WSU OFFENSE: 2nd Quarter Grades

The season is half over, which means it's time to once again grade out the various units for WSU. How have they performed? What do we need to see going forward? We said we wanted to see improvement all year -- how have they progressed since our first quarter grades? We examine all of that here.

Offensive Line

We were awful hard on these guys in the first quarter, and rightfully so. But like the rest of the offense, they've improved steadily as the year has gone on. Some of that has to do with improved cohesion and experienced for the newcomers to the line (two JC transfers and a true freshman are among the regulars), but more of it has to do with the change in philosophy in the offense. The unit is being asked to generally hold blocks for shorter amounts of time (and getting help from the running backs to do it), and run plays are done with fewer defenders in the box. They've been better, but there's still a long way to go.

First Quarter Grade: D-

Second Quarter Grade: C-

Running Backs

This is a group that appears to be getting stronger each week. Yes, the offensive line is improving, but it appears these guys are getting better at what they do, too. James Montgomery is looking more and more like his old self, and Logwone Mitz is showing that he is deserving of an increased workload. Beyond that, offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy made a significant shift in protection schemes, moving away from tight ends and toward running backs. While there have been some bumps along the way (hello, 3rd and goal against UCLA!), they were much better in pass protection against Oregon and seem to be getting much better at that part of their jobs. 

First Quarter Grade: B-

Second Quarter Grade: B

Wide Receivers

These guys have been highlighted by the new passing attack. Marquess Wilson has maintained his explosiveness, even as opposing defenses pay more attention to him. If not for a drop against Oregon, he might have been over 100 yards receiving again, a ridiculous notion for a true freshman who's just 17 years old and about 170 pounds soaking wet. The only thing keeping these guys from another perfect grade? Bouts of the dropsies at inopportune times against USC, UCLA and Oregon. Oh, and for the record, I have a man crush on Jared Karstetter

First Quarter Grade: A

Second Quarter Grade: A-

Quarterback

Here's what I said at quarter:

I won't be as hard on Jeff Tuel as some others. He's still a true sophomore, and he'll be making just his 10th start on Saturday. Like you would expect out of any young quarterback, he's inconsistent. He locks on to receivers. He doesn't always deliver a clean ball. And he still seems a little jumpy in the pocket, lowering his eyes too quickly at times. But sometimes he delivers a great ball. And sometimes he makes the perfect read. Such are the vagaries of a young QB. He hasn't been quite as good as I hoped he'd be at this point, but he hasn't fallen that far short. Oh, and major bonus points for just one interception on the year.

It's hard to believe that was just a few weeks ago. In the time since, the offense moved away from power running and toward a spread attack, employing no less than three receivers on virtually every down. Sturdy has put the responsibility on Tuel to read the defense and check to the correct play or route, and he has thrived. The only thing keeping this from a solid "A" is the interceptions, particularly the one against Oregon. For as awesome as he's been for a true sophomore, that was a killer. 

First Quarter Grade: B-

Second Quarter Grade: A-

Tight Ends

I'm going to cop out again. These guys have barely seen the field in the second quarter of the season. And that's a good thing.

First Quarter Grade: INC

Second Quarter Grade: INC

Overall

These guys have made huge strides in this second quarter as a unit. They've moved the ball against every team they've played in the last three games, with the exception of the second half against USC -- which, perhaps not coincidentally, was the first game this new offense had been installed. Next step? Adding some more big plays to the offense. They're still only averaging 5.0 yards per play, good for 84th in the country. They were only at 4.4 against Oregon, but as they get more familiar with the system -- and as the running game gets stronger -- I see more big plays developing. The talent is there.

First Quarter Grade: D+

Second Quarter Grade: B-

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