With familiarity comes respect, if the familiar relationship is a respectful one.
Such is the case with the Pac-12 Network’s top football announcing duo, Ted Robinson and Yogi Roth, and the Washington State Cougar fanbase.
Robinson, the veteran play-by-play voice, and Roth, the former USC assistant turned analyst, have called three WSU games this season, including Saturday’s 41-38 win before an announced 39,596 at often library-quiet Stanford Stadium.
What they saw …
It’s obvious Roth loves what he sees from Cougar quarterback Gardner Minshew. It’s close to a man crush. But it’s probably justified, considering Minshew came in leading the nation in passing. And led the Cougars down the field in the final seconds for Blake Mazza’s 42-yard game-deciding field goal.
“This is brilliant, Gardner Minshew,” Roth said after Minshew beat a Stanford fourth-quarter blitz with a short pass to Travell Harris for 15 yards right to the spot from which the blitzer came.
“This is beautifully placed, beautifully placed,” Roth pointed out after Minshew connected with Tay Martin on a fourth-quarter, game-tying 7-yard touchdown pass. It was an appropriate response considering the pass was thrown in the exact right spot.
As Roth, who coached quarterbacks, pointed out.
The crew, along with sideline reporter Jill Savage, is, in total, the best the conference offers.
Even after the game ends, when Savage got Mike Leach to say he thinks Minshew is the best quarterback in the country and to make a joke about his comments to his players.
During the action, however, it was pretty good, too.
A lot of have been bandied around recently about meeting a home team following a bye. Washington State took advantage last week in the win over Oregon. In this one, though, Stanford didn’t have a full bye, but the Cardinal had played on Thursday, given them a couple of extra days to prepare.
And they only occasionally mentioned the possibility of Washington State (7-1, 4-1 and leading the Pac-12 North) suffering a hangover from the Oregon win, which came on the most exhilarating Saturday in Pullman in years.
Robinson and Roth did have a great discussion about this being only the second time Washington State had played on grass this season. The first? At USC, the Cougars’ only loss. A foreshadowing, perhaps?
But they didn’t talk about the extra time, which seemed to show up most consistently in Stanford’s pass protection. The Cougars’ numerous – and inventive – blitzes usually cause problems for the offensive line. They didn’t often against the Cardinal, though more often in the fourth quarter. The lack of pressure played a big part in Stanford (5-3, 3-2) throwing for 323 yards.
What we saw …
Another aspect of playing on the road is facing a hostile crowd, something that isn’t a usual aspect of playing Stanford.
“A different setting here,” is how Robinson described it.
Roth was a little more blunt. “It’s not a difficult environment for the visiting team” is how he described it.
Truthful. And usually right. But those statements were followed quickly by two WSU false starts and an illegal lineman downfield – Liam Ryan released too soon – which are usually assisted by noise.
But Robinson did have his prescient moments, including once in the first half when he mentioned tight end Kaden Smith has been used on go routes just seconds before K.J. Costello hit him on a go route.
One of the key drives of the game came late in the first half and one had to wonder if Leach’s recent criticism of Pac-12 authorities came into play during it.
If you recall, a text message from Leach to conference commissioner Larry Scott, questioning the conference’s commitment to player safety after the USC loss, was published after a public-records request.
On the drive, Marcus Strong was flagged by line judge Rich Troyer for a dead-ball personal foul on an incomplete pass. Problem was, replays showed the whistle was blown as Strong was twisting Trent Irwin to the ground, making it tough for Strong to stop. (A similar play occurred with a little more than a minute left in the third quarter when Dezmon Patmon was driven to the ground. No flag surfaced.)
On the play following the Strong penalty, side judge Gary Reed flagged Darrien Molton for pass interference in the end zone. The replay showed JJ Arcega-Whiteside actually pulled Molton down. It was one of four pass interference calls against Washington State.
Twice during the game Roth, a former receiver, described pass interference flags against Washington State “that’s tough for me,” as he didn’t agree with the call. This was one of them.
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