FROM PULLMAN — Someone asked in a chat the other day if I'd be giving out position grades on the blog after games, a la Vince Grippi pre-2011. Well, I'm not going to. But we do have a capsulated overview for you after the jump.
PLAYER OF THE GAME — A tough call here, since both teams struggled at times on both sides of the ball. But we'll go with WSU receiver Isiah Myers, who caught six passes for 58 yards and the first two touchdowns of his college career. Both required him to make an adjustment on the ball. Interestingly enough, Gabe Marks quietly led WSU in receiving with three catches for 77 yards.
PLAY OF THE GAME — Andrew Furney's 60-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Sure, the Cougars didn't score again and Eastern Washington made a strong push at the end that kind of put a damper on things. But Furney's kick inspired the loudest cheer of the game from the announced sellout crowd of 33,598, and gave WSU a two-score lead heading into halftime.
STAT OF THE GAME — This is a pretty crazy revelation — Leon Brooks' 48 punt return yards on Saturday were more than WSU had, as a team, all of last season. Brooks returned 12 punts last year for a total of 46 yards. He managed to net 48 Saturday on just three tries, one of them going for 29 yards.
QUOTABLE — “Our offensive line’s got to be tougher people. Right now they’re a little too quick to feel sorry for themselves and let their technique break down, or oh, they get tired so rather than repsonding with great technique, we’re going to hold. That’ll be addressed tomorrow and it’ll be an experience they won’t forget. They’ll be talking about it when they’re my age.” — coach Mike Leach, addressing his team's holding penalties
WHAT WE LEARNED — The growing pains weren't limited to Week 1. This is going to be a process, both offensively and defensively. It's obvious the offense isn't second nature yet for Jeff Tuel or for WSU's receivers. As Tuel said after the game, receivers still need to figure out the intricacies of their routes on any given play — such as when to sit in certain areas and when to come back to the quarterback — and he isn't quite on the same page as them yet. One of our keys for this game was the Cougars needing to finish drives. They didn't do that today. These ups-and-downs won't feel as up-and-down if they can punch it in when they get inside opponent territory.
NEXT UP — WSU travels to Las Vegas for a 6 p.m. game Friday at UNLV. The Rebels lost their opener at Minnesota in triple overtime, and are locked in a 14-14 tie with — gasp! — Northern Arizona as we speak. NAU lost 63-6 to Arizona State last week. Another game the Cougars should win, though it might be tougher than last year.