The effort was there but another couple of dopey mistakes by the
kick and punt teams and here we are, facing the bleak
prospect of playing out the string.
This might be the first season in Cougar history when hope ended before
September did. Just who can the Cougars beat now, if
they can't beat an Arizona team that lost to
non-descript BYU and even non-descripter New Mexico?
This 48-20 loss began to take shape when the Cougs'
latest punter, Ephrata's Reid ``Run Forrest Run!" Forrest, let
a good snap bounce off his hands, as the previous
punter did the week before. It was about that time
that a reasonably close game began to sour.
The Coug offense that shoulders all responsibility for hanging
in there is decent, but not decent enough to overcome
feeble defense and comical special teams play.
Now, we should point out a few things that went right. Coug
tight end Jed Collins, the human packhorse, has worked
himself into an inviting target over the middle. The
blitz worked. Once. The Coug defense forced a punt.
Once. It was the first enemy punt, incidentally,
since late in the WSU-Idaho game about 50 years ago.
Forcing a punt every 100 minutes of playing time is no
way to execute a defensive game plan. That's how long
it dragged on, incidentally, between defensive stops.
Just over 100 minutes. And when the Cougs did force
their one punt of the night the offense did nothing
with it -- another mark of a team on a spiral to
One suggestion in the bleakness of what lies
ahead -- field position is irrelevant.
We know the kicking game has more needs than an Army recruiter. So
coach, because you can't punt, don't. I know a junior
high team wouldn't play it that way but wouldn't you
rather have Alex Brink taking the snap out of shotgun
on fourth down -- with a chance to pick up yardage in
the right direction?
Almost anything is better than trusting the football to any of our platoon of punters
and kickers, who somehow end up on the team charter
every week. Either we've got a lot of empty seats on
the team plane or there's a backup punter with a lot
of built-up frequent flyer miles.
It was a strange
start, even before the Cougs blew an extra-point kick
and flubbed a deep snap. The new-look Arizona Wildcats
are committed to the pass this year, right? Spread the
field, share the ball, move it Dennis Erickson-style
dinking and dumping all the way to the Sun Bowl.
how come Arizona came out looking like the 1974 Ohio State Buckeyes? Even with the usual verbal sandbagging
among coaches that passes for pre-game information,
this week was something of a classic creation of
Wazzu's Bill Doba hazarded the guess
that the Cougars' planned arrival in Pullman Sunday
morning might be delayed by a full day. It's all those
passes you understand. Look for us back in Pullman,
oh, sometime Monday.
Arizona's Mike Stoops didn't do
much to alter the perception. Throw after throw. Guys getting out of bounds to stop the clock. Drops. Touchdowns. Time dragging.
We should have known that
Arizona wouldn't ignore the obvious, which is this: the
Coug defense is soft in the middle. Charlie Weis soft
in the middle. Roll as much film as a college football
coach does and you notice a few things.
right might be a good idea against Washington State,
followed by steamroll left. Saturday it was an Arizona
freshman named Grigsby, in his first start, who ran up
the real estate like some kind of modern Archie
Griffin-LaDanian Tomlinson clone.
Stoops got too cute for a spell, trying to force the pass, when all he had
to do was keep it on the ground. Eventually their
passing game weighed in heavily but not before the
Wildcats became the latest to leave the tread marks of
their running back all over the Coug D.
I know this
will come off as extreme but Doba might be wise to
find another linebackers coach. He's the head coach
and the linebackers coach, right? He could go down as
the first head coach to fire himself. It would be
coaching immortality of a sort.
Still, it could be worse
for the guy who might be the most decent man in college
coaching today. He could have made himself the special
teams coach this year. Then he'd have no choice. He'd
fire himself tomorrow.