WSU coach Dickert: Best part of upset win is Cougs were ‘far from perfect’

Sep 16, 2022, 10:42 AM

WSU Wisconsin...

WSU's Renard Bell celebrates a touchdown by Nakia Watson against Wisconsin on Sept. 10. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

It’s been a good time lately to be a fan of the WSU Cougars.

Washington State picked up a signature win last Saturday when they knocked off then-No. 19 Wisconsin by a score of 17-14 in front of a crowd of over 75,000 in Madison, giving Coug fans just another reason to be happy with the football program since Jake Dickert took over as head coach midway through the 2021 season.

Watson helps WSU Cougars upset No. 19 Wisconsin 17-14

With the Cougs sitting at 2-0, Dickert joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy earlier this week to talk about the big win, his team, and their upcoming third game of the season Saturday at home against Colorado State.

While Dickert made it clear how much they stress in the program that every week is important, the Cougs knew how big last week’s upset was.

“I think there was a lot of pride,” Dickert said about the atmosphere in the locker room after beating Wisconsin. “I mean, the one big thing I tell guys every week (is) that winning is hard, and there’s a lot of work that goes into those 12 Saturdays a year that you’re guaranteed, so celebrate them all. And I think those guys understood the moment. They understood the levity of the game.

“We didn’t make a big deal about it, it’s a faceless opponent that we wanted to get the win (against). But to go on the road in a tough environment against a traditionally fantastic football team – and that is a good team – to get that win is something that was a special moment in that locker room. And I just think there’s a lot of pride that we could feel from Cougs everywhere. We’re proud to represent Washington State, and I think that was that moment of those guys leaning into each other and their belief in our program and what we’ve been trying to do since January. To see that result is a great moment, and credit to everybody in our program from coaches to the players to administration, everybody on down that had a big impact on that win on Saturday.”

The Cougs won while the defense weathered a 174-yard day from the Badgers’ rushing attack, and Wisconsin possessed the ball for 63% of the game compared to 37% for WSU. Dickert has a pretty positive way of looking at that.

“The best part is the Wisconsin game was far from perfect,” he said. “There’s a lot of learning that we need to do and things that we need to do better in our journey if we want to continue to be 1-0 (every week).”

There is plenty of credit due to Wazzu’s defense for holding Wisconsin to just two touchdowns all day, both of which came in the second quarter.

“We feel really confident about the depth that we have developed up front,” Dickert said of his defensive line. “I mean, we have everybody back from last season and we’ve got a couple of young guys that are really pressing for (playing) time. We knew we had to keep them fresh, especially as the game kept going. We had to defend 84 snaps, and I don’t think in three years Wisconsin’s ever had 84 snaps of offense. Part of that is self-inflicted and part of it’s getting off the field on third down, but our guys are ready for that challenge.

“The toughness and effort and strain that I think our guys showed up front was really what helped us win that football game. So you know, proud of those guys in there because it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t easy, and I know they’re feeling the effects of it.”

Next up for WSU is an 0-2 Colorado State team for a 2 p.m. game Saturday in Pullman. The Rams are in their first year under new coach Jay Norvell, who came from Nevada, and Dickert stressed how the Cougs need to take them seriously after the emotional high of last week.

“I think the biggest thing is we’ve never wavered, we’ve always talked about the process of being 1-0, and that’s a faceless opponent and that’s what you need to do each and every week to get wins. And winning is hard… I don’t care who the opponent is, there’s a lot of work that goes into that. So that’ll be the mission. Our plan, our preparation meets effort and execution every Saturday, and there’s a standard of how we want to do things. Our maturity will be tested to make sure we’re preparing and we’re focused to that standard.

“… This is a good football team that we’re going to face on Saturday, and it’s a unique one because this is a new age of college football where there’s a lot of guys that came with the coaching staff from Nevada to Colorado State that are very familiar with their schemes, and they got good players and they’ll be really excited to come in here and play a tough football game.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Dickert in the podcast at this link or in the player below. You can also catch WSU’s game against Colorado State on Seattle Sports 710 beginning with the pregame show at noon Saturday.

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