If you tuned into Washington State’s final nonconference game of the season only because you wanted to see how the Cougars would react to the week’s unprecedented events, you probably were pleasantly surprised. At first. But not for long.
In a back-and-forth game, Brigham Young’s rushing attack – Tyler Allgeier ran for 191 yards, including 50 on a clock-killing drive to end it – proved to be too much for the host Cougars, who lost 21-19 Saturday in Pullman.
With the early afternoon kickoff on FS1, those not at Gesa Field watched the unfolding events accompanied by former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich and Minnesota Twins radio voice Cory Provus.
What they saw:
• The broadcast began with Provus alone in the booth, looking into the camera and explaining WSU coach’s Nick Rolovich’s firing. It seemed designed to project a sense of gravitas. And it did.
“The college spotlight was shining brightly on the Washington State program earlier in the week,” he said, “and not because the Cougars had won three straight games.”
Provus went on to explain what happened as a graphic summarizing the events that led to Rolovich and four assistants losing their jobs. Helfrich then joined Provus for a discussion which ended with Helfrich asking, “Is this a galvanizing moment … or a distraction?”
At first it looked as if Jake Dickert’s ascension from defensive coordinator to interim head coach was the former. Washington State took the opening kickoff and scored. But BYU (6-2 overall, including 4-0 against Pac-12 schools) answered, neither team scored again until the second half and, after Brigham Young marched for two touchdowns, WSU’s tying 2-point conversion late failed, ensuring Dickert’s record begins 0-1.
• Helfrich isn’t the most exciting analyst in college sports, but there are few better who explain the “how and why” an offensive play happened. As a former head coach, he has no problem mentioning whenever he saw an egregious mistake – by either team or the officiating crew.
There were enough to go around for all. Washington State’s special teams had their troubles. So did the WSU run defense. The BYU passing game was efficient but not explosive, while too often its defense gave Jayden de Laura too much time. And the officials? Washington State (3-4) was called for three offensive holding calls, BYU none, as Helfrich pointed out at least twice when the visitors probably should have been called.
• The Cougars from Provo, Utah, took a 14-13 lead into the final quarter only because of a bobble on an extra point by Washington State.
Punter Nick Haberer dropped the snap following Max Borghi’s score with 5 minutes left in the third. He picked up the loose ball and began to roll to his left. Kicker Dean Janikowski had moved in front of him, but Haberer’s pass seemed intended for defensive lineman Nick Sheetz, open in the end zone. But it fell short.
“That was not a designed fake,” Provus said if anyone had that misconception.
What we saw:
• If you don’t think there is a difference how games are officiated between regions, this game probably changed your mind. BYU’s first scoring drive included two plays in which BYU substituted and the Big 12 crew only held the snap for a few seconds, unlike how Pac-12 officials sit on it for a while.
The first time, Dickert used a timeout as he tried to sub. The second time, with running back Allgeier heading to the sidelines, there was no stoppage at all as WSU tried to sub a large group. The fire drill resulted in a penalty, which BYU declined because it scored anyway.
Although Provus called them a Mountain West crew, the group working does Big 12 games, having adjudicated the Texas/Texas Tech and Oklahoma/Kansas State contests earlier this season.
• We understand the need to discuss Rolovich’s departure, but the first-half discussion with Bruce Feldman covered little new ground and forced viewers to miss a crucial holding call on WSU and an obviously missed block in the back on a BYU 21-yard punt return.
We did learn, however, Feldman, the veteran writer who helped Mike Leach write “Swing Your Sword,” feels the only analogous situation he can recall is Leach’s departure from Texas Tech. The connection is hard to understand, though both Leach and Rolovich were let go after something they didn’t do.
• Commercials are never fun. But late in the first half there was a break that seemed to feature a contest. The theme? Who can make the worst ad? The winner? Not those watching. A bull pitching mortgages? Now that’s a perfect metaphor for the right way not to make a credible sales pitch.
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