I decided to combine the last 2 weeks into a single post partly because I was back home and didn't have a chance to sit down and write anything. But, largely because I just couldn't bring myself to following that Colorado loss. Ugh.
As always, Pullman was a blast. Valhalla, The Coug, Cougar Country, and South Fork were the establishments of choice for my trip. On that note, while I am a bit jealous of the Beavers heading to In-N-Out after wins there is no better comfort food following a loss than a Super Basket from Cougar Country (with fry sauce!). The 45 minute wait was harsh though. Also, being at Buffalo Wild Wings for the Seahawks game was awesome, never been to a bar with so many people going crazy for an entire game (not sure some of them ever realized that being loud when the other team has the ball has no effect on them when you're 25+ miles away).
The Colorado game itself has already been analyzed in great detail so I'll just list some of the other things I noticed from being in attendance:
1) The Cougar Football Project is as good as advertised. I wish I would've been able to take a tour but I'll just say that from the stands it gives the stadium a completely different feel. I was in awe of it most of the game. Hope everyone has a chance to see it on their own sometime.
2) The game was talked about as a near sellout but didn't look much better than many crowds I saw in the Wulff era. The smoke was pretty thick for most of the game and I'm sure plenty of people decided to stay home to watch given the warnings being issued all over Eastern Washington.
3) I was hoping for a better showing from the students. Granted, when you're able to show up to the game 10 minutes before kickoff and still get good seats I can't really blame them for doing so. However, I couldn't believe how many left at halftime and continued to trickle out throughout the 2nd half (of a close game!!). I think being allowed to re-enter increases the number of people who leave at halftime to get food, which I have no problem with, but I'd be curious to see how many of them actually return (probably not many). Otherwise, they students were loud most of the game. It'll take time but once we start winning games I hope to see a return to student sections more like I saw in 2005-2006 at some of my first WSU games.
4) I'm not entirely sure what to call it so I'll make up a term but the "Stadium Experience?" provided by WSU is sorely lacking. Replays on our half million dollar scoreboard were almost non-existent, and when they were shown had some weird camera that only caught half the play. I'm not sure if the school or TV crew is responsible for the replays but it needs a TON of work. Not asking for a lot to simply see replays, especially on questionable calls. The clips of players was pretty hit or miss, I remember seeing a Cody Clements bio after Monroe made a big play. Glen Johnson really struggled with getting the names of players right, I can see working out some kinks with some players, such Myers/Wilson/Ratliff all of whom are hard to distinguish on the field, but it was noticed by multiple people I was with as well. Better spotter perhaps?
Didn't intend on sounding so negative about the gameday experience, frankly I greatly enjoyed it all (end of game, not included) and wish I could make it to more games. I fully believe great things are happening at WSU thanks to Floyd, Moos, and now Leach.
Moving onto the Oregon game after the jump:
I talked about it in the comments sections of a few articles last week but I'll start by saying that at its face, I've thought the Seattle game is a good idea for us. Wasn't that long ago that we had so little money in the Athletic Department that Sterk tossed around the idea of moving the Apple Cup full time to Seattle. I didn't like the switch to a conference team but it makes lots of $en$e (see what I did there). However, with the added revenue from the new TV deal, the huge increase in donors (~4,000 to 6,000+), and additional revenue from the Cougar Football Project I'm ready to at least go back to only having non-conference games in Seattle.
That said, this was easily the best Seattle game I've witnessed. The crowd was fantastic (beat the previous crowd at Martin in many ways), the first half was great, and the garlic fries were delicious as always. *As an aside, Seattle and garlic fries seems like a strange relationship, but a fantastic one at that* I honestly expected Oregon to beat us by as many points as Chip desired (40+?) Instead, I came away feeling better about the Cougs than any other game this season. I realize feeling good about a 51-25 blowout seems extremely irrational so hopefully I can explain it a little bit.
To start, did anyone think that at halftime against the #2 team in the country, who just rolled Arizona 49-0, we'd only be down 4? If I told you that this score would include a fumbled kickoff return, our usual dropsies, and poor pass protection would you believe it? What if I added in the fact that we picked off Mariotta twice, and held D'Anthony Thomas to 54 yards of offense (and 72 yards on 6 returns)? Granted, we still ended up getting blown out in the 2nd half, Barner still ended up with 195 yards on 20 carries, and Halliday threw a pick 6. Its clear we're not ready to upset an Oregon. Too many stupid mistakes, not enough talent, and little to no running game will make that tough. But, what about an Oregon State (eh...), UCLA, Cal (finally please!), or UW? What if we played 2 halves like the first one Saturday? That's pretty clearly a rather large 'IF', but I think we're 5 drops and 50 penalty yards a game from doing it (that is a lot though...yeesh).
A couple other quick thoughts:
1) I'm in the minority but I'm actually impressed with our defense. Its clear now to me that the DBs are playing off the ball more to prevent the big play and make the offense beat them with short passes (going to be hit or miss all year). D-line is performing well above expectations. They're pretty good at clogging the middle and stopping the run, but still don't get the consistent pressure on QBs that the DBs need right now. Not sure about the LBs, to be honest its hard for me to see what they're doing on during the game, but I can tell that Monroe is impressing more and more every week. He's going to be a beast for us during his career. The tackling is much improved on defense. I'm seeing a lot more 5-7 yard passes stay that way because of a good tackle rather than 6 yard slants/curls consistently becoming 25 yard gains.
2) Great job by to get 2 picks (because of pressure on Mariota!). I like seeing our defenders staying in front of the QB rather than going for the sack and whiffing.
3) Glad to see Bucannon have a big game with zero personal fouls. Heard ESPN was still ranting about how his 'head-hunting' but he had himself a great game.
4) Bowlin started a little slow but ended up with a pretty great game as well. Thomas didn't do much in the return game at all. Our coverage team also has been doing a GREAT job at not missing tackles (a huge problem for years).
5) Of course Oregon has a kicker who can catch our "speed" RB from behind. I think Caldwell is going to take one all the way sometime.
6) Halliday looked much better in this game. Some of his throws aren't quite getting to the WR in the right place for them to make an easy catch and run. With that much pressure its not easy either. He's not forcing it nearly as much and it looks like him and Wilson are figuring things out.
7) WRs, please help the QB and catch the ball. Missing too many easy ones.
8) Brett Bartolone, looks a lot like Simone circa 2009. Speaking of Simone, great to see him out there again. No more concussions please!
9) O-line is just overmatched. Both tackles were consistently pushed back, preventing a pocket from forming. We're also starting 2 walk-ons here so...yep.
Goodness, well I think that just about covers it all. I'll be back again after the Oregon State game since some of us have the Pac 12 network (LOL U MAD SoCalCoug???). Once again, any feedback is greatly appreciated!