What we learned from the Cougars’ loss to ASU
By Jim Moore
The unfiltered version of how I really feel the morning after the Cougars’ 55-21 loss to Arizona State on Halloween night in Pullman.
Three things we learned:
1. Overall, we’re not as good as I thought we were.
Going into the game, I wasn’t sure. Our four losses were against Auburn, Stanford, Oregon State and Oregon, four teams that are either very good or great.
I liked to think that our losses had more to do with the caliber of competition than anything else. What I should have been looking at were our four wins over USC, Southern Utah, Idaho and Cal. We beat the Trojans when they were coached by Lane Kiffin. We beat two bad teams in Southern Utah and Idaho. Ditto for Cal.
2. Defensively, we’re not as good as I thought we were.
Did you catch that stat in Bud Withers’ story in The Seattle Times Friday morning? In a 10-quarter span against Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State, the Cougars gave up 1,676 yards. That isn’t awful, it’s gawd awful.
Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly threw four touchdown passes Thursday night and ran for two scores … in the first half. Let’s be honest, if the Sun Devils had wanted to, they could have scored 80 or 90 points instead of 55.
The Cougs have allowed an average of 56 points in the last three games.
3. Offensively, we’re not as good as I thought we were.
Sometimes I watch our offense and it looks like a well-oiled machine. A pass here, a catch there. We cross the yellow line over and over again, picking up first downs on our way to the end zone.
Other times, like Thursday night, I watch the Cougs and think: “Man, I’m sick of this dink and dunk offense.” We had too many drops against Arizona State.
And let’s be honest again, Connor Halliday is never going to take us to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. I like the kid and know he’s trying, and he can be terrific at times, but overall, he’s just not very good, and the fact that he leads the country in interceptions is proof.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Why is Halliday playing the entire game?
Someone explain why Austin Apodaca wasn’t in there in the fourth quarter Thursday night and two weeks ago in Eugene. We were already blown out. We had no chance of winning, so why not get some experience for your backup quarterback while resting your starter and reducing the chances of him getting injured?
Am I missing something here? If Halliday does get hurt in a future game, wouldn’t you want Apodaca to be better prepared to take over? To be better prepared, don’t you need more game reps? I don’t get that at all.
2. Can the Cougs still make it to a bowl game?
That certainly seems like a stupid question right now, but it’s a possibility given the quality of the next three opponents – Arizona, Utah and Washington. None is an upper-tier Pac-12 team. Problem is, neither is Washington State. Arizona and Washington will be double-digit favorites over the Cougs, and I’m guessing Utah will be a slight favorite in our last home game at Martin Stadium on Nov. 23.
We need to win two of the three, and our best shot is to beat Utah and then hope that we can re-enact the Apple Cup Toni Pole magic that we unleashed on the Dawgs last year. This is wishful thinking that borders on praying.
3. Is Mike Leach worth what we’re paying him?
He’s making $2.5 million a year. I understand that we’re only in the second year of The Mike Leach Era, but did you think we’d look as bad as we did Thursday night in the latter part of his second season? This is a rock-star coach we hired, is it not? I know he’s not a miracle worker, but I didn’t think we’d be getting our doors blown off like this. I mean, we could lose like this with Paul Wulff making $600,000 as coach.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.