Sat., Oct. 25, 2014
Final thoughts from the Arizona game
If it feels like that was Washington State's worst loss of the season, well, that's pretty perceptive. The game's 2.5 line was probably a little misleading, by which I mean that with so much personnel uncertainty on the WSU defense winning this game was going to be a huge challenge for the Cougars.
But Arizona went on a 31-0 run to start the game and it did it in about 21 minutes of work. That's bad. That's really, really bad. The fact that WSU had so many players out coming off a bye week is immensely concerning with a game against USC.
The Cougars can play a lot better than this but they aren't doing it right now and with just four games left in the season they're running out of chances to prove that they're still an improving program.
More thoughts are after the jump.
-- I'm starting to see a lot of anger from fans toward the defensive coaching staff and I can't really figure out why. When you look at the players WSU had available on defense today, and the success Arizona's offense has had all year, the outcome seems more or less inevitable.
Washington State's secondary depth is such that with just a couple guys out they no longer have guys who are ready to play in a Pac-12 football. I'm sure Kevin Griffin will be a fine player and Beau Glover's effort is unassailable but neither player is honestly ready to go up against Cayleb Jones or Austin Hill and win that matchup.
Anu Solomon picked on freshman corner Pat Porter and the Cougars tried to help him out by sliding a safety over to his side. Washington State tried to help the corners out by having them play off the line but that simply opened things up underneath. In short, for WSU's defense to be successful in this game the Wildcats needed to have a bad game on offense. They didn't and that's why the game got out of hand.
-- That being said, the Cougars need to figure it out on special teams. They've given up special teams touchdowns in three of their last four games and they nearly gave up one against Stanford. In two of those games they gave up a pair. Just as concerning was the field position the Cougars gave Arizona, which averaged its own 40-yard line as the starting position for its drives.
-- This game seemed to be a confluence of a lack of depth and players being out. Kalafitoni Pole played but he didn't start and his absence causes ripples along the defensive line. I don't know that not having Riley Sorenson at center killed the Cougars, but I'm sure it didn’t help. Sulaiman Hameed also played but not very much and ideally you already wouldn't be relying on a true freshman at safety.
-- The defense was put in a bad position this game but the offense wasn't and to me that's the most concerning thing. Arizona came into the game allowing 8.1 yards per passing attempt but WSU's explosive passing offense managed just 6.2. The Cougars went scoreless on the first five possessions of the first half and its first three of the second. Besides Sorenson the Cougars weren't missing anyone offensively they usually have so the trouble scoring against a bad passing defense is especially concerning.