Cougars notebook: Goetz answers the call
PULLMAN – Mike Leach doesn’t discuss injuries with reporters, and there was no official reason given for the departure of right tackle Wade Jacobson from Washington State’s 35-34 loss to Colorado on Saturday.
Jacobson, who had his 2011 season ended by a back injury, left Saturday’s game in the first half and was seen standing on the sideline with an ice pack on the left side of his neck.
In Jacobson’s absence, Jake Rodgers moved to right tackle, and Matt Goetz was inserted at right guard.
“That’s my job,” Goetz said. “Somebody goes down anywhere, it’s my job to step up and not lose a step anywhere. That’s just what I do. I’ve been training all week getting into it like that. You’ve got to be ready from the moment you walk on that bus to go to the hotel in Lewiston.”
Goetz declined to evaluate his own play, saying he’s only interested in wins and losses. Leach said he thought Goetz played fine, but said the offensive line, as a whole, still lacks a killer instinct.
“Our offensive line’s got to get tougher,” Leach said. “They’d be the prime example of a group that wants to relax when we’re ahead.”
They’re not the only ones. Leach chastised his team for taking its foot off the gas, so to speak, for the third consecutive week.
Leach said WSU acquires a lead and thinks “we’re going to relax. That is so contradictory and disrespectful to football and the whole quest to play football and anything that relates to a team game. I mean, it’s disgusting at every level.”
Going for it
For the second consecutive week, Leach chose to leave his offense on the field on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter.
For the second consecutive week, it didn’t work. Quarterback Connor Halliday threw an interception on fourth-and-3 from Colorado’s 19-yard line with WSU leading by 17 points and 8:07 remaining in the game.
The interception led to a Buffaloes touchdown that sparked their comeback. But Leach had no regrets about going for it.
“We should have converted it,” Leach said. “We had wide-open space on the field. We should have thrown underneath. We should have gotten a first down. It wouldn’t have been very hard. It was easy.”
Last week against UNLV, the Cougars ran the ball on fourth-and-3 and came up short with an eight-point lead and less than a minute remaining in the game. WSU held on to that lead for a 35-27 win.
Drops don’t help
Marquess Wilson caught five passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns to move into second-place on WSU’s all-time career receiving list with 2,711 yards, and is tied for second place in career touchdowns with 22.
But he also dropped a pass in the end zone midway through the third quarter, one play before Bobby Ratliff appeared to grab a touchdown pass only to have it knocked out of his hand by a Colorado defender.
Wilson also dropped a pass in the end zone last week.
“It’s just focus,” Wilson said. “That’s the main thing about catching the ball, you’ve got to focus. Without focus you can’t catch it.”
How can he fix it?
“Just going out there and doing extra,” he said. “If that means staying after practice or getting out there early, catch jugs or have the quarterback throw to you after practice, a certain route that you need to work on or want to work on.”
True freshman running back Teondray Caldwell didn’t have many carries, but he made the most of them.
Caldwell led WSU in rushing with a team season-high 72 yards on 10 carries, and also returned three kicks for 115 yards, including a 56-yard return that set up the Cougars’ fourth-quarter field goal.
But the freshman, like the rest of his teammates selected for postgame interviews, wasn’t in the mood to discuss his own play.
“I feel like once we’ve got a lead, we want to win right away,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got to finish the game.”
Only one quarterback in WSU history has thrown the ball more times than Halliday did on Saturday.
Halliday completed 32 of 60 passes for 401 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Drew Bledsoe owns the record for pass attempts in a game with 66 against Montana in 2002.