Aug 31, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Teondray Caldwell (34) tries to avoid Auburn Tigers linebacker Jake Holland (5) during the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Cougars 31-24. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
I’m hurting a little bit. Last night stung, like a nest of hornets it stung.
I mean we all watched the picks, in typical Connor Halliday fashion, to eager to make a play and too rushed to bother to look at the defense. We all saw the successive 175 yards given up by the special teams and defense in the 2nd. We all saw the 3rd and 4th down drops that would’ve moved the chains at big times in the game.
But there are more positives to take away from the game if we look at the numbers. Let’s examine:
The amount of missed calls that should have gone to Washington State in the second half. The refs had a decent game, but that 3rd quarter was ATROCIOUS! On the Auburn drive to go up 28-21 with a field goal, a phantom 3rd down catch (juggling the ball as he turned to make the catch out of bounds) was not reviewed. On the successive drive WSU should have been at the doorstep, but three clear-as-day pass interference calls were ignored by both officials on the right sidelines all through the drive. On the first one, the official even took the flag out to throw it when D. Williams was 2-hand shoved out of bounds with the ball in the air. But the ref realized he was on the Auburn sideline, so he put it back. WSU had to settle for the field goal. Later, another receiver was tackled on 3rd down on a pass over the middle with no call and the Cougs then failed the 4th down conversion.
5 is also the number of penalties WSU racked up, which is a GREAT number, especially on the road in that environment. The O-line needs a high five for that, and the low number of sacks allowed, whatever it was.
Amount of catches by Gave Marks, who had a terrific game.
Amount of Cougars to make a catch in the football game. Connor didn’t get stuck on one receiver overall which is good, though he did lock in on the crucial interception inexplicably.
Holy crap 28 first downs for Washington State!? That’s a really solid number for this team. Should’ve had 31 at least with 2 crucial drops and a retreat by Gabe Marks just before halftime that cost the Cougs another. But sustained drives led to the Cougars holding the edge in time of possession for the first time I can remember since Leach arrived. I’m not going to go back and check, I would just bet that’s the case.
Rushing yards for the Cougars on 23 beautiful carries. And it wasn’t because of huge plays, the Cougs were just really efficient in the running game, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. That many rush yards per game will bode well for the Cougar offense over the course of the season. It looked to me as if Connor finally understood that he was allowed to check to it if it was there, and he took full advantage. No other stat looks prettier than 120 rushing yards on an SEC defense. Add 34 more yards receiving by the RB’s, and that’s 154 yards from the running back position! Just awesome!