Coug trio's top priority: Fix communication

PULLMAN – The missed tackles, poor decision making, lack of execution against Portland State – they all had one thing in common, three Cougar players said on Monday.

The issues against Portland State, on both the offense and defense, originated from communication breakdowns.

“Communication wasn’t working -- need to communicate and execute,” linebacker Jeremiah Allison said.

On defense, the communication starts with the safeties and sweeps up to the line but some calls just didn’t make it far enough, Taylor Taliulu said.

“The whole defense gets the play from the sidelines, but it’s the safeties' job to make sure we’re actually getting into place,” said the Cougar strong safety.

On the offensive line, the Cougars suffered from the same malady.

“This was the first time in a long time that we had some communication busts,” right tackle Cole Madison said. “We need to take our time instead of rushing things.”

Among the defensive struggles in the second half, none probably stood out more to Cougar fans than the missed tackles.

“We have to believe in our technique to fix the missed tackles -- take the extra step and put that to use,” Taliulu said. “We just need to do the drills every day, go out and execute.”

Another issue, said the trio: the energy level wasn’t what it should have been and the Cougs didn’t respond as needed to adversity.

“We need to have fun. In the second half, we played tense instead of playing with the energy we had in the first half,” Allison said.

“We need to have the same mindset of having fun -- we were tight, and not as relaxed as usual,” added Taliulu.

In the locker room after the game, DC Alex Grinch addressed the defense.

“He did a great job refocusing us after the game,” Allison said. “We aren’t going to let 60 minutes define our season.” Grinch’s tone was forceful, but he didn't go overboard, Talilulu said.

“I think he’s one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had, and I think he and the rest of the D coaches will have us ready and sticking together for Rutgers,” he said.

The loss still stings, Allison said, and the Cougs don’t want to feel this way again.

“We don’t want to make this a culture around here,” Allison said. “We don’t get these games back. The only things that count are wins and losses.”

Looking ahead, while there is last year’s WSU-Rutgers game film to be studied, that won't be the preparations centerpiece.

“We don’t take a lot from last year. We have different players, they have different players, I’m just looking forward,” Allison said.

Allison said Monday morning he had already watched tape from Saturday's Rutgers-Norfolk State game. Taliulu was about to study it, right after the presser. Rutgers made a lot of good plays, looked sound and put up the points, Allison said. Meanwhile, Madison sounded hungry.

“We’re all looking forward to turning things around against Rutgers,” Madison said.

Taliulu was asked if he was using the Portland State loss as motivation.

“Unfortunately, the game happened the way it did, but I’m just going to focus on Rutgers now,” Taliulu said.

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