Aug 31, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Washington State Cougars linebacker Darryl Monroe (13) celebrates the recovery of a fumble made by Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason (21) at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Cougars 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
For the second week in a row the Cougars of Washington State put the hammer down on their opponent, this time on the Idaho Vandals. Let’s look at three points of significance from this dominating victory.
Think about college football for a minute, how many shutouts do you actually see these days? The answer is “very few”. For a team’s defense to hold another team’s offense out of the endzone or to avoid a field goal is a really, really big deal. Not that the Vandals didn’t have their chances, missing a field goal early in the 4th and then taking an 8:00 plus drive inside the Cougar 1 (actually after a wacky sequence of events getting no less than seven shots at the endzone inside the 11 and four inside the Cougar 3). Bottom line, U of I came up short on the pride-stick during what ended up as a final goal line stand. Now the Cougs have even more confidence in their defense, which was already the surprise of the team.
Mike Leach Endears Himself to the Fans and His Team
Not that the head coach wasn’t already adored in a sense on campus, but the series at the end of this game (for the 20,000 or so that stayed to see it) put him in the “Favorites” column. After a terrible personal foul call against Eric Oertel for hitting the quarterback that give the Vandals a whole new set of downs inside the Cougar 10 with less than a minute to play, Leach went absolutely ballistic at the Pac-12 officials for the first time since he’s been at WSU.
What his purpose was I don’t know, but he accomplished more than one thing with the tirade that took no less than three assistant coaches to break up. Immediately, he drew a flag, which also grabbed the attention of the fans as they re-awoke and roared their approval of this “new” and fired up coach fighting for his team. On most penalties Leach has been subdued and told his team to deal with it and move on, which made this a much more significant event. The entire defense felt the new energy in the crowd and suddenly each of them was waving their arms in the air, pleading for help in now stopping Idaho’s last desperation attempt for pride with only 2 yards to get.
The crowd responded then the defense stood up to the challenge! It was one of those “moments” in sports that is tough to explain because not many will remember. But it changes a team’s attitude from liking their coach to loving him (same for the fans), and you have to figure that was a significant point of growth for this team. It certainly looked as if they were beyond “taking it” and they’ll follow him anywhere now, which will be a big thing going forward.
Stanford’s on Radar, Cougs on Alert
If you think the USC win was big, just think of the significance of a WSU win over Stanford in a week. This team is fully capable of making that happen and they know it, but they have things to clean up. It’s not as if they came out of last night unscathed (although they escaped without serious injury to anybody significant, save for Bartolone starting the game in sweats for an undisclosed reason). The turnovers and a couple defensive missed assignments were a refocusing point that they’ll be working on this week and it’s the perfect time to be making that a point of significance.