clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s loss to Oregon

A win was there, then it wasn’t.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Oregon v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. Rare is the game where the Washington State Cougars lose by 14 points, surrender more than seven yards per rush and 10.4 YPA, convert only 7/15 3rd down attempts, and I sit here thinking, “Man they totally could have won.” But that’s where I find myself this morning, despite the yawning statistical gap between the two teams. The game was there for the Cougs, but unfortunately they just couldn’t kick down the door.

This game reminded me of one of those college basketball games you watch where the home underdog starts off on fire, but doesn’t quite take advantage of enough opportunities; before you know it, the favorite has methodically made its way back into the game and eventually leverages its significant talent advantage to suffocate the scrappy but outmanned underdog.

Occasionally, the underdog bites hard enough to walk away the victor, but that requires near perfect execution and not allowing golden opportunities to slip away. While the Oregon Ducks are really good (for the Pac-12, anyway), WSU had several chances to build an even bigger lead but just didn’t do it. There was the Jahad Woods/Daniel Isom doubly-dropped interception chance that would’ve given the offense the ball near the red zone. Instead, the ball hit the turf, Oregon converted 3rd-and-10 and ended that possession in the end zone.

There were more chances like that went by the wayside, and when you’re at a decided talent and depth disadvantage, you just cannot let any chance pass you by. For the second time in two weeks this season, we saw a solid defensive performance in the first half, followed by a second half that brought 2019 to mind. That cannot continue if the Cougars wants to have a successful 2020. Such is life at a place like WSU, where depth is a rarely-seen and precious commodity. Alas.

The Good

  • Another solid game from Jayden de Laura, even in the face of much stiffer competition. He put the ball into some tight windows, averaged 8.2 YPA and did not turn the ball over. He’s only gonna get better.
  • Gotta give the nod to Ayden Hector. That kid showed that he has a nose for the ball, intercepting a pass and recovering two straight Oregon fumbles. He’s gonna be a good one.
  • Big assist to Brennan Jackson on Hector’s second recovery, as he wrecked the mesh handoff, causing the ball to hit the turf.
  • Great game from Renard Bell, aka the Nard Dog. My man is a jitterbug.
  • The return of the shovel pass! Heck of a play that Dion McIntosh turned into a big gain.
  • Another solid game overall for Dion, who ran for 98 yards and caught the aforementioned pass for another 29.
  • de Laura’s 44-yard pass to Bell on WSU’s second TD drive was a thing of beauty, dropping an absolute dime with a blitzer in his face.
  • Liam Ryan has faced his share of criticism here, but he did a great job of tying up Kayvon Thibodeaux on a stretch play that netted a big gain.
  • Jayden, I appreciate your “team first” mentality, like when you played lead blocker on a McIntosh run, but save yourself please!
  • Congratulations on your first touchdown, Lucas Bacon!
  • Very impressive pass breakup by Chau Smith-Wade on a deep Oregon pass.
  • Jahad Woods was a different player this week, and that’s a good thing. He seemed to be everywhere, and could be forgiven if he’s totally gassed after chasing those Oregon speedsters all over the field. Eight solo tackles, three TFLs and a sack is a pretty good stat line.
  • Oscar! My man! All he did was average 54.5 yards per punt, including a majestic 78-yarder.
  • Another perfect 3-3 night from Blake Mazza. Ho hum.

The Bad

  • When is a +3 turnover ratio bad? Well, when you are on the receiving end of all three takeaways, but only turn them into 10 points. The second of the three was the most disheartening, as WSU took over at the Oregon 40 and lost two yards before punting.
  • Each team had six red zone possessions. Oregon scored touchdowns on five of them, while WSU scored only three touchdowns. Another example of opportunities lost.
  • I don’t care what all the number geeks say, or how many probabilities are diagrammed. I will never come off my “only go for two points when you have to” stance. Just take the free point and tie the game.
  • What on earth was that pooch kick after the aforementioned score? I still have no idea what Rolovich thought would happen.
  • While McIntosh had another solid game, Max Borghi’s absence was really, really glaring on Saturday. Imagine that one-two punch. Instead, Dion has to damn near go the distance after the less-than-optimal debut for Jouvensly Bazil.
  • Decided halftime adjustment advantage on the part of the Ducks. They seemed intent on taking out McIntosh in the second half and making de Laura beat them. Unfortunately, WSU could only muster three points in the half’s first 25 minutes.
  • I think Jake Dickert is a good one, but maybe let’s delete that “single up Ron Stone on a running back” idea from the playbook. Absolute backbreaker when the game was still there for the taking. Jadeveon Clowney couldn’t have made that play.
  • Jayden de Laura gets hit well out of bounds flag? That is called 10/10 times, especially by #Pac12refs (more on them later) but not this time? Absurd.
  • While we’re on the refs, their counterparts in Seattle one-upped them quite a bit with that absolute theft of Oregon State’s chances.

The Ugly

  • George Hicks III, your lapse at the end of the first half was inexcusable, and was the difference between your team having a chance to win at the end despite everything else that happened. I mean, god damn.
  • We lauded the fact that one of WSU’s hallmarks last weekend was their limitation of explosive plays. Welp, that lasted all of one week. In an effort all too reminiscent of 2019, the defense surrendered runs of 40, 33 and 24 yards, and passes of 57 (that end-of-half debacle) and 71 (which pretty much ended the game). Giving up that many explosives puts you on the autobahn toward 1-6, fellas.
  • So the refs review a pretty obvious Targeting play to Renard Bell’s face and decide “nope, the helmet crown to a ball carrier’s face is not targeting.” Then, they do enforce Targeting later on, for a hit that seemed far less egregious to yours truly. Once more, nobody knows what targeting is, which is a pretty glaring reason why it will never ever be legislated out of the game.

All in all, it was a not-unexpected result that was still pretty disappointing, given the way things played out. But thankfully, and tentatively, the Cougs will be facing a much less-talented team next week, as they travel south to face the 0-2 Stanford Cardinal.


Analysis: Washington State shows its still a work in progress after squandering opportunities in 43-29 loss to No. 11 Oregon | The Spokesman-Review
In a 43-29 loss at Martin Stadium, one of those heavyweights managed to rush for 269 yards and score four touchdowns in the second half to pull away from the Cougars and drop Nick Rolovich’s team to 1-1 on the season.

Difference makers: Tyler Shough, Travis Dye lead dynamic Oregon attack in 43-29 win over Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
Hector had a hand in three first-half turnovers, scooping up two Oregon fumbles and intercepting Ducks quarterback Tyler Shough.

John Blanchette: Washington State brings energy to empty Martin Stadium, but lacks execution in loss to Oregon | The Spokesman-Review
“We just had some mishaps here and there,” said defensive tackle Dallas Hobbs. “We just have to lock in a little more and keep getting better. We’re having spurts of greatness. I think this is going to be a special defense.”

BFT Interview: Pat Chun by John Canzano BFT Podcast
John Canzano talks with Washington State AD Pat Chun about they're big win over Oregon State, the return of Pac-12 football, and how he's navigating homeschooling as a parent.

This Week in Parenting

Overheard when the nine year-old emerged from the bathroom, “Dad, do you know why my poop is blue?” Um, no?

This happened a few weeks ago, but it still makes me laugh. We were watching NFL highlights and they showed Dak Prescott’s leg injury, and the nine year-old asked if anything like that had happened before. The 12 year-old goes, “Yeah, that’s what happened to Joe Thornbone.” Extremely puzzled, I asked, “Who on earth is Joe Thornbone?” The flabbergasted reply: “Duh, dad, the guy they showed at the start of The Blind Side. Jeeze.” He obviously meant Joe Theisman but somehow I was the dumbass in the exchange.

Speaking of NFL highlights, I’m finally taking advantage of my ESPN+ subscription in the form of NFL Primetime viewing. If you’re a fan of a certain age, you remember that NFL Primetime was probably the greatest thing about NFL television from the late 80s onward. Before it debuted - with the promise of highlights of EVERY GAME - the only highlights from around the league were the select few clips played during halftime of Monday Night Football. Chris Berman and Tom Jackson brought a revolution to my youth, and I still remember loads of at-the-time hilarious nicknames that are now pretty quaint.

Anyway, the nine year-old likes to sit with me and watch, and it’s really cool to see him experience such a memorable part of my youth football fandom. He always giggles at Chris Berman’s “Whooop!” sound effects, which makes me giggle along with him. The 12 year-old? He wouldn’t watch unless Primetime were showing highlights of George Patton’s Third Army storming through the Ardennes Forest, but that’s neither here not there.


Best beer I had this week: Before I hit the sack on Saturday, long before WSU kicked off, I ended the night with an Amundsen Brewery offering called “Dessert in a Can.” This variant contained hazelnut and praline, and was as sublime as it sounds.

Every Pint Of Silver City Beer Becomes A ‘Craft Beer Adventure’
Silver City Brewing was named Mid-Size Brewery of the Year in 2019, and its beers have won 16 medals at the Great American Beer Festival.


It just had to end in this way. The script writers would accept nothing less than the greatest self-parody of all time.

No, not that Four Seasons. How Team Trump’s news conference ended up at a Northeast Philly landscaping firm.
The 78-year-old employee manning the counter at the Fantasy Island sex shop, who declined to give his name, said the phone had been ringing off the hook since Saturday with callers asking: “Is Rudy Giuliani there?”

An Oral History of ‘Marge vs The Monorail’, the Episode That Changed ‘The Simpsons’
“If a gun was put to my head, and they said, ‘Tell me the best episode of television ever,’ it’s this.”