Saturday Afternoon at Martin Stadium, the Washington State Cougars were able to finally pick up a win on the season against the Idaho Vandals, in a week where the teams toughness was questioned in the public by head coach Mike Leach. The offense looked smooth and the execution was pretty good and they were able to get a lot of different guys in and get them some solid playing time in the 56-6 win.
The Good: 56 points. Anytime that you put up 56 points it’s pretty hard to say anything negative about the offense. They were a little sloppy in the first half, but it was raining pretty hard in Pullman and as the game went on they were able to find a way to start putting up points in a hurry. I was calling for the Cougars to get the running game going a little bit when I was previewing the game earlier this week. They did just that, racking up 228 yards on the ground on 35 attempts, while reaching the endzone three times on the ground. They were led by James Williams, who had 126 yards on 14 carries. It was a good sign to see them take advantage of the Vandals emptying out the box a little in order to try and slow down the passing attack, and I think that’s something that they need to look to keep doing. The offense also only had one turnover, and that was committed by backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski, which means that the game was already well in hand, a great sign for the offense that they were able to avoid any bad turnovers while the game was still in doubt. They also had a blocked field goal attempt that got taken back for a touchdown by Marcellus Pippins. The secondary looks like they just keep on improving, only giving up 4.8 yards per pass, while holding the Vandals to just over 50% on completions.
The Bad: Not a lot of bad things happened for the team in this game. The only thing I would put in this category is that Erik Powell missed a field goal for the second straight week. Obviously it didn’t cost them this week, but they need to get him right going into conference play because they will more than likely need him to make some big field goals for them going down the stretch of the conference season.
The Ugly: Only one thing was ugly in this game, but it is really starting to plague the team and has to be frustrating Coach Leach, and that is penalties. They racked up 11 more penalties this week for 108 yards. Much like the missed field goal, this didn’t come back to bite them this week, but in conference play in tighter games, giving up that many penalty yards will no doubt come back to bite them. Penalties are a discipline thing. The offense Washington State runs leads to them committing more penalties, but still, having over 100 yards of penalties is too much no matter what offense you run.
Overall, this was a good week for the Cougars. They were able to get a win going into conference play, which should give them some confidence. They haven’t looked great this year but maybe getting this win will help them get close to the win total they had last year and the two losses so far this year had no bearing on the Cougars chances to win the North division and possibly the conference, although they will still have a lot to clean up before they start to think about that.
Next up: The Cougars have a bye week this week and then will host Oregon on Saturday, October 1st.