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

A lot more good this time!

Eastern Washington v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. This Sunday morning dawns a lot more bright and happy than Sunday, 4 September, 2016 did. Why? Pretty sure I don’t need to tell you. But that’s long in the rearview mirror. On the third Saturday of the 2018 college football season, the Washington State Cougars scored four touchdowns before the Eastern Washington University Eagles scored one, quickly putting to rest any notion that this time was going to be like the last time.

There were good performances all over the field, which one should expect when nearly 60 points go on the home team’s side of the board (non-Mike Breske division). Heck, even the special teams pitched in with a huge play! The cool part is that it came in front of the season’s first sellout crowd (even if many of the ticket-buyers came dressed as aluminum bleachers). Either way, the road team headed back to Cheney with a giant boot up its backside, so let’s talk about it, shall we?

The Good

  • One the whole, that was a dominant performance. Nearly 200 more total yards, 4-0 in the turnover category, 35 first downs, 8.1 YPA, held Gage Gubrud to under 50% completions.
  • 98-yard TD drive, 99-yard TD drive, 100-yard kick return TD. That’s a pretty good month, and WSU did it in the final three quarters.
  • I liked Ryan Leaf’s description of the Mesh play, and how WSU could’ve done a better job of executing it against a zone defense.
  • Really impressive throw and catch from Gardner Minshew II to Easop Winston to make it 14-0, even if there was a little offensive PI there.
  • That Travell Harris kick return was so great. There was that one EWU player who maybe could have caught him, so he just decided to hit another gear, causing the poor EWU player to take a mouthful of rubber pellets.
  • I also loved how Harris made a tackle on kick coverage later on.
  • That Darrien Molton interception was pretty impressive, as he just ripped the ball away from the receiver. Golden Tate would’ve argued that it belonged to the offense.
  • Big third down conversion by Minshew and Jamire Calvin to get the eventual 98-yard touchdown drive going.
  • Speaking of that drive, 15 plays, 98 yards and nearly half-a-quarter of possession is not suboptimal.
  • The WSU defense had intercepted four passes before allowing a touchdown pass. That’s the good part of their day.
  • There’s at least one play per game where I almost - almost - feel sorry for a poor defender who Boobie Williams embarrasses in the open field.
  • That Jahad Woods interception was one of the most athletic plays you’ll see from anyone at any position, let alone linebacker.
  • Dezmon Patmon seems to improve by the week. He is a stud when it comes to those back shoulder and 50/50 throws near the sideline.
  • Feels like I (we?) should expect more from the running game, but there doesn’t seem to be any issue inside the opponent’s 10 yard line. It’s tough to run down there against anyone, and WSU did it quite well Saturday.
  • Trey Tinsley got to play! With the correct knee pads!
  • And he threw a TD! To Robert Lewis! Awesome feelings all around on that drive, to include Roderick Fisher’s first career catch. Brandon Arconado made a great blocking effort on that play, too.

The Bad

  • Pac-12 Networks, you continue to suck. Trying to fit games into three-hour windows is like trying to fit me into a SmartCar. I really would have liked to have seen that first WSU interception and touchdown, but nope.
  • I had my own issues with even being able to see this game recorded - no way was I gonna watch it live - thanks to a friend’s slow internet connection (IT’s BEEN THREE WEEKS NOW GERMANY I’D LOVE TO HAVE INTERNET OF MY OWN AT SOME POINT YES IT PISSES ME OFF) and my brother’s Sling Box. The worst part was I went off the grid, and planned to watch without knowing the score, but a typo in the Google machine produced all of the Pac-12 scores on my screen before I could find the game on said Sling Box/DVR combo. Best laid plans and whatnot...
  • Special teams wasn’t without its flaws, as the kick coverage team allowed a long return of its own after Harris’ house call.
  • If you want to see what 30,000+ simultaneous heart attacks look like, show a replay of that EWU kick rolling around on the field for what seemed like 20 minutes.
  • The refs seemed to allow A LOT of hand fighting and contact between DBs and receivers, and WSU got away with a good amount, but the play where the EWU receiver tossed Marcus Strong to the ground, only for the refs to call interference on Strong was baffling.
  • Speaking of baffling calls (last one I promise), wtf was with the holding flag on Watson during what should have been a long touchdown pass to Easop Winston? Garbage call.
  • While I didn’t watch every play with a magnifying glass, it looked like the front four generated precious little pressure. I know those guys are mostly green, but as competition ramps up, Tracy Claeys needs to find a way for those guys to make the quarterback uncomfortable.
  • Another game, another subpar performance on third down, this time 3-9.
  • When EWU closed the gap to 28-17, Ryan Leaf openly spoke about how he “felt the momentum shifting.” WSU outscored EWU 31-7 after that. Momentum is still not a thing, kids.

The Ugly

  • Busted coverages! They’re everywhere! There shouldn’t be one play per game where opposing receivers are running unopposed 30 yards down the field. There were multiple instances of that Saturday. Gotta get it fixed.
  • Evergreen statement alert: Hey students, you’re aware football games are 60 minutes in length, and not 30 minutes, yes?
  • Even uglier than that, and not exactly related to the WSU game, but ladies and gentlemen, I present the Pac-12 South.

So now the Cougs venture south to open Pac-12 play against an increasingly vulnerable USC Trojans team. Three weeks in, and I have much more confidence that WSU can leave LA with a win than I did before Labor Day. If the Cougs do end up with their fourth win of the season, Mike Leach will have the same record against the LA schools that he has against the Big Sky (5-2). Let’s make it happen!


Analysis: Washington State wins ninth straight at home, defeating Eastern Washington 59-24 behind dominant offensive performance | The Spokesman-Review
Minshew threw two touchdown passes and finished with a career-high 470 yards, beating his previous high of 463 set last season at East Carolina.

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USC hasn’t shown a thing. The Cougs get Utah at home. Oregon State remains Oregon State.

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Travell Harris is debuting as Washington State’s new kick returner this season, but up until Saturday’s game against Eastern Washington, the redshirt sophomore wide receiver hadn’t had many opportunities to do what he does best: return kicks.

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Eastern Washington notebook: Second-half momentum killed on a holding penalty in loss to Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
Gubrud’s outing Saturday was the antithesis of his collegiate debut in 2016, when he torched the Cougars for more than 500 total yards in a 45-43 upset in Pullman.

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This Week in Parenting

It’s been a very fluid few months for Team Kendall. Until Wednesday, we last slept in a home we could call our own on June 25. Since then, it’s been one night in a hotel, a week in Spokane, a week in Indiana, a couple more nights in a hotel, four weeks on base in Tampa, a night in Baltimore, and five weeks on base in Germany. Well this week we finally were able to move into our new (rental) house.

We’ve made some momentum in getting things put away, and we even have a family room up and (sort of running). How did my two boys memorialize the open space from the front door, through the kitchen and into the living room, you ask? By one of them throwing a football at the other, who was laying on the couch with his legs hiked up in the air, presenting his butt as the target. This went on far longer than I probably should have allowed it. Oh well.


Best beer I had this week: Ordered a few bottles in the mail, including Harlan’s Even More Jesus, courtesy of Evil Twin Brewing. I hadn’t had a barrel-aged stout in a while. Man did I miss those.

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