For the second season in a row on Saturday night at Martin Stadium the Cougars found themselves unable to beat an FCS opponent to start their season. This time it was to FCS power Eastern Washington, behind a school record 551 total yards by quarterback Gage Gubrud. Cooper Kupp also had himself a day, racking up 206 yards receiving on 12 catches to go along with three touchdowns. The Cougars offense was also able to put up their fair share of numbers, quarterback Luke Falk was very efficient going 41-51 for 418 yards and four touchdowns. Falk also had an interception that seemed to swing the momentum of the game into the Eagles favor. The Cougars actually ran the ball pretty effectively for their standards, going for almost 100 yards as a team and averaging nearly four yards per carry. Gabe Marks put up 108 yards and two touchdowns on 10 catches.
The bottomline is that the Cougars have now lost to an FCS opponent two years in a row. That is not acceptable for a team that has been hyped up and is expected to at least throw its hat in the race for the Pac-12 North title. They are going to have a lot of work to do on defense if they want to get this headed in the right direction, and that will have to happen quick, because they play Boise State next weekend who many think is one of the better non-power five teams in the whole country and they have to travel to Boise to try and get that win.
The Cougars have plenty to be excited about on the offensive side of the ball. As mentioned, Gabe Marks had a big day and is one of the better receivers in the conference, they also had two lesser known receivers step up and have solid games in Robert Lewis and Kyle Sweet, and Luke Falk was efficient. In this offense I look for efficiency over yards, when you throw it 51 times you are likely to put up some numbers. The Cougars have weapons, the biggest problem is defense and being more specific than that is the secondary. They looked like a team that was breaking in three new starters in the back end. The Eagles had receivers running wide open in the secondary all day long. A lot of the problems are likely fixable with better communication in the back end and just making it more challenging for opposing offenses.
Highlights from the game are available here.
Next up for the Cougars is at Boise State Saturday night at 7:15 PM on ESPN2