Pete was positive about the Washington game and shared the fact that they had done a lot of evaluation about the offense in the first half. He touched on the performance at several positions and how they approached the players at half time. As a treat for MMQB, Pete brought one of the "entertainment" team films that are shown Friday evening before a game. They are artistic arrangement of high lights from previous games featuring great performances. The cutting, play repetition, background music as well as other elements are of high quality and I can see where they are quite motivational. The film we watched was from the Virginia Tech game.
Pete continues to be dedicated to getting as many players into each game as is consistent with building toward constant improvement. He confesses that there are trade offs between those two goals and that he tries to find the best balance.
The taped plays again began with special teams. Several kickoffs by Ryan Killeen including the one that Washington decided to try to return. It was stopped by a great tackle by Desmond Reed who came in for several other accolades later. The Reggie Bush Punt return was shown several times with particular attention drawn to Desmond's key block on a player outweighing him by several pounds.
On defense, the first play of the second half was shown first. As reported in the paper, the coach said the he know Matt Grootegoed made the play before he saw the replay. Blocks by Rucker and Leach were also quite effective on that play also. Pete was very complimentary towards the staff for preparing so well to defense against the option plays. He showed several plays where Matt Grootegoed simply blew through to stop plays for loses. Some examples were swarm tackles where we had as many as 5 players around the ball carrier. Almost every defensive player starred on at least one play.
Besides Groots, I would say the Eric Wright impressed me the most. He caused two fumbles – one was incorrectly called an incomplete pass and the other popped into Keith Rivers' hands for an interception. Eric also made a pass deflection on a crossing pattern that exceeded anything I've seen from a DB recently. Several plays showed domination by Shaun Cody. And Mike Patterson was credited with a deflection as well as several tackles.
Lofa Tatupu was shown making several breakups on passes. Lawrence Jackson looked very fast in sacking their QB or making tackles behind the line. A good tackle behind the line by Oscar Lua and Thomas Williams on a pass play were examples of good plays by players off the bench.
On offense, several of Matt Leinart's completions were shown. The TD's to Bush and Jason Mitchell were reviewed several times. It looked like Mitchell was an alternate receiver that Matt picked up. The catch by Reggie was indeed a spectacular athletic feed and a display of concentration.
Several passes to Dominique Byrd were shown. He is obviously someone that other teams are going to have to prepare for. That gives us another weapon and takes pressure off the others. The pass to Byrd on the crossing pattern where the ball was thrown a little high and Dom had to go up for it was a good display of passes that the average starter at TE simply could not handle.
Matt Cassel had some completions that were shown. I was impressed with completion to John Walker where they read the blitz and checked off to a response pattern and made it work.
Several successful running plays were reviewed. Both of LenDale White's TD's were examples of good blocking and running. On one of them John Drake dominated. Several runs by Reggie were reviewed and I was most interested in the successful draw up the middle. I think we have needed that type of versatility, so I'm glad to see it used with such good effect. The run by reserve tailback John Griffin was shown and what I like about our team attitude is that they were all cheering him on.
Pete took 21 questions today and the meeting did not adjourn until 1:23. The subjects covered the spectrum. Some of the topics were: OL evaluation, evaluation of several players, why don't we run more (a reoccurring favorite), the QB's authority to audible, who calls the offensive plays, impact of weather next Saturday, substitution criteria used, play calling on third downs, which positions are most important for us to recruit, personnel and play calling tendencies, WSU offense expectations and then defense expectations, and an old favorite, don't we call too many fade patterns.
Coach answered all of the above in fine fashion. For those who may be new to MMQB report and wonder why I don't provide the answers, please read the following note.
Note on my MMQB column ground rules: The value of MMQB in any given year is only as strong as the current coach wants it to be. Coach Carroll has asked not to be quoted from MMQB so that he can talk frankly about the team to those who attend. We respect that request so my reports consist of my observations from the meeting. Occasionally, I take the liberty of paraphrasing the coach when the subject does not reflect on individual players or contain information that could aid an opponent.