Sat., Nov. 3, 2012
Tale of the tape: Utah 49, WSU 6
FROM SALT LAKE CITY -- We've all been there.
You're sitting in a class of, say, 15 or 20 people, one of those face-to-face settings where the teacher knows everyone's name. They're asking about last night's reading assignment, or something just discussed in class.
They're calling on kids to answer questions. But you don't know the answer. So you do everything you can to avoid eye contact and pray you don't get called on.
That's what Saturday's postgame interview session felt like, as coach Mike Leach made his offensive and defensive lines, as individual units, sit on a podium and answer questions from reporters.
It's not that any of them were trying to duck responsibility or avoid questions, necessarily. They answered each question that was asked, which couldn't have been easy. But it had a very juvenile feel to it, as if the players had been caught doing something they shouldn't have.
Yeah, things got a little strange after this 49-6 loss at Utah. We recap the game, whether you want to or not, in our weekly tale of the tape. Read on.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- How about John White, who rushed for 101 yards on 18 carries and set the game's tone by scoring on a 47-yard run in the first quarter. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson was also effective, completing 17 of 21 passes for 171 yards and two scores, along with an interception.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- The Utes' defensive line dominated, at times getting pressure on the quarterback despite rushing only two or three players. Linebacker Trevor Reilly led the way with five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
PLAY OF THE GAME -- White's touchdown run gave the Utes a huge momentum boost early, and they never let off the gas.
STAT OF THE GAME -- Take your pick. WSU's minus-4 yards rushing? Utah's 6.6-3.8 yards per play advantage? How about the Utes' six sacks, or their 24 first downs? Doesn't matter how you slice it -- nearly every number on the stat sheet illustrates Utah's dominance.
QUOTABLE -- "Shoot, a part of it’s effort. A part of it’s effort and some of it borders on cowardice. Our five couldn’t whip their two. Sometimes they brought two. Our five couldn’t whip two. If five of our guys went in an alley and got in a fight with two of theirs we would have gotten massacred. That’s just ridiculously inexcusable. It was one of the most heartless efforts I’ve ever seen and our d-line wasn’t any better.” -- coach Mike Leach on his team's lack of pass protection
WHAT WE LEARNED -- The Cougars aren't nearly as close to turning the corner as we might have thought. This wasn't just a blowout loss. This was a blowout loss to a beatable team, a team that was 3-5 entering the game and just picked up its first Pac-12 win last week. A team starting a freshman at quarterback. The Utes are talented, to be sure. But they're not world-beaters, and WSU made them look that way today. If the problem truly is effort, as Leach seemed certain afterward, that's as alarming as any of the Cougars' talent deficiences. This team is now 11-47 over the last five seasons, yet still isn't capable of entering each game with the same mindset. That's something that Leach has railed against all season. After this one, it doesn't look like they're any closer to turning it around than they were two months ago.
UP NEXT -- Another tough one at home against UCLA, which takes a 6-2 record into its game against Arizona tonight. As a couple of Cougars players said, they're just playing for pride now with a bowl game out of the question.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple