I love watching a football stadium come together before the game. That's one reason I get to away games up to three hours early. To walk through the students getting ready outside the stadium, to sit and watch the ones inside either getting ready to play or getting the field and stands ready. It's one of the perks of the job that never gets old. There are other parts of the work, however, that grow old fast. But we won't bore you with that. Read on for thoughts on today's matchup.
• Tightwad Hill. Where else in Division I football can you sit on the side of the hill for free and watch a game? It's one of those quaint traditions here in progressive Berkeley that has out lived the counter-culture and the media culture. To paraphrase some folks who were here some 40 years ago, it's freakin' cool. By the way, the sun is shining, the temperature is in the upper 60s and there's not a cloud to be found. ... Now on to the football game. ... As we look down on the field and see Louis Bland on crutches, it's obvious the Cougars' chances to corral Jahvid Best and the Cal running game has taken a big shot. Bland may be undersized and young, but he makes plays, oftentimes in the backfield as his four tackles for loss, one sack and one interception attest. It was going to be tough enough for WSU to successful control the Cal rushing attack with everyone healthy. Now with Bland out and Alex Hoffman-Ellis hampered, the task has just gotten harder. ... On the other side of the ball, WSU has to protect Jeff Tuel if it wants to score. It's as simple as that. Of course, being able to move the ball at least a little on the ground would help as well. But pass protection, that's crucial. Looking back at the stats, in the two games while the five offensive linemen were healthy, WSU gave up six sacks. Since then, it's been a jail break. We'll see today if Zack Williams return and the possible return of B.J. Guerra helps. Tyson Pencer is in street clothes and a jersey, so he won't be playing. ... One way WSU will try to help the protection is by scheme. We'll probably see Tuel try to get outside the pocket more often with sprint outs and planned roll outs. ... WSU's captains today: Jesse Feagin and Jared Karstetter.
• That's it for now. We'll try to put something up at halftime. Until then …