Ahoy matey… this Thursday brings us to the 4th of Arghhh 2012 game previews. Why the weak pirate puns, you ask? Week four has your Colorado Buffaloes traveling to Pullman, WA to take on the Washington State Cougars. Sure, Pullman may be landlocked but they have arguably the most famous pirate to never have pillaged anything. In a much hyped offseason move Wazzu hired the swashbuckling Mike Leach. Leach is one of five, that’s right FIVE coaches who are new to their programs in the first six weeks of the season. This fact alone gives me some much needed optimism, albeit cautious, for the upcoming season. Especially if Leach doesn’t quite have his sea legs yet. Lets hope the Coug’s don’t come out "swinging their swords" and don’t "find their inner pirate" before week four (those are seriously Mike Leach quotes from a Friday Night Lights cameo). Sorry, I just really can’t help myself with the pirate puns, too easy.
One reason I may be hiding behind the juvenile humor of puns is that last year’s game against Wazzu hurt. We had it all but won. We gave up two touchdowns with less than two and a half minutes to play, the second of which was a 65 yard bomb while we were sitting in a prevent-esq defensive set. This was the Buffs Pac-12 debut (again, the game against Cal was non-conference), a game that could have made Embree’s first season at the helm, on paper, look almost positive. We gave it away.
Now, I know our road woes are VERY well documented so I don’t want to write this game off as a loss just because we are traveling to Pullman, but when you let a lead like that slip away, and in such dramatic fashion AT HOME it is easy to look at this game with some trepidation. So, these Cougars proved with their 4-8 record and head-to-head victory over us that last year they were the better team. Not, much better, but better. One must remember that these are the same Washington State Cougars who have won only 9 games in the last four seasons.
Just wanted to get this in: The Coug’s have a pretty hilarious fan base. They, like us (recently), lose often (9 wins in the last 4 seasons). Unlike us, however, they have never been to the top of the college football ranks. Sure they have had a taste of success (three 10-win seasons in a row, a couple top-10 final season rankings). But, they have never really exhibited greatness. Yet, despite this lack of true sustained success a flag bearing their colors is ever-present in the background of College Game Day sets (I am not kidding it is ALWAYS there). Also there is THIS!!!!!
You gotta give it to ‘em they are funny, and the heights of their hilarity has no ceiling with a PIRATE as their head coach.
The 2012 match-up leaves more questions than answers; we are a very different team than we were against the Cougars last season. If you remember, this is the first game (check my story here) with Brian Lockridge, a true running back, and Jason Espinoza a wide receiver in the secondary. Our defense was DECIMATED. To have two offensive players playing on the defensive side of the ball is crazy, not many teams can expect to win under those circumstances. This year we bring in two of the nation’s top incoming freshman corners, return a solid line backing corps, and have a competition underway with some very athletic (yet untested) defensive linemen. All of a sudden, a defense made out of converted offensive players last season, looks like a pretty dang solid unit this year.
That (hopefully) solid defense will face returning starter Jeff Tuel (assuming he beats out the competition). AND, Tuel now has the keys to a shiny new Mike Leach Buccaneer (for good pirate measure) Air Raid offense. This Air Raid attack, when run correctly can make an average quarterback (Read: Colt Brennan, Graham Harrell, etc) look like Heisman candidates. To make things worse for the Buff’s defense he will be throwing to the very talented wideout, Marquess Wilson. We actually did a decent job of keeping Wilson locked down at Folsom Field last year UNTIL he scorched our secondary for that 65 yard game winner.
Shiver me timbers, that was bad.
The Wazzu offensive line seems to be a weakness, which can be a game killer for the air raid attack. So, if we can pressure Tuel early and often we have more than a great shot in this one. Also, I pulled the thought while trolling www.cougcenter.com that this game could turn into a bit of a trap game if all goes according to the hopes of Coug fans. You see the Coug’s (gosh that word sounds weirder and weirder every time I type it) have a legitimate shot to open 3-0, with the fourth game being us. They could sleep on us as the look forward to a week 5 game against the Oregon Ducks, just some food for thought.
Listen, Wazzu has the potential, behind Leach’s offensive scheme, to put up crazy, stupid, video game-like numbers. However, their defense has to stop opponents from scoring. If there is one thing I ever learned from John Madden it is that "Usually the team with the most points wins the game!" So that is what we have to do. We either have to hope that the Air Raid is not hitting on all cylinders and that we can slow it (which Coach Brown and the Buffs have done with success against Leach in the past), or hope that our offensive will find the fire power necessary to outscore our opponents. That is it, if we score more points we win, haha.
Don’t make me walk the plank if I am wrong here but I can realistically, if not overly optimistically see us sitting at 4-0 when all is said and done here (disclaimer*** this prediction necessitates not one but TWO road wins, in a row). But hey, why would I predict a loss?