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August 28, 2009
The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - The Half-Full Glass
Optimism is a fleeting thing at times. It can be taken a way as quick as a jackrabbit and disappear faster than Billy Gillispie's dignity. Or in some cases it just may not exist at all. Inside of a group of people it may be difficult to find any amount of happiness or joy when looking forward. Just ask a Los Angeles Clippers fan. But another fan population where pessimism seems to be rampant is in all of Cougar nation, especially when it comes to their football team. Many fans look at last season and expect much of the same this year. Of course, without a game under their belt this coming season, most people would have little reason to think otherwise.
So someone needs to go get me a grad student from the psych department, one preferably without a heavy beard and a superiority complex problem. I seem to have a problem with a little unheralded optimism going into this football season. Unheralded because I seemed to be the only person within a 100 furlong radius of Martin Stadium that believes the football team will be more successful this year.
Last year was bad. Really bad. It re-defined the word "bad". The offense was woefully inept and the defense was worse, if that was possible. So really, part of the justification for my optimism would have to be: how much worse can it really get? Sure, they could've kept a big goose egg in the wins column but the victory against Portland State was a gift and the Apple Cup was a metaphorical fight between a three-legged elephant with a peg leg and a goose who doesn't know where to fly for the winter. But I can't imagine the defense will suffer losses of well over 60 points and by the same token there won't be a quarterback who goes an entire season without throwing a touchdown pass.
Adding to the difficulty was the departure of a four-year starter at quarterback and the change to a brand new offensive system. It's not easy to lose a quarterback with whom every receiver, lineman and running back has worked with over the last four years, let alone throw the new guy into a brand new, no-huddle offensive system with only some spring and a few fall practices under his belt.
Last year was a perfect storm of Murphy's Law with injuries. A new coaching staff who placed a premium on toughness and fitness watched players who weren't in good football shape get destroyed by injuries. Granted senior quarterback Gary Rogers' injury had nothing to do with football fitness but many players became the walking wounded because they weren't in shape.
So far though, all this has been is an article full of excuses. Luckily though, it seems this is not a football team full of them. Many players know that there is really no satisfactory excuse for the way they performed last season. There is a difference between losing to USC by 28 points at home and losing by 69 points at home. Players seemed to play lackadaisically and without care for how badly they were crushed last year. An attitude change is what they needed and it seems they got it.
Opening the season at home against a Pac-10 opponent still trying to find themselves is a big advantage as well. Follow that up with a game in Seattle against a team that might just be worse off this year than last helps going into their second non-conference game in a row against a team that finished with just a lone win last season against Texas State. Starting out with a perfect record or with at least two wins in their first three games isn't completely out of the question as the schedule sets up rather nicely for the Cougars.
Call it blind optimism if you like. You might even call if homerism. I call it realism. Will the Cougars beat USC? No. And I can say that with complete and total confidence. Will the Cougars compete for a Pac-10 title? Dear sweet Lord no. Will they finish above 7th in the conference? Probably not.
Believe it or not, a Heisman Trophy victory is probably out of the question for Marshall Lobbestael. By no means does my optimism expand beyond the expectation of a better season this year.
As for the rest of you, a little optimism never hurt anyone. Especially when the bar is set so low a turtle could jump over it. Breaking even in their schedule likely won't be happening, but at least 3 wins is a reasonable goal. The glass might be half empty but the team is going a long way to making it half full.
That's right, they're back! Not exactly in force as we have just one for this week but hey, they're here.
The Pac-10 season opens with an absolute dozy featuring two top ranked teams and what might be the final piece of evidence to really give Boise State the big conference attention many think they deserve. Frankly, I'm sick of the moaning and groaning. Oregon, read my lips: bury them. Even though you probably won't at least give it your best shot. By the by, try not to watch this game in HD; all the colors may cause you to blind.
The Quacks 31, Blue Turfers 20
Dunderhead of the Week: Whoever pulled the fire alarm in the Cub on Thursday afternoon. I got a rare break on my Thursdays and just wanted a little Subway but whatever freshman thought it would be hilarious just couldn't let that happen.
+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++
Summer is almost over and you know what that means It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Football, soccer, volleyball, men's & women's basketball, baseball, track & field and tennis, just to name a few, are coming up right around the corner. 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.