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Cougars failed in basic areas against Portland State

PULLMAN – Too much miscommunication and not enough second-half energy were the results of Washington State’s Monday post-mortem, when the Cougars hoped to look ahead to the upcoming football game at Rutgers but were first asked to deconstruct Saturday’s season-opening loss to Portland State. Just like every action a human takes is the result of an instruction fired through a system of synapses, each snap during a football game is preceded by the rapid transference of bits of information vital to the successful execution of the ensuing play. According to Cougars coach Mike Leach and selected plays, the 24-17 loss was the result of various information conduits failing, repeatedly. “Defensively, it starts with the safeties and goes down to the linebackers and then down to the (defensive line),” explained senior safety Taylor Taliulu. “Some calls out there this past game, they didn’t get down the chain or they just weren’t communicated at all.” Leach said the Cougars would frequently have the correct scheme to stop a back-breaking run, except there was no player in the necessary gap, leaving plenty of space for one of Portland State’s quarterbacks to scamper through. It was a similar story on offense. The process there is typically one in which Leach, after consulting with offensive coaches in the press box via headset, uses hand signals to relay a message to quarterback Luke Falk. While Leach has cited the quarterback’s ability to change plays on the fly as a strength of his offensive system, in retrospect he believes that too many options yielded varied interpretations on Saturday. “We’d start out with a good play and try to go to a great play and end up going to a mediocre play,” Leach said. “Somewhere in the course of three plays, somebody’s off the script. Well, we just have to be clear-minded and communicate, you know.” So, he plans to restrict what Falk – or backup Peyton Bender, should Falk be unavailable – is able to change. Falk was injured late in the fourth quarter when he dove for extra yards and landed on his head and shoulder. Leach said Monday there is no doubt Falk will play against Rutgers. But he also refuses to discuss injuries and frequently says the team is entirely healthy, even as players watch practice in slings and on crutches. WSU appeared lethargic in the second half. While the first half wasn’t ideal for the Cougars, at least they were the aggressor in taking a 10-0 lead at halftime. But the Vikings were the proactive team in the second half, slowly catching and passing the bigger, stronger, faster Cougars on the scoreboard. “Opening first half, first quarter, we came out whooping and hollering, you know,” said offensive lineman Cole Madison. “Second half, we came out and we were dead. We weren’t excited to play. We need to have that the entire game and we’ll be good.” Laviano to start Chris Laviano attempted four passes in Rutgers’ 63-13 rout of Norfolk State on Saturday, but he’ll start behind center for the Scarlet Knights. Coach Kyle Flood named Laviano the starter on Monday after he completed all four of his attempts for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Laviano was suspended for the first half of last week’s game after violating curfew and getting caught with a fake ID. Hayden Retting, a transfer from LSU, started and completed 9 of 11 passes for 110 yards and a TD.
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