Cougar Confidential: Rien Long & others analyze WSU complete victory over Stanford

This week's edition of Cougar Confidential features insights and comments from former Washington State players Rien Long, Mkristo Bruce, Kyle Basler and Rod Retherford. Echoing the chorus of Cougar Nation they shared the same overview of WSU's complete performance against Stanford. Great game!

Rien Long (2000-2002, Outland Trophy winner, 2002 All-American, 2002 All-Pac-10)

"The game plan was executed flawlessly. The Cougs knew Stanford had a ground game to be worried about and shut it down in the first half by loading the box."

"It was great to see bodies flying around without concern by the defense. Games are won when you can make the other team do what they aren't used to doing and the Cougs accomplished that on defense."

Mkristo Bruce (2002-2006, two-time All-Pac-10)

"I know offense sells tickets and it's fun watching the Air Raid throw the ball around like they 'don’t give a Falk'. Ok ,sorry but I’ve been seeing a lot of Luke Falk shirts on the Palouse lately."

"Defense wins championships!!"

"I’ve been that very thing since Mike Leach was hired. We aren’t going to be successful with the mentality of 'I just want to score one more point than the other team.' The past three games I’ve seen a D-line moving around, shifting, stunting and pressuring their opponent. I’ve seen a Cougar D get turnovers and can GET OFF THE FIELD ON THIRD DOWN!! Pressure causes takeaways and getting off the field on third downs gives our Air Raid more opportunities to run the ball."

"Hercules Mata'afa is playing with his hat on fire and leading the D-line. If we can keep him healthy and his motor revved up he will have a great season. Frankie Luvu hits people and he hits people hard. Shalom Luani is a play maker. Period. It makes you wonder how this season might be changed if we had him in the first game against Eastern Washington."

"The three-headed monster in the Wazzu backfield features three dynamic backs (James Williams, Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks) that are playing 100% at all times and 100 miles an hour. They all give us a different aspect to the game and now that we are playing good defense will have more opportunities to touch the ball. This will allow us to take more shots downfield as defenses will have to play closer to the box."

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Kyle Basler (2002-2005, MVP 2003 Holiday Bowl)

"Overall special teams were solid.  I truly feel for Erik Powell as Coach Leach doesn't kick field goals very often so you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get.  He'll get back on track and just needs to have a short-term memory."

"I knew after watching last week’s game (UW vs Stanford) and seeing the approach they took with Christian McCaffrey that if we could just take him out of the game and pummel their O-Line we would have a chance.  Sure enough that is what happened. The front seven on defense did a phenomenal job especially Hercules Mata'afa."

"Luke Falk did a great job as witnessed when he did what all leaders do. Things went south for a moment (after throwing a pick-six), but he kept his head up and simply forgot about it. He knew he had a football game to win and had to keep pressing forward."  

"Also, it was great to see River Cracraft have the game he did highlighted by that amazing 16-yard touchdown grab to put Wazzu up 35-10."

Rod Retherford (1981-1982, '81 Holdiay Bowl team)

"Wow ! What a show by The Cougs!!!"

"I'm really excited by what we are doing right now. A great win by WSU in their house. Let's not forget this is the same Stanford team that has wins this season over USC, UCLA and Kansas State."

"Am so impressed with our defense. I saw a lot more tough, hard-nosed football from our D. Jalen Thompson (pictured above) made a great open field tackle for a huge stop at the end of the first half. Luani was banging with over the top stops and a pick he darn near returned (for a touchdown after taking the pick down the left sideline for 45-yards to the WSU 10)."

"Just Great play on both sides of the ball. My biggest takeaway is watching this Cougar D morph into a cohesive unit. Solid aggressive play, running to the ball, good all around coverage on receivers and shutting the running game down to boot."

"I loved that I didn't see one wild tee 'em up shot on any hits, rather good solid wrapping up tackling. That is how you play tough defense. Balance against the run or the pass, complementing our balance on offense between the run and pass."

"In the last two games we have 'turned a corner' as my Coug brother Dylan Wade would put it. We are solid and sharp and have become a very dangerous football machine."


RELATED: Stats and nuggets from WSU takedown of Stanford


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