The Washington State Cougars trip to Reno, Nev. did not go well. Nevada controlled the game throughout the first, third, and fourth quarter to give the Wolf Pack their second victory of the season; and their first victory over WSU in program history. It was an incredibly tough game for Cougar fans to watch, as the offensive line made several drive killing penalties that limited the offense’s ability to keep drives alive; add in a couple of “bad Connor” moments and you have a recipe for a terrible game.
Heading into the season, I always thought that the game against Nevada was the non-conference game that Washington State was going to lose. The Wolf Pack revolutionized college football by regularly using the pistol offense in 2005, and then paired the pistol with the read (and triple) option a few years later. Nevada quickly developed a reputation as a run-first offense, coincidentally WSU has struggled to stop rushing attacks since the ’05 season. It seemed like the game for Nevada to run wild.
But that’s not what happened, the Cougar defense actually did kind of okay against the run on Friday night. And by kind of okay, I mean that the Cougs held the Wolf Pack to 3.8 yards per carry and that includes the 55-yard rush by Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo. That’s a major improvement from the 5-yards a rush the Cougar defense gave up to Rutgers eight days earlier.
That means no one is complaining about the rush defense right? Right?….
“I have a hard time seeing this team win more than 1 game if they can’t stop the run game. I am not and haven’t been a fan of Mike Breske. The way the defense allowed the QB/RB’s to get big yardage last night and against Rutgers was piss poor for a 3rd year defense. You could also throw some blame on Coach Joe for the way the D line was getting blown up.”- jeremyb91 from the internet.
Oh well, as we just pointed out they only allowed 3.8 yards per carry on 56 carries…that’s really not that shabby. So can we focus on some of the other breakdowns the team had last night?
“I can’t find the stat for sacks in any box scores and I know that in general college box scores include a QB sack as a negative rushing yards.” – jeremyb91
Well Washington State didn’t record a sack on Friday — the lack of a pass rush against a mediocre o-line is a problem — so that argument doesn’t really hold water…
“On one play they look like a good defense, on other drives they look absolutely terrible. I saw too many runs by Butler #20 that were eerily similar to the Rutgers game. I realize overall the defense ended up with a decent number, but the inconsistency is too much to bear and shows that there’s reason to be concerned that any good PAC 12 rushing attack should have no problem getting yards against this defense this year.” – jeremyb91
So sticking to your narrative is more important than the facts, got it. Did the defense have some issues on Friday night? Yes, yes they did; but the defense was not the reason that Washington State lost this game.
The reason WSU lost this game was the Cougar offense’s inability to score from the red zone on Friday; and the reason the Cougars struggled to score from the red zone was because the offensive line struggled to maintain discipline multiple times throughout the night. Here are some examples of the o-line’s melt downs:
- SECOND QUARTER: 2nd and Goal at NEV 3; WASHINGTON ST Penalty, False Start (-5 Yards) to the Nevada 8
- THIRD QUARTER: 1st and 10 at NEV 19 WASHINGTON ST Penalty, Offensive Holding (-10 Yards) to the Nevada 29
- THIRD QUARTER: 1st and 10 at NEV 18 WASHINGTON ST Penalty, Offensive Holding (-10 Yards) to the Nevad 28
- FOURTH QUARTER: 3rd and 7 at NEV 16 WASHINGTON ST Penalty, False Start (-5 Yards) to the Nevada 21
The two false start penalties pushed the Cougar offense back, and Washington State settled for field goals; the two holding calls eventually forced WSU to go for field goals, both were missed. It’s hard to score when your offense is constantly getting pushed back by stupid and unnecessary penalties, especially when your kickers are missing field goals.
At least people aren’t blaming the Air Raid offense for the Cougs scoring problems against Nevada…
“What about the Air Raid in the red zone? What about the lack of even a threat of a running game to keep defenses off-balance and help close out games? And maybe even give your own defense a break on the sidelines.” – Jim Moore, 710 ESPN Seattle