Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Joy in Pullman

On the Road Again. I can't wait to get back on the road again. Well, Willie Nelson might not be able to wait, but I sure can. And I'm pretty sure other Bruin fans will agree with me. Those pesky away games have proven to be incredibly difficult over the last few years and the Palouse in particular has been a house of horrors for UCLA.

This is one of those games where you just wish we could take a pass. WSU stinks and is in last place; there really is no surprise there. UCLA is coming off a big win and flying high. This is exactly the type of game the Bruins love to lose. To make matters worse, the Cougs had a bye week to prepare for UCLA. Oh did I mention the weather looks like it will be cold and gloomy? Fantastic.

No, there is no joy in Pullman. Playing Wazzu is like getting a root canal. You know you have to do it but you're in pain the whole time and just want it to end as soon as possible. They've completely owned us over the last decade, winning five of the last six with our only victory a come-from-behind overtime thriller in 2005. Yet for some reason our team never seems fired up to play these guys. Maybe it is the 2 1/2 hour plane ride followed by the 2 hour bus trip just to get into Pullman. Maybe it is the cold weather, the crazy crowd, or the northern latitude. Whatever the reason, the Bruins seem to find a way to take this game off every year.

The Cougs do bring a pretty good passing attack this season. Alex Brink has put up respectable numbers but he hasn't gotten much help from the running game. I'm sure the Bruin defense will keep the Cougs running backs locked up so expect a lot of throwing on Saturday. Our corners will need to have a big day. With Christian Taylor likely unavailable and our defensive line taking some hits, the Bruin defense will need it's other play makers (Trey Brown, Bruce Davis, Alteraun Verner, and Chris Horton) to step it up.

Their defense has struggled as well and the Ducks absolutely lit up the Cougs two weeks ago. Pat did a great job managing the game against the Bears and if he can do the same on Saturday, I'm sure we'll score even more points. I liked how Norvell got Brandon Breazell more involved in the offense. Chris Markey is also looking good in practice and I'm hoping he'll add some more oopmh to our running game. If we can stay balanced then I think UCLA should move the ball very well.

The final thing to consider is WSU's mental condition. This is looking like a team who is starting to mail-in their performances. Coach Doba will probably get canned at the end of the season, and I think the players have lost all confidence in their coaches. I could be wrong, but you just don't see the same passion from this team; the same scrappiness that has always defined WSU football. If they are going to rebound at all, it would be this week. I just hope they've already surrendered.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens on Saturday. Will the Bruins fall victim to history once again? Will WSU final break and roll over? Who knows, but I'm pretty sure it will be a close game and a tough battle. There may not be a whole lot of joy in playing the Cougs, but I sure would like to be smiling when the game is over.


Anonymous said...

"the Palouse in particular has been a house of horrors"

Not just the Palouse, staying at Moscow, Idaho overnight for the game is also count as horror road trip.

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