A GRIP ON SPORTS • The plan was a simple one. Record the Seahawks game for re-watching on Monday. You know, to catch all the nuances of the Hawk offense at work. Talk about stupid. Read on.
• The Seahawks had 10 possessions yesterday in their 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. One resulted in a field goal. Two ended in fumbles. And seven times they punted. I’m no football genius or anything, but that’s not good. And not a formula for winning in the National Football League.
OK, there were mitigating factors. Russell Wilson was not Russell Wilson. Hampered by a badly sprained ankle – stories vary but he may have a high ankle sprain, which is as close to a broken bone as to your typical, rolled-your-ankle sprain – Wilson was about as mobile as Peyton Manning in his bathrobe. That’s not good. Thomas Rawls, coming back from a bad leg injury, was knocked around early, suffered some sort of injury and didn’t play in the second half. That’s not good. And the offensive line? That’s not good.
Pete Carroll, ever the optimist, told the media afterward the offensive line wasn’t the problem. Every person in America with working eyesight proceeded to spit out their adult beverage on hearing that pronouncement. How is this for evidence: Four drives began with, after one play, second and 12, second and 11, second and 18, and second and 12.
Going backward on first down is usually not the fault of the running back or quarterback or receivers. Nor was Wilson’s first fumble. The porous nature of the group on the field right now is akin to cheesecloth. Some defenders are strained out, but most get through. Defensive linemen playing the Hawks must feel a bit like Andy Dufresne. You know, they go through a river of (word I can’t write here) and come out clean on the other side. That is usually followed, like Dufrense, with their arms raised to the heavens in celebration.
But don’t expect any white knight to ride in and save the Hawks. This is the hand they are dealt. Or bought. Germain Ifedi will return at some point and the rookie should help. Mainly, though, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to improve the group – and, as a result, improve the offense. Wilson should start feeling better and moving better. The line will coalesce a bit. Rawls and Christine Michael will become more comfortable behind it. But it’s not a quick process. It's not easy. And, previous evidence to the contrary, it's not a given either. But unless it happens, this season will not meet expectations.
• WSU: It’s a bye week for the Cougars. Jacob Thorpe, who will probably take a couple days as well, gets you ready for it with this story. ... Before last week, when the Cougars were 0-2, there were expectations they would defeat Idaho, right? Just about everybody was on board. And ESPN.com’s Pac-12 blog had them projected for a bowl game. So WSU wins. The Cougars actually exceed most expectations and win by half a hundred. This week, the bowl projections don’t include the Cougars. Did the schedule change? Alabama replace Oregon State or something? Heck there were really no unforeseen wins by WSU’s remaining opponents either, so I don’t get it. But what do I know. I’m just a retired guy writing in his basement. ... The Pac-12 blog also has its power rankings and an interesting Ted Miller piece on the conference’s standing nationally. ... Oregon, after failing on four two-point conversions in Lincoln, are now waiting to see how badly the injury bug bit. ... Speaking of injuries, Colorado cannot afford to lose quarterback Sefo Liufau. ... Utah is 3-0. USC comes to town Friday. ... California has something to celebrate this week, a win over then-No. 11 Texas. ... It may take Arizona State’s defense a while to get going, but it finishes well. ... Arizona had a few too many penalties. ... Even when UCLA catches the ball drops have been known to happen. ... Washington isn't drawing as well as it hoped. ... The polls are out. Here is one man’s ballot. ... One last thing. The WSU women’s soccer team won yesterday.
• EWU: In case you are wondering, North Dakota State finished tied for 27th in the AP poll. Eastern, however, didn't receive any votes.
• Whitworth: The men’s soccer team picked up a win.
• Mariners: On the ropes, Ariel Miranda and Seth Smith fought back, helping the M’s salvage one game against the Astros 7-3 and keep their fading wild-card hopes alive. Toronto comes into Safeco tonight for a make-or-break series. ... To win in September, some unknown pitchers usually have to step up.
• Seahawks: Christine Michael knows he has to hold onto the ball. He didn’t near the end of the game and it hurt. But Carroll wasn’t faulting him. ... The loss will be worse if Doug Baldwin’s knee is injured. ... Jimmy Graham was back and played a role.
• I sort of planned to write a tough-in-cheek column this morning, blaming the Seahawk defense for the loss. After all, they didn’t put any points on the board. A pick-six or a scoop-and-score was the difference between a W or an L, wasn’t it? The offense did their job, scoring three points. If the defense had added just one measly touchdown ... no, it’s so ludicrous as not to be funny. But I’m sure a lot of you expected it to happen. A late Earl Thomas pick followed by a weaving run through a bunch of flailing Rams’ offensive linemen en route to a game-deciding score. It’s happened before. Just not this week. At least I don't have to watch the recording today. Until later ...