Going into the Crimson and Gray game Saturday afternoon, the Washington State Cougars’ secondary had some glaring question marks surrounding every position. Some of those questions remained, but some were most definitely answered as well. Let’s talk about some things we saw out of a somewhat surprising secondary on Saturday, with the second of my five takeaways from the final Spring scrimmage.
The secondary is as rough as we thought, but…
Then again, there’s promise and Daquawn Brown may not be the only serviceable player on the back end. With two interceptions Brown led the Gray team and the entire defense in a five-pick day for the defense as a whole. Brown was his usual cocky/confident self, doing what he normally does when the stakes are risen; rise to the occasion.
“For some reason Connor just kept trying me today. It wasn’t going down today!”
– WSU CB Daquawn Brown
Brown may have been the only player we truly expected to see play well, but he was far from the only kid making plays on the back end. Beau Glover came up with a nasty interception off the back of Kristoff Williams while laying on the ground and always seemed to be around the ball, though his overall stat-line didn’t really reflect that. He’s had a solid enough Spring to take over the starting role at one of the safety spots.
The question with Glover however is not his ball-skills, it’s his size. Standing at only 5’9, 170 it will be tough for him to compete when the Fall roles around and a couple bigger safeties with similar skill-sets and above average talent step onto the field with him. However his teammates call him the “hardest worker on the team” and also the one with the “biggest heart”, so if there’s a guy who can overcome his shortcomings (no pun intended) it’s him. Look for that name this Fall.
Looking at some of the other impressive performances, redshirt freshman transfer Sebastian LaRue got plenty of work with Brown on the Gray side and nearly came up with a pick-six off Connor Halliday while undercutting a route. LaRue is still readjusting to the position and I still ultimately he will return to receiver this Fall when the entire secondary becomes available, but while not particularly special, his performance was something to build on if I’m wrong.
David Bucannon and Darius Lemora made some nice plays as well. Lemora also delivered what could have been a kill-shot to a stretched out Kristoff Williams, but instead just ended up being a solid thump to the ribs to break up a pass. Kristoff seemed to have avoided injury thanks to the pull-up by Lemora, which is just good teammate football. Meanwhile Bucannon reminded us of his older brother a few times, flying up to make a solid tackle in space and covering plenty of ground in a seven-tackle performance.
The problem with the secondary is what we knew it was, they are clueless at times and suffer from inconsistency. A lack of speed and experience was somewhat evident in both the alignment (sometimes as much as eight yards off of the ball) and allowing receivers to get over the top. It was very obvious that while some kids were rallying to make plays and really tried hard, the secondary just isn’t up to snuff when a Pac-12 caliber offense is on the other side.
While some fans were very impressed with the secondary, the fact is that Connor Halliday put up almost 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half alone. If that happens during the season we’re all blasting the play of our DB’s, rightfully so. If you’re a fan of Cougar defense, you’ll be looking forward to the Fall crop coming into Pullman while also hoping the current kids on the roster improve ten-fold by season’s beginning.