WSU Cougars MMQB
When you lose by a final score of 28-25 and your team dominates most of the offensive numbers, you end up scratching your head wondering why, and how, you dropped a seemingly winnable game.
Washington State had three first-half possessions end in field goals. Each drive seemed to have strikingly familiar results.
Each drive chewed more than 5 minutes off the clock.
Each drive featured Cougars running backs carrying the ball at least 6 times, and each drive ended the same way – Field Goals.
Regardless if you control the clock or control the numbers, losing a 12 point differential would kill any team. The Cougars didn’t exactly make life any easier on themselves, especially in the red zone. This game was dictated by what Rick Neuheisel’s game plan would allow the Cougars to do on offense.
On the outside it looked as if Paul Wulff was trying to establish an early running game. Controlling the clock, hence controlling the momentum. That wasn’t the case. UCLA took away WSU‘s down field passing ability early, single-handedly taking Marshall Lobbestael out of the game and forcing him to play underneath, which isn’t his game.
Without the big play ability, the Cougars weren’t able to move the ball with any sense of consistency; regardless of what the numbers say.
The Cougars defense didn’t exactly help matters, either. UCLA was able to do whatever they wanted to on defense. After Kevin Prince replaced Richard Brehaut at QB in second quarter due to injury, the Cougars quickly realized they had no answer for Johnathan Franklin, who had 12 carries 110 yards, and Nelson Rosario, who had 3 catches 120 yards.
UCLA moved the ball with efficiency, execution, and confidence. Nueheisel dialed up the big plays when he needed, and by the fourth quarter, the Cougars had run out of gas.
This loss was inexcusable
This loss was decided because of Neuheisel’s ability to game plan and Paul Wulff’s inability to take shots down field.
When recognizing early that UCLA was dropping safeties, linebackers, and corners backs to take away the deep pass, Wulff sat back and took what UCLA was willing to give, and it ended up only being worth 9 points instead of 21.
He refused to take any risks, and because of his timid approach, the Cougars are 3-2 heading into homecoming instead of 4-1.
This was a game that Paul Wulff should’ve had in his back pocket. Instead, he allowed an inferior opponent to dictate a game that never should have been close to begin with. Cougar fans have every right to question Paul Wulff after this game.
He single handedly lost this game and may have jeopardized the one thing Cougars can not sacrifice: