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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s win over Portland State

Always good when we talk about a win!

PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 11: Washington State running back Max Borghi (21) pushes down a defender during the first half of a non-conference matchup between the Portland State Vikings and the Washington State Cougars on September 11, 2021, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, WA. Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning! How ‘bout those Washington State Cougars! Ok sure, they weren’t playing the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, but the fact that they cruised to a relatively stress-free victory over Portland’s version puts the players, coaches and fans in a much better frame of mind than we all were last week at this time. And while the Cougs weren’t playing a formidable opponent, we learned yet again on Saturday that winning every game is hard, and should never be taken for granted. Just ask Florida State.

Back to the home team. There were certainly moments of frustration, which we’ll get to, but the Cougars looked far sharper and more organized than they did in last week’s opener. While I sped through the second half, I didn’t notice nearly as much confusion on behalf of the players, and the coaches look to have remedied the chronic play clock issues that were apparent against Utah State. Hopefully that becomes the rule and not the exception, because no team can succeed if it isn’t organized. But anyway, what did we like? Let’s talk about it!

The Good

  • Gotta start with Travell Harris. After last week’s subpar (for him) performance, in which his longest catch covered all of seven yards, Harris was back to being the electric player we’ve become used to seeing. Not only did he catch all six of his targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns, his kick and punt returns provided a huge spark. In all, Harris racked up 188 all-purpose yards. The Cougs will need games like that quite a bit if they want to win.
  • Pretty efficient performance out of Jayden de Laura, completing 21 of his 29 passes at a clip of 10.4 YPA. He seems to be more comfortable when WSU is going quickly and the defense has to react him, and not vice versa.
  • Deon and Max performed like we expected them to last week, which is a good thing! I don’t know what it is, but the holes seem to be there more for McIntosh than Borghi. May be anecdotal but Borghi sure seemed to have to work a lot harder for his yards.
  • On the bright side, his hurdle (which you could see him setting up well in advance) went much better this week.
  • Is it just me, or does Calvin Jackson make at least one highlight-worthy catch every week? That touchdown was another one for the reel.
  • Pretty good first quarter for Andrew Edson. First, he recovered a fumble that the WSU offense turned into its first touchdown, then he sacked Davis Alexander to end Portland State’s ensuing possession.
  • de Laura has some really impressive balance.
  • He also has an arm that puts some serious mustard on this throws, and one of them resulted in a helluva catch by De’Zhaun Stribling deep in PSU territory.
  • While they didn’t exactly look like we may be expecting, the WSU edge rushers did a better job at disrupting plays than they did last week. WSU’s success on defense starts with those ends causing havoc.
  • Pretty impressive first carry for Nakia Watson! I’m already looking forward to seeing more carries out of him.
  • That may have been one of the most impressive second quarters I’ve seen a WSU offense play. To recap: 46 yards in 65 seconds for a TD, 80 yards in 131 seconds for a TD, 73 yards in 119 seconds for a TD. And a field goal at the end to cap it. Not bad!
  • Even counting sacks, WSU averaged nearly five YPC. Hopefully the offensive line issues are on their way to getting better, because the competition level is about to go way up.
  • Gotta love those “NOOOO” hang on “YESSSS” plays. In WSU’s case, it was Ron Stone whiffing on a sack, only watch Justus Rogers intercept a pass that led to three more second quarter points.
  • It was really nice to see the defense break the trend of second half collapses. After a long third quarter PSU drive that didn’t net any points, PSU’s next three possessions covered 15, 19 and 17 yards before garbage time and the backups set in.

The Bad

  • That first possession didn’t exactly inspire confidence, as WSU turned 2nd-and-3 into 4th-and-3.
  • I heard Portland State’s quarterback compared to Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel more that once. Yeah, no.
  • Justus, you have to beat that quarterback to the pylon. Come on, man.
  • Through two games, the kicker has missed a very make-able field goal (that turned out to be pretty important!), missed a PAT and shanked a kickoff out of bounds. Come the (bleep) on, man.
  • I need to keep reminding myself that de Laura is basically half way through his freshman year, because he has a loooong way to go in terms of read progression and patience in the pocket. He also needs to take what the defense gives him a lot more instead of going for the lower-percentage kill shot.
  • Lincoln Kennedy didn’t know that Joey Hobert is Billy Joe Hobert’s kid. You may not be aware that KENNEDY WAS HOBERT’S TEAMMATE AT WASHINGTON. It was right there on the tee and Lincoln whiffed badly.
  • I know WSU had a big lead, and I’m sure that Nick Rolovich wanted to see what Victor Gabalis can do, but maybe let the kid hand off once? Those three plays were ghastly.
  • I’d love to know why C.J. Moore hasn’t been more involved in the offense.
  • Edson, buddy, you gotta finish that play when you’ve got the quarterback in your grasp.
  • Also bad? Portland State. Portland State is bad.

The Ugly

  • I don’t know what happened on de Laura’s goal line interception, but that crap cannot happen. It almost looked like he thought the receiver was going to run a fade/stop, but man, somebody really screwed up.
  • With USC and its stud receivers coming to town (maybe with a new coach?), WSU can ill afford to be dinged in the secondary, and that’s exactly what’s happening. Losing Jaylen Watson will be a tough blow if he’s out for any length of time.

Elsewhere in college football

  • Pretty fitting the both Texas and USC absolutely crapped the bed within a couple hours of each other. So typical.
  • It’s nice to be big brother in one alma mater’s intrastate rivalry, as my Iowa Hawkeyes and Kirk Ferentz continue to own all of the property inside Jack Trice Stadium.
  • I’ve watched dozens of Oregon Ducks games, and it’s tough to recall a more impressive performance than the one they put on in Ohio Stadium.
  • Lol Tennessee. Some of the tastiest tears are Voluntears.
  • I’ve never been confused with a math whiz, but my calculations suggest that if the Washington Huskies had added this week’s total to last week’s total, they’d have been able to squeak by Montana. Alas! First 0-2 start since 2008. Keep going, fellas! You can get there!


Washington State fine tunes with smooth win over Portland State | The Spokesman-Review In Week 2, the Cougars did what was expected of them: tuned up and lifted the spirits around their program ahead of Pac-12 play.

Difference makers in WSU's win over Portland State | The Spokesman-Review
WSU was clicking, particularly in the second quarter, when it scored on four consecutive drives to extend its halftime lead to 20 points.

John Blanchette: Victorious WSU football can find out what R-E-S-P-E-C-T means | The Spokesman-Review
Wow. The Pac-12 is back, and with a vengeance.

No upset this time: Portland State Vikings fall 44-24 at Washington State -
Portland State, a member of the Big Sky Conference, fell to 4-42 all-time against FBS teams.

This Week in Parenting

Credit where it’s due to the kiddos. We marched them up, down and all around Budapest last weekend (more than six miles on Monday alone). And while they gripe every now and then, they’re good little troopers so long as we keep them fed. Budapest doesn’t disappoint on that front, especially when it comes to food in a cone. First, there was the sausage-filled number at the market, then the sublime cinnamon and sugar-coated, ice cream-filled chimney cone after our evening river cruise. A guy could really pack on the weight in that town.

Later in the week, we were listening to an NFL podcast on the way to the 13 year-old’s football practice when the following exchange occurred:

Ben Roethlisberger looks old. How old is he? When did he start playing?

2004 I think, which would make him about 37.

Ok, he looks way older than that. Almost as old as you, dad.

Is that a compliment?

Finally, today (Sunday) brought the onset of fall baseball camp, which lasts about two hours per session. The older kid’s thrice-weekly football practices also last two hours. It amazes me how many parents sit there for the entire thing. I drop the kid(s) and go off to do other things (usually involving a couch), and I’ve always wondered why so many parents sit there and watch their kids practice every damn day. I can’t recall any times when my parents or friends’ parents showed up at practice except to drop us off and pick us up. When did things change, and why? Maybe I’m just a crappy parent who isn’t with the times. I don’t know.


How 9/11 changed us - Washington Post
The books of the last two decades show how overreacting to the attacks unmade America’s values.

Vaccination Mandates Are an American Tradition. So Is the Backlash. - The New York Times The roots of U.S. vaccine mandates predate both the U.S. and vaccines.

The Sopranos of Berlin: A Brutal Crime Family and a Billion Dollar Jewel Heist | GQ
Inside the race to recover a priceless royal treasure and finally catch an audacious band of thieves.