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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: As many starters sit, Seahawks not only lose another preseason game, they are blown out

Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman (28) carries the ball as he is tackled by linebacker Jordyn Brooks, lower right, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Seattle.   (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We are this close to our Sunday mornings being spent prepping for Seahawks games. Though if they play anything like they did last night in their second preseason game, we’ll only have to do that for a month. Six weeks tops. After that, they’ll be so hopelessly mired in mediocrity, we’ll be able to ignore them completely.


• That’s not going to happen. We are sure it won’t for two reasons. First off, last night’s performance proved just one thing: The Hawks’ reserves are no match for Denver’s starters, especially up front. Pete Carroll decided to rest the starters for a second consecutive week, the Broncos decided to play many of theirs, at least for a while, and the disparity showed.

The other reason we don’t have to worry about the Seahawks sinking into also-ran status? Russell Wilson. And Bobby Wagner. And Jamal Adams. And Carroll.

There is enough “there” there that the Hawks will at least compete week in and week out. Whether they win is another story. They are not as dominating as they were back in their recent heyday, but they are still good enough to be in just about every game. And Wilson will find a way to win more often than not.

• One thing that could derail Seattle? The same thing that derails NFL teams over and over. Injuries. That’s why Wilson, Wagner and many others didn’t play Saturday. Why risk their health for a meaningless outcome?

Instead, people like Ben Burr-Kirven and John Ursua put their careers on the line for, basically, nothing. Both reserves, who spend all preseason fighting for a roster spot and playing time, suffered significant knee injuries and were carted off the field. Neither will probably return this season. And they will have to work like crazy to get back on the field in the future.

We were going to rail against preseason games, injuries and their meaninglessness then we realized suffering an injury has no greater meaning or glory if it happens in a regular-season game. It always sucks. For guys like Burr-Kirven and Ursua, the preseason is a time to showcase their offseason improvement. They were doing what they came to camp to do and were injured while doing it. It’s awful but it doesn’t mean any less because it came in a game no one will remember.

• One level down, college football gets ready to do what it does, start the year running. No exhibitions here. Just intrasquad scrimmages that are designed to help coaches make decisions.

The biggest one every coach has to make with a couple weeks to go before the first kickoff? Who starts at quarterback. Sometimes it’s easy. A starter has already exerted himself, either in previous years or early in camp. Such is the case at Eastern Washington right now. Eric Barriere is the guy. And a great guy to have.

But many times, the question lingers until late into camp. Such is the case with Washington State. No one seems to have separated themselves from the competition. Not freshman Jayden de Laura, who started during last year’s COVID-19 truncated season. Not Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano. Not veteran Cammon Cooper.

And time is running short.

Starters have been figured out, seemingly, up and down the Pac-12. Washington is locked in with Dylan Morris. Oregon and Oregon State seem about ready to announce the winners of their competitions. Utah saw separation in its scrimmage yesterday. Arizona is expected to announce Gunner Cruz as the starter today or tomorrow.

But the Cougars? Coach Nick Rolovich didn’t talk after Saturday’s workout but offensive coordinator Brian Smith did and he indicated the competition will be trimmed by one this week. Who are the two? It seems likely De Laura will make the cut but is just as obvious he hasn’t played well enough to win the job outright. The other who will move on? Your guess is as good as mine.

• Oregon and Oregon State announced something Friday that probably hasn’t gotten enough play. Only vaccinated fans will be allowed into on-campus events for the foreseeable future. That includes football games.

The schools feel this is the best way to keep everyone safe, sure, but the other part of it is simple. They want to keep the turnstiles moving. Allowing in only vaccinated folks (or those with the proof of a current negative test) gives them a much better shot at that happening throughout the season. If the COVID-19 numbers get any higher in Lane and Benton counties, the health districts may shut out everyone. Both areas are overrun already, just like much of the country. Should everyone take this precaution, at least until numbers begin to fall again?

Paul Newberry feels they should. And the Associated Press columnist knows safety is not the only reason.

“American sports are not willing to endure another devastating assault on their almighty bottom line,” he wrote, “so vaccinations – and masks, too – are the most reliable line of defense.”

He is right.


WSU: The Cougars practiced Saturday though it was mainly a scrimmage that featured a lot of the backups getting a lot of work. Colton Clark was there and has this notebook, which includes an update on the quarterback competition. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college sports, we linked this Jon Wilner column yesterday when it appeared in the Mercury News. Now it is free for S-R subscribers. … As we mentioned above, if there was any question Dylan Morris was QB1 at Washington, that’s been thrown into the trash bin. He shined in yesterday’s scrimmage. …Oregon State’s offense took some steps in the second preseason scrimmage. … So did Oregon’s in its scrimmage. …  Will it be Charlie Brewer or Cam Rising as Utah’s quarterback? … Potential is one thing. Can Colorado stop anyone? … USC finished preseason camp with a scrimmage. … UCLA begins the season Saturday hosting Hawaii. It will be an important opener for Chip Kelly and the Bruins. … Arizona scrimmaged yesterday and afterward Arizona Daily Star writer Micheal Lev tweeted he thought WSU transfer Cruz had won the close quarterback competition. … In basketball news, Utah transfer Pelle Larsson broke his foot and may miss the early part of Arizona’s season. … Finally, we linked a story this week about a Colorado soccer match fiasco. There is more to it.

Gonzaga: Johnathan Williams is headed to, let me check this, Trento – when I first read the news, I was sure it said Toronto – to play for Dolomiti Energia. That’s in the Italian League, not north of the border. Jim Meehan has more in this story.

Idaho: The Vandals scrimmaged yesterday, like most college football teams. And the exercise revealed something coach Paul Petrino already knew. There is a good group of tight ends on campus. Peter Harriman was in the Kibbie Dome and has this coverage. … Around the Big Sky, we always love a story about a long snapper, even if it is from as far away as Northern Arizona. … Eleven of 13 linebackers at Montana come from within the state. … Montana State scrimmaged yesterday.

Indians: It’s been more than a week since Spokane last lost a game. It took two runs in the ninth and a game-winning home run in the 10th to avoid it Saturday but avoid it the Indians did. They defeated Hillsboro 8-7. Dave Nichols has this story on their seventh consecutive victory and the Hops’ sixth loss in a row.

Shock: Spokane will play Frisco in the playoffs’ first round after last night’s results. The Fighters lost to top-seed Arizona and finished third in the IFL standings. The sixth-seeded Shock travel to Texas on Saturday.

Paralympics: There is a much bigger contingent of Spokane-area athletes headed to Tokyo for the Paralympics than there was a month ago for the original games. Madison McCord delves into the almost dozen current or former athletes from the area who will compete starting Tuesday.

Mariners: Every M’s fan wants them to make the postseason, if only to excise the monkey on the team’s back. But, really, how much fun would it be to watch them be waxed either in the wild-card game or in the first series? If the past few weeks have shown anything, it’s shown they are not ready to compete with the best teams. Case in point: Houston. Add another blowout loss Saturday. This one 15-1. … Gonzaga graduate Taylor Jones had three hits and four RBIs. … Diego Castillo has been put on the injured list. Tampa wins the trade.

Seahawks: At least no one will remember the 30-3 score as most of do remember, say, 43-8. But this time the Broncos won. And the Hawks lost a few players. So it was a bad beat no matter when it was played. … Seattle was not only bad, it was sloppy.

Storm: Like many, Breanna Stewart will have to balance work and parenthood. She’s looking forward to the challenge.

Sounders: For most of Saturday’s match in Columbus, the Crew looked as if they were going to snap their losing streak. They scored late to take a 1-0 lead. Things looked bleak for the visiting team. And then, boom, two goals in a little over a minute as time ran out and the Sounders headed back to Seattle with a 2-1 victory and nine points in a three-match road trip.


• Talk about sore. I certainly was yesterday, especially in the small of my back. Ever get that feeling someone is grinding their fist into it continually? Well, if not, don’t. It didn’t help I drove 45 minutes to watch some former players hoop it up for a couple hours of 3-on-3. By the time I got home, my back was so bad I had to lie down. And then fell asleep for three hours, missing a dinner I was supposed to attend. But my back felt better. Something lost, something gained. I think there was a famous poem about that. Until later …