Once again, it's Football Friday for Cougar Nation! Break out the crimson and gray. Stock up on adult beverages. Be ready to "talk the talk".
Saturday afternoon, Coach Paul Wulff and his Washington State Cougs play host to Coach Mike Bellotti and the Oregon Ducks. And if you can't make it to Martin Stadium in Pullman, tune your satellite to FSN Northwest at 3:15PM PST.
Pac-10 football! You gotta love it.
Staying with Pac-10 football, if Coug players watched the USC/OSU game last night (duh!), there was a simple lesson to be learned.
Teamwork can overcome a collection of individual star talents.
The concept of playing as a team sounds simple enough, but if it were, there'd be no separation between competitors.
Teamwork requires a leader. When it comes to offensive unit leaders, both Oregon and WSU are searching for someone to step up...and stay healthy.
Oregon has lost their first three quarterbacks on the depth chart since spring practice. The revolving door at that position has led to a shaky start of the Duck scoring machine. Last week it cost the Ducks a game at home.
Washington State has lost their first two quarterbacks since spring practice. Unlike Oregon, they lost both of them last week against Portland State in a game they dominated from beginning to end.
Defensive leadership isn't an issue for either team. Patrick Chung leads a scrappy, athletic D for the Ducks. Chung is a good one. The Cougs have a good leader in senior Greg Trent. Trent isn't surrounded by comparable athletic players though.
Both teams are likely to run the ball on offense since that would seem to be their strengths due to young quarterbacks. That's the conventional wisdom when analyzing this game.
Both teams are trying to right their respective ships and play winning football, so don't expect conventional wisdom to apply here. No sir.
Marshall Lobbestael will get the start for the Cougs. He's been cramming for this game as though it were a quantum physics final. The kid is pumped to get on the field and play Division I football. Heck, every kid dreams of opportunities like this. Since Lobbestael has all the tools to be a good quarterback, he has two major challenges.
First, Lobbestael will need to play within himself. He'll be so jacked up to get out on the field that it's likely his first few pass attempts might just look like bombs launched on Moscow (Idaho, that is). If he can take a couple of snaps from center without getting his bell rung by Duck linebackers, the Cougs may be able to do something other than try to run the ball against an excellent defense.
The other challenge for Lobbestael will be to lead the offense. Once again this week the O-line will have a different lineup. He'll have to direct that line to play as a unit and assure they know their assignments.That sounds simple and obvious. Obvious, yes. Simple? If it were so simple, why did USC's O-line miss so many assignments last night against Oregon State? Hmmm?
Conventional wisdom calls this game in favor of Oregon. In fact, the Ducks are favored by nearly three touchdowns in the Cougs house on their Homecoming Weekend.
Last week Washington State found out how to win.
This week we'll see if the Cougs learned how to win.