Well, today our Cougs lost a semi-interesting/competitive contest to those underwheling Devils of the Sun, 27-14.
All in all, not a bad performance considering the amount of injuries to our offensive line as well as some awfully untimely turnovers.
So, feel free to fire away your comments regarding Wulff's idea to punt with 5:00 left in the fourth down 13, as well as any other observations or concerns you might have.
Here are mine:
1) This is the second real game (e.g. Pac-10) where we've been one score away from really being in it. So, where our development is concerned, Step 1 is to figure how to get that extra touch. Step 2 is to figure out how to actually win if and when we get within 7.
2) Per SeanHawk and Hooty, we still look AWFULLY slow.
3) Chicken S* is as Chicken S* does. As much as many of us want to back Coach Paul--And I sure do, part of getting kids to believe in themselves is making sure that they know that you believe,
So, even if you don't make it on 4th down from your own 38, at least show your boys that you have confidence in them to make a play, and FLIPPING GO FOR IT!!
Otherwise, onto the bye week. This game shows that we can stick around lower division teams on any given day.
And despite some slips, we are getting better.
Good work Sutra.
The whole thing was predictible in the sense of how we were going to get dominated up front, but this was beyond men vs. boys. If you didn't see it with your own two eyes, it's even hard to just describe how manhandled the offensive line was for the vast majority of that game. It was actually pretty amazing to watch. ASU twisted and stunted and came after us with a serious intensity. I was hoping they might be a little flat after losing to OSU last week and then coming up into low-40's weather? Uh, no. And the scary young linebacker, Burfict for ASU? As advertised. There was one play where he was double-teamed on a blitz, and even though he hurdled the running back and was shoved by the guard, he STILL stayed on his feet and got to Tuel. Seriously athletic, seriously strong. There was another play where I believe Lobbetael found Gino Simone on a 15-yard slant, and Burfict came from one side of the field all the way to the other and finished off the tackle in just a complete blur. That guy is the real deal.
I feel for Jeff Tuel. I mean that kid was under duress when he took the snap on, well, probably 80% of his throws he had to move to get some space or flat-out throw on the run. He made a poor decision on his second interception, but he had two defenders dragging him down when he floated the ill-advised pass into the flat. Clearly a true frosh mistake. But how else is he going to learn than by going out and making those mistakes? Can't do it with his arms folded on the sideline while Lobbestael is in there. So why pull him at that point, who the heck knows? Maybe the coaches were watching how bad it was going up front, just like everyone else in the stadium, and wanted to keep the kid healthy to an extent, and/or not completely shell-shock him at such a tender age? It couldn't have been because they thought Marshall would do better than Tuel at that point, especially with the fierce pass rush and absolutely ZERO running game behind him.
Sutra and I have joked in the past about the 1990 Apple Cup, when UW was really good and we were pretty bad with the QB drama and all that. Anyway, that UW team whipped us up front so badly that night in Pullman, that at times, it seemed like UW was going to get to Bledsoe before the snap! Maybe it wasn't exactly like that, but I have to admit, it was pretty close. Twelve sacks and minus-54 yards rushing is twelve sacks and minus-54 yards rushing!
And Sutra is right on the lack of speed assessment. TV doesn't even do it justice, but when you see it live and from a distance, where you can take in the whole field? It's just incredible how overall this team is lacking burners. Forzani actually ran away from the ASU db on that 99-yarder, and that was cool to see. That kid CAN run, it's true, and with some experience, who knows what he can do. But otherwise, there is a complete lack of explosive athletes right now. I know, you've all seen that and have been saying it all season long, but when you see it live, it's a tough reminder of where we are.
The defense did do some good things at times. The takeaways were nice, with an unreal SIX, but it would have been great if they led to more than seven points directly related to the takeaways? And ASU is kind of struggling at QB right now, as they were shuffling their QB's in and out, trying to get something going. That young QB, Brock Osweiler, is a flippin' GIANT though, jeez. He's got a serious fastball too. I can see why people have been calling for him down there, as he looks the part.
There were some weird things out of the defense. They didn't attack, as we hoped they would. But there were moments where Hooty and I both noticed that we dropped NINE into zone coverage, rushing just two down linemen, and ASU still did the job by finding the soft spots in the zones and moving the ball in key moments. Neither of us could recall WSU ever dropping nine into coverage, except maybe vs. Hawaii or SMU in a prevent-type defense. I've seen Cal do that a few times with their 3-4 defense, but never from WSU.
And finally, on the decision to punt with 5 minutes left? What's odd is that, if anyone remembers, the defense held them after the long TD pass, and got the ball back with over 6 minutes left to start that possession. There was actually a little bit of energy in the crowd, where the thinking was "hey, they come down and score again, this MIGHT be a ballgame?" And then to get to 4th down with 5+ minutes left and the choice to punt, it just felt like the wrong thing to do in terms of pure momentum, etc. Maybe the coaches handbook says that you punt in that situation, but there was a deflating feeling in the crowd when the punt team jogged onto the field, that's for damn sure. Sometimes you go by the book, sometimes you have to go by your gut. But that's why Wulff gets the several hundred throusand in annual salary, and I'm here typing. :)
Anyway, we still had a good time. There are some positives to cling to, such as Tuel's two TD passes, or the fact that they did take the ball away six times. And the overall consensus from people we talked to after the game was that they were pleased with the effort, and that the players still aren't quitting or anything. It's good to see them come back and play better in some phases after last week. But still, we are very far, far away until we are in position to actually win games like that. I think the numbers are helped by the 99-yarder, and you can't take plays off the board. It happened, just like any other game where big plays happen. It's football. But IF you look at the game on a whole? It's not hard to see that we still have a LONG way to go my friends!