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HCA: A closer look at WSU’s 4th quarter dominance

Slow starts don’t matter when you finish as strong as the Cougs do.

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

The Cougs have allowed 23 points in the first half of all three games this year combined. That sounds impressive, until you look at their performance in the 4th quarter.

Theo Lawson of the Spokesman Review ran the numbers, and they’re not too bad either. While Washington State has been outscored 17-14 in the 3rd period, they’re running away in the 4th quarter putting up a combined margin of 52-0.

“Shoot, I might tell them they’re all the fourth quarter if it’ll work,” Mike Leach told the media Monday, via Lawson. “I think that is something we’d like to manufacture.”

Of course, that number was put up against a trio of non-conference foes. The Cougs now have to keep that momentum rolling into a Friday night showdown against USC. Against Stanford and Texas, admittedly better competition, the Trojans have been shut out in the games final quarter. Needless to say, USC lost both of those games, sealing their sub-par 2-1 start.

But the Trojans have bigger problems than their 4th quarter production. Lead by an inexperienced offensive core, the Trojans rank in the bottom 20 among FBS teams averaging just 20 points per game and 109.33 rushing yards per game.

The Cougar defense will look to continue that trend on short rest Friday night in front of a national audience. And while the 4th quarter numbers might not always translate to wins, it’s an important step towards being able to close things out.

“We know that you can only win a game in the fourth quarter,” defensive lineman Nick Begg said, via Lawson once again. “That’s the most important quarter of the game. We try to do our best to give no fourth quarter points to the other team. That’s pretty much our goal on defense and I think our offense has taken that fourth-quarter mentality on, too, because they’ve been really turning it on in the fourth, too.”


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