November 16, 2009 in Sports

Looking back: UCLA 43, WSU 7


High point

In a game with one WSU touchdown, it should always be the choice. It is, but it came in the third quarter with WSU trailing 29-0. The Cougars had moved from their 20 past midfield for the first time in the game, but faced a third-and-7 from the 46. Senior quarterback Kevin Lopina, in relief of starter Marshall Lobbestael, decided to take a shot deep against the UCLA zone. Jeffrey Solomon raced down the left sideline, safety Rahim Moore took a bad angle at the ball and Solomon gathered it in a couple of yards behind the defense. The 46-yard score accounted for more than 25 percent of WSU’s total offense.

Low point

Trying to avoid a slow start, WSU won the toss and took the ball. Two plays gained a little more than 9 yards, leaving the Cougars facing a third-and-1 at their 29. Lobbestael, seeing UCLA in man coverage, changed the play at the line, switching from a run to a pass. Akeem Ayers intercepted a pass and UCLA had the first break.

Pat on the back

Though he hasn’t played in months, Lopina relieved Lobbestael and brought the Cougars a little spark. Though his pass statistics were nothing special – 7 of 14 for 102 yards and the one touchdown – Lopina at least supplied a couple of highlights.

Needs fixing

The Cougars are 1-9. There are a lot of things that need fixing, most of which have been discussed here throughout the season. They include a talent gap, which results in a lack of depth, speed and playmakers. But, with two games left, there is one aspect of the game WSU can control: how hard it plays. The Cougars need to continue to play with passion no matter what the next eight quarters bring.

Three unanswered questions

• How long will Jeff Tuel be out? The Cougars’ loss Saturday underscored how much they need the freshman quarterback’s abilities. But they also need a healthy Tuel to lead offseason workouts. If the 18-year-old needs two more weeks to heal properly, he needs to take them.

• What will the crowd be like this week? Two years ago Oregon State came to Pullman the week before the Apple Cup – and Thanksgiving break. The crowd was sparse at the start (22,660), but following halftime, driven from their seats by a soaking rain and a 31-3 Cougar deficit, it was nearly non-existent. There’s a chance things could be similar.

• Who will be back? Besides Tuel, tight end Tony Thompson (concussion), safety Chima Nwachukwu (ankle) and kicker Nico Grasu (quadriceps) – all upperclassman starters – were also on the disabled list last weekend. Coach Paul Wulff sounded pessimistic Sunday that any could return this week.

Vince Grippi

Get stories like this in a free daily email

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus