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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s Win in Houston

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More bad that we’re used to, but still a win!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 13 AdvoCare Kickoff - Washington State v Houston Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning! If you were hoping for Kevin’s thoughts on the game, seeing as how it’s Saturday, you’re going to have to wait until Sunday. On this day, you’ll get the kind of quality content that you’re used to seeing in those giant clearance bins at Walmart. The good stuff from this website will resume tomorrow.

As yours truly begins to hit the keys and shape an article, the fine folks at American Forces Network are airing a replay of WSU’s victory in Houston. Don’t mind if I do! But can you cut out the first half? No? Ok I’ll still watch anyway. They still need to work out some kinks, though, as it’s noon, the BC-Kansas game is on tape, and somehow they didn’t figure out how to end a taped game at the appointed time. AFN in a nutshell, but I digress.

There’s something really great about winning a game on Friday night (or Saturday morning for those of us European holdouts). The Saturday sun shines a little brighter, the morning run in the crisp fall air is a little quicker - it actually was - and you get to settle in for a full day of college football without a care in the world.

Friday night’s Washington State Cougars win over the Houston Cougars was not without its hairy moments, though, especially in the first half. I’m fond of the old saying that you can’t win a game in the first half, but you can sure as heck lose one, and when Anthony Gordon’s pass to the end zone was intercepted, doubt crept in for the first time.

But then the second half started, the real Wazzu showed up, and Coug nation went home happy. How did we get here? Let’s take a look

The Good

  • Anthony Gordon continues to spin some of the prettiest passes I’ve ever seen. Friday night, 75 percent of them found friendly hands. Pretty good!
  • Two hurdles that ended in spectacularly different ways but were still awesome in their own way. First, Max Borghi disproves the title of a 90’s movie starring Rosie Perez. Then Brandon Arconado tries to one-up Max, fails, but ends up executing some sort of next-level MMA finishing move to run over a Houston tackler. Both were equally effective.
  • Speaking of Arconado, his emergence this season has been stunning and incredible. So much so that when the play-by-play guy said that he didn’t catch a pass last season, I had to look it up myself because I didn’t believe it. Sure enough, Arconado went catchless in 2018. He certainly is making up for it now.
  • One more Arconado moment - pretty funny when he took a shot, hung on to the pass, and the defender ended up needing medical attention after trying to act all tough.
  • Huge moment when Houston took an early lead after a time-sucking drive (seriously, I’m willing to bet Houston hasn’t had a 7+ minute touchdown drive in eons). WSU needed to answer, and less than two minutes later Easop Winston, Jr. was in the end zone.
  • Good job by the defense to bend but not break on that first drive. All those Houston penalties certainly helped.
  • Can’t over-emphasize how big that 4th-and-1 stop was, early in the third quarter. Houston had the lead and the ball, and a first down there could have led to a double digit deficit. Yeah, it helped that Houston was discombobulated, but the defense really stepped up.
  • Those Gordon checkdowns to Max Borghi were lethal Friday night.
  • For the third straight game, the defense was a completely different unit in the second half. 10/10 would prefer to see those guys for an entire game.
  • Great play by Daniel Isom on 3rd-and-7 in the third quarter, knocking away a pass that forced a Houston punt.
  • I know I already wrote it, but Anthony Gordon’s deep passes are so damn pretty. The bomb to Dezmon Patmon was picture perfect.
  • How ‘bout that third quarter! For once, in a big game, it wasn’t turd quarter as the Cougs scored 14 and Houston scored zilch.
  • What a hit by Tyrese Ross on that kick return. Surprised he was allowed to remain in the game!
  • Houston closes the gap to 21-17 and WSU botches a kick return, forcing a drive to start 95 yards from the end zone. Eight plays and 95 yards later, the game was all but over.
  • Two big moments on that drive: 1) Gordon’s scramble for a first down to get the drive going. 2) I know Renard Bell deserves credit for blocking downfield on Davontavean Martin’s long run on a screen pass, but Liam Ryan deserves a nod for getting out in space and flat-backing a defender.
  • I swear I said this to myself before the analyst said it on the air - Anthony Gordon’s subtle movement in the pocket is tremendous.
  • Great hit by Bryce Beekman to knock that ball loose.
  • Related - I still don’t know how Cosmas Kwete came up with the loose ball, but come up with it he did. (This may or may not have been followed by me hastily searching to find out who No. 96 is).
  • The onside kick has become one of the least successful plays in sports. But somehow it’s still among the most nerve-wracking for fans of the receiving team. Great job by Tay Martin to restart our hearts.
  • Is it just me or does Dana Holgorsen have the most impressive whistle in all of college football? Willing to bet the folks in the nose-bleeds could hear it.
  • I could almost hear the “ZOMG LEACH SCREWED UP THE END OF THE GAME AGAIN” blowback. Max Borghi put an end to that, and an end to the game.
  • If you take away the kneel-downs, the Cougs averaged 8.1 YPP in the second half. That’s how you finish a game.

The Bad

  • The tackling (or lack thereof). My god, the tackling (or lack thereof). To say it was piss-poor is an insult to destitute piss everywhere.
  • One hideous example stood above the rest, to me anyway. Jahad Woods and Willie Taylor had D’Eriq King dead to rights for a sack on 3rd-and-4. Neither could finish the play, and then three other Cougar defenders couldn’t stop him short of the line to gain. That drive ended in Houston’s first touchdown.
  • You won’t believe this but Mike Leach’s “my defense is getting shredded” timeout didn’t work.
  • Speaking of things that don’t work, can we please drop the nonsensical “Big Gulp” formation?
  • Justus Rogers, you were totally lost in coverage on Houston’s first TD.
  • Liam, buddy, I know this is your first year at tackle, but please don’t let the quarterback get killed again.
  • Anthony, you’ve been great so far this season, but you can’t make that throw. I know you all know that throw I’m talking about. My remote control was seconds from exiting through the window.
  • A major met peeve of mine is when a punt returner lets a ball go inside the 20. Travell Harris did just that, and it ended up in a drive starting at the two.
  • I’d love to know why D’Eriq King jumps to catch nearly every snap, even the snaps that aren’t high. That can’t be good for a play’s timing.
  • Travell Harris did some sort of odd duck walk after catching his touchdown pass, that suggested a leg injury. Hopefully it was just a cramp.
  • 11 f***ing penalties for 132 yards, including five Houston first downs via WSU penalty. Tighten it up, fellas.
  • I rarely talk about gambling implications here, but as soon as Anthony Gordon faceplanted on 3rd-and-goal, I just knew Houston would kick in the back door down the stretch. Sure enough...Cougs, you gotta punch it in there and not let the opponent up. And I’m not just saying that because of the gambling implications. I’m also saying it from a cardiovascular health point of view.

The Ugly

  • You’d think that #Pac12refs wouldn’t go all #Pac12refs in a game like this, but #Pac12ref they did. That OPI call that brought back Borghi’s pristine wheel route TD was absolute rubbish. (shout out to my British friends). Even Louis Riddick said, “Oh come on.”
  • Even the seemingly easy calls were messed up. I don’t know what they were doing on the play where King’s long TD run got called back, but somehow it was 2nd-and-6 despite an obvious hold of Bryce Beekman near the line of scrimmage.
  • Also that kick catch interference penalty was complete nonsense. Houston player runs straight into WSU player who is trying to avoid the Houston player. Flag on the WSU player. Ok then.
  • And finally, we have more proof that nobody knows what Targeting is. I thought for sure they’d kick out Willie Taylor, since his hit on King seemed eerily similar to the hit that got Ron Stone, Jr. ejected last week. So of course (thankfully) Taylor was not penalized, and tackle football players were allowed to play tackle football again, if only for a fleeting moment. Looking at it again, I think what saved him was the last-second turn of his head.

So here we sit, our favorite team with a perfect 3-0 record and an extra day of rest prior to home date with the UCLA Bruins, as well as a whole day of glorious college football in front of us. You’re probably aware that UCLA has struggled thus far, which will likely result in WSU being a prohibitive favorite (the guess here is 8-10 points). Good times, indeed.

Now let’s show out next Saturday night and make Martin Stadium the house of horrors we know it can be. Go Cougs.

The Goddamn Best

Football

Analysis: Washington State rides offense, second-half defensive surge to 31-24 win over Houston | The Spokesman-Review
WSU, now 3-0, didn’t make wholesale changes at halftime, but the product was drastically improved; Houston (1-2) began the third quarter by turning the ball over on a fumble, then punted on its next three drives.

Gordon leads No. 20 Washington State over Houston 31-24 - Washington State University Athletics
After No. 20 Washington State struggled to get going early on Friday night against Houston before pulling away in the second half for a win, coach Mike Leach lamented that his team didn't have more time to play.

Difference makers: Bryce Beekman helps seal Washington State win over Houston with late turnover | The Spokesman-Review
In a game that was expected to produce lots of offense, it was a defensive play that put the nail in the coffin for Washington State.

Former Washington State receiver Devard Darling says Pullman is ‘where I found out who I was’ | The Spokesman-Review
Darling, who grew up in the Houston area and attended Stephen F. Austin High School in nearby Sugar Land, Texas, was WSU’s honorary captain Friday night in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game against Houston at NRG Stadium.

Houston comes up short in loss to No. 20 Washington State
Gordon spent most of the game comfortable with plenty of time to throw, picking apart the UH secondary with short passes and the occasional deep strike.

Soccer

Awww man.

Cougs Stunned at Home - Washington State University Athletics
And just like that the nation's longest non-conference winning streak was no more as the #13 ranked Washington State Cougars (4-1-0) were stunned at home by Michigan (5-2-0), 2-1, Friday night at Lower Soccer Field.

This Week in Parenting

Flag football practice continued this week, and both boys (like nearly every kid) are angling to play quarterback. Despite never having played the position before, the 11 year-old is out there telling every kid on the team what to do. As a parent, it’s difficult to tell him to reign in the bossing around, because you don’t want to stifle a kid when they’re trying to show leadership. But you also don’t want them to come across as a dickbag to the rest of the team. Tough line to walk.

And while he has a strong arm, he hasn’t exactly figured out how to take some heat off when the receiver is standing mere feet away. The eight year-old, meanwhile, is just happy to go out there and sling it around.

Speaking of the eight year-old, I’ve mentioned in the past that he has an affinity for garish socks. So when I learned that Easop Wisnton is also a fan of stylish stockings, I sent him a tweet. Easop was kind enough to respond, and my boy was tickled. So Friday when he came downstairs with the getup below, I had to take a picture.

Go Cougs. Go America.

As soon as I took the photo, he asked “are you gonna send that out on Twitter?” I did! Easop hasn’t responded, but when the kiddo saw the replay of WSU’s first touchdown, he said, “Easop Winston! He’s the Cougar who loves crazy socks!” It was pretty great.

After school I learned that one of the wings had been pulled off by classmates who were awestruck by the awesomeness. Luckily grandma is in town, and able to sew it back on.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: What’s better than a rare(ish), high ABV beer after a Cougar win? Absolutely nothing. That’s why Dogfish Head’s Raison D’Extra was the easy winner.

The 25 Most Important IPAs Right Now, Ranked | VinePair
VinePair charted the 25 IPAs that have stood out among our panel and the beer community at large this year. These are the most important IPAs right now.

Non-Sports

Trouble for the Pentagon: The Troops Keep Packing On the Pounds - The New York Times
Even though it has gone as far as eliminating fried food and sugary drinks from ships, a new study found that 22 percent of sailors now qualify as obese. The other services have seen climbing rates too.