Good morning. What a night! Or day, depending on your time zone. That Cougar victory was for all the doubters, all the nay-sayers, all the jerks who didn’t think WSU would go into Laramie and beat a tough Wyoming Cowboys football team.
You see, what...what had happened was...
On the other hand, at least I didn’t get caught up in the heat of the moment during the second quarter and say something stupid on Twitter!
If this is WSU 's best option at qb, get ready for a really rough season.— PJ Kendall ✈ ⚰ (@Deathby105) September 1, 2018
What had happened was your Washington State Cougars put together a dominating performance in a historically tough spot - a Mike Leach opener, on the road, with huge coaching and personnel turnover, against a team many thought was better than it was last season, and on and on. If you’d asked me to predict several different outcomes, scoring north of 40 in a three-touchdown victory probably wouldn’t have made the top five, or 10.
But win by three TDs the Cougs did, so let’s talk about what we saw. Well, we’re running on less than five hours of sleep, without the benefit of a dvr, so let’s talk about what we think we might remember seeing.
- Gardner Minshew, 1st, 3rd and 4th quarter edition: 30-41, 266 yards, 6.5 YPA, three touchdowns. Complete command of the offense.
- Not a bad opening drive, considering that we’re used to watching WSU sputter out of the gate.
- Boobie Williams and Max Borghi are quite the tandem. I was yelling at the tv, wanting Williams to get more carries, but had no idea he had 16 overall. More than I thought! Felt like there were several spots in the middle of the game where the Cougs could have run it more, though. And Max Borghi appears to be as-advertised. That’s a very good thing.
- Speaking of Boobie, that first touchdown catch was not something you normally see from a running back. Tremendous. One more - he trucked that poor defender on the last touchdown.
- Not a bad debut for Blake Mazza! Hit all five PATs and both field goal attempts. Oscar Draguicevich also took advantage of the altitude, averaging north of 51 yards on three punts.
- In a game featuring more than 100 plays, there may have been none bigger than the nine yard pass from Minshew to Jamire Calvin in the third quarter. There was definitely some pucker factor in my seat on that 4th-and-6.
- 4th-and-1, and Minshew...goes under center? And runs a sneak? And it works? WHO IS THIS TEAM??!!
- Heckuva throw and catch on the first TD drive of the fourth quarter. Minshew placed it perfectly and Dezmon Patmon hung on despite taking a wicked shot to the ribs.
- Easop Winston straight up murdered that poor corner on his TD catch.
- I must be a bad fan, because I’d never heard of Skyler Thomas. He ended up leading the team in tackles!
- Along with that, I asked myself a couple times, “Who is number 84?” Jesus Echevarria probably wasn’t in the rotation forecast when camp began, but even he chipped in with a couple tackles, including one TFL.
- Sure, Wyoming’s offense isn’t exactly the 2007 Patriots passing-wise, but the Cougar corners, for the most part, played well in coverage throughout, and did a great job of positioning themselves to avoid interference penalties.
- Speaking of which, that was a huge interception by Marcus Strong. Wyoming was having its best offensive quarter of the game, and another score before halftime would have put WSU in a tight spot. Strong put an end to that.
- Great shoestring tackle by Peyton Pelluer in the third quarter, which almost certainly prevented a big Wyoming gain.
- That late game touchdown made me feel sooooooooo good.
- The Cougs improved to 3-0 in Laramie.
- Looked like WSU got out of Laramie without any serious injuries, which is almost always the best news.
- Gardner Minshew’s second quarter: 8-16, 54 yards, one interception, and several high passes. Chalk it up to whatever, but he was a different guy in the second half.
- Another year, another game where you’d swear the team and coaching staff hadn’t given the first thought to managing the clock during practice.
- Speaking of the coaching staff - I’m sure Taylor Comfort is an asset when it comes to protecting the punter, but it’s not ideal to have one of the primary d-line rotation guys running down the field on the punt coverage team.
- That was a brutal lack of contain on Wyoming’s 23-yard touchdown run, Nnamdi.
- It was just fine for WSU, but that kid with the terrible hair for Wyoming was getting All-America buzz in the preseason. I hardly heard his name.
- Tracy, when the opposing QB hasn’t completed a pass more than 10 yards down the field, maybe don’t bring seven guys on 3rd-and-21. At least it wasn’t a 3rd-and 36 conversion?
- 4th-and-1, and Wyoming had a player jump three feet offsides. Somehow, WSU managed to turn that into 4th-and-6 instead of 1st-and-10. All’s well that ends well, but come on, guys.
- Not sure what the refs saw, but it certainly didn’t look like Wyoming should have been given the ball on that Borghi “fumble.”
- Aaron Murray was a better NFL quarterback than he is a TV analyst. Aaron Murray was not a good NFL quarterback.
- Special Teams - Lather, rinse, repeat. Now I know why WSU is giving a scholarship to a high school long snapper.
- But seriously, a bad snap, followed by the punter inexplicably trying to throw a pass from his back that could have ended in a Wyoming touchdown, followed by a delay of game (on a free kick!!!), oh and did I mention the free kick went out of bounds? Not even Yakety Sax could do that sequence justice.
All in all, despite the issues, I certainly couldn’t have envisioned a much better way for WSU’s opener to unfold. And I even got to watch the game at a fellow Coug’s house! Shoutout to Garrett for not only inviting a stranger and his family over, but for cooking great assorted meats and letting said stranger stay until the game ended around 1:30 in the morning. See you next Sunday at 5am! Kidding. Possibly.
One more thing that made this day especially great was before the games started when we were chatting about the UW-Auburn game:
It pretty much happened just like that!
I already can’t wait for next week. Go Cougs
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The amount of confidence pollsters and prognosticators have in the 2018 Washington State Cougars was perhaps best illustrated in an early-August preseason ranking of all 129 FBS teams, courtesy of CBS Sports.
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By the NCAA’s metric, it was the second-best first start for a quarterback in the Leach era, for what that’s worth.
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The conference missed a chance to collect a marquee victory when Washington stumbled against Auburn. Overall, it was a mediocre opening to the season, with UCLA and Chip Kelly also losing.
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The newly-turned 10 year-old had his first Cub Scout meeting the other day, and was talking with the den master about Normandy. The den master mentioned that one soldier got his parachute caught on the pinnacle of a church tower in Sainte-Mère-Église. Without hesitating, my kid answers “Private John Steele.” I looked it up when we got home, and I’ll be damned. We’re looking forward to celebrating his 74th birthday next year.
Best beer I had this week: Duh
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