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Washington St Preview 2006 Further Analysis
Washington State Cougars
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Washington State Cougars Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – “Hey, glad you stayed” – A buddy of mine was trying to pick up some lady friends at a local watering hole a few years back.  When he was “re-informed” that he was married, he replied “hey, I can look at the menu, just as long as I don’t order”.  Right on, bro, keep looking.  Well, maybe the same could be said about Washington State WR Jason Hill perhaps looking at the NFL’s ‘menu’, but in the end, he decided to stay for his senior year.  No one but Hill will know how close he was to ordering, if the menu was even in his hands (shoot, with the WR crop in last year’s draft, he maybe should’ve made the leap), but it doesn’t matter any more – he’s back.  One of the best receivers in the nation, one of the least heralded and unknown stars anywhere, has 80 catches and 1,200 yards on his brain.  At 6’1 and 210, Hill really can do it all.  He was a deep downfield threat, flashing those skills in a major way, beating Cal three times for long touchdowns last year.  6 grabs for 240 yards and three touchdowns.  Yeah, Hill ate up the best pair of corners in the league – Tim Mixon and Daymeion Hughes.  Let’s just say those two were praying that Hill was on the first limo out of Pullman to the NFL.  He has solid hands – you don’t see him catching the ball into his body much.  He’ll catch the ball going across the middle.  He’ll go up and get it on balls deep downfield.  If you’re not getting the point – he’s really good.  Very good.  He’ll see a good deal of double coverage or rolled coverage to his side of the field, but that still shouldn’t stop the Cougars from throwing the ball to Hill.  Over and over again.

2nd and Seven – Mister Mkristo – The 1980’s provided us with a little Mister Mister for our listening pleasure.  Boy, those were the days.  Flash forward to 2006 and Washington State is giving us a little Mister Mkristo – Mkristo Bruce, perhaps the best pass rushing defensive end in the Pac-10.  Bruce piled up double digit sacks (10) and  five tackles for a loss last season and truly exploited single block matchups throughout the year.  Bruce showed a little bit of everything – some power off the edge, strength on inside moves and a spin move that was quick and deadly.  Playing on the open end as the weakside defensive end, the Cougars can take advantage of the matchup of an ‘uncovered’ tackle attempting to tackle Bruce.  His quickness and strength make him a difficult assignment for any lineman.  However, he and his fellow defensive linemen better find a way to play stronger at the point of attack and stop the run, which they did fairly well in the last three games of last year.  If Bruce can avoid some ‘broken wings’, aw, man, sorry about that – that’s a little cheesy (if you didn’t get it, Broken Wings was a Mister Mister song, get it?  Oh, forget it – just know Bruce’s very good).

3rd and Three – No controversy here – Since Jason Gesser took his last snap for the Cougars in the 2003 Rose Bowl, the QBs that have followed struggled to live up to the standard that Gesser, Ryan Leaf, Jack Thompson, Timm Rosenbach and Drew Bledsoe set for their successors.  But, that all might have changed with the arrival, and consistent play, of Alex Brink.  The 6’3, 212 pound gunslinger took over for Josh Swogger midway through 2004 and hasn’t looked back.  He threw for nearly 2,900 yards and 24 touchdowns and was a perfect complement to stud RB Jerome Harrison.  But, with Harrison off to the NFL, Brink becomes the focal point of this offense.  He’s got a strong, accurate arm and throws a sweet deep ball.  Just ask Cal what they think of Brink and this WSU offense after what he and the Cougs did to them last year in Berkeley.  As long as Brink is taking snaps, this offense will continue to be potent and there’ll be no controversy.

4th and One – “Get away from me Frampton, I ain’t got nothing to say to you” – The late great stand-up comedian Mitch Hedberg once told a joke about sharing time with former 1970’s star Peter Frampton, dropping the now famous line in the title.  Washington State opponents will want to say nothing to WSU’s Frampton, Eric Frampton that is, nor will they want to see #37 anywhere in the vicinity.  As a junior in 2004, Frampton was the Cougs leading tackler, broke up more passes than any other Cougar and added one pick.  But, it’s his nasty, physical nature that’ll force teams to get away from Frampton as quickly as possible.  He will run through you, no matter if the ball carrier is Joe Schmoe or Dwayne Jarrett (he should remember getting tagged by Frampton last year in LA), and leave his stamp on opposing ball carriers/receivers.  For as talented, athletic and productive as Frampton is, though, the secondary as a whole must be much more consistent and avoid getting torched as they did throughout last season.  The corner position is key to overall secondary improvement, but Frampton will have a lot to say about how well they gel and perform.  He just has to make sure that Mitch is the only one not listening to what he has to say.

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