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

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Another Sunday morning, another win!

Utah v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning from yet another wifi hotspot, and welcome to caffeine-induced/less-than-four hours of sleep game analysis. But hey, if the Cougs can promise me that they’ll keep winning, I’ve got no issue with staying up until damn near sunrise. Last night/this morning was something else. In a game that featured about the most disparate halves you’ll ever see, the Cougs delivered the decisive blow, then held on by their finger nails to pull off a critical victory.

To give you an idea of how odd that game was, the over/under closed at 50.5. After a 42-point first half, the “over” didn’t hit until Easop Winston Jr. joysticked that poor Utah defender and made a house call in the game’s 56th minute. It was almost as if only one side of the ball was allowed to make halftime adjustments.

I don’t know about you, but every time Utah had the ball with that three-point lead in the second half, it felt like a touchdown would all but seal it for the Utes, considering how listless WSU’s previously explosive offense had become. Thankfully, the four plays Utah ran repeatedly early on didn’t work so well in the second half, and the offense did just enough to get one final, game-clinching lead. So let’s talk about it, shall we?

The Good

  • Very impressive opening WSU drive that set the tone for what we’d see the rest of the half.
  • After Utah scored with ease on its first possession, some kind of WSU answer was critical. WSU produced that answer just over three minutes later.
  • The offensive line, again, did a great job in pass protection. There were a couple leaks, but that Utah front seven is pretty damn good, and the o-line gave Minshew a ton of time on several plays.
  • Minshew’s ability to move in the pocket really, really helps, too.
  • If that’s the best pass defense in the nation (it isn’t but it’s still pretty good), WSU should fare quite well through the air for the rest of the season.
  • Got a somewhat miraculous spot on the second touchdown drive that really helped. James Williams looked to be a full yard short of the line to gain on third-and-10, but was awarded a first down. I’ll take it!
  • The evolution of Dezmon Patmon continues to be awesome.
  • Those wheel routes had (and hopefully have) a chance to be lethal. More on that later.
  • Whatever connection Minshew had with Davontavean Martin may have ebbed a bit, but the fact that other guys have picked up some of the slack shows you how good this offense really is.
  • I love how true freshman Max Borghi isn’t afraid of anyone when it comes to blitz pickup.
  • Peyton Pelluer’s sixth season is shaping up to be one of WSU’s greatest recruiting wins in a while.
  • Anyone know where I can get an Oscar Draguicevich jersey?
  • But seriously it’s nice to have a bonafide punter, especially compared to what we’ve been put through the last few seasons.
  • Utah’s 204 rushing yards look pretty gaudy, but it took them 50 tries to get there. I’ll take that any day.
  • Logan Tago finally got rid of that club on his hand, and it seemed to help. He was very disruptive on a couple critical plays.
  • Nice job by Kedron Williams to knock down that long pass. It was underthrown, but Williams batted it down while not interfering.
  • Good job also by Deion Singleton, who was pressed into duty after Skyler Thomas was ejected. Singleton ended up tying for second on the team with eight tackles. That is an example of the depth WSU finally has in spots. In the past, the talent dropoff would have been far more noticeable.
  • It’s usually an overrated stat, but I find this pretty incredible - Utah ran the ball 50 times. WSU ran the ball 13 times (both include sacks, obviously). Time of possession - Utah: 29:13, WSU: 30:47.
  • Nearly 50% on third down once again (7-15). Pretty crazy how WSU has improved its production there as the competition has stiffened.
  • It was pretty cool when Steve Spurrier referred to the Cougs as “we” during his tv spot.
  • The Cougs are unbeaten when fellow alumnus Garrett and I watch the game together.*
  • Speaking of streaks, that’s 10 in a row at home. Never thought I’d see that.
  • I love how much Mike Leach admires Kyle Whittingham while simultaneously owning his ass.

The Bad

  • So, about that first drive. Minshew threw two really bad passes in a row, and WSU paid dearly for the second of those.
  • Nnamdi Oguayo, please come back soon. I’m sure Karson Block is a great kid who gave his best effort, but he was way overmatched.
  • I know the Skyler Thomas hit was Targeting by the letter of the rule, and don’t object to the ruling. But juxtapose that with what we saw from Porter Gustin, and it’s pretty clear that Thomas did not violate the spirit of the rule. He simply got his head in a bad spot while trying to knock the ball loose.
  • Speaking of those wheel routes, Minshew practically handed one to Boobie Williams that was dropped, then had Borghi on another one for a walk-in TD, but was pressured enough that he couldn’t get the ball there.
  • Taylor Comfort, you just can not give one last shove to the quarterback. That will get called every time, ticky-tack or not.
  • I’m more disappointed in the fact that Leach called for a 52-yard field goal than I am that it was blocked.
  • That third quarter play where WSU had Tyler Huntley dead to rights for a sack, only to watch him escape and gain 20 yards, made me want to kick a hole in something.

*Due to circumstances beyond our control, my man Garrett and I won’t be able to watch the Cougs together for a good while.

The Ugly

  • Hey Ted Robinson, say it with me: “Min-shew. Min-shew. NOT Min-shaw.” Thank you.
  • Speaking of Ted, his cluelessness regarding the outcome of the Skyler Thomas targeting flag was comical.
  • Dropped passes. My god, the dropped passes. I know there is no official stat for them, but there were at least six, and they seemed to have an impact on Minshew’s psyche as the second half wore on.

Three times WSU trailed, and three times WSU came back to take the lead and ultimately win the game. That’s a pretty good indicator that Mike Leach’s “play the next play” philosophy has taken hold with this year’s team. Now it’s on to Corvallis to face an OSU team that just gave up over half-a-hundred to Arizona State, and the Cougs have a golden opportunity to head into their bye week needing just one win to clinch a bowl game. Go get it, fellas. Now excuse me while I re-insert the coffee IV. Go Cougs.

Football

Saturday Night Five: Stanford stumbles, Oregon bounces back
Week Five brought bad news for the Pac-12 on the playoff front: Stanford's loss at Notre Dame is yet another loss for the conference in a marquee intersectional game.

Pac-12 Week 5 Thoughts, Recaps, What Happened & What Mattered
And the Cougars? Oregon State is up next, and then Oregon comes to Pullman. Win those two, and the stage is set for a showdown at Stanford to make a big push in the Pac-12 North race.

John Blanchette: On this day, defense defined the Cougars’ heart | The Spokesman-Review “Shout-out to the coaches for putting us in the right positions in the second half,” said linebacker Peyton Pelluer.

Washington State’s Deion Singleton has career night replacing ejected Skyler Thomas | The Spokesman-Review
“I though Singleton did a good job replacing Thomas, for sure,” Coach Mike Leach said.

Analysis: One long pass from Gardner Minshew to Easop Winston Jr. salvages victory for Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
Gardner Minshew and Kyle Sweet entered the postgame press conference wearing slick aviator shades and wide grins.

Soccer

Record Streak on the Line Sunday Against Oregon State - Washington State University
Washington State enters the match unbeaten on the year having won a record 9-straight, setting the program record for consecutive wins in a single season and to start a season.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: While there are many beer styles I gravitate toward more so than hefeweizen, Benediktiner Weissbier is quite tasty. That is especially true at 4am following another Cougar win.

5 rules for better drinking at a beer bar
The best are refuges where we find a friendly face, a listening ear, and sometimes a sympathetic pat on the back.

This week in Parenting

Or: Why I’m a terrible dad, Vol. 674 - As parents of boys know, unless you compel them to bathe, they will voluntarily do so about once every Winter Olympiad. As such, we have them shower a few times per week. The 6 year-old, who uses our shower, needs help getting his towel from the upstairs towel hook, next to the shower that the 10 year-old uses. So of course I had to go up there and get it for him. When I walked in to grab it, I noticed that the 10 year-old was in the midst of washing his hair, with his eyes closed. What would any good dad do in that situation? A good dad would grab the towel and head downstairs.

What would a terrible dad do? A terrible dad would put his nose against the glass wall of the shower and wait for the youngster inside to open his eyes in an attempt to scare the bejesus out of the kid. Guess which dad I was??!! The combination of the guttural scream and look of abject terror on his face is something I’ll take to my grave. And I deserve every bit of the guilt that goes along with it.

Life in Germany

Welcome to another semi-regular segment that you’ll rightfully scroll past. Saturday, the Mrs. and I took the train to Stuttgart to take part in Volksfest, which is kinda the much less touristy version of Munich’s Oktoberfest. We got our table and the three liters of beer and settled in for some table-standing and such.

The table next to ours was briefly occupied by a family with a couple young kids, and this happened. This little girl was taking pulls off dad’s beer like it was her job.

Additionally, here is a ranking of the songs that got the partygoers off their benches and on to the table tops, with #1 being their favorite.

Lower than 10th: The German national anthem.

5) 99 Luftballoons (Figured this would take the top spot. Nope!)

4) Sweet Caroline because of course also no thank you

3) Firework by Katy Perry

2) Roar by Katy Perry - the Germans love Katy Perry.

1) What a Feeling by Irene Cara (from Flashdance - it’s an 80s movie, kids). This guy really loves him some Irene Cara.

Non-Sports

As someone who has eaten more than his share of MREs, I can guarantee that no matter what this pizza tastes like, it’ll be better than the old ham slice.

A Breakthrough for U.S. Troops: Combat-Ready Pizza - The New York Times
Even the head of the Army’s combat ration program acknowledged that the first few generations of M.R.E. entrees were full of “mystery meat and no-name casseroles,” and that troops in the field quickly grew sick and tired of them.