Cougs win big, lose big
Jeff Tuel didn’t start today’s shellacking of Idaho State due to an illness. Marshall Lobbestael stepped in and looked great, hitting on 7 straight passes and marching the Cougs out to an early 14-0 lead.
Then, for some reason, Jeff Tuel entered the game. Five plays later, he exited the game with a broken collarbone.
Whether or not it was a good idea to play Tuel while he was sick and when the team was having NO trouble whatsoever is up for debate, but one thing is clear: You don’t play the game fearing injuries or you won’t play the game very well.
Still, injecting a bit of intelligence in to your personnel decisions isn’t a bad thing.
Unfortunately, the Tuel injury overshadows the 6th win of the Paul Wulff era, and the first 1-0 start since 2005.
Sure, it was Idaho State, but you’ll want to note that ISU plays in the same conference as Montana State and last year’s Cougs could hardly handle that team. This time, they did what they should do: Dominate from kickoff.
WSU scored on its first four possessions and added on a nice “Pick 6” from LB Alex Hoffman Ellis and never looked back.
Marshall Lobbestael went 14-19 for 230 yards and two TDs. Marquess Wilson had four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Freshman receiver Bobby Ratliff had a nice college debut with four catches for 46 yards. Beyond that, it seemed that everyone else who suited up caught at least one pass.
The Cougs spread the wealth running the ball as well. Freshman Marcus Mason had six carries for a team-high 88 yards, which included a 65 yard touchdown scamper. Starter Rickey Galvin had seven carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston also had nice games, racking up 58 and 42 yards, respectively.
On defense, the Cougs looked less impressive, especially in the secondary. Once again, the players looked hyped up, fast and athletic, but unfortunately they seem to still have a habit of being out of position. What scares me is that if ISU rolls up 430 passing yards on you, what’s Stanford going to do? Now, before we get too crazy, yes, many of those yards (320 of them, in fact) came after halftime when the benches were cleared, but there’s really no excuse for getting carved up that bad against an FCS opponent.
The good news is that the front seven looked better, and C.J. Mizell was a mad-man, seemingly involved in every play. He finished with four tackles and two sacks. Deone Bucannon picked up where he left off last season, leading the team with seven tackles.
The D-line showed better penetration, but still allowed Bengal QB Kevin Yost enough time to have a great day, going 32-45 for 386 yards, one TD and an interception. The line’s best performance was against the run, holding ISU to 23 net yards on 25 attempts.
On special teams, PK Andrew Furney was 2-2 on field goals, hitting from 23 and 51 yards. Backup kicker Alex Gauper also hit one from 30 yards out in the 4th quarter. Punter Daniel Wagner had a nice game, averaging 43.8 yards on his four punts.
Overall, it’s easy to dismiss this game as being one they should win by a big margin, but realistically, this was an important win. These types of games are necessary, mostly because for the past three years, it’s been WSU who’s taken the big beatings. For this team, a win like this provides a shot of confidence going in to a stretch of games where they can make some serious headway in the “W” column. The loss of Tuel is very hard, and if this team is going to continue to win and not revert to past performances, they need confidence-builders like this game.
Next week, they’ll face a UNLV team that opened their season getting stomped by #11 Wisconsin 51-17. It will certainly be a tougher test for the Cougs, but by no means unmanageable. Without Tuel, confidence will be key.
For now, let’s just take a day a soak up “1-0.” Man, that sounds good.