Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State uses Sunday night practice to move on from consecutive losses

PULLMAN – Players and fans may wonder what course things are headed going forward for Washington State. The path toward winning ways continued with full pad reps Sunday night.

Hearing Mike Leach after Saturday's game, I was expecting some sort of punishment or conditioning for the entire Cougar football team Sunday night. Maybe a good ol' run through Leach beach.

That wasn’t the case.

No reason to punish the guys when there were clear lapses on all angles during Saturday's loss. Maybe some “toughness” does need to be instilled, but disciplining the team for coming up short probably isn’t the best way to bring everyone together.

This might be a good sign from Leach. Coaches and players are in this thing together.

Before the season kicked off, nobody (coaches included) expected the Cougs to be in the situation they are right now. But the facts are facts and they have to live with the results.

Everyone invested in WSU football had big expectations this year. Gabe Marks returned for his senior season with hopes that this could be the team that gets the Cougs back to the Rose Bowl.

Winless after the first two games doesn’t sound the least bit promising, but their hopes and dreams aren’t crushed just yet.

They lost by 3 points in both contests – and from what I’ve seen, they’re beating themselves before the other team has a chance to beat them first.

All of their problems are self inflicted. Everything that’s wrong with the Cougs right now can be fixed and turned around. They’ve shown that they can play at a high level, they just haven’t managed to put together a complete game start to finish.

Against EWU, it was the defense that couldn’t get it together. In the BSU game, it was the offense that struggled. Put Game One offense together with Game Two defense and the Cougs are one heck of a football team.

Now some may argue with me about the WSU defense (pictured above), but from what I saw against the Broncos they are back in business.

Believe it or not, the defense is starting to find a rhythm. You can point to missed tackles and lack of pressure from the D-line as some major flaws, but I truly thought the Cougar defense put together a very solid game against BSU. If the offense would have capitalized on at a least a couple of their 6 scoreless trips into Bronco territory, the Cougs would have been right in the game and there probably wouldn’t be any fuss about the defense.

If you look at the Arizona game from last season, Washington State won 45-42. The defense had zero sacks, zero turnovers (1 on special teams), gave up 176 rushing yards, and allowed three players to put up over 100 all purpose yards. All of that spells bad defense, but the win came from a complete team effort.

Neither side of the ball is perfect right now, but the Cougs have what it takes to win – they just need to figure out an improved formula to get on top of the score in these games.

They have two weeks to prepare for conference play, and right now I don’t think anyone in the Pac-12 is unbeatable right now. The conference title race is wide open in my eyes and I think that the Cougs are still confident that they have a shot.

So far, they haven’t shown any sign of defeat and haven’t quit or laid down in either of the first two games. They just haven’t been able to put together a complete game.

A complete game is rare for any team in college football. If Cougar fans want any indication that their team can manage a successful season this year – they HAVE to put together a perfect game against Idaho this coming Saturday (11am, Pac-12 Network).

I’m talking no miss lapses, perfect communication, domination on both sides of the ball, guys playing with attitude and with “toughness”.

WSU needs to make a statement against the Vandals by playing their absolute best game yet. It's not likely that Idaho has a shot at beating the Cougs this year, but that’s no reason for WSU to take the week off. They need to prove to themselves that they can put together a full game and that they are ready to take on the Pac-12 after the bye week.

The Cougs need to focus and they need to get better every single day. It’s not about overlooking Idaho, it's about putting their best game together and building chemistry as an entire unit – and that starts with the coaching staff.

Coaches, players, offense, defense, special teams – everyone needs to come together and rise together. It can happen, but it needs to happen fast. Time is of the essence.

 

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