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Washington State vs. Montana State: Game Thoughts

While it's fresh in my mind, I might as well rehash the game.

  • It's common knowledge the opening series for most teams is scripted. Apparently the script called for Jeff Tuel to hit Jared Karstetter on a five-yard out to start the game. That worked out swimmingly. I don't know why Tuel even threw the ball, but there was no way that ball was getting to Karstetter.
  • Bend but don't break defense was fun in the first quarter, wasn't it? Montana State drove the field, ended up deep in WSU territory and settled for a field goal each time.
  • Second series for WSU. Nice strike to Karstetter for the first down, followed by a screen pass to James Montgomery that would've been for a first down until he fumbled. Two series, two turnovers.
  • Reid Forrest uncorked two punts over 50 yards, another over 40 and had one 19 yard punt. Mark it down, this was the only mistake our Heisman contender will make. He also got drilled on a punt and limped off the field in the third quarter. My hopes and dreams almost came crashing down in front of my eyes.
  • Against an undersized -- but quick -- defensive line, the Cougar offensive line decided to stick to their normal wide-splits. As a result, MSU was able to make a quick rip-move and cruise past the blockers. The result? Blown up run plays and a quarterback running for his life at times. A simple adjustment -- tightening up the splits -- should've fixed this.
  • To go along with the splits, would it kill Tuel to change up the cadence? Maybe make the defense show by going with a hard-count? Instead, MSU had him timed by the middle of the first quarter and exploited it. Players coming on a blitz were able to crash the offensive line at full-speed because the cadence were so predictable. Change it up. It's simple, but it does wonders.
  • The MSU cornerbacks were also undersized. With a big, physical wide receiver like Karstetter, it seemed like it would've been easy to abuse them. The corners were matched up in man on the outside frequently, and simply throwing the ball up for the receivers to make a play would've been a sound strategy.
  • The WSU goal-line offense needs work, to put it nicely. With a chance to seal the game after Alex Hoffman-Ellis' interception, they couldn't punch it in from the two. Earlier in the game, it took four plays from the three to punch it in, with James Montgomery finally breaking through for the Cougs on fourth down. As the bigger team, it was shocking that they couldn't simply run over MSU.
  • The Cougs burned two timeouts on one possession in the second quarter, using them within two plays of each other. After James Montgomery broke a run for a 70 yard gain, WSU had to call a timeout. After a 16 yard Chantz Staden gain, WSU had to call another timeout because of formation issues. This is a serious problem.
  • I was incredibly upset with the running backs in the second quarter. Shortly thereafter, James Montgomery broke his long run off and Chantz Staden caught a screen pass, made a nifty move and almost took it the distance. The running game still needs to get going, but seeing a 100 yard rusher again was nice.

Chantz Staden was also the leading receiver with four catches for 48 yards. That's not good at all.
  • If the Cougar wide receivers are the best unit on the team -- and I think they are -- then why was WSU using so many jumbo sets on first and second down? There were so many times where Karstetter was the only receiver split out wide. It was frustrating, to say the least.
  • The flea-flicker from Montana State was a great call, but the route was something that should've been expected all day. MSU rolled the quarterback out early and hit the tight end in the flat for a short gain. They continued going to that play for much of the day. What's the complimentary route to this? A backside post. If a team hits the flat route enough, the defense will inevitably cheat, leaving the backside post open. Instead of doing it the normal way (play action), MSU did it on a flea-flicker and it worked to perfection. This is how you set plays up.
  • Tyree Toomer wore LeAndre Daniel's number today and probably will for the rest of the year. It was a great tribute to a guy that can no longer play. Toomer is handling himself very well in the defensive backfield and has a ton of potential. Yes he makes mistakes -- the flea-flicker was on him and he owned it -- but he's going to be a good one.
  • I was also impressed with Deone Bucannon. The hit he laid on special teams to drop the MSU return-man at the 10-yard line was a great illustration of his speed and strength. He also filled-in at times for Chima Nwachukwu and did admirably.
  • C.J. Mizell is good and really does have limitless potential. He was directly at fault for a touchdown -- missing his assignment in pass-coverage -- but he was also flying all over the field. His interception was fluky as heck, but the speed he showed was great to see. Between the pick and his fourth-down sack, the freshman linebacker almost single-handedly saved the game.
    I want nothing more than to see Mizell succeed and I hope the taste of action he saw today -- and the success he had in his time on the field -- pushes him to continue working in film and in practice to improve. Seriously, the sky is the limit with him if he puts in the work he needs to.
  • The linebackers as a whole didn't have a great game. At the same time, they saved the game with their three interceptions. I guess they made plays when it counts, so that's good.
  • Brandon Rankin: Still awesome.
  • The clock management in the last series for the Cougars was horrendous. I don't know what happened or why the coaches were talking to the officials, but killing the clock is one of the most simple things to do in football. It obviously wasn't today. Maybe they just weren't used to being in that spot.
  • That's all I have to say about the play on the field. This isn't as much analysis as it is simply sharing what I saw. The analysis stays on the back-burner until tomorrow, when we all have clear heads. There was some good to come out of this, however, and some players flashed the potential that we knew they had.