Lows from WSU spring game

THERE WAS A lot to like in the Cougs' spring game -- a high-powered offense and a defense, keyed by the front seven, getting after people. But the WSU coaches looking over the tape also surely found several areas in need of improvement. Here are five of ours…

Many seemed very pleased in the play of the WSU secondary. I find that puzzling. Yes, Daquawn Brown picked off a couple passes. And he and the rest of the WSU secondary also left huge swaths of empty space around WSU receivers on a bevy of other occasions. Several more incompletions went begging because passes were sailed high, not because of sticky coverage. As much as INTs can turn momentum, as good as they are for a defense, they were counterbalanced and then some by breakdowns involving the corners and safeties. The Cougs have some good, young, promising talent at corner and safety. But if the spring game was any indication, they have much to improve upon between now and the end of fall camp.

There were a number of well-thrown footballs that glanced off receivers' hands, especially early. Some passes might have been thrown with a little too much mustard, the wind was blowing and WSU was missing two starters in Dom Williams and Gabe Marks -- and the Cougs still put up a lot of passing yards. But football is about chasing perfection and WR assistant coaches Dave Yost and Dennis Simmons couldn't have been happy about the number of missed connections that should have been.

Connor Halliday did a lot of good things, and it's clear he is head and shoulders this spring above his backups. That said, two things rankle. One, there were a number of short, precision passes that were thrown high. Connect on some of those and the chains move rather than a change of possession. And then the interception by Daquawn Brown was a killer. That pick went against the cardinal rule of never throwing late back across your body and it was easy to see it unfold before it left his hand – very similar to the first half of 2013. Bottom line: A momentum-killer on that level shouldn't happen from a fifth-year quarterback, spring game or no.

Tyler Bruggman had a bad day with three picks. Two of them were fluky but the worst thing was he allowed the picks to have a lingering mental effect and adversely affect his mechanics. A nicely blocked screen pass never was because Bruggman's short throw was wide; an open crossing route was tossed high and wide, and on it went. Bruggman has all the physical tools but his confidence and ability to forget the last play, the mental things, need work. And yes, Luke Falk looked better. But all indications are that Bruggman is still the guy behind Halliday. Leach has praised him for a year-plus and a bad spring game isn't going to wipe that away. Bruggman can (and I think will) get there. It's a matter of time, and turns.

With all the questions surrounding the punting unit, the Cougs chose instead to just switch possessions rather than actually punt the ball. It would have been nice to see Wes Concepcion boot a few – heck, why not use the final three-plus minutes and run three punts, no contact, rather than call an end to the day? And who knows, with the wind at his back and in front of a crowd, maybe that would have served as a positive boost in going forward, maybe you find the beginnings of an idea on the gunners or return men as well. It seems like we're headed towards an offseason of angst and unanswered questions when it comes to the punting game.


Cougfan Top Stories