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October 12, 2011
The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - The Disappointment
Disappointment is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Especially when parents are speaking to teenagers who decided skipping school to stay at home and play video games and drink Mountain Dew was much better than going and sitting through yet another assembly on treating other students with respect where a 25 slide presentation would be shown. Not that I've ever experienced anything like that whatsoever. But sometimes I think the word disappointed is much worse than angry or mad. Just imagine your parents looking at you and say, "I'm not even mad; I'm just incredibly disappointed in you." That just sounds and gives me the feeling of nails on a chalkboard.
I'm not disappointed in the Cougar soccer team at all. Heck they did what they should this weekend. They welcomed in the new Pac-12 schools and roundly stomped them and send them packing with a total of no goals between the Utes and the Buffs. In fact, they look well on their way to another NCAA Tournament appearance under their outstanding head coach Matt Potter. This is a team making quick work of virtually every opponent they face in the conference but they face another tough test in the UCLA Bruins this weekend. This could tell us a lot about just how good this team truly is and if they have the potential to go farther than any team before (the 2009 team went to the second round of the tournament).
I'm only slightly disappointed in the volleyball squad as they lost to one team you could argue they should've beaten and then swept a team they absolutely should've. The Utah Utes team they lost to was good enough to warrant a loss to but the Colorado Buffaloes was a team they should've easily swept and they did. While one could be displeased when they see that they are in such bad shape in the conference, one would then need to be reminded that, as I last saw the polls, five teams were ranked in the top seven nationally. This certainly isn't a conference of soft teams.
Based on this progression, I'm relatively certain you can see where my greatest disappointment lies. It's with a team that had opportunity after opportunity to put extra points on the board and bury a team they had a clear advantage over. I believe in the process of rebuilding the football team and to this point, I've been relatively happy. But there is certainly one thing a team that has fully recovered does that the Cougars have not done yet: step on a team's throat and keep the other foot on the accelerator. I don't know whether it's a mentality issue or a skill issue. But I haven't seen them do that yet.
What's more worrying is the fact that the team got into the red zone three times in the first half and couldn't finish having to settle for field goals. The fact that this team has gotten better is one that cannot be disputed. But this team is still not good enough to settle for field goals on three drives into the red zone in the first half. If you're able to be up 21-7 at halftime, that completely changes the game and essentially forces UCLA to start throwing which they are not good at.
But such is the word we live in and the Cougars were not able to that. It's why I'm incredibly disappointed with their performance on Saturday. It was a game that was essentially there's for the taking. The defense was playing reasonably well in the first half and they could've pounded UCLA into submission. But they didn't. I don't think it's because this team isn't used to playing with a lead. I think Todd Sturdy could've called for more running plays in a game where UCLA seemed to have at least a little trouble bottling up Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston. Maybe it's an extension of the "not playing with a lead" issue above. As I said earlier, this team just hasn't learned to step on the gas pedal and keep it firmly mashed to the floor. Run up the score, we don't care. To win in the Pac-12, you can't just let up a little bit once the team you're beating is down three touchdowns. I can count at least four teams in the league that would have a decent chance at erasing that margin with ease.
They are still young. They still don't know what it means to be able to stomp on an opponent because they aren't used to it. My worry is they won't learn that until it's too late. Because barring a miracle, I just don't see this team making it to a bowl anymore. My prediction earlier in the year was predicated on the act that they'd go at least 4-1 in their first five games. But now they need some serious help against California and Utah to avoid needed the Apple Cup to get to a bowl.
I think it's time for this team to learn to have a lead foot.
Last Week: 3-2
This doesn't go well for Cal. At all.
USC 31, California 10
So Utah apparently can't win at home playing anyone good or on the road.
Pittsburgh 27, Utah 17
Lightning doesn't strike twice for the Beavs.
BYU 24, Oregon State 14
Best game of the weekend by far. Oregon squeaks by with or without James.
Oregon 34, Arizona State 27
So Colorado plays Stanford one week then goes to Seattle? Who made this schedule for them?
Washington 41, Colorado 17
Normally I put a lot of thought into the Cougar game. But I only have two very obvious words: Andrew Luck.
Stanford 37, Washington State 24
Obscure Pick of the Week: There's more than one Texas A&M? Why was I not informed?
Texas A&M Kingsville 33, Incarnate Word 10
Dunderhead of the Week: My fiancé but for a perfectly innocent reason. I'm on a diet. She made brownies. CURSE YOU MY INCREDIBLE BAKING FUTURE WIFE!
And, of course, John Buccigross.
+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++
The 2011-12 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 playing their 2011 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.