Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fantasy Football cheat guide


By Kshell

Everywhere across the United States and perhaps the world fans are eagerly awaiting the 2011 NFL season. With the NFL season starting that means fantasy football drafts are currently going on. I'm in three leagues and I've drafted in one league with two more left to go. Now I'm afraid I'm pulling a Billy Beane in money ball where I'm telling my secrets so my opponents will catch up to me. In this following post I'll give some basic advice and give you some insight on what I think to do for fantasy football drafts. Keep in mind everyone loves how they drafted and a good chance the winner of your league is based on who played the waiver wire the best. I'll give plenty of basic advice to follow which should land you in the playoffs and hopefully win your fantasy football league(unless your playing with me of course). This is like in poker where I'll be telling you ABC poker.


I still think the number one rule is to attack the running back position. In a basic 12 team league you typically start two running backs and then one or two flex positions. In the NFL only 32 starting running backs with some of them sharing time you want to have the monopoly on running backs. For an example Arian Foster last year racked up 307 points in fantasy while the second place guy was Peyton Hillis who had 220.19 and 10th was Rashard Mendenhall 188.49 then Mike Tolbert was 20th with 140.91 points. Also pay attention to the depth charts as Foster last year typically went in the fourth-sixth round while Hillis was a free agent pick up. Foster scored 118.51(7.41 points per week) more than the 10th ranked running back. I personally like to have drafted two running backs before I take my first receiver and three running backs if not four running backs before I take my first tight end. Ideally in a PPR league you want running backs who rack up receptions so even if they have a poor reality game they still have a good fantasy game. The top five pass catchers at the running back position were Lesean McCoy(78 receptions), Arian Foster(68 receptions), Ray Rice(63 receptions), Peyton Hillis(61 receptions) and Darren Sproles(59 receptions). Those first four should go in the first round although Hillis and McCoy seem to fall out of the top 10 so don't hesitate to draft them.


In fantasy football like teams do in real life you always have to be prepared for injuries. Many fantasy owners saw their season go down the drain in 2008 when Tom Brady was injured first game. Now a smart owner will take a backup quarterback who has upside in round seven or eight. You always want to make sure you have insurance on your first round pick. If he is in a friendly offense take his backup. So if you have Michael Vick don't be afraid to draft Vince Young. If you draft a running back in the first round always take his handcuff even if he sits on your bench doing nothing. You don't want to be the Priest Holmes owner in 2005 when he was injured then Larry Johnson blew up. In general I'd avoid taking a quarterback in the first round. Last year Aaron Rodgers scored 290.43 points and the second highest was Tom Brady with 287.03. The 10th ranked quarterback was Eli Manning with 218.05 points, the 20th ranked guy was Sam Bradford with 172.24 points. The difference between the #1 ranked quarter back and the 10th guy was only 72.38 points(4.52 points a week) which is half the difference between the #1 running back and #10 running back. If you have a late first round pick I'd do what I did my last draft take McCoy first round then on the way back take Drew Brees or Rodgers. If you have an early pick don't take Vick instead take a running back then on the way back take another running back then in the third round take a Tony Romo type. The different between the #1 quarterback and sixth quarterback isn't that much.


Speaking of Michael Vick he is a prime example of my previous paragraph. How many Kevin Kolb owners last year screamed "oh crap!" when Kolb went down then some owner snatched up Vick off free agency? Andy Reid has a friendly offense so having Vick on your roster would have been a smart move. This year I think Vick is being grossly overrated in fantasy. Now is Vick great? Yes but to take a quarterback in the top three of your draft is just being crazy. With so much talent at the quarterback position just stick to running backs. Although Vick is very tempting because he can run and pass. Vick is injury prone so if you take Vick early take running backs next three picks then as a backup acquire someone like Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman or Kevin Kolb. Hopefully your league has a waiver pick up so the guy who has the least life who sits on the computer all day doesn't just pick up a bunch of players week one. Vick changed leagues throughout fantasy last year although he didn't win one fantasy title in the three leagues I was in. If anything remember to take a quarterback in round three and go with running backs you'll thank me when you make the playoffs.

In most fantasy leagues it pays to be balanced not fantasy football. Let your buddy be "balanced" as he goes running back, quarterback, wide receiver, and then tight end. Go unbalance and go running back, running back, quarterback then running back. At the end of the day it's about who has the most points and the running backs especially those who rack up receptions rack up the most points. For receivers Roddy White had the most points with 228.29, Dwayne Bowe was second with 219.74. The 10th rated receiver was Stevie Johnson with 178.55. The difference between the top rated receiver and 10th was only 49.74(3.10 per week difference). The 20th ranked receiver Mario Manningham scored 151.07 points which is only 27.48 from the 10th receiver(1.71 points difference). There isn't much of a difference between the top tier receivers and mid tier receivers then bottom tier receivers. The same goes for tight ends as Witten led with 169.80, Antonio Gates was second with 143.14 while Zach Miller had 107.66. The difference was 62.14(3.88 points difference). The difference between Gates and Miller was just 35.48(2.21) points. So while someone in your league takes the top rated tight end because he is head and shoulders above everyone else remember that Witten scored just 28.89 points(1.80 per week) more than the 20th ranked running back and just 18.73 more than the 20th ranked wide receiver(1.17 per week). Witten is also scoring 2.44 less points than the 20th ranked quarter back. Like I said let someone else be balanced while you build an unbalanced team that is smashing your friend.

I have one rule I always obey when drafting in fantasy football which is I always take a kicker in the last round. I simply don't care about having the best kicker. As some chase the top kicker I'll be taking my fifth or sixth running back while getting some really good value. The top kicker was the Oakland Raiders Sebestian Janikowski who scored 158 points, the 10th kicker was Mason Crosby with 124 points and the 20th was Gano with 111 points. The difference between the #1 kicker and 10th is only 34 points(2.1 points per week) and 20th kicker is 47 points(2.93 points). I'll take a kicker the very last round and let my opponent be "balanced" while I stock up on running backs. You want to buy your running backs in bulk because some will bust but some will emerge. You will kick yourself for passing on a sleeper back but you'll never kick yourself for passing on the top kicker. Same goes for defenses as the New England Patriots scored the most points with 182, the Pittsburgh Steelers were second with 169 points. The Dallas Cowboys were 10th with 132 points and the Cleveland Browns were 20th with 118 points. The difference between the top defense and 10th defense is 64 points(4.0 points per week). I tend to grab two defenses who are ranked like eighth and 12th somewhere in that range and play matchups I feel that is better than picking high on a defense. I noticed when one guy takes a defense or a kicker everyone copies. Just sit back and take stock up on running backs.


One last piece of advice is pay attention to the coach. Think what you want about Norv Turner but his quarterbacks thrive in his offense. Why Phillip Rivers despite losing Vincent Jackson keeps getting better. I drafted him in a keeper league in the seventh round back in 2007 and he guided me to a regular season fantasy championship in 2008 and won me a fantasy championship in 2009. Don't fall into the trap of the Denver Broncos passing numbers as Josh McDaniels is gone while John Fox who is more consertative is there. Instead look at Sam Bradford who McDaniels is now the offensive coordinator for. Other than Wes Welker avoid all New England receivers as Tom Brady likes to spread the ball around. One week your guy can blow up for you while the next week he does nothing for you. Mike Shannahan has a habit of producing good running games but he also likes to mix up who he starts. So keep an eye on who he is using at running back which it appears to be Tim Hightower so he could bust out. The key is knowing who is coaching your player if he leans on the pass or the run. Also draft guys on good offenses you don't want your team full of Seattle Seahawks or Buffalo Bills. You want plenty of players on high scoring teams which increases the chance of your guy scoring a touchdown.

In conclusion, if you remember anything from this post that is to go heavy on running backs. I know that is boring advice but that is winning advice. Don't worry about starting two receivers ranked in the teens and a tight end ranked lower than 10th. Just grab a top six quarterback and load up on running backs. If you go running back, quarterback, running back, and running back you'll make the playoffs. Just make sure to look on the waiver wire as plenty of big time guys emerge from the waiver wire. Hopefully your team can stay healthy as losing your first round pick is tough. Look at the tendancies of the coaching staff of the player you are drafting from. Keep in mind this is fantasy and not real life so although Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL don't waste a first round pick on him. Also try to avoid all Seattle Seahawks other than Zach Miller as he is the only player worth starting on your roster. Hopefully you enjoyed my fantasy football advice. I know I may have pulled a Billy Beane where my opponents will close the gap on me but I welcome the challenge.

Seahawks trade Jennings; Carlson placed on IR


By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks this week traded former first round bust Kelly Jennings to the Cincinnati Bengals for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. The Seahawks also lost tight end John Carlson for the season. The Seahawks are continue to go through some changes to the roster from when Pete Carroll first took over. He has restructered Aaron Curry and Marcus Trufant's contracts making this a make or break season for them. The stinch of the Tim Ruskell era is finally coming undone. In this following piece I'll discuss how happy I am that Kelly Jennings is gone and how disappointed I am with John Carlson being done for the year. Carroll isn't afraid to rebuild because he has a plan in place unlike the other Seattle sports franchise across the street.


For the second straight season the Seahawks have traded away a high Tim Ruskell draft pick at corner. Carroll knows Josh Wilson and Kelly Jennings are scrubs which is why he dealt them. Jennings the former first round pick from the University of Miami in 2006 draft has been a bust. He has just two career interceptions in his career. He is often getting burned over the past preseasons, regular seasons and postseasons. Despite Seattle's "Super Fan" Big Lo telling everyone they should support him no matter what because he is a Seahawk. Well regular poster in the Seattle Sportsblog group Bryan White said he'd be gone before our first regular season game and I concurred with that opinion. Well Jennings is gone and I'm thankful. "True" fans call out their players for sucking they don't blindly support them because we want to win. The guy Jennings was traded for isn't much as McDonald was a guy who worked himself onto the roster from the practice squad. He'll provide depth at the defensive tackle position which the Seahawks need with Colin Cole being hurt. Carroll is ridding himself of the Ruskell stink which I'm happy to see as Jennings was horrible.


The bad news of the week is John Carlson being out for the season. Carlson another Ruskell draft pick has seen his production decline each season for the past three years. As a rookie Carlson caught 55 passes for 627 yards with five touchdowns. He became a fantasy sleeper then in 2009 under coach Jim Mora caught 51 passes for 574 yards with seven touchdowns. Under Pete Carroll who used the tight end quite a bit at USC many felt Carlson was ready for a break out season. Last year though he caught just 31 passes for 318 yards with a touchdown. In the playoff win over the New Orleans Saints though Carlson did have three receptions for 17 yards and two touchdowns. Then caught a 14 yard pass in the loss to the Chicago Bears as he was hurt in that game. With the signing of Zach Miller that was probably Carlson's last game as a Seattle Seahawk. Ruskell traded the Seahawks second, third and fourth round pick to the Baltimore Ravens to trade up in the second round to draft Carlson. After such a promising start the Carlson era in Seattle will end in disappointment.

In conclusion, Carroll is re-shaping this roster and cutting a ton of dead weight. Now people may question his moves and instantly he won't see success. I see the Seahawks struggling this year but are making the right moves. The Seahawks have made the playoffs six of the last eight seasons winning division titles in five of the last seven seasons. The Seahawks are a well ran NFL franchise. They are going through some tough times right now but the Seahawks will bounce back. Carroll is cleaning out the dead weight and putting guys on notice. I wish the Mariners would copy Carroll's approach instead of being content on taking lace place six of the last eight seasons. I'm sad to see Carlson's career which started off so promising go downhill. I'm excited that I no longer have to see Kelly Jennings getting burned for touchdowns every week. Carroll is cleaning up the house and that takes time. I'm glad a Seattle franchise isn't afraid to blow things up instead of being content with last place finishes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Seattle Mariners weekly review: August 22nd-28th edition


By Kshell

The Seattle Mariners ended the week in disappointment after starting off so successful. The Mariners began the week taking three out of four against Eric Wedge's old team the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland. The offense had erupted that series but quickly went silent when the Mariners came home. The Mariners were swept by the Chicago White Sox scoring just five runs in three games. The Mariners for the week went 3-4 and two hitters who had been so red hot went ice cold this week. The Mariners are seeing youngsters Kyle Seager and Trayvon Robinson hit the ball pretty well. While Ichiro is making a late push to hit 200 hits this for the 11th consecutive season. The Mariners young pitching continues to get blown up while the pitching face of the franchise Felix Hernandez continues to pitch great down the stretch. The Mariners did go 3-4 so that means I'll talk about the good(Seager and Ichiro), the bad(young pitching) and the bad(more in depth on the young pitching).

The Good:

The week started off well for the Mariners as they beat playoff contender Cleveland Indians three out of four and had a lead in the ninth inning in their only loss. The Mariners have had some hot hitting from Ichiro who has an 11 game hitting streak and Kyle Seager who has a nine game hitting streak. The Mariners received some offense this week from the catchers position which hasn't been seen most of the year. The pitching duo of Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda was nice to watch this week. Hernandez has been dominant in his last six starts while Pineda has had back to back quality starts. The bullpen was pretty good as four bullpen arms were on my good list which is pretty impressive. The outfield of the Mariners hit pretty well this week with Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez and Trayvon Robinson.

Good Hitting:

Ichiro: 13-33(.394), HR, 3 RBI's, 5 runs, 3 SB's-11 game hitting streak
Kyle Seager: 13-24(.542), HR, 2 RBI's, 7 runs,6 dbls -9 game hitting streak
Trayvon Robinson: 7-22(.318), 4 RBI's, 2 runs
Franklin Gutierrez: 9-26(.346), 4 RBI's, 2 runs, SB
Josh Bard: 2-8(.250), HR, 3 RBI's, 3 runs
Miguel Olivo: 6-18(.333), HR, 3 RBI's, 3 runs - 5 game hitting streak, has hit safely eight of last nine games

Good Pitching:

Felix Hernandez: 1-0, 6 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 10 K's
Michael Pineda: 0-1,6 IP, 3.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 8 K's
Blake Beavan: 6 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4 K's
Jamey Wright: 4.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 6 K's
Tom Wilhelmsen: 3.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7 K's
Josh Lueke: 3.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 5 K's
Jeff Gray: 3.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, K, Save

Felix Hernandez last six starts: 4-2, 42.1 IP, 2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 47 K's, 9.99 K's per 9.
Felix Hernandez season stats: 12-11, 200.1 IP(7.1 innings a start), 3.37 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 195 K's, 8.76 K's per 9.

I feel sometimes that fans take Hernandez for granted. He's not putting up the same numbers he did when he won the Cy Young but he is still have a pretty solid year. He has pitched over 200 innings for the fourth straight year, will strike out 200+ hitters for the third straight season in his next start. It has been sad seeing the Mariners waste Hernandez as he is pitched way better than his 25-23 record the last two seasons. I hope Hernandez hasn't spoiled fans by his greatness but I get the feeling he has.

The Bad:

The Mariners in getting swept by the Chicago White Sox scored just five runs in that series sweep. The Mariners hitting went to sleep especially two hitters in particular. The Mariners when they aren't hitting rack up the strikeouts while not drawing any walks in the process which shows they are a free swinging team. The pitching particularly the starting pitching was pretty bad this time especially the left handed pitching which saw three left handers get rocked this week. The Mariners also saw all-star closer Brandon League get roughed up once again in Cleveland as he blew his second save in Cleveland this year giving up three runs without recording a single out. The Mariners had a chance to have a successful week as they snapped their five game losing streak but instead ended the week on a three game losing streak. With the division rivals Angels coming to town things could get ugly.

Bad Hitting:

Mike Carp: 3-27(.111), HR, 2 RBI's, run, 14 K's, one walk
Brendan Ryan: 4-22(.182), 2 RBI's, 4 runs, 7 K's
Casper Wells: 1-19(.052), run, 9 K's, zero walks
Adam Kennedy: 2-12(.167), run, K, SB
Willy Mo Pena: 3-15(.200), HR, 4 RBI's, 2 runs, 3 K's

Bad Pitching:

Jason Vargas: 0-1, 12.2 IP, 6.39 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4 K's
Charlie Furbush: 0-1, 5 IP, 7.20 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 4 K's
Anthony Vasquez: 1-0, 5.1 IP, 8.44 ERA, 2.06 WHIP, 2 K's
Chance Ruffin: 1-0, 3.1 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, K
Brandon League: 0-1, Blown Save, 2 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, K, save

The hot hitting duo of Casper Wells and Mike Carp came crashing down this week. Those two have been overachieving as their K's to BB ratio reminds you of Carlos Peguero. For the season Carp is striking out 30.3% of the time while walking only 7.8% of the time. As for Wells he is striking out 42.4% of the time while walking only 5.4% of the time. So keep that in mind when looking at their small sample sizes.

The Ugly:

The Mariners once strong pitching staff has been pretty poor since trading away Doug Fister and Erik Bedard. The Mariners had to make some moves to acquire some offense which for the most part has improved greatly. Still, getting swept at home isn't good at all. The Mariners three left handed starters were roughed up this week. In particular two left handers have been getting rocked quite a bit lately in Charlie Furbush and Jason Vargas. For Vargas this is the third straight second half he has melted down and his pitches keep rising up in the strike zone for home runs. As for Furbush is reminding Mariners fans of another left hander Jack Zduriencik acquired from Detroit named Luke French. Furbush has had a bad habit of getting rocked around despite pitching in a friendly ballpark for left handed pitchers.

Ugly Pitching:

Charlie Furbush: 2-3, 25 IP, 6.48 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 15 K's, .296 BAA.
Jason Vargas: 7-12, 169.1 IP, 4.52 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 104 K's, .266 BAA.
Jason Vargas second half: 1-6, 48 IP, 7.13 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, 23 K's, .340 BAA

As you can see Furbush has been horrible for the Mariners since coming here. As for Vargas this is the third straight year where he has had a bad second half, second straight year where he was terrific in the first half but horrible second half. A good left hander should thrive in Safeco Field since right handers have trouble hitting the ball out of the ball park yet these two continue to get rocked. Vargas this year at Safeco is 5-9 having pitched 99.2 innings with a 5.24 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Which doesn't make sense since he is a fly ball pitcher.

AL West Standings:

Texas Rangers: 76-59, First Place
L.A. Angels: 72-61, 3.0 GB
Oakland A's: 60-73, 15.0 GB
Seattle Mariners: 56-76, 18.5 GB

In conclusion, the Mariners are winding down an August that saw them go 10-14 so far. Eric Wedge needs to realize the season is over and just play the youngsters even if it cost the team wins in the present. He needs to limit the workload of Hernandez who is on pace to throw over 250 innings for the second straight season. Guys like Adam Kennedy and Jack Wilson should just be DFA'd as they serve zero purpose on this roster right now. The Mariners have one more week of people following them then football season will begin which means the focus on the Mariners will shift towards the Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars and Seattle Seahawks. The Mariners are playing hard and that is why that White Sox sweep was so depressing as that was an ass kicking for three games. I felt the Mariners had regressed big time that weekend. The Mariners play their next 10 games against division opponents. Hopefully the Mariners can close out September better than they have in July and August.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Local hero Lamar Neagle breaks out with three as the Sounders stomp Columbus 6-2

By Money Mike




The Seattle Sounders returned home to Seattle looking to pull within three points of the Los Angeles Galaxy, and it turned out to be easy for them. Lamar Neagle, a Federal Way native, scored a hat trick for the Seattle Sounders as they stomped the Columbus Crew by a final score of 6-2. A history making day for the Seattle Sounders and also for one player on the Columbus Crew side. The Sounders scored three goals in the first 20 minutes of the game, they scored four first half goals (a club record) and they scored a total of six goals in the match (another club record). Not only that, so far, they lead the entire league in goals scored this season with 42 goals. So all you fools who say, "they can't score", put a cork in that.

Lamar Neagle got the party going in the fourth minute of the game. After a nice give and go with Mike Fucito, Neagle cut inside his defender and directed a low shot on goal. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer failed to corral the ball, letting it slip behind him and in the goal.

In the 16th minute, the Sounders added another. After a nice turn in the box by Mike Fucito, the ball struck the hands of defender Rich Balchan in the penalty area and referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot. Mauro Rosales, who also played a fantastic game, stepped up to take the penalty and he burried it inside the right post to make it 2-0. Rosales then ran over to the fans with their banner that says "VIVA ROSALES" as you can see on this picture.

They need to re-sign this guy to a long term deal. I mean $42,000 this year? He's playing like he deserves a lot more than that. He's got 5 goals and 9 assists now and I think he should be a candidate for the MLS MVP. I don't know how Sounder fans would react if he wasn't MVP.

Seattle weren't done though. In the 21st minute, James Riley made an overlaping run from right back position and put in a touchline cross. The ball fell to Lamar Neagle who volleyed the ball into the goal for his second of the match.

In the 40th minute, things just got better and better for the Men in Rave Green. Mauro Rosales sent in a short cross and Mike Fucito made the Columbus defense pay for standing around as he rounded the goalkeeper and put away the forth goal for the Sounders. It was Fucito's fifth goal in all compitions this season and his first in MLS since April 17, 2010 when he scored a late winner over Sporting Kansas City. This guy's been in and out of the starting lineup with Sigi Schmid trying to find a replacement for O'Brian White, who by the way just underwent a second blood clot surgery. My guess is Fucito will be dropped to the bench again after the Sounders acquired forward Samuel Ochoa yesterday.


The only major highlight for the Columbus Crew, came in the 59th minute of the match. After a miscue, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado took down Emilio Renteria in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Hurtado was lucky not to be shown a straight red card for the challenge. Jeff Cunningham, who coming into the game was sittin' on 133 career MLS goals, tied with Jamie Moreno, was given the green light by head coach Robert Warzycha to try and break the All-time MLS goalscoring record. Cunningham stepped up and calmly converted the PK into the left corner of Kasey Keller for his 134th career MLS goal which makes him the all-time leading goalscorer in Major League Soccer history.

In the 70th minute, Lamar Neagle struck for a third time. A brilliant effort hit the underside of the crossbar and just barely crossed the goal line. This made Neagle the second player in Sounders history to record a hat trick in a game and the first to do it at home. Columbus made it 5-2 after a brilliant free-kick by the former USL Sounder Josh Gardner in the 73rd minute, but a minute later, Gardner got credited with an own goal to make it 6-2 Sounders.

Seattle has another match on Tuesday, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal against FC Dallas at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. Kickoff time is at 7pm and will be streamed live on soundersfc.com. They don't return to MLS play until September 10th when they host Real Salt Lake.


Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Lamar Neagle 3 (Mike Fucito 2) 4'

Seattle Sounders FC - Mauro Rosales 5 (penalty kick) 16'

Seattle Sounders FC - Lamar Neagle 4 (James Riley 2, Mauro Rosales 8) 21'

Seattle Sounders FC - Mike Fucito 1 (Mauro Rosales 9, Fredy Montero 7) 40'

Columbus Crew - Jeff Cunningham 2 (penalty kick) 59'

Seattle Sounders FC - Lamar Neagle 5 (Osvaldo Alonso 3) 70'

Columbus Crew - Josh Gardner 2 (unassisted) 73'

Seattle Sounders FC - Own goal (Josh Gardner) 74'


Misconduct summary:

Columbus Crew - Kevin Burns (caution; Tactical foul) 64'

Seattle Sounders FC - Jeff Parke (caution; Reckless foul) 73'

Seattle Sounders FC - Zach Scott (caution; Reckless tackle) 81'


Lineups:

Columbus Crew - Will Hesmer; Sebastian Miranda, Rich Balchan, Chad Marshall, Josh Gardner; Dilly Duka (Jeff Cunningham 56'), Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rodgers; Emilio Renteria (Tom Heinemann 56'), Andres Mendoza (Justin Meram 76')

Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke (Zach Scott 75'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Mauro Rosales (Alvaro Fernandez 71'), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle; Mike Fucito (Nate Jaqua 78'), Fredy Montero

Washington Huskies 2011 season preview


By Kshell

The Washington Huskies head into their football season as winners of a bowl game for the first time in a decade. The same Huskies that went 0-12 in 2008, found themselves, in just two short years, beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers to win the 2010 Holiday Bowl. When the Huskies hired the inexperienced coach Steve Sarkisian, some fans questioned the move. Well, in just two years, Sarkisian has the fans believing in good things at Montlake. The Huskies have plenty of hope heading into this season as they were picked to take third place in North division of the new Pac-12. The Huskies will be returning 16 starters from last season and another ranked recruiting class by Sarkisian. The program will have to prove to everyone they are indeed a program and not just the Jake Locker show.


Last season was all about Jake Locker and in some ways this year will also be about Locker. This year the Huskies will have to find a way to replace the face of their offense and face of their defense in Mason Foster. Both players have been such big parts of the Huskies' turnaround that it will feel strange not seeing either player there. The Huskies did record their first winning season last year at 7-6; the first time since 2002. The Huskies also had impressive wins over USC, 32-31, for the second straight year; Oregon State, 35-34, in double overtime, and then had to win their final three games to become bowl eligible. The Huskies then faced California. They were down 13-10, facing a fourth and goal from the one-yard line, when they decided to go for the win. The Huskies gave the ball to Chris Polk, who scored the winning touchdown; this could be the defining win of the Sarkisian era. Then the Huskies defeated the Washington State Cougars, 35-28, when Jake Locker hit Jermaine Kearse for the winning touchdown. However, the best win in over a decade, for the Huskies was when they upset Nebraska. 19-7. in the Holiday Bowl, setting up momentum heading into this season.

The team is night-and-day better than when Sarkisian took over the program two years ago. Two years ago you still had the stink of 0-12 and the stink of Tyrone Willingham. Now the fan base is pumped about Husky football and the Huskies will be facing expectations for the first time in a while. It has been nice to see the transition back to where Husky football needs to be. Sarkisian is still a year or two away from having the Huskies be like those teams of the 1990's where it was Rose Bowl or bust. Right now, for this current group, it will be bowl game or bust from here on out. In this upcoming post I'll preview each position on the team. The Huskies have some positions that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the nation.

Quarterback:

Unlike last season, the Huskies face some uncertainty at the quarterback position. With Jake Locker, the all-time passing touchdown and rushing touchdown leader in school history, having graduated, Keith Price will be expected to take over at quarterback. After battling with Nick Montana all Spring, Sarkisian named Price the starter heading into fall camp. Price, from the practice I saw, looked like he is very comfortable with the offense.

Price is a redshirt sophomore who saw some playing time last season. Price, for the season, completed 19-37 (51.4%) of his passes for 164 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Last year, on the road against USC, Price threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, for the injured Locker, to give the Huskies the lead, 29-28. Then, with Locker later injured, he had his first career start at the #1 ranked Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium. In that game he was 14-28 (50.0%) for 127 yards with a touchdown. He also ran for 28 yards in the game. Price, unlike Locker, will be coming into a much better situation with tons of talent around him; he should be just fine.

If Price, for some reason, cannot perform, he will have the highly touted Nick Montana behind him. Montana is a four-star recruit who defeated Jake Heaps in a high school game in 2009. Montana is the son of the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Joe Montana. I feel like he is a year away from seriously challenging Price. Whoever is the quarterback, they will have the luxury of having plenty of weapons on offense.

Running Back:

The Huskies are loaded at the running back position, which is a good thing, as Chris Polk could miss the first couple of games. When Polk does return, the Huskies will have the highest rated NFL running back in the Pac-12. Polk has been the Huskies most productive back since the days of Napoleon Kaufman, Corey Dillon and Rashaan Shehee. As a redshirt freshman, Polk ran for 1,113 yards (4.9 YPC) and five touchdowns, with 25 receptions for 171 yards.

Last year Polk was even better: rushing for 1,365 yards (5.2 YPC) and nine touchdowns, with 22 receptions for 180 yards. Polk, like he did in 2009, saved his best for the end of the season. During the Huskies four-game winning streak, Polk rushed for 673 yards (6.2 YPC) with five touchdowns. He scored the winning touchdown against California, and then in the Apple Cup, he rushed for the second highest total in school history; he ran for 282 yards (9.7 YPC) and two touchdowns. In the Holiday Bowl, Polk was MVP against Nebraska, running for 176 yards on 34 carries (5.2 YPC) with a touchdown. While Polk is out due to a knee surgery, he'll have some capable backups to help with the workload.

The guy who will be filling in for Polk against Eastern Washington, and maybe more, is Jesse Callier. Last year as a freshman, Callier ran for 413 yards (5.4 YPC) while catching 18 passes for 98 yards. Callier also returns kicks. In the first play of the Holiday Bowl game, Callier threw a 14-yard pass to Locker to set up the Huskies first score of the game. Callier was mainly used on the fly sweeps, and last year against UCLA ran for 107 yards on just 10 carries. He is a true sophomore with tons of speed so even with Polk returning, look for Callier to still get at least 10 touches a game.

The Huskies will also gain Johri Fogerson back. The former O'Dea High School standout played just one game last year where he had a six-yard run before he was injured. However, in 2009 he ran for 46 yards (3.3 YPC) with a touchdown, but he was mainly used for screens. He caught 17 passes for 191 yards including a 51-yard pass against LSU. He also caught a touchdown as well during the season. Fogerson's return should be huge when it comes to the short passing game. The Huskies may or may not use true freshman Bishop Sankey. The talented four-star recruit, who Sarkisian stole from the cross-state Cougars, could factor in, although he'll most likely redshirt as the Huskies feature a pretty deep backfield.

Wide Receivers:

The Huskies, for the second straight year, are pretty deep at wide receiver. For those teams who want to eight-man box, the Huskies have fun as they will have a tons of three-wide-receiver-set combinations. The Huskies have seven guys they feel very comfortable with playing including two veterans who will be entering their third seasons as full-time starters. The Huskies have many four-star recruits at the wide receiver position, so there is plenty of talent for Price to get the ball to, leaving the passing game, despite the graduation of Locker, in good hands. The Huskies also feature one of the best playmaking wide receivers in the nation.

I'm talking about senior Captain Jermaine Kearse, who as a freshman, caught 20 passes for 301 yards (15.0 YPC) and two touchdowns. As a sophomore, he broke out with 50 receptions for 866 yards(17.3 YPC) with eight touchdowns. Then as a junior he continued his improvement with 63 receptions for 1,005 yards(16.0 YPC) with 12 touchdowns. He has been named to the second team all Pac-10 team the last two years and this year he will most likely end up on the first team all Pac-12 team. He had plenty of big games last year; in the Huskies 41-20 win over Syracuse, Kearse had nine receptions for 179 yards with three touchdowns. Later in the year, he set a Huskies record against Oregon State, catching four touchdown passes in the 35-34 double-overtime win. He had nine receptions for 146 yards with four touchdowns that game. Then in the Apple Cup he had six receptions for 178 yards with two touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown; Kearse has a total of 20 touchdown receptions over the last two seasons.

With Kearse's big play ability, that should open up the underneath passes to senior Devin Aguilar and true freshman Kasen Williams. Aguilar has been a steady rock for the Huskies, catching 90 passes for 1,191 yards and seven touchdowns in 27 games. He is typically the underneath guy and Kasen Williams was a huge asset for Sarkisian. Williams is a five-star recruit at receiver, from Skyline High School, and was named Parade Magazine's Prep Athlete of the Year. With Kearse, Aguilar and Williams the Huskies have one of the best three-wide-receiver-set combos in the entire nation.

Battling for the fourth receiver spot is Kevin Smith, who is a sophomore and former four-star recruit. Last year, he had just one reception for 18 yards, but did have 324 kickoff return yards. The fifth receiver is James Johnson, who as a freshman, caught 39 passes for 422 yards with three touchdowns. Although last year, he had just one reception for three yards. Then Cody Bruns, a former four-star recruit, is next with seven receptions for 102 yards while returning 63 yards in punts last season. The Huskies also have DiAndre Campbell who will be trying to get in the rotation. The Huskies receiving corps is pretty deep and they will make teams pay for using eight-man boxes.

Tight End:

The Huskies last year received zero production from their tight end position but that should change this year. This year, the Huskies feature four tight ends who are taller than 6'5", including the five-star recruit Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who stands at 6'6" and weighs 250 pounds. Seferian-Jenkins was a huge land by Sarkisian as he stayed home instead of going to the University of Texas. The Huskies will also have Michael Hartvigson who is 6'6" and weighs 246 pounds. Another guy who could factor in the rotation is Evan Hudson, who is also 6'6" and weighs 251 pounds. Look for these tight ends to come in play down in the goal line situations on play action passes. It will be nice for the Huskies to finally have some talent at tight end which they haven't had since the Rick Neuheisel days.

Offensive Line:

The Huskies offensive line returns four guys who started games last year. The Huskies offensive line is anchored by two-time Captain Senio Kelemete who is 6'4" and weighs 301 pounds. Kelemete, who will be a senior at Washington, has started 24 games on the offensive line including all 13 games last year at left tackle. In 2009 he earned honorable mention All Pac-10 when he played guard. Kelemente began his career as a defensive tackle where he started four games his freshman year. This year, he will be protecting the quarterbacks' blind side for the second straight season.

Starting at left guard is Colin Tanigawa who will be a redshirt freshman. Tanigawa is 6'3" and weighs 297 pounds and will be playing in his first career college game against Eastern Washington. At center the Huskies will return junior Drew Schaefer. Schaefer is 6'4" and weighs 301 pounds and started 17 games the past two seasons; he has started 11 games at center and six at tackle. At right guard, the Huskies will start true sophomore, Colin Porter, who last year, as a true freshman, started 10 games. Porter is a big NFL prospect as he is 6'4" and weighs 322 pounds. Porter was the guard the Huskies ran behind as he pulled against California on the game winning score. At right tackle you have true sophomore Erik Kohler who played in 11 games last year while making five starts. Kohler, standing at 6'5" and weighing in at 298 pounds, along with Porter, are the Huskies future on the offensive line.

Not only does this offensive line have experience with 56 career starts, they have youth as four guys should be returning for next season as well. The Huskies also have some height and weight on their offensive lines. The average height for the Huskies offensive line is 6'4-1/4" and the average weight is 304 pounds, which is pretty good. Sarkisian has brought in some tall linemen, but unlike the Willingham linemen, they are physically ready to perform. This offensive line should be another year better as Porter and Kohler could make up a pretty good combination on the right side of the line.

Defensive Line:

This could be the strength of the Huskies defense. Unlike the past two years where there were several questions about just how many Pac-10 players the Huskies have on the defensive line they appear to be deep this year. The Huskies figure to have eight guys in the rotation which is a good thing to hear. The Huskies defensive line, which struggled last season, came on strong in the final four games of the season, especially in the 19-7 Holiday Bowl victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The defensive line put pressure on the quarterback and stuffed the run of Nebraska which was a far cry from the first meeting when Nebraska won 56-21.

The man who is anchoring this defensive line is Captain Almeda Ta'amu, who some have projected to be drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. Ta'amu is a big body at 6'3" and weighing 337 pounds. In his career he has started 29 games and has played in 37 games in his career. He earned honorable mention All Pac-10 last season. Joining him somewhere on the defensive line is fellow senior Everrette Thompson, who is 6'6" and weighs 272 pounds. Against bigger teams, Thompson plays a lot of defensive end, but against smaller quicker teams, he plays some defensive tackle. In his career he has 19 career-starts and has played in 34 games. Another Husky who will factor in the defensive tackle rotation is Lawrence Lagafuaina; he is 6'0", weighing 329 pounds and redshirted last season. You'll also see four-star recruit, Danny Shelton, who is 6'1" weighing 334 pounds. Like Thompson you'll also have Sione Potoa'e who is 6'2" weighing 276 pounds. Against smaller teams, Potoa'e will play tackle and against bigger teams, he will play end. Last year he played in 11 games making two starts. The Huskies are deep at the defensive tackle position anchored by two seniors.

The Huskies, at defensive end, feature true sophomore Hau'oli Jamora who is projected to be first team All Pac-12 defensive end. Jamora, who is 6'3", but only 247 pounds, played last season in all 13 games while starting the final seven games. Against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, Jamora recorded four tackles, three for loss and and one for a sack. Thompson will be most likely the other starting defensive end, but if he starts at tackle, look for junior Talia Crichton to start. Crichton, who is 6'3" and weighs 255 pounds, has played in 15 games making 10 career starts. Another guy who will factor in the rotation is Andrew Hudson who redshirted last season and is 6'3", weighing 231 pounds. Finally, we have highly-recruited Josh Shirley, 6'3", 229 pounds, who will pretty much play every third and long situation. Shirley is a bit of a hybrid who can eventually play outside linebacker or defensive end. For right now he'll play a ton of rush end.

The Huskies defensive line projects to have three All Pac-12 players, including two on first team. They will have eight guys who can play, which should keep the defensive line fresh. The Huskies also have versatility, which will be a huge strength. The Huskies have big guys up the middle and quick speed rushers on the outside. The Huskies should be able to stop the spread teams and the smashmouth power teams. Just a matter of playing an entire season like they did those last four games of the year is the key.

Linebacker:

This unit is probably the biggest question mark the Huskies face including the quarterback position. Over the last two years, the Huskies have lost graduating seniors Donald Butler(starting in the NFL), E.J. Savannah, Mason Foster (starting in the NFL), and Victor Aiyewa. The Huskies, for the second straight season, will have to replace two linebacker positions. They have also had to replace the face of the defense for the past three seasons with the loss of Holiday Bowl defensive MVP, Mason Foster. Foster was a terrific player for the Huskies and will be hard to replace. Last year the Huskies had to replace Butler who was also a terrific player.

The guy who replaced Butler was Cort Dennison who is a senior Captain at middle linebacker. Dennison, in his career, has played in 34 games and has made 17 career starts. Last year, he started 12 games at middle linebacker where he recorded 92 tackles with two sacks and two interceptions. Dennison will be the anchor of a young linebacking core. The other starters will be Princeton Fuimaono, who as a true freshman last year, played in all 13 games, including a start at Oregon. The other starter will be John Timu who will be a redshirt freshman this season. Other guys, who will factor in, are Garret Gilliland who last year, as a true freshman, played in 12 games, including starting against Nebraska. Thomas Tutogi will be backing up Cort Dennison at middle linebacker. Tutogi was a JC player last season and will be a true sophomore this year. The Huskies linebackers are very young and eventually could be the team's strength next season.

Defensive Backs:

The Huskies will feature plenty of experience at their cornerback position this year. They will have some talented, but inexperienced, safeties this season as well. Starting with the corners, the Huskies will feature junior Desmond Trufant who is the brother of Washington State Cougars great, and current Seattle Seahawks Marcus Trufant. Trufant, in his first two years, has played in 25 games, making 22 starts. He has three career interceptions and half a sack. Trufant is projected to be first team All Pac-12 this season. On the opposite side is senior Quinton Richardson. Richardson has played in 37 games, making 30 career starts. He has three career interceptions, including a touchdown last year against UCLA. Richardson, though, could miss the start of the season. Replacing him will be the interesting battle as there is a big drop off. Gregory Ducre will compete for that spot. Last year, as a true freshman, he played in all 13 games including an interception against Syracuse. Anthony Gobern, junior, has played in just 15 games (all on special teams)and will compete with Ducre to fill in for Richardson. When healthy, the Huskies have two corners who have combined to play in 59 games, with 52 starts, so Nick Holt could do some blitzing.

At safety, the Huskies will be replacing last year's Team Captain, Nate Williams, with Sean Parker. Parker is a four-star recruit who chose the Huskies over USC at the last minute. Last season, as a true freshman, Parker played in nine games, as the nickelback, while recording the interception. Then there is a heated battle with Nate Fellner and Justin Glenn, who is back from injury. Fellner is a junior who has played in 22 games with 16 career starts, including all 13 last season. He led the Huskies with five interceptions last year, including one in the Holiday Bowl and one in the Apple Cup. He'll be competing with Glenn who is also a junior. Glenn has played in 13 games with five starts as a freshman before getting injured. During his freshman season he scored a 51-yard touchdown against Stanford. With Glenn healthy, the Huskies have three good safeties.

It is nice to see the Huskies have a veteran secondary that will allow Nick Holt to take more chances with blitz packages. The Huskies have three talented safeties and two corners who could be playing in the NFL. It is nice seeing the Huskies having a handful of guys on defense who could be playing in the NFL. The secondary, like the rest of the defense, came on strong down the stretch. They'll be tested early against Hawaii, who basically throws on every single down. The Huskies strong defensive line play should make life easier on this group.

Kicking:

The Huskies have a strong kicking game that features three seniors. The Huskies field goal kicker is Erik Folk who is pretty clutch as he's made back-to-back game winning kicks against USC. Plus, he sent the Notre Dame game into overtime his freshman year. In his career, he is a perfect 68-for-68 on PAT's while making 31-41 field goals, which is 75.6%. Last year, he hit a 54-yarder and a 52-yard field goal showing off his leg strength. This senior helps the Huskies offense out with his strong long and accuracy as most teams are force to punt Folk can cash those in for three points.

The Huskies have a punting battle that is going to be a tough decision for Sarkisian to make. First, we'll start with senior Will Mahan, who was the punter in 2009. In 2009, he had 52 punts where he had just two touchbacks and averaged 40.6 yards per punt. Last year against BYU he had six punts where he averaged 45.2 yards a punt, including a 64-yard punt. Then, in practice, Mahan was hurt so Kiel Rasp, who was just a walk-on, took over. Well, Rasp did pretty good as well with 69 punts for a school record 43.8 yards per punt average. He also completed a fake punt pass to Kearse in the Apple Cup, which helped the Huskies score a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Huskies, Rasp is also a senior and neither he, nor Mahan, can be redshirted.

The good news for the Huskies is they should have a great kicking game this season. With Mahan or Rasp they have one of the better punters in the conference, which should help the defense out. For kicking, Folk, with his leg and accuracy, can reward them with three points when drives stall. Having a good kicking game can be the difference between winning and losing. Had the Huskies, in 1995 and 1996, had a good kicking game they would have been in the Rose Bowl. The Huskies will be hurting next year as both guys are seniors, but for this year, the Huskies kicking game should be very strong.

Coaching:

For the first time since 1954, the Huskies return their entire coaching staff for the third straight season. On paper, Sarkisian is a losing coach with a 12-13 record and going 9-9 in Pac-10 play. That is why you can't measure success based on paper, as Sarkisian inherited an 0-12 mess; a program that was 12-47 during the previous five seasons. The Huskies were the worst program in the nation during that five-year stretch which saw them losing nine plus games in four of those seasons. Sarkisian has done a good job of having his teams play their best ball at the end of the season, which has been the case the past two years.

With Sarkisian, the Huskies have a young coach who is recruiting hard. He has brought in back-to-back ranked recruiting classes, which hasn't happened since the Rick Neuheisel days. The Huskies also brought over the bulk of the USC coaching staff which included their defensive coordinator, Nick Holt. Holt took over a disaster of a defense for the Huskies and there has been some improvement since he has arrived at Washington. The defense allowed just one touchdown in three of the final four games of the season. The coaching staff is recruiting well, and most important, they are winning. They took an 0-12 mess to a Holiday Bowl win over #18 Nebraska in just two seasons.

Outlook:

The future looks very bright for this program. If the Washington Huskies football program were a stock, this is a stock you'd want to buy a lot of shares as they are a program on the rise. The Huskies had a five-win turnaround two years ago and last season went 7-6 while winning the Holiday Bowl. For this year, the team knows how to win the close games as they won four games by seven points or less last season. This group no longer expects to compete, but expects to win, regardless of the opponent. I feel like the days of hoping for a bowl game are over as they'll start making a bowl game every year. I think in a year or two the Huskies will seriously compete for the Rose Bowl. Sarkisian currently has another ranked recruiting class which would give him three-in-a-row and there are some pretty big fish that are still available in the Huskies backyard.

As for this season, I think the Huskies should win no fewer than seven regular season games. I predict the Huskies will go 8-4 in the regular season and that is mostly due to their tough schedule. The Huskies will play three teams who are currently ranked in the top 10 in the nation, with two of those games being road games. I do think the Huskies will upset one of those three as Sarkisian has shown the ability to upset opponents in the past two years. I think the Huskies are poised to show the nation that they aren't just a Jake Locker program, but instead a legitimate program. The Huskies will take another step forward in what is ultimately the main goal of reaching the Rose Bowl. I say 8-4 with another trip to the Holiday Bowl as the Huskies take third place in the Pac-12 North Division.

In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed my season preview of the Washington Huskies. I'm excited for this season as the Huskies return several key players while bringing in some new fresh faces. I'm excited that I'm no longer hoping for success with the Huskies and now I'm expecting success. I'm happy that losing-season streak has finally snapped and the Huskies can become the Huskies again. This season will have some bumps and bruises along the way, but the program is going in the right direction, for sure. I'm still amazed at how, in just two years, the Huskies went from 0-12 to a bowl victory over a ranked opponent. The program is in good hands with Sarkisian and the talent continues to increase each and every season. The Huskies begin their season Saturday, September 3, against defending FCS national champions Eastern Washington. Hopefully Husky Stadium is packed and ready to go!

Season of Intrigue


By Twolf


College football is about to get under way and what would this blog be without a preview of the Washington State Cougars season. This will be an interesting season for Washington State with many questions that will need to be answered. Some of which are; Will we finally see them back in a bowl game? How will the defense preform? Will Paul Wulff be fired and, if so, who will Moos bring in?

Weeks ago I made the prediction that the Cougars would go 6-6, which would give them no problem making a bowl game. Here is how I see the season playing out: Win vs Idaho State, win vs UNLV, loss vs San Diego State, win vs Colorado, close win/loss vs UCLA, loss vs Stanford, win vs Oregon State, loss vs Oregon, win vs Cal, loss vs Arizona State, loss vs Utah, close win/loss vs Washington. With the close games it leaves my prediction with a margin of error of plus/minus a game.

Considering the record I believe Washington State will compile my prediction rests on how the defense will preform. Last season the defense looked good, at times, but for the most part looked like a bunch of lost little puppies. Big plays killed them and, believe me, there were a lot of them (the Apple Cup comes to mind). The offense has the fire power to win games, which means all the pressure will be on the defense to hold the lead. We will soon see how the defense measures up.

This leads us to the final question, whether Paul Wulff keeps his job. Even if the team goes 6-6 in my opinion Paul Wulff should be fired, but he won't be. I have nothing against Coach Wulff and have been rooting for him since he was hired, I simply find it to be a shame that fans have gone from cheering the team to three 10 win seasons in a row to now rooting for a 6-6 season in less than ten years. It is a shame when we, as fans, are settling for mediocrity. If I had my way Bill Doba would have never been hired years ago and Robb Ackey would be leading the Cougars out of the tunnel to yet another bowl game.

I do not begin to think I know the answer to any of the many questions that remain to be answered, but one thing I do know...by the end of the season every Cougar fan around the country will know the answers.


Seahawks Look to Get Things Going Against Broncos


(Photo Courtesy of @RGray525)


By Wyatt Lyles

The Seahawks will be taking on the Broncos tonight at 6pm in the mile-high city. No doubt the focus of the national media on this game will be the Bronco’s QB situation. Specifically, that one guy. Ah, what was his name? Oh right, how could I forget? Tim Tebow. He’s no doubt going to dominate the conversation of this game. Well, in everywhere but Seattle that is.

All of us Seahawks’ fans couldn’t give a crap about that Tebow guy and whether he’s a 4th or 1st string QB. We care about seeing our 1st string offense finally getting some cohesion. We want to see the offensive line FINALLY give our QB some time to throw the ball. We pretty much just want to see everything that went wrong last Saturday go right this Saturday.

Seattle Sounders FC vs Columbus Crew preview. Sounders with a chance to pull within three points of LA for 1st place.

By Money Mike



Coming off a memerable 1-0 win on the road against Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Seattle Sounders return home, looking to cap off a big week with a big win as they take on the Columbus Crew this afternoon. Kickoff time is at 1pm and will be televised on KONG-TV and I believe it will also be shown live on ROOT Sports outside the Seattle area. With the Supporters Shield and home field advantage on the line this late in the season, you have to think that every game is a must win for the Men in Rave Green. The Sounders of course have had a big week on the pitch and in the front office. On tuesday, Seattle traveled south of the border to Monterrey and pulled off a 1-0 upset win over the CONCACAF Champions. And just yesterday in the front office, the Sounders swapped Allocation ranking spots with the Chicago Fire and traded their third-round pick of the 2012 MLS draft to acquire former US under-20 international Samuel Ochoa, so now they won't have to worry about trying to gamble for players by the trade deadline on September 15th.


Injury report:

Columbus Crew - Alright, we got a big list right here for the visitors. Starting with this man. He started the season with the Red Bulls, then was traded to Toronto FC in Week 3, and now here he is with the Columbus Crew via another damn trade. Tony Tchani when he was with Toronto, he didn't make the trip to Seattle because he was suspended. This time, the reason for not making the tip for this weekends matchup is because he's wounded. A right knee inflammation is what's keeping him out, I don't think he's even made his Columbus debut yet. Eddie Gaven (Right lower leg contusion) and backup goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum (Fractured right thumb) are also out. Shaun Francis and Korey Veeder are listed as doubtful. Rounding out the list are Emilio Renteria, Rich Balchan and Jeff Cunningham who are listed as probable.

Seattle Sounders FC - For the Sounders, Steve Zakuani, well according to Josh Mayers on Seattletimes, he may be done for the season. Right now I'm not going to confirm anything, except that Brian Mullan is a douche. Mike Seamon has an ankle problem so he is out. O'Brian White, what the hell is going on? He was supposed to be back last month, but something must be going terribly wrong with this guy. It doesn't look like he has fully recovered because he's not returning at least for this match. And finally rounding out the list, Patrick Ianni with a strained hammy. He is listed as probable.


Suspensions:

So one player has to watch this game from the press box, thank god it's not a Sounders player. Julius James has been booked too many times. So the Columbus defender is suspended for this afternoons matchup because of caution accumulations.


Other notes:

- New boy Sammy Ochoa doesn't look like he'll make his debut for the Seattle Sounders tomorrow. Accoring to the Sounders webside, Ochoa is expected to join the team next week. So there's a chance he could make his debut on tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal against FC Dallas.

- Now this is off topic with the Columbus Crew match. Should the Sounders win the semifinal on tuesday, they will host the final on October 4th at CenturyLink Field against either the Chicago Fire or the Richmond Kickers.


Key matchups:

Alvaro Fernandez vs Sebastian Miranda - Fernandez has become one of the most valuable members of the team. Leading the Sounders with 8 goals in all compatitions. He'll be challenged by the Crew's right back who is second on his team in minutes played this season.

Tom Heinemann vs Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - Heinemann was Lamar Neagle's strike partner last season with the Charleston Battery. This time he's Andres Mendoza's strike partner with the Columbus Crew. He's only 24 years of age and he's improving as an MLS player. He'll be a handful for the Columbian.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Can the 2011 WSU Cougars be something special?


By Outsider Steve

For most Cougar fans, this time of year it has been anything but fun. Moreover, why would it be? For the last three years, the Cougs have been everything but competitive; a blip on the college football radar. But 2010 will be known as the season the Cougars turned the corner as a program. Not only did the Cougars show that they have a pulse, but they showed that they are ready to compete in the Pac-12 as well. The pinnacle of the 2010 Cougars was not only securing their first conference road victory in Corvallis, but also showing that they were able to stay competitive with conference foes during losses. For Paul Wulff, 2010 had to be a success. For the fist time the Cougars were able to show progress under his watch during a losing season. This was something coach Wulff could not say about his previous two seasons in Pullman. As a matter of fact, it had gotten so bad at times under Wulff most fans were left wondering if he would be able to survive as head coach. Not only did Wulff survive, the Cougs may have emerged as a dark horse to potentially snag a bowl bid.


What makes this year’s version different from years past? For starters, it marks the first time in the coach Wulff's tenure that upper classman rule the depth chart. Thirteen starters (8 on offense, 5 on defense) are either juniors or seniors. Most of these upper classman are expected to provide a leadership role, but moreover, they all play key positions (QB, RB, WR, TE, LT, C, RG, DE, DT, MLB, and OLB) that require a veteran presence. How important is leadership to this Cougar team? When the season starts rolling into the conference portion of the schedule, you are going to have to rely heavily on your upper classmen to hold their respective units together. Leadership will play a huge role in whether this team can snag a bowl bid. Especially on the defensive side of the ball where the Cougars are cutting in as many as three freshmen into their defensive unit. It makes players like Travis Long, Alex Hoffman-Ellis, and Deane Bucannon even more important because it allows the kids to be able play freely without having the pressure of being the main playmakers before their ready to take on that role.


The Cougars can score points in a hurry. Not a big surprise. Nevertheless, with QB Jeff Tuel entering his junior year, the expectations/success of the entire offense will land squarely on his shoulders. I do not think there is a question of whether or not he can handle the responsibility because I think he has proven that. The bigger question is can Tuel consistently put together scoring drives? We have seen to many times where drives have fizzled out due to poor execution, lack of protection, etc. One area of glowing improvement has been the Cougar offensive line. The Cougars are returning an offensive line with four seniors and one sophmore in David Gonzales, Andrew Roxas, B.J. Guerra, Wade Jacobsen, and John Fullington. That is the type cohesion is what coaches dream about having up-front. Not only does it open up running lanes for guys like senior Logwane Mitz (I can‘t believe he‘s still around), but it finally allows Wulff the freedom to open up the passing game. No longer do you have to stay conservative because of a lack of protection. You can now feature Tuel as a true weapon instead of a game manager.

These aren’t the same old Cougars that have been a college football embarrassment. They no longer feel the need to hang their heads for going 5-32 over the last three seasons. If anything its made the Cougars a stronger team. For the first in coach Wulff’s tenure, these Cougars will enter a season with winning expectations. They believe a bowl birth is more then just attainable, it’s something they expect to happen. That type of confidence and swagger is only attained by going through the fire as a team. They have done exactly that, and now its time to see how these Cougars get after it this season. Go Cougs!



Sounders swap Allocation spots with Chicago, pick up forward Sammy Ochoa

By Money Mike



Ever since Blaise Nkufo was released, the Sounders have pretty much had their struggles up front. GM Adrian Hanauer said that the Sounders will pick up a striker during the international transfer period for MLS. We had Cilian Sheridan on trial in the hope of acquiring him on loan, but he didn't like the offer and then he went to Portland and he was close to signing with them on loan, but the deal fell through at the last second so he's now in Scotland with St. Johnstone F.C. We were in talks with Djibril Cisse, but he ended up joining Italian side Lazio. I don't know what happened that resulted in a failure to sign Prince Tagoue. When the transfer period closed a couple weeks ago, the Sounders came away with nothing. Now today, all prayers have finally been answered, the Seattle Sounders swapped Allocation ranking spots and also traded their Third-round pick of next years MLS SuperDraft to the Chicago Fire to pick up former U.S. U-20 forward Sammy Ochoa. After Chivas USA, the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC said no to the 24-year old striker, the Chicago Fire were next in line at no. 4, so had the Sounders, who were no. 6 in the Allocation ranking, not swapped positions, Ochoa possibly would've ended up in Chicago (or maybe they would've passed). With this pick-up, Seattle now drops to the bottom of the Allocation ranking, which is no big deal, it's not like they'll go bankrupt for that. This is probably the third time this year that Chivas USA were first in line to picked up a player via Allocation. They said no to Benny Feilhaber, who was later picked up by the New England Revolution, and they said no to Freddy Adu, who is now with the Philadelphia Union.

Ochoa began his career in Mexico with Estudiantes Tecos in 2006 and played for them until the end of last season. So he was there for five years, and you have to question why he only played 27 matches and scored only two goals for the club. You can see they barely gave him a chance. Ochoa trained with the Sounders a couple months ago and he scored in a reserve match against the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was a member of the U.S. U-20 national team at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, who were coached by the current leader of the Sounders, Sigi Schmid.

Born in Mexico, Ochoa moved to Riverside, California and attended Riverside Poly High School. He is the younger brother of Jesus Ochoa who plays for USL club LA Blues and was part of LA Galaxy's MLS Cup Championship team in 2002.


My thoughts on this move:

When Ochoa signed with Major League Soccer back on Wednesday, the first comment came from a Sounders fan via Facebook. This person said, "3 goals in 5 years? No thank you." I disagreed with that statement. This guy has full potential that he has still yet to show. Sigi knows about this kid because he coached him at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Considering the fact that we have failed to acquire a forward during the transfer period, Ochoa was probably our best option. If it involved losing a draft pick or maybe even a player, so be it. This is a good pick up, I think he's gonna fit in very well with this team and score a lot of goals.

Right now, we currently have 30 players on our roster plus Miguel Montano who is currently on loan with the Montreal Impact in the North American Soccer League. I'm pretty sure Montano isn't expected to return until the end of the NASL season which is late September-early October, bottom line is, add him, that makes 31 players in total, which is one over the limit, so there's a chance that one of our players could be on their way out. Will it be Montero? No. Rosales? NADA. Fernandez? No way. I don't know who will be packing when Miguel Montano returns, but I'm pretty sure it could be Taylor Graham or Mike Seamon. I got a pretty bad feeling that David Estrada might be sent packing. But again, a good pick up for the Seattle Sounders.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Golden Tate, Jimmy Johnson Twitter Fued


By IKorzie

A few weeks old, but I wanted to touch on this subject.

Golden Tate, second-year receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, scoffed at Jimmie Johnson's ESPY Award nomination as male athlete of the year and used his Twitter account to say so.
"Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism," Tate tweeted during Wednesday evening's awards show.

The 22-year-old incited a Twitter war with angry NASCAR fans who insisted that yes, putting your foot on the gas pedal and turning left does constitute being an athlete.

Johnson took the jab in stride while fielding questions Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"I think it's easy to make a comment when you don't know," Johnson said to reporters. "In a lot of situations, people haven't been to a race or been close enough to our sport to understand what takes place here."

The Associated Press, unlike Tate, does see NASCAR driving as a sport. In 2009 the AP voted Johnson the male athlete of the year after he won the fourth of his five consecutive Sprint Cup series championships.

"It's something we have fought for a long time," said Johnson in reference to recognizing driving as a sport. "There is just an education process that has to take place across a lot of mediums. Through sports, I'm excited to see top athletes come in and see what we do and also go for rides in cars and be around. And when they do, they are our best advocates. They are out there telling the story."

Tate was telling a different story on his Twitter page, defiantly opposing complaints from NASCAR followers.

"I've driven a car on unknown roads at night at 90mph no big deal. No sign of athletism."

"Guarantee he couldn't in million year play any SPORT."

"give me 6 months of training and I bet I could compete."

"#12s get these rednecks off of me." Tate followed after getting "hate tweets" from many NASCAR fans.

As the comments kept coming Tate eventually backed off his stance, tweeting at one point, "Apologies for my offensive comment to NASCAR fans. I actually read up on it and NO I couldn't race a car 150 mph."

The 60th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Tate still hasn't been willing to call NASCAR a sport but showed his appreciation for NASCAR fans' support of their drivers.

"will say my respect for NASCAR has gone up tremendously yalls fans r hard nose and passionate #respect!"

As much as I agree with Tate, he needs to focus on his play. Learn how to catch the ball, before he ends up on the chopping block, like Aaron Curry!

Sounders hold on for a historic win at Monterrey in the Champions League.

By Money Mike




The Seattle Sounders became the second MLS team to beat a Mexican team on Mexican soil in over a week. The Sounders upset defending CONCACAF Champions, Monterrey 1-0 to move into first place in the Group Stage. There were a couple of nervous moments in the second half when Monterrey came right at them, but the Sounders were able to hang on and get the full 3 points. People need to start taking this tournament seriously, especially with the Sounders off to a 2-0 start in Group play. I mean, winning the Champions League is as big as winning the MLS Cup. Even out of all of that, America is just too freakin stupid to understand that. If this wasn't a big win, I don't know what the hell is. Sigi Schmid left Kasey Keller, Mauro Rosales and Fredy Montero out of the 18 man squad and partnered Nate Jaqua up front with Pat Noonan. Terry Boss, as expected, got the start in goal. Josh Ford was on the squad as a backup goalkeeper behind Boss. And also, Amadou Sanyang made his Sounders debut, coming on in the 84th minute of the match.

The Sounders ceded most of the possession early opted to play counter attacking football and in the 38th minute, Seattle was on the move as Pat Noonan fed Alvaro Fernandez with a pinpoint ball. Flacco split defenders Darvin Chavez and Miguel Morales and calmly roofed the ball past Goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.

In the second half, Monterrey came out strong. In the 66th minute, the Sounders dodged a huge bullet. Terry Boss lost the ball to Aldo de Nigris as he was trying to clear it. He then nearly took him down which would've resulted in a penalty and possibly a straight red card. de Nigris laid the ball back to Humberto Suazo who ripped the ball wide of goal. That would've been a disastrous moment for Terry Boss and the Seattle Sounders. Despite Monterrey finishing with 11 shots on goal, it was Seattle who came away with a full three points over the CONCACAF Champions.

The Sounders return home to Seattle as they get set to host the Columbus Crew on Saturday at CenturyLink Field. Then they host FC Dallas in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup next Tuesday at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.


Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Alvaro Fernandez (Pat Noonan) 38'


Misconduct summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Nate Jaqua (caution; Reckless tackle) 48'


Lineups:

Seattle Sounders FC - Terry Boss; James Riley, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl; Roger Levesque (Amadou Sanyang 84'), Brad Evans, Servando Carrasco, Alvaro Fernandez (Leonardo Gonzalez 76'); Nate Jaqua (Osvaldo Alonso 65'), Pat Noonan

Monterrey - Jonathan Orozco; Darvin Chavez, Hiram Mier, Severo Meza (Ricardo Osorio 83'); Jesus Manuel Corona (Abraham Carreno 73'), Neri Cardozo, Luis Ernesto Perez, Hector Morales (Walter Ayovi 62'); Aldo de Nigris, Jesus Eduardo Zavala, Humberto Suazo


Now here's a look at the highlights:


Seahawks quarterback battle heating up or is it?


By Taylor Gombos

My name is Taylor Gombos and I'm  the owner and founder of  http://www.theseattlesportshub.com/ I am posting on here because this site and my site have a cross promotion, which in my opinion has been great thus far. I hope you enjoy reading and when your not checking out this great site, check us out at
http://www.theseattlesportshub.com/


Note: In this article, I will look at the Seahawks quarterback situation, and give my crazy and controversial opinion on who I think should be the starter for our Seattle Seahawks. You be the judge on how controversial my thoughts are.

  Let's face it fellow Seahawk fans, whether or not we want to admit it, our team, the Seattle Seahawks, has a quarterback controversy. Yes I am officially going on record and stating that the Seahawks have a quarterback controversy but my solution of who I think should be the Seahawks starting quarterback may shock you. The  Seahawks quarterback controversy that I am describing is one that I have to be honest, I'm not used to it, because for 10 years we had the luxury of having our starting quarterback set with Matt Hasselbeck. We never had to worry about who the starter was because Hasselbeck was always tabbed as the starter.

  My fellow Seahawk fans and 12thman Faithful members, times have changed, these aren't your father's Seahawks, this team is in the midst of a drastic change and it is my belief and opinion that this team has still not found its quarterback just yet.

Before I reveal my choice, let's examine the candidates for the No. 1 contender (aka the starting quarterback job, sorry I'm a big fan of wrestling, so let me throw out one more cliche here. The Seahawks quarterback situation is like a triple threat match for the WWE title, in this case the title represents the starting quarterback for our Seattle Seahawks. Ok enough WWE stuff, it's time to look at this quarterback situation.


 
Tarvaris Jackson:


For the last two weeks we have all watched and witnessed  Jackson, the man who was named the Seahawks starting quarterback for 2011, have two sub par games back-to-back. The most recent game, a 20-7 loss against the Minnesota Vikings really wasn't his fault due to the poor offensive line but I have to say I am not impressed with him thus far, I'm really not and I'll tell you why. I'm not impressed with him because I feel like he is over hyped and isn't worthy of being handed the starting job.

  Again I'm not going to bash Jackson into the ground here, because as I said the O-line was totally crap but I can't get over the fact that Jackson is being handed the starting job, like a spoiled child being handed everything on a silver plate, Pete Carroll just handed Jackson the job. It's puzzling to me that a coach like Carroll who preaches competition until we're blue in the face would just hand Jackson the starting job. Now before I go on, I don't mean anything against Carroll with that last statement, I'm In and I agree with all the moves Carroll and Co. have made, but making Jackson the undisputed starter doesn't make sense.
                                                                        

  Carroll has said that the only reason that Jackson was given the starting job was because of his familiarity with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's offensive system. Jackson could have fooled me, it looks like he just learned the offense a week ago. Seriously though, for anyone who claims that Jackson knows Bevell's system, that may be true but remember Jackson knows his system from Minnisota, you know the system where he had an outstanding O-line, and a kick ass running back.

  The final thing I will say about Jackson is the fact that he is new to this being the straight up starter, because for two years he had to get out of the way for old man Favre. It seems to me that he is pissing away this precious opportunity. Is he the future of the franchise or just a placeholder for a future draftee only time will tell if Jackson is the real deal.   

Charlie Whitehurst:

Ah yes Whitehurst, the quarterback who lead our Seahawks to a win against with his wonderful quarterback play and his awesome passes.......ok I'm back down to earth again, I must have been referencing his college days at Clemson.

  To say it lightly, former Hasselbeck backup Whitehurst is just that a backup, and he will always be a backup. But I have to say that part of me is at least semi curious to see what it would be like to have Whitehurst play against a first team defense. There isn't much to analyze with Whitehurst, he is a career clipboard holder but again I would love to see him start the upcoming preseason game, because he has performed very well the last two games, and I also believe that after all his years of being a back-up he should be given the chance to see what he has as the starting QB. The only other thing I can think of to add about Whitehurst is that he and the second team have scored more points than Jackson and the first team unit, which to me is really sad.

Josh Portis:
When it comes to analyzing Portis, I find myself dumbfounded and at a loss for words. No it's not that Portis has blown me away with his play on the field, it's just he is a rookie and like most rookies, you never know what to expect.After hearing so much about Portis from Carroll, I have to say I was eager to see him in action and see what he has. While he hasn't been the most flashy player on the roster, I will say he has been somewhat impressive but keep in mind he is playing against third and fourth stringers. As a rookie, Portis has a lot more room for error than the other two QB's on the roster but I still expect some great things from him, but we will see.
________________________________________________________________________________

So with all this said, the Seahawks appear to only have a two person race at quarterback in my opinion. I'm going to disqualify Portis, because he doesn't appear to be ready to handle the pressure of being the starting quarterback just yet.

  I know I ragged him a lot and his ears are probably ringing, but if I had to chose the Seahawks' starting quarterback I would choose Jackson, because like I said I ripped on him pretty bad but that is only because I felt and still feel that he should have to compete for the starting job. Like I said Carroll prides himself on competition so why not have a competition to see who the quarterback will be. Apparently the coaching staff knows more than I do, which must be the reason  why they are coaching and I am sitting here writing this article.

  While my criticisms of Jackson may have confused the hell out of some of you, and may have been unwarranted, I will say this, my criticisms of Jackson were designed to light a fire under his butt, I am in no way blaming him for all the problems that this team has at all. 

  To end, let me add that Jackson gives the Seahawks something that they haven't had since the days of Seneca Wallace, and that is a quarterback with mobility, who can take off and run if he needs to, which is very refreshing. All I know, is this quarterback controversy will be fun to watch.