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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s blowout of Colorado State

The Cougs were good, for a while.

NCAA Football: Colorado State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Heave! Ho! The Washington State Cougars football team is 3-0! None of ye Coug faithful could be faulted for being rather surprised at that non-conference record, given that the second game featured a very tough road test at then-Top 20 Wisconsin. This week’s test? Not quite as difficult. But the wins all count the same, and damn it feels good to head into Pac-12 play unbeaten.

The best part about the win Saturday was that it was never in doubt, and Cougar fans everywhere didn’t have to suffer from another case of white knuckles, as we did in wins over Idaho and Wisconsin. The team couldn’t have been blamed for coming out a bit sluggish, given the magnitude of last week’s win, coupled with the, uh, lacking quality (?) of this week’s foe. Look, that’s the kindest way I can put it, CSU.

But the Cougs came out sharp, on both offense and defense, and made it clear right away that there would be no huge upset. There would be no near upset. There wouldn’t even be a competitive game. All that said, WSU exits this game with a lot - A. Lot. - of stuff to improve upon before a potent Oregon Ducks team visits next Saturday afternoon. Let’s get to it.

The Good

  • The (semi) curse of this uniform combination is kaput! At least for now? In case you forgot, WSU was wearing the white/crimson/white uniforms when Connor Halliday’s leg shattered in 2014, when Luke Falk’s brain got scrambled in 2015, and when River Cracraft’s ACL tore in 2016. I’m sure there have been subsequent editions of W/C/W when things went just fine, but it appeared to me that WSU escaped without any major injuries.
  • Also saw Derek Langford back in there, which is great! I never would have thought that possible after he limped off the field last Saturday.
  • First Possession: Touchdown
  • Second Possession: Touchdown
  • Third Possession: Touchdown
  • Fourth Possession: Touchdown

Prettay, prettay, prettay good!

  • Meanwhile, the defense wasn’t exactly playing understudy. Colorado State’s first five possessions went punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, punt.
  • Cam Ward made a gutsy throw on his second touchdown pass. He stood in and took a shot he knew was coming, but delivered a strike to a wide open De’Zhaun Stribling.
  • 8.3 YPA for Ward. Very nice.
  • Great job of pulling by the backside guard and tackle to spring Nakia Watson for a 39 yard gain.
  • Ward was really impressive on an audible in the second quarter. Facing 3rd and 8, CSU showed blitz and Ward checked to a quick outlet pass to Watson. The play picked up 25 yards, and the drive ended with a 28-0 lead.
  • Impressive concentration by Donovan Ollie to corral a deflected pass while he was lying on the ground.
  • I had no idea who Robert Ferrell was before today, but he had a pretty good outing!
  • Seven more sacks for that defense, who put Clay Millen under siege for the entire afternoon. I almost - almost - felt bad for the son of a Husky. But seriously that’s a pretty tough kid.
  • The first of those seven sacks came on CSU’s first possession, courtesy of Daiyan Henley. All he did was collect two additional sacks, 13 total tackles and two forced fumbles. I’m not kidding when I say that, if something were to happen to Cam Ward, I bet Henley could also play quarterback and get WSU to at least seven wins.
  • WSU’s three running backs had just 22 carries, but those 22 became 163 yards, good for 7.4 YPC.
  • Solid (and clean!) hit by Jayden Hicks to break up a pass that would have been a first down in the third quarter.
  • Clutch Nick Haberer punt in the third quarter, when WSU was backed up. The 61-yard boot got the Cougs out of trouble.
  • Colton Theaker was mostly effective, garnering six touchbacks on seven kickoffs, which is a big improvement over last season.
  • We’ve come to expect solid production from Watson and Jenkins, but how ‘bout our guy Kannon Katzer??!! After a second half filled with offensive ineptitude - to put it kindly - Eric Morris finally decided to call some runs. Jenkins pitched in runs of seven and 14, then it became the Katzer show. Katzer for 24. Katzer for 22. Katzer for seven. Katzer into the end zone. What a thrill that must have been.
  • Congratulations to Ron Stone and the pass rushers for garnering the highly-coveted Beefiest Moment of the Game! Yes, that’s apparently a thing on the Pac-12 Network.
  • The guys seemed happy after the game!

The Bad

  • Fewer than 24,000 tickets sold? On a beautiful day, with a perfect start time, to see a team that just had a monumental win? Do better, Cougar fans.
  • The Cougs came out firing, as Ward went deep to Lincoln Victor. I was surprised that the reliable receiver wasn’t able to hold on to it.
  • I’m trying to prepare myself for the seemingly inevitable sine wave that will be the 2022 Cam Ward experience. The guy is clearly talented, and has a mental hold on the offense. But there are instances when the mental part isn’t translating to proper execution, and even though those instances are in the minority overall - Ward played a lot of excellent football Saturday - they could be fatal in Pac-12 play. His poor ball security in the second quarter set up CSU at the Cougar 35. Then in the fourth quarter, Ward did what every quarterback knows is a mistake, throwing back over the middle as he scrambled right. Predictably, defensive back Jack Howell intercepted the pass. There is obviously the majority of the season left for Ward to progress, but the easy portion of the slate is largely behind us, and the execution has to get better.
  • As good as the defense was at hassling the quarterback, there were some yawning gaps in coverage. CSU’s top four receivers caught passes of 27, 25, 22 and 19 yards respectively. Those kinds of coverage busts will not go unpunished next Saturday.
  • Billy Riviere is gonna take some heat in the film session for that holding penalty, which wiped out a 30-yard Jenkins run. Jenkins was well past him when he decided to grab the defender’s jersey.
  • Another kick out of bounds.
  • I can understand why Jayden Hicks caught that 4th down pass for his first career interception, but I really wish he’d been coached a little harder to not do that! Oftentimes, instincts take over, but knowledge of the situation is critical in most aspects of life, and this was one of those times. Instead of starting on the 37, WSU took possession on its own three yard line. Two plays later, Cam Ward barely escaped a safety. And if the replay officials had taken a closer look, there’s a non-zero chance that Ward’s knee would have been ruled down in the end zone.
  • I’m still trying to figure out why Dickert didn’t give Janikowski a shot at a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter. Get the guy a rep, especially when it’s low-threat.

The Ugly

  • As fun as the first half seemed, the majority of the offense’s second half was plainly awful. It’s human nature to exhale and ease up with a big lead, but holy cow that was bad. Here were four consecutive possessions:
  1. 3 plays, 3 yards, punt
  2. 5 plays, 41 yards, turnover on downs (featuring two consecutive sacks that ruined the drive)
  3. 3 plays, minus 7 yards, punt (with a mindless kick catch interference flag to boot)
  4. 2 plays, 4 yards, interception

Among those 13 plays, only three were designed runs. So with a 31-0/31-7 lead, and with running backs who were producing chunk plays, and with a glaring need to get the inexperienced backup some meaningful game reps, WSU was still going with Ward and throwing, throwing, throwing. WHY??!!

Anyhoo, it’s Oregon game week. It’s a 1 p.m. start time on Big FOX, with an initial forecast of 70 degrees and sunny skies. The last time WSU hosted Oregon in front of fans, thousands of those fans ended up on the field when the game ended. Let’s pack the place and do it again.


'We had to be ready to burst out of the gate': Washington State offense shows explosive potential, Cougar defense dominates in rout of Colorado State | The Spokesman-Review
WSU’s new Air Raid had shown only a few glimpses of its potential through the first two weeks of the season. The Cougars were eager to give their supporters a show in their Week 3 matchup with underdog Colorado State.

Spokane's Kannon Katzer gets first college carry, scores TD in memorable Washington State debut | The Spokesman-Review
Opportunity has been scarce since Katzer rolled up more than 3,000 all-purpose yards as a high school senior, earning him a walk-on opportunity at WSU but no scholarship offers from the Division I level.

Washington State's Daiyan Henley records 13 tackles, three sacks against Colorado State, former coach | The Spokesman-Review
The sixth-year linebacker recorded career highs of 13 tackles and three sacks and forced two fumbles as the Cougars held CSU scoreless through nearly 50 minutes of the game.

Colorado State football team blown out by Washington State
The Colorado State football team received the opening kick and the drive ended with a sack, which was the 17th allowed on the young Rams' season.

Washington State hands CSU Rams third straight defeat to start Jay Norvell era – The Denver Post
Ward completed 26 of 36 passes and was intercepted once. Donovan Ollie and De’Zhaun Stribling each caught two touchdown passes.

This Week in Parenting

Watching SVP’s SportsCenter the other night (the kids absolutely love Bad Beats), and a graphic came up that showed NFL quarterbacks with the most consecutive wins against Bill Belichick. “Who is John Elway?” asked the 10 year-old. Even though I was raised to despise Elway and the Broncos, I feel like I’ve failed as a parent.

Elsewhere, we saw a segment on the Today Show that featured an anchor getting a ride with the Air Force Thunderbirds. Unprompted, the 10 year-old says “Thunderbirds? Yuck. The Blue Angels are better.” I mean, I don’t care either way, but I felt attacked. Oh and while we’re here:

Then on Saturday, we were watching the Texas A&M vs. Miami game in ESPN News, when the previous game ended and the networks switched things around. It was then that ESPN News aired something called Spikeball. The kid insisted that we keep it there. Has anyone seen this, because it seems perfect for The Ocho. Four people stand around a little trampoline and hit the ball back and forth. The thing that kept occurring to me was, this is a hell of a way to break in to the announcing industry. Imagine a resumé that features, “Lead analyst for Southwest Rogional Spikeball Tournament.” Anyway, I gave the kid 15 minutes to figure out what the hell was happening before I turned football back on.

On the freshman front, it was another rough week for the Gulf Breeze Dolphin freshmen. They went on the road for the first time, and lost a 6-0 heartbreaker. There were so many self-inflicted wounds on offense that, if they’d had four feet, all of them would have been full of holes. As if that weren’t enough, the kid didn’t get home until after 10 o’clock Thursday night, then had about an hour of homework before he could hit the sack. That 0630 wakeup on Friday was rather abrupt.

He then opted to spend the weekend camping with the Boy Scouts. Outside. Like, he volunteered to do it! But he was rather grateful when I surprised him with a cot that he could take, because his tent was constantly flooded during his camping trip in Switzerland. In my opinion, the easiest way to avoid having your tent flood IS TO NEVER GO CAMPING UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES but maybe that’s just me.


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