TV take: Washington State’s wild win over Oregon State was made even more enjoyable by commentator Yogi Roth
Oct. 9, 2021 Updated Sat., Oct. 9, 2021 at 6:13 p.m.
In his now-over tenure as Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott pulled many of the underpinnings, and talent, from his creation, the Pac-12 Network.
But one rock he never tried to dislodge, football guru Yogi Roth, is still around. Thankfully.
Roth was in Pullman on Saturday afternoon for the Cougars’ Homecoming game with Oregon State. And his presence, along with his partner, Ted Robinson, made watching Washington State’s improbable 31-24 victory over Oregon State so much more enjoyable.
“This game, this game is so fun.” Roth said as WSU made the fourth-down stop it needed to hold off the North-leading Beavers. “It’s so competitive. What a second half.”
What they saw
• Professional. Prepared. Precise. Use whatever positive adjective you want and it applies to Roth’s presentation. His knowledge of the conference is unparalleled. His command of whatever information he needs is unmatched. And his points are made quickly, rarely intruding on the game action.
The former USC assistant is the conference’s lead analyst for all those reasons and more. Let’s be honest. Roth stands out among his network peers.
Meanwhile, Robinson on play-by-play compliments Roth well. The veteran announcer keeps the broadcast moving, describes the plays quickly and gets out of the way. But he’s not afraid to share his views.
To illustrate, we decided to focus on a first-half drive that looked to be a back-breaker for the Cougars. It came just before halftime, covered 11 plays and 68 yards. And it resulted in zero points.
The drive before, which also covered 11 plays, had resulted in a field goal – WSU’s only score before intermission.
As that previous drive was unfolding, Roth and Robinson noticed a difference. The Cougars were using five wide outs.
“They like this formation, this personnel group,” Roth said as the second long drive began at WSU’s 25.
“Don’t they ever,” Robinson agreed.
But why has Nick Rolovich changed from the usual one-back look?
“It gives Jayden de Laura a very clear and clean picture,” Roth explained. And the second-year quarterback took advantage, moving the Cougars (3-3 overall, 2-2 in Pac-12 play) down the field as the half ran down. And it was needed.
“This is a critical drive for the Cougars to come away with a touchdown,” said Robinson and it sure looked that way at the time.
But they didn’t, though they got to the Oregon State (4-2, 2-1) 7-yard line. First de Laura missed an open Travell Harris on a short throw to the end zone.
Then, on fourth down, the Cougars were robbed.
Harris ran a delay route and WSU got what it wanted. Jaydon Grant got fooled by Harris’ stop and grabbed as the Cougar tried to go. As de Laura threw to where he wanted Harris to be, Kitan Oladapo pushed Harris as well. The ball flew by.
Harris was upset and showed it. Back judge Steve Steichen waved the pass incomplete and shook his head no to Harris’ entreats.
At first Robinson wasn’t buying a penalty, saying Harris “got caught up in the wash.” But as the replays rolled, and it became clear a flag should have been thrown, Robinson talked about Oregon State’s secondary and how they play “let’s just say, ‘physical,’ ” emphasizing the last word.
“The way I saw that one,” Roth said after mentioning how hard the call is for an official, “is that was impeding the wide out.”
What we saw
• Why was that drive, and a short one – started by an interception – that followed, so important? Both finished within the Oregon State 10-yard-line and resulted in zero points. For much of the game, it looked as if those two empty red-zone possessions would turn out to be the difference.
• But they weren’t. Mainly because the second half was so different.
Washington State had 188 yards before halftime, 303 after. The Beavers? They had 187 at the half, 280 after. But it’s how they got there which was the real contrast.
The Beavers ran for 309 yards. They had 45 carries. That’s a 6.9-yard average. They also had two running backs, B.J. Baylor (145 yards on 18 carries) and Deshaun Fenwick (127 on 15 with two touchdowns) break the 100-yard mark.
The Cougars’ de Laura threw for 399 yards. On 32 completions. That’s a 12.5-yard-per-completion average.
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