Vince Grippi’s Keys to the Game
What went right
Almost everything. The offense was efficient, scoring on its first four possessions and six of seven in the first half. It ran up 590 yards of total offense. The starting defense was aggressive, setting the tone early with an interception and a couple of sacks. The special teams, other than a blocked extra point, were near perfect, with Andrew Furney connecting twice on field goals, one from 51 yards, and new punter Dan Wagner averaging 43.8.
What went wrong
One big thing. The fracture in Jeff Tuel’s left clavicle. The starting quarterback will miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks, which puts him back in Colorado for the Pac-12 opener at the earliest. The Cougars were hoping to build momentum with their early-season schedule but to do that now it will be up to senior Marshall Lobbestael, whom offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy said would start next week, or freshman Connor Halliday.
The Cougars won the toss and elected to receive. When Brendon Garcia’s kickoff went out of bounds, WSU got the ball at its 42 to start the game. With great field position and Lobbestael showing confidence, the Cougars were aggressive from the start, throwing three screen passes in the first four plays. When Rickey Galvin jogged in from 11 yards out less than 2 minutes into the game, WSU was up 7-0 and the rout was under way.
Lobbestael has to get the nod. He started when Tuel was out with a stomach virus and led WSU to two scores. He returned when Tuel went to the locker room to have his shoulder examined and quickly led the Cougars to another score. He played with poise and efficiency, belying the fact he hadn’t started a game in more than a year. Lobbestael connected on 14 of 19 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns.