Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings: Huskies Lose, Seahawks Lose, All Seattle Fans Lose

By Marshall Cherrington

Wednesday Wanderings is a weekly column written by the Editor-in Chief and creator of the Sports Soup Network, Marshall Cherrington. He brings you all of his weekly thoughts pertaining to Seattle sports, and anything else for that matter.
Well here it is. What you’ve all been waiting for! No, I’m just messing. I know approximately zero of you have been waiting for this column besides my faithful writer/podcaster/golfer Jackson Safon. Anyways, I’m happy to get this column going and even though it’ll take me some time to get the hang of column writing, I think I can do it. I mean at least some of my opinions around here are respected. Less than I would like, but hey, you have to work with what you get.
My opinions in these columns will be relatively uncensored (with some of my angry thoughts censored) and will be what I truly think about the sports scene in Seattle. Some people have questioned my opinions on Seattle sports over the years, so this will be the place where they can look when they accuse me of not predicting that the Huskies will upset the Ducks this upcoming weekend (I really don’t think it will happen, but hey, it’s fun to think of the unthinkable). Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports.
I’ll start off with the thriller in Palo Alto. What a game that was. I had the chance to travel down to the Bay Area for that game (shout out to Mom and Dad) and even though the atmosphere was exactly what you would think a pompous, nerdy school would have, it was still a fun game to watch from a fan’s point of view. My Dad and I sat in the middle of the Stanford section where we got multiple looks for even discussing Huskies football. They were the exact kind of looks you would think a Stanford graduate would give you: smug, haughty and judgmental.
Man, I’ve already rambled off topic and it’s only the first paragraph. But to get back to the game, I think the Huskies played exceptionally well on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. However, there are three aspects to a team. Offense, defense, and the ever so daunting special teams. The same could not be said for special teams, as was said for offense and defense. As has been talked about tirelessly these four days after the game (along with the stupid WSU flag-College GameDay discussion), the special teams play was absolutely horrid. On the opening kickoff, my Dad and I just had a feeling the kickoff was coming all the way back for a touchdown. Ty Montgomery, the Stanford returner, didn’t even have to make a hard cut. There were wide open lanes down the middle of the field and even though this is a cliché, it actually did seem like the Red Sea had parted right there in front of our eyes. Coach Sark talked after the game about how he implemented a new kickoff coverage that week in practice. My one and only question about that: exactly why did you do that, good sir Sark? I mean, come on dude (shout to Tim Booth right there). The special teams play had been decent leading up to the game and there had been no real huge returns. Why fix something that’s not even broken? Now if there had been multiple returns of at least 50 yards or so on the kickoff team leading up to the game, I could see where Coach Sark would be coming from, but the matter of fact is that there wasn’t any returns like that previous to the Stanford game. The team has worked arduously on kickoff coverage this week in practice and has implemented more defensive starters into the unit. Coach Sark’s hope is that the team will be able to contain one of the best returners in the nation in the Ducks’ Deanthony Thomas, who might not even play on Saturday. If the Huskies are able to contain DAT, their defense will have a longer field to defend with, which will result in more aggressive play calls by Justin Wilcox, which will result in exceptional play by the defense. Cause and effect people.
Lots of fans and observers who watched the game will most likely attribute the Huskies’ loss to the poor special teams play. Even though it was horrid, I do not think that’s why the Huskies lost. Remember that 39-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Hogan to Ty Montgomery right before the first half ended? Yeah, that’s why the Huskies lost. It was a beautiful play by Hogan, but I think Wilcox could have made a better defensive call on that play. Montgomery had been killing the Huskies the entire first half and I do not see why they did not have a safety spy on him. Marcus Peters had coverage on the play that could not get any better than it was, but with a safety over there to help him, the ball could have been swatted away or even picked off. All Pac-12 safety Sean Parker probably would have been nice to have over there. Now, I understand that the Huskies were also trying to defend the underneath routes, but you always take a field goal over a touchdown. And in this case, if the defense did play deep coverage and did take the field goal over the touchdown, the final score would have been 28-27 in favor of the Huskies. Wilcox will learn from his few mistakes and I know he will try and limit the big plays in their matchup against Oregon, after giving up huge plays against Stanford and Arizona.
Oh yeah, that controversial catch at the end of the game. That catch was not controversial. The ball clearly hit the ground. Husky fans can believe what they want and can say that it was not conclusive evidence, but get real here. The ball clearly hit the ground. Take a look at this picture and tell me how the ball did NOT hit the ground.
That ball is clearly touching the ground.
Thank you.

This shouldn’t have even been a controversy anyways. If Austin Seferian-Jenkins had caught a third down pass that hit his hands and that I might have even caught, there wouldn’t have been a fourth down play where Keith Price rolls out of the pocket, almost trips, and then throws a dud into the ground, something we had seen before in that game.

Anyways, I think that’s enough talk about the Huskies. They don’t really have a big game this upcoming week that anybody should be worrying about. College GameDay isn’t coming to campus or anything. Oh wait, you’re telling me they’re playing that team from the south? You mean that team that’s beaten the Huskies nine times in a row? You mean the Huskies’ arch rivals? You mean the Oregon Ducks?! Yeah, I guess it’s a pretty big game for the Huskies and their faithful nation, but I don’t think it should be for the Ducks. I expect the Ducks to come into the brand new Husky Stadium and come away with a solid victory in their hands. There’s just no other way to put it: the Ducks are the best team in the nation. Sure, Alabama plays that grinding style of football that can just wear you out and there is a reason they have won back-to-back National Championships, but I’ll just be waiting here while you try and find me a weakness on this Ducks team. Here, I’ll save you time. There is none. Quarterback? Favorite to win the Heisman. Running back? A grinder in Byron Marshall and a speedster in Deanthony Thomas (even if he doesn’t play, the Ducks have Thomas Tyner, arguably the best running back on the west coast in this past year’s recruiting class). Wide receiver? Yup, the Ducks even have elite wide receivers this year in Bralon Addison, Josh Huff and Keanon Lowe. Tight end? You may think, “No threat here. The only supposed better tight end in the conference than Austin Seferian-Jenkins, according to Oregon fans, is a goner!” Well let me just introduce you to Johnny Mundt, a 6’4” 232-pound true frshman who will have you saying “ooh” and “ah” more times than not. To put it in the simplest, most pleasant way possible, this Ducks offense is good. Nah screw it, they have the best offense in the country. Have fun stopping them, Huskies. But before I keep bashing on the team from Seattle, I think their defense has done a great job this year. I’ve seen Duck offense’s close to this skill level in the past falter and go three-and-out on multiple occasions over the course of a game, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Huskies defense step it up and stop them a couple times. I just don’t think they will stop the Duck offense enough. Ducks win this one 42-31, behind a game that will be looked back on as Marcus Mariota’s Heisman statement game that all quarterback have (e.g. Johnny Manziel and Alabama).

I'd call the Huskies-Ducks rivalry intense.
The Seattle Times
Next up on the palate is the brutal Seahawk’s loss. I felt like I was stabbed in the chest after that game. Three weeks ago, when I was looking ahead at the schedule and saw the Texans and Colts next up, I thought the Texans game would be the one the Seahawks would lose out of the two. But I was wrong and that’s why it felt like such a brutal loss, even though it really wasn’t. The Seahawks played a solid game overall and in the first quarter, after that blocked punt, I thought the Seahawks would be on cruise control from there on out. Obviously I was wrong. The Seahawks let up big plays throughout the game just like the Huskies had to Stanford the night before and that’s what doomed them. T.Y. Hilton was let loose and even though he accredits this to Brandon Browner’s trash talking (which I completely agree with), I think it was just the little guy running through a tired Seahawk’s secondary. After that long touchdown pass to Hilton where it looked like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman had a miscommunication of sorts, I thought it was really interesting how Sherman got up in Earl’s face. Usually it’s Earl who is the one getting up in his own teammate’s faces, as he is the leader of this defense. Now, we know Sherman does a great job of doing this to opposing team’s players, but he did a great job of it Sunday with his own teammate. In the end, I think both All-Pro players worked it out on the sideline and I don’t expect so see many of those mishaps in the future. They all have mad love for each other in the Legion.  

Third downs were killers in this game for the Seahawk’s offense. Russell Wilson and Co. were just 2-12 on third downs in the game and this was really the demise of the entire team. I know Andrew Luck carved up the Legion of Boom, but if the Seahawks would have converted on third downs, it wouldn’t have even been a game. Field goals would have turned into touchdowns and the defense would have gotten more time to rest on the sidelines. However, I think the offense will get it ironed out though. One of my favorite plays that I see the Seahawks run is when Russell is under center and runs a play action rollout. It gives Russell three legitimate options. He can throw the deep ball, the underneath ball or can make a play with his legs. In Russ we trust, right? Speaking of the underneath ball, Doug Baldwin needs to be used more in this offense. He’s made spectacular catches for weeks and still only gets about five targets a game. What’s up with that Bevell? Call some more plays for Dougy Fresh. With the play action setup mentioned above, I think the Seahawks will see a higher success rate on their third down and medium and third down and long situations. Maybe even third down and short too, but when it’s third and short, I would opt to go with the second best running back in the league more times than not. But hey, there’s a reason I’m not calling plays for any football team anywhere.

The Seahawks should be able to secure a victory against the pesky Titans and backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick Sunday at CenturyLink and if they don’t, there is definitely reason to worry. But trust me, you won’t be worrying. Russell Wilson is 10-0 at home in his career. And he is not about to let his first loss be to the Tennessee Titans. I’m also bummed Jake Locker won’t be playing. Not bummed from a Seahawk’s perspective, but bummed from a Huskies perspective. It’s so tough to see, fan or not, the hometown kid go down with an injury in the NFL when it looks like he’s just about playing up to his full potential. But I know Jake will come back stronger than ever. He always has. However, he won’t be playing in this matchup and I see the Seahawks winning in a semi-blowout, 34-17.

T.Y. Hilton has the last laugh with Brandon Browner. Talk @#$%, get hit.
The Tacoma News Tribune

Do I really have to talk about the Mariners? Does my contract oblige me to do so? I wish I had a contract and got paid for this… But anyways, Kendrys Morales. Who the heck does he think he is? An elite first baseman hitting the open market? Well I’m here to tell you that he’s not and he’s crazy to think that he’ll get more than $13.8 million in free agency in a regular market year. But the sad thing is, he actually will. The free agent class for position players this year is so poor, that Kendrys Morales will probably get a contract worth $15 million a year. Some team, probably the Marlins or some other poorly managed team, is going to overpay Morales significantly. The Mariners could always increase their offer to Morales, but I don’t think they will. And what does that mean for the Mariners? Well, they get screwed once again. Now, they’ll get a draft pick since they’ll make a qualifying offer to Morales, but it leaves them with another gap in their lineup. Their best power hitter is all of a sudden gone after just one year with the team. There are really no bats on the market that the Mariners can afford who will replace or have a similar impact that Morales did, so the Mariners might have to make a trade. Maybe Jack Zduriencik can pull off a bargain of a trade for once. Maybe he could save his job. But probably not.

Jacoby Ellsbury doesn’t seem like a potential free agent candidate in this year’s class because why would he want to play for the Mariners when he can play for much better teams? If you want to hear our opinions on some other free agents the Mariners could target, go listen to our most recent podcast right here.

Well, that was a fun one to write. 2600 words later and I think I’ve expressed most of my thoughts on the world that was in Seattle sports this past week. Don’t expect every column to be this long because frankly, there often times won’t be that much to talk about. And I just don’t have the time, yah know? Too busy keeping up with my golf game and killing Jackson on the links (I kid, I kid, he destroys me). But that’s it for now! Make sure to tune in next week for Wednesday Wanderings. Oh, and most of all, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read this. I commend you if you suffered through all 2600 words of this and if you didn’t, well I suggest trying it sometime.


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