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Cougars shoot down Ducks for second year in a row

It should have been a laugher the whole time. It turned into one at the end.

William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. Hang on. /looks at final score again. Yep, still feels great! That WSU beat Oregon Saturday night was not a huge surprise. Heck, every CougCenter writer picked the Cougs to beat the Ducks in our season preview. What was surprising was the manner in which it happened. After a back-and-forth first quarter, WSU took charge, and Oregon never got closer than 10 points in the final 18 minutes.

In a seemingly complete reversal, this is what we've seen Oregon do to other teams over the years. They'd feel somebody out, then step on the gas. Toward the end, Oregon would allow a big play or two to let the other team think they were in it, only to stomp back on the opponent's throat again and pull away. Saturday night, it was WSU doing the stomping. Incredible.

This game kind of reminded me of the 1996 game when Ryan Leaf and Co. could have scored 70 on a hapless Oregon defense. I will grant you that this is a shell of the Oregon team we're used to seeing. Their defense is an absolute mess, Dakota Prukop is not Vernon Adams and Mark Helfrich doesn't know what to do without Marcus Mariota. And if I'm being honest, I think we've seen the last of the Oregon team that we're used to, at least as long as Helfrich is in charge. At least, I hope so.

Still, that was a damn fine win Saturday night in Martin Stadium. The crowd was jacked up, the team came out ready to play and outside of one long Royce Freeman run, the defensive line held the water. Oh, and WSU went north of 50 for the second straight game. Feels good.

The Good

  • The running game - Captain Obvious checking in. WSU gained seven yards every time it carried the ball, including sacks. Even Luke Falk had a positive net average. The penultimate possession was something to behold, as WSU just ran up the middle repeatedly and Oregon had no answer.
  • The defensive line - We knew Royce Freeman was going to get his yards, and he did, but that was almost entirely due to one long run. Outside that, Freeman averaged a pedestrian 4.3 yards-per-carry. The line also logged two sacks and five tackles-for-loss.
  • The helmets - Really cool

The Bad

  • Falk-to-Marks - I don't know if it's actually bad, but it's certainly curious. Marks caught just two passes, and only one after the first quarter. It seemed like Falk barely looked his way. I don't know if Oregon schemed specifically to take Marks away, but Gabe has a way of coming down with the ball anyway, and Oregon's defense is terrible. The lack of action for Marks is somewhat befuddling.
  • Third quarter drives - On the surface, the offense moved the ball just fine. However, the first three times WSU got the ball in the third quarter, they got to or inside the Oregon 30. They got zero points. That won'y cut it against better competition. The first two possessions penetrated the Oregon five, and netted zilch, which brings us to...

The Ugly

  • I don't know what is going on with Erik Powell, but either something has to change or somebody else has to get a shot. WSU simply cannot afford to give away points, and Powell is hurting them. His blocked kick basically forced Leach into going for it the next time, and WSU was stopped again. Related to that: Hey guys, it would be pretty cool if you didn't try two low-percentage passes to the corner inside the 10. The middle was wide open all game. Help us out here.
  • #specialforces - I hope they're not back. They better not be back. Please don't come back.

There are always things to complain about, but it's hard to see anything but good stuff after beating Oregon for the second straight year. Hopefully this season gets back on track. Saturday night was a helluva start.


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