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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD


The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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The family within: USU offensive line working on teamwork

By Tim Olsen

April 10, 2009 | Heading into the 2009 season, the offensive line at Utah State has been introduced to new coaches and new schemes. Those introductions have only helped to bring this already close group even more together.

"We hang out a lot together on and off the field," said USU senior guard Brennan McFadden. "We're a tight knit group always joking with each other . . . our lockers are all next to each other and we're basically like a little family within a family."

McFadden, the lone senior on the line, is the leader of a group that is returning 10 players that saw playing time last season.

"We had two seniors leave and I'm the only senior on the O-line this year, and these guys always give me a bad time about being the old guy," McFadden said. "It's a young line, but it's an experienced line, so that's good."

Experience has come in handy as the linemen work together to pick up the new schemes and adjust to new position coach Alex Gerke.

"He (Gerke) makes sure he doesn't let any of us slip up, whether it's football, school, or helping out in the community," said junior tackle Spencer Johnson. "He's always stressing how all the little things are going to add up to something big."

Gerke said the offensive line has been really working for the first time since his arrival.

Despite the new work ethic, some traditions have carried on, and one of those continues to combine the O-line's passion for food with their enjoyment of being together.

"Coach Gerke, for spring break, took all the O-linemen out to a buffet and we did business there," McFadden said.

Though the group has found no new hot spots since this tradition was revealed last year, they have not put any restaurants out of business either -- though Johnson did express interest in a new Hawaiian BBQ he'd heard about.

Getting back to the gridiron, new head coach Gary Andersen has noticed the work ethic his linemen have picked up.

"Overall I see hard work, I see toughness that is progressing, I see the ability to finish which is progressing and I see them paying more attention to detail and less mistakes," he said. "We're progressing, but we're by no means where we need to be at, but that would hold true for the whole football team."

Compared to their preparation for last season, the linemen have noticed a difference in their intensity and work ethic as well. Both McFadden and Johnson spoke about how prepared their group is becoming and how that will help them in the fall.

"Everyone's working hard, everyone's running and everyone's flying around," Johnson said. "It's tough learning a new offense, but the effort is there. . . . If you have a lot of effort, it's going to show up on the field."

The offensive line is looking to build on a season in which they helped the offense average 137.8 yards per game on the ground and tie for the third best red zone efficiency in the country. This season the Aggies will look to keep that percentage up, but get into the red zone more.

A former offensive lineman, Andersen knows that the hard work his front group is putting in will pay off.

"Hard work can get you in a position to win football games, it can get you in a position to do things right, but it doesn't win football games. . . . Players have to make plays to win football games."

MS
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Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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