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Cougars defeat Wyoming in lackluster performance

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It wasn't pretty, but it was still a double-digit win.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it was a win, and a double-digit win at that. WSU defeated Wyoming Saturday by 17 points, and that alone should be reason for optimism. Of course, if you'd told me that the defense would reverse course and shut out Wyoming in the second half, I'd have believed that the Cougars would win this game by at least 30 points. That most definitely was not the case.

In what continues to be a confounding trend under Mike Leach, this team just cannot put together a solid four quarters on both offense and defense. Heck, we're lucky if we get two quarters. Wyoming is a terrible football team, yet here was WSU trailing 14-7 in the second quarter. Why were they trailing to a team that is among the worst in FBS (non-Idaho division)? Let's hear it from Peyton Pelluer:

"They came out the first half and wanted it more than we did," explained linebacker Peyton Pelluer, whose body of work suggested otherwise. "We played down to their level and didn’t respect them."

I mean, are you (bleeping) kidding me? This is not a team that has the talent to take anyone lightly. They were playing on a beautiful night, at home, in front of a good crowd, and yet the other team wanted it more? If alarm bells and flashing lights aren't appearing in your head, they should be.

Credit where it is due. The defense upped its game considerably in the second half, which in and of itself is a pleasing development given the first two games. Peyton Pelleur was making a living in Wyoming's backfield, and Shalom Luani was lowering the boom in the secondary. The guys who were put on the field to get after the quarterback were doing exactly that. It gave us a taste of what this defense can be, not necessarily a shutdown crew, but at least one that causes problems.

As for the offense, maybe it's some sort of issue with Mountain West teams. Wyoming had more first downs (though many yards and a few first downs came in garbage time) than WSU. More alarmingly, they ran 11 more plays than WSU and averaged a yard-and-a-half more per pass attempt. That can't happen if this team has designs on winning a few more games.

Luke Falk had a game that was described as efficient, which brought to mind the age-old effectiveness vs. efficiency argument. Falk's completion percentage suggests efficiency, while his yards-per-attempt screams "lack of effectiveness." The offensive line was still pretty good, Dom Williams once again showed that he needs more targets and Keith Harrington is quickly developing into a difference-maker. All of these things are reason to think WSU can field an above-average offense, but there's no sugar-coating it. Falk has to be better. A lot better.

John Blanchette summed up my feelings pretty well:

Someday, the Cougs will once again share the joy of an unequivocal, hammer-down, no yeah-buts performance with their Martin Stadium church-goers – who this week numbered 31,105, many staying beyond halftime for change, though possibly just to dry out from their last visit here.

Someday.

It's pretty safe to say that won't happen this season, which is a bummer.

Likes:

  • Keith Harrington - He has the chance to be a special player.
  • Shalom Luani's rapid development into an impact hitter.
  • A touchback! They really are possible!
  • Dom Williams - Is there any way we could throw to him a little more? Please?
  • The crowd - It looked like even many of the students stayed for the second half. Funny what nice weather and a lead will do.
  • Peyton Pelluer's tackles for loss.
  • Two games, two blocked kicks. Not too shabby.

Dislikes:

  • I don't think it's asking too much that the announcers get the players' names correct. Two straight weeks of this hackery.
  • Said announcers comparing Luke Falk to Graham Harrell at Texas Tech. My thoughts.
  • Another game, another performance in which WSU can't put together two straight good quarters in all phases.
  • Running a sweep to your smallest back when you need less than a damn yard on 4th down.
  • The abject failure of Palacio and McLennan (especially McLennan) to set the edge and keep contain. It started against Portland State and it still hasn't been corrected. It cannot continue if this team wants to stop anybody.
  • Marcellus Pippins getting beat deep twice in the first quarter. It didn't work the first time, so Wyoming went right back to it. Sure enough, Pippins got roasted again.

The tone of this post probably comes across as overly negative, especially considering the fact that WSU just won a game by 17 points. That's a shame, but I don't think there's any way to sugarcoat it. We've reached the point in the season where there isn't one game on the schedule that can be considered an easy win. This team needs to make the most of its bye week before it faces the likes of Cal and Oregon. Winter is coming.

Football

Washington State’s defense provides difference in win over Wyoming | The Spokesman-Review
The game-clinching touchdown Washington State’s offense scored to secure its 31-14 win over Wyoming on Saturday was spoon fed by a defense that had done everything short of scoring itself to ensure a victory.

John Blanchette: Even with two straight wins, still tough to tell where these Cougs stand | The Spokesman-Review
The Cougars found themselves clinging to a one-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter over a team many had suggested was the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision – and were able to take a breath only because of two turnovers forced by a revived and revved-up defense.

Keith Harrington helps Washington State pick up a 31-14 victory over Wyoming | The Seattle Times
Saturday at Martin Stadium, the emergence of redshirt freshman running back Keith Harrington was the brightest spark on an otherwise roller coaster of a day for Washington State, which beat Wyoming 31-14 but spent most of the first half trying to get out of its own way.

Game recap: Cougars 31, Wyoming 14 | Sportspress Northwest
Favored by 24½ points, a mostly uninspired Washington State weathered tougher-than-expected Wyoming and defeated the Cowboys of the Mountain West Conference 31-14 Saturday night at Martin Stadium in Pullman.

Highlights: FB vs. Wyoming - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Highlights of WSU's 31-14 win, with radio overlay.

Non-Revenue

Volleyball Wins Lone Star Showdown - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Payback is a, well, you know. Take that Portland State!

WSU Men Repeat as Sundodger Invite XC Champions - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Sophomore Michael Williams led the Cougar men to the team title with his runner-up finish Saturday morning at the Sundodger Invitational Cross Country meet at Lincoln Park in Seattle. This was the second consecutive year the Cougars have upset the nationally-ranked Huskies at this meet.

Beer

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co
Beer Camp Across America is coming back. Beer Camp Across America is coming back! BEER CAMP ACROSS AMERICA IS COMING BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As Craft Beer Surges, the World's Two Biggest Beer Companies Weigh Merger | VICE News
What happens when the world's biggest producer of crappy beer purchases the world's second-biggest producer of crappy beer? I'm not sure, but I do know that I still won't be drinking any of it.

Non-Sports

F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on Sept. 11 - The Washington Post
This was written four years ago, but it is absolutely worth your time.