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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s 25-minute win over USC

Should stopped there!

PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 18: USC receiver Drake London (15) catches a pass over cornerback Jaylen Watson (0) in the second half of a PAC 12 conference matchup between the USC Trojans and the Washington State Cougars on September 18, 2021, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, WA. Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning! First, a question: Who do we think is the current leader in the quest for the Pac-12 South title? I’ve got BYU with a slight edge over Fresno State, then San Diego State in third. It’s gonna be an entertaining race!

As far as what happened in Pullman on Saturday, let’s hand the mic to Dan Hicks, with Lee Westwood playing the part of WSU (or you can just skip to the :36 mark).

We sure didn’t expect anything different! Why should we expect something other than what occurred?

Now, to be fair to Nick Rolovich, his team ABSOLUTELY DID NOT squander a lead against USC in 2020. Nope. Instead, his team fell behind by like 100 in the first 10 minutes and played out the string. Also in Rolovich’s corner is the fact that his team didn’t collapse in its first game when it turned a 28-7 lead over Oregon State into a 31-28 lead before somehow stumbling into a dagger touchdown. And finally, Rolo’s Cougars didn’t collapse against FCS Portland State last week. That’s three non-collapses! Almost half of WSU’s games!

So to recap, when WSU gets out to good starts and solid leads, it usually loses. When the game is relatively even throughout, it loses. When the game is a runaway, it’s WSU who is on the wrong end. Add it all up and it’s beginning to look like that one season where Rolovich’s Hawaii team didn’t stink was the outlier on an otherwise ghastly resumé.

As for what the players think, I’d encourage you all to read/watch Abe Lucas’s quotes after the game. They are incredibly telling on multiple fronts. Here is a sampling:

“I’ll compare it to UFC. I think we’re a team that, we have a good initial punch, but not really a chin,” Lucas said. “And we don’t have a lot of stamina for later on.”

Ringing endorsement of the coaching staff, especially the strength and conditioning program right there.

Lucas wasn’t done.

Obviously, there is no singular coaching style that tends to predominate. Some dictators are successful (hi, Nick Saban) while others mostly stunk (looking at you, Mike Stoops). Same with “players” coaches. Dabo Swinney has that rep, and so did Larry Coker. It goes a lot deeper than that, to include the type of staff a head coach builds, how he and his staff recruit and whether they are able to overcome talent deficits through schematics, to name just a few of many factors. So far, Rolovich is failing at those three things, which leads directly to his team failing on the field.

The Good

  • Can’t get much better than that opening sequence. WSU forces a USC punt, then slices and dices its way 89 yards to the end zone.
  • The first 20 minutes or so showed what this team is capable of, provided it can maintain the same intensity. Kind of a gigantic caveat there, obviously.
  • Andrew Edson continues to impress at defensive end, and will (hopefully) only get better as he matures.
  • Travell Harris is such a darn weapon in the slot.
  • Nice to see what Calvin Jackson can do when he’s healthy and getting targets.
  • Great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes on that interception, Daniel Isom.
  • Armani Marsh was a terror for a while. First he forces a fumble, then he makes a great interception. Go Bullpups!
  • Cougs may suck, but the Gamble-Tron doesn’t. Well, for this week anyway (9-0 on Pac-12 picks).
  • The boys went to bed after the first Cougar touchdown. Timing is everything.

The Bad

  • Dad stayed up for a while.
  • Don’t think Travell Harris will be winning special teams POY this week. Ugh.
  • I don’t care if he threw for 1,000 yards, whatever was going on with Jaxson Dart’s eye black was and is stupid.
  • Let’s not have a short yardage goal-to-go situation in the east end zone ever again.
  • You can’t drop that pass, Calvin.
  • Two first half takeaways in USC territory, zero points. Think that’s a recipe for an upset?
  • Daniel Isom’s angle on the tying touchdown was absolutely awful.
  • It’s funny how so many people with a microphone or proverbial typewriter think Liam Ryan is a capable left tackle, while we’ve been watching him get “swing door’d” since 2019.
  • When USC’s QB goes down, another 5-star comes in. When WSU’s QB goes down, a walk-on comes in. Kind of easy to see why USC wins almost 90% of these games.
  • So great when the broadcast completely ignores the action on the field in order to speculate on the USC coaching search, which they also did pregame, at halftime and probably postgame. Christ almighty, give it a rest.
  • I used to think Brock Huard was a good announcer. That was a long, long time ago. Now it’s boilerplate analysis and hyperbole.
  • Always great when you’re watching a telecast that goes PAT, commercial break, kickoff, commercial break. That used to only happen in the NFL, and there were at least two instances on Saturday. It may have happened again later on but I’d long since turned my attention to games that were actually competitive.
  • Dumb sports narratives are and always will be dumb.

Don’t be a person who recites dumb sports narratives.

The Ugly

  • Anyone else think it’s a bad idea to ask Justus Rogers to guard a wide receiver on a deep route?
  • Let’s be honest, the officials didn’t really cause WSU to lose the game, and USC would have won anyway. However, I don’t see how these clowns aren’t suspended (they won’t be) for the malpractice they conducted on Saturday. The roughing call on Brennan Jackson wasn’t anything close to a foul, and to completely ignore the helmet-to-helmet hit on Travell Harris’s fumble goes against everything we’ve seen from these idiots over the last few years.
  • Then again, they weren’t as atrocious as the SEC refs in the Auburn-Penn State and Mississippi St-Memphis games. Congratulations?
  • I don’t know where Jaylen Watson’s island is located, but Drake London now owns the deed in perpetuity.
  • I couldn’t help but laugh when the sideline announcer said, “There’s half the crowd here that there was to start the game”, since hardly anyone bothered to show up in the first place.

The Humorous

When I was a kid, I loved Johnny Carson. I would always stay up on the weekends to watch Carson’s Comedy Classics, which would come on before Saturday Night Live. One of the funniest recurring characters was Art Fern, a parody of those infomercial hucksters we’ve come to know over the years. One of the recurring bits was Art talking about the requirements to purchase whatever he was selling, and it reminded me of the more zealous among Rolovich’s supporters.

In this first clip, the gag comes at 4:30, and in the second clip it’s at 9:15. Despite that, I encourage you to watch both clips in their entirety if you want a good laugh, or several. Or don’t watch if you hate comedy.

Got no vaccine? We don’t care. Splitting the fan base? We don’t care. Underperforming in recruiting? We don’t care. Don’t win enough games?


That’s when we care.

Don’t ask how I made that connection, I’ve got a weird brain.


USC punches back, Washington State folds in blowout loss | The Spokesman-Review
USC was playing for the first time under interim coach Donte Williams, who replaced Clay Helton after he was fired Monday.

John Blanchette: Even if it was USC, latest collapse only confirms Washington State’s current trajectory is off target | The Spokesman-Review
USC interim head coach Donte Williams watched Saturday as the Trojans picked up their fragile psyches after being pounded for six quarters and blew apart the Cougars – speaking of fragile – with 45 straight points.

'I have to look at myself.' For fourth time under Nick Rolovich, Washington State loses after building double-digit lead | The Spokesman-Review
Rolovich isn’t subscribing to the belief his team lacks the mental toughness needed to hang around in games when adversity strikes.

Difference makers: USC pulls away from Washington State in second half with help from freshman QB Jaxson Dart | The Spokesman-Review
With the Cougs set up on their own 5 after an Armani Marsh interception, the Southern Cal edge rusher zoomed past WSU tackle Liam Ryan late in the third quarter.

This Week in Parenting

In better football news - from a personal standpoint anyway - the 13 year-old had his first ever real tackle football game on Saturday. While he’s not the bulkiest kid around, he unfortunately inherited dad’s decided lack of quick feet, which meant a spot at left tackle. He didn’t get in during the first half, which ended in a 0-0 shootout, but the coach put him in for the entirety of the second half. Final score? 12-0 Falcons! (that’s his team)

So the only thing we can infer from this is that my boy’s spot on the line made all the difference, and there was a clear correlation-causation relationship. He’s got a ways to go when it comes to learning the position, and it is still very easy to tell that he’s never played tackle football before. But he had a lot of fun and, most importantly, got to eat pizza with his buddies after the game. He may not be the fastest on the field, but ain’t no kid gonna beat him to the postgame snack line.

One other thing I saw that made me shake my head took place late in the game, when a teammate of my boy’s collided helmets with a running back from the opponent. The runner stayed down for a bit, then got out and started shaking his head in a clear attempt to “clear the cobwebs” ala someone from 1993. The kid ambled off, placed an ice pack on his head and before you know it, was back in the game and carrying the ball. Now, I won’t make any judgment, but I will say that had that been my kid, he would not have been put back in the game and I’d probably have taken him to be evaluated for a concussion. I figure that should happen any time a player is smacked in the head, but apparently not.

On the nine year-old front, the boy came home with red Sharpie all over his arms on Wednesday. When I asked what happened, he said some kid on the bus had done it to him. Then on Thursday, the same kid had drawn green marks on his leg before my boy was able to wrestle the pen away. At my urging, he had asked the boy what his name was, and was told “none of your bee’s wax.” (sick burn)

So on Friday, once my blood had come off its boil, I waited at the bus stop to have a talk with the driver about what had transpired when the kiddo rolled off the bus with a couple Sharpies. I asked where he got them, and he told me that he’d offered the little asshole fellow bus rider a Starburst in order to smooth things over. The little asshole fellow bus rider had given him a couple pens in exchange, and also ceased with the shenanigans. I was proud of the way he’d handled it (by being kind) instead of the way I’d planned to handle it (by murdering a minor), and I also thought to myself, “Does this little kid own Sharpie stock or something? Why the hell does he have all these pens?” One of life’s mysteries, I guess.


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