Saturday, September 20, 2008
Nice to get a W. Everyone around the team will feel good about it, just to get in the W column. And for someone looking for something, anything, to be happy about, well, I'm not going to piss-n-moan about this one. It wasn't great, hardly a masterpiece, but when you rack up 640 yards and 38 first downs? After the way we started the season, I wondered if we could do that against air, let alone another football team. I'll take it. Heck, there were some that thought this was going to be a nail-biter, if not an upset loss, but things went about how we thought.
The Good: The running game was pretty much unstoppable from the first play to the last. 279 rushing yards, on 5.5 yards per carry. The o-line did a decent job of opening up holes, and the combo of Ivory, Tardy and even Mitz all averaged between 6.4 and 7.3 yards per carry.
Devin Frischknecht looked good, his best game since the Apple Cup last year with over 100 yards and a TD catch. He's been hurt early this year, but he was finally on the field for an extended time for the first time this year. We liked his upside last year, and he might be a nice option for the QB to check down to as the season goes on.
And dare I say it, but have we found our QB of the future? Marshall Lobbestael was an efficient, productive QB tonight, 9-for-12 for 149 and a couple of TD's. An impressive 12.4 yards per attempt, and best of all, NO INT'S! That's a huge problem with the other two guys, obviously, and it was continuing tonight with three first-half INT's, until they were both knocked out of the game. I know it wasn't against a top-shelf BCS opponent, but still, he looked good.
There were a couple of throws that will stand out, too, in fact three throws to the tight ends that look promising. One an over-the-shoulder fade that he threw ON THE MONEY to Frischknecht, a play that big Devin took to the house for a 53-yd TD. But he also later found Frischknecht up the seam and laid it in perfectly in a spot only Devin could go get it. Finally, he had a real nice roll-out off play action and found Tony Thompson in the flat on a perfectly thrown ball to get the ball inside the 2-yard line. Really nice job, really accurate. I understand why people were excited about him when he signed with Doba and company a few years ago. The kid looks like he has some moxie, but most of all, ACCURACY out of the QB position is a welcome sight!
The passing defense handled the run-n-shoot pretty well. 238 yards passing allowed is an OK day at the office, but the real thing to look at is the completion percentage (20-for-49), third-down efficiency (1-for-13), and just 4.9 yards per attempt with one TD pass. Plus we actually had a couple of takeaways, with a fumble recovery and a couple of INT's (and ONE that was robbed by the replay official!).
The running defense was excellent, just eight rushing yards on 11 attempts. But we knew they wouldn't be able to run the ball, as they hadn't even hinted at a running game this year. So a good thing, but not a surprise.
The Bad: The offensive line better pick up the blitz. Other teams are going to bring the house against our QB's, whoever it happens to be. Not only will the QB's need to burn the blitz and get on the same page with the WR's, but the o-line, jeez. Both hits that knocked out the QB's were blitzing linebackers, and both guys came completely IGNORED by the o-line. And that's against a 1-AA opponent? I shudder to think what Oregon's speed and energy on defense is going to do to our offense next week. Shudder I tell you!
The pass rush was weak. I know we had three sacks, but they were usually the coverage type sacks. There were far, far, far too many times when the QB had all day to throw the ball. There were a ton of three-man fronts with eight dropping into coverage, which is a good strategy against a run-n-shoot offense, but wow, are we not good up front. Next week should be a real eye opener, as Oregon's o-line is considered right there with Cal as the best in the conference.
The Ugly: PENALITES. Same as at the half, but this was a dirty, ugly game. 18 total penalties, 10 by us. Lots of defensive fouls in the secondary, late hits, etc. It got pretty chippy there a few times, but you think about it - you had a BCS team in WSU told how awful they are, while you had a 1-AA opponent playing their one and only BCS team this season, so they came in loose and free and nothing to lose. So it wasn't a good situation. Plus there is no love lost between Wulff and Glanville, as Wulff mentioned a few times he was mad at Glanville last year for standing by the EWU sideline talking to his players before their game in '07. Glanville had defeated Wulff the last few times they met, so, there might have been a little bit of a grudge here.
The INT's were ugly, ugly, ugly. Lopina really threw some bad balls, the first INT right into the teeth of triple coverage, the second just a 30-yard flutter ball thrown up for grabs. Lopina threw the ball a lot better last week, but this week, forget it. His wrist was really bothering him, or he's just got absolutely no arm. I hope it's the former, not the latter.
Rogers too, the INT at the goal line was ugly. There was no need for him to force it, as they still had a chance at points at 2nd down, a time out and 13 seconds to go. He had done well up until that point, but then morphed back into slinging it into coverage.
Now that both QB's are injured, who knows what he's out with the neck injury, who knows what he'll be able to give us the rest of the way. It's going to be an interesting week. Oregon will come in pissed after losing at home to Boise State. And they are down to their fourth or fifth string QB's right now, so we'll see. They will clearly be a big favorite, and their running game is still fantastic regardless of who or what is at QB. We will still have to take tremendous steps forward on many levels just to stay in the game with them. But we'll see how the week goes.
Finally, ENJOY THE WIN! There may not be many more of these in 2008, so, feel good while you can. Have a good night. GO COUGS!
WELL, that was one UGLY half. Turnovers, penalties, poor line play. Lopina is probably out for the rest of the game, so it's Gary Rogers from here on out.
The Good: The offensive line has been run-blocking extremely well. Tardy with 54 yards at the half, Ivory with 33. Both guys combined are averaging almost 5 1/2 yards per carry. I'll take that. Decent balance overall, with 251 total yards. And Rogers looked pretty comfortable when he's had time to throw the ball.
The passing defense has done well, just 114 first-half yards for a team averaging almost 400 through the air. PSU can't run the ball, just 6 rushing yards, but they barely even pretend to run it based on their scheme. But the pass defense has done well, and Hubel's only averaging 4.8 yards per attempt (that's REALLY bad).
Good job on third downs too - 1 for 7.
The Bad: Even though the passing yards have been decent, it's a bit misleading. Even before Lopina's injury, he was throwing some real wobblers. And some poor decisions on both INT's, one he forced into triple coverage. Overall just 7-for-17, less than 50%.
Not totally his fault though, as the dropsies have returned. Gibson dropped three balls in the first half. Although at least two of them were poorly thrown, still, a player like Gibson has to haul those balls down.
The offensive line better learn to pick up the blitz, and fast! Lopina was just absolutely blown up by a linebacker who came 100% free off the edge. Nobody even looked at him, and Lopina never saw it coming. And Rogers has taken some big shots already. I know the O-line is inexperienced and some shuffling has something to do with it, but wow, they look terrible against the blitz.
The d-line has barely breathed on Hubel, but, we've shown a ton of three-man fronts. We're dropping eight into coverage repeatedly, and the passing defense numbers are good, so we can get away with it for now.
The Ugly: PENALTIES have been absolutely brutal. Eight for 90 yards, and they have come at the worst times. It's pretty "chippy" on both sides, really, some late hits and such from both teams.
The INT call that was overturned was just terrible. I don't know what the hell they are watching in the booth, but every FSN replay they showed never had the ball hitting the turf. That was a hell of a catch by Justin, with one hand, and for them to over-rule the ruling on the field on something like that, without clear evidence the other way, is baffling.
The INT thrown by Rogers right before halftime was awful. 2nd down and you are already in field goal range, 13 seconds left, and you have one timeout. Why try and just fling it near the goal line? The color commentator was right, that was an awful decision.
Enjoy the second half!
Not sure if you are at the game (and judging by the attendance, it sure doesn't look like it) but we've got a game about to start. Feel free to chime in with comments.
Interesting one with Oregon and Boise State. The Ducks were getting humiliated at home 37-13, losing QB's left and right. But put in the frosh QB (and fifth stringer) and stormed back to within five pts with 2 minutes to go. But the Donkeys hang on and shock the Quack in Autzen. They'll be nice and pissed next week when they come to Pullman, won't they??
Enjoy the game.