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WSU at Oregon: Unit Grades

From Pullman — Things certainly could have gone worse against the Ducks. The Cougars put up more first-half points on Oregon than any other team this year, and the defense made quarterback Marcus Mariota look human, if only briefly. Still, only a pair of late-game touchdowns kept the Ducks from winning by nearly 40 and WSU's turnover problem isn't getting any better. Follow the jump for this week's unit grades.

QB, B: This one may seem a little high at first glance, given that Connor Halliday's four interceptions turned a respectable game into a rout, and I struggled with this grade more than any other. But the reality is that Halliday set the WSU passing record with 557 yards against a defense that is absolutely littered with NFL talent. Furthermore, Halliday did well to compose himself and end the game on a high note. This grade would be higher except that the interceptions weren't of the “force the issue and make something happen” ilk and more the “lob it toward the end zone and pray something happens” variety.

RB, D: The running game was completely non-existent against the Ducks with running backs Marcus Mason and Teondray Caldwell combining for 21 yards on seven carries. Mason did add 55 yards through the air, a number that becomes fairly pedestrian when you realize that it was less than 10 percent of the team's total receiving yards.

WR, A: With no running game going and a mandate to keep the Ducks' offense off the field, the receivers had to perform. They did more than could reasonably be asked, and a number of players turned in good games. Freshman River Cracraft kept a number of drives alive thanks to impeccably run intermediate routes, Vince Mayle continued to prove that he's a real threat and Gabe Marks did his thing. If every unit had played as well as the receivers then WSU wins this game.

OL, C-: When the WSU offensive linemen are old and gray, babysitting their grandkids to allow their adult children a night on town, they will regale the youngsters with tales of their former exploits as a Pac-12 offensive lineman. They'll tell stories and and show them high definition game tapes on 100-inch, floating hover-TVs. This game probably won't make it onto grandpa's highlight list. WSU gave up four sacks, got no push in the run game, and was generally outclassed by UO. This grade would be lower but for context.

DL, B: Not too shabby. Xavier Cooper ran back a fumble for a touchdown, allegedly the first of his life. The Cougars were able to get actual pressure on Mariota, sacking the wunderkind quarterback three times and forcing a pair of fumbles. Oregon's speed eventually wore down the DL, and they struggled mightily in the run game. Still, a commendable performance for WSU's defense in the trenches.

LB, D+: Darryl Monroe had a sack and forced a fumble, but the Ducks racked up nearly 400-yards on the ground with an average of 8.7 yards per carry. That's without star tailback De'Anthony Thomas. That's unacceptable no matter who the opponent is.

DB, B-: Deone Bucannon will be truly missed when he's gone. The NFL-bound safety racked up nine tackles for a secondary that did a decent enough job against Mariota, who finished 23-of-32 for 327 yards in one of his more mortal displays. The future looks bright though, as freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown totaled 10 tackles to top the team.

Special Teams, B: Andrew Furney's 49-yard field goal to end the first half was no gimme and it allowed WSU to stay within striking distance. Rickey Galvin was consistently good on kickoff returns, and Mike Bowlin dropped three punts inside UO's 20-yard line. This grade would be higher except for a couple ugly punts from Bowlin.

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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