Washington State (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) proved to be a year wiser than California (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) Saturday afternoon in Berkeley outscoring the Bears by a final of 44-22. Second year Coach Mike Leach showed first year Coach Sonny Dykes what a difference a year can make.
Coach Mike Leach said, “I’ve never really been happy”, during the radio pre-game broadcast.
Leach should be at least pleased to see his young football continue to develop following this victory.
“I thought we improved this week. I’m pleased with that,” offered the Cougar head man after a second conference road win. “We’ve been on the road more than anybody, too. I don’t know if anybody in the country has been on the road as much as us to this point.”
“I’m proud of the way they battled.”
– Coach Leach
“We’ve got to improve again this next week,” backtracked Leach in a cautionary tone for those who might read too much into this fourth victory earned at the halfway point of the 2013 schedule.
Yes, the Cougs were definitely a week better doing what it takes to win a Pac-12 road game. In the process, WSU snapped recent dominance by Cal who had won the last 8-consecutive meetings.
“What was great about this win is that it was a team win. We had contributions from offense, defense (and) special teams. ”
– Coach Mike Leach
Cougar starting quarterback Connor Halliday may not have been 100% health-wise, but he was darn close to that in terms of managing a football game like an Apache warrior favored by Coach Leach.
Halliday set a school mark of 67-pass attempts in a single game, finishing 41-67 for 521-yards, 3-touchdowns and a lone interception.
The difference in this game was a matter of Washington State being a year ahead of Cal in the process of rebuilding a football program.
For fans, this game served up a staggering display of offensive play. The two teams combined for nearly 1,200 yards of total offense.
Typical of a young team, Cal imploded under a brutal total of penalties and turnovers. The Bears were flagged 11 times for a total of 96-yards while turning the ball over 5-times on 3 INT’s and 2 fumbles.
“Our defense did a good job…taking the ball away and getting turnovers,” stated Leach with more delighted tone than has been heard in his voice post-game since moving to Pullman.
As often is the case in college football, turnovers were the difference for Washington State.
A tone for how this contest might unfold played out on the opening series. Cal was comfortably reading the Cougar ‘D’, marching down the field seemingly destined to score a touchdown. But on a 2nd and goal from the WSU 5. Kalafitoni Pole ripped the ball loose and made the drive-stopping recovery.
Halliday led his guys down the field for a 7-play 92-yard drive capped by a manly 35-yard catch-and-run by Vince Mayle who is beginning to play up to expectations.
From there the Cougs jumped out to a 14-0 lead, only to surrender the next 12-points posted on the scoreboard to an arsenal of weapons unloaded by the Cal offense.
“Our guys didn’t flinch and stayed in there playing.”
– Coach Leach
Leach’s Air Raid offense is designed to get the ball into the hands of elusive players to continually pressure a defense into seemingly making a mind-numbing number of routine tackles.
Just before halftime, Halliday hit Marcus Mason out of the backfield for what should have been a short gain over the middle. After Mason broke through an initial hit, Mayle and Gabe Marks sprinted out in front to make blocks which sprung a 68-yard touchdown play.
“Really good job by those guys finishing the play”, stated a satisfied Leach.
Washington State had their way with a weary Cal squad most of the second half.
When all was said and done, Coach Leach had to get darn close to happy seeing his team finish a game confidently asserting their will over a Cal team filled with play-makers but short on experience and depth.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- WSU has 6 rushing touchd0wns through their first six games this season, matching their total for the entire 2012 season
- Marcus Mason is the first Cougar running back to record 100+ yards receiving in a single game since Dion Burnett had 101 against Arizona in 2000.
- Vince Mayle posted his first 100+ yard game as a Coug, scoring two TD’s in the process.
- Teondray Caldwell scored the first touchdown of his career on a 10-yard run midway through the third quarter
- Ioane Gauta recorded his first two solo sacks of the season
- Kalafitoni Pole recorded his first career fumble recovery, finishing the game with two recoveries and one forced fumble