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The Good, Bad and Ugly of WSU’s cruise control win

It was over before anyone broke a sweat.

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

Good morning. We’ll start with a question: Who do you think had sweatier shirts at halftime, the Washington State Cougars starters or the students who couldn’t find shade in the north bleachers? It was that kind of day on the Palouse, and the (not so) mighty Northern Colorado Bears were the perfect opponent for WSU, having come off a highly emotional win over Wisconsin the week prior.

It would have been understandable if WSU had come out a tad flat, what with this game being sandwiched between two monster games against Wisconsin and Oregon State. That wasn’t the case, though, as the Cougs took the kick and scored on their first drive. Then they scored on the next drive. Then they scored on the next drive. Then...ok you get the point.

In the end, WSU did exactly what it was supposed to do against an opponent of this caliber - step on its throat from the jump and don’t let up until the backups to the backups are playing. But despite all the good stuff, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. So let’s take a look at the many ups and few downs, shall we?

The Good

  • It was cool to turn on the Pac-12 Networks (he said for the first time ever) and hear Matt Chazanow’s voice. Matt struggled with some calls and numbers, unfortunately, but it still beats some of the slappys we’ve had to endure over the years.
  • Happy birthday, Ben Arbuckle! Only two years til you cruise into your 30s!
  • Cam Ward hit his first 12 passes, which seems fine, I guess. In just one half of play, QB1 completed 20 of 26 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns. And believe it or not, he left a lot out there!
  • Lincoln Victor is still pretty good! And he also left a lot out there, a touchdown, to be specific. But he quickly atoned for the drop by snagging a third down catch that was slightly off target and turned it into a first down. Either way, six catches for 119 and two scores is a hell of an afternoon, especially when it happens in one half!
  • In addition to catching lots of passes, the receivers blocked pretty darn well.
  • All that blocking is good, but Josh Kelly’s circus touchdown catch was one of the show’s stars.
  • How ‘bout that first two-point conversion!? More stuff on film for the opponent to worry about!
  • How productive was the passing game? At least three, count ‘em, three tight ends caught passes.
  • 718 yards of offense. Seven hundred and eighteen. And believe it or not, we won this time!
  • The defense did pretty well too, as Northern Colorado’s first five possessions went as follows: 3 plays, 1 yard, punt; 3 plays, 6 yards, punt; 6 plays, 13 yards, punt; 3 plays, 2 yards, punt; 5 plays, 12 yards, punt. By the time Northern Colorado got the ball the next time, it was 43-0.
  • Taariq Al-Uqdah really stuck his nose into some plays, and looks like a promising young linebacker.
  • WSU had one kick from the 20 due do a penalty. Colton Theaker kicked it into the endzone anyway. I’m going to guess that Theaker will spend more time in the cold tub on Sunday than any other player.
  • One cool thing Pac-12 Network did Saturday - that rejoin with all the kid Cougar fans running through the tailgate area. That was fun to watch.
  • I bet you think Cam Ward’s 12.6 yards-per-attempt is pretty good. Well, John Mateer’s 17.3 YPA are here to laugh in your face! The backup completed seven of his eight passes for 138 and two TDs, including a 72-yard bullet to Tsion Nunnally (his first career TD catch!). Mateer looks like a capable backup.
  • The running game looked...fine? I guess? Still seemed like the line had a tough time opening holes against a bad team for much of the first half.
  • The depth guys sure had a day, though, led by Dylan Paine’s 81 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries.
  • Just another ho-hum day for Ron Stone, who had two TFLs and a sack. His partner in crime, Brennan Jackson, tallied a sack as well.
  • 23 defensive players registered some sort of statistic. Seems like a lot!
  • Not to be outdone, the offense featured eight different ball carriers and 12 different pass catchers. Never a bad thing when so many depth guys get rewarded for practicing their butts off all season.
  • According to the WSU Game Notes, 20 Cougs made their collegiate debuts.
  • I mean, how often does Josh Meredith get to play? And there he was, catching a touchdown pass.
  • When the rankings come out Sunday, there’s a slight chance WSU moves up a spot or two, as Kansas State and Tennessee suffered losses. Not likely, but possible.

The Bad

  • Apparently there’s a slaughterhouse in Greeley, CO that stinks up the entire town. The Bears may give that place a run for its money.
  • Not sure where to put this, but how far are these receivers gonna push the “I prefer to make it look like I’m wearing biker shorts” fashion statement? Are we gonna make it all the way to speedos?
  • Loved #98 for Northern Colorado celebrating a tackle on a play where WSU made a first down.
  • Totally Pac-12 that Josh Kelly makes an amazing catch, but then gets flagged for being happy about it.
  • Nakia Watson gets kinda hurt on a play where he definitely doesn’t fumble but let’s waste five minutes and look at it anyway. Naturally.
  • The refs weren’t done, as they flagged Nusi Malani for being mean to the quarterback.
  • I know it was mostly - if not all - backups in at the time, but the tackling on Northern Colorado’s last touchdown was ghastly.
  • Northern Colorado, trailing 64-21 late in the game, faces 4th and 7 from the WSU 32, and...punts? What in the Sam Hell???

The Ugly

  • One more round of applause for Pac-12 Networks putting college football games into three-hour telecast windows!
  • It didn’t take long until I started to wonder whether Northern Colorado would have preferred to stay home, collect the check, and let WSU name the score.

And now, WSU’s first conference test of 2023 awaits, and man is it a doozy, as Top 20 Oregon State is headed to Pullman for the second national network telecast in three weeks. We’ll need a big, boisterous crowd again, so hopefully you can make it!




In win over Northern Colorado, WSU can learn something from backup QB John Mateer | The Spokesman-Review
WSU backup quarterback John Mateer didn't just impress in the Cougs' win over Northern Colorado — he also offered some guidelines.

Recap and highlights: No. 23 Washington State dominates first half, coasts to 64-21 win over Northern Colorado | The Spokesman-Review
Nobody in crimson and gray was in too much of a rush on Saturday afternoon. The Cougs didn’t need to be.

Washington State walk-on Dylan Paine seizes moment, scores first college TD in 64-21 rout | The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN – Dylan Paine goes back to a conversation he had with Jake Dickert when Washington State’s second-year coach was still a defensive coordinator, looking for ways to improve the Cougars' depth on that side of the ball.

Washington State cycles through personnel after taking big lead against Northern Colorado | The Spokesman-Review
On defense, the Cougars also got a chance to test their depth on the defensive line – as Dickert also projected during the week.


This Week in Parenting

I mentioned in my gambling article that for much of this week, I was, as an old boss of mine would have said, a soup sandwich. Mrs. Kendall and I basically high-fived at the airport, as she left Monday morning on a work trip while I was flying home from Spokane, not landing until after 11 p.m. This meant that, for an afternoon/evening, the Kendall inmates were running the asylum. Fortunately the house was still standing when I got home.

Before I got home, I was talking to Mrs. Kendall Sunday morning, and I asked her whether I should sign us up for the RedZone channel. She was ambivalent, so I figured I’d see where things went. Less than one minute after the games began, Mrs. Kendall began fielding “Where is RedZone” questions. Of course.

That led to Tuesday, when I about nearly had an aneurysm waiting for the teenager to finish football practice. I’d picked up the 11 year-old from baseball at 5:30, and instead of running home and turning around, we went straight to the football facility and waited. And waited. And waited. He finally finished at 6:40, a full 40 minutes after the coaches told parents that practice will end. Forty Minutes. But it wasn’t like I had to get the younger kid to football at 7:30. Oh wait, THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I HAD TO DO! WHY IS THIS SO HARD, COACHES??!!

But maybe the extra practice was worth it, as the mighty JV Dolphins took their first lead of the season on Thursday, going up 14-0 at halftime. I was spotting in the booth, doing what I thought was a passable job, until my kid came in. On the first damn play, the right tackle hog ties him and takes him to the ground with a move The Rock would have envied. “HOLDING!!!” I began to scream, completely disregarding my spotter duties. Dads gonna dad.

It got dicey late, as the Dolphins led 14-7 and faced 4th and long from the opponent 35. We threw a swing pass that went at least three yards forward, then that receiver threw to another guy in the end zone. Touchdown! I said to the PA guy and the ref supervisor in the booth that there was no way that play would stand as I looked for an illegal forward pass flag. Somehow, despite the obviousness of the violation, no flag appeared. How the opposing coach kept from blowing his stack, I will never know. But whatever, DOLPHINS WIN!

Sometime during the second quarter, the 11 year-old walked over from baseball and into the announcer booth. He declared his hunger, so I sent him to the food truck, asking that he not get something too heavy because he had football in an hour. Naturally, he returned with a corndog that was the size of an actual dog, along with a mountain of fries. And in a stunning turn of events, he walked into my room at six o'clock the next morning asking for some Gas-X. Who could have predicted this???

No time to wallow, however, as I had to speed off to deliver the younger kiddo to flag football, then hurry home to make sure the oldest got back to the house safely, then back to pick up the younger kid after stopping for gas. Thankfully, Bruce Hornsby’s Mandolin Rain came across the stereo, and we were soothed. Great song.

The weekend’s local sports action hasn’t been as kind to the home team, as the 11 year-old’s baseball team took its lumps on Saturday, losing both games in a local tournament. But on the positive side, it rained on us. Yippee. Hopefully things look up on Sunday.


The Rage of the Toddler Caucus on Capitol Hill | The New Yorker
Susan B. Glasser writes about House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, and about the Speaker’s tenuous position in his party.

‘I disliked him intensely': Richard Lewis on first meeting Larry David | The Spectator
Richard Lewis, the comedian and Curb Your Enthusiasm star, talks about addiction, Parkinson’s – and his friendship with Larry David.