Oct 12, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday (12) drops back for a pass against the Oregon State Beavers at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
The toughest thing about being a sports analyst/writer is the inevitability of putting out ideas that might not be popular amongst the critics of the teams or players we defend for our own reasons. Heck, we have our own critics to deal with!
At any rate it’s easier to jump on the nega-Coug-bandwagon right now, but if we are worth our salt and call ourselves a passionate and loyal fan of our team (as I do without question), we gotta be willing to go against the grain from time to time and take on the repercussions.
And so it is that I am standing in defense of an unpopular choice for a lunch-mate in Pullman right now. I would say dinner date, but we all know that Coug girls love their football players more than the game they play, right?
You that have been living under your rock… now you know.
I’ve already fallen off topic! Here we go, back on point…
Just like you, we here at All Coug’d Up get frustrated by the regressions and mistakes of the kids and coaches we rout for. Saturday night, for example, we were really, freaking, angry and defeated as a group, as a fan base. The game was ours. Around the country they won’t believe that, in Oregon they’ll never admit that, but it really, truly was.
Sometimes there are better answers, sometimes there are worse answers and sometimes there are no logical, or even metaphorical answers at all. Regardless, for one reason or another this is OUR team, these are OUR players and these are OUR kids!
If you’re a fan that just hates Connor Halliday and just can’t wait for this “gawd awful” mess of a quarterback to screw it up again so you can jump on his back and chant for one of his many freshman backups …
Mike Leach is a quarterback guru. Along with being an offensive mastermind, it’s the reason he was brought to Washington State University to coach up the football program to a return to the national spotlight. How many freshmen have we seen play over the course of the past couple years? If our multi-million dollar coach thought there was a better leader for THIS football team, the kid would be in there.
The career of our junior quarterback has been up and down, no doubt. At times, seemingly in bunches, he makes mind-numbing decisions. At other times, he makes throws that leave us even more frustrated because they are so perfect and we can’t figure out ‘why not every time’?
Fact: Halliday is the only quarterback in the entire country to have thrown for 500 yards in 2013.
Again, the only one in the entire FBS.
Maybe that’s one of those stats that has an asterisk by it, seeing that quarterbacks like Marcus Mariotta at Oregon and Bryce Petty at Baylor (and probably one or two others) haven’t played in 4 quarters of a football game a majority of the time because they blow teams so far away. But still, it’s something to be noticed! He’s learning, he’s growing, just like all football players.
The NFL GameDay crew had a couple interesting comments yesterday when talking about the situation with Matt Schaub in Houston, after he was boo’d by his fans and then subsequently cheered when he got injured. First, ‘Primetime’ (Deion Sanders) on cheering your starting quarterback when he gets injured:
"That’s ignorant (fans) right there. That’s ignorant to cheer that man."
Subsequently, host Chris Rose said this:
"The backup quarterback is always the most popular player in town, until he actually has to get under center…"
Oct 12, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Austin Apodaca (17) slides against Oregon State Beavers safety Micah Audiss (37) during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Beavers beat the Cougars 52-24. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
I know we Cougars aren’t so ignorant as to cheer our own player if he were to get injured, regardless of his play or the name on his jersey. I would expect we are better than even cheering at visiting players for their unfortunate injuries (mostly, we have been so heartless and applause to you for that).
The more relevant point is Rose’s comment about the backup. Booing your own player at this level of football is a stupid and ignorant action. In the NFL it’s one thing, but college? Really? What’s Connor, 20 years old? I’ve seen and heard too many ignorant comments about him, we all have. Some are more immature than his occasional bone-headed throws.
Was that an undersell? Ok, his all-too occasional, caveman-esque, bone-headed throws. There, ya happy?! Sorry Connor, it is how I feel buddy.
And just think, his backups are 17, 18?!
Nega-Cougs, it’s time to turn around your utterly misguided distaste for your quarterback (regardless of who he is). Stop acting like he’s trying to lose football games, or like he’s not good enough to win them for us. I’m sorry but he’s doing everything he can to win the football game each week, the same game that we love to watch our team play. If anything he tries too hard to make plays for us and his team.
He wants it more than any of us. If you can’t believe that, watch the Cal game again. He could barely walk.
On top of that, there’s nobody better behind him, like it or not. Everybody cheered Austin Apodaca’s appearance in each of the three games he’s played in, but he has thrown a pick-6 to a defensive end and an interception in the OSU game that has three Beavs and nobody else around it.
Austin’s cool 50% completion percentage, with 2 tds, 2 int’s and 93.59 QB rating in those appearances against the backups don’t scream “we’re better off” with him in there. Also, we’re not burning the redshirt on Bruggman with five games remaining on the season unless disaster strikes. Those two will be great, in their own time.
Buck up and deal with it friends!
And chances are Connor’s not stepping back to the bench in his senior season, that’s not how Mike Leach works. Leach’s best quarterbacks have always been seniors.
Listen, I’m not saying you can’t get uppity about the mistakes on twitter and facebook. Anger is part of the emotion that makes us the greatest fans in the country! All I’m sayin’ is to get it together, keep it mature and after the smoke clears, keep it in perspective Coug Nation! A quarter of bad football is nothing new to the game. Heck, somebody has to play a bad game for the other one to win it!
Realize that as long as Mike Leach is our head coach here (hopefully for a VERY LONG TIME), we will ask our quarterbacks to do more than any other quarterback in the country. We ask our QB’s to be Peyton Manning’s and Tom Brady’s every Saturday. We’re going to have to live with the bad to get the good and it’s a pretty good chance we’ll get some of both from each and every quarterback that rolls through here in the next decade.
For now, we have a top 8 passing offense nationally, with Connor being the 10th ranked FBS quarterback in pass yards per game, which is impressive. In case you’re wondering (several have mentioned it), WSU’s 2013 target, true freshman Baker Mayfield, who decided to walk on at Texas Tech after Tyler Bruggman committed here and got the starting job there, is ranked 15th at 297 yards a game. He’s also been benched twice this season for bad performances.
And this WSU team isn’t that far behind Tech, if that’s what you’re thinking. Tech hasn’t played anything near the schedule WSU has. Take away 1 bad play in the red zone (or you know, a bad angle on a kickoff coverage play) at Auburn and 1 inexplicable implosion of a quarter after beating up 5-1 Oregon State for 3 quarters. The Cougs could easily be 6-1 and really should be at least 5-2. In both those games, youth was more of a deciding factor than Connor.
Most importantly folks, even without those wins, realize that your quarterback right now has led us to at least one more victory with five remaining than most of you thought was possible for the entire season.
Yes, most wrote the Cougs off at three wins, some at two… our Cougs are 4-3! Even Deone Bucannon said the “Connor is the best quarterback I’ve ever been around”. I know how highly we all think of Deone, his opinion should mean something.
His coaches support him as their starter. His teammates support him as their leader. How is it that we find ourselves not supporting him as our college quarterback?
Come on Cougs, it’s time to stand behind your man, and for now his name is Connor Halliday.