The day after: WSU 2-minute drill

THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM headed into the Apple Cup said the Cougars would look to get the ball out of Luke Falk’s hands quickly against the Husky pass rush. The convention wisdom turned out to be wrong.

What was missing most in the receiving game on Saturday: production from the Y receiver.

Tyler Baker, with 22 receptions the last three games, had none on Saturday in a reserve role. River Cracraft (pictured above), back in the starting lineup, had three catches and a TD but all three grabs came in the second half and after WSU was down 31-0. Cracraft and for a three-game stretch, Baker, had been huge this season in keeping drives alive, particularly on third down.

But without those connections to the Y on Saturday, WSU's first three drives ended in UW territory, unable to convert on fourth down.

While there were some quick passes, there just weren’t that many receiver screens or quick slants from the Cougs. Instead, Luke Falk stood in the pocket and waited for patterns to develop. But the Huskies dropped more players into coverage to help the weak point, the defensive backfield, and the pass rush still got there with just four. And that made it a long night for Falk and the Cougar offense.

ON DEFENSE, the Cougs did a lot of things right for much of the game on first and second downs, but got burned by the big play and allowed 8 of 17 third-down conversions. A small victory came when twice UW had first and goal on a drive but WSU forced a field goal attempt.

Leading tacklers: Taylor Taliulu (9); Darius Lemora (8); Peyton Pelluer (8); Daquawn Brown (7); Kache Palacio (7); Cyrus Coen (7).

A most telling stat: Starting field position strongly favored the Huskies. UW started four drives inside enemy territory – while WSU had none. UW had seven drives that started on their own 33-yard line or beyond – WSU had two. The average starting field position for UW was the 33-yard line, WSU on the 22-yard line.

Stat of the game that just didn’t fit: 4.2 ypc. Washington State tried a stretch run to the left side behind Gunnar Eklund and Joe Dahl on a few occasions but it usually went nowhere. What did work in the run game were the quick hitters. But although the ypc wasn’t bad at all, Cougar running backs carried the ball 10 times for 42 yards.

Injuries: Daquawn Brown left the game early in the fourth quarter but it was difficult to tell what the injury was.

Player of the Game: Brown. He made some impressive, physical form tackles in the first half that helped keep the score 7-0 until the end of the first half when a WSU turnover gave the Huskies the ball at the WSU 27-yard line.

Play of the Game: Darius Lemora broke up a pass at the WSU 14-yard line and Cyrus Coen grabbed it mid-air in the second quarter. But the Cougs could only gain 16 net yards on the ensuing drive and had to punt it away. The interception was only the Cougs’ eighth takeaway on the season.

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