None of us REALLY expected the game to be close, so why the sour grapes? This was a giant step in the right direction and it was actually kind of fun to sit in the stands as the true underdogs again. I loved seeing the great team effort and it truly felt like we had nothing to lose. I'm sure there were many fans in the stadium who lived and died with every snap yesterday but I was not one of them.
That said, here's my take on this game... First and foremost, I am absolutely sick of all the Brink bashing. The pick was definitely a tough blow but on a play like that the blame is shared by the receiver. They made different reads and it resulted in a pick. Two possessions later, Brink passed for the go-ahead score.
Let's not make light of the fact or completely overlook a HUGE game by our defense. THANK YOU Dobes, for finally taking off the training wheels!
I really don't enjoy dissecting every drive and every play of the game, but... In my eyes, the deciding play of the game was the 4th down screen to Collins at the beginning of the 4th quarter. It was a well-executed play that was sniffed out by one ASU lineman, forcing Collins to cut it back inside where he was stopped by a solo tackle. A great play by WSU, stopped by an even better effort by ASU, putting an end to a nice 10-play, 57-yard drive that could have put the Cougs up by four. Those four points would have changed the game.
In the end, it was a great team effort, and a tough game to lose. It was NOT lost by the interception and it was not lost by the missed kick. The problems this time were penalties (11 for 90 yards) and the continued inability of our O line to run-block. We all know that a passing game plays off of an adequate running game and we have none right now. 19 running plays netted only 58 yards on the ground and Brink was responsible for another 24 on scrambles.
19 true running plays and 50 pass attempts = a 10-minute difference in time of possession. You expect this kind of a run/pass ratio if you're playing from behind - NOT if you're trying to control the clock and protect a lead. As well as our line has protected Brink this year, they could do more for him and our offensive production by opening up a few more holes for the running game.
So Brinkhater, et al, there's your problem with the offense.
I've been a pretty staunch supporter of Alex Brink over the years not so much because I think he's a great quarterback, but because I think he has been largely undeserving of much of the criticism he's received. Yesterday was no exception. He again played very well, despite the fact that the opposing team was allowed to key on him and the passing game. Week in and week out, he is facing defensive game plans that treat our running game as an afterthought - remember that the next time you start bitching about Alex Brink.
That said, Alex has the record and for all intents and purposes, this season is lost. Doba and perhaps much of the staff could very well be lame ducks but they are loyal to WSU. Is it time to start looking to building for the future? Do we need to start seeing more of Gary Rodgers, Cole Morgan and/or Kevin Lopina? (I imagine Lobbestahl will keep his redshirt but if it were up to me, just to spite all the Brink-haters out there, I'd send the 6'2", 195-pounder out there just so you'd BEG me to put Brink back in!)