October 16, 2011 in Sports

Vince Grippi’s Keys to the WSU-Stanford Game

 

What went right

The way Washington State played defensively in the first half was about as well as the Cougars have on that side of the ball all year. Stanford had six drives. Two ended in punts, two in turnovers, one on a field goal – after a first-and-10 at the 12 – and a short one ended in a touchdown. The Cardinal ran 32 first-half plays and finished with 165 yards of total offense.

What went wrong

The offense never got going. Whether it was rust on Jeff Tuel’s part, the inability of the wide receivers to hang on to the ball or a lack of push up front – or just because Stanford is really good – WSU had its worst offensive showing of the season. With just 48 yards rushing, 257 in total offense and an inability to convert third downs (5 of 15), the offense sputtered all night.

Turning point

The Cougars went into the locker room at the half trailing 10-7. They came out jumping up and down. Isiah Barton took the opening kickoff back 50 yards, putting WSU at midfield. Then, three plays went nowhere. When Tuel was sacked by Matt Masifilo on third down, not only was that possession over, so were the Cougars’ chances.

Difference makers

It didn’t matter who Stanford had on the field at tight end in the second half, mainly because the Cardinal usually had all three. Either way, one of them was open on seemingly every third down. If it wasn’t 6-foot-6 Coby Fleener, it was 6-8 Levine Toilolo making a play. Or it was 6-6 Zach Ertz. They caught 11 of Andrew Luck’s 23 completions for 216 of his 336 passing yards.

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