Broadsword calling Danny Boy: Washington -- Washington State analysis and pick; The Chessboard of Withers Hall | Eastern North Carolina Now

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    You get a shiver in the dark
    It's a raining in the park but meantime -
    South of the river you stop and you hold everything
    A band is blowing Dixie, double four time
    You feel alright when you hear the music ring

    Well now you step inside but you don't see too many faces

    Coming in out of the rain they hear the jazz go down
    Competition in other places
    Uh but the horns they blowin' that sound
    Way on down south
    Way on down south
    London town
- Mark Knopfler

The "King" of Albania issues operational orders as an unidentified American technical advisor looks on, April 1996, Durres, Albania: Above.     Click image to enlarge.

    June, 2015

    Withers Hall, STATE COLLEGE     Drop kicker liked the look of this set-up. Nestled above the large first floor auditorium and with easy stair access, the narrow warren of offices hosted the Department of Foreign Languages -- among a few other nuances. The offices posted names, contact info and office hours, but the reality was few folks at the University ever ran across these "adjunct professors."

    He was glad to see the chessboard was in the same spot and quickly adjusted it to the first few moves of the new opening. It would take a 1900 or better to suss the next gambit move and those were few and far between; all the intel was in plain sight if you knew the form. Drop kicker had learned that one from Dr Gilbert, back in the day in Tompkins Hall, through the fog of a well-seasoned tobacco pipe, expertly smoked.

    The beauty of this place was, that with the exception of a secretary, nobody was ever around. The only skills the recent grad brought to the front desk were a "B" average, an aversion to any type of work except surfing the web on her phone -- and, most importantly, the proper Greek credentials.

    She was self-centred and oblivious to anything beyond her touchscreen. The perfect modern-game drone.

    The charm of this place was that it never changed. It evolved with a cutting edge, no doubt. But in a world of radically shifting change, it was a constant of brick and fortitude.

    Evie was going to like her for different reasons and that was a risk, but a profile-pairing matrix indicated the risk was short and the gamble was worth the set-up. In her mid-forties now Evie, like most of the more seasoned operators, found little appeal in inexperienced youthful beauty. Evie seduced the mind before the body and thus, for this clerical warrior, ignorance would be bliss.

    Time to get this party started he thought, as he darted through an old-friend tunnel under the railroad tracks and bounced to the upper floor of the new Student Union, soon scheduled to open. He caught the Traveller and her crowd coming out the door -- as they radiated all the excitement and jitters of Bilbo's party departing the Shire.

    Their great adventure soon to commence. Some of them would be carrying the load in the Third World War and a few of them would be run through the same buildings their parents and grandparents had wandered through in preparation for the fight previously -- in the Second one and the Cold one.

    A land-grant institution has responsibilities, via charter, beyond those of the system flagship. A word here, a word there and, well, you know how it is.

    He snapped to attention as one of the Down east parents berated him, and slowly eased back into the nuance of formlessness, "You are never around when something happens. We're starving, where were you?"

    Drop kicker had been getting that same question, on the same ground, for better than four decades -- it never got old. He was laughing on the inside, even as he accepted the rebuke on the outside.

    The Down east matron's voice increased in volume commensurate with her agitation: "You are so oblivious and my phone is blowing up," she hissed. "What is this Mitch's place you're babbling about?"


WASHINGTON     (minus two and the hook)    @ WASHINGTON STATE     Saturday    10.30 pm EST ESPN

    There are rivalries in college football and there are rivalries -- and then, there is the Apple Cup. Saturday evening -- when the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars get together for their annual showdown -- the spotlight will be on the transfer-portal quarterbacks each team has acquired, while defence, weather, and the home-field advantage will be relegated to the analytical sidelines.

    Just how we like it.

    Washington's QB Michael Penix, Jr with one of the more dazzling arms you are likely to ever encounter when he is healthy -- and he is healthy now. Penix transferred from Indiana where he lead the Hoosiers to a spectacular upset victory over Penn State in Bloomington a couple seasons back. He plays at another level and is tough.

    Washington State's third year QB Cameron Ward, also a transfer, playing his first Apple Cup. He is not as flashy as Penix (who displays some of the more remarkable throws you will see in the college ranks) but is accurate and steady at a 64 percent completion rate.

    The difference in this game is line play. The Huskies O-line solid and gets the job done in terms of protecting Penix. The Cougars O-line more mobile and in the recent three game winning streak have been pulling more and expanding space within the weak-side run corridors.

    But it is on defense where the difference rests. The Cougars with a huge edge here and in November at home that translates into points. They should be able to pressure Penix into breaking the pocket -- where he is fragile.

    In terms of home field advantage Martin Stadium easily worth 3-4 points on a Saturday night. The smallest stadium in the Pac-12, it has an almost claustrophobic feel with the student section right on top of the action following the 1972 stadium expansion that saw the field lowered even deeper than previous renovations. The place is loud and shaking on a Saturday night when the Coogs are rolling.

    Weather expected to be in the low 30's with an 11 mph wind and small chance of precipitation. The nature of this game such that any adverse weather conditions will favour the home team. With rain both Friday and Sunday likely, the chances increase for the game conditions to deteriorate. Such "improving" weather reports would be viewed as good omens for Washington State backers.

    The line opened Washington minus two and the hook and has settled at minus two where it likely to close. Traditionally Washington State would be catching a TD plus in points on this game but the 2022 number a reflection of their rise in the last month -- and the absolute insanity a Thanksgiving weekend Saturday evening tilt that side of the Cascades will generate.

    Our call here is Washington State (plus two) in our annual "Lock of Mortal Civilisation" game where we are 7-2 lifetime. You can load up on this baby with confidence -- and sit there Saturday evening with a full belly of turkey and a big wad of quam on the Coogs just a groovin' on life.

    Sure beats Saturday night in Kiev, Big Daddy...


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