Washington State Football: Are the Cougs Back on Track?


Washington State football went into this season with really high expectations. A 3-0 start was on everyones mind when they looked at the schedule.  Well hopes of that fell to bits when a Punt was fumbled on what could have been a game sealing drive for Washington State in week 1.  Then just when the Cougs thought they could get momentum rolling their way, they dropped a game riddled with interesting penalties and no calls in Reno to Nevada.

The Cougars finally put a full game together against a Portland State team who had an upset of a struggling Pac-12 team on their minds.  The only question is, how much stock can we put into this victory due to the team that was in Pullman last Saturday? Let’s look at what I saw.

First the negatives.

Connor Halliday played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Saturday afternoon.  Although he will receive lots of praise for the performance and numbers he put up, he also took a couple of really bad sacks where he should have thrown the ball away or at least stepped up to minimize loss.  The worst were the two picks.  While I understand the first one up 28-0 with time running low in the half, it was something he didn’t have to force.  He had other receivers open underneath and could have got a little closer before taking that final shot.  Now the second one was unforgivable.  A pick 6 when the offense was needing a drive to completely put the vikings away to a safety he never even saw.  Gotta have better vision the rest of the season Mr Halliday.

The Defense.  Although the defense looked much improved against a quarterback who made Oregon States defense look silly earlier this season,  they still weren’t as impressive as their 14 points allowed would seem.  First play on the field for the D and it’s another go.  It should have been a TD and PSU up 7-0, this defense has to figure out that teams are going to run go’s the first play of the game against them probably every game, especially after what happened with Rutgers.  It is straight pathetic that this defense doesn’t get what’s happening with that play.  No double move, no excuse. Prepare for it Breske! JUST PREPARE FOR IT!  If not for a pivotal drop by the Portland State receiver the game on Saturday would have been much different.

Next the defense by way of avoidable penalties and terrible positioning by White at CB let this offense drive down the field on them time after time.  White has to learn to play closer to the wide outs, I don’t know if he’s scared of getting burned or what but he has to get better at playing closer especially on 2nd and 3rd and short.   White has proven that he is a good CB he just has to get better at reading the situation because every time the Vikings wanted a quick 5 yards they just threw it straight to White’s side.  This has to be fixed this week because Oregon will attack that and those receivers will leave poor White in the dust.

Finally my positives.

The offense finally showed it can put a team out.  I thought the focus level of the offense was the best it’s been all year.  Some really good checks from Connor on multiple drives and the fear of running the ball was gone and produced some really good plays.  I thought we finally had the mix of run and pass we want.  Bravo Connor and crew, continue to use this going forward and we will continue to be successful on Offense no matter the defense we face.

Another plus from the offense was our receiver play.  They proved what i’ve been saying this whole time.  River Cracraft, Vince Mayle, Dominique Williams and Isiah Myers could be number 1 receivers on any Pac-12 team.  This group showed their versatility in record setting performance.

Defensively, although I was upset with the focus level out of half and to start the game, the defense showed up when it was crunch time.  After getting burned on the first play, they tightened things up a bit and weren’t afraid to get after a mobile quarterback.  They also created a fumble which was in a crucial point of a drive and they forced a ton of punts.  They need to stay aggressive with Oregon coming to town next weekend.  Don’t back down and allow the Ducks to do what they expect.  Mix up some blitzes and get after Marcus Mariota.  Cause chaos and use a high risk high reward system.  Oregon is going to get theirs, why not chance some turnovers and attack them?

Overall I am (as many coug fans should be) extremely encouraged from what I saw Saturday from this Cougar team.  They absolutely dominated a team who has competed at a high level and has given a few good Pac-12 teams a scare the last few years.  You gotta love the progression of this team.  Now to see if it transfers when the competition takes the huge leap up this week.

Go Cougs!