Two-Minute Drill: WSU 59, Portland State 21

IT’S HARD TO believe Cougar wide receiver Isiah Myers needed to turn in an encore after a monster seven-reception, 150-yard first half against Portland State. But he sure had a capper ready for the final thirty minutes in the Cougs' 59-21 win. Meanwhile, the crimson stop corps allowed PSU only a piddling amount of yards in the first half. So why did it feel so differently?

CF.C Offensive and Defensive Players of the Game
Isiah Myers finished with 11 catches for 227 yards and 3 TDs. All three of his scoring grabs came in the second half. Myers has become the proverbial corner-turner in his senior year, and will likely keep Oregon’s defensive staff up late this week.

When it was still a game, and it was still a game until midway through the third quarter after PSU scored 14 unanswered points, Cyrus Coen was often the Cougs’ last line of defense. WSU held PSU to 362 yards of total offense but frankly Coen was one of the few who wrapped up consistently on the Cougar stop corps. Honorable mention goes to Jeremiah Allison, who subbed in for Tana Pritchard at the WIL and made some high profile tackles leading to punts. Corner Daquawn Brown also had a very good night, with numerous pass breakups and tackles (numbers below.)

Cougar surprises
-The second team d-line was in the game on PSU’s first series. At first it felt like WSU went to a quick hook after the D had given up a few first downs but given how much rotation went on when WSU was comfortably ahead, it seems a fair conclusion that the Cougs planned on rotating a ton this game.

-On first and goal, WSU ran it three straight times to get into the end zone for their first TD.

-In the first quarter, WSU was credited with 11 runs and 11 passes. (Wicks and Morrow had 5 carries each). The TV announcers seemed shocked but CF.C readers had read that Leach all week had said he wanted his backs much more integrated into the offense.

-But after that first quarter, WSU went away from the run. Everything still worked for the most part until it didn’t – at the start of the third quarter when PSU scored two TDs to pull within 28-14. After that, WSU started mixing in the runs again, scored two TDs of their own and weren’t seriously threatened again.

By the numbers:
-WSU racked up a video-game like 706 yards of total offense. And no one can say this week the Cougs didn't get near enough points for all their yardage.

-Leading tacklers: Coen 12; Brown 10; Kache Palacio 8; White, Lemora and Pritchard with 6.

-Brown had an eye-popping five pass breakups.

-Connor Halliday was 41-62 for 544 yards with 6 TDs.

-Even with numbers like that, Halliday actually could have put up even greater stats. He threw two picks, both of which were a result of poor decisions. Many of his first half passes were dead solid perfect, but his accuracy decreased just enough later on that he wasn’t hitting his targets on the play side enough (not in stride). Still, these are perhaps quibbles in terms of the big picture. And what does it say about Halliday that we find things to point out like this when the Cougar QB just racked up 544 yards and 6 TDs on 66 percent passing?

-Jamal Morrow (10 carries, 38 yards) and Gerard Wicks (12 carries, 50 yards) revived the Cougar running game but lost in Myers’ glow was this: Morrow caught four passes for 73 yards, giving him 111 all-purpose yards. Mike Leach will be smiling at that, (if Leach ever actually smiled.)

- River Cracraft may be healthy enough to resume his punt return duties but maybe he doesn’t need to – Rickey Galvin returned six punts for 70 yards (11.7 average) with a long of 44 and looked awfully good doing it. Cracraft by the way in his return after missing last week game was WSU’s second-leading receiver, with seven grabs for 88 yards and a TD. Dom Williams had “only” four catches but they went for 112 yards and 2 scores.

-Punter Jordan Dascalo just continues to quietly do good work. He had three punts with a long of 50 and averaged 45 yards a boot.

-WSU got their first two-takeaway game of the season, as Taylor Taliulu had a great strip as PSU seemed about to score early on (Destiny Vaeao recovered) and Charleston White picked off a pass in the end zone. White, by the way, turned in a good game in his second start. He wasn’t perfect, but he played solidly once he settled in. Before that happened, a PSU receiver broke free of White and Darius Lemora and had an easy touchdown, but the perfectly thrown pass instead turned into a drop. WSU was up 14-0 shortly thereafter. White finished with six tackles, two breakups, a forced fumble and the interception. Not too shabby for his first ever collegiate start!

Misleading stat of the game
WSU’s defense allowed just 119 yards of offense to Portland State in the first half, 362 for the game. Those are great numbers but it almost felt like every single one of those yards gained by PSU came after contact. WSU will need to wrap up far, far better as they move into Pac-12 play. Consider that for such a lopsided score, PSU had 23 first downs to WSU’s 33. That said, the Cougar D forced two turnovers and held the Vikings to 2.8 ypc on 33 touches. That’s a good night.

Play of the Game
Myers’ third TD of the night. On the play, Myers made an athletic grab along the sideline, then stepped through a would-be tackler on his way to the end zone. The play covered 55 yards and called to mind Chris Jackson’s tackle-breaker in the ’97 Apple Cup.

Injuries : No WSU players were seen leaving with what appeared to be a significant injury.

Up next: No. 2 Oregon, who beat Wyoming 48-14 on Saturday.

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