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
With all the recent speculation and disapproval of our quarterback that have been coming from the fans about Connor Halliday’s play, it has really disappointed me as I read the comments and heard the negative chants coming from the fans. It made me think, if the fans aren’t supporting Halliday, are the players?
As a recent player in this game we all love, this question sort of upsets me. It has been a year and a half since I last stepped on the field as a player, I know the feelings haven’t changed much.
I played the game of football for myself, my brothers I had on the field, my family, and the fans of my school. You sweat, bleed, cry, laugh, and have the best and worst of times of your life with your teammates. You grow to trust them with your life, both figuratively and literally in some cases. You trust that the guys who wear the same jersey as you has your back and he has the same amount of trust in you. If I didn’t believe that a certain player believed in me it hurt, I saw it as them thinking you weren’t worthy enough to wear that jersey.
As I sat in the stands this past weekend for the first time all season (I am normally on the field working with the camera crew) I noticed a few things; the fans didn’t trust Halliday, they gave up on him, and they left as soon as it started to go bad. I felt the same way a few times about the players. Did they give up after Halliday made his first mistake?
As an offensive lineman I would do anything to protect my quarterback. That meant the cheap shots when we were in a pile or holding him down just a little bit longer after I got him on his back just to let him know that if he gets to my quarterback again, there will be repercussions. I didn’t notice any of that in the game against Oregon State. And as a defensive lineman, I kept pushing the limit until I was “told” that I couldn’t do it anymore.
There was a play in last week’s game where Halliday was hit late after an interception and not one offensive lineman stood up to let that guy know what he had just done. That is their leader, their quarterback and they just let it happen.
Compare it to a few weeks ago. Head coach Mike Leach got flagged for arguing that there should not have been a flag on his player for a late hit after the game was basically already over. The team and fans loved that. I sat back and thought ‘that is what every player wants, a coach that will stand up for him’. He was our coach and was stood up for his players. I see it with the coaching staff but have yet to see it with the players.
That doesn’t mean it’s not there. As a player you learn how to hide your little cheap shots, we all know they are there, they just can’t be seen. But after the play where Halliday was hit late there was nothing that was done in a way to send a message to the whole team and to let them know that it was unacceptable to hit their quarterback late. Nothing that was really obvious for all to see.
In baseball you see this type of action done constantly. One team’s pitcher hits the opposing teams star player on purpose, the next time the star player of the pitching team is up you know that he will get hit or at least brushed back. It’s to send a message without needing any words, that message is always read loud and clear.
The same type of thing is done in football, you hit my brother, I will come at you harder than you hit him. That type of mentality is what brings a team together. It basically says “I’m in this with you, I got your back” without all the lovey dovey crap that the men on the field don’t need to say.
If Halliday can get this kind of support from his teammates then he may feel better getting back out there and will do whatever it takes to get a win for them because he knows they are doing all they can to support him. It is all a circle that needs to be started with the rest of the team. Halliday is there giving his all. It’s time for the rest of the team to step up and do the same for him.
The same thing goes for the fans. Halliday is going out there and doing all he can to get us, as fans, a win. It may not seem like he is every week or play, but he is. Look at last week against California, Halliday went out in absolute pain and played his butt off to get a win, he easily could have sat out and not played, but he didn’t. He did it for his team and his fans.
He fought for us. We need to fight for him. The fans have a job of fighting for their team. That’s what makes them fans. Josh has a great post for those fans who are lacking that fight here.
All in all, the players are missing that “fight” and so are the Cougar fans. We are Washington State. I think it’s time we prove that we stand behind that moto.