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What we learned from the Cougs’ loss to Oregon State

By Jim Moore

Sometime around 10:15 Saturday night, I was feeling pretty good about the Cougs. They rallied from a 17-10 halftime deficit to lead 24-17.

They weren’t exactly stopping the Beavers, but they looked like they would trade blows with Mike Riley’s team until the final horn.

Oddsmakers said it was a pick’em game, leading me to believe that it would be close to the end and maybe even go to overtime.

Then it all went terribly wrong, as you know if you watched the game. The Beavers scored 35 unanswered points to win 52-24.

Three things we learned:

1. We probably shouldn’t try a fake punt again.

halliday hang
Quarterback Connor Halliday took a step backwards with three picks in the Cougars’ 52-24 loss to Oregon State. (AP)

If it was in fact a fake punt. The score was tied 24-24 at the time. Based on coach Mike Leach’s comments afterward, I’m still not sure if it was a planned fake punt or if there was miscommunication on what was supposed to happen.

Whatever the case, the snapper snapped it to one of the up backs, and he wasn’t ready for it even though it hit him right in the numbers. The ball bounced to the turf, Oregon State recovered, and the Beavers were on their way to taking charge.

We would have been better off going for it on fourth down than trying that buffoonery. Oh well.

2. We’re not that good yet.

I like to think we are, but apparently we’re not. After the Stanford loss, I thought: “Man, we’re still terrible, but maybe it’s more of a case of Stanford being very, very good instead of us being bad.”

After the Cal win, I thought: “Hey, nice effort, we’re 4-2 and all of a sudden have a halfway decent team.”

But when you look at our wins, two came over Southern Utah and Idaho, one came over a fractured USC team and the other came over a weak Cal team.

We still have a ways to go.

3. Connor Halliday will always be maddening.

For as good as he can be at times with his 500-yard game against Cal as proof, he’s always one pass away from looking like he’s never played quarterback before.

During one forgettable stretch of the second half, he threw three interceptions in five plays. I’m finally to the point of admitting that the Cougs will never get anywhere of note with No. 12 hucking the ball to opponents all the time.

Three things we’re still trying to figure out:

1. Is the defense good or bad or something in between?

I’m leaning toward bad right now but am hoping it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to Saturday night’s game and the fact that Sean Mannion blisters everyone.

I was really hopeful after the USC, Southern Utah and Idaho games in which the Cougs gave up only three touchdowns. Turns out it was just the caliber of competition.

When you give up 1,000 passing yards in two weeks, it’s hard to say you’re good. Let me rephrase that – it’s impossible to say you’re good.

2. Can the Cougs find two wins in their last five games?

Before the Oregon State game, forget about two, I thought they could maybe find three or four. Now I don’t know if they win another game.

They have two home games left against Arizona State and Utah. The Sun Devils look superior to us, and I thought Utah might be a really winnable game until the Utes beat Stanford Saturday night.

On the road, we’ve got no shot in Eugene this week. We might beat Arizona in Tucson, but there’s a heavy emphasis on “might.” And the same thing goes for the day after Thanksgiving when we play the Dawgs at Husky Stadium.

We’re 4-3. Right now I’d say there’s a better chance of us finishing 5-7 than 6-6 and staying home for the holidays again.

3. Is it a Grand Canyon-like gap between Halliday and backup Austin Apodaca?

It must be. I don’t even want to go back and add up Halliday’s interceptions on the year, but I know it’s into the double digits.

For reasons unknown, I still love the kid, but his effectiveness is being compromised by his streaks of brutal play. How can he make so many terrific throws followed by ones that you or I would make, having never played the position before?

I’m reaching a point of not getting it anymore. Apodaca must be really green and not experienced enough or not good enough or lacking something that prevents him from replacing Halliday.

Whatever, I’m ready for Leach to make a call to the bullpen at least for a series in the second quarter.

Then again, Apodaca threw an interception himself Saturday night.

Brother …

The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website,, and You can reach Jim at and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.