IN THE STANDS: First-hand observations on WSU

PROVO -- The beauty of being in the stands for a Washington State game is you can observe things you can't on TV – rather than just the offensive backfield to part of the linebacker box, your field of vision is unlimited. I was in the stands at the BYU game and filed these observations with via the phone and email.

• A pretty good WSU turnout. Looked like 1,500 - 2,000 Wazzu fans to me. Mike Leach said he thinks his players were a little fragile mentally but I'd say our fan base is a bit fragile too. They got pretty quiet, fairly quickly.

• Many of these fans traveled to be at the game from the Northwest and based on the comments I heard around where I was sitting, most of them seemed to be knowledgeable football fans who saw the same items I did, as described below.

• BYU was getting there more than enough despite only rushing three guys. (When they rushed four or five, the WSU o-line was completely overmatched.) But as bad as that was, it wasn't the worst thing.

Jeff Tuel had open receivers on many plays but didn't seem to find them. He seemed to be checking down, way down, and despite some of the line's failings, he certainly had lots of time to throw in many cases. He was reluctant to take the yardage in front of him when he could have run. With BYU dropping 8 in coverage there were times it appeared he could have gained good yardage on his feet. He clearly missed some guys that were open.

• Tuel chucked and prayed a few times, the one that Marquess Wilson caught in end zone corner that was called back due to holding, another was that pathetic ball in the third quarter (following the great kickoff return) that should never of been tossed and was picked.

• Our running backs seemed slower than the BYU linebackers. They either couldn't take the one step they needed to get big chunks or they weren't aware the defender on the ground was sticking an arm out to trip them up. The offensive line was no great shakes when it came to running the ball but the running backs couldn't make much of anything on their own either.

• I don't think I've seen as much backfield penetration by d-tackles in the last few years as I saw last night from nose men Ioane Gauta and Toni Pole. The Cougs had both of them out there in an even man line later in the game. They weren't perfect, too many QB draws were effective, but whether solo or in tandem, they definitely had their moments.

• There were a few exceptions here and there but not sure how much speed we actually have on defense overall. Our secondary looked slow. BYU has never been accused of having team speed in excess, but they sure appeared to play faster than WSU.

• The wide receivers didn't block very well for most of the night. (Correction: Dominique William) stopped a bit when he was open on one of the few deep routes on a ball that should have been a sure TD. Can't blame that one on Tuel. Gabe Marks quit playing on the first interception. It was Tuel's fault for trying to force it, but Marks compounded the error.

• The WSU offense ran sideline to sideline much of the game. But the majority of our running plays went right into the guts of a pretty good d-line.

• The linebackers played fairly well against the run and especially on runs up the middle but their pass defense was a completely different story -- there were TONS of separation between the BYU tight ends and WSU defenders on delayed drags and short curls, and whenever they wanted it.

• The cornerbacks were giving a huge cushion at times.

• Our D had a hard time lining up in the first half and then BYU would go hurry up and just kill the D (with about two exceptions).

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