It’s obvious to us all and it doesn’t take a math mathematician to realize that if you continue to take field goals over touchdowns you’re going to eventually get burned. Two great drives, two field goals, one long touchdown, down 7-6. It’s a lot of hard work just to be catching up. But let’s take a minute to focus on some other facets of the UCLA game and break down what really happened.
Pre-game reports said that we could expect to see a lot of four man rushes from UCLA and that they would be dropping into coverage and trying to blanket our receivers. From the get go it was evident that that was in fact the case. What we were hoping this would do is allow the Lobbestael all the time in the world to find his open targets. What ended up happening is that with so many two safety looks the deep ball was taken out of our arsenal and we saw more of the sideline and cross routes being the target. This also led to an increase in drop-offs to our backs. Winston and Galvin accounted for six catches, a season high 21% of our pass attempts and doubling Galvin’s total on the season. In addition we were held to just two passes of 20 yards or more (Galvin TD, 21 and Barton 20).
The Cougars countered the defense with an increased running attack against the Bruins. It was intended draw more UCLA Bruins into the box and hopefully open up something down the field. Washington State running backs ran the ball 36 times! Compared to CU and SDSU where we ran just 21 and 20. The trio of backs had success but UCLA would not put anymore in the box. The Bruins simply resorted to showing blitzs on many occasions and then backed off on the snap as our pre-game reports said they would. The result was WSU’s ability to move the sticks effectively until forced into a smaller field…the REDZONE.
So what is the significance here?
When we reached the redzone Wulff and Sturdy ran into problems. The heavy blanket of Bruin DBs crowded the field and forced us into an offense we are not entirely comfortable with, leading to stalled drives and field goals instead of touchdowns.
One question I’ve heard thrown out is ‘Would we have won this game with Tuel instead of Lobbesteal?’ I want to first say that Marshall has done more than we could have ever asked, he also did a tremendous job in this game. Marshall played smart football and avoided mistakes. As for the interception, that was a mistake any QB could have made. ML saw Wilson coming back to him for a catch out of the scramble, thought the DB covering a crossing WR was moving out of the area but DB was able to read and change back for the pick.
With that said, Tuel would have presented a problem that I don’t think the Bruin’s D would have had an answer for. Lobbesteal is a pure pocket QB while Tuel has an innate ability to go mobile and either run or pass. We saw how the UCLA D broke down when ML looked to run on the Galvin TD, his threat to run forced the defender in and Galvin slipped by for the catch. That is what Tuel brings to the table, ‘Okay D you want to go full coverage, I’ll eat off five or six yards, you want to put a spy on me, I’ll either beat the spy or move out of the pocket and hit the crossing WR or RB’. That dynamic is so valuable on a short field and that’s exactly what we needed Saturday.
Marshall played great and to his ability. Please to not take anything away from what he has done for us this year. The fact is, UCLA knew they could take up space in the field, and force short passes or make us run all day. Because Lobbesteal is not a threat to run the Bruin inability to rush became effective and we saw that with two coverage sacks.
What we can take from this game is that it shows how complete of a team we are when Tuel is in the helm. Our ability to run the ball, scramble with heavy coverage, and go deep. Just as Marshall said Just wait to you see this offense with Jeff.