November 18, 2005

Frinklin Apple Cup Forecaster

Let’s see how these two titans of college football stack up, shall we?

Washington: Isaiah Stanback
Washington State: Alex Brink
Despite very different physical abilities and styles, Stanback and Brink share similar results. Both have shown flashes of being a very effective college quarterback, but both are plagued by missed opportunities. Brink is very similar to Jason Gesser, though he seems less a heady player than both Brink and his coaches seem to think he is. Stanback is a physical marvel, perhaps the fastest player on the field and possessing a magical arm. He still makes boneheaded plays though, and to make matters worse, he’s still making many of the same such plays he did early in the season.
Edge: Even

Running Back
Washington: James Sims
Washington State: Jerome Harrison
There is no contest here. If Harrison were on a better team he would be a Heisman candidate. He should be anyway, with 13 straight 100-yard games. He runs with both power and speed, and has broken off runs of over 25 yards in every game. James Sims is a fine runner who has bounced between tailback and fullback this season. He broke out with 200-plus yards against Arizona, but he is prone to fumbling.
Edge: Washington State

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Washington: Craig Chambers, Sonny Shackleford, Robert Lewis (TE)
Washington State: Jason Hill, Trandon Harvey, Cody Boyd (TE)
The Cougars are superior here too. Hill is a dynamic receiver who is contemplating the NFL after this, his junior season. He leads the team with 13 TD receptions. Michael Bumpus and Chris Jordan have been injury-prone, but Harvey has stepped up to take some of the pressure off Hill. With Troy Bienemann out with a torn ACL, Boyd will start at TE. The Huskies have talent at wideout, but not much consistency. Chambers is as aggravating a player as Husky fans can imagine. He has all the tools: hands, speed, size and moves. Unfortunately, he also takes plays off and drops easy balls. Shackleford is an effective possession guy, and Lewis is an effective safety valve. The Huskies have battled the drops all year.
Edge: Washington State

Offensive Line
Washington: Joe Toledo (LT), Stanley Daniels or Clay Walker (LG), Brad Venneman (C), Tusi Sa’au (RG), Chad Macklin or Rob Meadow (RT)
Washington State: Bobby Byrd (LT), Sean O’Conner (LG), Nick Milhauser (C), Norvell Holmes (RG), Charles Harris (RT)
Neither line has played as well as expected. UW has some continuity issues as both the left guard and right tackle position seem to change on a game-by-game basis. Toledo is the best Husky lineman, but he was hurt in the opener against Air Force and has struggled to recover. The Cougars line is led by Byrd, a talented sophomore struggling after a switch to tackle, and mammoth –if penalty prone- right side.
Edge: Washington State

Defensive Line
Washington: Donny Mateaki (E), Wilson Afoa (T), Manase Hopoi (T), Grayson Gunheim (E)
Washington State: Mkristo Bruce (E), Adam Johnson (T), Fevaea’i Ahmu or Ropati Pitoitua (T), Adam Braidwood (E)
This is not what Manase Hopoi came back for a fifth year for. Hopoi, one of the better linemen in the country in 2004, is mired in a season-long slump. Gunheim is the other name amongst the Huskies. A fine, speedy edge rusher, Gunheim can be overpowered at the line. Bruce, one of the best speed rushers in the Pac-10, leads the Cougars. While he sometimes plays out of control and will run himself out of plays. Bruce never stops moving, and with Will Derting out of the lineup, is the most valuable Coug defender. The interior of the line is a mess. Johnson is average at best, Ahmu is a true freshman and Pitoitua has struggled with injuries all year.
Edge: Washington State

Washington: Scott White (ILB), Tahj Bomar (ILB), Evan Benjamin (OLB)
Washington State: Scott Davis (OLB), Will Derting or Gary Trent (MLB), Steve Dildine (OLB)
Even without senior Joe Lobendahn, the Huskies have an active, athletic group of linebackers. Bomar has come of the bench and played well in his absence. Benjamin and White are the emotional heart of the Husky D. White is a big hitter who will make mistakes, and Benjamin is an oversized safety who specializes in big plays. Without Derting, the Cougar linebackers are in trouble. Davis and Dildine are the same player: gritty, gutty, smart but slow. Derting makes them a special group. Trent is more athletic, but is a true freshman and often plays like one.
Edge: Washington

Defensive backs
Washington: Matt Fountaine (CB), Roy Lewis (CB), CJ Wallace (S), Dashon Goldson (S)
Washington State: Wally Dada (CB), Alex Teems (CB), Husain Abdullah (S), Eric Frampton (S)
Does it count if this isn’t a strength for either team? Actually, the Huskies have improved almost to average since Lewis has gotten healthy and nickleback Durrell Moss has replaced the ineffectual Josh Okeabor. The Huskies have a quality, if injury-prone safety duo. As for the Cougars, Teems has been revealed as a mediocre Pac-10 corner with the departure of Karl Paymah to the NFL. Abdullah is as athletic a safety as there is in the conference, but he shys away from contact. Frampton is the opposite, a headhunter who will miss tackles going for the big hit.
Edge: Washington

This game doesn’t make much sense. The two best players on the field (Hill and Harrison) both are Cougars. If Derting is healthy, that makes the three best. The Cougars offense, which averages nearly 35 points a game, far outclasses the Huskies. The defenses are about even, though the Huskies have improved to fifth in the conference in total D. Still, there seems something broken about this Cougar team. They’ve lost seven in a row, six of which by six points are fewer. WSU is a half-dozen plays away from 10-1, yet here they are at 3-7. The Cougars have played the same game six times (Oregon, ASU, Cal, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon St) and have lost every time. The Huskies on the other hand, actually come in on a bit of a high. They snapped a long conference losing streak and waxed a hot Arizona team. Stanback is coming off his most efficient game as a starter, and (with only 4 quarters left in his college career) James Sims has emerged as a quality tailback. If Stanback can stay away from big plays for the Cougs –a big if- they Huskies will win this.
Edge: Washington
Prediction: Washington 24, Washington State 16

Other Rivalry Week Predictions
Oregon 34, Oregon St. 17
Stanford 24, Cal 17
Michigan 31, Ohio State 21
Auburn 16, Alabama 10
Clemson 21, South Carolina 17
Virginia Tech 24, Virginia 14
BYU 24, Utah 10
Indiana 28, Purdue 21

Posted by Frinklin at November 18, 2005 06:53 PM | TrackBack

Wrong sport, but a suggestion for a good baseball book:

Posted by: PG at November 19, 2005 11:58 AM
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