WSU defense dominates starting offense in final scrimmage and Mike Leach has the answer

PULLMAN – Washington State went through their second scrimmage of fall camp in Martin Stadium today, and boy was it ugly for the offense. Mike Leach was pleased with the performance by the defense today, but was clearly unhappy with the starting offense as he had them doing up-downs on the sidelines when the 2’s and 3’s were getting reps in.

As Leach put it after scrimmage today, “All you’ve got to do is do your job. The simple answer is: Do your job.”

The offense had a bad day, but they know how to play well. They’ve been getting the job done all camp long. The defense may have gotten the best of them for 20 plays during the scrimmage, but it’s not as if Luke Falk and the offense are up in arms about how to move the ball. If anything, this should only motivate them to really pick it up during the next two weeks. They know that if they play the way they did today, they won't win a single game this year.

After the scrimmage ended, Leach had the 1’s go through an entire practice team period because he thought that they didn’t get the proper work in on the day.

Falk and the starting O struggled to do anything all day and made the defense look like they were playing against a scout team.

“We came out flat," said Falk after scrimmage was over. "We came out in an entitled mind set almost and we just didn’t go earn it today... Very frustrating, but it’s a learning point. We can go be pissed off about it or we can learn from it. We can still be mad about it, but you know, do something about it.”

Throughout the scrimmage the only time Leach and the offensive starters were on the same page was during the interview session.

“The first offense think’s they’re a little too good, which they’re not”, said Leach. “We thought we could get our work done in 20 plays and it took 66 plays. So, you might think that it takes 20 plays to get your work done, but sometimes it takes 66 and today it took 66. So we’re about a third of as good as we think we are.”

Falk knows how to run this offense at an extremely high level and has proven that time and time again. Today was definitely not a reflection of where the offense is at right now. To me, it was more like a wake-up call for the entire team. With the first game of the season only two weeks away, the players need to understand quickly that time is running out.

On a positive note, there were a lot of big plays that were made on offense (just not with the 1’s).

Grant Porter easily had the play of the day when he caught a comeback route on a throw from Anthony Gordon. Porter caught the ball against the sideline and kept his feet in bounds as the corner flew by missing the tackle. He turned up the sideline and ran for about 43-yards before diving over the pylon. Refs called him out at the 1-yard line, but from my view it was easily a touchdown. It was a big time play that will surely catch some of the coaches eyes when they look over the film.

As for the core group of receivers, Tavares Martin, River Cracraft, and Kyle Sweet were the most reliable targets the Cougar quarterbacks had. Each of the three made big catches when the offense needed a third down conversion or a big play to keep the drive alive.

Sweet and Cracraft both showed some hops on a couple 50/50 balls that were thrown their way.

On a 13-yard touchdown throw from Tyler Hilinski, Sweet out jumped two Coug defenders and came down with the ball in the end zone.

On another deep 50/50 ball from Hilinski, Cracraft (pictured above) went up to make the catch as safety Hunter Dale came over him with a heavy fist. Cracraft made the catch right near the goal line to that set up a Gerard Wicks touchdown on a screen pass.

Reading between the lines, you might have come to the conclusion that Hilinski had a pretty good day. And he did – but obviously the Cougs aren’t going to win games with a guy who’s not on the field.

Hilinski has really proven himself this fall camp, and should be very reliable if the team needs him at any time during the season.

The run game wasn’t really there today but James Williams did have a nice breakaway that went for about 28-yards. Jamal Morrow and Wicks had a combined total of 4 carries for 1-yard. There’s not much to say about that except for the fact the defense absolutely dominated in the trenches.

Looking at the WSU defense, a couple interceptions and several sacks paved the way for a successful day.

From top to bottom (D-line, linebackers, defensive backs), each unit played very well today. The defensive line consistently collapsed the pocket, the linebackers filled their gaps in the run game, and the defensive backs picked off or broke up passes when they had opportunities.

Charleston White started the day off with a great interception on Falk’s second snap of the scrimmage. The ball hit Sweet on the numbers, but popped out and White was right there to take it the other way.

On the very next drive, Daniel Ekuale and Hercules Mata'afa sacked Hilinski on back-to-back plays. One play later, Kirkland Parker picked off the backup QB on a terribly thrown ball over the middle.

Nnamdi Oguayo had a very strong performance today. Oguayo weighs somewhere near 215 and is facing linemen that have nearly 100 pounds on him. With such a size disadvantage he must rely on speed and strength to get past most offensive linemen. Today, his skill set paid off. During the scrimmage, Oguayo fought off his blocks with ease, sacking Falk once and recording a couple tackles for loss.

The defense had their day today, and though the starting offense struggled a bit, they will likely get their revenge in practices to come.

It’s a good thing that the season is two weeks away because the team clearly has areas that need improvement. The Cougs need to turn their focus back to fundamentals and limit every mistake that they can. Fall camp can be a grind, but it's no excuse for players to take plays off or not be locked in to their assignments.

RELATED: CFC TV: Leach displeased with first team offense


Cougfan Top Stories