washington state blog

MMQB: WSU Cougars fall apart in loss to Stanford

The keys to the game

Minimize the damage Stefan Taylor could have in the running game, and take away Andrew Luck’s time to pick you apart your defense.

For one half of play the Washington St. Cougars were able to do those things, but as you very well know, the game of football has two halves, and  Stanford hammered home that point with a 34 point second half eruption sinking any hopes of a Washington St. upset.

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The Cougars didn’t do themselves any favors on offense, and as per the continuing trend, they defensively wilted in the second half.

Stanford did indeed allow WSU opportunities on offense, but as the game progressed, the Cougars  remained with a rather conservative game plan instead of opening things up.

The offense seemed non existent from the start of the ball game.

Paul Wulff acknowledged as much by saying from a execution standpoint, this was the worst offensive performance of the season.

Even with Jeff Tuel back under center, the Cougars passing game had a problem with moving the ball down field.

Outside of two passes in the 4th quarter that gained 57 yards, 7 of Tuel’s remaining 15 completions went for less then 5 yards, and on two occasions, went for a negative gain.

Standford as usual, took away the running game and forced Jeff Tuel to beat them with his arm. With Tuel on the run for the better part of the night, he wasn’t able to get comfortable enough to find a rhythm to be able enough to that.

On the defensive side of things, it was truly a tale of two half’s.

Outside of Stefan Taylor’s 31 yard gain in the 2nd quarter, the Cougars run defense held Stefan Taylor to 35 yards on 9 carries and 3.8 YPC. The Cougs forced two Stanford turnovers, and held Andrew Luck to 10-16, 89
yards, and 1 int.

With Tuel back the Cougars passing game still had problems

The Cougars lack defensive depth reared it’s ugly head in the second half as Andrew Luck had no trouble moving the football. The Cougars propensity of giving up the big plays in the second half played right into Stanford’s game plan.

Luck had 6 completions 25 plus yards,  threw 4 touchdowns passes, and completed 13 of 20 passes for 247 yards. The Cougars committed 4 penalties that resulted in 42 yards.

Not exactly a big number,  but two of those came in the second half that kept two Stanford drive alive. In both cases Stanford extended drives and eventually scored.

This was measuring stick test for Washington State  against a team that was clearly the better team. It was a way for Paul Wulff to see  exactly how far his Cougars have come. Nobody was expecting Washington State to win this game, but everyone was expecting the Cougars to at least be competitive for four complete quarters of football.

Instead the Cougars played scared and timid. The Cougars had their opportunities to take control of the momentum their defensive created, but to many 3 and out’s really negated the damage the offense could’ve done.

Yes Stanford won this game, but Washington State also lost this game by not taking a few chances when the opportunity presented itself.

The Cougars maybe a better all around team from years past, but there are glaring areas that need improvement.

The key for the Cougars moving forward is to not allow this loss to have a negative effect on how they prepare.

They must have a short memory, use this week’s game against Oregon State as a means to shake off any negativity that comes with losing two straight.

Prepare like you always do and take it Oregon State on Saturday.

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