FIRST QUARTER GRADE: None. (I ran out of time to write the post.)
SECOND QUARTER GRADE: C-
COMMENTS: 75-0. That was the scoring margin in the first half of the three games of the second quarter, with the biggest debacle being that 42-0 halftime rout at the hands of Oregon. Some of that obviously had to do with the injuries, but it's not like it was a great divergence from the first quarter, when the total was 74-16.
One of the things I noted on our weekly podcast was that Mike Holmgren always felt he could make a touchdown difference for his team; he often did it by either putting together a scheme that could take advantage of a team early, before it made adjustments, or at the end of a game. This coaching staff didn't have a chance to make a difference late because the games were so out of hand early.Thus, the exceedingly low grade.
Is it completely fair? Probably not, as we fans aren't privy to exactly what the coaching staff is trying to do. They might very well have had great gameplans that were undermined by very real personnel problems. But there's just this general feeling that these guys are getting outcoached -- especially on offense -- that won't go away.
What kept it out of the D range? Two things. First, it's the halftime adjustments. The team played much better overall in the second halves of the USC and ASU games (let's not even talk about Oregon, OK?). Second, it's the defense and its ability to generate turnovers. They seem to have adopted a bend-but-don't-break (too often) identity, one that is fueled by a mandate to take the ball away from the offense. As I've said before, that's coaching, and it seems to be working. The turnovers against ASU weren't fluky, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE GRADE: It won't take much -- just do something to change the perception that you're not able to make a difference with scheme and playcalling. Some weeks, it's felt like these guys were going to a gunfight with a spoon, and maybe that's the problem. If so, then the coaches ought to be able to do something over the next quarter -- there are an awful lot of players returning, and they've had two weeks to prepare for how to attack Cal. The Bears had a week off before dismantling UCLA last Saturday; how did the WSU coaches use their week off? We'll find out over the next few games.