It’s one hell of a bummer, finding out that your team isn’t nearly as good as you’d hoped, and might very well be as bad as you’d feared. I think it was former Decatur Staleys coach Abraham Lincoln who once said, “Better to have everyone think your team a fraud than have them lose to the worst team in the conference and remove all doubt.” Smart guy, that Coach Lincoln.
Coming into the season, everyone knew the offense would likely hum along, but the defense would be a work in progress, especially since they lost their best player at each level. A few games against inferior competition played into those fears a bit, but the defense always seemed to rally down the stretch and make things seem better than they actually were.
Before we go any further, special thanks to the officials, who handed UCLA the ball and the game’s turning point when they decided to look the other way as Rodrick Fisher’s elbow hit the ground - quite obviously - before the ball came loose. It wouldn’t be a Pac-12 game without the officials putting on a full display of incompetence.
Is last night’s loss all on the defense? Of course not. It isn’t their fault that the special teams reverted to 2014 and the receivers literally handed UCLA most of their scoring chances. As many points and yards as they piled up, the offense also put the defense in some really tough situations. That the defense couldn’t stop the bleeding in any of those situations is pretty disappointing.
But ultimately, this epic choke (which for WSU is really saying something) falls at the feet of Mr. “Coaching it or allowing it to happen” himself. Not enough is made of his timeout malpractice, especially in the second half. He continues to waste timeouts on frivolous challenges that have no hope of succeeding, and on his sorry-ass defense when it’s getting run up and down the field. But I guess it worked that one time in that one game so it’ll probably work every time in every game, right coach?
Timeouts, especially second half timeouts, are three precious assets that should only be used at absolutely critical times. But Leach treats them like they’re goddamn Everlasting Gobstoppers or something, and it seriously impairs his team’s chances to win close games.
And next time someone brings up that pirate attitude he’s supposed to have, I’ll point them straight to that fourth down where he pissed down his leg and punted, only to see UCLA take the ball to the end zone. But I guess it’s not like the offense was moving the ball at will or anything. Oh wait that’s exactly what they were doing.
Anyway, it’s clear that while the offense is stacked with players, whoever is in charge of getting good players to play defense is asleep at the wheel. Four games in and I can’t decide which is worse, the scheme or the personnel. Hell, even the guys who we thought were good (cough Jahad Woods cough) are...well they’re not good. It’s long past time that Travion Brown gets more run at the expense of someone, probably Justus Rogers, who isn’t any better today than he was in 2016.
And if there’s one glaring weakness on offensive line, it’s at left tackle. Not only is he good for at least one false start every time out, he’s given a defender free run at Anthony Gordon at least once per game. He’s a decent guard masquerading as a below average left tackle. But hey, blonde mullet and sunglasses or something.
So now the team is left to pick up the pieces and move forward. If there’s one thing Leach should get a lot of credit for, it’s the ability to get his guys to flush the past and get on with their business. The only problem is that moving forward means playing lots of teams who are better than the one who sliced them to ribbons Saturday. Anybody here think they have a better than 30% chance to win at Utah? At Oregon? At Cal? At Washilolol right.
If I’m being honest, given what we know now about where these guys are, I’ll be over the moon with a bowl game. Any bowl game.
You’re gonna have to look them up yourself this week. I figure I’m doing you a favor.
The Week in Parenting
I was driving the boys...somewhere last week when I asked the 11 year-old about his day in school. He told me that they were studying DeSoto, the old explorer. I like to challenge them when they bring this stuff up, and expand on what they’re learning. So I asked him what DeSoto’s most famous discovery was. He hemmed and hawed - like he always does when he doesn’t know an answer - so I led him with Mississippi... Just then the seven year-old breaks in with “Mississippi Mustache?” I love my kids so much.
I also love them because while they love playing sports, they don’t really care to watch them, and any time WSU wins or loses, they care for roughly 30 seconds. How I envy them.
Speaking of playing, Saturday was the first flag football game of the season. Well, it was for the oldest boy, as the rec league couldn’t get the 7-8 year-old division’s jerseys in time. Not really knowing what’s so important about wearing jerseys, I suggested that one team wear one color of shirt, and the other team wear an opposite color. Rec league leadership has no time for solutions, however.
So that left the oldest boy to play, and unfortunately I wasn’t there to see it. Luckily someone was taking some video, and when I woke up Saturday in Madison, Mrs. Kendall had sent it to me. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only game that mattered Saturday.
Not the most precise route-running, but I was proud of how he went up to get the ball, then turned and sprinted away from the defense. You’ll notice that he didn’t fumble which means he could probably play outside receiver for WSU next week.
Best beer I had this week: Lots of good beer here in Wisconsin, and while it probably wasn’t my favorite, it seems mandatory to have a New Glarus Spotted Cow. It was very tasty.
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