The Joe Cougfan Report, No. 16

Oh, my. If this madness doesn't stop soon I'm going to start naming my soap, or arguing with the refrigerator, or performing some other bizarre act that will land me in the nuthouse. In all honesty, a small part of me is almost thankful there are but three games left in the season. The rest of me is hanging on for what lies ahead.

If anyone would have told me on Friday the Cougs would have seven turnovers and complete only eight passes against UCLA, I may have considered going fishing Saturday.

However, I am quickly learning that the indisputable laws of football, (the first of which states in no uncertain terms that teams turning the ball over lose games), do not apply to this team.

What I am not learning, however, is how to deal with the stress that this kind of football generates.

The Cougar offense continued to play keep-away from itself, and while the run blocking showed marked improvement, the quarterbacks spent another game getting beaten up.  Frustrating?  Yes, but to put a Neuheisel-esque spin on things, I'm excited about the opportunity to see these guys play better. 

Because you just know its coming. 

I can also say the offense has yet to put together a complete game -- And the Cougs are still 8-2, ranked No. 8 in the nation and poised for at least a share of a second straight conference title. 

For his efforts on Saturday, Jonathan Smith deserves a medal or something.  He touched the ball forty times, (36 carries and 4 receptions), accounting for 215 yards and three touchdowns.  Those are the kind of numbers you generally only see out of running backs on the XBox in the Oregon locker room. 

Or in Tucson when the Huskies are in town.

And how about Josh Swogger?  Is this guy poised or what?  Even if his stat line wasn't that impressive, he spent a fair portion of the evening shucking tacklers, including national sack leader Dave Ball. 

Bottom line; Swogger maintained the Cougs' lead while zipping off a bunch of smoking fastballs.  He has the kind of arm every quarterback thinks (or wishes) he has, and has the strength to stand in the pocket and stretch the field. 

With a little help from his receivers, he could have added ninety yards and a touchdown to his totals.  With a healthy Chris Hurd expected back in Pullman for ‘04, the quarterback race this spring and fall should be worth the price of admission - and then some.

Might have to start playing Kyle Basler at a position other than punter.  Kickers aren't supposed to be good athletes, but Basler apparently didn't get that memo.  

He helped turn a potential disaster into a great play, putting a pretty solid lick on one of those Bruins, and actually outran Jeremy Bohannon on the fumble return.  (In Bohannon's defense, he was probably pretty gassed by then.)  Good show at a critical juncture of the game.

In other news, I was fortunate enough to meet a few of my fellow frequent posters in Hollingbery Fieldhouse before the game.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are people besides my friends and family who actually read this column. 

And the Huskies lost to Arizona.  Insert your own punchline here.  I'm running short, and what I have left I'm saving for next week.

And now Arizona State comes to Pullman.  High hopes in the preseason have fallen on hard times in Tempe - I can't imagine anyone down there is too excited about the prospect of coming north to play in near-freezing temperatures. 

Especially since its the week before what all of a sudden looks to be a tough rivalry game in the desert. 

Here's to hoping the Cougs give the Devils hell this weekend.  Then, and only then, can we begin to consider dispatching those purple sissies on the other side of the mountains.

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