Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Washington State head coach Mike Leach has sewn himself to Connor Halliday for better or worse. But for the Cougars to be successful this season, Connor Halliday needs to be at his best, especially against a surging California Golden Bears squad fresh off a tearing down of UCLA.
Sometimes, it's nice to live behind a veil of ignorance, isn't it? I mean look at anyone on Jersey Shore. They actually believe they're important and contribute to the advancement of American society. But really, they're just a bunch of idiots who spend too much time in a tanning bed and can't hold their liquor. But the important thing, at least to them, is that they believe they're important. It's a belief they'll hold on to until people stop paying them my old yearly salary just show up somewhere or MTV finally puts us out of our misery and dumps them off the airwaves.
Last weekend, Cougar fans had that moment. No, Nusser didn't come to the startling revelation that the tanning spray and hair gel use really is frightening everyone. Last weekend, the veil fell and after 18 months of believing we had two above average quarterbacks on the roster, we realized we actually have two signal callers with distinctly different problems. One can't seem to throw the ball to his own receiver and the other can't seem to bring himself to throw it at all.
Despite wavering back and forth between Halliday and Jeff Tuel last week, Mike Leach is going with his redshirt sophomore. I could wax poetic/ramble on like an idiot for hours about whether it's a good or bad decision but its been made. What's most worrying is the bipolar way Halliday has been playing football. He'll go from looking like, at the very least, a serviceable quarterback to an interception machine.
We've already established Washington State doesn't have a good running game but the ground and pound has never really been a part of a Mike Leach offense. So that means the onus falls squarely onto the shoulders of the quarterback from Spokane.
Alright, it doesn't all fall squarely onto Halliday's shoulders. He needs help from his receiving corps as well who seem to have come down with a severe case of the dropsies. Maybe the receivers aren't as outstanding as we thought they were at the beginning of the season. There are other incredibly talented people who write for this esteemed website who can tell you a lot more about the problems the receivers may or may not be having but what I can tell you is any problems they have don't help the quarterback.
Obviously Halliday has his own set of problems. He's got a rather severe case of Alex Brink Syndrome, locking onto receivers with laser beams and never looking elsewhere. His decision making has me picking up shoes to throw at the television. Ironically, in my time as a Coug, Halliday could be considered the second best quarterback I've had the privilege of watching take snaps at Martin Stadium but he still makes me pull my hair out.
Of course, this is all something we should expect with a redshirt sophomore quarterback who was recruited by one coach and is now playing in a completely different system. Just because Halliday is the better quarterback for Mike Leach's Air Raid offense (in theory) doesn't mean he'll pick it up any faster or be more successful right away. We also need to remember Halliday lost valuable reps in the spring and although Leach's offense would seem to be simpler, repetition is still incredibly important.
At this point, Halliday is the man. With a senior quarterback sitting behind him on the roster, Leach has put his faith in Halliday that he is the best quarterback for this team right now. Next year, who knows whether Austin Apodaca will shock the world and take the starting position away from Halliday. Heck, even Tyler Bruggman (assuming he stays committed) could come in to be under center for the Cougars. We don't know. But for right now, it's on Connor Halliday to be the man in charge of this offense.
Cal is coming off a monumental win over UCLA. It's a victory that likely saved Jeff Tedford's job or at least brought him back from the edge of the plank. Meanwhile, Washington State is coming off a disappointing offensive performance against the Beavers that left their fans as frustrated as they've been all year. If the defense plays like they did against Oregon State, the Cougar offense needs to do something they haven't been very successful at this year: scoring touchdowns. The way they'll do it is with Connor Halliday's right arm. If Washington State has any hope of salvaging this season, it all falls to the feet of a young man who I can't even buy a drink for yet. Honestly, I could feature Connor Halliday in this space every week for the rest of the season. But this week, he's been handed the reigns after the most abysmal day at qaurterback of his life. His performance this week might be more important than any other this season.