The blog has returned! Thanks for being patient this summer as I took some time to relax, recuperate and see some of the warmer parts of Washington. Be looking tomorrow for my gameday diary during the Seahawks game. Now, on with our regularly scheduled thoughts on sports ...
Count me among those who wish the Associated Press would do away with its preseason rankings. Besides the fact that it gives such an unfair BCS advantage to teams that begin the year highly ranked, outside of the top few teams we just don't know how good teams are until they start playing some games that matter.
For example, both the Cougars and Huskies now have two games under their belts -- one home game against a patsy, one road game against one of the better teams in the country -- and I think both teams' fans ought to feel pretty encouraged by what they saw.
In a game that looked awful scary to most Coug fans, WSU obliterated an Idaho team that played pretty well on the road against Michigan State a week ago. After a bit of sputtering in the first quarter, the Cougs proceeded to make Dennis Erickson and the Vandals look like they were the I-AA incarnation he coached in Moscow 25 years ago.
The defense looked fast and stout, as it did for much of last week's game at Auburn before humidity and time of possession took its toll. The offense finally found some rhythm, rolling up more than 650 yards without its starting running back and looking like the high-powered unit everyone expected before the season started.
When you take into account Auburn's 34-0 shutout of Mississippi State on the road this week, I have come to these two conclusions: 1) Auburn is really, really good; and, 2) The Cougs probably are going to be pretty good, too, just like we thought.
As for Washington, Husky fans should be encouraged. Much like WSU against Auburn, UW was able to keep the game close for a half against Oklahoma by running the ball well, only to fold in the second half after falling behind.
The defense looked remarkably physical -- if not a bit overmatched in terms of overall talent -- and played well enough to keep the game respectable. However, when that offense is put into the position of passing the ball every down to catch up, it cannot succeed, especially against a team as talented as the Sooners.
If the Huskies are going to have any shot at being better than everyone thinks, I think the formula now becomes pretty clear: Keep it close with defense and control the clock by running the ball on offense and hope Stanback can mix in a big play or two without killing momentum with poor decisions.