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Football season has officially begun Edit

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The NFL began a while ago. Colleges started late last month. And now football season is officially here. Yep, the high schools here in Washington began practice yesterday. Read on.

Eastern football links

Warmup question: You really know it's football season when …..? For me, it's today, when we publish our annual college section. This year, it's devoted to the players and coaches who put so much into the game. At Eastern, we chose defensive lineman Dylan Zylstra, who also is on the cover. I also have a quick look at some talking points for the upcoming Eagle season. Speaking of talking points, we'll have our weekly live chat today at noon, right here on Sportslink.  In the daily section, a feature on new Sam Houston (and former Delaware) coach K.C. Keeler. Also, the Eagles will be sporting new uniforms on Saturday. … From the SHSU web site, everything you want to know about the Bearkats. … Next week's Eagle opponent, Montana Western, is a member of the NAIA Frontier Conference, which has some useful info. … Washington needs to improve its pass protection, according to this story in the Seattle Times. The Huskies have some new faces on special teams, says this article in the Tacoma News Tribune. … Montana State coach Rob Ash isn't overly concerned about his banged-up secondary. …The Montana tight ends are finding their role.

Ewu sports chat Aug. 21 (noon)


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One more week

Eastern Washington kicks off the college football season in just a couple days and we're only one week away from Cougar football. So what better time to preview the college football season? Are we really starting a new season, however? Or just starting the game-playing portion of a season that never stops? In the paper today our college football preview looks at 24/7/365 enterprise that is college football.

That and more are after the jump.

To redshirt or not to redshirt

Redshirting freshmen – having them sit their first year in exchange for a fifth-year of eligibility – is often considered a sign of a healthy program. After all, you are in effect trading a player's worst season for their best one.

However, if no true freshmen play than a school probably isn't recruiting enough high-impact guys. What's the point of redshirting a guy who is going to head to the NFL before his fifth season?

Still, you'd rather redshirt more players than not, giving young guys a year in the weight room and to adjust to college life.

In Mike Leach's first season at Washington State the Cougars played nine true freshmen, and won three games. Last season they played just five first-year players and won six.

We won't know for sure how many freshmen will play this season until its conclusion, but let's take a look at the most likely candidates after the jump.

Live WSU Football Chat

 

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Our allegiances are about to be stretched

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Is there anything worse than your Pop Tart breaking and half of it falling on the floor? Yes, there is. Read on.

Eastern and opponent links

College football may start in Cheney, but your Eastern links begin here. To start, here is my story on EWU practice, plus a preview from the EWU athletic site. … Gee, Sam Houston State has a preview as well, along with a retrospective on their 2004 playoff win over the Eagles. … A UW defensive end is grateful for a second chance to play, while the Husky safeties are still locked in competition for the two starting spots. … Montana State has settled on a starting quarterback.

Give the defensive line a break

Destiny Vaeao, Toni Pole and Xavier Cooper probably won't play as much for Washington State this season, and that's a good thing. Why it's a good thing is the subject for our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

*We'll be holding our weekly live WSU football chat today at 11 a.m.

Big plays abound at WSU practice

“Intense and sloppy … kind of an exchange of big plays,” were the words coach Mike Leach used to describe today's underclassmen scrimmage, which they're still calling Thursday Night Football.

He was absolutely right.

We'll describe those big plays and more, after the jump.

Tyler Hilinski signs with WSU

With the above tweet the Washington State football program made official the financial aid agreement signed today by prep quarterback Tyler Hilinski. The NCAA allows student athletes that are able to graduate high school early to sign with schools well before national signing day in February, and to enroll in time for spring football. 

Last spring Calvin Green and Sean Krepsz took advantage of this rule and participated in spring football after finishing up their high school careers ahead of schedule.

More on Hilinski after the jump.

 

What could have been in the Northwest

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Want to see what Seattle's professional basketball future could have looked like? Just watch Steve Ballmer's introduction to the Los Angeles Clippers fans yesterday. Read on.

WSU linebackers a veteran bunch

How experienced is Washington State's linebacking corps? Even the backups have starts under their belt. The Cougars' deep linebacking corps is the subject of our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

About as bad as it gets

Most people around these parts had a better night than the Spokane Indians. Yes, the Indians pounded out 17 hits and scored 12 runs against the Tri-City Dust Devils on Monday night. But the Dust Devils played their blackjack hand by collecting 19 hits and scoring 21 runs in a Northwest League game that played havoc with pitchers'  earned-run averages. Read story

Cougars bounce back

Washington State's coaches agreed that yesterday's practice left a lot to be desired. They were similarly unanimous (among the ones we asked) that today's was a lot crisper.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Zags open WCC with three road games

The WCC released its 2014-15 schedule — yes, GU plays conference games in late December again — and it looks nothing like last year's slate. The Zags open with three straight road games, including a WCC lid-lifter at BYU, followed by dates with San Diego and Portland. GU plays five of its first seven on the road.

Last year, Gonzaga opened the WCC with four consecutive home games.

BYU is picked second behind Gonzaga in most preseason polls (I'm picking Saint Mary's at No. 2). San Diego and Portland are contenders to finish in the top five. The Zags' home opener will be against USF, which shared second place with BYU last season, on Jan. 8. Gonzaga takes on Saint Mary's on Jan. 22 in Spokane and visits Moraga on Feb. 21.

The Bulldogs close the WCC schedule against BYU at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Feb. 28.

GU's non-conference and television schedule will be released at a later date.

More on Gonzaga's WCC schedule here and here's a link to the entire WCC schedule.

 

The next few weeks are going to be fun

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's Monday. The workweek begins. But there is hope. After it ends Friday, there is college football Saturday. Read on.

WSU secondary learning quickly

The dorms in Pullman are open again and students are trickling back onto campus. School doesn't start for another week at Washington State but the football team's young defensive backs are studying hard for their first big test. That's the subject of our third WSU position preview.

Follow the jump for more links.

Dust Devils make playoff push

The Spokane Indians had little trouble against the Tri-City Dust Devils during the first half of the Northwest League season. The Indians outscored Tri-City 49-17 in winning five of six games. But the second half of the season has a different feel, as the North Division first-half champion Indians are discovering. Tri-City routed Spokane 7-0 on Sunday, outhitting the Indians 16-6. The Dust Devils are 3-2 against the Indians during the last five days and are tied with Vancouver for the division's second-half lead with 14 games left in the regular season. Spokane leads the season series 7-4 heading in to Monday's regular-season finale between the teams at Avista Stadium. It may be the end of regular-season play between Spokane and Tri-City, but the Dust Devils have put themselves in position to win the second half and set up a Sept. 2 divisional playoff opener in Pasco. Read story

WSU practice a bit sloppy

There was a lot going on at practice today. The Pac-12 Networks were in town filming and Rick Neuheisel took a keen interest in what the Cougars were doing, observing the drills closely, particularly the ones involving quarterbacks.

The Cougars also made use of the scout teams against the first string for the first time, which always creates some confusion. After practice coach Mike Leach had a bucket of water dumped on him for a good cause, which you can watch here.

The coaches acknowledged that there are always a few dud practices at this time of the year. But that doesn't mean they're happy about it.

“I didn't think it was a very good practice. I thought we started out pretty good, didn't do a good job of finishing practice,” Leacj said. “Today was the first day we traded scouts so sometimes, a lot of times that has an impact. It shouldn't, it shouldn't but yeah I thought both sides were soft in the team period. Prior to that I thought we were doing some good things but we have to be better than that tomorrow.”

More after the jump.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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