Happy Sunday Cougs. We'll skip the formalities after yesterday's steamroller loss in Salt Lake, as the Cougs barely got off the plane in their 49-6 disaster of a game. And let's just get right down to it, shall we?
It's funny, the hope that can exist as a sports fan and all that comes with it. A week ago at this time, after watching the Cougs came awfully close to putting a road game at a ranked opponent into overtime, you would have thought we WON or something. There was a lot of "the Cougs might go 3-1 to close the year" and "we can still get to a bowl if we win out", talk like that. And to be honest, from where we all sat a week ago, it seemed like some good things were coming and that somehow, this team had finally figured some things out. Even Mike Leach said it was the most complete game they had played, the most complete four quarters of football they had played in 2012, even with the EWU and UNLV wins in the bank. And when you looked at the stat sheet after the game, it was hard to argue against that statement. The Cougs outgained Stanford (the only opponent WSU has actually outgained this year btw), and if you were to erase the pick-6 that Stanford had vs. Jeff Tuel in the third quarter, we might have not only gone to OT, but we might have seen the Cougs driving for the winning field goal in the waning moments!
But then, last weekend's game was left in the rear-view. All the talk from the last week that you heard from the team was that they were 1) tired of losing, and 2) done with moral victories. As Sutra pointed out yesterday, in picking the Cougs to win by a healthy margin, was that it was the "Day to Win". There was some decent improvement going back a couple of weeks ago as well if you wanted to go that far, to the Cal game where it wasn't as bad as it seemed especially from the QB position. But then you saw the overall improvement in the Stanford game and many thought "Why not?" In our Football Friday post, Longball and myself picked the Cougs to lose but by a very close margin, and Lucas even picked the Cougs to win by a field goal. It sure didn't seem like a stretch just a day or so ago, did it?
But yet, here we are. They barely got of the plane in an embarrassing, bottom-of-the-pit effort that was flat from basically the second drive of the game onward. It felt all too familiar, like the BYU game from earlier this year where the first drive they move the ball, sputter, and then the wheels just come off? But this was a game that was simply an epic collapse on both sides of the ball, from a poor job on the lines on offense AND defense, to poor tackling and mistakes in coverage throughout the rest of the defense, to an offense that was tentative and out of sync the entire day.
But what to do now? You know what's weird, but the Cougs have been in this exact place just one year ago, believe it or not. Anyone remember the Cal loss last year, on November 5th of 2011? It was coming off a road game in Eugene, where the Cougs "only" lost 43-28 at Autzen. On that day vs. the Quack, the Cougs actually OUTGAINED the Ducks on offense(!), and aside from some big special teams mistakes where Oregon blocked a punt for a TD and returned a kickoff for a TD, there was talk of "turning the corner" and "we can play with ANYONE!" and all that. The following week the Cougs headed to the Bay Area to take on a Cal team that was talented, sure, but just not very good, with just one conference win at that time. This would be the week, many of us thought, that we would finally turn the corner and get that big win!
But then Cal came out and kicked our collective asses back to Pullman in a 30-7 loss, in which Cal effortlessly strolled to a 30-0 lead into the third quarter. The offense was out of synch and couldn't block anyone, the defense tackled poorly with very little effort, and it was just an awful loss. Cal would outgain WSU 411-224 on the day, and it was where many marked the end of the Paul Wulff era in Pullman with screams of "Fire Wulff!" all over twitter. It was clear to many at that point that Wulff had lost this team, and there was much anger that they could just sleepwalk into a game like this, a game many around here were convinced we would win after playing so much better at a ranked opponent the week before, only to see them come out with, shall I say, a corpse-like quality??
So what exactly is my point to all this??