Category Archives: Steve Sarkisian

Super Bowl plans? Sherman rates NFL’s QBs & more

Made plans this week to go to Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend.

Now, if the Seahawks can only take care of business and make it to the big game. Here’s a guide to Super Bowl parties in Las Vegas. Got any recommendations on where I should I belly-up for the game? Where will you watch the game from?

SB prediction: My preseason prediction had the Seattle Seahawks beating the Houston Texans in East Rutherford, N.J. The Texans disintegrated after losing in overtime, 23-20, to the Seahawks in Week 4.

New Super Bowl prediction: Seahawks 27, Patriots 16.

Speaking of the Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady didn’t make Richard Sherman’s list of top-5 smartest quarterbacks in the NFL. In his MMQB column for SI.com, Sherman listed (in order): Peyton Manning, Drew Brews, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck.

More NFL predictions: If I was betting a three-team parlay this weekend in Vegas, I’d take the Chargers, Eagles and 49ers. If you wanted to make it a four-team parlay, throw in the Chiefs.

If I’m right, that also means that the Seahawks will face the 49ers on Saturday, Jan. 11, at CenturyLink. Seattle gets the lowest remaining seed and it’ll be the Packers (No. 4), 49ers (No. 5) or Saints (No. 6). A Niners-Seahawks rematch for the right to move on to the NFC Championship game could be better than the Super Bowl. These guys don’t like each other, and there’s a lot of similarities between the two NFC West rivals.

UPDATE: Of course, I meant to say I’d take the Chargers, Saints and 49ers for that three-team parley. And the Colts, not Chiefs, for the 4-teamer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Seahawks favored by 8 points to beat the Saints. It was 5 1/2 the last time when Seattle won 34-7.

Some thoughts

Bainbridge’s Scott Orness keeps showing why he’s one of the best high school basketball coaches in the state. His Spartans, with just one senior, rebounded from a 16-1 deficit to give unbeaten and nationally-ranked Rainier Beach a pretty good battle on Friday.

I was surprised former Husky great Marques Tuiasosopo left Washington to become the tight ends coach at USC. He was offered the same position by new Husky coach Chris Petersen. It was later reported that Steve Sarkisian also gave Tuiasosopo the title of assistant head coach. Maybe there’s enough additional responsibility there to make it a no-brainer for Tui, but I think his decision caught a lot of Washington Husky fans off-guard. Getting Tui was a big get for Sark, and a loss for Petersen, who brought six assistants with him from Boise State and two more former Boise coaches who were at Florida.

The Kitsap Admirals are hosting the ABA All-Star game on Sunday (Jan. 5) at 3 p.m. at Olympic College. There will be a dunk contest and more. Could be a fun afternoon. Wonder if Dr. J,  George Gervin, David Thompson, and Artis Gilmore will show up?

I think the Seattle Mariners should sign Brady Sizemore to a minor-league contract. The Everett native has been out of baseball since 2011 because of a long list of injuries. But he’s only 31. He was arguably one of the top two or three center fielders in baseball from 2005-08, hitting .281 with 107 home runs and 115 stolen bases. Why not bring him in and let him compete against Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte and oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez? Corey Hart and  Logan Morrison are listed as infielders on the 40-man roster, and will likely play some OF, 1B and DH.

 

Kitna’s gift; Edgar for HOF? Tanaka a good fit for Mariners? Knights ranked No. 9

Coolest story of the week: Lincoln High football coach and match teacher Jon Kitna, 41, signing with the Dallas Cowboys to be a backup quarterback. Wait, it gets better. It’s been reported that the Tacoma native is donating the $53,000 he earns this week to Lincoln High, his old school. His generosity probably doesn’t surprise those who know him. Kitna’s goal when he accepted the football job at Lincoln was to build “R.E.A.L. Men” who (R)eject passivity, (E)mpathize with others, (A)ccept responsibility and (L)ead courageously.

The case for and against Edgar Martinez when it comes to deciding if he’s a Hall of Famer or not. Since the DH has been part of the game for 30 years, it seems silly to me for voters to punish a player because he was a DH. And you can make a pretty good argument that Edgar’s the best DH in the history of the sport. What do you think?

Scott Weber of Looking Landing has some good thoughts on Masahiro Tanaka and why the Mariners would be better off spending big bucks to land the Japanese pitcher than on an outfielder like Nelson Cruz. You have to admit, a starting rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Tanaka, Taijuan Walker and Erasmo Ramirez or James Paxton looks pretty good on paper.

And Fangraphs.com has come up with some projections for the 2014 Seattle Mariners.

Recommended reading: Michael Bramberger of Sports Illustrated wrote a  pretty thought-provoking column about Tiger Woods in November. It all revovled around former Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee writing a piece where he questioned Tiger for being “a little cavalier with the rules.”

Tickets for the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet on Jan. 25 are on sale. They cost $30, not $35 as I wrote in a previous post. Sorry about that.

Bremerton High has cracked the Seattle Times’ Class 2A boys basketball top-10 rankings. The Knights (6-0) are No. 9 this week. I watched the Knights beat Port Angeles before Christmas (look for my story on senior Deonti Dixon on Friday) and this could be a special season if they keep improving. Fundamentally, they’ve got a ways to go on defense, but their quickness makes up for a lot of that.  Keep your eye on these guys. The Associated Press state rankings should be out after the first of the year.

Steve Sarkisian talks about why he left Washington and about winning a national championship at USC.

Don’t know how I missed this one, but I’ve got to share it. You’re a mean one, Marshawn Lynch. This is Dave Ross’ musical tribute to the Seahawks’ running back.

Are you having a tough time getting excited about the Washington Huskies and the Fight Hunger Bowl? Me too.  With the coaching change and the Tosh Lupoi situation and the UW losing out on prize recruit Budda Baker, the bowl game itself seems pretty meaningless. It’ll be interesting to see how Marques Tuiasosopo does as an interim head coach — you can’t help but pull for that guy — and the possibility of a nine-win season, I guess, is a big deal. But the opponent, BYU, doesn’t do it for me. The UW and Cougars, now an independent,  have never met in a bowl game, but they’ve played eight times, six since 1996 (the series is tied 4-4) with BYU winning the last three, including a 23-17 victory the last time the met in 2010.

 

Coach on Sark’s staff at UW under investigation

The Los Angeles Times reported that University of Washington assistant Tosh Lupoi is under investigation for possible violations regarding payment for online classes and tutoring for an incoming recruit. It might explain why Lupoi didn’t follow Steve Sarkisian to USC. Lupoi denies any wrongdoing and remains part of Washington’s staff as the Huskies prepare for the Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl.

From the Times:

The allegations surround the recruitment of Andrew Basham, a former defensive lineman at Lynnwood High in Washington, who signed a letter of intent with the Huskies last February but did not qualify academically to enroll.

Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shotput title, told The Times that Tosh Lupoi, Washington’s defensive line coach, gave him $3,000 to cover private tutoring for Basham through a test preparation company. Davis said he also received $1,500 from Lupoi to reimburse Basham’s father for online classes Andrew could use to raise his grade-point average.

Also

New UW coach Chris Petersen announced that he would not travel with the team for the Fight Hunger Bowl. Marques Tuiasosopo was named the interim head coach when Sarkisian left for USC and he will remain in charge of the team. … Coachingsearch.com reported that Petersen has hired Brent Pease, his former offensive coordinator at Boise State, to be the Huskies’ OC. Pease was fired at Florida after two seasons with the Gators. He coached from 2006-2011 at Boise State, working with receivers the first five years.

 

Who should be UW’s next coach? Here’s some suggestions

Possible candidates to consider when thinking about whom the Washington Huskies will turn to after football coach Steve Sarkisian announced that he was leaving to take the job at USC:

Jim Mora, currently head man at UCLA. Was a walk-on at Washington and former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. While in Atlanta, he once made the mistake of saying in an on-air interview that Washington was his dream job. It ultimately cost him his job with the Falcons. Mora has done a masterful job turning UCLA into a potential powerhouse. He seems like a good fit at the UW. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes that Mora is the perfect choice, but Jack Wang of the LA Daily News seems to think that Mora would only use the UW opening for leverage to get a better deal for himself and his assistants at UCLA. Here’s another view: If Mora bolts for Washington, it’ll be because of UCLA’s incompetent AD.

Gary Pinkel, currently the head coach at Missouri. The Don James-disciple and former UW assistant has the Tigers ranked No. 5 in the country and he’s been linked to the Washington job before. Pinkel, 61, would be a popular choice with Washington’s boosters who have been unable to distance themselves from the James years. Pinkel, however, has a pretty good thing going while competing in the SEC, the best conference in college football.

Chris Petersen, Boise State. Who wouldn’t want this guy? He’s 92-12 in eight seasons with the Broncos. Petersen’s been linked to a lot of jobs in the past, including the USC job. He reportedly withdrew his name from consideration over the weekend. Petersen’s not a high-profile guy, and Washington seems like a lot better fit than USC for the guy who has been one of the most sought-after coaches in college football in recent years. This is the first year during his tenure that the Broncos never cracked the top-25 rankings.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt. Franklin, 41, is one of the rising stars in college football.  He was also linked to the USC job for a while. Former Washington State grad assistant is a charismatic leader and recruiter. Don’t know if the Husky job would interest him. Vandy is 17-8 in his two years and 9-7 in the SEC.

Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington. Doubtful he’s the right guy for Washington right now, but he seems to be on a path that will take him to a BCS school someday. He repeated as Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year.

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson. Third-year assistant at Clemson, a graduate of Texas A&M, has been linked to the Texas job if the Longhorns part ways with Mack Brown. At $1.3 million, he’s the nation’s highest-paid assistant. He was also named the American Football Coaches Association’s assistant coach of the year, by his peers.

Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Alabama. If Washington decided to go with a coach without head coaching experience, this guy might be at the top of the list. He was a former coordinator at Washington under Sarkisian for three years and is considered an excellent quarterback coach and one of the best offensive minds in the game. The Nussmeier bio, according to Wikipedia.

Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Washington. Another candidate without head-coashing experience, but he’s built a pretty good reputation during coaching stops at Boise State, Tennessee and Washington. Reportedly going to USC with Sarkisian, but Some wonder if he has the personality to deal with the boosters and media?

Tom Cable, offensive line coach, Seattle Seahawks. Snohomish native was head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2008 to 2010 and also served as head coach at Idaho. Timing’s bad as the Huskies need someone right now because of the recruiting game.

Whoever ends up coaching the Huskies won’t have a chance to coach against USC and Sarkisian until 2015. The Pac-12 schools didn’t play this year, and don’t play in 2014 either.

 

 

 

 

 

Dawgs, Cougs both headed in right direction

The Apple Cup is in the books, the Civil War is over and the 2-year-old granddaughter is finally in the rack after watching the Disney-movie Ratatouille.

It’s been an exhausting day. Here’s some quick thoughts and links:

Apple Cup: Seven is the ugliest number when it comes to the Huskies during the Steve Sarkisian era, and Washington’s win over Washington State means they can put that number to rest. The possibility of four straight 7-6 seasons has been avoided. The Huskies will take an 8-4 record into whatever bowl game they wind up in. Some are speculating the Dawgs could face BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 27. If you’d have told serious Husky fans at the start of the season that their team was going to wind up in the Fight Hunger Bowl, they wouldn’t have been pleased. The expectations were higher than that, but losses to Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA brought the program back to earth. But a win in a bowl game and a 9-4 record will might make a lot of those fans forget about those lofty preseason expectations.

Washington State’s 6-6, and likely headed to a bowl (although there’s no guarantee). The Cougars probably exceeded most expectations, if not in the number of victories, certainly in how the program is now perceived. In two years, Mike Leach has the Cougar faithful believing because he’s got his players believing. WSU went to Auburn for its season opener and nearly beat the team that is ranked No. 4 in the country. The Cougs won three Pac-12 games on the road, and for a half, they out-played the Huskies. This year’s Apple Cup was decided by three or four plays.

Compared to the bad times that these programs have been through in the last 10 years or so, I suppose we should feel pretty good that the Huskies and Cougars are headed in the right direction. At least the programs matter. There were times when you couldn’t say that.

Civil War: Oregon State’s Victor Bolden scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 25-yard run with 1:38 left. They scored too fast. I knew it, you knew it, we all knew it. Oregon marched down the field and scored with 29 seconds left for a 36-35 victory. Bolden should have fallen down at the 10 and the Beavs could have run a couple plays up the gut and kicked a game-winning field goal. Of course, that’s easy to say and hard to do.

Marvin update: It’s taken a while, but it looks like Marvin Williams is finally going to be an option at the offensive end. Primarily an unselfish role player through the first eight years of his NBA career, the Bremerton High grad is getting more looks this year with the Utah Jazz. He had 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the field in a Friday loss to Phoenix, had 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting in a win over Phoenix earlier in the week and had a 19-point game on 7 of 13 shooting in a loss against Dallas last week. He’s making 42.1 percent of his three-point attempts. The 27-year-old Jazzman missed the first five games after having Achilles surgery in the summer and missed another game after breaking his nose on Nov. 15.

Also

This story about former NBA player Bison Dele, formerly known as Brian Williams, is one of the best I’ve read. And the design is incredible. I never imagined you could that kind of work on the internet. If you’ve never read any of the stories at SI.com/longstory, check ‘em out. It’s some of the best writing out there.

South Kitsap grad and current MLB  free agent Willie Bloomquist partnered with an NRA group at a hog hunt in Texas to raise money for his Abe and Max Fund, which purchases electronics for patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Black Friday? What about the black days. Joe Posnanski takes a look at Black Monday, Black Tuesday, Black Wednesday, etc.

Lots of connections between the Saints and Seahawks.

I know you take the games one at a time, but I think the Cardinals, who visit the Clink on Dec. 22,  could pose more of a threat to beat the Seahawks than the Saints on Monday night. Arizona’s rolling. And if Seattle’s got the NFC West title wrapped up by its regular-season finale on Dec. 29, the Rams could steal one, too. The closing schedule is tough. Saints this week, and at the 49ers and Giants the following two weeks. That’s no picnic. And don’t sleep on the Cardinals or Rams, who outplayed Seattle but didn’t get the win earlier.

In case you missed Ken Rosenthal of msn.foxsports.com writes that two sources used the word “desperate” to describe the state of the Mariners, who likely considering all free-agent options.

 

Quick hits: OC volleyball advances to semis, Kitsap pros, Bree, Kellys, UW, Hawks & more

Some links and Friday thoughts:

Moving on: Olympic College’s historic volleyball season continues. The Rangers (43-4) beat Tacoma 3-1 at the NWAACC Championships earlier Friday and takes on host Mount Hood Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the semifinals. The match will be streamed live here. Blue Mountain and Highline are in the other semifinal in the double-elimination tournament. OC lost its first set, but roared back to win the next three against Tacoma, a team it beat six straight times during the regular season. Winner’s bracket finals are Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with the championship match Sunday at 3 p.m. All tournament games are being live streamed.

Fantasy time: It’s that time of year when baseball fans can starting dreaming about signing free agents and making trades to help their teams. If you’re a Seattle Mariners fan, wouldn’t it be cool if they could figure out a way to start the 2014 season with Jacob Ellsbury in center field and Sin-Shoo Choo in left and have them hit 1-2 in the order.

Ah, the Huskies: Washington’s 6-4 and the thought of a another 7-6 season has Husky fans howling to the moon. There’s even an @fireSark twitter account out there. That’s a little harsh. Washington’s continuing road struggles and and inability to beat good teams is frustrating. The move to the hurry-up spread offense seemed like a good move at the time, and it still does, but maybe we should have realized that it wasn’t going to be an overnight success. Sark and his staff had been recruiting linemen to play power football for four years, and now they need quick, athletic guys up front to make it work.

And Washington’s lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball has been glaring. When you’re running the quick-strike offense, your defense is going to be on the field a lot, and this Husky defense, as promising as it looked early on, has been very average of late. They’ve not been able to recruit a true pass rusher, an NFL-type defensive end and that has been a problem.

That said, the biggest reason for Washington’s mediocrity is their lack of discipline. The Huskies are the most penalized team in the country and Sarkisian’s teams are among the most penalized in Husky history. Take a look at this report by Steve Rudman of sportspressnw.com. The numbers don’t lie.

As disappointing as this season has been to date, Washington could still finish 9-4 by winning out and 9-4 is pretty good. If that’s how it plays out — Washington beats Oregon State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2) on the road, beats Washington State at home (Friday, Nov. 27, 12:30 p.m., FOX) and wins  a bowl game — everybody should be happy.

Seahawks-Saints: Everybody is looking forward to the Nov. 30 MNF showdown at the Clink. The Seahawks (9-1) have a bye this week and the Saints (8-2) are coming off of a rather ho-hum 17-13 win at Atlanta. Seattle won at Atlanta, 33-10, dominating the Falcons in every part of the game. Drew Brees will be a challenge, and the Saints defense is one of the league’s best, but Seattle has been playing at another level the past two weeks. I don’t see any kind of a letdown coming for this, not on a Monday night with the nation watching. I’m looking forward to the matchup between New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Seahawks’ safety Cam Chancellor.

Still sliding: Bremerton’s Bree Schaaf won a bronze medal at the North American Cup races in Calgary last weekend, and is competing at Park City, Utah, this weekend. Schaaf finished fifth at the 2010 Winter Olympics and after a year of rehabilitation following hip surgery, she   was fourth at the national selection races last month. Only the top three were picked to compete int he World Cup. The 2014 Olympic team will be announced on Jan. 19 and points collected in international competitions will play a role when the team is named.

“I of course planned on making the national team so it was a bit of a shock and a scramble to make self-funded North American Cup happen,” Schaaf said. “Despite the Games being a long shot now, I found support in a wonderful company out of Denver called Crescent Point. It was truly heartwarming that despite my candor regarding Olympic qualification chances that a company would still have faith and support me like this.”

Schaaf teamed with Tracey Stewart last week.

“This has been a North American Cup like no other,” Schaaf said. “We were fully staffed and felt fortunate to have such incredible coaches along with a team manager and sled tech. Special thanks to Tracey for pushing me and keeping the dream alive.”

Update: Schaaf finished fourth in today’s first race, behind two Americans (No. 1 Elana Meyers and No. 2 Jamie Gruebel but ahead of USA No. 3 driver Jazmine Fenalator, who was eighth). The second race is coming up and will be live streamed.

Kelly green scene: Congratulations are in order for Bob Kelly, father of pro golfer Troy Kelly. Bob recently beat his age, shooting a 66  at Meadowpark Golf Course in Tacoma. One of his other sons, Ryan, also had a hole-in-one at the West Richland Golf Course while winning his amateur division of the Tri-City Budweiser Open in Richland. As for Troy, he plans to play in five Web.com tournaments next year and he’s also exempt for 14 PGA Tour events. Kelly’s 2013 season was cut short because of knee surgery.

Baseball musings: Kansas City’s signing of Jason Vargas (4 years, $32 million) could be a good thing for free agent pitcher Jason Hammel. The Giants reportedly have interest in signing the 6-foot-6 right-hander, a South Kitsap grad. … Willie Bloomquist’s name has been thrown around as a possible utility infielder for the Reds, Red Sox and Dodgers. The free agent from Port Orchard would prefer to re-sign with Arizona, but sounds like that might he a long shot. Last time around the free agency trail, Bloomquist turned down more money from the Giants to sign with the Diamondbacks. … Bloomquist and Jason Ellison were among those attending the memorial service for their ex-high school coach, Elton Goodwin, last weekend. … In case you missed it, another former South Kitsap star, Aaron Cunningham, signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs. Did you know that Cunningham once sold his car to rapper Ice T? Yeah, for real. … Drew Vettleson, the former Central Kitsap star, is a No. 5 pick in this faketeams.com. fantasy draft. Check it out for their opinion about Vettleson’s upside. They project the left-handed hitting outfielder to be an above average player at the MLB level, hitting .280 with 20 home-run power during his peak years. Vettleson will likely start the 2014 season at Double-A. ... Brady Steiger, a South Kitsap grad and former Lewis-Clark State star who signed with the New York Yankees last summer, is available for private hitting lessons at the West Hills Vipers facility.

 

 

 

Huskies at a crossroads (updated after ASU loss)

UPDATED SUNDAY MORNING

Well, I guess we have the answer to the question I posed at the end of this blog on Saturday.

Relevent or irrelevant?

The Washington Huskies found out, once again, that they’re irrelevant when it comes to the big picture of college football. Coach Steve Sarkisian called the 54-23 road loss to Arizona State “embarrassing,” and it was. Washington, coming off losses to Stanford and Oregon, still had a chance to have a special season. Now, they appear headed for mediocrity once again. It was a must-win game for both teams, and Arizona State rose to the occasion. The Sun Devils were very impressive as they took it the Huskies. The Huskies only brought back memories of the mediocrity that’s plagued this program in recent years.

Sarkisian said the Huskies were ready for the second-half of the season, but they were not. He didn’t offer any excuses.

“We appeared a little tired tonight, in my opinion,” he told reporters. “We didn’t appear as fast. We didn’t appear as physical. We appeared (to be) a team that was a little bit lethargic, and maybe we were a little emotionally drained. I don’t know. But that’s an excuse, and there are none. We don’t have time for excuses. We’ve got to fix it.”

Here’s some morning links.

Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer puts the blame on Sarkisian.

Art Thiel of Sportspressnw.com wonders why Sarkisian couldn’t see that quarterback Keith Price couldn’t get the job done with his injured thumb.

Desert Downer. That was the headline on the Huskies’ own web site. The story points out that the game turned in the second quarter when Washington generated 14 yards in 16 plays and had three straight three and outs.

As expected, Washington’s no longer a top-25 team. The polls.

HERE’S THE ORIGINAL POST

In about 30 minutes, the Washington Huskies will play their biggest  football game of the season, and not just because it’s the next game. I feel strongly that the outcome will determine what direction this team is going to go.

The Huskies found out they could play with then-No. 5 Stanford on the road, but they did enough things (bad specials teams, penalties etc.) to mess that one up.

The Huskies found out they could hang with No. 2 Oregon or a while, but by the end of the 45-24 loss it was obvious that they’ve still got a ways to go to get to where they want their program to be.

That brings us to today’s game against Arizona State, the third game in a tough three-game stretch. A third-straight loss could be disastrous for Steve Sarkisian’s program, which is coming off three straight 7-6 seasons.

Washington’s failed to avoid a three-game losing streak in the last four seasons, and another streak like that won’t bode well for this team.

Washington’s a three-to-four point underdog in a game that looks pretty even on paper. And don’t forget that ASU (4-2) needs this victory just as much as the Huskies. The Sun Devils, averaging 44.2 points per game, are in pretty much the same position as the Huskies. Like Washington, ASU thinks it has enough talent to make a run at a 9-win, or even a 10-win season, and a decent bowl game.

It’s not possible to state how important this game is for the Huskies. This is Washington’s best team since, well, probably 2001, but it won’t seem like it if they lose today. The boosters will be barking and the national pundits will stop signing their praises if they’re 4-3 heading into the final five games of the season.

Relevent or irrelevent? That is the question that will be answered today.

 

Links and thoughts while waiting for the government to rev back up

Shooting from the hip with linkage while waiting for the government to reopen:

Four weeks into the season, Don Banks at SI.com’s MMQB has the Seahawks and Broncos in the Super Bowl with Seattle winning 33-30.

My weekly Thursday column for The Sun was about the Mariners’ managerial search. I like Joe Maddon, so why not give his bench coach, Dave Martinez, a long look. He might be the answer.

Was going to head across the water to see Robert Earl Keen play some music, but never made it Wednesday night. Keen, a clever singer/songwriter from Texas, once competed in the rodeo as a bull rider. He’s what he had to say about riding a bull: “It’s like being in a can going 70 mph down the freeway and chucking the steering wheel out the window.”

I know it’s way too early to start thinking about it, but how cool would it be if the Saints and Seahawks are both 11-0 when New Orleans rolls into town Dec. 2 for a Monday night game at the Clink? Russell Wilson vs. Drew Brees, two quarterbacks who were supposed to be too short to play in the NFL. There are no gimmes on the schedule, but Seattle’s toughest tests should be at Indianapolis this week and at Atlanta on Nov. 10. The Saints’ schedule is tougher, starting with road games at Chicago and New England the next two weeks and another one at Atlanta. New Orleans also has to play San Francisco.

How will No. 15 Washington match up physically against No. 5 Stanford Saturday night (7:30 p.m., ESPN)? That seems to be the storyline going into the game. Can the Huskies, allowing just 3.80 yards per play, slow down the Bruisers from Palo Alto? It’s an intriguing matchup: Washington’s outstanding team quickness and up-tempo offense, similar to what Oregon’s used to become one of college’s elite teams, against a Cardinal team that would look a lot like Alabama if you put them in some Crimson Tide uniforms. Steve Rudman of Sportspressnw.com poses the question: Can Washington can with an elite team on the road?

I have to admit that Washington is better than I thought they’d be. Bishop Sankey’s the real deal at running back. The nation’s leading rusher is so good in open space, but he’s better in the trenches than I thought he was. And after carrying the rock 40 times against Arizona, you know he’s durable. And don’t sleep on UW defensive lineman Danny Shelton. Only a sophomore, he’s Washington’s version of J.J. Watt, the Texans’ one-man wrecking crew. Shelton’s the guy doing all of the dirty work in the middle of the line, absorbing double-teams to free up teammates for tackles.He anchors a Husky defensive line known as the “Flintstones.” Read about it here.

I still can’t get that Golden Tate punt return out of my mind. It’s overtime and he fields the ball at the goal-line, maybe a yard deep, and gets it out to the 31. It set up the Seahawks’ game-winning field goal against Houston. I wonder what special teams coach Brian Schneider was thinking when he saw Tate take off.

Los Angeles Times writer Chris Defresne believes USC’s coaching search should send with Steve Sarkisian, providing the coach is willing to leave Washington. For Sarkisian, he seems to be managing the distraction well. At least better than Rick Neuheisel did during his days at Washington, writes Art Thiel of sportspressnw.com

Stewart Mandell of SI.com writes that the Washington Huskies are on the verge of becoming relevant after being down for so many years.

Talked to bobsledder Bree Schaaf today. U.S. Bobsled Trials are next week in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the Olympian from Bremerton is ready to go after a year’s worth of intense training. Look for the story next week.

PGA Tour golfer Troy Kelly, a Central Kitsap grad, has moved back to the Northwest. He’s living in the Lakewood/Steilacoom area after calling La Quinta, Calif., home the past few years.

 

 

 

Links and thoughts on Ryan Kelly, Dawgs, Hawks, preps & updates on Kitsap baseball players

Bremerton’s Ryan Kelly found himself without a job when his brother — PGA Tour player Troy Kelly — had season-ending knee surgery earlier in the season.

Ryan, who caddied for his younger brother, returned to the Bremerton/Tacoma area and wound up playing in a lot of  the region’s top amateur tournaments. He’s won the Fircrest Amateur in Tacoma the weekend before last.

Here’s the story by Todd Milles of the Tacoma News Tribune.

Ryan played golf at Oregon State and played professionally for a while, but his career was stymied by a back injury. He regained his amateur status a few years ago.

The Huskies

Here’s some best-case, worst-case scenarios for the Huskies from Pac-12 football blogger Ted Miller at ESPN.com. Pretty funny stuff.

If his broken finger is OK, will Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins play against Boise State on Saturday? He ASJ was arrested (DUI) during the offseason, and coach Steve Sarkisian suspended him for spring football, but let him back for fall ball. Should Sark suspend him for the Boise State game? I think that’s the right thing to do, but I don’t think he will. A one-game suspension sends the right message and is more important than getting a win, not that the Huskies can’t win without ASJ. Michael Hartvigson is a quality backup.

Unranked Washington is a 3.5-point favorite to beat No. 19 Boise State, mostly because they’ll be playing at home in front of a fired-up crowd at remodeled Husky Stadium. The game should go down to the wire, just as it did during the Las Vegas Bowl when the Broncos held on for a 28-26 win. Boise State was a 4.5-point underdog in that game. I think this is truly a tossup game. If Washington wins, it’ll be a great start to their season. If the Huskies lose, die-hard fans shouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over it because Boise will likely be as good as anybody Washington plays outside of Oregon and Stanford.

The Seahawks

Richard Sherman’s been pretty quiet of late. By design perhaps? Still waiting for his second column for SI.com’s MMQB. If you missed his first one, here it is.

Sherman and the Seahawks’ defense are getting their due, however. This story in SI.com rates Seattle’s ‘D’ as the best in the NFL.

Don’t know if there’s a team in the NFL with a better situation at running back than the Seahawks. All-Pro Marshawn Lynch, second-year backup Robert Turbin, and rookie Christine Michael, first-team All-Preseason, give the Hawks some serious giddy-up in the backfield. Lynch has run for 2,794 yards and 23 touchdowns his last two seasons with the Seahawks. He’s also caught 53 passes in that time. Lynch is 27 and pretty durable. Does he have three more All-Pro quality seasons left? If he does, and the Seahawks can win a Super Bowl or at least get to one, will Lynch have done enough to warrant Hall of Fame consideration? He’d be around 10,000 yards with 75-80 touchdowns. Here’s a look at the career NFL rushing leaders (Hall of Fames are noted).

The NFL

It’s Tuel Time in Buffalo. Yep, Jeff Tuel, free-agent quarterback from Washington State, is going to start Week 1 for the Bills against the New England Patriots. Can you name the other WSU quarterback who made it to the NFL? Give up? In alphabetical order: Drew Bledsoe, Alex Brink, Ryan Leaf, Timm Rosenbach and Mark Rypien.

Preps

According to the Spokesman Review, Boise State and Mississippi State are among the colleges that have already offered scholarships to quarterback Brett Rypien of Shadle Park High School in Spokane. Rypien’s coming off a record-breaking sophomore year in which he threw for  3,179 yards in nine games, completing 62.5 percent of his passes. He’s also had offers from Washington State, Idaho and Colorado State. His uncle is Mark Rypien, also a Shadle Park grad and a former WSU star who was a Super Bowl MVP during his career with the Washington Redskins.

Here’s a list of offers and commits from football players in the state of Washington who are in the class of 2014.

Baseball

Oregon senior-to-be Tyler Baumgartner, the former Central Kitsap star, hit .402 in eight games for NWAACC USA at the World Baseball Challenge at Prince George, British Columbia. Baumgartner, an outfielder, had two hits in the bronze medal game, won 9-7 by NWAACC USA over Chinese Taipei. The team was comprised of current and former NWAACC players.

Baumgartner’s cousin, Drew Vettleson, a third-year pro with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays), had a four-hit game (4-for-6 with a double, RBI and two runs scored) on Aug. 25 against Jupiter, Fla., in the Advanced Class A Florida State League. Vettleson’s had some clutch hits lately, including a game-winning RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a game last week. He’s hitting .283 (.340 on-base, .397 slugging percentage) with five triples, four home runs and 61 RBI.

Aaron Cunningham of the Triple-A Round Rock Express (Rangers) was 3-for-5 with two homers, five RBI and four runs scored on Aug. 21 at Nashville. Cunningham, an SK grad who was drafted following his freshman year at Everett CC, has hit .389 with three homers over his last 10 games. The outfielder has had five multi-hit games in that stretch. He’s hitting .255 with 10 homers and 48 RBI. He’s got a .338 on-base percentage, .415 slugging percentage.

South Kitsap grad and former Lewis-Clark State star Brady Steiger is hitting .245 for the Gulf Coast Yankees, a rookie-league team, but he has an impressive .420 on-base percentage after 16 games and 53 at bats. He’s walked 12 times.

South Kitsap grads Willie Bloomquist (Diamondbacks) and Jason Hammel (Orioles) remain on the DL, but are close to returning. Hammel’s scheduled to pitch in a Double-A game on Thursday. He went on the DL with tightness in his forearm. Bloomquist, an infielder who’s been out with a hand injury, could be back on the big-league roster this week. He’s been playing rehab games with Arizona’s team in the Arizona rookie league.

Handicapping Dawgs and Cougs; Jonson tied for 5th at PNGA Amateur; Sherman’s softball game Sunday

Chris Huston, college football writer for CBS Sports.com, took a look at the over/under lines on how many games Pac-12 football teams will win in 2013.

The line for the Washington Huskies was 7.5. It was 4.5 for the Washington State Cougars. Will the Huskies win more than seven games? Will WSU win more than four?

Here’s how Huston sized up the UW and WSU:

Washington, 7.5

Over (-120)/Under (-120)

The Huskies have been consistently mediocre under Steve Sarkisian with three straight 7-6 seasons. This may be his last chance to show he can get it done in Seattle. The talent is certainly there, with all-star recruits on both sides of the ball. But this Husky program is still trying to find its identity. The schedule does Sarkisian no favors, as Washington opens withBoise State, then travels to Chicago to take on Illinois. October is a bear, with a home game against Oregon sandwiched between road games at Stanford and Arizona State. It’s going to be tough for UW to break out of its 7-win gulag. VERDICT: Under

Washington State, 4.5

Over (-130)/Under (-110)

Mike Leach is in his second season in the Palouse and his team should be much improved after last season’s disappointing 3-9 record. Whether that will translate into more wins is the big question. The season starts out rough, with road trips to Auburn and USC, but games against cream puffs Southern Utah and Idaho means the Cougars should be 2-2 heading into a late September game against Stanford in Seattle. WSU doesn’t have Colorado on its schedule, but it also misses UCLA. The last three games against Arizona, Utah and Washington will determine the win total and I like Leach’s chances to get two of those three. VERDICT: Over.

If UW quarterback Keith Price gets his mojo back after a disappointing 2012 season, I think Washington has a chance to win nine, maybe 10 games. The defense was much-improved a year ago, and it should be even better. The offensive line should also be a strength. And, like Huston pointed out, this could be Sarkisian’s last chance to get it done. Another seven-win season and the honeymoon will be over. Another seven-win season and Sark’s stock will drop considerably.

I’m think Leach will get it done on the Palouse, but only if his team can get some sort of a running game established. Doesn’t need to be much, but it has to be better than it was a year ago when WSU ran for an average of 29.1 yards a game. They’ve got some experience up front, including John Fullington, the senior from North Mason who has started the last 30 games for the Cougars. Look for the Cougs to win six games. If they won’t win four, Leach might catch the next pirate ship out of Pullman.

 

Jonson tied for 14th

Bainbridge’s Carl Jonson, who will be a junior at UNLV, is tied for 5th after the first round at the PNGA Men’s Amateur, being played at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon. Jonson shot a 3-over 75 on the Bandon Dunes course Saturday. He plays Bandon Trails today. The low 64 advance to match play. Here’s the leaderboard.

Jonson was medalist in this event a year ago at Wine Tree Golf Club in Walla Walla and advanced to the championship match, where he lost 5 & 4 to Ban Shotaro of San Jose, Calif. Shotaro also carded an opening-round 75. He’s playing in the same threesome with Jonson. The other player in the group, Mark Strickland of Mukilteo, shot 1-under 69 and sits atop the leaderboard.

Ed Jonson, Carl’s dad, won this tournament in 1974 at the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish.

Port Orchard’s Bjorn Bjorke is in a good position to make the cut to match-play after shooting 77 on the Bandon Dunes course. The Olympic College golf coach is tied for 16th at 5-over.

Sherman’s softball game today

Festivities for Richard Sherman’s Celebrity Softball Game Sunday, July 7, at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium begin at noon. Here’s a list of some of the celebs scheduled to show up. Lots of Seahawks will be there. Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals and ex-Sonic Shawn Kemp are also playing. Says here that Golden Tate’s the early favorite to win the home-run derby. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson will coach the teams.