WSU-UCLA RECAP: The Offense

The Cougs racked up 384 yards of total offense against UCLA, looking unstoppable at times. 311 of those yards came through the air against a UCLA secondary that's played very well thus far this season. It was another great day for Jeff Tuel and the receivers, and another so-so day for the offensive line and running backs.

On to the notes.

  • The offense spread everything out again, building off what we saw last week. It worked for the second straight week. We begged, even pleaded, for the offense to spread the field following three weeks of futility. I know the coaches were worried about putting too much on the young offense, but it's so frustrating to see an offense that took one week to install move with such ease.
  • Tuel had the second 300 yard passing game of his career. He continues to improve week-to-week and is showing why we were all so high on him. Charged with running the offense from the line of scrimmage again this week, he did just fine. Players were in the right spots, he was making the right reads and his mechanics were sound. It was nice to see some of the problems he had earlier this year -- throwing off his back foot, specifically -- almost non-existent against the Bruins.
  • Jeffrey Solomon is having a great year this year. Against USC, he showed off his quarterback skills. Against UCLA, he showed sure hands and (edit: after watching the rest of it, his hands were a bit inconsistent) crisp route running en route to six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Solomon gives Tuel another weapon out of the slot and adds even more depth to the talented wide receiver corps.
  • Marquess Wilson had the third 100 yard game of his short career. The kid just makes plays on the outside. In the fourth quarter, Wilson ran a crossing route, hauling in the catch and scampering for the most effortless looking 50 yards I've seen. His long stride makes his breakaway speed deceptive, but man he is fast. He continues to be incredibly fun to watch, week in and week out.
  • Mike Levenseller is doing one heck of a job with his receivers. The wideouts, many of which are young, know their routes, can get off a jam and have solid technique catching the football. He's got talent to work with, but that talent is developing rapidly under his tutelage.
  • Now, on to that series from the one yard line. First down: sneak. Second down: naked bootleg. Third down: trips left, with Jared Karstetter on his own on the near-side. Tuel rolls left, by design, and with nothing there throws it out of the back of the endzone. Fourth down: jumbo set, stretch right with James Montgomery dotting the I-formation.
  • A few things were apparent from the play-calling on that series. The offensive line simply can't get a push, leading to more misdirection and runs outside. The go-to play in the first three games -- the fade to Karstetter -- was missing in action from this series. Logwone Mitz, the power back, was also missing in action.
  • The run game is still sputtering five weeks into the season. Montgomery ran for 45 yards on 12 carries, Carl Winston had 11 on three carries, Mitz ran for 24 yards the only time he touched the ball and Chantz Staden only had one carry for six yards. The ground game actually improved, but it still is nowhere near serviceable. Again, I have no idea why Mitz isn't getting more touches.
  • I don't care that they went for it on fourth down. The plan the whole time was to go four downs, something that became obvious on the third down playcall. Tuel was told to throw it into the stands if there was nothing there, giving them another shot at it on fourth. They were at the one foot line with two kickers that have been wildly inconsistent. I'd rather take my chances getting that half-yard than kicking a field goal. Besides, there was no way the defense was holding UCLA to a field goal in the fourth quarter. The offense, and the fans, knew WSU would have to score a touchdown everytime they had the ball.
  • Paul Wulff decided to change kickers in the second half, giving freshman Andrew Furney a shot at field goals and extra points. Does it really matter at all? We just watched Nico Grasu almost get an extra point blocked because of the low trajectory on his kicks. So we moved from a proven, inconsistent kicker to an unproven kicker. In the scheme of it all, switching the kickers out really doesn't matter. The kicking game has been inconsistent for years and it sure doesn't look like that's changing anytime soon.
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