As sins proceed they ever multiply, and like figures in arithmetic, the last stands for more than all that wert before it.
There’s nothing in particular that this Washington State Cougars defense does well. About the only thing they do decently (if you want to even be that generous) is bend but not break once the opposing offense is in scoring territory, forcing field goals at an above average rate.
That is if the other team doesn’t score off an explosive pass. Or an explosive run. Or tumbling rear-end backwards into the end zone from just beyond the 20 yard line.
This defense has been reliably unreliable all season long. Sure, steps forward were taken against the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Oregon Ducks but regression crashed onto this team like the stock market in the late 1920s against the California Golden Bears. An offense that previously hadn’t scored more than 28 points all season had no problem dropping 33, albeit with short fields, against a defense that provided all the resistance of the Maginot Line.
More than anything though, this defense has been a kingmaker for opposing quarterbacks. Jayden Daniels? Hasn’t had as good a game before or since playing Wazzu. Dorian Thompson-Robinson? Lost until he was found in Pullman, Washington. Tyler Huntley? Threw it far enough to get to the old, desired border of Deseret. Devon Modster? Had more yards per attempt than he had ever had before. Ever.
And oh, by the way, two players got kicked off the team on Thursday. Superb.
The Stanford Cardinal have not been great offensively in 2019 but, then again, the entire team has been as disappointing as they’ve ever been under David Shaw. Oddly, they are actually throwing the ball better than they’ve been running it this year, a departure from their entire modus operandi from the last half a decade. K.J. Costello will likely be out again but Davis Mills is still averaging better than eight yards per attempt on the season as his back-up. Although the Cardinal don’t have world beaters at receiver that they had in previous seasons, it’s still evident this team can move the ball through the air.
That should be a big worry for this defensive secondary. Though they haven’t exactly been able to keep warm bodies back there in the last year and we all knew they’d likely take a step back, we didn’t imagine it would be this far.
With three games to go and needing two wins to get to the postseason for the fifth year in a row, Darcel McBath’s secondary simply has to play better. Even marginal improvements at this point would likely provide much better results, all things considered. Coverage has been nearly non-existent for the Cougs in the back end at times this year and the tackling has been abhorrent. Granted, the lack of defensive pressure from the line and linebackers on the quarterback has not helped things but this is easily the worst WSU secondary since Mike Leach’s first season in Pullman ... and even then, the margin is razor thin.
Darcel McBath is the most important person on that sideline or coaching booth on Saturday. Whatever work he can put in with the secondary this week, whatever he can do to coach them up to find more turnovers and give this offense short fields must be done. That’s a gross oversimplification to be sure but this team has no hope of playing a football game in December if the secondary continues to let quarterbacks and receivers run roughshod over the acres of green grass they’ve left as open as wide swathes of the Oklahoma prairie.
Sorry about all the metaphors.
And tonight I wanna drive so far we’ll only find static on the radio / And we can’t see those city lights.
Darcel McBath, the most important person against Stanford.