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Archive for August 2013

Tale of the tape: Auburn 31, WSU 24

COUGARS

FROM AUBURN — It's a long drive back to Atlanta from here, and an early flight awaits tomorrow. So we'll try to keep this semi-brief. Here's our first tale of the tape of the season.

Vandals tumble 40-6 at North Texas

The first few minutes of Paul Petrino's debut as head coach and Chad Chalich's debut as a collegiate quarterback couldn't have gone better. Idaho marched down the field for a quick touchdown at North Texas, then recovered an onsides kick to get the ball back.

After that, almost nothing went right.

North Texas steamrolled to a 40-6 season-opening win over the Vandals at Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas. Idaho lost its third straight season opener, and it had itself to blame for many of the things that went wrong.

The Vandals had 11 penalties and lost three fumbles. True freshman place-kicker Austin Rehkow missed the extra point on the game's first score and also missed a 40-yarder later Saturday night. And the Vandals' punt team gave up two long returns and couldn't convert a fake punt attempt in the first half.

It’s time to fly your flag

A GRIP ON SPORTS

An eight-month wait is over. The area's college football teams are in action today. Win or lose – and the three closest to us are underdogs – at least, as Garth used to say, it's game on. Read on.

A Texas-flavored opener for Vandals

Idaho football fans will get the first taste of the Vandals' 2013 season — and Paul Petrino's head-coaching career — this evening in Denton, Texas. The Vandals clash with the North Texas Mean Grean, a Conference USA team that went 4-8 in 2012 and is a 16-point favorite. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Pacific.

We've got lots to share after the link.

Game Day links from Corvallis

Ok, actually we're staying in a hotel in Salem - roughly an hour from Reser Stadium, but perhaps more if the Oregon Duck fans clog the freeway on their way south to Eugene. Maybe we'll take the back road, but what if all the Oregon State fans are going that way? I have no clue - unlike the Eastern Washington players, who think they have some ideas on how to knock off the 25th-ranked Beavers. Oregonian beat writer Linday Schnell offers a few insights from the questions I posed her this week. Perhaps the clues lie elsewhere: North Dakota State's upset of Kansas State, or in one of the other games the last two nights that saw FCS teams knock of the big boys.

 

Gameday from Auburn, at last (and a live chat)

COUGARS

FROM AUBURN — It's the day everyone has been waiting for. In a mere 10 hours, Washington State will take the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium for its 2013 opener against Auburn. We will be there with a live chat (3 p.m. PT — be there) and our usual in-game Twitter fare, as well as the standard array of postgame coverage. First, we have quite a few links to throw your way.

Indians enjoy near-perfect evening, tighten race

Friday was about as good as it gets for the Spokane Indians. They improved their postseason chances with a 7-2 win over Everett while Vancouver was losing to Tri-City. They set a club attendance record, boosted by a Avista Stadium sold-out crowd of 6,840. They won the award for field of the year for the 15th time in 17 seasons. They almost assuredly produced the Northwest League's earned-run average champion in Kelvin Vasquez, who baffled Everett for six innings. Then they set off fireworks for delighted fans on a warm evening, wondering if they'll be back home Tuesday for the NWL divisional playoffs. Read story

Predicting WSU’s final record

COUGARS

FROM AUBURN — Everyone loves predictions, except for the people who don't. If you are part of the latter group, don't read this. But if you want to see a few season predictions from folks who cover WSU — myself included — continue reading.

Post Falls High vs. Capital

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the Post Falls High opener against Capital.  Capital defeated Post Falls 35-0.  Check out a big picture gallery of his photos.

WSU at Auburn: Questions and Answers

COUGARS

FROM AUBURN — Being that this is the season opener, we decided we'd give you a little bonus and ask not one, but two Auburn beat writers a series of five questions. This week's kind guests are Brandon Marcello, who covers Auburn for AL.com, and Ryan Black, who covers Auburn for the Ledger-Enquirer based in Columbus, Ga. Read on for my questions and their answers.

You can always learn no matter how interested you are

A GRIP ON SPORTS

My name is Vince Grippi and I am not a college football junkie. Sure, I enjoy the sport. And I will watch it as often as possible. But do I need to watch it? Nah. At 10 last evening I had no trouble turning off the TV during halftime of USC's win over Hawaii and closing my eyes. Oh, sure, later I checked the score on the iPhone a couple times, but it's not as if I needed to. It was because I couldn't sleep. Nor did I need to watch South Carolina storm past North Carolina or Utah kick its little brother, Utah State. I did those things because I am required to by my jobs. If I didn't watch, how could I intelligently write or talk about the games? Heck, I watched parts of the Seahawks preseason game against the Raiders and the Mariners win over Houston. No one would do that if they didn't have to because of work, right? I will say this. In between the lightning bolts – on and above the fields – I learned some things about this just-out-of-the-shell college football season. Three things in fact. Read on.

Q-and-A with Oregonian writer Lindsay Schnell

Lindsay Schnell covers Oregon State football for the Oregonian, and answed five questions about the Beavers.

1 – How do you sense the confidence level of this team, given that this is an FCS opponent but also remembering the loss to Sac State in 2011?

Mike Riley and players have spoken candidly about what the 2011 loss to Sacramento State did to that team, and they have no intention of letting it happen again. That was a weird year in a lot of ways, and I don't think the Beavers will be repeating it anytime soon. OSU's confidence level is high because there are so many returning players from last year, but I think everyone is concerned about a lack of depth at a variety of positions right now (offensive line and defensive tackle, to be specific). Still, I expect OSU to approach it by being confident, not cocky.

2 – With Storm Woods and a veteran offensive line, do you expect the Beavers to play smash-mouth?
The words “veteran offensive line” took a hit this week when Riley announced that starting right tackle Gavin

Eastern and Big Sky links

My name is Jim Allen, and I'm a college football junkie. The signs were obvious yesterday as the clock moved toward 3 o'clock in The Spokesman-Review newsroom: my palms were sweaty and I was pacing in front of the TV, waiting for South Carolina and North Carolina to take the field in the first game of the season. I wasn't the only one; others slowed their pace as they walked by, taking it all in: a packed house in Columbia, Jadaveon Clowney looking ready to make another monstern hit, and then it happened: a 65-yard TD pass for South Carolina. Suddenly everything was all right, and I could go back to my desk in peace. And if you have to ask why, all I can say is, “That's a Clowney question, bro.”

A drive to ‘Bama awaits

COUGARS

FROM ATLANTA — Our pit stop in this fine Georgia city is almost over, because it's time to drive into Auburn to take a look around before Saturday's game. First, we have our usual links to get to, including coverage of the first Pac-12 games of the season.

Indians’ offense comes alive at right time

Spokane Indians manager Tim Hulett called Thursday night's game his team's top offensive performance of the Northwest League season. Spokane, averaging 3.7 runs through its first 71 games, cobbled together a season-best 16 hits and also reached a season high for runs during a 12-3 win over Everett in the next-to-last regular-season game at Avista Stadium before the season ends at Everett. The outburst was unexpected because the Indians had scored three or less runs in eight of their last 10 games; Everett had won six of seven meeting between the teams this season; and Everett started Lars Huijer, who entered 8-1 with a 2.20 ERA. Spokane kept its slim playoff hopes alive with four games left in the regular season. Read story

Prep football galore

The much anticipated football tab appeared in the newspaper today. If you're truly a fan it's a must purchase. Just bypass that tiny mocha for a day. Anyhow, if you want to see our work online, go here. Pictured above is Central Valley coach Rick Giampietri working with some linemen.

Vandals add point guard Dean

Glen Dean, a graduate transfer who played two years at Eastern Washington and last season at Utah, has joined the Idaho men's basketball program and will be eligble to play this season. Dean, a Seattle native, graduated at Utah and was able to transfer to Idaho and immediately play under NCAA rules. His brother, Perrion Callandret, was part of Idaho's earlier announced recruiting class and will be a freshman this fall.

In addition to the family connection, Dean's former coach at Eastern, Kirk Earlywine, is on the Vandals' staff.

“It’s great to be able to add Glen Dean to the roster, no question about that,” UI coach Don Verlin said. “He graduated from the University of Utah and per NCAA rules he was able to transfer. Glen wanted to come back and play with his brother Perrion and obviously with Coach Earlywine on staff it’s a great fit. Having a guy with his Division I experience and his maturity and already having his degree, it was a great fit for both of us but obviously it’s great the University of Idaho.”

Idaho also announced the addition of walk-on Chad Sherwood, a guard from West Albany High in Oregon.

An almost overwhelming day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's not often we get overwhelmed. But today was one of those days. Want to find out why? Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Today's links are the meatiest of the preseason, thanks mainly to our special football section, which was published today. Our college section focuses on program-building at WSU, Idaho and most importantly, Eastern. We also have story lines and a look at why Eastern's schedule is a bit more rugged this year. Happy reading!

Links before heading to Auburn

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Technically, we won't actually be in Alabama today. Just flying into Atlanta and staying the night there before heading into Auburn tomorrow. First, we have links to throw your way — including our contribution to this season's football tab. Check it out.

Indians suffer blow to playoff hopes

The Spokane Indians had an opportunity to improve their fading playoff chances on Wednesday, but their 4-2 loss to Everett at Avista Stadium made their mission tougher. The Indians' shot at winning the Northwest League North Division's second-half title is all but gone, as Everett (19-14) leads the Indians (15-18) by four games with five games remaining in the regular season. All five of those games are against Everett, however, so the Indians could conceivably finish 5-0 to pull the shocker. Their better chance at making the playoffs is to finish with the division's second-best overall record. Spokane (35-36) lost a chance to tie Vancouver (36-35), which forced extra innings Wednesday with a two-run ninth but lost to Tri-City 4-3 in 14 innings. Spokane needs to finish with a better overall record than Vancouver because the Canadians own the tiebreaker if the teams notch identical records. Read story

Leach mum on Mayes as Cougs ready for trip

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — WSU's final full practice before departing for Auburn is over, and we have a few notes to pass along, including the latest on the Logan Mayes situation. 

Kichton signs 3-year deal with Winnipeg

Former Spokane Chiefs captain Brenden Kichton signed a three-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets. Kichton was the Western Hockey League's defenseman of the years last season. He was previously drafted by the  New York Islanders but didn't sign. Read story

It’s almost here

A GRIP ON SPORTS

College football season is almost upon us, which gives me mixed feelings. Of course, I love the games. Week after week of down-to-the wire action, emotion, great plays, grating missed calls, the fans, the players, pageantry, pathos. College football has everything. But as each week passes, and the season winds down, we get closer and closer to winter. Cold days, even colder nights. Not my favorite. Oh, well, at least that means it's basketball season. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

There are lots of links leading up to Eastern Wasington's opener Saturday at No. 25 Oregon State, including my story on the Eastern players' workmanlike attitude toward the game, an Oregonian sportswriter's reference to this as a “bodybag” game and a piece on the Beavers' suddenly thin offensive line. Wait, there's more, including Riley weighing in on the quarterback discussion, and yet more links - some of which actually link back to my links. Which reminds me of all those emails urging me to join LinkedIn - sorry, not gonna happen.

Live chat today, plus WSU links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — If you have any lingering questions about WSU as it prepares to begin the season in Auburn, you can get them out of your system at 1 p.m. today during our weekly live chat. Until then, you'll have to settle for these links.

Indians can reach playoffs with solid finish

The final six regular-season games of the Northwest League season begin Wednesday, and the 35-35 Spokane Indians can make the playoffs by getting hot against the Everett AquaSox. Spokane could possibly win the North Division title, but its best chance could be finishing with a better overall record than Vancouver, provided Everett adds the second-half title to the one it captured during the first half of the season. Read story

WSU practices, Leach, Breske speak

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It was a standard Tuesday practice for Washington State, which continues to prepare for an up-tempo style of play in Auburn on Saturday. Afterward, coach Mike Leach and defensive coordinator Mike Breske addressed the media. Read on for notes and such.

Stolen Morrison rings found

Burglars broke into Adam Morrison's parents' home recently and among the items taken were Morrison's three WCC championship rings. Two of the three rings have been located but the third remains missing. Three suspects have been arrested.

Morrison will be a student assistant coach with GU this season.

More here

Also, ex-Zag assistant coach Ray Giacoletti is trying to build Drake into a consistent power.

Notes from Leach on Pac-12 call

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — There is no greater indication that a new season of college football is upon us than the 2013 debut of the Pac-12 coaches teleconference. The first one is in the books. Here are some notes from Mike Leach's segment.

Few surprises on WSU depth chart

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Hey, there's an official depth chart out. It's listed below.

As expected, Connor Halliday is listed by himself as the starting quarterback. The defense looks exactly how I expected. The only relatively mild surprise is true freshman River Cracraft being listed as the starter at Y receiver, though it's not exactly shocking — it was obvious he was going to play a bunch, anyway.

OFFENSE

X 88 Isiah MYERS 6-0 185 JR
80 Dom WILLIAMS 6-2 192 SO*
or 1 Vince MAYLE 6-3 240 SR
 
Y 84 River CRACRAFT 6-0 198 FR
82 Bobby RATLIFF 6-2 198 SO*
 
LT 63 Gunnar EKLUND 6-7 300 SO*
79 Pierson VILLARRUBIA 6-4 293 FR*
 
LG 56 Joe DAHL 6-4 290 SO*
66 Matt GOETZ 6-4 270 SR*
 
C 60 Elliot BOSCH 6-4 280 SR* 
70 Zach BREVICK 6-5 278 SR*
 
RG 77 John FULLINGTON 6-5 301 SR
58 Riley SORENSON 6-4 304 FR
 
RT 76 Rico FORBES 6-6 300 SR*
73 Eduardo MIDDLETON 6-5 318 FR*
 
H 19 Brett BARTOLONE 5-10 187 SO
5 Rickey GALVIN 5-8 178 JR*
 
Z 84 Gabe MARKS 6-0 176 SO 
18 Kristoff WILLIAMS 6-2 216 JR*
 
QB 12 Connor HALLIDAY 6-4 190 JR*
17 Austin APODACA 6-3 193 FR*
 
RB 34 Teondray CALDWELL 5-8 198 SO
35 Marcus MASON 5-9 188 JR
 
DEFENSE
 
T 98 Kalafitoni POLE 6-1 302 JR*
52 Darryl PAULO 6-2 262 SO*
 
NT 95 Ioane GAUTA 6-3 285 SR
92 Robert BARBER 6-3 297 FR*
 
E 96 Xavier COOPER 6-4 303 SO*
71 Matthew BOCK 6-2 270 SR*
 
BUCK 97 Destiny VAEAO 6-4 290 SO
40 Kache PALACIO 6-2 225 SO
 
SAM 42 Cyrus COEN 6-0 215 JR
or 21 Eric OERTEL 6-1 208 SR
 
MIKE 13 Darryl MONROE 6-1 235 SO*
37 Jared BYERS 6-0 218 SR*
 
WILL 10 Justin SAGOTE 6-0 218 SR
33 Tana PRITCHARD 6-3 220 SO*
 
FCB 6 Damante HORTON 5-10 175 SR 
25 Daquawn BROWN 5-11 170 FR
 
SS 20 Deone BUCANNON 6-1 215 SR
4 Anthony CARPENTER 6-0 195 SR*
 
FS 30 Taylor TALIULU 5-11 196 SO
22 Casey LOCKER 5-11 195 SR*
 
BCB 2 Nolan WASHINGTON 5-11 182 SR*
27 Tracy CLARK 5-11 187 JR*
or 16 Charleston WHITE 5-10 175 FR
 
SPECIALISTS
 
P 46 Mike BOWLIN 6-4 215 SR*
44 Wes CONCEPCION 6-0 185 JR
 
PK 49 Andrew FURNEY 5-10 210 SR
46 Mike BOWLIN 6-4 215 SR*
 
KO 46 Mike BOWLIN 6-4 215 SR*
49 Andrew FURNEY 5-10 210 SR
 
LS 65 Alex DEN BLEYKER 5-10 235 JR
70 Zach BREVICK 6-5 278 SR*
 
H 17 Austin APODACA 6-3 193 FR*
46 Mike BOWLIN 6-4 215 SR*
 
PR 23 Leon BROOKS 5-7 166 SR*
19 Brett BARTOLONE 5-10 179 SO
 
KOR 34 Teondray CALDWELL 5-8 189 SO
35 Marcus MASON 5-9 190 JR

Eastern and Big Sky links

I'll be at practice later today, but in the meantime, here are some links:

First, Oregon State has named Sean Mannion as the starting quarterback for Saturday's opener against Eastern Washington. … Also from the Oregonian, writer Ken Goe decries what he calls “body bag” games such as this one. …The Oregonian also offers a sneak peek at the game, a predicted score and more links. … Up the road (did you know that Western Oregon University is located barely half an hour from OSU?), the WOU Wolves are preparing for their opener next week at Eastern. … Toledo has a big game at Florida this week. … Sam Houston State faces Houston Baptist this week.

Just get it over with

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If we had our way, there is something occurring today that would never, ever happen again. But we never have our way. Read on.

Looking at Auburn (and Jeff Tuel)

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Hard to believe Washington State will practice just twice more before departing for Auburn (though they will hold a closed practice on Friday). One of those sessions is later this afternoon, at 3:30, and we'll pass along anything noteworthy afterward. For now, here are some links as game week cranks along, as well as some reading material on Jeff Tuel, who could qualify now as the most unlikely starting quarterback in the NFL.

First look: WSU at Auburn

Washington State at Auburn

Time: 4 p.m. PDT Saturday, Jordan-Hare Stadium

TV: ESPNU

Records: WSU (3-9, 1-8 in Pac-12 in 2012); Auburn (3-9, 0-8 in SEC in 2012)

Last time: Auburn defeated WSU in Auburn, 40-14, in 2006

The line: Auburn by 151/2

What it means for WSU: This tough road test is in stark contrast to the Cougars’ 2012 season opener at Brigham Young. Many WSU fans expected at least a competitive game, and possibly a victory in the first game of the Mike Leach era. But the Cougars fizzled, lost 30-6 and the season was a tailspin from there. This season, there is a more controlled sense of optimism, though far less hype than that which accompanied this team a year ago. Auburn had troubles of its own in 2012, so a competitive game is still the expectation, even if considerable improvement by the Cougars still ends up a loss. A victory would be a landmark in Leach’s rebuilding effort.

What it means for Auburn: The Tigers badly need a victory in Gus Malzahn’s first game as head coach, both to establish a sense of confidence in their new head man and also to help erase the bad memories of last season’s miserable finish. Malzahn has preached that it’s a “new day” for Auburn football, so anything other than a win in its season opener – especially against a team that struggled so mightily a year ago – might rile the fanbase. There have been some blows to Auburn’s defense this offseason – they dismissed their leading tackler, and Dee Ford, their returning sack leader, won’t play Saturday due to injury – so like WSU, Auburn’s fans might still be in wait-and-see mode.

Key matchup: Nick Marshall vs. WSU’s front seven

Marshall is a dual-threat, junior quarterback who threw for more than 3,000 yards at Garden City (Kansas) Community College last season, but also rushed for another 1,000-plus yards on top of that. And in Malzahn’s hurry-up, run-first offense, he’s likely to have the ball in his hands quite a bit. It will be up to the Cougars’ all-of-a-sudden-fairly- seasoned front seven – they return five starters in that group – to maintain their assignments, hit their landmarks and keep contain against one of the most mobile quarterbacks they’ll see this season. Marshall also threw 20 interceptions at the JC level last season, something WSU no doubt will have in mind.

Little margin for error

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It hit me late in the Sounders 1-0 win over Portland last night. I realized what it is about soccer I've come to enjoy. It's pretty simple really. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Is it really game week? Must be, because Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin told his players just that after Saturday's scrimmage. In case you missed it, here's my story from that scrimmage. I'm off today, but will be back at practices Tuesday and Wednesday, then heading for Corvallis on Friday. Now for the links:

The first new week begins (with a depth chart)

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State  won't practice today, because it's Monday of game week. Holy cow, it's Monday of game week. How about that? Read on for links, as well as a look at what WSU's depth chart might entail.

College football inches closer

A GRIP ON SPORTS

In just a week our Sunday morning post will be filled with college football game news. Today it is filled with college football “the-games-are-just-a-week-away” news. Read on.

Sunday links from WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With our football preview section stories completed and filed, it's time to pass along your Sunday morning look around the Pac-12. Here we go.

WSU looking for long-snappers

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State practiced for a little more than an hour and a half earlier this afternoon, and we have a few notes to pass along from that session. We also have some interesting comments from coach Mike Leach about an ad placed in The Daily Evergreen for a long-snapper tryout.

Perkins commits to Gonzaga

Gonzaga's 2014 class got a huge boost Saturday morning when Josh Perkins, ranked in the top 30 by several recruiting services, announced his intention to play for the Bulldogs.

Perkins made his announcement on KUSA, a television station in his hometown of Denver.

More below on Perkins.

A good day for good causes

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Next week is when college football begins, so it would stand to reason all the off-the-field events should finish up this weekend, right? And they do. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

So, fellow parents, when your kid goes out for his “21-er” with his friends, did you lose a few hours' sleep until he made it safely home? Yeah, I thought so, and so did I last night, which is why this blog is a bit late. And it won't be very long either, as I'm heading to Cheney in a few minutes for this morning's scrimmage. Now for the links:

Football is one week away

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — One week from today, you'll wake up, plant yourself on the couch and watch football until there isn't any to watch anymore. Or until WSU's game at Auburn is over. Yes, we're at the one-week mark, and yes, we have links after the jump, so read on.

Indians rally with runs in ninth, 10th

The Spokane Indians improved their playoff chances Friday night by breaking through in the ninth and 10th innings for a 6-5 win over  the Tri-City Dust Devils to complete a three-game Northwest League series at Avista Stadium. Spokane, in danger of falling two games off the pace in the North Division with nine games to go, started the comeback with a run against league saves leader Trent Daniel in the ninth. Marcus Greene's big leadoff double in the 10th led to Joe Jackson's winning single in a game that damaged the postseason chances of the Dust Devils, who fell three games off the pace. Read story

Notes from UI’s Media Day & mock game

It was a busy day inside the Kibbie Dome, with the Vandals going through game situations in their mock game and then holding their Media Day in the Litehouse Center.

We recap all the action below.

Bob Robertson moving over, but not out

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Here's a short story we filed for tomorrow's newspaper about a change in WSU's radio broadcast team.

Legendary broadcaster Bob Robertson isn’t leaving Washington State’s radio booth, but there will be someone else calling play-by-play during football games this season.

WSU announced Friday that while Robertson will remain a part of the 3-man broadcast team for football games, his broadcast partner, Bud Nameck, will take over play-by-play duties.

Robertson will still help host pregame, halftime and postgame shows, and will still provide analysis along with former WSU receiver Shawn McWashington.

“I will be almost 85 years old by the end of the season and my energy level isn’t what it was when I was 35,” Robertson said in a statement released by the school. “I’m not going to get any younger so I’d rather people remember me the way I was as opposed to the way I will be. It is time to pass the torch.”

Nameck is a familiar voice for Cougar fans. He’s been the WSU men’s basketball play-by-play broadcaster since 1993, and started in 2002 as a sideline reporter for football games. He was moved to the booth last season with the intention of taking over for Robertson in the future.

Athletic director Bill Moos said he didn’t anticipate that move happening so soon. But Moos said after he sat down with Robertson for their annual discussion, they decided it was best to rearrange duties. Robertson, who has called 520 WSU games since 1964, has struggled with his vision in recent years.

“We talked about that a little bit, and came to the mutual decision that this would be good. He has to be a part of Cougar football,” Moos told the Spokesman-Review. “He is, in my opinion, as big of an icon with Cougar athletics as there’s ever been. And I’m going to protect him. He’s with us as long as I’m around.”

This is the second season that has brought change in WSU’s broadcast booth. Longtime color analyst Jim Walden was relinquished of his duties after the 2011 season, with McWashington and Nameck moving to the booth and Jessamyn McIntyre taking over on the sideline.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

EWU and Big Sky links

I couldn't make it to Eagle football practice on Thursday because of, well, Eagle football. First, there was our live chat (here's the transcript), but mostly I had to finish my stories for next week's special football section (That comes next Thursday, so watch for it.) Now, before I head to practice this morning, here are a few links:

A simple change would do it

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What is that old saying? A man works from sun to sun, but a online sports columnist's work is never done? Or something like that. Read on.

WSU shifting to Auburn prep

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Eight days remain until Washington State kicks off the 2013 season in the deep south. The Cougars will begin Auburn-specific preparations in earnest this weekend. We'll be there, but for now, we're here. With links.

Indians drop out of first place

There must be better ways to make a playoff run than the Spokane Indians have shown during the last week. Thursday night's 7-2 loss to the Tri-City Dust Devils gave the Indians a 2-5 record for their current homestand, which ends Friday night at Avista Stadium. The setback, coupled with Everett's victory over Vancouver, knocked the Indians out of first place in the Northwest League's North Division for the first time since Aug. 11. Read story

WSU adding new scoreboard(s) to Martin Stadium

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — A new scoreboard more than twice the size of the old one will be added to the east side of Martin Stadium in time for Washington State's home opener against Southern Utah on Sept. 14.

An LED ribbon board is also being constructed along the facade of the premium seating structure.

I'm told the costs of these projects is estimated at $3.5 million.

Here's the release from the school.

Fans arriving at Martin Stadium for the Washington State’s home opener Sept. 14 against Southern Utah will see continued improvements to the venue, including the construction of the $61 million football operations building in the west end zone along with a state-of-the-art video board anchored in the east end adjacent to Stadium Way.

In addition to the video display there will be a ribbon board along the south end of the stadium as well as a premier audio system throughout the stadium.

“The video and audio systems we are installing, along with the premium seating and soon to be completed football operations building will make Martin Stadium one of the premier venues in college athletics,” said WSU Director of Athletics Bill Moos.

The improvements are a direct outgrowth of the university’s strategy of delivering to fans the ultimate game day experience, Moos said.

The new video display, engineered and installed by Daktronics, will be 73 feet wide and 36 feet high and features the latest Daktronics light emitting diode (LED) video technology. The video board will be 112 percent larger than the previous board while producing a wider, most consistent viewing angle. The video display will be more than double the size of the previous display with four times the resolution. It will be one of the few High Definition Video Displays in college football as its 840 x 1708 resolution exceeds high definition standard.

The LED Ribbon Board display will measure 4 feet tall by 347 feet wide and run along the premium seating side of Martin Stadium.

Both the video and ribbon boards will display game statistics and information, out of town scores, along with graphics, animations, crowd prompts and opportunities for partner-related elements.

The Daktronics custom audio system, which will be integrated with the video and scoring system, is engineered to provide full-range sound reproduction and deliver clear and intelligible speech at Martin Stadium. The result is a powerful audio experience for all those in attendance and is similar to the largest stadium audio systems that Daktronics installs.

A few other high profile stadiums that have combined high performance audio and video systems designed, engineered and installed by Daktronics are Illinois’ Memorial Stadium, Wisconsin’s Camp Randall, Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium,  Utah’s Rice Eccles Stadium, Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium and Oklahoma’s Gaylord Family Stadium.

Thursday Night Football at WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With this being Washington State's mock game week, the Cougars' scout-team players had a chance for the first time this season to participate in coach Mike Leach's “Thursday Night Football” scrimmage at the end of practice. We also have a few other notes to pass along, so keep reading.

Rypien sees himself throwing less

Wednesday was the first day Washington high school football teams could practice. We caught up with Shadle Park junior quarterback Brett Rypien (pictured above). He told us that for the Highlanders to be as successful as they want this year, he needs to throw less and they need to have an effective running game. Here's our story.

Highly successful Mead wrestler moving

Three-time Washington state wrestling champ Chandler Rogers (pictured above) is moving to Stillwater, Okla., for his senior year. Read about the move here.

Petrino: I know who will start at QB

Idaho football coach Paul Petrino won't announce who will start at quarterback for the Vandals in their season opener at North Texas. But he said after practice Thursday morning that he and the team know who will start, and so does “anyone who's around” practice every day.

“I know who the starter is,” Petrino told The Spokesman-Review. “I’m just not announcing it.”

That comment, combined with what's taken place during fall camp, suggests redshirt freshman Chad Chalich will be under center in the first series against UNT on Aug. 31. Chalich, a former Coeur d'Alene High star, has been the best QB the last three weeks, outplaying newcomer Josh McCain and senior Taylor Davis.

Chalich completed 19 straight passes to finish the second fall scrimmage last week. He took all the snaps in the first three series and threw for 414 yards and five touchdowns. Asked if Chalich's performance was as impressive after watching tape as it seemed right after the scrimmage, Petrino said, “Yeah. He played really well.”

Petrino laughed after saying that practice observers know who the starting QB will be. But he also said his policy of not announcing the starting quarterback applies to other positions.

“Anyone who’s around, they know who the starter is,” Petrino said. “Our players know. I just don’t know what good it does to let North Texas know, personally. I’m not announcing who’s starting at defensive nose guard, either.”

WCC explanation on Gonzaga’s schedule

The WCC released the conference schedule earlier this week and it raised eyebrows, particularly at Gonzaga and Portland. Scheduling is never simple, but it figured to get easier with a 10-team model (with the addition of Pacific) and the return of travel partners.

The Zags open with four straight home games, all with students on holiday break. For the second consecutive season, Gonzaga-Saint Mary's, the conference's best rivalry, will take place in Spokane with GU students on holiday break. Portland opens with five straight home games, the last vs. travel partner Gonzaga.

I asked WCC assistant commissioner Jeff Tourial for an explanation. His response is below.

A focus on a distraction

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Coaches constantly tell players to focus on only those things they can control. Don't let the peripheral distract you from the essential. It's good advice. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Here's this morning's story on the Eastern linebackers, which includes the finalized TV schedule. Also, don't forget today's live chat, right here at noon. Now, on with the links: lots of storylines out of the Oregon State camop, courtesy of the Oregonian. …Montana QB Jordan Johnson is back, and adjusting just fine to his receivers, the Missoulian reports ….The Montana State offensive line is all but set, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle …Toledo has a deep group of linebackers, according to the local paper. …Idaho State head coach MIke Kramer is finding some leaders on the field; here's the story from the Idaho State Journal.

The ‘9 days ‘til kickoff’ links edition

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Yes, we're into the single-digits of the Football Season Countdown. That's an unofficial, working title you might never see again. Here are your links.

Indians break out of slump with big innings

When the dust settled on Wednesday night and the Spokane Indians had won for the first time since Friday, it marked the 10th consecutive day that the Indians have led or been tied for first place in the Northwest League's North Division. Wednesday's 10-4 win over Tri-City snapped the Indians' four-game losing streak and the Dust Devils' four-game winning streak. Spokane received boosts with a five-run first inning and a four-run second. Read story

Chiefs need to answer questions at camp

Yes, the weather forecast calls for temperatures near 90 degrees, but there's ice at the Arena in preparation for the Spokane Chiefs' four-day fall camp. The practice sessions and scrimmages will feature around 70 players on three teams, starting Thursday and continuing Friday and Saturday. The roster will be trimmed to a little more than 40 for Sunday's Red-White game. Read story

WSU preparing for up-tempo Auburn

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Preparations rolled on for the Cougars on Wednesday, as the first-team defense continued to prepare for an up-tempo offense with a mobile quarterback. We have a few more notes after the jump, so keep reading.

Seniors Will Carry Lewis & Clark Tigers This Year

Lewis & Clark has taken its show on the road this summer, as construction at Hart Field has pushed them off of their customary practice field. Instead, the Tigers are holding practices at Sacajawea Middle School. To the players are just want to play some football, where they practice makes little difference.

An odd way to begin GU’s conference season

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's weird. You would think the West Coast Conference would do everything possible to keep Gonzaga's basketball program happy and content. After all, it is the Bulldogs that bring the most attention to a conference that, otherwise, would be the America East, at least in the national media's eyes. But, as the release yesterday of the WCC's basketball schedule shows, the conference seems to like to show it doesn't play favorites. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Time is flying - it's only nine days until the season opener at Oregon State - and so are the Eastern Washington receivers. Here's a look at this year's group. It's the penultimate (I  love that word) day of two-a-days, and I'll be there for the morning session. Finally, we have another live chat at noon Thursday at spokesman.com/sportslink. Until then, here are a few links:

Live chat today, plus links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We're shifting our weekly live chats to Wednesday afternoons at 1 p.m., beginning today. This way, we can continue them on the same day throughout the season (since next Thursday will be a travel day). Anyway, continue for links.

Indians’ fourth straight loss creates logjam at top

The Northwest League's North Division second-half title is up for grabs after the Spokane Indians dropped their fourth consecutive game to the Hillsboro Hops on Tuesday night. The 4-1, 11-inning defeat left Spokane, Everett and Vancouver tied for first place at 12-14, with Tri-City one game back. T-C starts a three-game series at Avista Stadium on Wednesday night. Spokane had control of its destiny after six consecutive wins gave the Indians a two-game lead on Friday, but now anything could happen with 12 games left in the regular season. Read story

Idaho practice notes: O-line improving

Sandwiched between two-a-day practices on Monday and Wednesday, the Vandals practiced Tuesday morning for more than two hours. We've got a brief report and an update on the strides the offensive line is taking after the jump.

Notes from WSU’s first closed practice

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State's practice earlier this afternoon had a distinct game-week feel to it — though the Cougars' opener at Auburn is still 11 days away. And we watched practice from the elevator tower for the first time this season. So did a few other people. You can see the view in the photo above. We have notes, too, so keep reading.

WCC schedule: GU home early, away late

Gonzaga will be home for its first four West Coast Conference men’s basketball games and on the road for its last four, including the regular-season finale against Saint Mary’s.

The defending champion Bulldogs entertain Santa Clara to open WCC play Saturday, Dec. 28, followed by San Francisco’s visit two days later. Saint Mary’s and WCC newcomer Pacific come to Spokane the following week. The first four games will take place with students on holiday break.

More below.

Also, tickets for the Maui Invitational go on sale Wednesday.

For once the right thing happened

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's not often we get to put together a follow-up. And it is even less often it is a happy one. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Suddenly the Eagles have a few injuries, particularly at running back, but fortunately that may be their deepest position. Here's my report. I'll be out at practice this afternoon for some more interviews, including the team captains who were expected to be announced sometime today. Stay tuned …

Tuesday links as WSU returns to practice

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's that time of year again. The time when we head to the top of an elevator tower to watch a “closed” football practice. Before then, we have links to stories with words and whatnot.

Hops pitching sends Indians to third straight setback

Hillsboro Hops pitchers have held the Spokane Indians to seven runs in the last three Northwest League games at Avista Stadium. The Hops' starters have worked deep into the three games: 7 2/3 innings from Ross Gerdeman on Saturday, eight innings from Ryan Doran on Sunday and 8 1/3 innings from Ben Eckels on Monday. The Indians have one more game with Hillsboro in the series, Tuesday with new Spokane pitcher John Niggli (1-0, 1.80) on the mound. Read story

There is always the NCAA as a fallback

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We chatted about the Seahawks yesterday, the Cougars the day before that. A lot of you don't want to discuss the Mariners anymore – it's hard to blame you – so they seem to be off the table. So what do we talk about today? I guess there is always the NCAA. Read on.

Monday from WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's an off-day for the Cougars (on the practice field, anyway), but our camp coverage still rolls along. Links follow the jump.

Eastern and Big Sky links

I'm heading out shortly for practice, but let's get the morning going with some links. First, here's my story from Saturday's scrimmage, plus a feature on how the school and the athletic department has worked to help keep student-athletes safer. It was a busy weekend elsewhere. Read on:

WSU does light work on Day 16

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It was a standard, in-season Sunday night practice for Washington State tonight — that is to say, they didn't wear pads — not even shoulder pads — just jerseys, shorts and helmets, and did mostly scout and special-teams work. We do have a few notes, so read on.

Hops stop Indians again

If the Spokane Indians come up short in their bid to qualify for the Northwest League playoffs, two factors might stand out: their record against the Hillsboro Hops and their record on their home field, Avista Stadium. Spokane's 5-1 loss to the Hops on Sunday left them 3-5 against Hillsboro this season and 15-15 at home. The Hops are 19-35 against the rest of the league. Spokane (32-30) has played better on the road (17-15) than at home. The Indians, clinging to a one-game lead in the North Division, can change their home fortunes in the next five nights, with games Monday and Tuesday against Hillsboro and Wednesday through Friday against Tri-City. Read story

Is the Hawks’ bandwagon filling up?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I'm not a big fan of bandwagons. They're too big, too crowded and have bad shocks, hence a lot of people are thrown off when they hit a bump in the road. But the Seahawks' bandwagon is starting to look real inviting these days. Read on.

WSU links: Auburn picks a QB, dumps a safety

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — In addition to our WSU links, we pass along yesterday's news out of Auburn on this fine Sunday morning. Details below.

Extra-inning setback ends Indians’ streak

The last time the Spokane Indians won seven consecutive games was 16 years ago. The Indians made a late-game move to try to match that streak on Saturday night, but they instead lost for the first time since Aug. 10. The Hillsboro Hops stopped the Indians' six-game streak with a 7-5 decision in 10 innings. Spokane scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings, but the Hops wasted no time getting back their advantage. The third game of the five-game series is Sunday afternoon. Read story

WSU goes short on Day 15

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It was a brief practice for Washington State tonight, with some truncated drill periods preceding team session. The whole thing didn't last much more than an hour. We do have a few notes, so read on.

Video: Rick Neuheisel talks facilities, WSU and more

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Here's the first part of our discussion today with Rick Neuheisel, who along with Mike Yam is touring each Pac-12 football camp this season for a show that will air on the Pac-12 Networks. You can watch WSU's segment on Monday at 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Here's Part 2, which begins with Neuheisel discussing Mike Price's recruiting strategy.

Petrino on scrimmage No. 2 and Chalich’s huge day

Idaho's second scrimmage didn't go quite as long as the first, nor was it quite as hot in Moscow for the late morning/early afternoon session. Still, after the first and second units scrimmaged for more than 90 minutes, coach Paul Petrino had the third team, filled with mostly newcomers, go for close to another 45 minutes on their own.

We've got a summary of quarterback Chad Chalich's remarkable 19-of-20 passing day and Petrino's full comments to the media with the season opener at North Texas two weeks away.

My first AP ballot of the season

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With the release of today's Associated Press Top 25 poll, I figured it would be a good time to pass along my ballot. It's my first year voting, and as many other writers around the country already do, I plan on posting my top 25 each week when the poll is announced.

Here's a link to the first AP poll of the season. My picks were as follows:

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Ohio State

4. Stanford

5. Texas A&M

6. Georgia

7. South Carolina

8. Florida

9.  Notre Dame

10. Clemson

11. Louisville

12. Florida State

13. Oklahoma State

14. LSU

15. Texas

16. Michigan

17. Oklahoma

18. Boise State

19. UCLA

20. TCU

21. Nebraska

22. Northwestern

23. Baylor

24. Wisconsin

25. Southern California

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

It’s time to get to the big fellas

A GRIP ON SPORTS

After a few days of preliminaries, we finally get to the meat of the matter. The unit that makes a college football team go. Read on.

Weekend links from WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — A short practice awaits Washington State later this afternoon. A short smattering of links awaits your eyes right now. Keep reading.

Indians run winning streak to six

The Spokane Indians have caught fire at the right time, fashioning a six-game winning streak that puts them in strong position to qualify for the Northwest League's postseason. The most direct route for Spokane would be to win the North Division's second-half title. After Friday night's 5-1 win over the Hillsboro Hops at Avista Stadium, the Indians (12-10 second half) lead first-half champion Everett by two games and Vancouver by three with 16 games remaining. Spokane could also qualify for the playoffs if Everett also wins the second-half title. The North team with the second-best overall record would advance to postseason against Everett. In that category, Spokane (32-28) leads Vancouver (31-29) by one game. Read story

Dockery done at WSU, plus scrimmage notes

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State scrimmaged for roughly 52-55 plays this afternoon, and we have plenty to pass along from that. But the bigger news tonight is that coach Mike Leach confirmed the departure of redshirt freshman cornerback Rahmel Dockery, who Leach said will “make other plans” to play elsewhere. Read on.

Meyer’s award well deserved

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Every once in a while, the Arena Football League gets something right. It did Thursday. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

It was a busy day in Cheney, what with practice in  the morning (here's my feature on the defensive line) and an afternoon live chat with athletic director Bill Chaves. The Eagles will hold their first scrimmage on Saturday morning, and I'll file a report. Now on to the rest of the links:

Cougars to scrimmage this afternoon

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — If you're in town and want to watch WSU scrimmage, you're in luck. The Cougars will scrimmage at about 4:30 p.m. today in Martin Stadium. Here's a roundup of yesterday's news.

Day 13 from WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Another day, another practice for the Washington State football team, which is now only 15 days away from its season opener at Auburn. The Cougars will scrimmage tomorrow at roughly 4:30 p.m. in Martin Stadium. For now, we have notes and such.

Another one swirls the drain

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Wouldn't it be nice if the Seattle Mariners could hold on to a lead a bit more often? Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

I'm off to Cheney for practice and later for a live chat with special guest, athletic director Bill Chaves, but first a few links, includuing today's story on EWU special teams, specifically the kickoff  return and punt return teams.And speaking of our Live Chat, it's easy to join. Just go to spokesman.com/sports link - but if youlre reading this, you're already there! On with the links:

Live chat and links on a Thursday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We'll have our first live chat of the season today at 1 p.m. (and if you're into EWU football, Jim Allen will chat about that at noon). Read on for more links from WSU and around the conference.

Halliday takes it easy on Day 12

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — For the second consecutive day, Connor Halliday didn't throw quite as many passes as he's used to. There are a few other notes to pass along from WSU's Wednesday practice, so read along.

Eagles unveil new home uniforms

Eastern Washington unveiled its new home football uniforms today,

The Adidas TechFit feature a 30-percent weight reduction and increased mobility and comfort, allowing players to move more freely and at a faster pace, according to Adidas.

 Along with the new duds, the Eagles will wear gloves featuring EWU’s logo surrounded by the state of Washington’s outline. 

There are dreams and then there are dreams

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Sometimes sleep won't come. It happens more on warm nights, of course, but is also caused by overthinking. Such was the case last night. Read on.

Linking Tuesday to Wednesday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Practice is back in session for the Cougars, who go again this afternoon at 3 p.m. We started our annual position previews today with a look at WSU's quarterbacks. Read on for that and more.

Eastern and Big Sky links

I'll be back in Cheney for two-a-days today (OK, the morning session, the cooler session). To warm up, here's this morning's feature on the quarterbacks, specifically the backups, highlighting senior Anthony Vitto. … This is also a great time to put in a plug for our first Live Chat of the season tomorrow (Thursday) at noon at spokesman/com/sportslink. Joining me will be Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves. Now back to the links:

WSU returns to Martin for Day 11

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It was back to normal surroundings for the Washington State football team earlier this afternoon, as the Cougars returned to Rogers Field and Martin Stadium and practiced for a couple of hours on either side of the construction site. We've got some news and notes after the jump.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Just in from walking my dog here on the South Hill, and it was raining - something I'm sure that would be welcome weather for college football players struggling through steamy two-a-days. The rain just stopped, unlike our coverage of Eastern Washington football. Here's my practice report from Monday, focusing on a talented group of tight ends who hope to get more involved in the passing game. I'm heading back out there in an hour - plenty of time to pass on some related links:

A lull before the storm?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Quiet days are to be expected. Just not in a week when football and baseball overlap. Read on.

Tuesday links from WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State resumes practice on campus this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. It will split its sessions between Rogers Field and Martin Stadium for the rest of the season, just as it did during spring practice. Read on for some links. (EDIT: I do know what day it is, I swear.)

Dufner gives the term “lipped out” another meaning

A GRIP ON SPORTS

In tribute to Jason Dufner, today's post will be written without emotion. And it will be just a bit short. However, there were no tobacco products stuffed into my lower lip. There is no way I could go that far. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Eagles start two-a-days today, and I'll be joining them.  For the morning session only. On the sidelines, With a cold beverage. Then I'll be driving back to my air-conditioned office to write about the experience. Sorry, that's as good as it gets. Until then, here are a few links from the weekend:

Monday links after WSU’s scrimmage

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — There's no WSU practice to cover today, but there are plenty of links to pass along. Those are all after the jump.

Pac-12 Networks going on offensive vs. DirecTV

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The fight between the Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV has been very tense and very public for the better part of the last year.

It's not getting any friendlier.

The Pac-12 Networks are launching a “Compare” campaign today, the goal of  which is to further urge Pac-12 sports fans to drop DirecTV in favor of a television provider that carries Pac-12 Networks. The Pac-12's message remains that DirecTV has been offered the same deal as every other provider, but still refuses to agree to a deal.

The campaign will feature school-specific advertisements in print, on television and on radio. Here's what the WSU print ad looks like. Have to admit, it's pretty funny.

WSUDirecTV by christiancaple

The TV and radio spots will riff off the same theme. The Pac-12 Networks website has already dedicated a stand-alone page to this cause, with testimonials from a few conference athletic directors — Bill Moos included — urging their fans to drop DirecTV.

It's an interesting strategy. Think it'll work?

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Video: Leach, Halliday

Videos courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Notes from WSU’s first scrimmage

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — Turns out Washington State got out of Lewiston just in time — a thunderstorm rolled in toward the end of practice, and lightning could be seen in the distance during interviews. No matter. The Lewiston Experience is in the books, WSU is back in Pullman and practice will resume Tuesday on campus. For now, we have notes from Sunday's scrimmage, so read on.

Arizona ends Spokane’s season

The Spokane Shock finally shook the slow starts from their previous three games that they'd overcome with huge second halves.

This time it was Spokane that started fast but was run over in the final 30 minutes. Make that 31 minutes or so as Arizona began its comeback with a successful onside kick recovered by kicker Garrett Lindholm late in the first half. Spokane recovered all but two of 22 opponent onside kicks and both turned out to be huge plays in its season (Orlando rallied in the final minute to beat Spokane 83-82 in part because of a successful onside kick).

The Shock's two-score lead began to fade away late in the first half and was gone quickly in the second half. The Rattlers scored 37 unanswered points and defeated the Shock 65-57 Saturday night. Arizona will play in its third straight ArenaBowl. Spokane ended with a 15-5 record.

Correspondent Al Bravo filed this game story for the S-R. Here's the view from Phoenix.  

Yes, there were some mysterious calls — aren't there always in an AFL game? — by the officiating crew (still not sure how refs didn't agree with Andy Olson's challenge that Beau Bell recovered an Arizona fumble). But the Shock made too many costly mistakes (turnovers, dropped passes and penalties that erased defensive stops) to beat the top-ranked Rattlers. 

No need to revisit the league's messy handling of a tiebreaker scenario that never came into play, but Saturday's game did underscore the importance of home field In a matchup of quality teams. Spokane's losses to Orlando, Tampa Bay and Utah — two of those at home, all three teams finished 7-11 — doomed its chances at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Frahm cycles into new challenge

Former Zag Richie Frahm needed to find something to fill the competitve void after his professional career ended.

He found it in the world of cycling. Jim Allen caught up with Frahm for this feature.

The present is no match for the past

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Though this weekend seems to be brought to us by the word nostalgia, both in sports and our personal life, when we look back at it in a few years, we might remember it as the first day of a new era in Seattle. Read on. 

WSU ready to scrimmage

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The Lewiston Experience will come to an end later this afternoon for the Washington State football team, as the Cougars will scrimmage before departing Sacajawea Junior High School. We have some links to start your day.

Mic’d up: WSU LBs coach Ken Wilson

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The WSU Athletics website continues its series of mic'd up coaches that it began in the spring. Here's a look at linebackers coach Ken Wilson.

Day 9 is a short one for WSU

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — It was about 2:40 p.m. when Washington State huddled to begin practice with its bull-in-the-ring drill. And it was about 3:42 p.m. when they huddled again to signify the end of practice. There isn't a whole lot to pass along, but we do have a few notes after the jump.

Petrino on first scrimmage

The Idaho football team scrimmaged for just over two hours Saturday morning and early afternoon, and that was after 30 minutes of warm-ups and position drills. It was a long day in the heat. Afterward, first-year coach Paul Petrino met with reporters. The full transcript of his interview is below.

UPDATE: My story on Quinton Bradley and the scrimmage can be found here.

Shock, Rattlers one more time

Spokane-Arizona, volume 3.The first two games were among the most anticipated of the 2013 AFL season and tonight's showdown will be the game of the year — until next week.

Tonight's winner moves on to the ArenaBowl, where they'll be favored against the Jacksonville-Philadelphia winner. But first things first. The two best teams in the AFL decide the National Conference championship at 6:30 on CBS Sports Network.

My preview and more from the Arizona Republic here and here.

Celebrating the fond memories

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There was a time when I used to love watching the explosions in the sky brought on by a thunderstorm. But that was before we opened our home to a Great Dane who thinks the noise is someone out to punish him. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

So how are the 19 football players from eastern Washington doing at Eastern Washington University? Just fine, thanks. Here's my story, which stretches the word “local” all the way to the Cascades, which isn't another excuse to interview Cooper Kupp. Other Eagle opponents were busy too. Read on …

WSU links to start your weekend

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The finish line is in sight as the Washington State football team approaches the final days of its Lewiston Experience. Today's practice will start at 3 p.m., like usual, though it was originally scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Keep that in mind if you're making the drive. Now, on to the links.

Day 8 in the books for WSU

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — Temperatures threatened to reach 100 degrees here today, but a nice cloud cover rolled in and it was relatively pleasant by the time Washington State wrapped up its eighth practice of camp. We have a few notes and details after the jump.

EWU - Ashton Miller interview

Eastern Washington center Ashton Miller discusses the prospects for the Eagles' offensive line, before practice on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

No rush today, unless you are the hunted

A GRIP ON SPORTS

When you tour the edges of a golf course, as is my usual habit, it is amazing the wildlife you experience. And sometimes such Animal Planet-like encounters have a correlation to the sporting world. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

Before I head out for Day 3 of fall camp in Cheney, here's my report from Day 2, focusing on the offensive line, along with an interview with senior center Ashton Miller. There's plenty more to report from the media covering Eastern's opponents. Read on:

Friday WSU camp links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's Friday, which only means there are three practices left for Washington State in Lewiston. OK, so it means other things, too, but none of them relevant in this space. Read on for links around the conference.

Vandals practice under lights on Day 4

The Vandals concluded Day 4 of fall camp with a two-hour practice on a beautiful evening in Moscow. Not too hot, not too windy. Just right. I've got notes from the practice and after talking to coach Paul Petrino.

WSU ditches pads on Day 7

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — It was a bit of a lighter day for Washington State on Thursday, because the Cougars weren't in full pads and only practiced until about 4:40 or so. But there was still some spirited action, which we detail below.

Meyer, Tennell make All-AFL first-team offense

I wrote about the Spokane-Arizona AFL rivalry in today's paper. Here's the article on one of the AFL's best rivalries.

The league continues to announce All-AFL honors. On Wednesday, the first- and second-team offense was released and Spokane’s Erik Meyer and Adron Tennell made first-team.

Meyer passed for 4,667 yards and 112 touchdowns, both franchise records. He led the AFL in pass efficiency (123.6) and completion percentage (68.2).

Tennell led the league in scoring with 56 touchdowns (49 receiving) by a wide margin. He finished the regular season with 156 receptions for 1,792 yards.

Philadelphia had four first-team offense selections. Arizona, which entertains Spokane for the National Conference championship on Saturday in Phoenix, had one first-team selection and five on the second team.

Combining offensive and defensive selections, Spokane had three players honored, behind Arizona (8), Philadelphia (7), San Jose (6), Jacksonville (4) and San Antonio (4). Arizona (16-3) and Spokane (15-4) had the AFL's best records and were ranked 1-2, or vice versa, in the coaches poll/power rankings. In other words, the All-AFL lists don't seem to match Spokane's regular-season accomplishments.

Here's a link to the All-AFL Offense and All-AFL Defense. I also cut-and-paste the All-AFL offense below.

T.J. Lee interview

Eastern Washington cornerback T.J. Lee discusses his role as a leader of the defense as the Eagles open fall practice on Aug. 7, 2013.

Quick, let’s get this done

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We are under a time constraint here, one that many of you have faced over the years, so we're keeping it simple. And real. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

Eastern Washington opened fall camp, and here's my report on the always-high expectations and how the Eagles handle them. I also posted a post-practice blog that includes uncut videos of interviews with head coach Beau Baldwin and quarterback Vernon Adams. And if you're not on Twitter, you should be, since I (@srjimallen) post frequently from practice.

Thursday WSU camp links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Four more practices await the Washington State football team before it departs Lewiston. We continue documenting The Lewiston Experience with some links to our coverage, as well as around the Pac-12.

Day 6: Defense wins (most of) the day

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — We're back in Pullman after the sixth day of Washington State preseason camp, and this one didn't go quite as smoothly for the offense. Details follow the jump.

WSU releases hoops schedule

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State released its 2013-14 men’s basketball schedule on Wednesday with the news that the Cougars will not play a game in KeyArena as they have every year since 2005.

A scheduling conflict at the arena will prevent the Cougar Hardwood Classic from continuing for a ninth season, though the game is expected to return in the future.

The Cougars will still host a game at the Toyota Center in Kennewick (San Francisco State on Dec. 18), and will play either Utah or Colorado at Spokane Arena the week of Jan. 8-12.

As previously announced, the Cougars will participate in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., over Thanksgiving weekend. Their first opponent will be Butler on Thanksgiving Day.

Non-conference home games include Cal-State Bakersfield (Nov. 8, the season-opener), Lamar, TCU, Pepperdine, UTEP and Mississippi Valley State. WSU plays at Gonzaga (Nov. 21) and at Idaho (Dec. 7)

The Pac-12 portion of WSU’s schedule is tentative, though the Cougars will play Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC once each – UA and ASU on the road, and UCLA and USC at home. They will play every other Pac-12 team twice, home and away.

Here's the full schedule:

Eagles in the right frame of mind

The first day of football practice at Eastern Washington had that “just right” feel about it. Even before it started

The players were confident but not overly so, the weather was warm but not stifling, and Eagle head coach Beau Baldwin felt his team was in just the right frame of mind Wednesday afternoon on the grass fields behind Reese Court.

Kurz: Ruling was clear to teams

AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz said Tuesday that a late-season flap over National Conference seeding and a questionable tiebreaker was much ado about nothing.

Kurz took issue with Shock owner Brady Nelson's contention that he was never informed Arizona had clinched the division title. The commissioner said he was misquoted in an Arizona Republic article when he reportedly said,  “Ask me that question after Saturday's game” in response to whether Arizona had locked up the top seed prior to the regular-season finale.

Nelson didn't back down Tuesday, but he said it's possible he missed an AFL email regarding a ruling on a tiebreaker. Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic said Kurz was quoted accurately. Kurz acknowledged that the tiebreaker in question — record vs. common opponents — probably isn't clear enough. 

Here's my article from today's S-R.

Kurz also addressed some of the reasons why Chicago wasn't allowed to host the first-round game against Spokane. More on that below.  

It’s been a good week

A GRIP ON SPORTS

How often in the recent years have the first few days of August been as exciting as they've been around here this year? Not very. Read on.

Eagles open practice today

One day after being named the third-ranked team in the land, the Eastern Washington football team opens practice this afternoon. In case you missed it, here is our fall camp preview, along with the results of Tuesday's FCS coaches' poll.

Linking Tuesday to Wednesday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The Lewiston Experience (that's a working title) is halfway over. Or halfway started. Depends on your perspective. Keep reading for news around the Pac-12.

Video: Leach after practice

Video courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Day 5: Pads come on at WSU camp

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — In some ways, Connor Halliday thought Tuesday was the best practice he's had under coach Mike Leach. And Washington State's running game looked better than it has since … a while ago. More details after the jump.

EWU ranked 3rd in coaches’ poll

The Eastern Washington football team will open practice Wednesday as the third-ranked team in the land, according to the nation's coaches.

Will anything really change?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What do all these drug suspensions in baseball really mean? I don't know. And I'm not sure anyone does. Read on.

Tuesday morning camp links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Today marks the midway point of Washington State's 10-day stay in Lewiston for preseason camp. It also marks another morning post on this here blog. Read it if you'd like.

Video: Leach, Pritchard, Bosch

Videos courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Vandals’ first day in the books

The Idaho football team started preparing for the 2013 season in earnest this afternoon in Moscow. Our first practice report of fall camp (yes, it's still summer) is below.

Big hits, intensity rule Day 4 of WSU camp

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — Yes, there were a handful of big hits and big plays exchanged by Washington State's offense and defense during Monday's practice. But the most noticeable of those hits may have come from the smallest player on the roster. Details follow.

A lot from a little

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Some days it is hard to decide what to write about, either because there is just too much to cover or, as is the case today, too little. Read on.

UI opens camp with whole new feel

In eight months, the Idaho football program has been (almost) completely remade. The coaching staff is all new, save for tight ends coach Al Pupunu. The offensive playbook under Paul Petrino will be much more extensive and adaptable than in previous years. And though the Vandals will be an independent this season, the uncertainty of a conferenceless future is gone; next year at this time, UI will be prepping for its first season back in the Sun Belt. 

Idaho opens fall camp Monday afternoon at 3, and below the Vandals' new offensive and defensive coordinators share what you can expect from them as coaches.

Indians head to All-Star break with win

The Spokane Indians were in jeopardy Sunday of notching a fourth consecutive loss with the Northwest League's All-Star break on the horizon. One of three Indians named to the all-star team took care of that. Infielder Janluis Castro hit a solo home run to right field in the eighth inning to give the Indians a 2-1 victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes at Avista Stadium. Salem-Keizer won the five-game series 3-2, as it did last month at Keizer. The Indians have completed regular-season play against two teams, the Volcanoes and Boise. Next will be their final five games with the Eugene Emeralds, at Eugene, but that will wait until Thursday, after the All-Star Break. Spokane is 4-1 against Eugene this season and is beginning a streak of eight consecutive road games against teams that have a losing record vs. the Indians. Spokane's next homestand begins Aug. 16 with the first of five games against first-year franchise Hillsboro. Read story

Notes, quotes and such from Day 3 of WSU camp

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — The first practice in pads — just shoulder pads — is over for Washington State, and we have our usual array of notes and observations below.

Spokane will face Arizona for third time

Arizona and Spokane will meet for the third time this season, this time with the National Conference championship on the line.

The top-seeded Rattlers rallied to defeat San Jose 59-49 Sunday in Phoenix. Arizona (16-3) will entertain Spokane (15-4) on Saturday at US Airways Center. The teams split during the regular season.

Spokane defeated Chicago 69-47 in its playoff opener Thursday.

A turning point for Seattle?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It was as big a day in Seattle yesterday for a certain segment of the city's sports community as the day Edgar drove home Junior against the Yankees. Hyperbole? OK, maybe a little, but yesterday's announcement of Clint Dempsey's signing was a big deal. A really big deal. Read on.

Wrapping up Saturday, but Sunday awaits

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Hey, look at this. The forecast is only for 93 degrees in Lewiston today. It's supposed to be 99 on Wednesday, so we need to enjoy this arctic chill while it lasts. Links follow the jump.

Horan’s homer caps Volcanoes’ rally over Indians

Saturday night's 6-5 loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes may have been the most demoralizing for the Spokane Indians this season. The Indians have struggled to find their offense this season, but they gave a sold-out crowd at Avista Stadium a big lift in the seventh inning by scoring five runs to take a 5-2 advantage over the Volcanoes. Minutes later, S-K was torching Spokane's stellar bullpen for four runs and a 6-5 lead that held up. Spokane outhit the Volcanoes for a second consecutive night but was handed a third consecutive setback. Read story

Video: Leach, Monroe, highlights

Video courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Day 2: WSU offense gets going a bit

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — Another day of camp is in the books for Washington State. There were a few more highlights on the offensive side of the ball this time. Details follow.

Video: Leach, Halliday, Bucannon

Videos courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Optimism reigns on the first day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

As Washington State begins its 2013 football season with training camp, I'm sure there is a lot of traffic on the Internet concerning the site for the first 10 days of practice: A middle school in Lewiston. Huskies, Ducks, Beavers and other assorted Pac-12 alums must be having fun with that. But Mike Leach doesn't care. Read on.

Looking back at Day 1 as camp churns on

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's that time again. Time for our daily morning post with links and fodder for your enjoyment. Here we go.

Video: Some WSU practice footage

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Decided I'd try to provide a feel for what one of Washington State's practices looks like. Or what one minute looks like. Anyway, here's some video of WSU's 7-on-7 session today.

Sigh! Sy’s 2-run homer sinks Indians

The Spokane Indians outhit the Northwest League's top-hitting team, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (.264) by a count of 9-7 on Friday night, but Spokane mistakes and a big two-run homer by S-K's Jeremy Sy led to a 5-2 Indians defeat. Since Spokane's series-opening win on Wednesday, a 6-4 decision in 11 innings, the Volcanoes have outscored the Indians 14-5 while posting two victories. Read story

Day 1: WSU adjusting to Lewiston locale

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — The first day of 10 in Lewiston is over for the Washington State football team, which is probably wrapping up meetings right about now back at the Lewis-Clark State campus. We're back in our Pullman home office with some notes and quotes to pass along from the first day of camp.

Leach speaks about Day 1

COUGARS

FROM LEWISTON — Back in Pullman now, and with our newspaper story filed, we'll pass along some quotes from coach Mike Leach's media session after the Cougars opened camp earlier this afternoon.

Another youthful mistake for the M’s?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

When interim (or fill-in or whatever you want to call him) Mariner manager Robby Thompson popped out of the Fenway Park dugout in the ninth inning Thursday night and signaled for a relief pitcher, an argument ensued. Did he make a mistake when he pointed to the bullpen? Whatever he did there, it wasn't as bad as what he did at the beginning of the inning. Read on.

Report: WSU lands OL commitment

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Reports rolled in last night that Braden Eggert, a 6-foot-7, 310-pound offensive lineman from Napa, Calif., has committed to play football for the Cougars. Rivals.com and Scout.com each reported the news.

Eggert is rated a 3-star recruit by Scout.com, and is currently rated as the No. 89 offensive tackle prospect in the nation. He's WSU's 10th known commitment of the 2014 class, and the first offensive lineman.

Here's his bio from Scout.com. CougCenter has some more analysis.

Indians take lumps on rainy night

Most Spokane Indians fans left Avista Stadium long before Thursday night's 9-3 loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes was official. Rain started falling in the sixth inning, around the time the Volcanoes turned a 4-1 lead into a 9-1 edge with a five-run sixth that included five hits, two walks and an infield error. Anyone who stayed for the final three innings got soaked but watched Spokane score the final two runs. Travis Dean threw a scoreless eighth and ninth to give a tiny lift after a frustrating night for the Indians' usually reliable bullpen. Read story

Shock finish strong, defeat Rush 69-47

Ruschard Dodd-Masters returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the final two minutes, sparking Spokane past Chicago 69-47 Thursday in the first round of the Arena Football League playoffs.

The Shock (15-4) will take on the winner of Sunday's Arizona-San Jose game for the National Conference championship. If the Rattlers win, the Shock will travel to Phoenix next week. If the SaberCats win, Spokane will entertain San Jose. Chicago finished 10-8, but made Spokane work four quarters for the win.

My unedited game story is below.

Shock defeat Chicago Rush 69-47

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the Shock's win against Chicago.  Check out a big picture gallery of his photos.

5 storylines as WSU begins camp

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — In anticipation of Washington State's 2013 preseason camp debut tomorrow, we've assembled five storylines for you to chew on — or just read — before things get underway tomorrow in Lewiston.

1. QUARTERBACK: Might as well start here and get it over with. It seems safe to say now that this is Connor Halliday’s job to lose, since Mike Leach has said repeatedly that Halliday would be the starter if the season started today. As it stands now, “today” isn’t all that far away from “August 31,” which is when the Cougars do have to play a game. And Halliday’s experience seems to give him an edge over Austin Apodaca, who has received plenty of adulation from Leach for his performance in the spring.

For that reason, it’s perfectly reasonable to think Apodaca will see the field at some point this season, especially if Halliday doesn’t shake the over-aggressive inconsistencies that plagued him last season. But that’s an area in which Leach believes Halliday has progressed, so camp will be his chance to prove it.

It will also be interesting to see how incoming freshman Tyler Bruggman is used in camp, and whether he gets any real, meaningful reps.

2. THE O-LINE: So, there have been some issues here the past few seasons. This is no secret. But the Cougars at least appear to have more depth now than they did at any point last season, and that’s something coach Mike Leach has touted since spring. Now it’s a matter of establishing a top eight, then a top five to form the starting o-line.

Elliott Bosch is the starting center. There’s no question about that. But there will likely be a good deal of experimentation and competition at each of the other spots – Gunnar Eklund vs. Eduardo Middleton at left tackle, or Joe Dahl vs. John Fullington vs. Matt Goetz for the two guard spots, to name a couple. Even with the offseason departure of former starter Jake Rodgers, the Cougars are in OK shape here from a pure numbers standpoint. Developing those numbers into players who can protect the quarterback and block in the running game will be key.

3. VINCE MAYLE: The 6-foot-3, 240-pound receiver might be the most intriguing recruit of Leach’s short tenure at WSU, if only because of how excited coaches are about his presence. Leach said during Thursday’s teleconference that Mayle checks in somewhere around 13 percent body fat, so there doesn’t appear to be any concern about that eye-popping 240 number. The Cougars are already pretty deep at receiver, but Mayle’s arrival will only breed more competition at the outside receiver position. If he’s the kind of strong, physical player the coaches envision, he could open up a lot more options within Leach’s offense.

So it begins: notes from Leach’s pre-camp teleconference

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We are back on the Palouse, enjoying the comforting reliability of the nightly flight from Seattle zooming overhead around 11 p.m. each night, and we have some notes from Mike Leach's pre-camp teleconference to pass along.

That’s why we’re miserable

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you want to know what's going on in the boardrooms on Wall Street, or whether inflation is going to return or if bond prices are headed down, then Forbes Magazine's website is probably a good place to start. But if you wonder what is the most miserable sports city in America, the website might not pop into you head as the go-to spot. Yet, Forbes has a list. And a nearby metropolis is on it. Read on.

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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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