Good morning from cold and clear Pullman. The sun is rising over a snowy and icy landscape, and the offseason has officially begun. I sure hope it goes better than the actual season, because as we saw last night, there are miles to go before this team will be good again. Year three of the Mike Leach era is now complete, and while WSU is clearly better than it was in 2012, the end result is the same. This is a 3-9 team that is maddeningly inconsistent. It is also a young team that, while showing flashes of potential, finished the season with six awful quarters of football.
For the second straight week, the defense, while not spectacular, wasn't as bad as it has been. The offense once again failed to live up to its potential. Last week it was done in by turnovers. This week it was dropped passes and poor decisions. Although the mouth-breather behind me at the game has already given up on Luke Falk, he was only part of the problem. For the first time I can ever remember, a team attempted fourth down conversions on three straight drives. WSU failed every time, and was never able to dig out of the hole.
The most maddening aspect of the game, and I guess the season for me was played out in the respective defensive backfields. For the last month or so, I have been salivating at the idea of WSU's receivers carving up the young UW secondary like so many teams had been carving ours. UW starts two freshmen and two sophomores in the back four. Granted, their front seven is excellent, but WSU should have been good enough to at least maintain its average. Didn't happen.
While Washington's green defensive backs (and Washington's team as a whole) showed significant improvement late in the season, WSU is still either getting beat deep or is far out of position way too often. If it weren't for Cyler Miles' incompetence and John Ross' Teflon hands, the score would have been even worse. That aspect underscores the difference that has almost always existed between the two programs. While Washington starts guys like Budda Baker, who were coveted by bigtime programs, WSU is still starting Taylor Taliulu. Until that gap closes, I'm afraid results like last night will continue to be the rule and not the exception.
So now we head into another long, long offseason and our attention, at least in the near term, turns toward recruiting. WSU has assembled a pretty good-looking class of verbal commitments, but right now they're just that, verbal commitments. WSU needs to seal the deal and get signatures on signing day in order to close that talent gap with Washington and the rest of the conference. I have faith in the staff that they will be able to get the majority of those signatures, especially given the brand new facilities WSU is able to show off. If those signatures don't show up, all that talk of new facilities, a new attitude, and a young team on the upswing will be just that, talk.
One too many Washingtons - Spokesman.com - Nov. 30, 2014
With the loss, the Cougars end the season with a 3-9 record and two conference wins. While at times WSU seemed capable of competing with the conference’s best teams, such as a one-score loss to Oregon, they were unable to ever develop much consistency.
John Blanchette: For Mike Leach’s Cougs, this is rebuilding in ghastly slow motion - Spokesman.com - Nov. 30, 2014
But because most Cougs have managed to repress those unwanted pre-Leach memories, it’s almost impossible to recall when Wazzu football seemed less relevant than it was in its 107th meeting with rival Washington.
WSU-UW notes: Fans brave deep freeze; Steve Gleason, Connor Halliday big hits - Spokesman.com - Nov. 30, 2014
Halliday was the final senior honored and he drew the loudest ovation as he made his way out of the tunnel with the help of crutches. After spending a few days back home in Spokane, the Ferris High graduate is back on campus to finish his degree.
WSU’s season ends with a whimper in Apple Cup | Bud Withers | The Seattle Times
The crowd was expectant, hoping for a morsel to carry into the offseason, like the Cougars delivered with a comeback win in Leach’s first year of 2012. Instead, WSU’s offense belched like a ’64 Corvair, and the defense, while game, wasn’t up to playing flawlessly.
Thiel: Huskies, Shelton barrel-roll over Cougs | Sportspress Northwest
The stunt was one of many disruptive forays into the heart of the nation’s No. 1 passing attack that turned the 107th Apple Cup into a rout as well as a snooze. The 31-13 final score did not describe the dominance, because the Cougars’ Air Raid offense worked only in two late scoring drives against Washington reserves.
Washington puts freeze on vaunted Washington State passing game | Huskies | The Seattle Times
But once the game began – following what is now d’rigueur midfield woofing (and, uniquely, dancing) between the two teams in a rivalry game – Washington out-toughed Washington State in the only judgment that counted. En route to their 31-13 victory, the Huskies dominated in every aspect except tank-top flaunting.
DaVonte Lacy lifts Cougs to win in Alaska finale - Spokesman.com - Nov. 29, 2014
The Cougar Men's Basketball team picked up its second straight win Saturday, fighting back from a double-digit deficit to do it. I don't care who they beat, that's two in a row.
Washington State women upset No. 10 Maryland in Puerto Rico - Spokesman.com - Nov. 30, 2014
In contrast to the football team's sorry effort, the WSU Women's team picked up a huge victory in Puerto Rico, beating Top-10 Maryland. Congrats to June Daugherty and her team on a big resume-builder.
Cougars Upset No. 10/8 Maryland in Puerto Rico - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
The victory is the highest-ranked opponent the Cougars have beaten in program history, as the previously-undefeated Terrapins (6-1) entered the game ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Cougars’ victory is their first over a top-10 team in either of the Top-25 national polls since beating Nebraska (10/10) on the road, Nov. 30, last season.