WSU got the result expected of unranked teams from WA that visit the desert, but not in the manner most expected.
In many ways Luke Falk still looked very impressive for a freshman quarterback. But for the first time we also saw some blemishes. And against an attacking defense, and with a defense that didn't give him second chances, they were the difference in a blowout loss and an upset win.
I've got a few thoughts from the game after the jump.
-- It may be that Falk's success so far this season ended up hurting him today, as it seemed like he took a few chances that a veteran with a fair share of bad plays under his belt has learned not to take. For example, the interception that was a go-up-get-it pass to Robert Lewis might have made sense if it was Vince Mayle trying to outfight the defensive back. But when it's one of the smallest players on the roster the pass seems more likely to be intercepted than to result in a positive offensive play.
Obviously five turnovers isn't a great day at the stadium for any quarterback, but I don't feel like this game was particularly indicative of anything other than youth for Falk. He still showed tremendous feel in the pocket and made a lot of accurate passes. It's not like he was going to play as well as he did against Oregon State every week and this game was probably a good reminder of that for overexcited fans.
-- I put this out on Twitter and it will be in the game story tomorrow, but I think it's a stat that warrants repeating: The WSU defense gave up 11.1 yards per play on drives following a fumble or an interception and just 3.7 on all other drives.
That really did seem to be the story of this game. I mean, I don't think I'm the only one who thought Todd Graham might consider putting backup quarterback Mike Bercovici in the game after ASU went three-and-out on six of its first seven drives. With four sacks in the first quarter the Cougars were all over Taylor Kelly and weren't giving up any explosive plays in the running game.
But when the offense turned the ball over the defense never saved them, giving up a touchdown each time. I don't think it's unfair to say that with no turnovers the Cougars could very well have won this game, and even with them they'd have been in it if the defense had bailed them out a couple times.
Or forced a few of their own.
-- Marcellus Pippins sure looked good in his first start, breaking up a pass on the game's first play and leveling a receiver in the backfield. When he arrived for spring ball last year his athleticism was apparent and I expected him to be a player for the Cougars this year, but he kind of fell off and wasn't as impressive as some of the other young cornerbacks in practice.
Well, he was pretty effective today, and I wouldn't be surprised to see he and Daquawn Brown opposite each other for awhile to come. Throw in a healthy Charleston White and the Cougars could actually have some pretty talented depth at the position.
-- It's Apple Cup Week, everybody. Keep an eye on Snoqualmie Pass, stay safe and don't say anything you can't take back in eight days.