Through Washington State’s first four games, the Cougar offense was buzzing. Cameron Ward hadn’t thrown an interception and was garnering some Heisman hype. The offense was averaging north of 42 points per game and things were looking good.
Since then? Well, dear reader, it hasn’t been pretty. That vaunted WSU offense scored just 16 points in the last two games combined, and suddenly WSU is 4-2 and outside the top 25. Ward has three interceptions in the last two games, and Jon Mateer threw one, too.
Last week I wrote that WSU really needed a win over (suddenly good?) Arizona, seeing that a trip to Oregon was up next. Well, here we are, as WSU visits Eugene today looking to snap. two-game skid. The no. 9 Ducks are coming off a heartbreaker against Washington, but they’re still tops in the nation in scoring offense and total offense, and no. 13 in total defense.
The losses against UCLA exposed WSU’s lack of running game and a faulty offensive line, which, through the first four weeks, had played well above expectations. UCLA and Arizona also dropped seven or eight into coverage, which got Ward off track. There’s no reason to believe Oregon or any of WSU’s remaining opponents won’t try and do the same. Does WSU have an answer? If the Cougs do, Jake Dickert wasn’t telling. Rather, he was lamenting the whole situation this week:
The way around that defense is to run the ball, but Washington State just hasn’t been able to. To Dickert, though, the drop-eight coverages have spawned a new problem for his team.
“What they’re doing is dropping and taking away the quick game, and that’s a big part of what we do,” Dickert said. “It allows kind of the protection maybe to break down a little bit more and get (quarterback) Cam (Ward) scrambling around. You gotta put someone on Cam. I think he’s electric in what he does. And they’re picking and choosing their spots to bring a ton of pressure.”
Of course, he’s not going to share any secrets with the media, but let’s hope he and offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle have something planned to get the offense going again.
The Cougs are at least 20-point underdogs, depending on where you look. That seems about right, and they’ve shown no reason to scoff at that line. It might not be pretty today, but I’ve been wrong a time or two. Let’s hope this is another one of those times.
Tune in at 12:30 p.m PT on ABC and talk about it here.