The Joe Cougfan Report, No. 11

AS ROBERT DUVALL once said, "I love the smell of crimson in the morning." OK, so the operative word actually was napalm. But you have to admit the Cougar D is about as defoliating as they come these days. They're so good that they played, for them, a comparatively lackluster game against Arizona and yet at day's end had compiled a remarkable box score.

The Cougars posted nary a sack for the first time in 23 games, but allowed the 'Cats beyond midfield just one time. They put their trademark blitzes on ice for most of the game, and wound up shutting down 'Zona on each of its 13 third-down plays. The team that leads the nation in turnover margin didn't come up with an INT until Jason David's work of art with nine minutes left in the game. And their first fumble recovering, by Erik Coleman, didn't happen until two minutes after David's handywork.

Was it an inspiring win? Not really.

But we need to get used to this. This is college football, and good teams play some boring games -- especially after an emotionally charged contest the week before. I think its testament to the maturity of this team, on both sides of the line, that they could play uninspired ball for much of the afternoon yet win going away and then come back afterward and apologize for not doing better.

ONE GUY WHO did look inspired from start to finish on Saturday was kickoff specialist Graham Siderius, the sophomore from Reno who has spent much of this season elevating the squib kick to a fine art. Each of his five kickoffs against Arizona went into the end zone. What a sight for sore eyes. While it's tended not to be a problem because of our stout defense, squib kicks -- no matter how well executed -- pretty much are a concession to letting your opponent start from offense on the 30 yard line. So it's great to see Graham going long as we get into the heart of the Pac-10 campaign.

WHILE I'M SURE that the most-smuggled item into football games will always be booze of one kind or another (I once saw a guy pull the better part of a case of brew out of his coat), it's beginning to look like bottle caps --- verboten these season in Martin Stadium -- are taking a firm hold on the No. 2 position. I wonder what the policy is for getting caught with contraband bottle caps? Is there a place in the stadium for bottle-cap offenders, or are they just given a dirty look and a stern talking-to? Is getting caught with a cap on your smuggled booze worse than having booze without a cap? This is what ran through my mind in the first half. I was bored.

I have three words for the guy sitting across the aisle and six rows behind me: Lighten up, Francis. When we're up by 20, there's really no use having an aneurysm over a delay of game penalty. And here's a tip: neither the coaches nor Matt Kegel can hear you from row 34 of section four, but their families might, so try taking it easy.

Mother Nature deserves a high-five for the long Indian summer we're enjoying in the Pacific Northwest. Pullman is always gorgeous, but even more so when the summer wardrobes are still on display. However, this new writing gig has inexplicably failed to become a boon for my social life, so I would like to once again remind all nubile females that I am unattached, housebroken and not nearly as obnoxious as I appear on the internet. I can cook a little, too. Don't be shy.

THOUGH IT MAY NOT be very sportsmanlike, I can't help smile a bit at our friends on Montlake. In one half of football Saturday, they allowed UCLA to score roughly 42% of the points the Bruins put on the board all of last season. Keith "Grimace" Gilbertson looks befuddled, and was reportedly seen after the Bruin game buying up some fruit baskets in the airport, presumably in the early stages of an attempt to return the Dogs to their former glory. Well, maybe he was just hungry.

My heart goes out to the pundits on KJR Radio in Seattle. You'd have thought the Mariners just blew an eight-game lead in the AL West the way they were so chagrined over the Huskies' effort in Los Angeles.

Speaking of pundits, I want Ted Miller's job. He gets paid to write for one of Seattle's largest daily newspapers, yet for all the world he appears more akin to being a p.r. flak for the University of Washington and antagonist galore for we crimson faithful. And before anyone starts in on me, I just want to say that I am not getting paid for the drivel I produce. I freely share my stupidity with the world. Joe Cougfan's benevolence knows no bounds.

FINAL THOUGHT: So we play BYE this week, and I must say, I'm feeling positive about the matchup, though Ted Miller says they have a pretty good running game and a stout defense. There's a ton of great games on the Saturday slate, and I think I'll spend the day on the couch, just soaking it in, comfortable in the knowledge that the Cougs are better than most of the teams I'm watching. It's not been often that we can say that, but it feels good, doesn't it?

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