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Washington State Bye Week Review

The Cougs have had a lot of ups and downs to this point in the year

How much has the Cougars defense really improved?

The Washington State football team enters it’s bye week with a record of 1-2. They have had some good moments this year and done some things pretty well, where it’s looked like they are a team that’s going to get hot, but they have also done some things bad, which has cost them two games so far and left them with a 1-2 record going into the bye week with conference play looming.

Offensively, the Cougars have put up a lot of numbers, as they usually do, but they have struggled to put up points in the redzone at times despite the amount of yards they have put up. Luke Falk has had a pretty good season to this point, sitting at second in the conference in passing yards just behind Cal’s Davis Weeb, but he has had some costly interceptions. He threw one against Eastern Washington in the opener that gave the Eagles momentum, and he threw a pick six in a three point loss at Boise State. If he can avoid the costly turnovers as the season goes along the Cougars still have a chance to win a good amount of games and finish with a good record in conference. The offense has been up and down in the running game. Against Idaho they got the running game going pretty well, but we will have to wait and see if that was just a product of playing Idaho because against Boise State they really struggled to run the ball. Any running game, as I’ve continuously said, will help Luke Falk and the running game immensely. They’ve also seen the emergence of Tavares Martin at receiver, to help out veterans like Gabe Marks and River Cracraft.

The defense was really bad in the season opening loss to Eastern Washington, but since then they have been improving. The biggest question coming into the year for the defense was how the secondary would perform trying to break in three new starters. They looked inexperienced early, but against Boise State, they really only gave up 24 points because Falk threw a pick six. That was a huge improvement from the loss to Eastern Washington, and against Idaho they only gave up six points which is what they should do against a team like that. They should have some big tests against their defense and that will start with Oregon next week so they will have plenty of opportunities to prove that they really are improved that much from week one.

Special Teams have been a weakness so far. Placekicker Erik Powell is 0-3 on field goal attempts this year and missed a huge one in the three point loss at Boise State. The lone bright spot to this point was a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown against Idaho. They will need Powell to be better as league season goes on, because my guess is that the Cougars will need him to make some big field goals as the season goes.

Overall the Cougars have some things to build on going into the Pac-12 season and they seemed to respond well to coach Mike Leach calling them out in the media. Them having a bye week to gather themselves and get ready for conference season was a great thing because now they have a full week to improve coming off of a win that should have given them some confidence. They will come off the bye week to play Oregon in what should be a sold out Martin Stadium so they have an opportunity to take advantage of this bye week and really springboard their season.