We made our way up I-5 to Portland and are waiting to get back to Spokane. While we wait, we’re going to share some thoughts and links. Read on.
• The 52-6 loss to Oregon Saturday night looks, on the surface, as if the Cougars have regressed. But let’s quickly stick our hands underwater and look deeper. It seems, from this vantage point, more of a continuation rather than a regression. This is a defensive team that struggles to handle speed. That’s been shown three times this year. The off-season weight-lifting gains have helped WSU handle strength, but speed, that can’t be fixed completely in the weight room. A guy can get from point A to point B only so fast. And the younger the player is, the more he has to think and the longer it takes him to cover that ground. A banged up player moves slower as well. So all Oregon did last night, in scoring pretty much at will in the first half, was once again reiterate WSU’s inability to run. … On the other side of the ball, the Cougars’ offensive line was overmatched. One of the coaches shared last week, not for attribution, how scared he was by the confluence of events: A blitzing, fast Oregon defense that had just held Cal to three points and an inexperienced WSU offensive line. He was right to be scared. No matter what the Cougars tried, it didn’t work. The first sack, for example, featured the right protection. But Dwight Tardy, a running back that has shown time and again he’s money on blitz pickup, basically whiffed and Jeff Tuel was whacked. But most of the offensive woes started up front. Unable to run the ball at all, WSU then faced an Oregon defense that felt free to man up on the outside, ignore the run and lock down on the receivers. Pressure plus good coverage. End of story. … Now this week should be different. Arizona State’s offense, while decently fast, doesn’t spread you horizontally and try to out run you. The Sun Devils are more of a vertical team and scheme helps a lot there. On defense, ASU is damn good. The only thing going for WSU on that side of the ball is guards Zack Williams and Brian Danaher should be back. That would help a lot up front if they return. We’ll get into this more as the week wears on. … By the way, wondered what you thought of Carl Winston? Though the running lanes were limited, he ran with the abandon I’ve seen at practice, leading WSU with 56 yards on the ground. Share your thoughts. … Now to the links.
• Washington State: Because our time is limited, we’re going to focus on the stories from the WSU game. We have the long versions of our story and notebook on the blog. You can find the S-R version of the story and notebook here, along with our grades. … Freelancer Howie Stalwick had this game story in the Kitsap Sun along with this notebook. … Bud Withers of the Seattle Times had this column. … A couple of Cougfan posts, one on fundraising and one on the game. … Oregon: The LeGarrette Blount junk didn’t seem to affect the Ducks, whose defense played another great game, knocking Tuel from the game and handcuffing WSU. … Speaking of Blount, he got credit for his scout team work this week, with teammates saying he contributed to the rout.
• That’s it for this morning. We’ll be back tonight after coach Paul Wulff’s press conference. Until then …