Washington State Football: Looking At The Positives And Negatives

2 of 2


I’m going to put the whole entire defense on this one. Rutgers started out with a 78 yard touchdown pass to start the game on the first play after burning both the corner and the safety. It didn’t turn around as it seemed like Rutgers could run the ball whenever they wanted to.

The Cougars had some extremely sloppy tackling and it didn’t get better throughout the game. It seemed like it would take 3 or 4 Cougars to tackle running back Paul James every time he touched the ball. James had 173 yards on 29 carries in the game and found the end zone 3 times. The Scarlet Knights totaled 215 yards on the ground total.

The defensive line and linebackers groups had no push and hardly put pressure on the quarterback. The Cougars only had 1 sack on the game and had 3 tackles for a loss. The front 7 was supposed to be some of the best when it came to experience and they failed that expectation.

Tana Pritchard had one key interception but only had 3 solo tackles. Tracy Clark and Teondray Caldwell both had 3 solo tackles as well.

The Cougars secondary is young but it was not expected to be this bad. Rutgers struggled last year in the American Athletic Conference before moving to the Big-10. Seeing how easily they ran the ball really scares me. What happens when we see a team like Oregon who has Heisman candidates on the team who average more than 200 yards a game? I’ll give you a hint, Halliday could throw for 700 yards and 7 touchdowns and the Cougars would still struggle.

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. If the Cougars want to succeed there are a lot of things that need to change on the defensive side of the ball.

I mentioned the special teams earlier in this post on the positive side but not as a whole. Powell may have exceeded our expectations when it came to kicking. But the Cougars really struggled when it came to returning the ball. This game basically came down to one play. The punt that River Cracraft fumbled. Had Cracraft not of fumbled the ball we would be having a completely different conversation.

Aug 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars wide receiver River Cracraft (21) is brought down by Rutgers Scarlet Knights linebacker Kevin Snyder (45) during the first half at Centurylink Field. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Cracraft should not have tried and returned the ball. Field position didn’t matter at that point. What mattered was managing the clock and keeping the ball for the final few minutes and sealing the victory. On the other punts he averaged just 1.67 yards per return. He had 3 punts returned for 5 yards and 1 fumble.

The Cougars had absolutely no run game and only had 6 yards on the whole game. 6 yards. We all know that the Cougars have struggled with the running game but it was not supposed to be that bad. Halliday and the team had talked about how the running game had improved greatly but I didn’t see it.

I guess it is okay to an extent being that the Cougars threw the ball so much. Rutgers had the 4th best run defense last season but when you throw the ball 56 times, the running lane should be open. And the Cougars need to take advantage of that more often.