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WSU's loss to Cal, the day after


COUGARS

This is the 10th in a 12-episode installment entitled, WSU, The Day After. In nine of those installments, one of the other words in the title has had to be some form of the word defeat. Same with today. Read on.
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• Washington State: Lots to get to, including quotes, so let's get right to it. We had links to our game story and notebook (written in conjunction with John Blanchette) last night on this post but we'll repeat them here in case you want to save some time. We also have Blanchette's column, the scoring, the statistics and our four keys. ... Christian Caple had this game story in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. ... A quick summary from the Seattle Times. ... CougCenter has a game recap and an opinion piece. ... More opinion from the WSU Football blog. ... And that's the links. ... Though there can be a lot of second-guessing (and I did my share) in a game like this one – a one-score contest in the fourth quarter – there was one decision made yesterday that I would never second-guess, and didn't when it happened. That was the decision to punt with a little more than 2 minutes remaining. The Cougars were facing a fourth-and-10 from their 16-yard line after having not connected on three passes, two long throws – the first one was open and probably should have been good for about 40 yards, the second was not – and a move-the-chains stop route that was dropped. If the decision is made to go for it and the Cougars don't get it, the game is over. If they do convert, they still will be 70 yards from tying the game with 2 minutes left. Punt and Reid Forrest will flip the field, which he did. With all three timeouts, you give the defense a chance to force one more turnover. The group already had two interceptions and had forced a fumble, which Cal recovered. Sure the chances are slim, but they are better than the offense converting a fourth-and-10 and then going another 70-plus yards in less than 2 minutes to score. And if Cal makes a mistake there, the offense would only have to make one play to tie the game. ... One more comment. Before Washington State starts winning games – and that won't be until next year, what with only two left this season – this group of players needs to learn how to play in close contests. Other than Montana State, they haven't relly been in a one-score game in the fourth quarter. There is a puckering factor that comes into play and you have to learn to deal with it. The first step in a Pac-10 game was taken Saturday. Maybe there will be another in the last two, who knows. But if there is, it gives the Cougars a leg up heading into next year. They are learning how it feels now, instead of getting their first taste in San Diego or Boulder or Pasadena next fall. Maybe that will help them in a couple close games next season. ... There were a couple factual errors last night posted in comments I want to clear up. Someone had Cal scoring 17 points and we all know it was 20. And there were stats about the Bears passed along, a couple which were wrong. According to the official NCAA statistics, going into the game, Cal was 80th in passing yards per game (197) and 42nd in points per game (31.25). That puts them sixth in the Pac-10 in scoring. ... Now on to the post-game comments. ...

• Coach Paul Wulff on the offense: "Our protection today was not great, Jeff was being pressured tremendously." ... "Their two big corners were pressing out two outside receivers, Jared and Marquess, all game. That seemed to kind of negate (our passing game) a little bit. Jeff had hang on to the ball longer than we probably should have had at times. That got to us. The did a good job messing our timing up."

On the injury to Daniel Blackledge: "He and Jeffrey Solomon gave us a little spice in that little run there two, three weeks ago. Not having those two veteran players in there stymied our offense too."

On the losing streaks: "We can't buy breaks. It's been that way. You have to fight so hard you end up making your own breaks despite everything else. Until you make your own breaks consistently, despite all odds, weren't not going to turn the corner until that happens."

On this loss: "This one hurts as much as any defeat, by a long ways. We were right in it, doing all the right things, and we shot ourselves in the foot. We did a poor job in the third quarter coming out flat on offense and on defense, allowing that easy score. That was the turning point. ... "One critical one was when they converted on that third-and-20 and the (receiver) carried half our defense like 15-20 yards." ... "That was one we had to get. Should have got. Didn't get it."

On the team's attitude: "You watch us practice, you would never guess what our season is right now." ... "I like our attitude. I like the fight. I like the consistent go-to-work attitude right now."

On Jeff Tuel running: "We need to utilize him more in the running game to get more runs. ... If we're going to try to win games, he's going to have to do it with his legs as well, to a certain degree. ... We're not in a position to not use him, that's just where we are at. ... Now, as we're pushing near the end to get him involved a little more in the running game."

On the lack of offense: "Great job by our defense. We were just sputtering across the 50 to the 30 range. Frustrating." ... "We need to get touchdowns."

• Quarterback Jeff Tuel on why the offense sputtered: "You just can't pinpoint one thing and say that's not clicking, that's the reason we're losing."

On not scoring after turnovers: "Frustrating, because it's something the coaches hammer on, winning the turnover battle." ... "We got a couple field goals out of it, but we couldn't get seven points." ... "The D played their butts off today."

Joking about arguing over a handoff with Logwone Mitz that almost awry: "I think Logwone got a little greedy."

On the Cal defense: "They did a good job of putting the pressure on ... getting in the backfield, creating havoc."

On whether he ever took a hit like Gino Simone's when playing wide receiver: "Hell no I didn't do anything like that. I never took a hit like that. It takes guts to take a hit like that, hold on to the ball and get a first down."

• Cornerback Aire Justin on the defeat: "This is a hard loss, really disappointing."

On chucking the ball after his pick: "I got a little too excited. After I got it, I threw the ball and coach Ball got on me a little bit about doing that. They were trying to get me a penalty."

On whether this was the defense's best performance of the year: "Hopefully our best performance hasn't come yet. We got three (actually two) turnovers, that's our goal. We got that part out of it, but we need to get a win."

• Linebacker C.J. Mizell on if the Bears threw more than WSU expected: "We knew coming into the game if we shut down their running game, we knew they were going to throw it with slants and stuff, because they were kind of shaky with their new quarterback."

On why the defense played so well: "We were just clicking, celebrating together, playing as a team."

• Offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy on running Tuel:"We thought we could take advantage of that a little bit."

On how David Gonzales' loss has affect the O-line: "I thought David was having a great year." ... "We're thin, everybody knows that. We have those five guys."

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• Around the Pac-10: ESPN.com's Ted Miller tells us what we learned from Saturday and hands out helmet stickers. ... Some thoughts on the conference from San Jose's Jon Wilner. ... Washington: Well, the Huskies started well and gave the Ducks a battle through much of the first three quarters behind the play of Keith Price. ... Oregon State: The Bruins stopped the Beavers running game and won on a last-second field goal. ... Oregon: The Ducks' slow start and big finish isn't going to impress the national pundits, and that's what matters now.... Cal: It's not been often the past three years a victory over WSU elicits a celebration. But when you haven't won on the road all year, it can happen. ... Stanford: The Cardinal run over Arizona in a showdown for second place. ... USC: A blocked extra-point and a two-point return is the winning margin? Really? ... UCLA: A 51-yard field goal is the winning margin? Really? ... Arizona State: Dennis Erickson said a lot this year Thomas Weber is the best kicker in the nation. It costs the Sun Devils a lot when he's proven wrong. ... Arizona: It will still be a good year for the Cats. Just not as good as it could have been.

•••

• That's all for this morning. We'll be back after Wulff's press conference tonight. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi





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