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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s win over Oregon

What a win. What a day.

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

Good morning from American Airlines Flight 838, where the euphoria of Saturday’s events has begun to step back into the reality of real-world obligations. This Bloody Mary is doing its best to help, though. I’m sitting directly across the aisle from Tim Brando, who called the game on Fox. I’m one of those people who is always hesitant to talk to well-known personalities, mostly because I always assume they don’t want to be bothered all the time. I assume this because I’m not a well-known person and even I don’t want to be bothered.

I couldn’t help myself, however, because I wanted Mr. Brando’s thoughts on the game. He couldn’t be a nicer guy. He thinks Gardner Minshew is definitely an NFL player, and thinks he could start in the right system, such as Andy Reid’s. He drew two comparisons to Minshew, saying he has a little Chase Daniel and a little Pat Mahomes in him. Something tells me that Minshew would not be opposed to that.

Back to Saturday night. As we were driving home, I was trying to draw a parallel between this game and a past one I’d witnessed. The 2005 UCLA game jumped in my mind immediately. Neither side of the ball could do wrong in the first half. As the game wore on, the offense got in a funk and the defense folded in on itself. The difference Saturday? The offense woke up just in time to get a 14-point cushion, while the defense kept Oregon outside the end zone just enough. That’s why the 2005 game ended in a loss, while Saturday was a win.

Let’s go, before I have to get on my next flight.

The Good

  • The day. Everything about it.
  • But seriously, the College GameDay experience was beyond belief. We got out of the car near Beasley at about 515. As soon as we did, I heard a giant roar. I thought there were highlights being played on the stadium big screen or something. Nope. The roar was coming from the GameDay set. Even though standing for four straight hours isn’t the easiest thing to do, it was well worth it. To top it off (literally!), Lee Corso puts on Butch’s head! What a moment. What an event.
  • The first half! This has been deep analysis, brought to you by Captain Obvious.
  • The defense’s performance in said first half was nothing short of suffocating. Oregon got a turnover on what should have been a WSU scoring drive, and the defense got off the field almost immediately thereafter. Huge. Keeping Oregon to 20 points speaks volumes for the job Tracy Claeys is doing with those guys.
  • It’s pretty apparent that, as Mr. Brando said, no moment is too big for Gardner Minshew II. He was razor-sharp for nearly the entire first half, and most of the game as a whole.
  • A part of that, and probably a big part, is due to the coaching staff. They had every WSU player ready to go. The players obviously knew about the hype surrounding the game, but they did not let it get to them, and they were not intimidated by the big stage.
  • That was the best WSU’s offense has looked against a Jim Leavitt defense in years. WSU moved the ball at will in the first half, and again when they absolutely had to keep possession of the ball down the stretch.
  • Big Gulp Left probably didn’t go off as designed, but when you have James Williams with the ball, oftentimes that doesn’t matter. What a run.
  • Max Borghi…I mean…that kid is a bonafide stud. That was an all-conference-level defender he embarrassed on his way to the endzone.
  • The defense bent pretty often in that second half, but the two times they held Oregon to field goals proved decisive.
  • Very impressive rushing defense, for several reasons. For one thing, Oregon’s offensive line is really good, even without their stud left tackle. For another, the Ducks ran it right at Washington last week, to include the game winning score going right through the “A” gap. WSU’s defense was having none of that.
  • How about those two ginomonstrous Travell Harris catches in the fourth quarter? WSU’s offense was flat as can be, and the crowd had lost significant steam. Then Harris wrestles a pass from a DB to get things going. Huge, huge play. Later, that fourth down throw-and-catch was one of the plays that likely saved the game.
  • Another game, another “0” in the box score’s “Sacks” category. This offensive line and quarterback are uncanny at not allowing those drive-altering plays.
  • Speaking of that fourth down, much credit goes to Mike Leach for going for it. If they’d tried a 52-yard field goal, several years would have melted from my life between snap and official signal.
  • Special teams didn’t have a breakdown all night, and nearly every kickoff (if not every one) was not returnable. Can’t stress enough how important that was.
  • Great catch by Dezmon Patmon to seal the game. He seems like one of those guys who makes the tough catches look easy, and vice versa.
  • It was tough to see from our seats, but it looked like Jalen Thompson made an outstanding play to knock the ball away on Oregon’s final offensive snap. He appeared to be shot from a cannon when he broke on the ball.

The Bad

  • Most of the second half. More thoughts from Captain Obvious!
  • Tough to win games when you lose the turnover battle 2-0. The contest probably shouldn’t have been that close.
  • Regarding that second turnover, you have got to give a better effort there, Tay Martin.
  • I have no idea why Darrien Molton was so consistently put on an island with Dillon Mitchell.
  • Speaking of that, too many pass interference flags again, fellas. At least one of them was complete garbage, though, as the ball was not anywhere near catchable.
  • On the other hand, there were a couple obvious PI commissions by Oregon. None were called. In some places, it’s still 2014.
  • Oh, and refs, it’s ok to call holding on Oregon. They were doing it extensively on their last possession.
  • Looked like the defense got away with one on Oregon’s Hali Mary. Near-misses like that shouldn’t happen.

The Ugly

  • Other than the catcher’s mitt-like bags under my eyes from lack of sleep, we’ll abstain from this category. Tough to call anything ugly when the team beat a Top-15 opponent and sits in first place after eight weeks.

Never in a million years did I think WSU would be 6-1 at this juncture. Now they head to Stanford, where another stiff test awaits. I have no doubt that WSU could and probably should win the game. After all, the Cougars are the better team. Go Cougs


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Kind of a reverse parenting story this week. When I hatched the plan to head to Pullman, I knew my parents would be down there by the time I landed in Spokane. I also knew that I had to leave Pullman at 345am Sunday, and didn’t want anyone to have to take me. So I sent a text to my mom that said, “I am renting a car. This is not negotiable.” So of course mom spent the next four days negotiating.

She asked if I’d take an Uber/Lyft, or let someone else drive me, afraid that I’d be too tired to drive. I was having none of it, since I was supposed to land at 815pm. Well, thanks to American Airlines, 815 turned into 1130. Again, mom pleaded with me not to drive. Since I’d been up since 5am, I capitulated and hopped in a Lyft. No matter how old we get, mom and dad will always be mom and dad.


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