What we learned from the Cougars’ win over Arizona
By Jim Moore
If you read the previous post about this game, you’d know that I didn’t think the Cougars had much of a chance against Arizona.
I thought we were going to get blown out. I thought Ka’Deem Carey would tear us apart. I didn’t think our defense would hold up at all and didn’t think our offense would be good enough to outscore the Wildcats. But the Cougs won 24-17. Our defense played extremely well – I don’t care if Carey rushed for 132 yards, he didn’t seem to be a big factor in the game.
Now we’ve got a realistic chance of making it to a bowl game.
Quarterback Connor Halliday played what coach Mike Leach said was his best game of the year against Arizona. (AP)
Three things we learned:
1. The Cougars are better than I thought.
I wasn’t sure what to think after consecutive drubbings by Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State. Were we that bad? Or were the Beavers, Ducks and Sun Devils that good? Still not sure about Oregon State, but Oregon and Arizona State, I think we can agree that those are two of the best teams in the country.
The Wildcats were more our speed. Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker was not as good as I thought he was. As a passer, he lacks consistency and accuracy. Certainly glad he misfired on his last throw to the end zone.
2. We’re better when we occasionally run the ball.
We ran for 101 yards Saturday, which won’t happen every week, but I like that we had 20 handoffs, at least forcing the defense to not expect a pass on every play. Even if we gain 50 rushing yards against Utah this week, we need to keep the Utes guessing by handing it off from time to time. And unless I’m mistaken, our running backs are pretty good when given slivers of room to run.
3. Connor Halliday’s the man.
Coach Mike Leach said it was his best game of the year after Halliday completed 39 of 53 for 319 yards. I know he’s going to continue to throw interceptions from time to time like he did on Saturday, but he gives us our best chance to win.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Is Washington State a bowl team?
The weekly question goes back and forth. After the Arizona State game, you would’ve thought “no,” “heck no,” and “of course not.” But after the Arizona game, you’re thinking: “Hmmm, maybe so.” All the Cougars need is one more win against Utah or Washington to be bowl eligible. We could even be slight favorites over the Utes in our last home game on Saturday.
2. Can we beat the Dawgs?
The Friday after Thanksgiving, we play Washington at Husky Stadium. A week ago or so, I thought it was really a stretch to think we’d have a shot at beating the Huskies. But now I’m thinking we might be able to pull it off.
Keith Price hurt his shoulder in a loss to the Bruins, and without him, they’re vulnerable with backup Cyler Miles. Even with Price, the Huskies appear to be starting their annual late-season swoon. A loss to Oregon State this Saturday would not surprise anyone. Neither would a 7-6 record for the currently 6-4 Dawgs, who have gone 7-6 three years in a row.
I know we’d die for a 7-6 record, but 7-6 to Husky fans is not acceptable anymore. If they lose to the Beavers, 7-6 is in play again, and what a beautiful thing that would be. The Dawgs would go into the Apple Cup with all kinds of doubts – another promising season about to go up in flames. Again.
3. Michael Bowlin.
That’s all. I’m just trying to figure out Michael Bowlin, our punter and kickoff guy. Against Arizona, he had a 3-yard punt and two kickoffs that went out of bounds.
I’ve decided that because he’s a college kid, I don’t want to rip him anymore. You would think with all the practice he gets punting for the Cougs that he’d be better at his job.
And the kickoffs? I like that Leach replaced him on the final kickoff with Andrew Furney. I hope that continues the rest of the year. But I don’t think we have any backup punting options so I’m hoping that Bowlin figures out a way to clear his head and punt like he’s capable.
He reminds me of me at the golf course – a mental wreck who can’t clear his head and allow his body to perform the way that it can. Somebody get this kid a sports psychologist or something before I break my TV. Thank you.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl or bust.
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.