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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s resounding 52-14 win over Stanford

There was a whole lotta good!

NCAA Football: Washington State at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Hello there, and welcome to the first “happy totals” Sunday post in quite a while. It’s only been five weeks since your Washington State Cougars football team stood in the winner’s circle, but it feels like at least double that, especially since so many of the losses between beating Cal and beating Stanford were exercises in frustration. A lot of that frustration boiled to the surface on Saturday, and the Cougs took all of it out on a hapless Stanford team, which officially resembles those of Buddy Teevens vintage.

We’ll get to the bullet points soon enough, but if I were to offer a little friendly advice to should-be-fired-but-it’s-Stanford-so-nobody-cares David Shaw, it would be this: Next time somebody says, “We should wear black uniforms against WSU!”, hang that person by his or her toe nails from the tallest building on campus. WSU has played at Stanford three times in the last seven seasons. Twice, Stanford has worn all black. In those games, WSU has outscored Stanford 94-30.

On second thought, Stanford should wear black every time it sees WSU, home, road, neutral site game in Kyrgyzstan, wherever. Saturday’s American History X-style curb-stomping of the Cardinal improved WSU’s winning streak over Stanford to six games. The funny thing about the streak is that the game has either been a nail-biter or a murder scene. Cougar margins of victory in the streak are as follows: 26, 3, 3, 27, 3, 38. That is some interesting variance.

But while three of the last four were decided by a mere field goal, WSU left no such doubt on Saturday, storming out to a 21-point lead and sitting on Stanford for the next three quarters enroute to an easy, and huge, win. I don’t know about you, but I am in favor of stress-free blowout wins! So, how did the Cougs get there? What did we like? What wasn’t so super? Let’s dive in.

The Good

  • WSU and Stanford have played each other 72 times. The 72nd edition was WSU’s highest margin of victory in series history, surpassing a 40-6 Cougar win in 1958. How long ago was that? I wasn’t even alive yet!
  • My word, did WSU ever need Nakia Watson back in there, and he made his presence felt rather quickly, bursting through a hole for a 65-yard burst that set WSU up for its first of seven touchdowns.
  • Watson’s first explosive run got a huge assist from right tackle Fa’alili Fa’amoe, who pulled around and took out two Stanford defenders.
  • 306 yards rushing. Three Hundred and Six! In one game!
  • That first drive, along with a few others early on, featured some pretty creative play calling that we’ve been hoping to see for quite a while now.
  • The best thing you can hope for after a quick opening score is for the defense to exert its will and prevent an opponent answer. That’s exactly what happened, as Stanford gained three yards on three plays.
  • How many guys were getting meaningful time? On WSU’s second scoring drive, Orion Peters caught an 18-yard pass, and Anderson Grover caught a touchdown pass. Cue nerly every Cougar fan scrambling to find the answer to the question, “Who is Anderson Grover?” Well, aside from the present, where he’s catching touchdowns, with a name like that, his destiny is almost certainly to have the initials “CFP” in his signature block. “How’s your portfolio doing? Oh, it’s down 20%? Better get to Anderson Grover. His funds is up 14%, even in this market!”
  • Great stop by Brennan Jackson on Stanford’s second drive to force a second straight three-and-out. A few explosives later, including another big Watson run and a nifty 20-yarder to tight end Billy Riviere, Cam Ward was dancing into the end zone once again, and the route was on.
  • The ball-hawking defense that hasn’t boiled to the surface much this season sure showed up on Saturday. There was one stretch where Stanford possessions ended like this: fumble, punt, fumble, fumble, fumble. The fumble luck was giving, as WSU recovered every one of those.
  • Leading the way was the tandem of Daiyan Henley and Francisco Mauigoa. Mauigoa forced two of those four fumbles and Henley recovered two of them.
  • One of Mauigoa’s punch outs found its way to safety Jaden Hicks, who housed it for a 28-7 lead. That came at a key moment - if you can call any moment in this blowout “key” - because after the fast start, WSU had punted on three straight possessions, and Brennan Jackson had picked up a dumb penalty to get Stanford out of field position trouble. But fear not!
  • Clinical drive for the Cougs enroute to their fifth touchdown. Eight yard pass, nine yard pass, seven yard run, six yard pass, four yard run, seven yard run, eight yard run among some incompletions. That set up a 4th-and-3 inside the Stanford nine yard line, and luckily Jake Dickert didn’t listen to this idiot on his couch, who wanted to kick the field goal! Instead, Donovan Ollie made a great catch for another score.
  • That drive may not have happened if not for a great Chau Smith-Wade tackle. Mudia Reuben took an end around and had a lot of room in front of him, but Smith-Wade was able to make the stop after just 11 yards. Smith-Wade was the man of that series, as he punched the ball out of Elijah Higgins’ grasp and into the arms of Travios Brown.
  • ANOTHER FUMBLE! - This time it was Armani Marsh and Daiyan Henley teaming up to get the ball back.
  • Nakia Watson was not here for your clinical drives, choosing instead to take the ball 41 yards on one play to close out the half and, for all intents and purposes, the game.
  • Robert Ferrell wasn’t as omnipresent as he has been, but he put his stamp on WSU’s only field goal drive, returning a punt for 16 yards to the Stanford 36, then hauling in a 27-yard pass to set up first-and-goal.
  • Nice way for the starters on defense to put a bow on their portion of the game, as Brennan Jackson collected a third down sack and Raam Stevenson batted down the next pass to kill a Stanford drive into WSU territory.
  • But all of that drivel above was just prelude to what was the most fun part of the game: THE JOHNNY AND DJOUVENSKY (DJ) SHOW!!!
  • For the first time all season, we got to see these guys in live action, and it was fun! Mateer came in and wasn’t about to kill the clock. His first play was a 16-yard run around left end. Then, a couple plays later, Johnny dropped an absolute dime to Orion Peters for a 27-yard score. One possession, one touchdown. Pretty good!
  • On the next possession, starting at the WSU three, DJ goes for four, DJ goes for 34, Johnny goes for 27, DJ goes for eight. Before you knew it, WSU had flipped the field. Those two offensive series were so fun to watch.
  • The backups on defense showed out pretty well, too, overcoming a terrible pass interference call to stymie a Stanford drive near the end zone in between the Johnny and Djouvensky show. Among them was Jackson Lataimua, who had a couple good moments in pass coverage. That leads us to...

The Bad

  • Taking a knee with a chance to get the backups into the end zone? Booooooooooo! Seriously, let those guys try to get touchdowns. They deserve it.
  • I loved the pregame segment when the announcer wondered whether Stanford would rely on its quarterback more since its top three running backs were out. Um, ya think?
  • Watson takes a 41-yarder for a touchdown and the announcer calls it his longest run of the season. Well, except that Watson had a 65-yard run like 20 minutes before that.
  • Kick and punt returners, please read and heed: Fair catch all kicks, and for the love of God CATCH PUNTS INSTEAD OF LETTING THEM BOUNCE AND ROLL.
  • Pretty amazing #Pac12refs moment when they flagged - and later nullified - WSU for pass interference on a ball that Tanner McKee threw 20 yards out of bounds. They were on point with PI throughout the game. And by that I mean there were multiple, uh, suspect calls against WSU, one of which took away an interception.
  • While we’re at it, refs, if you’re going to rule that a runner’s forward progress was stopped before he fumbles, maybe that ruling should be accompanied by a whistle. That would have been a lot better than the BS ruling in the first quarter when WSU stripped a ball carrier and recovered the fumble in complete absence of a whistle.
  • Great job by Jaden Hicks on the scoop and score, but hoo boy did he struggle on Stanford’s first touchdown drive with a missed tackle and blown coverage.
  • Really poor judgment on DeZhaun Stribling’s part when he decided to headbutt a player, ruining a chance at a fourth down try in Stanford territory.
  • More of a funny moment than “bad” per se, but I’ll put it here. On one of WSU’s many fumble recoveries, linebacker Ben Wilson got so excited that he pointed in the wrong direction.
  • Leading 28-7, WSU recovers a fumble and Michael Bumpus says momentum has shifted back to the Cougars. Did I mention WSU was leading 28-7 at the time?
  • Speaking of catching punts, I’d like to thank Stanford’s punt returners for catching multiple Haberer punts inside the 10. Greatly appreciated!

The Ugly

  • Did Stanford host a monster truck show in the stadium on Friday night? That surface was horrendous.
  • Jarrett Kingston’s injury. Just...damn. Kingston has been a bright spot among the darkness that has been WSU’s line this season, and it meant that Christian Hilborn had to move back outside to left tackle. That is probably going to be an issue.
  • What on earth was that trick play? Just a disaster, and it cost WSU a scoring chance. If that weren’t bad enough, we had to sit through a fumble review that was entirely inconsequential.
  • Stanford. Just, everything about that team. I know it’s riven with injuries, but holy cow that team is bad.

All in all, that was a game the Cougs desperately needed. I’m not just talking about a win, but one in which nearly everything worked, lots of guys got playing time, and the result was never in doubt,

WSU will certainly face a tougher test next week, as it takes on an ASU team that, while not particularly good, is playing a lot better since Herm Edwards’ firing. The Sun Devils overcame yet another disastrous uniform selection on Saturday to give UCLA everything it could handle, into the fourth quarter.

With a win, the Cougs once again clinch a bowl game. The game kicks around 12:45 and will air on the Pac-12 Network.

Football

In crucial matchup, Washington State Cougars 'ace test,' blasting Stanford 52-14 | The Spokesman-Review
In desperate need of a pick-me-up, Washington State bounced back in convincing fashion.

Jacob Thorpe: Washington State's offense needed a rushing threat. It got that and then some Saturday | The Spokesman-Review
At a glance, there is rarely more to be gleaned from blowouts other than one team played substantially better than its opponent.

Recap and highlights: Washington State dominates Stanford 52-14 with four takeaways and over 300 rushing yards | The Spokesman-Review
A sloppy, porous Stanford team was exactly what Washington State needed to snap its skid.

Washington St. beats Stanford 52-14 to snap 3-game skid
Cameron Ward threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third, Nakia Watson rushed for 166 yards and a score and Washington State snapped a three-game losing streak with a 52-14 victory against Stanford on Saturday.

Volleyball

Volleyball set for rematch against 16th-ranked Ducks Sunday on Pac-12 Oregon - Washington State University Athletics
Washington State won the first match in five sets, winning the fifth set 15-9 back on Oct. 7 in the Cougars' home conference opener from Bohler Gym.

This Week in Parenting

The week began with this little nugget appearing on my Instagram feed, which I use exclusively to monitor craft beer developments throughout my area.

“Oh man,” I thought, “This has to happen.” The rub was that it was a school night, and Mrs. Kendall was out of town. So I did what any good dad would do, I told the boys that homework could wait, and we headed to the bar. As I said in our Slack, those poor regulars had no idea what they were in for. The self-styled “Germany men” team only missed one question all night, and cruised to a victory. The best part about being the only adult on the team? I got to keep all the free beer vouchers!

Saturday was a big day, aside from the hours-long viewing of the football. Events began with the mighty Oreos 12U soccer team, which took on the archrival (and only other team in the league) Raptors. It was a back-and-forth affair, with both sides exchanging roundhouses enroute to a 4-4 tie as time wound down. It was then that the 11 year-old decided he’d had enough, sending a rocket into the right side of the net for a 5-4 lead, which would hold up for the duration. The mighty Oreos are still unbeaten with one game to go, and a non-zero part of me would be ok if the other team finally won one next weekend.

Later on, it was the freshman’s turn, as he attended his first homecoming dance. With that trip to the dance, he officially exceeds his dad’s total of homecoming dances attended. Anyway, after I watched a YouTube video in order to get his Windsor knot right (46 years on this planet and I still need video assistance), he set off with a buddy of his.

In the meantime, there were also plans to attend a school-sponsored “after party”, and he really wanted to go. So I assumed that the after party was conveniently located within walking distance of the dance. Of course not. No, it was several miles away. That meant that not only did we need to get him to the dance. We had to get him from the dance to the after party, then from the after party back home. At midnight! Don’t these people know that we’re old and asleep by then???!!! (unless we’re trying to nurse home UCLA -10.5 but that’s neither here nor there).

Thankfully, Saint Mrs. Kendall was willing to take care of the transportation to the dance and to the after party so I could watch football, and in trade, the kid got a ride back home around midnight from a fellow dance attendee’s dad. Although he claims that he didn’t even talk to a girl (like father, like son) he had a wonderful time doing all sorts of things at the dance, none of which involved actual dancing.

Non-Sports

The Misremembered History Of The Internet's Funniest Buzzer-Beater | Defector
Footage of the freak accident was submitted to America’s Funniest Home Videos, and eventually made its way across Web 1.0 video sites and peer-to-peer networks. It is one of the earliest viral videos on the internet.

How the Uline Box Empire Has Fueled Election Denial — ProPublica
A previously unreported boom in profits for the shipping supply giant Uline has provided the funds for a deeply conservative Midwestern family to bankroll anti-democracy causes around the country.