There are a number of factors contributing to the success Washington State (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) has enjoyed midway through their 2013 football schedule. Topping such a list would be the vastly improved play of Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday.
On the heels of Washington State sweeping their Pac-12 California road trip this season, one doesn’t have to look far for what is their key to success.
No question WSU has a tremendously improved defensive unit, but for the Cougars to earn an invitation to a bowl game they will need good offensive production.
Washington State’s offense is learning to do something they struggled with in 2012. Their offense is moving down the field once again, then finishing drives with points on the scoreboard. A year ago that was a sight rarely seen.
Connor Halliday’s production is one of the big reasons WSU has outscored their opponents in four of their first six games.
The Spokane product is showing signs of not just understanding, but playing comfortably within the Air Raid offensive scheme of Coach Mike Leach.
As Halliday is becoming more intuitive running what should be a high-octane offense, defensive coordinators throughout the Pac-12 are becoming more uncomfortable seeing WSU on their schedule.
Halliday attempted a school record 67 passes in the victory over California, completing 41 (2nd in school history) which was good enough for 521 yards. Alex Brink is the only Coug QB to throw for more yardage in a single game.
Looking at the numbers reveals the fact Connor Halliday is a special player
- 37 career touchdown passes is 7th best in WSU history
- 399 career completions ranks 8th best in WSU history
- 9 career 300+ yard games including 4 this season
- 3 career 400+ yard games
- 1 career 500+ yard game
- 4,828 career yards passing, good enough for 8th place in WSU history
Considering Coach Leach has mentored some of the best quarterbacks in college football history and Halliday has a season and a half yet to play, long standing Cougar passing records are in jeopardy.
Good quarterbacks do more than just sling the football. To consistently win at the Pac-12 level, a signal caller must provide leadership both on and off the field.
When asked to comment about his team jumping out to an early lead over Cal, Halliday deflected the spotlight from shining on him.
“We came out with our hair on fire, but we’ve got to be able to keep rolling and keep putting up points for our defense.” – WSU quarterback Connor Halliday
Where some players use the royal “we” when responding to media questions, Halliday doesn’t. He answers questions from the position of being part of a team rather than a guy putting up some gaudy numbers.
Halliday tried to explain why the Cougar offense was successful against a very young and inexperienced Cal defense by saying, “We had some looks to throw the ball out there today and we had the ball for a long time. That’s going to happen in this offense.”
Coach Leach is a tough guy to make happy, but those words from his starter have to lighten his mood at a minimum.
What should win the adoration of Cougar Nation is not Halliday’s numbers, as spectacular as they are. Like many outstanding players to have worn the crimson and gray in the past, Connor Halliday is a warrior.
Because it’s school policy to not comment on player injuries, everyone on the outside is left to speculate on what happened to Halliday when he was de-cleated by a Stanford linebacker a week ago. He absorbed a huge hit which kept him on the sideline the rest of that game. It was clear Halliday was contending with the residual effects of that hit yesterday.
As warriors tend to do, Connor was focused on winning the battle and playing through pain to earn a victory.
There’s really no need to embellish what Halliday means to this team by underscoring his play with an avalanche of colorful adjectives.
Competitor. Teammate. Leader. A Coug.
That’s really all you need to know about Connor Halliday.