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The Good, Bad and Personal of WSU’s 31-20 win over Arizona

A little more than half good!

Washington State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Hello there! Happy Sunday! It certainly is a good day, as your Washington State Cougars went on the road Saturday and defeated the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson for the third time in four tries. The even better news is the win clinched yet another winning record, the sixth in seven full seasons. That is definitely something to be excited about, and proud of.

In a season of abject streakiness (WSU has two winning streaks of three games, sandwiched around a three-game losing spell), the win evens WSU’s conference record at 4-4, and pretty much locks it into a seventh place Pac-12 finish. And yeah, there were definitely a couple others that WSU could have - even should have - won, but that tends to be the nature of college football seasons. Just ask Alabama.

This one had a little extra spice, as y’all are definitely aware, given the pregame quotes from Jayden de Laura and tweets from former head coach-turned resident stooge Nick Rolovich. But the WSU defense played the role fireman on Saturday, drowning de Laura and the Wildcats under a deluge of blitzes and interceptions. And while it wasn’t exactly an artist’s masterpiece, it was certainly an enjoyable way to spend an early afternoon.

The Good

  • This defense, man. It just continues to try and make me eat my impression that it’s nothing special, and it is definitely making a solid case!
  • Delta Airlines? Delta Airlines! Team Kendall matriculated its way to Spokane on Saturday, having purchased tickets many weeks ago, making sure to arrive as early as possible. So when the kick time was revealed, I was less than pleased. A 3 a.m. CST wakeup, followed by a 520 a.m. departure is a less-than-enjoyable way to start any day, but after a stop in Atlanta and 4.5-hour flight across a landscape that mostly seemed to resemble Hoth, we arrived in time for me to dial up the first WSU score on my phone while taxiing. We got to the folks’ house before the second quarter even began, and I was able to mostly ignore my family while watching the rest of the game, just the way God meant us all to spend holiday time.
  • Jayden de Laura touchdown passes: 1
  • Jayden de Laura passes which were caught by former Gonzaga Prep Bullpups who now play for WSU: 3
  • The most impressive part of the defense’s performance Saturday (and there were many, such as not allowing Arizona inside the 20 until the game was decided), was how it didn’t let de Laura do any damage with his legs. de Laura gave USC, UCLA and others absolute fits with his ability to extend plays and gain yards when plays broke down. He did very little of that against WSU, and the players and coaches deserve a ton of credit.
  • Instead, it was the other quarterback doing work with his legs, as Cam Ward led the team in rushing and scored a touchdown.
  • We’ve been hard on one Sam Lockett this season, but he definitely had a game Saturday. In addition to the two picks, he made some solid plays in space, such as tackling Jacob Cowing for a two-yard loss.
  • Not to be outdone was Derrick Langford, who is damn good. The pick six was obviously the highlight of the day, but he made another one that stood out to me. Arizona faced 2nd-and-10 from the WSU 36 with 45 seconds left in the half, and de Laura hit Dorian Singer near the left sideline. Langford absolutely walloped Singer after six yards, but more importantly, he knocked Singer back, stopping his forward progress in bounds. That forced Arizona to use its final timeout, and helped stall a drive before reaching the end zone.
  • The Cougs sure are good at opening drives sometimes, and Saturday was no different. 11 plays, 75 yards, and only one third down. Handing the defense a seven-point lead before it even jogs on to the field is definitely good!
  • I guess I’ll put it in “good”, but um, anyone know exactly what the hell happened on that 4th-and-1 play that WSU converted late in the first quarter? I was watching on my phone and it looked like there were multiple near disasters, but Ward escaped danger like four times and it ended up in a seven-yard conversion to Nakia Watson. Just how they drew it up, I’m sure.
  • Ok back to the defense. It seemed to bend a good bit, but never broke until the game reached garbage time. Arizona faced 11 third downs and three fourth downs. It converted three of those 14 chances. You can often tell a lot about a game’s outcome by just a few stats, such as third/fourth down conversions and turnover differential. Arizona was really bad in both of those areas.
  • What a play by Jaden Hicks on the deep pass in the end zone.
  • Cam Ward’s keeper for WSU’s second score was gorgeous, as was Nakia Watson’s effort on 3rd-and-1. If Watson hadn’t converted there, what ended up being WSU’s third touchdown drive never would have gotten off the ground.
  • Donovan Ollie’s block on a Renard Bell screen pass during the same drive was damn near pornographic.
  • Speaking of Renard, that kid got smacked on two straight catches and got back up.
  • Last week, it was Brennan Jackson belting an unsuspecting QB. This week it was Lawrence Falatea’s turn. That looked like it hurt!
  • Very rare is the occasion when #Pac12refs incompetence actually pays off, but such was the case on a WSU 3rd-and-6 in the fourth quarter. Arizona was flagged for offsides, which was good because it meant WSU only needed a yard for a first down, except that the refs just...gave WSU the first down anyway? None of my degrees are in anything resembling math, but I’m pretty sure there was some sort of math error there. Oh well, I’ll take it!
  • Even though it didn’t end in points, WSU’s possession after Arizona’s first touchdown was at least semi-effective in draining some clock. The eight plays killed more than four minutes in the fourth, and Ward did a great job of calling for the snap just before the play clock expired.
  • Nearly 47 yards on the net punting average is damn good.
  • So is only three penalties.
  • I thought it was neat that Mark Atuaia was wearing his Virginia Cavaliers shirt on the sideline, and didn’t realize until later that college football fields featured colored hashmarks in memory of the tragically-slain players.

The Bad

  • How far down the list of on-air talent do you have to get before you arrive at Max Browne and Jordan Kent as your announcing team? Made Jim Walden seem palatable.
  • I’m pretty sure Arizona’s surface is artificial, which made it rather perplexing that it had a bunch of brown spots. Does the groundskeeper want it to perfectly resemble November natural grass?
  • Donovan, buddy. Those fumbles are crippling against good teams. Can’t happen.
  • In this week’s episode of “nobody knows what Targeting is” we saw an Arizona player launch himself helmet-first at Cam Ward, landing with the crown as Ward was being tackled. Even after a review, it was ruled as a fair play. WTF are we doing? It was clearly an instance where a defender launched himself, helmet crown-first, at a ball carrier. What does it matter that the hit was a glancing blow? The intent was clearly there, hence the obvious misnomer of “Targeting.” Complete nonsense.
  • Not really sure what the Nard Dog was doing on that slant pass near the goal line. He probably would have scored easily if he kept going after the catch. Instead, he cut outside and got caught short of the end zone.
  • No, Pac-12 Networks, WSU did not beat Arizona 44-18 in 2014.
  • Awesome job with the nonstop screen passes, Morris. Even got Renard Bell hurt again. Superb. Keep them coming.
  • More ref ineptitude - In the third quarter, Ron Stone chased de Laura to the right, and as the tackle was in progress, de Laura threw the ball away. Incomplete pass. Except that replay clearly showed de Laura’s knee to be down before he released the ball. Despite a timeout with a full ad break, none of those idiots thought it might be a good idea to take another look. Malice.
  • Fair. Catch. The damn. Ball.
  • I know the offensive line is injury-riddled. But my god, it seemed like every time Watson or Jenkins got the ball, there was a tackler in their face immediately. I’m not optimistic that it will change this season, but the line has to be the top priority in the offseason transfer portal.
  • If there’s one thing that burns me, it’s playing soft defense on 3rd-and-long, and allowing a team to get close enough to go for it on 4th down. Grinds my gears.
  • Please, for the love of God, no more trick plays.
  • I made mention of the drive where WSU killed some clock in the fourth quarter. It was good, right up til the part where WSU threw on 3rd-and-4, then tried a 51-yard field goal as I was screaming at the television for them to punt.
  • There’s a reason that coaches like Bill Belichick don’t allow their players to reach the ball out near the end zone, and we saw that reason when Nakia Watson was trying to score. Fortunately, and against everything they’ve done in the past, the refs made the correct call (I think?) and said that the ball went out of bound before crossing the plane. And I write all of that while acknowledging that the fumble-out-of-the-end zone rule is one of the dumbest in all of sports. Anyway, just hold on to the damn ball.
  • While the defensive game plan and execution were outstanding, I’d posit that Francisco Mauigoa shouldn’t be trying to cover a wide receiver 50 yards downfield.
  • I guess the refs just wanted to get out of there at the end, because that thing Ward does during the kneel down, when he walks forward toward the snap, is not legal.
  • 4.8 yards per play against a defense that, including Saturday, is giving up 6.64. That’s really bad, guys.

The Ugly

  • Ok, this second half offensive ineptitude is officially a real problem. WSU hasn’t scored more than 10 points in any second half since September. And on Saturday, that was only because the defense found the end zone. Now, I know that a portion of that is due to the leads WSU has established early on, but the difference in play-calling and execution between halves is staggering, and indicative of something that doesn’t appear to be fixable in the near future. No matter what happens in the last two games, Eric Morris has to figure out a way to make this offense succeed in the second half, because not every opponent is going to be as inept as 2022 Stanford and Arizona. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that it doesn’t lie in calling more goddamn screen passes.

The Jayden

Such leadership!

Now 90% off at your local Dollar Tree.

Spicy college football Twitter accounts are one of the reasons this sport is the best.

Speaking of which...

Butch had that tweet locked and loaded for a while.

No word on whether Nick’s Oath Keepers chapter meeting ended in time for him to watch the game from the - mostly empty - stadium. Or maybe he was in church, seeing as how he’s suddenly super religious and all.

The “I wish we still had de Laura” nonsense is dead. Let us never speak of it again.


'We were locked in': Washington State records four interceptions against former Cougar quarterback, takes care of Arizona | The Spokesman-Review
For the Washington State faithful, Saturday’s game played out like a fantasy. For former Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura, now the signal-caller at Arizona, it was a nightmare scenario.

Difference makers: Gonzaga Prep graduate Sam Lockett III grabs pair of interceptions in WSU's win over Arizona | The Spokesman-Review
The Wildcats were deflated by the three consecutive interceptions, which allowed WSU to open up a 25-point lead late in the third quarter. Lockett contributed five tackles, including one for loss.

Washington State running backs coach Mark Atuaia wears University of Virginia apparel in support of school struck by tragedy | The Spokesman-Review
Washington State running backs coach Mark Atuaia, who served as Virginia’s RBs coach over the past six years, wore a bright orange Cavaliers polo during the Cougars’ game Saturday at Arizona.

Seen and heard: Arizona QB struggles in ‘personal’ game; Cats and Cougars honor UVa victims, vets
The result was happy news for the segment of Washington State fans still angry over his departure from the program.

Jayden de Laura throws 4 INTs in loss to WSU; UA shifts focus to Territorial Cup
It was that kind of day for de Laura and the Wildcats. Everything felt slightly off. Even the pregame flyover was about 10 seconds late.

Notes, quotes and stats from the Arizona Wildcats’ 31-20 loss to Washington State
Arizona established a season high in tackles for loss for the second straight week. The Wildcats amassed eight TFLs vs. the Cougars. Arizona tallied seven vs. UCLA.


Cougs host rematch with Colorado Sunday in Bohler Gym - Washington State University Athletics
On the heels of a Friday night sweep in Bohler Gym, 25th-ranked Washington State volleyball (20-8, 12-5 Pac-12) gets set for a rematch against Colorado (18-9, 10-7 Pac-12) Sunday afternoon as it hosts the second match in a four-match home stand to close out the 2022 Pac-12 season.

This Week in Parenting

A while back, the 14 year-old had a buddy over for the night. As I was heading to bed after a long, grueling day of sitting on the couch and watching football, I heard them talking. Well, I heard my kid talking. It was after midnight, and he was explaining to his friend the origins of the first World War, using a giant map of Europe that we bought in Germany, and which he hung on the wall. The girls are gonna be kicking the door down for a piece of future lectures.

One morning, I noticed that the 11 year-old made his bed before school. This is highly unusual, so I complimented him on the extra effort. That all changed when mom got home, and he said, “Dad says I have to make my bed every day now.” I reacted with a mixture of curiosity and bewilderment, as I’d said no such thing. Where on earth do these kids come up with this? Maybe he’s watching cable news while I’m asleep or something.

Then, after the Cougs beat Arizona, we were watching other games. I turned on Clemson to monitor the goings-on, since I had a vested interest in Clemson winning by 20 or more. The score was 26-3, and Miami was threatening. The Hurricanes scored, and I uttered an audible curse word or two. Without missing a beat, the 11 year-old says, “Is the point spread done now, dad?”

Later, after Cal and Stanford both pulled off great gambling moments within minutes of each other, we were watching the USC game. As the scoring piled up, he says, “What’s the over/under for this game? They could get there.” I wanted to turn the channel, but it was difficult to see the remote control buttons through my tears of pride. Did I mention that their favorite SportsCenter segment is Bad Beats?


What do we know so far about collapse of crypto exchange FTX? | Cryptocurrencies | The Guardian
The collapse of FTX, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has unleashed another bout of volatility in the highly speculative digital asset market.

How one woman helped decode Nazi messages and win World War II - The Washington Post In the dark days of World War II, the secretive staff at a large building on Nebraska Avenue NW in Washington kept a scoreboard of its success.