WSU FOOTBALL: Reflecting On The First Half Of The Season

Before we move on to the second half of the season, I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on the first half a little bit. I'm not going to be handing out grades, because as I've discovered both in my day job and here, they mean different things to different people and don't clearly communicate ... well, anything.

So, I'm going to change it up a bit. This has been a season of ups and downs so far - which, truth be told, is a welcome development after the past three years - and I want to take a look at some of the awesome and not so awesome of the first six games.

Awesome: Marquess Wilson. After a freshman campaign in which he caught 55 passes for 1,006 yards, Wilson has 36 catches for 688 yards after just six games. His production has predictably tailed off a bit as competition has increased and teams have started paying extra attention to him, and he's dropping a few passes again, but he's still demonstrating a diverse skill set that makes him much more than just a deep threat. He's on pace for 72 catches and 1,376 yards, which would send him soaring past Brandon Gibson's single-season record for yards and would tie him with Nakoa McElrath for receptions. Imagine if his drop percentage wasn't hovering around 10 percent?

Not So Awesome: Jeff Tuel's broken collarbone. Nothing else really needs to be said, does it?

Awesome: Marshall Lobbestael. The backup QB exceeded every reasonable expectation in starting the first five games of the season while Tuel recovered - 1,634 passing yards, 15 TDs, and just four interceptions. Was he perfect? Of course not. But he was better than anyone had a right to expect, and for that, he deserves some major applause.

Not So Awesome: Fourth quarter losses. Man, oh man ... what could have been. Two games that seemed there for the taking - one in which the Cougars had a lead late in the fourth quarter - slipped away late, and what could have been at least a 4-2 start is now 3-3. Then again, it could also be 2-4 if not for Colorado having the worst secondary in the conference, so I guess maybe we should feel happy about 3-3.

Awesome: Alex Hoffman-Ellis. The senior has clearly put in the work to become a difference maker on the defense. I questioned his football instincts repeatedly last year, but his brain has finally caught up with his body. He leads the team in tackles with 42.

Not So Awesome: Safeties in coverage. Deone Bucannon and Tyree Toomer have had their struggles, especially with big, athletic tight ends.

Awesome: Rickey Galvin is the real deal. The diminutive running back is explosive - he's averaging 6.65 yards per carry and is leading the team in rushing with 319 yards.

Not So Awesome: Galvin can't seem to stay on the field. Call it injury prone (seems a little early for that, though), call it bad luck ... call it whatever you want, the fact is that he's played in seven games and left three of them with injuries. I know he wants to run tough - I'm guessing his size has been a knock on him for a long time - but there's something to be said for protecting your body, especially when concussions are now in play. He'd be wise to get down occasionally.

Awesome: The offensive line has allowed just 18 sacks. For a line that has averaged more than 50 sacks a year under Paul Wulff, it's a welcome change. They've also put together an adequate rushing attack.

Not So Awesome: The defensive line. The Cougars have just six sacks from defensive linemen and just five sacks against FBS competition. And while the yards per carry on the season looks pretty decent - under 4.0 - that's skewed by the first two games of the year. The defense has given up nearly five yards per carry in WSU's losses. It's an improvement, but not good enough yet.

Awesome: The Cougars are playing interesting football in October.

That seems like a good place to stop to me. What would you add to the list?

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