Originally posted on WSU Football Blog  |  Last updated 11/23/11

Happy Apple Cup Week, Cougs (and any stray mutts that might be checking out the site this week). Apparently we've taken Apple Cup 2011 to be "Keep Your Enemies Closer Week" here at the WSU Football Blog. Prior to UWJasonUW's guest appearance yesterday, I'd already started an email exchange with My Buddy Korey The Husky Fan (heretofore known as MBKTHF) with the intention of running the results on This Here Blog. I hope you can tolerate one more day of reading the wit and wisdom of a Husky fan. I figure, what the hell, the Apple Cup is mere days away. You probably don't want to read about the shows I'm watching and beers I'm drinking anyway. You want to talk and read Cougars and Huskies, so let's do it...after the Daddy Mack Will Make Ya Jump Jump...

Huddy: I assume you heard the news that Marshall Lobbestael will be starting come Saturday. Now that you know your boys will be facing The Lobster in his farewell game, are you feeling a sense of relief or dread? I would recommend the latter.

MBKTHF: To be backed up by David “Son of Keith” Gilbertson, no?

I’ve actually had a hard time pin-pointing exactly how I feel about this.  My first reaction was that I would have rather faced Halliday and his inexperience, but given Lobbestael’s prone-ness (is that even a word?) to the big interception, I was left with one simple conclusion:  All ginger kids are the same.

Before we go any further, I need to ask about the WSU Football Blog’s budget for guest appearances…

Huddy: The WSU Football Blog “budget” is reserved strictly for tailgate party expenses. The next time we have an event (almost certainly to be in Pullman) you are welcome to come by for beer and snacks as a thank you for your contribution. You can be sure that there will be plenty of Bridgeport Brewing’s finely crafted beers on hand.

As for our QB situation, it’s hard to tell if losing Halliday is a devastating blow since his sample size is so small. After his miracle debut, he largely regressed to the mean this week, but did show more flair for the big play, which was not in The Lobster’s arsenal during his last few starts. Ginger QB1’s  prone-ness (now that we’ve both used it, it must be a word) to crippling interceptions definitely concerns me going into this game, as it does with every game Lobbestael starts. I do like that he gets to start an Apple Cup in his last game, so maybe there will be some mojo there.

Far more concerning, is the following list: Torn ACL/MCL, fractured vertebrae, broken collarbone, leg compartment syndrome, lacerated liver. The list of injuries to QB’s in the Wulff era reads like the New England Journal of Medicine and does not speak well of our offensive line’s performance. Alameda Ta’Amu, must be licking his chops this week (you know, more than normal).

We’ll get into specific Apple Cup predictions and your thoughts on the Cougs a little later, but first hit Cougar Nation with your overall assessment of the Huskies right now.

MBKTHF: As is pretty obvious, the feelings on Montlake are all across the board right now.  A week ago, the team was coming off a 1-3 stretch, and while there was a bit of a fall back to Earth after disappointing performances against Stanford, Oregon, and USC, they had beat the teams that they felt they should have and still felt pretty good.  Fast forward to Saturday evening after a rough trip to Corvallis, and “tears in the locker room” probably sums it up pretty well.  After a 6-2 start and bowl eligibility secured early, they are now 6-5 and hoping avoid a 4 game losing streak and continue the return to relevance.

To break some news that you probably haven’t heard yet, the defense that dawns the purple and gold ( and sometimes black, or other times white) has been absolutely terrible this year.  The public outcry has been for the removal of highly paid Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt.  While I can’t disagree, there has also been a lack of playmaking ability that has been there in previous years (read: Mason Foster, Donald Butler, Daniel Teo’Nesheim).  You alluded to Alameda Ta’amu who has been a solid presence in the middle of that line and is getting a lot of national attention for his abilities at the next level, but the reality is that he doesn’t consistently alter the game and rarely finds his way to the QB from the DT position.

Fortunately, the non-Nick Montana led Husky offense tends to provide a bit more positive news.  Keith Price started the season at an electric pace, and even though he has slowed down a bit against more formidable opponents, he has clearly established himself as the leader of this team, giving the team a nice little spark coming off the bench against Oregon State.  Popular sentiment is that Chris Polk needs the ball in his hands 25-30 times per game, but it seems unlikely that he would repeat his 284 yard performance from last year in Pullman, and Price is going to have to step up.

Is the WSU Football Blog going to have any sort of presence at “the Clink” this Saturday?  I’m not entirely sure what my feelings are on this game not being able to be played on campus, so I’m going with indifference.

Huddy: “Tears in the Locker Room” sounds like a Lifetime movie. As a matter of fact, you might want to copyright that so that when the inevitable Penn State movie is made, you can make some money selling that title. I think I had heard somewhere that the Husky defense is underperforming, but that story seems a little under the radar. Other stories similarly under the radar: Gerry Sandusky, Tim Tebow and Occupying things. What I’m saying is, I’m tired of hearing about it. Just fire Holt already so we can all get on with our lives. That said, I think it might be more of a talent deficit on defense than people are allowing themselves to believe.

I’m still of the belief that the Huskies are a Good Bad Team and the loss last week was really a reflection of Montana starting. Had Price been good to go, I’m sure they would have done their usual win in spite of the crappy defense routine. That’s what concerns me going into this week, but I’ll detail that after getting your prediction. As I write this, it looks like the line has moved to UW -8.5, which seems high to me, but what do you think? How’s it going to play out?

As to Blog representation, I haven’t heard from the other Blogfathers yet, but I know I’ll be there. I’m thrilled that the game is at the CLink so that I don’t have to set foot in Husky Stadium. It’s never a pleasant experience (not that fans have ever treated me poorly; the place just bugs me).

MBKTHF: Did you drop “Sandusky”, “Tebow”, and “Occupy” in an effort to attract more attention to your site via search engines?  If so, well-played.

Based on television viewings this year, highlights on major networks, prominent media attention, random visits to the WSU Football Blog, I’ve ascertained that this Cougar football team can be extremely dangerous, even if not consistently so.  I sat in Husky Stadium for the Apple Cup with an embarrassed Cougar friend, and watched a team that was clearly out-sized and out-classed, but all indications are that this team is on the rise.

That said, my thoughts on the outcome are pretty similar to just about any other prediction I’ve had to make when I wasn’t quite sure.  I assume the Dawgs will win – let’s call it 38-27.  Keep in mind that I’m also the guy that was optimistic about a trip to Palo Alto last month, and equally so against the Oregon Phil Knight’s a few weeks back…

How’s it play out to you?

Huddy: It’s good to see that you aren’t completely dismissive of the Cougs as a threat now. Perhaps that, above anything else, speaks to the fact that progress is being made. Coach Wulff should look to Husky fans who only passively follow the Cougs to share feedback with Bill Moos.

More than any other factor, it’s the performance of our defense recently that has me optimistic this week. They were outstanding against Arizona State. The score line may not reflect it, but they had no help whatsoever from the Special Teams. Proving it was no fluke, they were downright dominant in the first half against Utah. It didn’t carry over to the second half extremely well, but the game turned into a freak show once a half-time blizzard hit. The main takeaway was that in both games, we were very effective stopping the run (less one broken tackle that led to a big one against Utah). It’s not my expectation that Chris Polk will be quite the dominant force he was last year. The pressure will be on our secondary to slow down Price in the passing game. Our cornerbacks have played well lately, but ASJ vs. Tyree Toomer is a massive mismatch. We trot out a three safety look pretty regularly so hopefully that will mitigate the tight end threat some. I think it all adds up to the Cougs being able to muster just enough stops to give the offense a chance to win by taking advantage of the aforementioned crappy Husky defense. Marquess Wilson have an absolute field day, even with The Lobster running the show. I’ll take the Cougs 38-35. If I’m wrong, well it won’t be the first time. As long as I’m not stuck playing the role of the embarrassed Cougar friend again, it should be one helluva fun day.

Go Cougs.


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