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Washington State Comes Up Short at Boise State

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The Cougars get the offense going too late to pull off the comeback

Gabe Marks hauls in a TD pass in the Cougars loss Saturday Night at Boise State
wsucougars.com

Saturday Night Washington State played the Boise State Broncos on the blue turf in Boise, Idaho. A sloppy first half put the Cougars in a hole that they were forced to climb out of, which they almost did. They had a 14-point fourth quarter to pull the game within three points, but they were unable to find a way to grab the lead coming up just short in yet another three point loss. This forced Mike Leach to question his teams toughness after the game, but the Cougars have a lot more questions than just that. I’m starting to wonder if Cougar fans are starting to sour on Mike Leach with the slow starts to the past few seasons, it has to frustrate Cougar fans.

The Good: The defense showed improvement from week one, especially in the secondary. They held the Broncos to 299 yards passing, but were able to force three interceptions. They did let Thomas Sperbeck get behind them for a long touchdown that proved to be big, but it was the only pass touchdown they gave up on the night, which was a big step in the right direction for the secondary compared to week one. Tavares Martin stepped up big time for the Cougars passing game. He had 12 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. Anybody that can produce on the outside for the Cougars is a welcome sight because it takes pressure off of Gabe Marks. The Cougars held Boise State to 3/10 on third downs, which was also a good thing because it enabled them to get off the field, which helped them dominate time of possession. The offense was able to convert 11 of the 22 third down attempts which isn’t bad at all.

The Bad: Luke Falk threw a costly interception for the second straight week. He hasn’t had a high volume of interceptions in the first two weeks, but the INT in week one gave momentum to Eastern Washington, and this week he threw a pick six, which was obviously costly in a three point loss. The running game took a step back from week one. The Cougars only rushed for 40 yards on 20 attempts. That kind of a rushing attack isn’t going to help take pressure off of Luke Falk and the receivers. They will have to find a way to generate a little bit more of a running game than that. The defense gave up 4.7 yards per carry, which isn’t awful but it’s also not that great. The secondary took a step on the right direction this week so maybe the front seven will be the next unit to take that step and help give the Cougars a defense they can count on.

The Ugly: The end of the first half. They gave up a cheap three points to end the half after scoring a touchdown to pull the game within seven points. Not too long before that they missed a field goal. With some of the mistakes the team made in a three point loss it’s not hard to see where the game was lost, and it’s easy to make a case that if they don’t make these mistakes they probably win the game by a touchdown or so. Another thing they need to clean up is penalties. They had 10 penalties for 79 yards, while the Broncos only had 3 for 35 yards. That’s a huge yard difference to give up when two teams are pretty evenly matched and you are playing on the road.

Next up for the Cougars is a home game Saturday Morning at 11:00 AM P.T. against Idaho.

Highlights from the game are available here