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More well hidden progress
Written by Westward   
Saturday, 24 October 2009 16:23

We covered against the spread once more this week. We are now 4-1 against the spread in our past five games. I'm not sure what to make of the consistent slow starts. Some will say that it's a product of our talent being overmatched when the opponent is really into the game but then how would you explain the same slow starts against teams that are closer to us like SMU, Hawaii or even an Arizona State? I'm starting to think that this really is a function of young guys a little shell shocked each week before they finally settle in and play their game.

.

We saw our offense take a step forward and our defense seemed to take a lateral step towards improvement. Not really much to be excited about on defense. It wasn't a collapse like we saw so many times last year on the part of the defense. They were just steadily below average all day long. They did force another turnover which was great to see as it's starting to lead me to believe that our ability to force turnovers is a legitimate skill and not just the product of an opponent becoming lackadaisical against a poor D.  If we want to steal one more victory this year is going to need to have the defense pick up another 3 or 4 turnover game. Let's hope our guys can stay healthy and continue to get reps. I'll be curious to see how the defense plays next week against a Notre Dame team that is closer to a Stanford level of offense (read: slightly above average rather than very good like Oregon or Cal).

The offense showed signs of real life.
It was almost exclusively through the air as we had zero ability to run the ball. I attribute this mostly to the patchwork line that we put out there. The nice thing is that it does sound like they did a solid job of pass protection and that in turn allowed us to see what Jeff Tuel has to offer right now. It's fantastic that he got another 41 pass attempts in today and that brings his season total to 87. Like I said in an earlier post, if we can get the kid 200-250 attempts that will be a really valuable season for the guy in terms of getting him a full season of experience. Certainly worth burning his redshirt if we can get him to that point. Let's hope he stays healthy. Following today's game we now see Tuel's passer rating at a very good 114. We also started to see some consistency out of our receiving core. Simone and Forzani shined at times with Karstetter and Solomon showing they can make quality plays that move the chains. All four receivers are back next year. Now imagine adding Norrell to the mix. That puts us a legitimate five deep with some potential gamebreakers. Let's hope next week we can get another couple of linemen completely healthy. If we do that I think we'll start to see the running game put a little bit together as well. If we can stay reasonably healthy on offense the rest of the way I think we'll see really positive progress across the board with most everyone coming back next year to actually put that experience to use.

Overall, an outcome that was probably the mid-case as far as what we could have hoped to see. The defense was poor but not atrocious and our offense showed some progress through the air. My belief is that we are continuing to see progress towards an upset that we will pull late in the season....that's provided we can stay healthy. I'm really looking at that UCLA game in Pullman as a real possibility. Keep the faith Coug fans. It's painful right now but the progress is there. Hopefully we'll get a W to lift morale and then expect to see a season next year like what UW is experiencing this year.


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