For the second consecutive game spanning two seasons, WSU quarterback Connor Halliday had a field day with the opposing defense in a manner which should have been enough to emerge with a win. And for the second consecutive game spanning two seasons, the defense turned in a stab-yourself-in-the-eyes performance that ultimately sabotaged the game.
In 2013, Rutgers averaged a mere 5.29 yards per play, 90th nationally. Only three times in 13 games did the Scarlet Knights exceed 6.0 yards per play. Last night, Rutgers put up 7.1 yards per play. For context, only Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State exceeded 7.0 ypp against WSU last year.
Something is going to have to get fixed in a hurry or this is going to be a very long season.
It was nice to see Halliday and the receivers do what they were supposed to do to a porous Rutgers secondary. The inevitable march to dominating the record book continues:
- 532 yards, second most in a WSU game to his 557 against Oregon last season.
- 9.5 yards per attempt. second-highest of his career (the fabled ASU game was a laughable 13.7 by the way).
- He now has 7,963 career yards, which moved him past Ryan Leaf and Jack Thompson into third place.
- His five TDs moved him past Leaf for third all time in that category.
And yet, the Cougars lost again. Sigh.
Here are the quotes, notes and stats. There are some interesting quotes from Rutgers QB Gary Nova and running back Paul James in there. Let us know in the comments what catches your eye.
Quotes, notes and stats via WSU Athletic Communications.
Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach
On reaction to the game...
"I think we squandered a third of the first half getting warmed up on offense. I don't think we ever established the line of scrimmage on defense. We were sloppy as could be on special teams."
On everyone on the team being mentally prepared for the game...
"There were a lot of very positive things. It's all correctable. For too long around this university expectations have been too low. I think we as coaches and as players have to change that. It's not going to change from the outside. We've got to change that and we've got to expect more out of ourselves - starting with the coaches."
Washington State Quarterback Connor Halliday
On the loss...
"It was a tough loss. Coach Leach and all our coaches talk about building a legacy. Well, legacies are born on a drive like that. We got the ball with two minutes and a chance to go win it. We floundered. We worked our butts off in the offseason and during practice, and then we think that because we do that, we deserve to win games. When it's winning time, you've got to go out there and put a drive together."
On wanting to win...
"We've got to do it as a group. It's not individuals. We've got to come together as a group. There's no finger pointing. We didn't get it done as an offense. It's our job to go down the field and score. We didn't."
Cougs fall flat in final Seattle Game, lose 41-38
The Cougar offense started slow, and the defense never really started at all, and the Cougars waste a big night from Connor Halliday.
Washington State Wide Receiver Vince Mayle
On the team mentality during the final drive...
"From the result of the drive, it didn't feel like we were all there - that's just something we need to improve on."
On having a winning mindset...
"We all want to win. We just have to have the will to win. We just have to get everybody on the same page with everyone wanting the will to win. When you know you're going to win, you'll take the ball and you'll keep playing hard."
On Connor Halliday's performance...
"He was nice and calm. It was probably one of the best Connors that I've seen. That was a nice Connor to play with."
Rutgers Head Coach Kyle Flood
On if he thought Rutgers had enough offensive fire power to win this type of shootout...
"I did. I felt like going into it, we'd have enough offense and I didn't think that would be an issue. I thought we'd be able to make some plays as long as we were able to run the ball effectively because that's really how we work. For us to go out there and throw every down like Washington State does, that wouldn't work for us."
Rutgers Quarterback Gary Nova
On Washington State's defense and first play from scrimmage...
"We had a feeling about how they were going to play certain formations. And it's something that we talk about. It turned out the way we planned."
Rutgers Running Back Paul James
On balancing the game with the run...
"We figured that they don't see a whole lot of the run going against the air raid offense in practice. We focused on pounding the run and keeping running the ball and it started working with the gameplan that coach Friedgen made, which was a great gameplan."
- Teondray Caldwell made his first career start on defense (4 tackles), after making eight starts at running back the last two seasons. He is the first Cougar to make starts on both side of the ball in his career since Dan Spitz made five starts on the defensive line in 2009 and a total of 11 starts on the offensive line in 2011-12.
- Jamal Morrow became the first freshman running back to start since Rickey Galvin in 2011.
- Halliday's five touchdowns passes were his 10th career 4-TD game and fourth career 5-TD game
- Halliday notched his 15th career 300-yard performance, seventh career 400-yard game, third career 500-yard game
- Vince Mayle caught his eighth career touchdown pass, finished with career-highs of 12 catches and 124 yards
- Mitch Peterson, in his first career start, made a career-high 16 tackles