The Cougar faithful have been on and off about Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday, of course depending on the game results. Once again, Halliday proved he’s the Cougars’ best man for the job against the Arizona Wildcats on the road.
Halliday threw the ball incredibly well in the game, going 39-53 for 319 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Not his best day, numbers-wise, but an efficient performance and he hit every throw you can hit. There were a couple of other things you won’t see in the stats that made this an impressive performance though.
First, as we know Mike Leach always calls a pass play. I’m sure the point was made in the past two weeks that Arizona’s defense was susceptible to the run game. That said, Halliday still has to make the checks when he sees the right defense. I thought he could have done it even more than he did, but the Cougs ran the ball 27 times in the game for 101 yards. That is a great job of trusting what you see and making the calls.
Second, there were several times when Halliday would usually have trusted his arm before his eyes and tried to fit a ball into a small window. Instead he decided either not to throw it into traffic or just swing it out to his running backs, which shows he’s learning. The offense stayed on schedule almost the entire game.
I did think there were a handful of times where he could have and should have just thrown the ball away, but in the end his willingness to extend the play and keep his eyes down the field won the game. Twice on the final drive Halliday extended for several seconds, once hitting Teondray Caldwell for a huge gain down the left sideline and the other was the touchdown throw on the run to Isiah Myers down the right sideline.
Even amongst a bevy of criticism, Halliday continues to come up big in at least intermittent games. It would be great to see him finally get into a rhythm in back to back games and lead the Cougs to a sixth win against Utah at home next week. That may silence the critics altogether, or maybe it wouldn’t. He’s going to be the key one way or the other for the remainder of the season and moving forward into 2014 for Washington State.