WSU

Cougs play tough in loss to Oregon

Oct 31, 2011, 11:44 AM

There are two things coming from the majority of Cougar fans this week: shoulder-shrugging and total ambivalence.

Ask a fan what they thought of this weekend’s hard-fought loss at Oregon and you’ll get a shoulder shrug and a “well, they hung tough.” More devastating, perhaps, was the fact that I spoke to several formerly intensely passionate fans who didn’t even watch the game.

That’s real trouble.

The team and coaching staff spent the week defending themselves and trying to convince the unhappy fan base that the OSU game was an aberration and they were still in line for a bowl game.

I give this team credit – they played like they meant what they said.

Sure, the game rife with errors, penalties and repeated shots to the foot, but the fact is, the Cougs came to play.

Oregon wasn’t exactly on top of their game and might have got caught looking past the Cougs a bit, but the Cougs took advantage of that sleep-walking and kept it close.

The D-line and linebackers played their best game of the season, continually getting in to the backfield, registering six tackles for loss, including a sack.

Can you imagine how different the OSU game would’ve been had they played with that sort of intensity? Maddening.

On offense, the Cougs missed quite a few opportunities – mostly in the way of dropped passes and bad passes – but they did pass for 337 yards and rushed for 125. The Cougs actually out-gained Oregon in total yards, 462 to 454 and dominated the time of possession. The problem, of course, was that they couldn’t capitalize. Of their four trips to the red zone, they were only able to net 10 points. Ouch.

So, as fans, how are we supposed to feel about this game?

They played well against a very good team and the defense stepped up a in a major way and held a very powerful offense to 28 points (the rest came from special teams). You have to feel better about that.

On offense, it was another situation where you have to be grateful for Marshall Lobbestael’s outstanding effort again, but wonder what could’ve been if Tuel was out there throwing the ball. Still, they moved the ball pretty effectively all game long and you have to be happy with that.

Then, there’s the reality of the situation – the Cougs still lost by 15 points. Oregon is in a bit of flux with their own QB issues and honestly did not give the same sort of effort they gave to, say, LSU. Watching that game, I’d say that they may even have a tough two weeks with UW and Stanford and when I say “tough” I mean a possible 0-2.

The other big problem wasn’t even in Eugene, it was in Salt Lake City where OSU got throttled by Utah. The “powerful” OSU offense that hung 44 points on the Cougs couldn’t muster a TD until the 4th quarter. That worries me on two levels – 1. OSU is really not good and 2. Utah is getting better.

Enough of that, though. The Cougs can only control their own destiny and the Oregon schools are in the past. The fact is, the Cougs played a far better game this week than last and that upward trend MUST continue as they head to San Francisco to face the Bears this Saturday.

This one is a do or die. The coaches and players will spend the next week telling the media that they are taking it just like any other game but everyone knows that this is not the case. This game is a must-win. The Bears just lost to a bad UCLA team after fading in the 4th quarter and are entering the week with a bit of a QB controversy. The Cougs need this one. Of course, the Bears need this one too, seeing as they’re at four wins and have WSU, OSU, Stanford and ASU remaining. They have circled this game for the same reason the Cougs have. If nothing else, it should be exciting as both teams have to let it fly.

Hopefully the Cougs will put it together this weekend and give the fans a reason to get excited again.

Here are the highlights from this weekends game and Paul Wulff’s post game comments:

Go Cougs!

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