19.Oct.2011 Oregon State @ Washington State (Pre-game)
On Saturday night, buried within the obscure, lo-fi Fox derivative channels, the Oregon State/Washington State game will air. People flipping through might mistake it for a high school game. This is small time football, folks. Nobody seems too upset. Everyone has an excuse. Okay, whatever, the game must be played, unfortunately.
When scouting Washington State last week, I noticed a couple things:
- Their QB, Jeff Tuel, is mobile. Not Nelson Riley or Darron Thomas mobile, but more like Jake Plummer. A savvy guy who moves around and breaks the pocket when necessary. Obviously this is bad news for the Beavers, as once again they will be at an 11 vs 12 disadvantage. Tuel isn't a bad passer, either.
- Washington State runs some read option. Uh oh. Mark Banker will be exposed (again).
- The Cougars play with passion. The crowd didn't seem especially large, but they were into last week's game, and the Cougars played Stanford with fire and passion for all four quarters (even when they fell behind by 17).
- Their WR, Marquees Wilson, is a beast. I'm not confident Poyer can cover him.
- They play with confidence. Amazing to write this given their track record the past few years, but it's a fact, this team has confidence, and they've come together nicely. Credit to Wulff for changing the culture.
On paper this game is an even match–both teams recruit the same type of player and both teams are young. However, Washington State plays with attitude and confidence. Taking from my last post about chess, Mike Riley and Paul Wulff are just about equal as "candidate masters", but Wulff has engrained a Sisyphean mentality in his players. They lose, they get up, they do it again. No skin off their back. In fact, they get better and tougher with each loss. It's something I'd love to say about the Beavers, but I don't print lies.
This is a very close game, and one I am reluctant to pick. Gun to my head, I feel Washington State is a more "put together" team right now who play like they have a unified goal. That psychology does wonders when going up against a physically equal opponent who is in a mentally lesser place. It wouldn't surprise me to see this game go into overtime, but I respect the Cougs enough to give them the standard 3 point home field advantage and then some.