AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez

He Said. She Said. So Close.

So close, yet little things hampered the Beavers from earning their second conference win under Andersen. The He said-She said duo discuss what we saw from our vantage point.

She said: Offense

Oh what could have been.  The Beaver offense had their best half of the season against the Cougs and then followed it up with a lot of struggles in the second half.

This is what rebuilds are all about, and I’ll take competitiveness over getting killed any day of the week right now.  But that doesn’t mean it stings any less.

Ryan Nall was pretty darn impressive.  Watching him run, he doesn’t seem that fast. Then you see him completely leave defensive backs in the dust.  He’s a bruiser with impressive speed.

Victor Bolden looked like a senior who was doing anything he could to help his team.  He wants to go bowling and he really put himself out there on Saturday.  He is such a tough young man.  I don’t know how many times he has been absolutely clobbered, only to bounce back up and do it again.  Heart of a lion.

The trick play between Marcus McMaryion and Seth Collins was also well executed.  Like I said, the first half was actually a glimpse into the future of where this team can go, and that first half was a whole lot of fun.

She said offensive grade:  C

He said Offense:

It was a tale of two halves for the offense.

It was great to see a healthy Nall and an offense that was clicking in both the run and pass games for the entire first half.

McMaryion finally got a home field start and he came to play.  His 327 yards through the air was more than double his prior career high (155).

Seth Collins was very active from his receiver position and caught the first touchdown pass of his career on a nifty throwback from McMaryion, who had split out wide when Collins was the Wildcat QB.

Nall was a man-child in the first half, ripping off the 89 yard touchdown in the first quarter and catching the 19 yard swing pass for the touchdown later in the quarter.   He brought back visions of a young Steven Jackson with his play.

Unfortunately, there was a period starting at the beginning of the third quarter that saw five straight offensive possessions end in a punt.  

Four of those five possessions were of the 3 and out variety and totalled -4 yards.   They gave the Beaver defense little rest during that 3rd quarter stretch which ultimately was the deciding factor.

A lot of positives on offense.  And several negatives.

He said offensive grade:  B-

She said Defense:

Like the offense, the defense played a great first half, holding the high powered Cougar offense to just one touchdown (and blocking the extra point).

There were some great plays made by Luke Falk and his receivers in the second half and some miscues by the Beaver defense.  Kyle Haley wasn’t able to knock down a pass that was grabbed for a touchdown.

I also thought that the targeting call on Bright Ugwoegbu was ridiculous.  I understand the reason for the rule, but when a player has already launched into his tackle prior to the slide, it makes zero sense.  If Falk was still upright, Ogwoegbu would have laid a great tackle on him.  There is no way he could change his momentum at that moment.

The good that I saw? Well, redshirt freshman safety Jalen Moore had a heck of a game.  He led the team in tackles and forced a fumble.  

I also feel that Ugwoegbu is playing at a high level .  The past few weeks things have clicked with him.  

Of the 16 defensive players who registered stats on Saturday, seven were underclassmen, including two true freshmen.

Defensive Grade She said: C

He said Defense:

A tale of two halves for the defense too.

The first half was a tremendous performance. They held the high powered Coug offense to 26 rushing yards, 162 passing yards,  9 total first downs and 6 points.

The Cougs punted on their first three drives of the game and fumbled on their fourth.    

Falk struggled early and much of that was due to the Beaver D keeping good pressure on him, to go along with tight coverage on the Cougar receivers.

Sadly, the wheels fell off in the second half.  

With no help from the offense, the Beaver D found itself on the field quite a bit more in the second half and was unable to keep up their strong performance of the first half.

They allowed Jamal Morrow to get behind the defense up the middle of the field for a 66 yard touchdown and then were unable to bat down a near jump ball that ended up becoming a 37 yard score for the Cougs.

Suddenly it was 24-21 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.

The Cougs took the lead on their next series, but the Beaver D was handed a lead to protect early in the fourth quarter.

The following series, Washington State marched down the field 80 yards in seven plays to score a touchdown and take the lead for good.

There is a lot to build on in this defensive performance, but at the end of the day, there just wasn’t enough in the tank to make the stops that were most needed.   

He said Defense Grade:  B-

She Said: Coaching Overall:

Overall this team continues to make strides.

But the little things (I'm looking at you penalties) are magnified and for a team that is clawing for a win in every game, they just can't overcome those.

Some of the blame I put on the officials, but the blame also has to be shouldered by the Beavers players and coaches to clean up their play so that they aren’t jumping offsides or giving the officials reasons to blow the whistle.

I will say that I saw plenty of holds by the Cougars that were never called. While I understand that holding probably happens every play, it is discouraging to watch it so blatantly occur without recourse.

The third quarter was the turning point and the adjustments made by the WSU coaches were the difference in this game.  

There were at least three occasions where the Cougar receiver appeared to catch the ball out of bounds, only to have it replayed to show that they were able to control it and get a foot in bounds.  Their receiving corp is impressive.  

At the end of the day, Coach Andersen and the staff can take this back to the film room and use many of the plays as lessons.  The team is getting close, they just aren’t quite there yet.

She said grade: C

He said: Coaching/Overall:

However they coached the first half...they need to continue to do so.  

And however they coached in the second half...they need to flush.

Ha, ha.  If only it were that easy.

It was nice to see the most impressive half of football in the Gary Anderson era to begin the game.  The offensive play calling was sharp, the defense was in good position and team was focused and ready to play.

A 24-6 halftime lead against a solid opponent was the result.

It’s clear that Andersen and crew are getting the players to buy into what they are teaching. We’ve seen continued improvement in many areas (O-line and DBs to name the obvious ones) and a more competitive product on the field has resulted, even in the face of a slew of injuries.

That first half was a positive glimpse into what the future holds. 

Unfortunately, there was a whole second half to play and the performance on the coaching side left something to be desired.  

There were way too many passes called in the first several series of the second half.  It felt like they were trying to match Leach’s Air Raid with their own version of it in the 3rd quarter.

This team is not a pass first team and they need to run to set up the pass, like they did in the first half.   

Why go away from that?  Was that the intended halftime adjustment?

There are lot of teaching moments to take from this one, as Andersen alluded to postgame. Hopefully that means for both the players AND the coaches.

He Said grade:  B-

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