The Independent Staff can’t wait for the football season to start, so we’ve come up with our handy-dandy crystal ball preview on college and pro teams that people in Chewelah normally care about.
Brandon Hansen is the managing editor of The Independent and a ginger.
Geno Ludwig is the sports guru for the Chewelah Independent and we think he loves UW.
Cary Rosenbaum is from the Tribal Tribune and roomed with Brandon in college, so he is aware Brandon knows nothing about sports.
Here is the crystal ball…
Cougar fans you can come out now! The rough years of WSU football are over, you don’t have to hear names like “Paul Wulff” anymore!
It’s been a long time coming, but Washington State’s 9-4 record last year was a breath of fresh air. Tortured Cougar fans who have been making the trek down to Pullman and hoping they don’t get frostbite can revel in the fact that they’re a good team.
How good? Well that will hinge on several factors, but they do have the most important piece in college football: the stud quarterback.
Before Luke Falk got injured last year, there was some Heisman chatter. Understandably so, since he threw 38 touchdowns and eight picks in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.
So this year, make sure you bring a seat cushion if you plan on going to Sporty’s or the Oasis because you should be on the edge of your seat the entire time. The Cougars will be a fun team to watch which is such a change from the years of two and three wins.
THE GOOD: Luke Falk is the Greek god of college football quarterbacking
THE BAD: These kitties need to beat the Huskies. Seriously. WE HATE THOSE GUYS.
THE UGLY: The Apple Cup last year. They lost to the Huskies 45-10. WE HATE THOSE GUYS.
Brandon’s Take: I’m a sucker for college quarterbacks. If you have a good quarterback, I feel like you’re good for at least eight wins. However, I also liked Johnny Manziel in college, so I think this means somebody should revoke my driver’s license for poor judgement.
Brandon’s Predicted Record: 10-3 (third place in the Pac-10) because I do not like the Huskies and can’t pick them finishing higher than the Cougars.
Geno’s Take: WSU won nine football games last year, raising hopes that the Cougars will equal or exceed that number this season. Coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense returns quarterback Luke Falk, along with receivers Gabe Marks, River Cracraft, Robert Lewis, and Tavares Martin.
Geno’s Predicted Record: The Cougars will finish fourth in the Pac-12 Northern Division because they will not beat Washington, Stanford, or Oregon. The continuing reality at WSU is that no five-star recruit wants to go to college in the middle of a wheat field two hours away from civilization. Wazzu could still go 8-4.
Cary’s Take: Another year of improvement.
Cary’s Predicted Record: They stay in the polls and end up in the third or fourth spot of the Pac-12 North with an 8-4 record, getting a bowl game as a top-25 team.
Last year, that Husky offense was a bit… flat. In a complete polar opposite from their in-state Cougar opponents, the University of Washington averaged 18.5 points in six losses. As most Purple and Gold believers will tell you, however, this was done with freshmen and sophomores so one would expect a lot of improvement this season.
Jake Browning needs to show more growth at quarterback, but is expected the be the monster of Montlake. They have to overcome the graduation of two receivers but will see the return of WR John Ross III who is one of the faster athletes in the Pac-12.
Defensively, the Huskies are really good. They led the Pac-12 last year in scoring and total defense. If they can shore up the offense and be more efficient with the ball, the University of Washington should be near the top of the conference.
THE GOOD: The defense is more oppressive than North Korea’s government. Young players last year means better prospects for a great season this year.
THE BAD: While their defense was a Great Dane, their offense was a chihuahua. When their offense sputtered, they lost because for some reason everybody likes to use the scoreboard in the Pac-12.
THE UGLY: Dare we bring up how many times in a row the Huskies have lost to Oregon? The same team whose fans can’t name a starting QB for the Ducks from five years ago?
Brandon’s Take: Another year of underperforming Husky football where UW fans tell me how Jake Browning is the greatest thing on Earth. The Huskies have won nine games just twice THIS CENTURY.
Brandon’s Predicted Record: 7-7 … because they’re the good ol’ mediocre Huskies.
Geno’s Take: This will be Coach Chris Peterson’s third year at the helm of the UW football program after previously engineering a highly successful machine at Boise State. Over the past three seasons, he has recruited players who fit the mold of his proven football philosophy. His veteran Huskies return 17 starters, including quarterback Jake Browning, runningback Myles Gaskin, and wide receiver John Ross.
Geno’s Predicted Record: If they can avoid injuries and fill vacancies up front, the Dawgs could win the Pac-12 Northern Division pennant. They have my vote, going 10-2.
Cary’s Take: This appears to be Chris Peterson’s year as head coach. He’s got a team that can compete for a Pac-12 championship.
Cary’s Predicted Record: They’ll be 10-2. They’ll get shunned for the four-team national championship and, instead, get a top-tier bowl game.
Ask any EWU football fan about being a fan of the Eagles and they’ll tell you one thing: make sure you stock up on the heart medicine. With a heavy focus on offense and a defense that could allow a kitten to score against them, games for the past few years have gone down to the wire.
EWU had a “down” year last season after injuries to the QB position mounted (Life tip: Don’t mention Vernon Adams to an Eastern alumni). The Eagles went 6-5 overall and missed the playoffs for the first time since Cheney was a town or something.
Coming in this year, they still have wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who was last year’s FCS Offensive Player of the Year. They have like 10 QBs they can plug under center but are reworking the line as well.
The defense has nine starters returning from last year but let’s not kid anyone: every game in 2016 will be over 100 points combined.
THE GOOD: Coach Beau Baldwin knows what he’s doing with the Eagles’ offense so it will probably score at will this season.
THE BAD: The defense consists of tissue paper and a wet mop.
THE UGLY: Montana is the conference favorite. Ask an Eagle fan and they’ll tell you how horrible this is.
Brandon’s Take: As an alumni of Red Field University, I would like to take this time to remind everyone that it takes defense to win championships. Unless you’re the EWU Eagles, then it just takes somebody named Bo Levi Mitchell. (Am I hanging on too tightly to the Eagles’ 2010 national championship? Yes, yes I am. Now if you’ll excuse me I have an old VHS of the game I’d like to go watch).
Brandon’s Predicted Record: 8-3… they’ll make the playoffs, fall down by 20 points to a team in the second round, comeback and lose in the final 15 seconds. But at least they’ll defeat Montana, because eight-man football in Big Sky Country doesn’t translate well to college football.
Geno’s Take: After an unexpected and unacceptable 6-5 season a year ago, Coach Beau Baldwin promises that his Eagles will return to their traditional position as Football Championship Series contenders. EWU seems to have the offensive weapons again this year, especially with the return of league MVP Cooper Kupp, but a generous defense could again keep the Eagles out of the post-season playoffs.
Geno’s Predicted Record: If Eastern can survive a tough start against Washington State, North Dakota State, and Northern Arizona, the Eags could compete for a Big Sky championship this season. A loss to Montana, however, will leave the Eagles at 7-4.
Cary’s Take: The top dawg in the SEC of the FCS always plays a tough schedule under Beau Baldwin. There will be bumps on the road – I think they’ll only win one of their first three games – but they’ll recover, especially with the return of Walter Payton Award Winner Cooper Kupp.
Cary’s Predicted Record: With an 8-3 record headed into the postseason, they’ll make it as far as the national semifinals.
If you don’t go to the Pine Bowl at least one time this year, you’re cheating yourself out of some great college football. Sure Div. III college football features athletes that “go to class” and use this weird term known as “student athletes” but what most people don’t realize is just a short drive down Highway 395, you can watch one of the best teams in the nation.
Whitworth is coming off a one-loss regular season and comes into the 2016 season ranked No. 19 in the preseason poll. While their conference is tough, the football program has always been a strong point for the North Spokane boys.
Their QB Ian Kolste (19 TD, 8 INT), RB Duke Degaetano (11 TDs, 776 yards) and wide receiver corps return for this year meaning that the Pirates should have smooth sailing on offense.
THE GOOD: What is it with every Eastern Washington football team having an explosive offense? Must be something in the (lack of) water.
THE BAD: Linefield is in the conference, and they’re good.
THE UGLY: Spokane is currently doing road construction on the main route to Whitworth’s football stadium… so good luck getting to games?
Brandon’s Take: The Pine Bowl has to be in the Mt. Rushmore of places to go catch a small college football game. The field itself is like a putting green and the Pirates should give you plenty to watch this year. Also, you can wear an eye patch and nobody cares.
Brandon’s Predicted Record: 9-1 because Linfield could probably give the University of Idaho a run for their money.
Geno’s Take: The Pirates enter the 2016 schedule coming off of a 9-1 regular season that led to a NCAA Division III playoff appearance. With several starters and key reserves returning, Whitworth is ranked 19th in the D3 preseason poll. The Pirate offense has the potential to again be explosive in 2016, returning starting QB Ian Kolste, top tailback Duke De Gaetano, and three starting receivers. On the other hand, with only five returning starters on defense, Whitworth could struggle early in the season on that side of the ball.
Geno’s Predicted Record: The Pirates will finish second in the Northwest Conference behind Linfield, again going 9-1 for the season.
Cary’s Take: The Pirates won’t replicate the success of last year, where they ran out to a 9-1 record.
Cary’s Predicted Record: They’ll, instead, hit an 7-3 mark and be on the bubble for the Division III football playoffs.
The Seahawks didn’t make the Super Bowl last year and that was a bit of a disappointment. Let that settle in for a second, long-suffering, Ricky Watters-jersey wearing, Matt Hasselbeck-loving Seahawk fans: You now consider anything less than a championship a disappointment — what a time to be alive.
Before the KingDome blew up, 8-8 was a hefty achievement, but now Seattle has their franchise quarterback in Russell “I can’t get a concussion because I have magic water” Wilson. This means you always have to put them in contention for a league title even if their offensive line consists of three janitors, a pile of round rocks and somebody they traded for from the Quartzite Improv Troupe.
Fan and media rumblings around training camp have been how this year’s defense should be as good as ever with no hold-outs or off-the-field issues causing distractions for the players. So while points allowed shouldn’t be a worry, the 12s will be concerned if the offense sputters at times because Russell is running around like the Westside
Pizza delivery truck trying to avoid the pass rush.
Fear not, Seahawks fans. You have one of the best organizations in the NFL. If Wilson doesn’t get injured, you’ll have plenty of victories to toast to.
THE GOOD: It’s the Seahawks. You know, the team that’s been to the Super Bowl two out of the previous three years.
THE BAD: Who knows? They kind of struggle with the Rams but since that team never makes the playoffs, you won’t have to worry about them.
THE UGLY: The offensive line is the Canadian Border Patrol of the NFL.
Brandon’s Take: I like watching Seahawks fans walk to the edge of a cliff when their team plays one bad quarter of football and then to see them back right up after Seattle plays the rest of the three quarters well and beats their opponent by two touchdowns.
Brandon’s Predicted Record: 11-5… they’ll make the NFC Championship Game where they’ll fall to the Carolina Panthers because Cam Newton is a really good quarterback who should come out with a line of cologne or something. I’d totally buy it.
Geno’s Take: Seattle went into this year’s NFL draft with an excellent strategy to add needed players and give depth to both the offensive and defensive line.
The Seahawks did pick four offensive linemen and two defensive linemen in the draft who potentially could do the job. Plus, they signed an additional four defensive line prospects and another offensive lineman from the undrafted free agent pool.
However, Coach Pete Carroll and his staff did get distracted from their original plan in signing six available running backs and a pair of extra quarterbacks.
Geno’s Predicted Record: If last Saturday’s win over Kansas City is an early indication of what the regular season will be like, it should be another successful season in Seattle if the Seahawks can get past Arizona. Hawks will go 11-5.
Cary’s Take: Seattle shakes the recent history of struggling to find its identity to start the year and finishes at the top of the NFC.
Cary’s Predicted Record: With a 14-2 record, the Hawks reach the Super Bowl again, and people continue to debate Russell Wilson’s elite status.