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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Final thoughts from Nevada

Washington State suffered a deflating loss at Nevada on Friday night in which the defense played surprisingly well and the offense surprisingly did not. The game ended after 11 p.m. so the final quarter was a little rushed on our end, but with some time left in Reno I thought I'd put together some thoughts I had following the game.

Those are after the jump.

...

In no particular order ...

-- The Cougars absolutely have to do a better job protecting Halliday or it's hard to see him making it through the season. He's already proved this season to be much tougher than most quarterbacks, taking big hits in both games and getting back up to play well. But in both games he's had to overcome noticeable limps brought on by the seven sacks he's already suffered. He also needs to do a better job protecting himself -- everyone involved is lucky that he didn't seriously hurt himself after sliding headfirst and taking a shot to the helmet.

He also needs to learn to throw the ball out of bounds rather than running out of bounds on the sideline, effectively sacking himself. That happened a couple times today.

-- River Cracraft traveled but did not play, and while that obviously hurt the offense, it's hard to say that he would have been much of a difference maker. Robert Lewis filled in ably at Y receiver collecting eight receptions for 81 yards and Rickey Galvin did well filling in as the punt returner, with returns of seven and 17 yards.

-- The Gabe Marks situation didn't get any clearer on Friday. In fact, it got murkier. Marks traveled with the team to Reno, he warmed up with the team and appeared to be a full participant right up until kickoff. He did not get into the game one on Friday and a redshirt season is still possible for WSU's leading receiver last season.

-- Redshirt freshman Charleston White made his first career start on Friday night and seemed to play well for the most part -- he didn't have any glaring mistakes that I recall -- but was seen limping off the field in the fourth quarter.

-- The Cougar running game looked a lot better today. Jamal Morrow averaged 4.6 yards per carry with a long of 17 and Theron West averaged 9.7 thanks a nice 19-yard burst. Still, the running backs only got 12 carries total.

-- After the game Leach said they "splatter" plays on offense and that seems to be a pretty good way of putting it. It's not like Halliday is throwing downfield for the big play every time, on the contrary most of his completions were intermediate throws and his longest pass was 32-yards to Dom Williams, but the team was rarely able to string positive plays together.

-- The Cougars wasted a much better performance against the run by the defense. Not including quarterback Cody Fajardo's 55-yard burst through the center of the defense -- which looked pretty confused pre-snap -- the Cougars gave up 3.1 yards per rush. Yes, the 55-yard run still counts and it obviously mattered a great deal, but against a team that relies on the run like Nevada does (Fajardo only passed 21 times for 110 yards) the Cougars had a lot of very good defensive plays.

-- Erik Powell went 1-for-3 on his kicks, all from less than 40 yards, prompting the coaches to sub in Quentin Breshears who made a 40-yard kick in the fourth quarter. After the game Leach implied that Breshears may take over as the field goal kicker, but I have my doubts based on their practice performances. On the other hand, maybe against Portland State they'll decide to shake things up thinking that a field goal will is unlikely (hopefully) to make the difference.

-- Obviously, WSU's path to a bowl game just got a lot harder. Let's assume that WSU wins next week against PSU to improve to 1-2. To reach a bowl the Cougars will then need to win at least one game against a team that has been ranked at some point this season, and that's assuming wins at Utah, at Oregon State, and at home against Cal and Arizona teams that hardly look like pushovers. The reality is that after next weekend the Cougars will need to play significantly better than they have in either of the last two games to win each game going forward.

-- Jordan Dascalo had another good day punting the ball with his three kicks traveling 121 yards and landing inside the other team's 20-yard line twice.

And finally...

-- To heck with the anthracite jerseys. Sure, they look cool, but it's almost impossible to make out the dark red numbers and we had a dickens of a time keeping track of who did what. The press box announcers were no better and we were treated to stats such as a six-yard reception by David Bucannon and about a hundred catches for Isiah Myers that actually went elsewhere.



Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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