Heads up high, gentlemen
And I am dead serious about that.
While the Washington State Cougars dropped a close one, on the road, against a team that no one gave them a chance against, the Cougars showed me, and a lot of other people, something I have not seen from Washington State football teams in a very, very long time:
This is the first time I think we have truly seen what Mike Leach brings to the table as a coach in the Palouse.
This Cougar team came out ready to play in Auburn Saturday with a chip on their shoulders the size of Haystack rock. They stood in the center of the ring like a middle weight fighting a heavy weight and went toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with a far superior team.
I was looking for several things in camp to improve and the Cougars certainly improved on them big time in their first game of the season. Cougar QB Connor Halliday definitely made a couple of throws that lacked the proper judgment but overall he played pretty well, throwing for 344 yards.
The Cougar offense amassed nearly 500 total yards. Running back Jeremiah Laufasa scored two, short yardage rushing touchdowns which doubled their season total from 2012 in just the first game. The offensive line allowed only 2 sacks of Halliday all day, although one was critical.
The Cougar defense allowed just four 3rd down conversions all day. If not for a few plays and questionable calls we might have been talking about two major upsets that came out of eastern Washington on Saturday. How much different would the outcome have been had the officials not been so stingy about pass interference calls or if they had a clue about what being out of bounds looks like?
I’m not worried about those calls anymore, though.
It’s a loss on paper but the Cougars came away with much more than a win. They now have extreme confidence in their own abilities to play this game effectively against anyone. I am way too excited about what this team showed in terms of mental toughness.
I can’t ever remember being this excited about a loss.
Right now if I was a coach for USC or any other team on the Cougar schedule this year, I would be extremely worried about this game on my schedule.
More growing pains are sure to come but this is a young, determined, mentally fierce team on the rise. It’s only a matter of time this year before some big-name, overconfident team gets steam rolled by the wave of passion that Mike Leach has brought to the Palouse.
Watch out Pac-12, you are standing on the tracks and the train is coming.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.