Having now watched the Pac-12 Network’s replay of the game (and having attended, of course) I’d like to introduce this new feature to the blog. The hope is that by analyzing individual position groups we can get a better idea of what this WSU team really looks like. What are the team’s strengths, who is getting better and who is mired in a slump?
Without further adieu, grades after the jump.
Quarterback, D: Connor Halliday did just enough in the first three quarters for this to not be a failing grade. But the lopsided score was in large part due to three consecutive interceptions thrown by Halliday, who leads the country in the statistic. Those turnovers gave OSU great field position, and the Beavers capitalized by quickly scoring. Halliday also struggled with accuracy, hitting on just 26 of 49 throws.
Running Backs, B+: The Cougars actually won the rushing battle against the Beavers with 113 yards to OSU’s 102. It was just the second time WSU has crossed the century mark on the ground this season. Jeremiah Laufasa and Marcus Mason each ran for touchdowns making it tough to assign the running backs much blame for the loss.
Receivers, C: Vince Mayle made a tough end zone catch for the Cougars’ lone passing score, but the receivers didn’t make many big plays. Only two WSU passes went for over 20 yards, and play-makers Gabe Marks and Dom Williams were held to just seven catches for 55 yards.
Offensive Line, B+: Like the running backs, it’s tough to find much fault with the WSU offensive line. They generated enough push for the Cougars to pick up an average of 5.4 yards on designed running plays and limited OSU to a single, one-yard sack.
Defensive Line, C-: Against a team that passes as much as OSU the defensive line has to be able to get more pressure. The defensive line didn’t account for a single sack in 54 drop backs, and OSU quarterback Sean Mannion often had as much time as he needed to survey the field and wait for a receiver to break open.
Linebackers, C: While the Beavers weren’t able to get much going on the ground between the tackles, OSU was able to find success with wide receiver sweeps. WSU’s struggles to take the correct angles defensively continued, and the linebackers had trouble keeping contact with OSU’s wide receivers. Cyrus Coen got the Cougars’ lone sack of Mannion.
Secondary C-: The Cougar secondary played well early in the game but also missed some key opportunities, such as two breakups by Daquawn Brown that could have been interceptions. Once the game started to snowball against WSU the secondary lost track of stud WR Brandin Cooks, and he made them pay. Anthony Carpenter’s end zone interception of Mannion was the highlight of the game for this unit.
Special Teams C: Mike Bowlin’s 68-yard punt to the OSU 3-yard line at the end of the second quarter was a thing of beauty. Leon Brooks had a 28-yard punt return, and Rickey Galvin was fine in the kickoff return game. But the Cougars’ botched punt late in the third quarter was the turning point of the game.