Nov. 23, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach (left) holds up the Apple Cup with Elson Flyod after a game against Washington Huskies at Martin Stadium. The Cougars would go onto beat the Huskies by a final score of 31-28 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Looking on paper at a defense that gave up an average of 33 points a game, many people would not expect any positive notes from last season for Washington State. However this Cougars defense did show some good signs last year. Playing under a new system (the 3-4 defense), the biggest area of concern for the Cougars heading into the 2012 season would be stopping the run. This system requires using one less defensive end and instead adding a linebacker. The 3-4 defense is primarily used to stop the passing game and raises concern for the running game.
This was the complete opposite for the 2012 season, as WSU’s biggest area of strength was stopping the run along with having a beneficial pass rush attack as well.
I will start out by referring that WSU’s rush defense wasn’t perfect and had those moments of allowing over 300 yards of rushing to opponents such as Oregon and California. Towards the end of the season was when this defensive line “clicked.” Against the 2012-2013 Pac-12 champion Stanford Cardinal, WSU was able to hold this team to 120 yards rushing which was an “eye-opener” to fans. Last season Stanford had the 49th best rushing attack in the country with averaging 174 yards per game. This was due to the fact that the Cardinal had one of the best running backs in the country in Stepfan Taylor who ran for 1530 yards in 2012. The Cougars were able to hold Taylor to 58 yards on 21 carries back in October of 2012.
In November of 2012, the Cougars were able to stop another highly touted rushing attack in the UCLA Bruins lead by running back Johnathan Franklin, and mobile quarterback Brett Hundley. In 2012 the UCLA rushing attack ranked as No.37th in the country (190 yards per game). The Cougars held the Bruins to 73 yards. All-American running back Johnathan Franklin ran for 66 yards on 19 carries that game too.
Finally, the Apple Cup was one of the best defensive games the Cougars played in 2012. WSU’s defensive held the Huskies to 75 yards rushing and were able to give Washington QB Keith Price a run for his money. The Cougars defensive line was a huge part of this game and helped start the “Cougar Comeback.” Things turned in favor of the Cougars when defensive tackle, Steven Hoffart caused Keith Price to fumble the ball Husky territory which gave the Cougars the ball back. The play of the year for the Cougars on defense was the first play in overtime during the Apple Cup; Keith Price was on the verge of being sacked and tossed the ball up which fell into the arms of WSU defensive lineman, Kalafitoni Pole who ran the ball to the Husky five yard line. This helped lead the Cougars to a 31-28 victory over the Huskies.
Here’s the 2012 WSU Football Highlight Video from ACU that shows some of the “positives” from the defense:
-Evan Baron (Follow Me On Twitter: @Evan_Baron)
My twitter account is the same as before, but the username is now @Evan_Baron, and not @BaselineBaron09 anymore.