Aug 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights running backPaul James
(34) dives in for a touchdown against Washington State Cougars cornerbackTracy Clark
(22) during the second half at Centurylink Field. The Knights beat Cougars 41-38. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
The Cougs’ defensive coordinator wasn’t the one making (or rather missing) tackles or getting burned on Thursday night, but he failed to put the Cougs in a good position defensively anyway. For example the first play of the game should never ever be a 78-yard touchdown strike because the defense should be expecting the other team to take an immediate shot down the field. The defense came out fired up, but for much of the night they just weren’t ready to make the necessary plays. That falls on Breske and he needs to get more out of his defense. Otherwise he may be on the hot seat later this season.
Speaking of getting more, Monroe was rarely found making stops against the Rutgers offense. I don’t have his individual stat-line, but he was far outplayed by Mitch Peterson, who wasn’t even listed on the 2-deep charts going into the football game. Not only was he outplayed, but he was nowhere to be found when it came time to lead the team in any of the crucial situations down the stretch. Monroe has to become more of a leader in these situations. He has to make it a point to get after his defense when they aren’t performing and make up for their deficiencies when they can’t get it done. That’s what a starting junior at MLB (who has started all 26 games of his Cougar career) has to be about. Lots of talk about his leadership was done in the preseason, but on Thursday night, Monroe was a ghost and his defense responded accordingly.
Williams dropped at least two (possibly three) of the most catch-able footballs he will see all season, both in crucial situations. A sure touchdown was thrown on his hands on an out route in which he smoked the cornerback in the 3rd quarter. Ultimately the Cougs converted 3rd and 12 for the touchdown, but the drop was absolutely devastating for the junior, who was expected to be a main contributor this season. He then dropped a humongous pass on the final drive that would have jump-started the Cougar offense that needed to score to extend or win the game. On a simple in-route about 12 yards down the field, Dom let the ball attack him instead of reaching out and plucking and it went right through his hands and subsequently off of the middle of his numbers and into the turf. The drop would ultimately be symbolic of the drive and may stint his role in the offense this season.
The redshirt senior cornerback has never really been one of the Cougs’ more athletic defenders and it showed again on Thursday. The very first play of the game was Clark getting torched by Leonte Carroo on a simple “go” down the sidelines for 78 yards. Obviously, Rutgers targeted Clark the entire game after that and he was never able to respond, getting burned at the stakes multiple times, including another 29-yard touchdown late in the contest as Rutgers tried to hang in it. In an article yesterday here on ACU, Caleb called for Clark’s job. I’m inclined to agree, because it doesn’t get worse than the effort Clark put forth in this one. It’s gonna be a freshman replacement (most likely Jeff Farrar or Pat Porter according to practice reports the last couple weeks), but I’d rather they get the experience here and the Cougs gain some valuable athleticism over whatever “experience” Clark brings to the table in this secondary.