Good morning! How was your Saturday?! Mine was pretty damn great! Especially if you include the extremely early part of Sunday when your Washington State Cougars left Corvallis with their seventh consecutive win over the Oregon State Beavers! I still haven’t kicked the exclamation point habit, and I do not apologize for it! Ok, that’s it, I promise. Or do I?!
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of WSU’s opening win, allow me to navel-gaze just a bit. In case you aren’t aware, a 730 p.m. PST start for the Cougars means a 430 a.m. CET (Central European Time) start for the game here where I live. That leaves a bit of a dilemma as far as game consumption goes. Many times, I’ll sleep through much of the it and start watching on DVR when I get up. However, there have been times where I’ve sucked it up and set an alarm for about 4 a.m. so I could watch live.
I was all set to opt for the former course of action, especially since American Forces Network was carrying the game. Then my friend and fellow Coug Garrett shot me a note, inviting me over to watch. The Cougs have a pretty good record when Garrett and I watch together, always at his house because he has a better setup and also because I’m a bum. So even though I would have been perfectly content with staying in bed until well past first light, there I was driving north in the pitch black at 415 a.m. to watch a team with a new coach, a new quarterback, a backup running back and several other missing pieces play its first game of a truncated season on the road, as an underdog, amid a pandemic. It really is a sickness.
I’d forgive Garrett if he was tired of having me over. After all, if I’m not clapping or shouting f-bombs (likely waking his family members), I’m furiously typing notes into my phone - from which I draw the bulk of these day-after musings - and checking in to the CougCenter slack for more swearing. All the while, Garrett is trying to work in some adult conversation, and my ability to carry on a coherent exchange probably has Garrett constantly questioning why he invited me over in the first place.
Now, here I sit, the wishes for a 45-minute nap gone by the wayside, trying to avoid a face plant into the keyboard. But, as a wise commander once told me on a deployment many years ago, “I don’t care about the labor pains, Kendall. Show me the baby.” And away we go...
- We’ll get to the the freshman quarterback in a second, but let’s lead with RB1, Deon McIntosh. What if I told you that Max Borghi, WSU’s best player, wouldn’t be available, and that McIntosh would be forced to play every snap on offense? How would you have felt about WSU’s chances? Well all Deon did was carry the ball 18 times for 147 yards (8.2 per carry) and score a touchdown. McIntosh was a godsend, given the perilous nature of Borghi’s availability going forward.
- Ok, let’s give the nod to the true freshman quarterback, Jayden de Laura. After a bit of a shaky start, de Laura showed incredible poise. And might I add, it was bizarre to see a WSU quarterback wearing Number 4 scrambling around the pocket, extending plays and pulling the ball for option keepers. I am incredibly excited to watch de Laura play for the next few seasons.
- Not to be outdone, the defense as a whole was, competent? Yes! They had Tristan Gebbia rattled badly for the entire first half, enabling WSU’s offense to find its footing. If you ask me, the most important part about WSU’s defensive effort as a whole was the fact that they limited explosive plays. In 2019, it seemed like every time we turned around the opposing offense was ripping off a 45-yard run or 60-yard pass. On Saturday, WSU allowed only three plays of 20+ yards, and OSU’s longest run covered 18. As much as anything else, that was essential in WSU leaving with a win.
- Let’s hear it for Nick Rolovich, the first WSU head coach to debut with a road win since yours truly was a scant one year old. If you want to know how long that’s been, just know that I’m really old.
- How poised was de Laura? When he noticed that OSU had jumped offsides, he took advantage of the free play by throwing deep. It resulted in his first career touchdown.
- I don’t know about you, but I damn near had a stroke when de Laura pulled the ball from McIntosh at the absolute last moment and ran in for a score, turning a near disaster into a great play. I don’t think that’s the last time we’ll go through that gamut of emotions this season when #4 has the ball. Credit to McIntosh for throwing a key block to enable the score.
- Travell Harris. Man. Not only does he run away from people, he is also quite adept at breaking tackles, such as that screen pass he broke to get WSU out of trouble in its own territory.
- Huuuuuuuge sack by Willie Taylor to kill an early Beavers drive.
- Very very very good to see Jamire Calvin back and catching passes. He has some impressive toe-taps along the sideline as well.
- OSU scored four times on Saturday. WSU answered with a score of its own on three of the four ensuing possessions. I cannot stress how important that is over the course of a game.
- For a while there, I kept asking myself, “Who is #80?” That would be Brennan Jackson, and he is going to be a problem for opposing offenses. Ahmir Crowder has a chance to be pretty good, too. He nearly twisted Gebbia into a pretzel on his sack.
- Tip of the cap to Ayden Hector for stepping in when we learned that Tyrese Ross wasn’t available. Hector was another true freshman who made a solid contribution.
- Special teams was solid all day, from limiting return yardage to solid punting to Dillon Sherman even getting a punt deflection that set WSU up on the right side of the 50.
- Great to see Dillon back and healthy, by the way.
- Feel kinda sorry for Renard Bell, who made an outstanding catch, only to see it nullified by a penalty.
- However, if Bell’s play had counted, we would not have been able to experience the absolute hole shot that de Laura placed into Harris’ hands on the next play. I could write a million words and not sufficiently communicate how amazing that throw was. Pretty good catch, too!
- Part of me wanted Travell Harris to slide down after he broke through the OSU defense, in order to prevent Oregon State from getting another possession. That part of me was quickly drowned out by the other part that was yelling “HOUSE IT! HOUSE IT!” Again, apologies to Garrett’s family.
- The announcers were raving about the fact that Jermar Jefferson has scored so many touchdowns against WSU. I prefer to rave about the fact that Jermar Jefferson is 0-3 against WSU. (but seriously he’s really good)
- Circling back to the ground game, which averaged 7.6 yards-per-carry, let’s give the nod to the offensive line, which opened some gaping holes for those runs and mostly kept de Laura clean.
- For not having played in nearly a year, only getting five penalties for 44 yards is pretty good, especially when one of them is a personal foul because Brennan Jackson was kinda mean to Gebbia. Awful call.
- I don’t know about you, but that fourth down play to begin the fourth quarter had my knuckles showing a bright shade of white. Never fear, Jayden and Renard are here.
- If you haven’t read about what Travell Harris was signaling as he scored the clinching touchdown, please do so.
- I may be on an island, but I love Petros Papadakis. When he was comparing de Laura to Steve DeBerg, I was howling inside.
- I know it’s probably going to be a season-long issue, but finding out how many guys are missing right before the game is really really annoying.
- Solid camera work on the first touchdown, Fox. Just top notch.
- Too many missed tackles by the linebackers. Travion Brown really needs to replace Justus Rogers asap.
- de Laura’s only pock mark was that ill-advised deep shot to Jamire Calvin after WSU had great field position. Late throws into double coverage will almost never work out well.
- The officials, to include the replay monitor, were already in midseason form. That’s not a good thing. Some of their spots were bizarre, such as when McIntosh stepped out at the three, and they...spotted him at the five? Then toward the end of the game, an OSU receiver catches a one-yard pass on 3rd-and-2, and he is given a first down. Um, what? The cherry on top of the garbage ref sundae was when Renard Bell caught a touchdown that was overturned despite zero evidence that he didn’t control it all the way. Meanwhile, Oregon State’s tackles were grabbing every square inch of jersey they could on nearly every pass play, with nary a call in sight. I can’t count how many times I screamed “Holding!” at the TV, only to watch the flags stay home while OSU got another completion.
- WSU blew a really good chance to plunge the dagger in the third quarter, when they had OSU backed up and facing a 3rd-and-16. Instead, they allowed a 14-yard screen pass, which set up a 4th down conversion. Can’t happen.
- While the offensive line did a great job, there were some mistakes that have to be corrected. Looking at you and your late hit, Liam Ryan. Looking at you Brian Greene, and your bad snap that killed a possible touchdown drive. And Brian, you can’t just be running down the field on pass plays. It cost Renard Bell a touchdown. But honestly, you did pretty darn well in your first ever start.
- The left corner position has to get better, fellas.
- Anyone heard from Hamilcar Rashed, Jr? He was MIA on Saturday. I thought he was supposed to be good?
- Fumble luck. Dang fumble luck. First Gebbia fumbles on the one yard line, but OSU recovers. Then Jefferson fumbles on a late OSU drive, and despite WSU having defenders right there, the Beavers get the ball back.
- Gotta figure out a way to tackle the freaking punter, Hank Pladson.
- Please get better soon, Calvin Jackson Jr. Looked like a pulled muscle or something similar, but that guy deserves a season in the sun.
Eight years of the Leach Air Raid get a person used to not seeing certain things. Those things include:
- A 64-yard drive during which the entire distance was gained via the ground.
- The Cougs huddle? Haven’t seen that in a while!
- Only four players caught passes. FOUR!
- It was great to see Daniel Isom earn his position on the team back, but man, he looked lost out there for much of the game.
- That onside kick was far more coronary-inducing than it should have been. Billy Pospisil, you’re on the “hands” team because you’re supposed to have good hands. You cannot let the ball get away like that. And I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but WSU was perilously close to not recovering that. After Pospisil flubbed it, there were two OSU players standing there ready to recover, but it hit a WSU player’s foot and deflected straight to Lucas Bacon. /Unclench. So I guess the fumble luck wasn’t all bad.
- Get well soon, Max. Get well soon, everyone else.
- Oh, and Chip Kelly, maybe you belong in a halftime studio. Think it over.
All in all, it is almost impossible to envision a better start to the 2020 football season, given everything the team has been through up to this point. GFC.
John Blanchette: Washington State proves traditional college football blueprints don't decide winners | The Spokesman-Review
Rolovich isn’t the first coach to win his Wazzu opener, but he’s the first since Bert Clark in 1964 to have to do it against a conference opponent.
Recap and highlights: Washington State starts new era with win over Oregon State | The Spokesman-Review
With a new coach and a true freshman quarterback, Washington State beat Oregon State for the seventh straight time despite the absence of running back Max Borghi, who missed the game with an injury.
Washington State adds '26' sticker to helmets in honor of former teammate Bryce Beekman | The Spokesman-Review
The helmet stickers read “26” but if you look closely enough, the body of the crimson numbering is made up of small script reading “Fly high.”
Oregon State falls flat in opener, bows to Washington State 38-28: Game at a glance - oregonlive.com
The Beavers allow Washington State to take control by scoring 21 consecutive points in losing the opener.
OSU football: Beavers fall short in opener | Football | gazettetimes.com
The Beavers, once trailing by three touchdowns, cut the lead to 31-28 with 2:39 left but their onside kick was recovered by the Cougars, who promptly scored on a breakaway run by Travell Harris up the middle to close out the game.
Pac-12's historic 9 a.m. kickoff produces thrilling USC victory
Suddenly, Oregon’s trip to the Palouse in Week Two has next-level intrigue.
This Week in Parenting
The boys are imminently more optimistic about Cougar Football than I am. In my defense, they haven’t been beaten down by 30+ years of heartbreak. Anyway, they asked me who I thought would win this week, and I said OSU. So imagine their delight this morning when I got home and told them the Cougs won. They like rubbing my bad predictions in my face way more than WSU’s actual wins. I’m fine with it.
I mentioned the that nine year-old had a birthday recently. One of his favorite things in the world is Chick-fil-A sauce (maybe he is my kid after all), so he asked his grandma in Indiana for some of it as a gift. Grandparents being grandparents, SIX BOTTLES OF SAUCE arrived in the mail. When he was told to put them in the pantry, he shouted to his brother, “Stack ‘em like artillery shells! Go go go!” Boys are never not funny.
Finally, as I began to write this edition, the boys were playing Nerf wars with the neighbor kids. They came home at 230 p.m. as directed, and the belly-aching began immediately. “We were just about to start a football game! Can we please go back?!” Mrs. Kendall and I melded minds and decided they could stay out for another hour. Before telling them, I asked the nine year-old who the best dad in the world is. “Boom Boom” was his answer. “Boom Boom” is the name that the four grandkids call my dad. It’s a long story, but anyway, I applaud the boy’s honesty. He’s sleeping outside until further notice.
Best beer I had this week: TIE!
Victory beer Number One of the @NickRolovich era is what the kids would call a whale, and comes at 9am after game number one! What a day. #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/GzPCaNsqTG— PJ Kendall ✈ ⚰ (@Deathby105) November 8, 2020
First ever non-sports victory beer is Westvleteren XII - one of the world's greatest - with a side of champagne to boot. Go America. pic.twitter.com/mzlP25liEZ— PJ Kendall ✈ ⚰ (@Deathby105) November 7, 2020
I don’t know what Guinness is doing but I am here for it!
Guinness Just Announced Two Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers, Including an Imperial Gingerbread Spiced Stout | VinePair
Guinness celebrated International Stout Day on Thursday by announcing its Baltimore brewery will be releasing two new seasonal stouts.
"It’s the Most Outrageous Thing I’ve Ever Seen. It Makes No Sense." – Texas Monthly
DNA evidence proved Lydell Grant's innocence. So why won't the state’s highest criminal court exonerate him?