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WSU semester grades: Offense

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How have each of the Cougars’ units performed through the first half of this dream season?

USC v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe the season is already half over — we wait for nine months for Cougar football to return, and then, without fail, the season just zooms on by. (Honestly, I think football season would be better with a halftime after six games — everyone gets a week off after six games. Who’s with me?)

Anyway, since I’m a teacher, I figured halfway through would be a great time to hand out some semester grades. It’s also a lot more fun to hand out good grades, which is something that’s easy to do when the team is 6-0 and ranked No. 8 in the country.

Important caveat: I’m just a dumb fan. I often don’t know exactly what’s going on out there. These are just my impressions as a dumb fan.

Let’s start with the offense.


NCAA Football: Nevada at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks: A-

Player Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
Player Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
Luke Falk 188 262 71.8 2000 7.6 8.7 19 2 158.3
Tyler Hilinski 39 54 72.2 352 6.5 6 3 2 137.9
Stats from Sports-Reference.com

This was actually a tough one for me to decide. The quarterbacks haven’t blown me away, but ... it was hard to find fault with the overall result, or to point to something that clearly needs improvement.

There are minor flaws, to be sure. Luke Falk getting benched against Boise State was a stunner, but Tyler Hilinski picked him (and the team) up and led the Cougs to victory. Since then, Falk has more or less been great — minor complaints about holding onto the ball aside.

In the end, my initial underwhelmed feeling about the quarterbacks probably says more about me than them — we’re pretty danged spoiled, and I have to remind myself of that.

Poll

Your QB grade?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    A
    (158 votes)
  • 35%
    A-
    (241 votes)
  • 33%
    B+
    (227 votes)
  • 5%
    B
    (37 votes)
  • 1%
    B-
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    C+ or lower
    (5 votes)
676 votes total Vote Now

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Running Backs: A-

Rk Player RuAtt RuYds RuAvg RuTD Rec ReYds ReAvg ReTD
Rk Player RuAtt RuYds RuAvg RuTD Rec ReYds ReAvg ReTD
1 Jamal Morrow 37 288 7.8 2 23 179 7.8 5
2 James Williams 58 230 4 1 41 290 7.1 3
3 Gerard Wicks 22 116 5.3 1 10 51 5.1 0
4 Keith Harrington 4 14 3.5 0 1 13 13 0
Stats from Sports-Reference.com

The running backs continue to be a strength of this team, and the one thing keeping this from being a solid A is the subpar rushing numbers from James Williams. I’m not sure what’s up there — we’ll get to the offensive line in a second, but Morrow’s rushing numbers look great, and Wicks’ numbers look real good after the last game.

But the production in the passing game has been what we’ve expected, as they’ve been dangerous when given the ball with some space to operate — the latest example being Morrow’s touchdown on WSU’s first play of the game against Oregon.

By the way: It’s criminal that Williams has 39 more touches than Morrow. I love me some BOOBIE, but c’mon: It’s clear Morrow is the most dangerous man in that backfield. Get him some more looks, Mike.

Poll

Your RB grade?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    A
    (198 votes)
  • 38%
    A-
    (239 votes)
  • 22%
    B+
    (141 votes)
  • 6%
    B
    (41 votes)
  • 1%
    B-
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    C+ or worse
    (2 votes)
628 votes total Vote Now

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Line: B+

No stats here, since I don’t have any fancy pants PFF grades to pass along. Here’s what I think I know from watching: The offensive line has taken a minor step back from last season.

Riley Sorenson was the heartbeat of that line at center, and Eduardo Middleton was as steady as they come. There have been times where their replacements — Frederick Mauigoa and B.J. Salmonson — haven’t provided the same kind of production. Running room has been less plentiful, and it seems as if Falk has faced a bit more pressure at his feet from the middle of the pocket than last year.

Still, this remains an excellent group that has generally kept Falk clean and opened up its fair share of holes. Again, I think we’re a little spoiled with guys like Andre Dillard, Cody O’Connell and Cole Madison.

Poll

Your OL grade?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (15 votes)
  • 14%
    A-
    (92 votes)
  • 22%
    B+
    (142 votes)
  • 46%
    B
    (290 votes)
  • 10%
    B-
    (67 votes)
  • 2%
    C+ or worse
    (18 votes)
624 votes total Vote Now

NCAA Football: Nevada at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Outside Receivers: B

Player Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/ Catch Yds/ Target Catch Rate Success Rate Target Rate
Player Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/ Catch Yds/ Target Catch Rate Success Rate Target Rate
Tavares Martin Jr. 51 34 464 7 13.7 9.1 66.70% 45.10% 16.40%
Isaiah Johnson-Mack 47 33 316 3 9.6 6.7 70.20% 46.80% 15.10%
CJ Dimry 13 7 103 0 14.7 7.9 53.80% 38.50% 4.20%
Davontavean Martin 10 6 40 0 6.7 4 60.00% 50.00% 3.20%
Dezmon Patmon 9 7 70 0 10 7.8 77.80% 55.60% 2.90%
Stats from FootballStudyHall.com

Like the running backs, it sometimes can be difficult to untangle who is responsible for what. The production on the outside hasn’t been what I expected — I figured we’d be returning to the kind of production we saw from Gabe Marks and Dom Williams two years ago — but is that the fault of Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson-Mack ... or Falk’s? And to be honest, “fault” might not even be the right word, as they’ve been good, and the offense has generally been plenty good.

But I expected great. There have been some drops, and there’s a little bit of a sense that these guys aren’t open as often as we expected these guys could be. The overall grade also takes a hit from C.J. Dimry and Dezmon Patmon generally being non-factors.

There’s definitely room for improvement here, and I’m hoping some of that comes from the development of Tay Martin.

Poll

Your OR grade?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (14 votes)
  • 11%
    A-
    (68 votes)
  • 26%
    B+
    (152 votes)
  • 36%
    B
    (211 votes)
  • 19%
    B-
    (111 votes)
  • 4%
    C+ or worse
    (26 votes)
582 votes total Vote Now

Washington State v Oregon Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Inside Receivers: B+

Player Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/ Catch Yds/ Target Catch Rate Success Rate Target Rate
Player Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/ Catch Yds/ Target Catch Rate Success Rate Target Rate
Kyle Sweet 37 27 283 1 10.5 7.7 73.00% 56.80% 11.90%
Jamire Calvin 28 17 153 2 9 5.5 60.70% 50.00% 9.00%
Renard Bell 27 20 374 1 18.7 13.9 74.10% 59.30% 8.70%
Brandon Arconado 3 1 16 0 16 5.3 33.30% 33.30% 1.00%
Stats from FootballStudyHall.com

There’s really only one place to start here: redshirt freshman Renard Bell has been flat awesome. He’s provided an explosive element from an inside position that, frankly, the Air Raid hasn’t possessed since Mike Leach got here. He’s less than 100 yards behind Martin Jr. with about half the targets. That’s just crazy pants. And Jamire Calvin has also been as advertised; the four-star true freshman has already done some things to defenders that just make you pick your jaw up off the ground.

Of course ... both of these guys have also left you picking your jaw up off the ground for other reasons: Namely, drops. Against USC, Calvin botched what was probably the best throw of Luke Falk’s career. Those sorts of things are frustrating, but on the whole, these two have been massive additions to the inside receivers.

That’s especially important because the loss of Robert Lewis for the season meant that this has now effectively become a three-man rotation (although it appeared Brandon Arconado got more snaps against Oregon), with Kyle Sweet continuing to do Kyle Sweet things.

The reason the grade isn’t into the A range? It seems like the blocking has been lacking at times, and that’s a real big part of what the offense needs in order to be what it can be.

Poll

Your IR grade?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (35 votes)
  • 31%
    A-
    (175 votes)
  • 35%
    B+
    (197 votes)
  • 21%
    B
    (122 votes)
  • 5%
    B-
    (29 votes)
  • 0%
    C+ or worse
    (4 votes)
562 votes total Vote Now