Obviously, Washington State did not look like a good team at all in their opening loss to BYU in Provo, but that was to be expected. The Cougars still have had only a taste of winning, and have a lot to learn. The Cougars never seemed comfortable offensively and had trouble adjusting when their options were shut down in the passing game. The defense actually looked surprisingly sprightly, but without the offense humming they had no chance against a Brigham Young team that wouldn't let up.
We'll have more in-depth coverage later this week, but here's one positive Leach can take from this; he's not the only great Pac-12 coach to have a bad game. Chip Kelly's first game at Oregon (also on Thursday night) was a universally-panned disaster. The Ducks looked disorganized, disheveled, and generally lost in Boise, and it ended with the punch heard round college football.
Since that loss, Oregon has gone 34-5.
No one would expect Leach to replicate Kelly's results, particularly since he's working at a much steeper curve in terms of talent. But anyone who believes that Leach is now a washed-up has-been needs to remember his system takes just as long to install and instill as Chip's dynamo offense. The Cougars should soon learn how to feel their way in that offense. Then they'll start executing better. Then they'll start scoring touchdowns.
And then everyone will begin remembering why they were afraid of The Pirate coming into Pullman in the first place.
SB Nation Snippets
Mark Sandritter of CougCenter had the initial reaction and talked about the struggles of the passing game:
WSU looked out of sync all night and the result was a stagnant offensive performance and an easily shredded defense. After beginning the game strong, Jeff Tuel struggled mightily. Tuel completed 30-of-45 passes for 228 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
BYU dropped extra defenders into coverage all night and Tuel struggled to find places to go with the ball. Marquess Wilson caught just 4 passes for 61 yards. Wilson had two spectacular catches called back by holding calls including a 46-yard completion and a leaping touchdown that may have been the play of the year had it counted.
After the re-watch in the morning, Sandritter seemed to think that Washington State just was unsure of itself rather than outmatched.
There were plenty of issues, but re-watching the game a bit now, WSU doesn't look as physically over matched as they just look unsure. They look like a team thinking about what they should do rather than just playing football. From blown coverages to missed reads, the mental issues are what really plagued the Cougars.
Sure, there were some physical downfalls as well, but nothing I saw made me believe this team can't improve and do it quickly. When WSU was blown out by Oklahoma State in the 2009 opener, there was a huge gap both physically and mentally between the Cowboys and the Cougars. WSU blew assignments, missed reads and had all of the other issues they did last night, but the Cowboys manhandled WSU while BYU simply out executed them.
Top five plays for BYU against WSU