The Joe Cougfan Report, No. 9

FINALLY! COUGAR FOOTBALL Saturday in Pullman. After traveling to Seattle, South Bend, and my cousin's couch to see the Cougs, I could finally leave the vintage automobile in the driveway and simply hike up the hill to watch the game in person. While it wasn't a dominating performance by any stretch of the imagination, I'm happy as a clam to be 3-1 headed into Pac-10 play.

All in all, it was a great Cougar weekend.  Cindy Fredrick is working magic with a frightfully young volleyball team.  I was fortunate enough to see the 3-0 beating they handed ASU on Friday night, putting them at two-and-oh in conference play.

If you've never been to a Cougar volleyball game, first of all, what's wrong with you?  You'll be hooked instantly.  The Bohler Gym atmosphere is happenin', and Fredrick continually sends out a quality squad.  Now that Pac-10 play has started, things are really going to get crazy - the more Cougar fans we pack into Bohler, the better.

Saturday itself was electric from the get-go.  Early on, I bumped into a "representative" from the Fiesta Bowl at the fieldhouse.  While I'm pretty sure she was in town to visit her mom, she may have been doing some advance scouting on the sly.  That's what I was thinking anyway as I took my seat.

It's been nice to see and hear the Cougar Marching Band as it's gotten bigger.  They're far removed from the dark days and their presence and enthusiasm is perhaps under-appreciated.  Many people have no idea how hard those kids work.

But I know you're dying to hear my thoughts on the game, (you're not?  Well, who asked you?)

Well, it wasn't pretty, but I've seen enough ugly losses in my time to appreciate any kind of win.  And you can't really fault the team for taking a while to find their bearings.  They were playing in unfamiliar territory after all - Martin Stadium - after being on the road for the better part of a month. 

Once again, Matt Kegel played smart football, while tossing in a few big plays for good measure.  It looked like he was a little frustrated by that goofy 8-67-5-30-9 defense New Mexico runs, but he stayed patient and got some timely assistance from his receivers. 

I'm usually a pretty positive person, but I swear, if we're on the goal line and I see three tight ends and a fullback run onto the field again, I think I'm going into therapy. 

Unless of course, they run over and through people, like I know they can.  Then I'll generously offer up my counseling sessions to the defensive coordinators around the league.  'Cause they're going to need ‘em.

If Kyle Basler isn't an All-American, I'd like to see the punter who is.  Two more punts inside the 5 yard line, and a pretty hefty average to boot.  He certainly made a difference Saturday; I have no doubts he'll continue to do so.

And after watching a record setting performance, it occurred to me some graffiti on campus to Drew Dunning might be in order.  You know, inspirational stuff like ‘You're the bestest kicker EVER!' but given what he endured, I thought he might not see the humor.  Pullman's finest certainly wouldn't have, so best just to keep the Sharpie in my sock.

Looking around the Pac-10, its hard for me to admit Arizona is in the same conference as WSU.  The Wildcats' performance over the last three weeks begs the question: How bad is UTEP; whom UA clobbered?!   Good thing ASU made up for their neighbor's poor showing; by playing some pretty pathetic football of their own.

And while UCLA was dumb enough to keep punting to that Sooner whose return yardage had to be calculated in furlongs rather than yards, mighty Oregon State once again proved they'd finish somewhere near the top of the WAC. 

On the bright side, Cal and Stanford both emerged victorious.  And Oregon looked terribly fast in the first quarter against Michigan, though I don't know what to make of all the special teams craziness that took place later in the game.  

The Huskies once again proved they have the heart of a Northwest champion, pulling out a hard-fought battle against Idaho.  I heard the view of the lake and Mount Rainier was breathtaking.  Now I know what all those Huskies fans are applauding about on Saturday afternoons.

I'm considering making the trip to Eugene on Saturday, but I'm having trouble getting my hands on a helmet and riot gear. 

The atmosphere in and around Phil Knight Stadium is bound to be anarchy, I mean festive.  Although it'll probably fall short of the celebratory nature going on in and around Swooshie Locker Room before the game.  We have climate control!  We have climate control!

For those of you making the trip, my thoughts will be with you and the Cougars.  Godspeed, Good Luck, and most importantly, Go Cougs!

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