PULLMAN – You can watch the game film over and over again. You can pore through the stat sheets until the names and numbers all blend together.
But no matter how hard you try, it’s tough to find anything to be upset about after Washington State went to Reno, Nev., and put a 55-21 nationally televised shellacking on Nevada Friday night.
Even head coach Bill Doba, he who should always be able to find something wrong, had trouble coming up with anything to nitpick.
“I wasn’t unhappy with much of anything, really,” Doba admitted. “I think we need to block better on the perimeter, especially on that stretch play – the zone play on the toss. We could’ve broken some big plays. I think defensively, I wasn’t real pleased with some of the second-string guys that let guys run free. We can’t let that happen. But other than that …”
WSU appeared ready and motivated against the Wolf Pack, and Doba confirmed that one Reno columnist’s comment that WSU would be a third-place team in the Western Athletic Conference helped sharpen his team’s focus.
So other than those relatively obscure criticisms, Doba had little else to harp on. Instead, he used his wrap-up news conference Saturday afternoon to discuss what went right and what the immediate future might hold for the Cougars, who finish up their less-than-daunting non-conference schedule with Grambling State in six days.
In fact, one of the more interesting questions raised by Friday night’s game against Nevada concerned that strength of schedule. Before the season, most observers figured that this most recent game was the only one of the three that WSU had any chance of losing. But given the results of the first two games – a 38-26 win over Idaho preceded Friday’s blowout – one has to ask if the Vandals might be the Cougars’ toughest opponent outside the Pac-10 this year.
“I would say they’re very comparable,” Doba said of Idaho and Nevada, both WAC schools. “I think it’ll be one heck of a ballgame when the two of them get together. I think Idaho’s defense might be a little better than I thought it was. It’s hard to tell; we got on a roll there (at Nevada), and we beat the secondary on a couple passes, and it looked like there were a couple assignment errors when Jason got wide open. They got kind of down in the dumps. I think it should be close.”
The good news for WSU coming out of game No. 2 gets better with a peek at the Cougars’ short injury list. Defensive ends Lance Broadus (shoulder sprain) and Adam West (concussion) were the only casualties from Friday. While both could miss time this week, WSU could also get tight ends Cody Boyd (ankle) and Jacob McKinney (knee) back in time to play Grambling State.
That would leave just starting defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua and backup running back Kevin McCall as the other Cougars of note to be out of action.
“I think it says something for Coach (Rob) Oviatt again and our strength and conditioning program,” Doba said.
One other Cougar, senior wide receiver Thomas Ostrander, appears likely to miss the entire season because of ongoing back trouble. Ostrander traveled to a Seattle hospital Thursday and could remain there for three or four more days because of a possible infection related to a disc problem in his lower back.
But with relatively few on-field concerns, Doba said his team’s focus must move to getting through Grambling State with a victory to roll into the bye week at 3-0 before facing the Pac-10 season.
“We tell them we want to win. That’s the key. Make sure we win,” he said. “I think if you start worrying too much about stats – you know, cut down on mental errors, just improve your play. Let the stats take care of themselves.”
And as for himself?
“Life is good, put it that way,” he said. “Life is good.”
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