So our team just lost 45-17 to Baylor. In three games we've lost by 26, 63, and 28 points. All of a sudden Portland State looks like a formidable opponent. What happens now? Let's break down six pressing questions regarding the rest of the year.
Is this season lost? Yes and no. In terms of a bowl game, tonight's loss seals the deal. The Cougs are not, barring a miracle, going bowling in 2009. However, there is still a season to watch in terms of player development. There is the chance of pulling an upset, because quite frankly the Cougs will probably not be favored in any game beyond next Saturday. Maybe versus Hawai'i, but we'll see. Hopefully WSU can play spoiler and win a conference game or two. Preferably the Apple Cup.
What do we do at quarterback? I still hold the opinion that Gary Rogers gives us the best chance to win now. However, Kevin Lopina, as a redshirt junior, gives us the best chance to win next year. Tonights numbers: Lopina 17/26, 174 yds, 1 TD (rushing), 2 INT. Rogers: 6/12, 89 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. So, in a quarterback battle that Wulff has said will be decided in the context of games, no one distanced themselves from the other. One thing that bears noting: Lopina may fit the Wulff system better, in terms of his mobility. One rushing touchdown and the 21-yard scamper tonight make Kevin look like a more intriguing rushing quarterback. With limited pass and rush protection, that may be what WSU needs right now. Regardless, it's safe to say the job is up in the air until someone earns it.
My take: Rogers still deserves a reasonable chance. 6 quarters isn't enough.
Do we have a defense? Yes. Whether it's good or not will be decided over the next ten games. And yes, there are still ten games left. It may be a long year. But there is talent: Greg Trent, Chima Nwachukwu, A'i Ahmu, among others. One thing's for sure - there is no rushing defense at the moment. One week after being run over by Jahvid Best and Cal, the Cougs surrendered 426 rushing yards, an average of 10.1 per carry. If they don't get it together, I'm not ruling out the possibility of USC dropping 100 on us.
Will we win a game? Yes. Or at least I hope so. I really hope so. At least Paul Wulff is familiar with Portland State from his time at Eastern. That's got to count for something. Right?
Is the worst over? I'm afraid it might not be. There is a realistic possibility that this team falls to Portland State next Saturday. Colorado lost to Montana State, Michigan lost to App. State - the FCS subdivision is closer in talent to the BCS schools than it has ever been in the past. So don't write off the Vikings. Plus, a few key injuries to the Cougs, and things could get even uglier after the PSU game.
Is Wulff in over his head? No. When you're dropping games by this much, there's more likely a talent problem than a coaching problem. Take Dick Bennett's squads from his first three years at WSU as an example. Those teams didn't lose because of coaching. Wulff's start at WSU has been awful, that's for sure, but it doesn't really mean anything. Yet. What really matters is how he develops the current players (we'll see as the season progresses), and how the team plays in the future. For now, enjoy the last year of Brandon Gibson, and support the Cougs as they try to turn this ship around.