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Interactive Graphic: Reviewing WSU vs. Nevada

We open up a truly confounding game vs Nevada to look at the positives, negatives and some ways to right the ship heading into Portland State.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Heading in to the game versus Nevada, I was sure that if WSU could stop Nevada on 3rd down and hold them to a slow first half start that Connor Halliday and the offense would boat race the Wolf Pack to an early lead and never look back.

The defense did their part this week, majorly improving by cutting Nevada's 3rd down conversion percentage in half (66% vs Southern Utah, 33% vs WSU) and holding Nevada to zero points through the first 13 minutes of the first quarter.

Even after stumbling early and then late versus Nevada, Halliday and the Cougar offense are still tracking well ahead of their 2013 pace in many categories. The defense stepped up to bring many of their numbers back to 2012-2013 levels.

So what gives?

Chris Brown of Smart Football (fantastic twitter follow) and our own Brian Floyd were talking during the game about this version of Leach's Air Raid and I think they make good points.

In Leach's last season at Texas Tech the Red Raiders ran the ball about 24 times a game at just under 5 yards a carry.  As you'll see in the graphs below, the WSU version of the Air Raid hasn't gotten close to that level of running the ball and this year's version is well below the average of Leach's tenure coaching the Cougs.

What I see in looking at the offense and defense through 2014 and back at the previous two seasons is a story of inconsistency.

The good news is that the trend so far (with a very small sample size) is that while inconsistent, the offense is still tracking toward their best year under Leach.  The bad news is execution in the red zone.  In Leach's last year at Tech they scored 86% of the time in the red zone and scored a touchdown 77% of the time and WSU is struggling there in 2014.

Red zone woes are also ailing the Cougar defense.  While they made big improvements in almost every category, they are yet to stop a team from scoring once they enter our 25.  I think a main contributor to this is our inability to put pressure on the quarterback or stop the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage.

Inconsistency can be very frustrating as a fan because we see glimpses of a bright future, only to see our team trip over themselves.  I would attribute some of our offensive woes to a young line still getting comfortable and green running backs.  The defense showed vs Nevada that they could make adjustments, but unless the front seven starts getting push it will be a long season.

I believe that this coaching staff has the chops to fix inconsistency and with Portland State coming to town it's the perfect chance to right that ship.  Hopefully we get the performance we should all expect vs a Big Sky opponent and it puts the 2014 Cougs back on the path to a bowl game.

What do you think the Cougs need to do in week 3 and beyond to get back to winning games?

Note for navigating the graphs below: 2014 is highlighted in many of them, click anywhere in the graph to bring 2012 and 2013 back to the view, use the filters on the right to change location or result.