Aug 31, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason (21) is tackled by Washington State Cougars safety Deone Bucannon (20) at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Cougars 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Week 1 is done and a lot of questions have been answered for teams around the nation, yet more questions rise as we head into week 2. Some upsets have finished as a few FCS teams caught some nationally ranked teams unprepared, is there any coming back from such devastating losses? Well that is what week 2 will soon prove.
As for Washington State, the big question coming into week 1 was, are the Cougars improved enough to play an entire game at a big school in week 1 and win or be in a position to win it at least? I would say they answered that question with a resounding YES. Although they didn’t seize victory in week 1 the Cougars found themselves in a position to win the game twice. Even when all seemed lost after a questionable play call, leading to a pick on first and goal, the defense came back on the field and forced a turnover and gave the offense one more shot. However the offense just came up short as a mis-communication on 4th down sent the Cougars home with a loss.
Now I would be concerned if the players were satisfied with coming “close” to winning that game, but no they aren’t by any means satisfied. There isn’t one player on this team that doesn’t think they should have won that game. This is good because now these Cougs have seen there is no opponent too big this year, every game is winnable in their minds. That is a tough mindset to have as a team who went 3-9 last year, but just watch the interviews, these players believe in their talents, their coaches and themselves. These boys will have a fire next week and a point to prove, we don’t have to worry weather or not this team will be focused heading into week 2.
However as fans we have to be encouraged by what we saw Saturday evening. We saw a team who is much improved. No longer is raw talent what we put on the field, but hard work and smart play (for the most part). The biggest thing is we saw this team play an entire game, and they looked pretty sharp for a week 1 game.
Week 2 should be fun folks. If you are like me and watched the USC game you definitely have to think this is an upset alert. Lane Kiffin and friends are not looking as impressive as promised. They are still trying to find their leader at QB and their receiving core is having an identity crises. Although their talent is far beyond impressive, this team doesn’t seem very united, especially with a coach on the hot seat.
A poor start at Hawaii exposed some weaknesses in this USC defense as far as mental toughness goes. Really the game could have continued being close the whole way but a few ill advised throws by Hawaii QB, Taylor Graham, and a lucky bounce landed the ball in USC defensive back Josh shaw’s hands for a Trojan Touchdown.
Marqise Lee still managed to get 8 catches for 104 yards but most of that was in the second half. Much of the first half Lee had drops and seemingly threw a fit on the sideline. The future NFL receiver definitely needs to step up as a leader if these Trojans are going to accomplish more than they did last year.
Even though the Trojans pulled away in the 2nd and 4th quarters, it is not Hawaii who is rolling into Los Angeles Saturday night, it is a much improved and more dynamic Washington State team. Many will say the challenge is too big for the Cougars on the road, that WSU is overmatched with talent, to which I say that is a valid point. However this USC team is still trying to figure out who they are. Now one of two things could happen; either USC will figure out who they are with a longer week to prepare for this game, come into the coliseum and really catch fire and beat Wazzu by at least 2 scores, or they could continue to struggle as a team and suffer the pressure of having a coach on the hot seat and leave WSU in the game and possibly even lose in the final minutes (I like to think the ladder).
Washington State has the ability to be in this game late, the only question is will their decision making allow them to get their first victory? Can Connor Halliday settle down a little and watch his interceptions (filmroom) thrown on two first downs and learn from his mistakes? Can the Defense focus on taking better angles and not giving up big plays? Now this would be a huge win but I will not over hype it. All I’m saying is what may have looked to most as a blowout before the season looking at the Cougars schedule, has now turned into a possible upset. Don’t sleep on this one, things could get interesting in LA folks.