5 Apple Cup fails by WSU defense

PULLMAN — Stopping Washington on third down was one of the very few things that went right for Washington State in the 2014 Apple Cup. But even that proved fleeting, because it was a night where the Cougars couldn't get out of their own way. Here are five informational nuggets regarding WSU's defense from its 31-13 loss to the Huskies on a frosty Saturday night.

  • The Huskies proved they were the faster animal in this year’s Apple Cup as Dwayne Washington rushed for two touchdowns and 135 yards on 16 attempts. On each of his long runs for touchdowns, Washington escaped the initial wave of defenders. By the time he reached the WSU secondary, it was nothing but open field ahead. The Cougars’ defensive backs took poor angles to the ball, trying to converge on Washington as he ran right by them.

  • Tackling was problematic for the Cougars on Saturday. Three of the WSU's four leading tacklers were defensive backs. Daquawn Brown, Darius Lemora and Taylor Taliulu combined for 24 of the Cougars’ 69 tackles. Washington State also needed a swarm of defenders to take down the Huskies. Only 37 of the 69 were solo tackles.

  • The Huskies offense converted 8 of 17 third-down tries. Second down was a Cougar bugaboo, too, as both of Washington's touchdown sprints came on that down.

  • The Huskies frequently used screen passes and sideline throws, plays that seemed troublesome at times for the Cougars. There was a point when Jaydon Mickens caught two consecutive passes to the side and ran for 11 yards on each, thanks to solid blocking by the Huskies. The Cougars also had some success in this area, as they were able to guess the play and blow it up before the Huskies’ blockers could get set.

  • Cyler Miles only was sacked once, and the lack of consistent pressure allowed the Huskies’ passing game to have enough success to score 31 points. When the Cougars did pressure Miles, he often got rid of the ball quickly, or managed to scramble from the pressure and gain positive yardage. On four attempts, Miles gained 14 net yards.

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