Cougs' game board speaks volumes, says Wilson

SPOKANE - First-year Washington State linebackers coach Ken Wilson on Saturdays stations himself right next to the Rise Up board – the dry erase board that serves as a moving total for the coaching staff to track successful series in all phases of the game. The final tally after the Cal win, said Wilson, was a shocker.

"I stand right next to it, but I hardly ever look at it during the game because there are so many other things I'm responsible for," Ken Wilson explained to Monday's Spokane Cougar Club luncheon. "Once the (Cal) game was over, I asked someone how high the board got. They said, ‘Six.' Six? You have to be kidding me! In the Idaho game it got as high as 25.

"That's the thing about this Washington State team. There's still a lot of room for improvement. When we're all doing our job and having success with the offense, the defense, the special teams and the coaching staff -- that's when you're really going to see the success translate to the field."

WILSON SKIPPED OVER the more obvious highlights from the Cougars' 44-22 win at Berkley Saturday and instead focused on a series of key plays that might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

He broke down a crucial Connor Halliday pass to Gabe Marks on third-and-eight from the WSU 23-yard line that netted 27 hashes, allowing the Cougars to drive 92 yards for the first touchdown of the game.

"This is a good throw by Connor and a great play by Gabe Marks to make the catch," he said. "This was a good example of us making a clutch play that you might overlook."

He also broke down a clutch Halliday pass to Dom Williams on fourth-and-four at the Cal 23 that netted seven yards. It was Williams' only grab of the game but it was a big one, said Wilson.

"Coach Leach made the decision to go for it on fourth down here," Wilson said. "This wasn't a great throw by Connor -- he threw to the outside of the receiver and Dom made a great play to go down and catch the ball and keep it from hitting the ground."

Wilson also highlighted a third-and-two pass that Bobby Ratliff pulled in for a nine-yard advance to give Wazzu a first down at their own 36-yard line. Ratliff was the Cougs' leading receiver with eight grabs.

"Bobby wasn't a starter in this game, but he came on and had one of our most productive games of anyone," Wilson said.

WILSON WAS PARTICULARLY enthusiastic about a three-play sequence by the Cougars' defense after Deone Bucannon misread coverage and allowed Cal a big-play completion. Wilson pointed out that the secondary responded to the misplay by making the tackle at the 1-yard line.

Wilson then highlighted how linebacker Justin Sagote stopped the Cal running back for no gain on first-and-goal, then teamed up with fellow ‘backer Cyrus Coen to do the same thing on second-and-goal.

"Here's third-and-one, and Toni Pole makes the tackle, strips the ball and then recovers the fumble himself," Wilson said. "For a d-line guy, that's about as good as it gets on one play."

On the big pass play that led to the goal-line stand, Wilson explained that Cal switched up its offensive alignment which caused Bucannon to misread his coverage responsibilities.

"On film, their No. 6 (receiver Chris Harper) was always lined up as an outside receiver," Wilson said. "Instead they lined up No. 1 (Bryce Treggs) on the outside. We wanted Bucannon on No. 6. That's what Bucannon misread. Once we adjusted at halftime, we did a much better job with that."

WILSON WAS ASKED about how his linebackers will deal with Oregon State's big tight ends this week.

"I don't think size is an issue for us in this game," he said. "This D-Line group is big and good and Coach Joe Salave'a is doing a great job with them. They're so big that I think that will allow us to deal with what Oregon State is going to do.

"Our D-Line is as big as Stanford's offensive line and we were planning on them lining up and running at us they way they did with everyone else. When they changed up and started throwing the ball the way they did, they caused us all kinds of problems."

WILSON JOINED Mike Leach's staff this season after 19 years on the coaching staff at the Nevada. It was a big decision for the Wilson family, he said.

"My wife is from Nevada," he said. "And my son is a freshman long-snapper on the Nevada football team – he had a high snap in their last game -- and we had a discussion about that, too."

Wilson added that he quickly became a big believer in both Leach and WSU Athletic Director Bills Moos.

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