Auburn, Washington State Hoping For Turnarounds
Washington State and Auburn are both hoping to avoid a repeat of nightmarish seasons. The two teams open tonight trying to rebound strongly from matching 3-9 records in 2012. Both are relying on innovative offenses to do it. Mike Leach brings his Air Raid offense against Auburn and the hurry-up, no-huddle attack implemented during the offseason by first-year Tigers coach Gus Malzahn.
Malzahn says he isn't sure what to expect from his players, who were pummeled by their final three Southeastern Conference opponents and didn't win a league game. He says, "They went through a storm last year and I'll be curious to see how some of those guys respond." Malzahn will start junior college transfer Nick Marshall at quarterback. This is the second year of Leach's rebuilding job.
Huskies back home, open against No. 19 Broncos
The boats will be anchored in the lake tailgating on the water, noise will bounce off the cantilever roofs and the purple and gold will once again occupy Husky Stadium. Washington returns to its home along the shores of Lake Washington tonight after a $280 million renovation project kept the Huskies out of their stadium last season, but this is no soft landing they've arranged, facing No. 19 Boise State to christen the upgraded facility. The Broncos are 26-3 under Chris Petersen when he's given at least 10 days to prepare - and now he's had a whole offseason to think about this game- and that includes season opening wins over Oregon, Georgia and Virginia Tech in recent years. Now they'll try to add Washington to that list in a game that could be crucial for the Huskies and coach Steve Sarkisian.
Oregon State Won't Overlook Eastern Washington
Oregon State learned its lesson two seasons ago. That's when Sacramento State came to Reser Stadium for the opener and shocked the Beavers with a 29-28 overtime victory. With that inauspicious start, Oregon State finished 3-9 and out of the playoffs. The Beavers rebounded dramatically last season, going 9-4 and earning an Alamo Bowl appearance against Texas. It was the biggest turnaround in school history. Eastern Washington is certainly better positioned for the upset than Sacramento State was two years ago. The Eagles are ranked No. 4 in the preseason FCS poll and third nationally in the coaches' poll. The Eagles finished 11-3 overall last season and were the Big Sky Conference co-champions. They played in the FCS playoffs, losing to Sam Houston, 45-42, in the semifinals.
Helfrich Opens His Career As Ducks Head Coach
Mark Helfrich makes his debut as third-ranked Oregon's head coach on Saturday when the Ducks host the lower-tier Nicholls State Colonels. The team's former offensive coordinator took over when Chip Kelly left in January for the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly, credited with developing Oregon's breakneck spread offense, took ascending Oregon to a BCS bowl game in each of his four years as head coach, compiling a 46-7 record. The Ducks played in the 2011 national championship game against Auburn. So it's no surprise that Helfrich says he won't change much now that he's in charge. Oregon finished 12-1 last season and defeated Kansas State 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Ducks' flashy offense averaged 49.5 points per game last season, second in the nation.
August 31, 2013