A GRIP ON SPORTS
I'll admit I'm a bit prejudice here, but I've always felt the best stories to come from college football's preseason practice are the ones about players we know little about. Pieces about guys who are always destined for reserve roles. Features on players who have been under the radar but are about to break out into the consciousness of the fans. Stories like that. Today, Jacob Thorpe does one of the latter and boy is it fun. Read on.
• Admit it, Mr. Cougar Fan. When Austin Apodaca and Tyler Bruggman both transferred in the offseason, you were scared witless. Not for this year, sure, though any ache or pain Connor Halliday showed since June has sent you into a tailspin. But what about the future of the quarterback position at your favorite school, the school that's turned out Jack Thompson, Mark Rypien, Timm Rosenbach, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf and on and on and on? There was no one left. At least no scholarship quarterbacks left. Mike Leach produces 4,000-yard-tossing quarterbacks like Beyonce produces hits, but still the future didn't seem to bode well for your school, did it? Heck, all that's left to back up Halliday is some guy named Luke Falk. Really? A walk-on from Logan, Utah. Does he throw right- or left-handed? Are you kidding me? Which brings us to Jacob's story this morning. It's a feature on, yep, you guessed it, Luke Falk. Did you know Falk once received a scholarship offer from Florida State? After his sophomore year? And that he also received an offer to play at Oaks Christian School, the football power in Westlake, Calif., an offer that is probably on par with the one from Florida State? And he accepted Oaks Christian's, only to feel out of place in Southern California and left early in his junior year. From there, Falk returned to the hinterlands of Utah, leaving the bright lights – and big-time offers – behind. Which ended up leading him to Pullman, where the talent he showed as a sophomore in high school is re-emerging as a sophomore (academically) in college. It's a four-year journey that should give pause to anyone who thinks chasing after a higher profile in high school is crucial to collegiate success. It can help, sure, but it also can put a crimp in an otherwise straight path. Whatever, Falk now stands alone, the Vice President of Washington State's quarterbacks. One misstep away from being the guy. And, considering his credentials and the support Leach has shown, that shouldn't worry you one bit Mr. Cougar Fan. Now, that sunburn you got at Lake Coeur d'Alene last week, you should get that checked out.
• WSU: Besides the Falk feature, Jacob also filled up the blog, what with a live chat yesterday, a look at the drill of the day and a summary of yesterday's practice. By the way, the Cougars didn't put on full pads yesterday and have yet to be fully decked out this preseason. Jacob also has a blog post this morning with links. ... We have a link to a feature on an Oregon linebacker with some local – and WSU – connections in the Preps section below. ... Dennis Erickson knows a little something about the hot seat under a coach. And he's ticked it's being put under his boss in Utah. ... The Cougar soccer team enters the season ranked 26th.
• EWU: There's always football this time of year and Jim Allen has that covered, what with this story on the Eastern linebacking corps and a blog post this morning with some Big Sky links. But there is also basketball going on, and Jim catches up with the Eagles as their summer workouts wind down.
• Idaho: Speaking of basketball, the Vandals announced their schedule for the upcoming season, their first in the Big Sky Conference in a while. Josh Wright has all the particulars in this blog post.
• Preps: When Danny Mattingly was starring at Mead High, it was obvious he had some physical gifts that would propel him to big-time college football. But, as this feature from the Oregonian shows, it's his willingness to work on those gifts that has put him into the mix at inside linebacker at Oregon. That and the always-feisty Mattingly attitude.
• Seahawks: Don't call it a Super Bowl rematch, even if the Denver Broncos would like to make the Hawks pay a bit for the thrashing they received last February. Nope, that will have to wait. Tonight's game in Denver is nothing more than a practice one, and the first practice game of the new season at that. ... The Hawks will turn over most of the snaps to youngsters, including one who will start at middle linebacker. ... Pete Carroll likes that aspect of the preseason games, though there is little Carroll doesn't like. Well, maybe, the greeting he got from Seahawks fans when he first moved to the Northwest. That's changed. ... He also likes to win these meaningless contests. ... Yes, the new emphasis on illegal contact is aimed at Seattle. ... There were more roster moves yesterday and one receiver undergoing some minor surgery.
• Mariners: So the Braves have lost eight consecutive games. That's not good. How do I know? The M's have done it before. But now, with the way they are pitching, that shouldn't happen. Even if wins don't mean anything to pitchers. ... The hitting was the key yesterday, as the M's scored seven runs. Yes, a week's worth in one game, a 7-3 victory over Atlanta. ... If the M's keep hitting as they did in the two-game sweep of Atlanta, they actually will be in the postseason hunt.
• Sounders: Most all-star contests are basically just meaningless exhibition games. In soccer, exhibition games are called "friendlies." But the MLS All-Star game with Bayern Munich was anything but friendly. After the MLS team won 2-1 on Landon Donovan's game-deciding second-half goal, the Munich coach, Pep Guardiola (pictured), was not a very nice guy. He took exception to how hard the MLS folks played, I guess. Well, that happens a lot in Portland. And even if he gets his wish – said tongue-in-cheek I believe – for revenge in the future, he won't have a Caleb Porter-coached team to face. ... The Sounders have a match this Sunday night with Houston. ... There's a report out there DeAndre Yedlin is headed to Tottenham when the MLS season is done.
• That's it for today. I'm going to settle down and watch the first round of the last golf major of the year, the always-overshadowed PGA Championship. What's the over/under on how many holes Tiger plays before he has to call it quits? Until later ...