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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s win over the Cal BearRefs

WSU had to overcome a lot Saturday

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

Good morning. When I was in college, I had two wisdom teeth removed. The surgeon said, “The other two will eventually have to come out, but that could be a year from now or a 100 years from now.” I, of course, opted for the 100-year option. Well, apparently that gamble didn’t pay off, because I’m pretty sure those two wisdom teeth were removed, sans anesthesia, during last night’s game. Mercy, was that ever tough to watch.

That isn’t to say the game lacked great moments, but man, they were precious few in number, and were often followed by painful moments that overshadowed anything else that may have gone well. Hell, great and dreadful even managed to show up in the span of one play! In our Slack chat during the game, I compared WSU-Cal games with Seahawks-Rams games when Jeff Fisher was coaching. It’s clear who the better team was, but that never seemed to matter, and the game was always unbelievably painful to watch.

We also talked about which loss would have been worse, 2018 or 2014. The clear consensus was 2018, for scores of reasons. But the only people who have a say in the outcome weren’t having any of that, and made the plays necessary to win the game and dispatch a chronic thorn in the side of Cougar faithful everywhere. Praise be.

The Good

  • When the offense absolutely had to have it, Gardner Minshew II and the guys got down the field and won the game. The confidence this team has is making a gigantic difference between 2018 and previous years.
  • Peyton Pelluer was all over the field Saturday. I don’t think that’s hyperbole.
  • WSU didn’t trail for the final 36+ minutes. Sure didn’t feel like it!
  • Welcome back, Easop Winston, Jr. After Dezmon Patmon stepped into the spotlight for a couple games, his position-mate took it back in a big way. That throw-and-catch to get WSU to the 10 was one of the better plays you’ll see.
  • Another huge catch by Jamire Calvin. The only pass he caught all night got WSU in position to win.
  • I thought Beau Baldwin had WSU’s number?
  • Very good effort from Logan Tago, with 2.5 tackles-for-loss, including sacks.
  • Skyler Thomas has had his struggles this year, but that was a helluva play to make that interception and get his feet down.
  • Quite an effort by Max Borghi on WSU’s first touchdown drive. First he dodged what seemed to be 12 tackles to get inside the 10, then he bulled his way into the endzone, with an assist from Abraham Lucas.
  • The Cougars averaged 5.3 yards-per-carry, and it felt like there were times where they could have been even more effective offensively if they’d tried it some more. This wasn’t the Utah game, where running was a lost cause.
  • On the other side, Patrick Laird came into the game averaging 4.5 yards-per-carry. He averaged 2.2 on Saturday. If not for Chase Garbers’ scrambles, the Cal running game would have been putrid. Credit to the defense.
  • Also credit the defense for overcoming the absence of Dominick Silvels. More on that later.
  • Calvin Jackson, Jr. sure seems to produce in his limited chances.
  • Very nice kick return by Travell Harris. Darn near took it the distance, and set up the Cougs with a short field, resulting in a halftime lead.
  • More love coming our way on the terrible CFP show Tuesday!

The Bad

  • Minshew came through when it counted, but he was incredibly inconsistent during the first half. He uncharacteristically missed a couple open receivers and made a couple bad decisions, one which resulted in a turnover.
  • Willie Taylor - you almost made the “Good” category, but then you didn’t put the ball away, following a great play that would have probably sealed the game. Instead, we got another hour of teeth-gnashing.
  • You should have recovered his fumble, Jahad.
  • Don’t know where to put it, so I’ll put it here. It’s stunning how Cal has gone from “all offense, no defense” to the opposite, seemingly overnight.
  • Blake Mazza - maybe cool it with the field goal celebrations until you can make a 30-yarder.
  • Third down conversions had been a strength during this run, but that ended Saturday with a 4-12 effort.
  • If anyone knows where Davontavean Martin was last night, please send him back to the football facility.
  • That last Cal possession was, I mean, it was great for WSU and its fans, but what on earth was Cal doing there?

The Ugly

  • Pretty much the whole game in general. Just...yuck.
  • I don’t need to tell you about the ugliest part of this game. To start, the head referee’s surname is Mar. Quite telling. Brian Floyd pointed out that this crew also called the USC game, and everything started to make sense. Cal had 20 first downs in total. Six of those came via penalty. On the Cal drive that, thankfully, ended with the Skyler Thomas interception, the officials seemingly willed Cal into scoring position with one awful call and one very borderline call. Those six Cal first downs that came via penalty? Those were six more than WSU got. The play below was not flagged, despite every person in the crowd, and watching on TV, knowing that it was a penalty.
California v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Look, I never have been, and never will be a conspiracy theory guy. That’s reserved, apparently, for people in much higher places. I always lean toward, “it’s gross incompetence, not a conspiracy.” And that’s the most frustrating part. The Pac-12 is no closer to improving the quality of officiating now than it was many years ago following the Oklahoma robbery at Oregon.

While I don’t believe the refs are out to get WSU, I do believe that WSU’s reputation this year for poor pass coverage is affecting the judgement of the officials. That began in the USC game, where last night’s crew threw flag after flag, and it has continued ever since. Were some of them warranted? Of course. Were some of them complete nonsense? Absolutely.

EDIT: The crew from Saturday was not the USC crew. I apologize for writing that, as I was incorrect.

Finally, in an attempt to not get pissed about the horrific “Targeting” call all over again, I’ll simply let Dominick Silvels explain it for me.

Fire. Them. All.

Despite all that, our beloved Washington State Cougars are 8-and-goddamn-1, and sit atop the standings in the Pac-12 North. Cal week is, thankfully, in the rearview mirror. Go Cougs.


No. 10 Washington State braves scare from California to pull out 19-13 win at Martin Stadium | The Spokesman-Review
“You’ll take a win any way that we can get it,” Minshew said. “Obviously we have a standard that’s higher than what we played at tonight, but it was great to see at different times of the game, each phase stepped up.”

John Blanchette: Washington State keeps closer eye on national scoreboard with each passing week | The Spokesman-Review
It’s been established: The Pac-12 can’t get out of its own way. So maybe try this, fellas: Get the hell out of Washington State’s.

Difference makers | The Spokesman-Review
Easop Winston Jr. flourishes with 92 receiving yards, game-winning TD.

Cal falls short in upset bid against No. 10 Washington State - SFGate
Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew II found Easop Winston Jr. for a 10-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left to beat Cal 19-13 in a game that seemingly neither team wanted to win.

Cal’s search for explosive offense backfires against Washington State - SFGate
McIlwain overthrew his running back by so much that Skyler Thomas, the defensive back trailing Laird by 2 or 3 yards, had to leap to make the catch before completing the interception in the end zone.

Saturday Night Five: Pac-12 South is worse than a hot mess
The Cougars are fun to watch and have one of the best stories in the sport in Gardner Minshew, but their show has played to a limited audience.


Best beer I had this week: Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout is very very very good. It’s also normally hard to find. I don’t know if they ramped up production or what, but I found a bunch this week. So of course I had to make it the Victory Beer.

Regarding the article below, Coug fans think they can drink because they emptied one bar? Try wiping out an entire city. The best part is that my fellow service members preferred the local stuff over the crap.

US Soldiers Nearly Drank Iceland’s Capital Dry of Beer
It wasn’t that the troops were only drinking American beer on international turf either, no, according to local media, they actually were partial to the local flavors.


Twitter Lessons From A Writer Who Grew Up Online
What I learned from growing up online.