Intros? We’re talking about intros?
A 1% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown of Absolutely Everything
This game was drunk as shit. It heard us go “Phew, Cal is over,” and went “lol you wish.” This was absolutely the spirit of a UW vs Cal night: Stupid, after dark, at the mercy of God, the universe, nature or whatever the f^ck*, and stupid.
I suppose this makes sense that this game would be haunted by the spirit of Cal — specifically the spirit of 2019 Cal — because Jonathan Smith’s Oregon State kinda reminds me of Cal if you took Cal’s defense and made it not quite as good and then took Cal’s offense and made it not suck. So, not like Cal at all.
Except they are like Cal! Is it my fault I just can’t quite put my finger on why? I mean... yes. But 2022 Oregon State is 100% what happens when you take Cal and hit the upgrade button; no matter how much of a talent advantage you may have over them, they are still going to play you a moderately cursed game and make you look way worse than you should.
Is Ben Gulbrandson good? No. Is Oregon State good? Who’s to say (me) and depends on your definition of good in a sport where standards vary wildly from “have 12 million guaranteed to light on fire” to “can’t afford to pay the fine for charging the field because we beat Iowa.” But by all reasonable standards for Oregon State: Yes. Yes dammit, they are good. They are good despite the universe really giving it it’s best shot to make them never good.
Also, I say this game was haunted by the ghost of 2019 Cal, but I should admit I can’t actually be sure of this because I’ve repressed the 2019 Cal-Washington lightning 1 AM game** so as to be able to carry on living. I can’t be sure where it’s buried, but probably somewhere around the cerebellum. Alternatively, in the backyard next to my childhood cat.
*Seriously I think the most compelling argument one could make for the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful sweet lord is just pointing out the absolutely batshit acts of God (and absurd human fallibility that can only be explained by God having a sadistic sense of humor) that have dictated Cal vs Washington.
**She lied, pretending to not have details seared into her brain like a caramelized rare filet mignon, such as exactly which player got picked on on Cal’s final stupid flipping drive.
Michael Penix throws a pick six and ya know what that’s just fine
Good athletes don’t make mistakes. Great athletes make mistakes and then carry on.
We talked about this on All We Hear is Purple this week regarding Mikey P’s rather unfortunate interception. By my estimation, the best athletes (and indeed, just people in general) spend like 98% of the time kicking ass. The other 2% of the time is crucially spent screwing up and moving on. (I suppose “learning from said screwups” is in there too.)
In my opinion, that’s also where the best coaches come into play. The best coaches understand their players to the extend of knowing who has the above qualities in abundance. The even better ones help coax out these qualities.
Granted, in this scenario it’s not like we were gonna see Penix get benched for throwing a pick six, but we could’ve seen Kalen DeBoer and Ryan Grubb pull back on his responsibilities — nobody would’ve protested, surely! I mean, the weather was absolute garbage and screwing with his throws, he’d just thrown a very not good interception. Doing so could’ve been 100% justified as just adapting to the environment and your quarterback’s struggles. Doing so would’ve been 100% justified for a lesser player.
Kalen DeBoer, instead, knows when he has a player he can completely trust even after said player’s, ahem, f*cked up.
My AWHiP analogy — granted, this is a more extreme example of the above principle — was of the duo of Gabbie Plain and Heather Tarr in the Michigan regional game the spring before last when Gabbie threw like 230 pitches over two games and 5 hours in a win-or-go-home situation. After pitching a complete game, resting for like 30 minutes, and then starting it all over again, she gave up five runs in the second inning. “Welp,” everyone thought, “this was a fun season but I s’pose even superwoman’s arm is held together by tendons n’ muscle n’ crap that’s bound to fall off eventually.”
A lesser person would simply not be able to throw any more. A lesser coach wouldn’t have known or trusted that their athlete could, actually, carry on. But a great athlete can carry on when others can’t, and a great coach knows it.
(If you forgot what happened next, Plain came out the next inning to the confusion of all of us, aaaaaaaand then threw a shutout the rest of the game because of course she did.)
Obviously comparing that ironwoman crazy psycho performance to the Penix-DeBoer dynamic last weekend would be insane — but the principle is the same, even if the magnitude of adversity wasn’t.
In my opinion, I think this might be one of the core qualities that’s made Michael Penix and Kalen DeBoer so fun together. As it turns out, trust, faith, and ass-kicking are a really fun combination.
Lines of the Week
When the lights went out in a game that was already being very dumb:
Me when Cam Davis (I think it was Cam?) converted on third down after his pre-snap motion made me go “Yup it’s going to him and he’s gonna convert it”:
On the other hand, Washington’s secondary on third down:
All of us to Peyton Henry:
And now, my brain as we hurtle towards Saturday:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.