Oct 5, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday (12) throws a pass against the California Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
For every quarterback in every program, there is that one defining moment (well, game) for their fans or their critics to draw their conclusions from. Sometimes, it can swing with one performance from one side to the other, but generally, you just never really feel an attachment to “your guy” until that one match up that earns your trust as a fan in the leader of the football team you have sworn allegiance to.
After last week I am all-in on Connor Halliday. I even tweeted this out during the game:
"If you’re not a Connor Halliday fan, I hope you’re watching this second half. My man is a warrior right now. @c_halliday12 #GoCougs— All Coug’d Up (@AllCougdUp) October 5, 2013"
True, Mr. Halliday grit his teeth through what we knew was a hip injury of some sort, knew it right away when Stanford’s Trent Murphy pounced on our slender qb’s body like some sort of human-lion jumping onto his first dinner in a month. In any case he seemed healthy through the week, but I highlighted in my ‘5 things to watch’ piece last week that his health and poise under pressure would be key, as he was sure to re-aggravate it in the game.
Sure enough, he was hobbled in the very first drive and I texted my brother immediately that I just knew Apodaca was gonna have to come in. We all watched him nearly fall on the bench and slam his helmet angrily into the equipment boxes. He looked like a gunshot victim, I thought for sure he was done.
But no, Connor trotted his slender frame back onto the field for not just the next drive, but the drive after that and again after that, until the game was over.
Now, I realize that this California secondary is ravaged, nay, desecrated by injuries. The poor Bears couldn’t catch a break in their defensive backfield on Saturday either, but you know, we’ve been there and while I feel bad for the individual players, I feel no sympathy for their situation as a program (nobody felt it for us).
It wasn’t about the numbers that C.H. put up in this win. It wasn’t even that he was the winning quarterback (although that obviously helps the cause).
It was the manner in which he commanded the field while staggering around like a wounded dear trying to avoid another lurking lion, in obvious pain. The leadership that left everyone on the field in a Cougar uniform (and anyone in front of a television set set to Fox Sports 1) without doubt that they would be taking a victory away from Berkeley. No panic. No body language issues (save for the slamming helmet as it crashed into those poor boxes).
Nothing but confidence in the leader of Washington State University.
That, for me, was Connor Halliday’s defining moment on this team and this program. Criticize all you want, but my man earned that respect and anybody who claims to be a Cougar fan and isn’t a Halliday fan can suck it, cause he’s going to quarterback this team for another year and a half, barring some disaster. On top of that, like it or not, it looks like he’ll be the one taking all Cougs to that next level.
He’ll also set at least a few Cougar records, as long as he can limp out onto the field and gut it out, which seems pretty likely. I mean as a freshmen he played almost three quarters with a lacerated liver and now this injury, whatever it is, doesn’t look like it can keep Halliday off the field.