A GRIP ON SPORTS
There is a scene near the end of "Animal House" in which Kevin Bacon stands in front of a stampeding horde of Faber citizens, fleeing the mayhem unleashed at the climatic parade by the Delta Tau Chi House. He has both hands up, and is yelling "all is well." It doesn't work. He gets flattened by the mob. Why would I bring up that cinematic masterpiece this morning? Because I'm going to play the Kevin Bacon role this morning. And we all know who is filling the role of the rampaging mob. Read on.
• I'm sorry Idaho fans, but I can't say "all is well" to you folks. From the benching of their starting quarterback for an undisclosed reason to the inability to handle Eastern Washington's front seven, the Vandals were a mess last night in their 20-3 loss to EWU. I would worry about getting run over by people fleeing the Idaho bandwagon but I don't think there were all that many folks on it before. As for the Eagle fans, nothing better than winning the season opener, on the road, against a local rival that has more scholarships, plays in a higher division and is debating whether or not to join your league. Saying all is well to EWU fans this morning is just redundant.
• However, there was one group of fans from a neighboring school who were in full-fledged panic mode halfway through the second quarter last night. If you were on any sort of social media during Washington State's 30-6 defeat at BYU, you might have gotten the impression Mike Leach's parade had just been attacked by a bunch of pirates. No, I'm not going to say all was well last night, that would be a lie. There were problems in all phases of the game, from the ineptitude of the offense – for only the third time in Leach's head coaching career a team of his was kept from the end zone – to the inability to communicate early on defense, leading to a 24-6 BYU's halftime lead. Every unit had some sort of breakdown in a performance that was as unexpected as it was disappointing to WSU fans. But it's the first game in the first season of a first-class coach. BYU is a good team (there is a reason the Cougars of Provo were favored by almost two touchdowns) and LaVell Edwards Stadium is a tough place to open a season under a new staff. Don't panic. It will get better. Let me ask one question of the panic bunch. If left tackle John Fullington hadn't been called for two questionable holds – part of 185 yards in penalty yards assessed against both teams in another first-class effort by the Pac-12 officials – and Marquess Wilson's two spectacular catches had counted, would you have felt better with a 30-20 final score? It still would be a loss, the Cougars still would not have played all that well and the glaring problems with the running game, the breakdowns in the secondary and the goofs on a couple of special teams plays would still be on the books. But the score would have been respectable – not to mention inside the spread. Would the angst be as deep? I don't think so.
• One last note. There was quite a discussion yesterday on the morning post after I picked WSU to lose 36-30. It was triggered by the argument I had spent the past four years picking Paul Wulff's teams to win despite being heavy underdogs in most games. That didn't seem right to me and, as one person cited it as fact, saying you could check the record, I decided to do just that. With a quick once-over of my files I found I picked the Cougars to win 10 games in Wulff's tenure (to be clear, I found eight instances of picking them but I am missing two stories, so I assumed I picked them in those). They were 9-40.
• Washington State: Christian Caple's first Washington State football game as the S-R's beat writer not only was a resounding WSU defeat, it got over late and the players and coaches didn't emerge from the locker room for more than a half hour. Not good. But still, Christian was able to fill up your inbox with blog posts and stories. In the pregame coverage, he had this post from Provo. Afterward, he had a postgame blog post, some quotes and a video of Wade Jacobson's reaction. He also has his game story, a notebook, the good and bad, scoring and the statistics in this morning's S-R. ... John Blanchette was also in Provo and has this column. ... S-R photographer Tyler Tjomsland caught all the pageantry and action in this photo package. ... Christian links everything you need to know about the game in his morning post. ... Before the game yesterday, Jon Wilner ranked the quarterback situations at each of the Pac-12's schools. WSU was No. 2 behind USC.
• EWU: The Eagles will be in Pullman a week from Saturday, trying to make it a 2-0 start against FBS schools after their 20-3 win at Idaho yesterday. Jim Allen was there and has this sidebar on the nearly impenetrable Eastern defense. ... Montana State's defense was also pretty darn good in a 33-6 season-opening win over Chadron State.
• Idaho: The flip side to the Eastern defensive effort? UI's inability to move the ball on offense, though playing without starting quarterback Dominique Blackman couldn't have helped. Josh Wright has the game coverage with this story and blog post.
• Preps: The Greater Spokane League football season opened last night at Albi, with Shadle Park getting by Rogers, 37-22. Greg Lee was there and has this story. ... Greg also had a poll on yesterday's blog.
• Indians: There is not much left of the 2012 season, though the Indians are ending it the way they started it. They lost 4-3 to Eugene last night, giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
• Seahawks: The Raiders aren't all that good in the first place and they didn't play their regulars much anyhow, but Russell Wilson's debut as the Seahawks' No. 1 quarterback was just fine thank you. The exhibition games ended with Seattle defeating Oakland 21-3 and completing an undefeated preseason schedule. ... Art Thiel and Dave Boling believe the Hawks defense (right) is pretty darn good, if a little bit overshadowed by their short quarterback. ... Part of that Thursday night was Bruce Irvin, the Hawks' first-round draft pick who had a breakout half.
• OK, I am headed back to bed. Our postgame show last night was a bit quiet, not surprising in that we didn't get on the air until nearly midnight. I'm expecting more traffic after the Eastern game next week, which starts at noon in Pullman. Until then, we'll be here every day. ...