Its been almost six days since the Washington State Cougars lost to an FCS opponent that has had a hard time cracking the top half of their conference throughout their program history.
Washington State came out in the second half and was dominated by a team that has an interim head coach and something called a "utility quarterback". They told WSU what they were going to do on virtually every play and the Cougs still couldn't stop them. What little momentum had been gained by the previously unforeseen outburst in rushing yards was completely negated by a largely awful half of football through the air. Luke Falk looked indecisive at best, his receivers couldn't hold onto the football, and the offense sputtered against a defense that had no business holding them to a single touchdown over 30 minutes.
It's not all on the players, mind you. The coaches are the ones responsible for getting them prepared to play every week and it's quite clear that wasn't the case. After so much talk about this being the best team Mike Leach has had at WSU, losing to an FCS opponent, and a bad one at that, doesn't do a lot to instill confidence in those statements.
Six days later, I'm still rehashing it because six days later, it still seems completely inexplicable to me. An entire team, seemingly on the cusp of getting back to respectability, laid a turd so big, the Department of Energy is planing to burn it to provide power to the western United States for the next 40 years.
So it's not just one person that's the most important this week. It's not one unit, it's not one coach, it's not even an entire side of the ball. It's everyone. Every last person on the roster of players and coaches is the most important.
There are a few individual performances we can point to that were decent to good last week but outside of that, the entire team looked bad. Quite literally everyone needs to turn it around against a Rutgers team that has lost six players to arrests in the last ten days, including three potential starters in the secondary, and a head coach under fire for inappropriate communication with professors.
This game screams opportunity for the Cougars to go all the way to the East Coast and make a statement against a team that scraped a victory together last year when they met in Seattle. The Scarlet Knights, despite their drubbing of Norfolk State in their opener, seem to be reeling from issues surrounding the team.
So Washington State needs to take advantage and, in order to do that, they need to play 180 degrees differently than they did against Portland State. The defense needs to contain the excellent Rutgers running backs, cover Leontae Carroo better than they did last year, and get some pressure on new quarterback Chris Laviano. The offense needs to gash a woefully undermanned Rutgers secondary, running backs need to continue to slice through openings in the secondary, and the wide receivers need to keep the ball in their hands.
It's going to take everyone to get this done in Piscataway. Lets see if they can make the 3,000 mile trip worth it.