterback Steve Sarkisian and current USC offensive coordinator will be heading to Seattle to take the coaching reins over for Tyrone Willingham who was forced out at Washington after a rather disappointing (0-11) season. Husky AD Scott Woodward had no comment thursday. Sark will definately have a tough road ahead restoring the Husky tradition. Notable names that pop out include Lincoln Kennnedy, Greg Lewis, Ron Holmes, D'Marco Farr, Steve Emtman, Mark Brunell, Corey Dillon, Napolean Kaufman, Warren Moon, etc. Over the years Washington has had 15 PAC10 championships, 7 Rose Bowl titles, a split national championship (with Miami in 1991)and even have the 17th all time winning percentage. However, their last winning season was back in 2002 under "Slick" Rick. In four years under Willingham the Huskies were a dismal 11-32. If anyone has the capability to succeed its definately Sark. In 1996 Sark led the Cougs to a Cotton Bowl victory and named the Bowl MVP finishing a spectacular 13-1 season. As a Cougar Steve per cougarstats.com ranks 10th all time passing with 53TDs 26INT over 7464yards. Sark can relate to the players. He knows how to win. Steve even knows how to recruit. In fact, his hiring could be the final push to make a certain high school QB turn his eyes towards Washington from his "Heaps" of offers. Sark has the passion, fire and the tools necessary to make good things happen in Seattle.

02 December 2008

Max Factor

Against the matchup with that "school up North" it was rather painfully obvious that Max Hall clearly did not have one of his most productive games. In fact, Hall's performance was one of the worst of his collegiate career. Unfortunately, it was also rather evident there were some deficiencies in his game. On the other hand, who doesn't have some? Everyone has areas in anyone's life that could be addressed to become better whether its on the field or off. Instead of looking at the negative individuals could stop and take inventory. Since taking the reins back in 2007 Max has lead the team to an overall 21 wins and 4 losses including 2 bowl appearances (the 2nd is still yet to be determined but is assured). After the 2007 season his QB rating stood at 137.11. So far this year Max has improved on it marking it at 160.33. Consider a few stats pulled from cougarstats.com (definately a recommend site well worth checking out!) where Max stands...

Career Passing
1. Ty Detmer 121TD 65INT for 15,031 yards
8. Marc Wilson 61TD 46INT for 7637 yards
9. Max Hall 60TD 25INT for 7477 yards
10. Steve Sarkisian 53TD 26INT for 7464 yards

QB Rating
1. Ty Detmer 162.7
6. Robbie Boscoe 149.4
7. Max Hall 148.2
8. John Walsh 147.7

Career Total Offense
1. Ty Detmer 135TD 65INT for 14.665 yards
8. Marc Wilson 68TD 46INT for 7602 yards
9. Max Hall 64TD 25INT for 7590 yards
10. Steve Sarkisian 56TD 26INT for 7253 yards

In 2007 Max Hall simply put up the best digits of any sophomore QB in the nation (yes that includes Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, etc). By passing for a nations best 3848 yards over 13 games last year he also became the MWC All Time leading sophomore QB. With the awesome stats Hall put down on paper in 2007 he ranked fourth in Cougar history behind only Detmer, Sarkisian and Robbie Bosco through their first 13 starts (among some fine company). Max even showed some serious toughness as well in last years "Holy War" with a 49 yard completion on the famous 4th and18. Keep in mind Hall was still "recovering" from a significant shoulder injury the previous week. The future is bright. There is still more football to be played. There are still games to be won. Not too shabby for being the nephew of Danny White.