Stan Szeto - USA Today Sports
First, the scorecard from an ugly 31 point loss:
1) Morale Management – They played well defensively and the team shows no signs of quitting. Didn’t show any despite the blowout, but cracks may be starting to form.
2) Ain’t Played No Body – There wasn’t any way to score this one – I was trying to make the point that if there’s any flaw in UW, it might be due them not exactly being tested yet, but they’re not at the point yet to be of any serious threat to them.
3) Growth targets for OL – Did they run for a normal YPC? No. Double digit TFLs? They had nine and would have racked up ten had we run more than 52 plays, so that’s not a pass either. Hold them to below normal Havoc rate? Nope. Line played bad this week too, and they’ll have their hands full yet again. More on that in a moment.
4) Singleton and Duncan – With Noa out, Singleton drew the start on a wrapped ankle, had four targets, three catches and 27 yards. Jordan Duncan had one catch for 11 yards. That isn’t exactly going to cut it to replace D Rob and Noa.
5) No injuries – Technically true, it looks like! Noa was out before the game started, and no one else clearly “went down” during the game.
But yeah, they didn’t win any of these. Maybe you get 1 out of 4 total – ½ for morale, ½ for injuries.
Which brings us to the last incredibly challenging game this year, Washington State.
1) Hercules and the rest of Olympus – I refer here to the entirety of the WSU front seven, which have eight total players with more than one TFL, and have 21 sacks on the year collectively. Alex Grinch’s Speed D is fast. Mean. They’ve gone toe to toe with supposedly physical teams and certainly far more talented ones, and it hasn’t mattered one bit. Wazzu is 6-0, and the Bears once again have their hands full up front. Winning this matchup outright, again, is a lot to ask. Getting some sort of positive direction after last week – and the tape will be absolutely ugly from last week – is all we’re asking. The bar is very low.
2) ABP – I am issuing an all points bulletin for any breakout playmaker anticipating ball possession. (Okay, I also just really wanted to do the APBAPB bit.) But in all seriousness, someone’s gotta step up here. There are none of the top tier playmakers left. They have who they have left. Fine. But that means the next generation of guys, ready or not, have to show something soon – this week, next week, something, sometime. I’m not only referring to wide receivers anymore. Derrick Clark and Zion Echols are seeing increasing levels of snaps. Opportunities for guys to earn more playing time and set themselves ahead for next year are just waiting to be taken.
3) Luck – Friday the 13th, night game on campus, October, yadda yadda yadda. We’re 14.5 point underdogs. They’re not winning without a couple of breaks – the kind we once again could not manufacture much of against UW, although props for trying the first unside kick.
4) Quarterback – Again, I’m not saying take the job away from Ross Bowers – I’m just thinking his leash is getting shorter and shorter, as he’s played worse with increasing levels of competition. It’s clear he’s not being helped much at all by the context he’s playing it, either, but without any signs of progress, it’s becoming increasingly hard to justify continuing to put him out there uncontested. If the game gets out of hand again – Vegas thinks it will - it wouldn’t surprise me if Chase gets more playing time. (I don’t think they will burn Garbers’ redshirt.)
5) DB Depth – Wazzu has eight pass catchers who have double digit receiptions this year, three of whom are running backs. They’ll likely have to play base nickel the entire game, with a healthy dose of dime too. That means all the guys will play in some way or another – Drayden, Beck, Marloshawn, Darius Allensworth, this is the time. You will get snaps against the Cougars, and so long as we can get some pressure on Falk, I like our odds with this matchup. The linebackers who will be asked to run in coverage against Jamal Morrow and James Williams, you probably like a bit less, though.