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.
• I'm also not a fan of preseason football but last night was different. Well, not really, but I felt I had to watch at least the first half of the Hawks game with Denver if I was going to write coherently about the team. What I saw was eye-popping and encouraging, though not as dominating as the 40-10 score would indicate. The eye-popping part were the big plays, whether it was Jermaine Kearse's 107-yard kickoff return – get this, he didn't return kicks while in college; surprising, huh? – or Brandon Browner's 106-yard fumble return (pictured) for another score. The encouraging part was the crispness at times by the first-team offense. The line opened holes, Robert Turbin ran with authority and the passing game seemed in sync. And, oh ya, it still amazes me how strong Russell Wilson's arm is and how quickly the ball is out after he makes his decision. The other encouraging aspect was the defense's ball-hawking ability seems to have survived the off-season. The long fumble return for a touchdown was not the only time the defense forced the Broncos to cough-up the ball, just the most memorable. But the final score, as is the case in all preseason games, didn't tell the entire story. The defense, for all of its ability to force turnovers, gave up more yards than first-year coordinator Dan Quinn probably liked. And the offense had trouble finishing off some drives, including a couple that started with short fields. But those are problems that can be explained easily, considering the Broncos are one of the better teams in the AFC. Don't get me wrong. The bright lights of the regular season are of a completely different wattage than preseason. The team we watched last night, heck, the teams, will be faced with different demands when the season kicks off for real. But the dress rehearsals are going well and that's all you can ask right now. That and a little more legroom on the bandwagon.
• WSU: The Mike Leach bandwagon hit a few potholes last season, hence it is not as full as this season nears its start – at Auburn in less than two weeks. But it might get there if the Cougars can show they belong in their opener. To do that, the big guys up front on defense (including Apple Cup hero Toni Pole, pictured) will have to play big, something they should be able to do if they stay healthy. Christian Caple has his defensive line preview in today's S-R, along with a blog post after yesterday's short practice and some video with the Pac-12 Networks' Rick Neuheisel. Christian also has a post on his Associated Press preseason poll vote. (I'm jealous. During my years covering the Cougars, I was asked almost yearly to vote in the AP poll, but was nixed by the S-R management. I didn't get why – some way-too-strict ethical reason that made little-to-no sense – but you can't fight City Hall. Christian must have batted his eyelashes the right way.) Christian also has the links in his morning post.
• EWU: Eastern scrimmaged yesterday but it was more situational than game-like. Jim Allen was there and his story explains how well the Eagles handled the situations. … Speaking of situations, Jim has another story today on an awful incident that happened last year at this time and how Eastern responded to it.
• Idaho: If the Vandals had to play a game today, they would be tired, since they scrimmaged yesterday. But Chad Chalich would also be their starting quarterback. Josh Wright has coverage of the Idaho scrimmage, including this blog post.
• Indians: The Indians' winning streak was snapped by the Hillsboro Hops, but not until after Spokane rallied in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. The Hops won 7-5 in 10 innings. Chris Derrick has more in his game story and blog post.
• Golf: Another off-the-beaten-track golf story today, this one courtesy of John Blanchette's column.
• Shock: The Arizona Rattlers repeated as the AFL champs – who saw that coming? oh, right, everyone – by holding off Philadelphia 48-39 in Orlando. … Portland expected to become the newest member of the AFL this weekend, but any announcement was postponed as the agreement is still being hammered out.
• Mariners: The less said about last night's 15-3 debacle in Texas, the better. It is obvious, however, the mound in Arlington must contain Kryptonite, as it seems to sap Felix Hernandez's wonderful pitching powers. … Eric Wedge is getting closer to returning and could be back Friday. … Nick Franklin and his ice-cold bat were given another day off.
• Seahawks: As can be expected, the coverage of the Hawks win is fairly positive, though not from Denver. … The Seahawk players were upbeat in their appraisal as well and had lots to say, even before the game. … Forbes thinks the Hawks are worth quite a bit of money.
• Sounders: The state of Texas 2, the state of Washington 1. That's if you are keeping score of professional sporting events Saturday. The Sounders, despite having Clint Dempsey in the starting lineup, wilted in Houston and lost again on the road, this one 3-1 to the Dynamo. They weren't too happy about it afterward and know they have a lot to work on.
• Sunday morning is here. A lazy time. Hence the above post. Until later …