A scenario that has become something of a trademark Cougar performance this season played out yet again in Martin Stadium Saturday afternoon. Well, it didn't all go to script, as the defense forced a USC punt on its first possession. After that, however, things played out as they have all-too-often this season. WSU, once again unable to generate anything on offense, punted back to USC. The USC punt returner, met with little resistance, glided his way to a touchdown and once again WSU was behind. Toss is another turnover giving USC a short field, and it was 14-0 before souls braver than I had a chance to sit down.
As if that weren't bad enough, what happened next was worse on every level as Connor Halliday suffered a serious leg injury, ending his career. Brian Floyd and Jeff Nusser did a far better job than I could (here and here) summing things up, so I'll keep my thoughts about Connor somewhat brief.
As a Spokane native, I've always had a soft spot for Spokane kids who played for WSU. Jason Hanson, Cory Withrow, Shane Doyle, Elliott Bosch [Edit: I somehow overlooked Travis Long, even though he's a Gonzaga Prep grad like myself. H/t 425CougFan] and of course Steve Gleason all made significant contributions to Cougar Football, and Halliday was no different. He set all kinds of passing records, often while taking hit after hit. There is no doubt that he was somewhat polarizing, and I'll admit I was at my breaking point with him at times, mostly the first half of last season.
This season, however, it became clear that Halliday had matured immensely, both on the field and off. On the field, he was the kind of quarterback we all envisioned when Mike Leach and the Air Raid came to WSU. The off-field persona rubbed some people the wrong way, and I'll never understand why. Connor was honest to a fault and never hid his true feelings. It's a funny thing about the athletes we follow. So many people often lament the fact that players never tell us what they're really thinking. Then when one of them does, those same people get upset about it. That's one of the biggest reasons I came to like and respect Connor Halliday. You always knew where he stood, and that is incredibly refreshing.
So now we transition to a new era at WSU. The player who led the team through what could very well be the program's toughest transition will be forced to watch as Luke Falk takes the reins. If there is one positive in an otherwise awful day (and please do not take that to mean that I see a positive in the injury itself, or the end of Halliday's career, because I certainly do not), it is that we will now get an early glimpse of Luke Falk. I don't think anyone was anticipating that Falk would see meaningful game action until next season, as Halliday always got up no matter how hard he got hit.
I thought Falk acquitted himself pretty darn well yesterday. He ended up throwing for 370 yards against a defense that knew he had to throw and dialed up its pass rush to reflect that. He also showed a pretty good ability to evade the pass rush and escape the pocket. Granted, he threw a few passes that could have been picked off, but he also threw several that should have been caught (hey there, Vince Mayle). So as we reflect on the career of a guy who was quite possibly the toughest player to ever put on a WSU uniform, let's hope Luke Falk is able to take the torch from Connor Halliday and lead WSU to better days. That would probably be the greatest tribute the team could give to a guy who gave so much to the team.
USC defeats WSU as Cougs lose Connor Halliday to injury - Spokesman.com - Nov. 1, 2014
Regardless, the injury almost certainly ends the collegiate career of a quarterback that set college football ablaze this season and became a bright spot that made a struggling WSU (2-7, 1-5) team always worth watching.
WSU-USC notes: WR Tyler Baker emerges for Cougars - Spokesman.com - Nov. 2, 2014
Tyler Baker, a University of Mississippi transfer who walked-on at WSU, led the team with nine receptions and 89 receiving yards. On a day when dropped passes were a detriment after not being a major issue most of the season, Baker was a steady safety valve for Luke Falk.
Final thoughts from the USC game - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Nov. 1, 2014
It's fair to wonder: If an older guy like Tracy Clark really isn't a better option than saving Griffin's redshirt after the season is half over then why did Clark start at Rutgers?
Blanchette: Halliday’s college career comes to devastating end - Spokesman.com - Nov. 2, 2014
It was devastating. Devastating in a way that had nothing to do with the last shred of the Cougars’ postseason aspirations being snuffed in what would become a 44-17 loss to the Trojans. Nothing to do with the trivia of more records unreached.
Connor Halliday injured in Cougars’ 44-17 loss to USC | Bud Withers | The Seattle Times
The Trojans won the game, 44-17, but that was subtext for most of those who cared at Martin Stadium.
Halliday’s leg broken in Cougs’ 44-17 loss to USC | Sportspress Northwest
As if losing to USC 44-17 wasn't bad enough, QB Connor Halliday needed surgery after the game to fix a broken leg. But Mike Leach was weirdly awkward about it.
Receivers’ drops leave WSU coach Leach fuming | Cougar Football | The Seattle Times
After WSU lost quarterback Connor Halliday to a leg injury in the first quarter, it’s receivers didn’t help backup quarterback Luke Falk, dropping a handful of passes.
What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 10 - ESPN
In praise of Connor Halliday: Few quarterbacks took more hits or played through more pain over the last few years. Whether it was fighting through a lacerated liver or the countless bumps and bruises he’s endured over his career, he always stood in the pocket, took his licks, and bounced back up. His WSU career is over after suffering a broken leg in the 44-17 loss to USC. The Pac-12 blog wishes him the best in his recovery.
The fog lifts for USC in 44-17 blowout victory at Washington State - LA Times
Despite an injury suffered by star linebacker Su'a Cravens early in the game, the Trojans rebounded from last week's last-second defeat at Utah and improved their record to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12 Conference.
Cougars Clinch Title to Finish Fall Season - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
The Washington State University men’s golf team finished its fall season strong, clinching the team title at the Visit Stockton Pacific Invitational.
27 Pumpkin Beers, Ranked
I'm sorry, but anybody who ranks Traveler Shandy way ahead of Pumking is committing an act of pumpkin beer sedition. Pumking is the best and I will go to my grave believing that.
Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns - The Washington Post
'Teachers work hard, but I now think that conscientious students work harder.' I found this article quite interesting. I get the feeling the teachers among our readership will too.