What is the general mood in Pullman? Is everyone still down about last season, or are y'all finding reasons to be optimistic about 2010?
Cautious optimism is the feeling around these parts. We took our lumps the last two years in a rebuilding project that can only be describe as a massive overhaul. Going into year three, we expect improvement from the team, though there's still a gigantic gap between WSU and the rest of the conference.
We're optimistic because we have a quarterback that we think can play. We have a talented group of freshmen coming off redshirt years on the defense that should make an impact right away. The defensive line returns its best player in Travis Long and adds a beast inside in Brandon Rankin. The talent level is on the upswing and it's a matter of time before it manifests itself in the form of wins. So we're optimistic about the future around here.
What was the general consensus about Oklahoma State, and the rest of the Big XII South, potentially becoming a part of the Pac-10?
Unbridled excitment with visions of rolling in giant piles of $100 bills comes to mind. Obviously we would have loved to absorb the Big 12 South -- minus Baylor, screw those guys -- into the Pac-10, leading to more national exposure and truckloads of money for our little ole conference.Besides the money aspect, adding the six rumored schools would've made scheduling and alignment so much easier. The Pac-16 could've taken the old Pac-8 (Washington, Oregon, and California schools) and put them in one division with the newbies and Arizona schools in the other. Life would've been so simple.Speaking of which, Texas sucks.
When was the last time you saw the sun? (climate joke!)
Well, I haven't been out the basement in a while. Blogging takes a nice dark room with no sunlight. My mom even brings me PB&J down here.Oddly enough, Seattle has some nice summers, though this year has been terrible. I wish I could say the stereotype about rainy Seattle isn't true, but alas it is. Once October hits, the doom and gloom comes. Sigh.
On the offense, Jeff Tuel, James Montgomery, and Gino Simone. The decision to not redshirt Tuel last year was much debated, but it's looking like it paid off in camp so far. Instead of breaking in a new starter, we've got a returner with some much needed experience. He's got a good arm and is a threat to run.Montgomery is an impact player and a damn fine story. You won't be rooting for him September 4th, but this is a kid that everyone should root for. He's gone from an injury that could've meant the loss of his leg to a recovery that's nothing short of miraculous. He may not be 100%, but I'll take 90% of Montgomery every day.Simone established a rapport with Tuel early on -- freshmen, same class, formed a nice bond -- and is a favorite target of the young quarterback. He's a little guy, but he's shifty and a solid route runner.On the defense, Brandon Rankin is looking to make a name for himself on the line. The JC DT transfer is a beast like we haven't seen in some time at WSU. He's a guy your quarterback could have nightmares about.
Based on your knowledge about the Oklahoma State team, what worries you the most about the upcoming matchup?
The unknown. I have no idea what to expect from OSU this year (that's where you come in!). I still have nightmares of Dez Bryant abusing our undersized cornerbacks in 2008 at Qwest Field and even though you guys are breaking in a new QB and plenty of new starters, I feel like OSU is a still a force, especially matched up against the Cougs.
I saw the post on cougcenter about the beefing up of many of your players over the summer... Was conditioning an issue last season? Was there a special conditioning program put in place over the summer?
Conditioning wasn't so much an issue recently, but has been in the past. The conditioning program ramped up when Paul Wulff was hired as coach. What he found was a rag tag group of football players that looked more suited for Pee-Wee ball, not Pac-10 ball. The pictures you saw here are guys that have been in the program 2+ years. We're finally looking like a D1 team.
How does the Washington State fanbase travel? Will there be a good amount of Cougar fans in Stillwater, and if so, what should we expect from them? tailgating? barhopping? looking for good restaurants? females looking for male blogger companionship?
No matter how bad the team, the Cougs travel well. There should be a good amount in Stillwater and I expect you'll be plenty surprised with what you see. We like to drink so our fans are generally likeable and play well with others. Tailgating, barhopping, and enjoying the local scenery are a must for fans traveling to Stillwater. Who knows, you might find a nice Cougar that enjoys a good Cowboy blog.
And lastly, what needs to happen for the Cougars to pull out a victory in Stillwater. Like is there a list of a few specific players that need to show up, specific types of plays that need to work,etc?
At it's most simple level, the offensive line needs to show up and the defense needs to be able to stop OSU. That, of course, is the case with most games. The Cougar offensive line has been dreadful the last two years, handing out sacks like candy and being generally unable to jumpstart a rushing game (worst in the nation in both). They absolutely need to keep Jeff Tuel upright for the Cougs to have any kind of success.
One of the most telling stats I found from last year came in the form of first quarter scoring. WSU was outscore 162-6 in the first quarter. Games were over by the first quarter and rarely were competitive into the second half. If the Cougs are still hanging around after the first and second quarter, they could pull off an upset. Naturally, a few breaks are going to need to go their way, though. Instead of needed about 10 dominoes to fall in past years, they likely need only a few this year. At least that's the hope.