Don’t Act Like You’re Not Impressed
Actually, yes, do. The Washington State Cougars football program has been a joke so far this season. With a bowl-game mindset before the season began, we are now here six weeks in with a 2-4 record.
Even those with the highest of hopes have given up on this Cougar football team.
Their “air raid offense” is QB-less, their “high risk-high reward” defense is soft as a Tempurpedic and the “stern coaching” of Mike Leach has done nothing to improve the players’ attitudes. Murphy’s Law is in full effect, and we all get to watch it burn.
Regardless of the team’s output, there are certain individuals who have impressed—and several who have not.
Travis Long – LB, Senior
One player who has lived up to the hype this season is senior linebacker Travis Long. Long is currently leading the nation with 7.5 sacks through six games. LEADING THE NATION. Nobody else has brought the pressure like Travis Long this season.
He is constantly hassling the quarterback, sniffing out screens and even stopping the run. Many assumed Long would be an NFL draft prospect, possibly going in the first three rounds. Long has proven he has the talent to play at the professional level.
Darryl Monroe – LB, (RS) Freshman
Outside of Long’s fantastic performance, freshman linebacker Darryl Monroe has been the other highlight of the Cougars defense. Thought to be somewhat undersized, Monroe has dazzled opposing offensive lines with his speed through the gaps.
He shoots through the line like a ball out of the cannon, and can fly in horizontal directions, seemingly always making a play on the ball.
Linebackers were the strength of the Cougar defense last season, and all three were non-returners for the 2012 season. This was a preseason worry for Cougar fans, but Monroe has done his best to calm the storm.
Deone Bucannon – S, Junior
If you were to tell me that the three impressive players on a Mike Leach-coached team would be on the defensive side of the ball, I would say you’re silly. But sure enough, these players are the only ones showing up on game day.
Deone Bucannon has been the tackling anchor of the defense his entire college career. He has continued his reliable nature with a team-leading 47 tackles and four interceptions in six games.
He had an ugly late-hit on Eastern Washington receiver Greg Herd, and suffered a one-half suspension the following week at UNLV.
However, other than that particular play, Bucannon has been outstanding.
Jeff Tuel – QB, Senior
Before the season began, Jeff Tuel was heralded to be in the nation’s elite in all passing categories. So far this season, he has thrown for 588 yards and three scores—all during a dramatic quarterback roulette with sophomore Connor Halliday.
In his first two weeks, Tuel’s completion percentage was at 72%—nothing to shy away from. However, he threw for 229 yards and 171 yards respectfully. Not exactly the production you want out of your air raid QB.
He has constantly been criticized for his check-down mentality, and his reluctance to run the ball.
With Halliday constantly handing Tuel the reigns with every interception he throws, Tuel needs grab onto them and lead this team in his final college season.
Connor Halliday – QB, (RS) Sophomore
F*** it, go deep. The Halliday mentality.
After Tuel’s congested style of quarterback play, Halliday’s gun-slinging persona was a breath of fresh air—in his first start. Then we saw the downside of Halliday. The young man has a rocket launcher for an arm, and it is a beautiful thing to see that pigskin spiraling 60 yards down field. However, it is often going to a receiver who is not open, and falling into the wrong team’s hands.
Halliday has thrown 1,284 yards and nine touchdowns in his four starts this season. Very impressive; however, his completion percentage is in the 50’s and he has thrown it to the opposing team nine times as well. The quarterback position was the Cougars’ strength going into this season. We now find Leach looking for answers behind center. Is Tyler Bruggman ready yet?
Mike Leach – Head Coach, Super Senior
With all the turmoil the Cougars have faced this season, it is easy to blame the head coach. But then you consider it is Leach’s first season at Washington State, he has a complicated system with a long learning process, yada yada yada.
That is fine. I can agree with that.
Leach has one of the most – if not the most – complicated systems in the NCAA. You cannot expect your quarterback to come into the season with every play and every timing route on point. I get that.
What I can’t understand is the mentality of the team as a whole. Leach is supposed to be the sternest of coaches—just ask Adam James about his time in the tool shed—yet the players continue to commit penalties and give up when they go down a few scores.
Last week at Oregon State, they had the No. 14 team in the nation on the ropes and handing the game over. A good coach takes that silver platter and puts the game away.
The team couldn’t capitalize, and they eventually gave the game back to the Beavers. I respect Leach, I know he is going to be a great coach for the WSU program. I just expected more in his first season.
This is a simple analysis of the Cougar team as a whole six weeks into their season. A bowl game does not look likely – unless somehow they pull their heads out of their asses and play to their ability.
There are definitely a few winnable games upcoming—CAL this Saturday—and the Cougars have the talent to play with anyone.
They need the people on the unimpressive list to make the jump to impressive, and maybe then they feed the starving Cougar fans with a winning program.