What They're Saying: Despair in the desert

THE COUGARS WERE a sobering sight Saturday afternoon. After last week's promising near-comeback at home against a superior UCLA team, the team seemed poised to carry that momentum over to the desert and give a struggling Arizona State all it could handle. Instead, they got burned, big time, leaving many asking where this team actually stands.

But the larger issue again was WSU's offense. During fall camp, many expected the Cougars to produce plenty of points this season, but no one knew if they could stop anyone. The notion seemed reasonable as former coach Paul Wulff's defensive units routinely ranked 100th or worse in total defense – Chris Chancellor, Cougfan.com

Did we learn anything? The Cougars proved two weeks ago in Utah that they're capable of performances such as this one, though everyone who spoke on WSU's behalf afterward insisted that the effort was there. Mike Leach did, too. But is that really a good thing after a score that lopsided? -- Christian Caple, Spokesman Review

Arizona State not only reinstituted its Victory Bell tradition, but by convincingly ending a four-game losing streak Saturday had reason to wheel the new bell out at Sun Devil Stadium to celebrate a 46-7 win over Washington State. – Jeff Metcalfe, AZCentral Sports

Washington State's players said all week they wouldn't let star receiver Marquess Wilson's acrimonious split from the team distract them. Even if the Cougars were fully focused, it might not have mattered against an Arizona State team on a mission to become bowl eligible in its seniors' final game. -- Associated Press

Washington State football coach Mike Leach has often said one of his team's biggest weakness is an inability to deal with adversity. Mind you, eight straight losses in a 2-9 season amounts to a downpour of adversity. On Saturday, junior safety Deone Bucannon said he noticed "morale go down" when the Cougars struggled out of the gate in a 46-7 loss to Arizona State. -- Howie Stalwick, Kitsap Sun

Fifty weeks ago, when Washington State rattled the college-football world by hiring Mike Leach, one of his mentors, Hal Mumme, weighed in on what was in store at WSU.

"You're going to have more fun than you've ever had," Mumme said.

Well, I hate to speak for anybody else he might have been referring to, but I haven't had such fun since I locked keys inside a rental car with the engine running a few years ago. -- Bud Withers, Seattle Times

Mike Leach's Air Raid Offense ground to a halt while his defense did little to prevent a thorough thrashing in Washington State's 46-7 loss to Arizona State Saturday at Sun Devils Stadium -- Adam Lewis, Sportspress Northwest

It's true, after all the excitement over Leach and the changes coming to the WSU football team, this season has been a disappointment. The Cougars are (2-9) and have no wins in the Pac-12, and are averaging fewer points and fewer yards per game than they did last season… Yes, Leach has his reputation of allegedly abusing players — that's officially why he was fired after 10 years at Texas Tech — but this Coug is not ready to write him off. Leach preaches discipline, drive and dedication, and that's exactly what the Cougars need. -- Nick Eaton, Seattle P.I.

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