Sometimes life gives you a second chance, or even two! Not always, but sometimes. It’s what you do with those second chances that counts.
Peyton Pelluer was not supposed to be here. After suffering a season ending injury in September of last year, we all thought Pelluer’s eligibility had run out. He had, after all, used a redshirt season for a non-injury reason and was in year five of five when he got hurt. He would have to count on the NCAA, whose decisions on granting additional years of eligibility are about as consistent as a two-year old’s mood, to give him another season.
The NCAA, prior to this fall, did just that. They must’ve just gotten up from their nap.
That was extremely good news for the Washington State Cougars. In a year when so much of their defense was disappearing because of graduation or leaving for the draft, having a leader, a player who you could count on every week to make the big plays, was huge. Pelluer’s presence in the middle is that of a steadying hand; a player with more experience on the field than just about anyone in the conference, let alone his team.
The sixth year senior has never blown anyone away with his sheer speed, not the way Jahad Woods damn near leaps off the field at you. But Pelluer has what many other linebackers only wish they could: instincts. Rare is a time when you will see him out of position, taking a bad angle or missing a sure fire tackle. He’s a steadying presence on the second level for Washington State, made all the more important by the relative youth surrounding him.
Pelluer’s leadership and experience will surely come into use again and again this season. But against a team like the San Jose State Spartans, it is perhaps even more crucial. SJSU, by any metric, is a pretty terrible football team. They are damn near dead last in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings and after a 2-10 season in 2017, they opened 2018 with a bad loss to the team voted to finish ninth in the Big Sky Conference. In fact, the Aggies nearly hung 600 yards of offense on San Jose State. The Spartans seemed to move the ball better with Montel Aaron at quarterback; he finished with more than 13 yards per attempt and threw for two touchdowns. But SJSU may be without their best running back, Tyler Nevens, who left the field on a stretcher last Thursday.
That’s all to say: San Jose State is the worst team WSU will play all year and it’s not even close.
I have no doubt about the offense’s ability to move the ball against San Jose State’s defense; they proved they could do that last week against a much better squad. But the defense didn’t have to pass too big a test; Tyler Vander Waal was almost inept at quarterback and they controlled Wyoming’s running game fairly well. On paper, SJSU seems more potent, just barely.
We said last year before the game against Nevada you can’t look ahead during the season, no matter how bad the opponent is. SJSU lost to UC-Davis last week, a situation Washington State is all too familiar with. Anyone, at any time, can jump up and bite you if you’re not taking them seriously.
Pelluer is just the guy to make sure his defense takes this team seriously. He got to see first hand Washington State lose to Big Sky teams two years running, my assumption would be he wants no part of another inexplicable loss.
There will be games this team needs Pelluer’s intangibles more. Saturday is a good time to shake the rust off them.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Peyton Pelluer, your most important person vs. San Jose State.