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September 8, 2010

The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - What Is That Smell?


All it took was one play and about five seconds. You can't do a lot of things from start to finish in five seconds. Despite this timing obstacle, the Cougars had managed to turn the ball over just five seconds into their 2010 season opener against Oklahoma State. Then 30 seconds later, the Cowboys' star running back Kendall Hunter rumbled into the endzone for a touchdown.

My face was buried in my hands; one thought crossed my mind: so this is how it's going to go, again? Do we, as Cougar fans, really have to put ourselves through this for another season? The mind-boggling mistake took a mere five seconds, something we hadn't seen the previous two seasons. It was a simple hand off, looked like a stretch to the right. If that was getting screwed up, what was going to go right?


But out the dark abyss of another hopeless and painful season rose a light. After another three and out from the offense, the defense did something I hadn't seen in what seemed like years: forced a three and out. On the ensuing possession, Washington State went nowhere again. On Oklahoma State's next possession, another three and out. After that the Pokes grabbed a touchdown and field goal on their next two drives. But here's what I was focused on: the defense, during it's four trips onto the field (I'm not counting the first touchdown, no defense would've been prepared to stop that) they gave up 10 points and actually looked like a decent unit.

Better yet, the light got brighter. WSU's next possession stalled on the OSU 39-yard line. I was thinking punt but head coach Paul Wulff and senior Nico Grasu were clearly thinking about splitting the uprights with room to spare from 56 yards away. Another three and out from the Cowboys, even featuring a great sack from linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis.

Then true freshman Marquess Wilson showed why the coaches have been so high on him. He hauled in a pass with his string bean arms, made some men miss and darted to the endzone. Just like that, inexplicably, the Cougars were within a touchdown. They had got down early, persevered and they were crawling back.

The Cowboys got back on the field and drove. One touchdown. The Cougars got the ball back, moved down the field, faked a field goal and turned it over. The Cowboys had the ball with decent field position. Another touchdown. The Cougars had the ball again and again couldn't do anything. The Cowboys got the ball with time to spare in the half. Touchdown to end the second quarter. The Cowboys got the ball at the beginning of the second half. Result: their fourth straight touchdown.

If you blinked, you missed it. The Cowboys scored 28 unanswered points and barely exerted themselves when they did it. The pendulum swing from hopeful to despair had never been so quick. Heck, last year there was no pendulum to swing (save for the SMU game). I was angry; almost stupendously angry. My forehead was so wrinkled in anger I was terrified it would stay that way permanently.

Then, I began to think about it a little bit. For about 10 game minutes, this team looked like it belonged on the football field. There were passes were being deflected, first downs were being made. Perhaps the best thing of all was Hoffman-Ellis' sack because it came on a delay, which meant the coverage made it happen. Sophomore Jeff Tuel found himself a play maker in Wilson and senior running back Chantz Staden showed his knee is definitely fully healthy again. Grasu showed a leg we'd never previously seen before, not just kicking but running the ball off a fourth down option run.

This team got blown out, again. We were let down, probably more than usual because of all the talk about how much this team has improved. We finished the whole six-pack when we only intended to have a couple, again. We blew through an entire box of tissues we hadn't planned to even open, again.

But for some reason, I haven't lost hope. Those flashes of brilliance seemed to be brighter than the previous seasons. Perhaps it was because they were coming from young players who seem to be coming of age well before they had originally intended.

I still have my hope. My hope that this team will figure it out and turn things around this year. My hope that they will win some games and improve drastically from last year. My hope the team will be better than they've been and give Cougar fans a reason to be proud again. In the very pit of my Cougar fandom, I know they can do it.

Lose to Montana State on Saturday; all my hope goes out the window. I can't even begin to fathom what I would do, especially since I'll be in attendance. But beat them and beat them soundly, maybe just maybe, people will begin to believe as much as I do in this team.


PICKS:


Last Week: 9-1
Overall: 9-1


Cupcake number two in a row for the Wildcats!

The Stoops Studs 49, No Jokes About The Citadel 7


Nice to see the Sun Devils made this terrible opponent just drive down the state instead of flying in from Oregon.

Moon Devils Isn't As Intimidating 56, Northern Arizona Has Lumber? 10


A future Pac-12 institute! California still has their number!

Maybe Kevin Riley Can Figure It Out 42, Dan Hawkins' Institute of Being Terrible 17


Rocky Top has seen much better days and Oregon just put up 72. So this might be fun!

Lobos Killers 56, Volunteering For A Beat Down 16


First conference game of the year. Too bad it's wildly underwhelming.

Andrew Luck's Trees 34, New Weasel Bruins 20


If the Trojan defense can figure it out by the time the conference schedule rolls around, they'll be fine. Shouldn't have to worry about that this week though.

Men Of An Ancient Greek City-State 41, I Still Hate You Tony Bennett 10


Once again, I hate doing this.

No Heisman For Locker 37, Too Much Orange 6


I should feel confident in saying this is an absolute lock against an FCS opponent. But despite what I said above, this game still legitimately scares me. If there is an even remote let down during the game, I'm worried it will get in the team's head and given what happened to Ole Miss, it scares me even more. Please oh please let this be correct.

Washington State 41, Montana State 14







+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++

The 2010 athletic season is here…and you know what that means…It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Football, soccer and volleyball, just to name a few, are preparing for their 2010 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.


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