TO: Jeffrey Tuel
FROM: The Pres' Palouse Park Bench
Dear Mr. Tuel,
This football season hasn't really been going the way anyone had planned. After a good showing against up and coming Stanford, the team looked incredibly flat against Hawai'i. Then, after a nearly disastrous first half against Southern Methodist, the defense was able to save the offense and a victory was salvaged in an extra period. Players kept getting hurt at nearly the same pace as last year; one of your teammates almost died from an injury hardly any of us had ever heard of. Then, just when we thought this team was improving, USC's ailing offense was running all over the field. The Trojans had more penalty yards in the first quarter (90 yards) than the Cougars had offense (12 yards). The wheels were quickly coming off the bus as most Cougar fans went to the fridge to rummage for a dozen or so beers to consume.
Then you stepped in. You came into the game and before the first snap, FSN's cameras caught the look on your face. Sheer terror. I can't say that I blame you. Your eyes seemed to say "What in God's name am I doing here?" Once again, understandable. And after a couple of handoffs to Dwight Tardy, you faced a third and four situation. You seemed to shake the fear away, because you completed a pass to Tony Thompson for a first down. Better yet, it was a sharp pass, delivered right where the ball needed to be. Then, facing a second and 12 and a collapsing pocket, you skipped through a tiny gap been blockers and ran into the open field for a 10-yard gain.
This left me thinking, "Fine, so the kid's got an arm and some legs but what about his ability to lead?" I didn't have to wait long for that answer. After you came into the game, everyone just seemed more awake, more pumped up and just flat out playing better. The defense stopped the Trojans on fourth and goal. Twice. They were absolutely swarming the Trojan running backs. Although the offense wasn't scoring, they were moving the football against a stout Trojan defense.
Just when I thought I couldn't be more encouraged, I discouraged myself [admittedly, a problem with self-deprecating Cougar fans everywhere]. My football team hadn't managed to score any points. There was nary much time left to go in the fourth quarter and a big goose egg was still on the board. But you took care of that. Not only did you lead the offense, you marched. Even after the last drive that ended in an interception, you didn't let it phase you. Down the field the Cougars went, 13 plays and 71 yards. You connected with fellow freshman, receiver Gino Simone five times for 45 of those yards. Then Tardy did the rest with his legs and punched it into the Cardinal and Gold colored endzone for the first Cougar points against USC since 2007.
My apartment erupted. People were leaping into each other's arms, screaming and yelping could be heard for miles around. Hard to believe this was the reaction for merely scoring points. But the smiles were all a mile wide that night after a sterling performance from the much-maligned Cougars.
Your performance was enough evidence for the head coach that you deserved the starting job; a great reward for a job well done. There's just one problem with this: you're getting it in the worst possible place in the conference. You have to guide the offense for the first time at Autzen Stadium, a place so loud you won't be able to hear yourself think. The Los Angeles Coliseum isn't half as intimidating as this shrine to Phil Knight. The decibel level has been measured as high as 121.7, a level just short of where pain in your inner ear can begin to ensue and nears the sound level a pneumatic riveter produces. OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) says you should only be exposed to that amount of noise for 15 minutes. In short, it's loud as hell.
But still, you absolutely deserve this. All the ranting and raving your coaches have been doing about you has been found absolutely true. You are the most mature and composed 18 year old I've ever seen. For all that, your starting position is deserved in spades. Make us all proud Jeffrey.
By the way, if you beat Oregon, I'm anointing you. What I'm anointing you as I'm not sure yet, but it will happen.
The Pres' Palouse Park Bench
Last Week: 2-3
Hard to believe this is being considered the "other" game in the Bay Area this weekend. One team is undefeated and the other is leading the conference. The winner had better be ranked and I'll tip my cap to the home team in this one.
Palo Alto Tree Lovers 37, Will Rick Bet On This One? 20
Here's the game in the Bay Area. This was supposed to be the game of the year in the conference. You can thank Washington and Oregon for ruining that and it shouldn't be tough, you already dislike those shows.
No More Best Heisman 31, Matt Barkley: Ribbed For Your Pleasure 28
Oregon State looks terrible and they can't win in Tempe and Arizona State showed their defense is incredible. Add to that a sputtering Beaver offense and you have the recipe for a big Sun Devil victory.
Dennis Erickson Jailbirds 24, Parsley Sage Rosemary and Moevao 6
Here's another road game for the Huskies to get stomped at.
Keep The Doughnuts Away From Weis 31, Smilin' Sarks 10
And now, your Cougar picks
Oregon 38, Washington 14 says a man with chops that I am insanely jealous of Dominic Shelden.
Oregon 21, Washington State 14 says alumni of the finest school in state Woodinville High School Seth Sivinski.
Washington State 24, Oregon 21 says the always beautiful and wonderful but sometimes blissfully ignorant Sammy Johnson.
The offensive line is beaten up and a true freshman at quarterback in a tough stadium to play in spells bad news for the Cougars facing a revitalized Oregon football team. Don't be surprised to see Jeff Tuel struggle a bit against a Duck defense that left even veteran quarterback Kevin Riley flummoxed.
Oregon 38, Washington State 7
Obscure Pick of the Week:
A bitter directional, in-state school rivalry! I think. Maybe. I don't really know.
Southwestern Oklahoma State 24, Southeastern Oklahoma State 10
Dunderhead of the Week: A police chase in Wyoming that reached speeds of 100 miles per hours and ended with the police finding an 11 year old behind the wheel of the car they were chasing. Who's the dunderhead? The cops for not being able to catch up to an 11 year old driving. Who's the other dunderhead? The kid's parents for not keeping the keys hidden from their child. Well done on all counts.
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