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Cougar Confidential: Bruce & others analyze WSU win

THERE'S NO BETTER GROUP to break down Washington State's victory over Oregon State than ex-players Mkristo Bruce, Phillip Bobo, Matt Kegel, Zach Enyeart and Alex Hoffman-Ellis. They critique Wazzu's offense, defense and special teams play from a player's perspective.

Mkristo Bruce (2002-2006 - 2 time All-Pac-10)

"Well, the Washington State University Cougars managed to give me another ulcer for another week in review. My wife and I have a superstition going this season that if she is watching the game with me, we win. The only WSU losses came in games when she wasn’t with me and had prior engagements. Last night she was at a Halloween party while I was at home watching the game with the kids. Well, right before half time with the Cougs down 21-points I packed the kids up and went to pick her up. With kids on my back walking into the party, we picked up mom to head back home to watch the game as a family. We won so you're welcome Cougar Nation." 

"The game of football is played in three phases."

"You have an offense that came out flat vs this bruised Oregon State team. Also, every time Luke Falk takes an unnecessary hit all of Cougar nation holds their breath awaiting to see if he just gets up. I love our offense but we can all agree that Luke is the lifeline and heartbeat to it's success right now? To stay successful he cannot take the hits that he has been taking and that means stepping up in the pocket. The receiving corps is playing it's best football all year. Do we even need to say anything about our running game except, "Thank You"?"

"Defense took an absolute shot losing Robert Barber last week. He was a senior leader and physical force in the middle for this team. I don’t know if people understand the devastation of losing a big body like Robert. This will add stress onto our linebackers for sure. Looking at line separation and penetration in the backfield, the second half play was a night and day difference. HOW BIG WAS THAT FOURTH DOWN STAND!?!? Psychologically it's better than an interception or fumble recovery. You get all the momentum." 

"Finally, special teams. Ohhhhhh, special teams. This is the phase of the game that we lose week in and week out. We will have one big play then three bad. The special teams needs a spark, an overhaul and a new identity. Repairing special teams and winning the field position battle will make it so much easier on our O and D and put us in a better position to get off the field."

Phillip Bobo (1990-1992 Copper Bowl Championship Team)

"Big win for the Cougs. This was a trap game for them as it's easy to underestimate any team with a record of two wins and five losses, like Oregon State. After a slow start, I felt the Cougs showed a lot of resiliency on both sides of the ball. The defense shut down OSU's offense in the second half by continued pressure with a stout defensive line. The big stop on fourth down late in the game is a testament to their will and toughness. On the offensive side, Luke Falk showed why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. The big play receiving corps are making incredible catches at important times of the game. The most impressive trait this team possesses is the consistency in the run game. With multiple, capable backs, this Cougar offense has the luxury of not just being a one tier showcase. Instead, it's a necessary balance that gives Washington State a legitimate shot at a Rose Bowl run."

Matt Kegel (2000-2003 Holiday Bowl Championship Team)

"Great win (Saturday night). The Cougs came out flat and it took us most of the first half to get it rolling. I thought the defense did a great job of making some adjustments at halftime and really played a great second half of football. Luke Falk had a solid game. He is playing through pain while he continues to impress me with his accuracy and leadership qualities. I'm proud of No. 4 and the way he is representing WSU. I thought that our running game would have had more of an impact than it did. The biggest takeaway from this game tonight was we fought back didn't give up and found a way to win the game in the fourth quarter. Bowl eligible and I'm happy as hell!! Go Cougs!"

Note: Matt Kegel also wore uniform No. 4 while playing at Washington State

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Zach Enyeart (2006-2010)

"The Cougs special teams were up and down all night long. The one consistency was the coverage teams. Both kickoff coverage and punt coverage have been phenomenal all year long and that was still true versus OSU."

"We still need to become more solid in our PAT/field goal blocking. Everyone must work as a unit and unfortunately we saw in Corvallis what happens when that doesn't happen - a blocked PAT." 

"Some people may say that the fake punt was a poor idea coming out of the half, but to me, after watching it several times I thought that it was more a of run-kick option. When Kyle Sweet saw all OSU players backs were turned, he ran. I think that this wasn't a straight fake punt. Yes, I agree it may have been the wrong time of the game to do it. But our defense stepped up huge right after that and pushed the Beavs out of field goal range and made them punt." 

"Overall my biggest takeaway from this game is that we can't underestimate and play to the level of any of our opponents. We need to start fast and put the foot on the gas going for the knockout kill from the start. Oh, and we have the most gutsy quarterback in all of FBS football. Go Cougs! "

Alex Hoffman-Ellis (2008-2011)

"Talk about a tale of two halves. Playing hard doesn't always amount to the results you want. WSU's linebacker efforts were overshadowed by bad tackling, poor angles, and mental errors in the first half. I was wondering, 'Where was the leadership we had seen throughout their win streak?' Did they make the mistake of thinking Oregon State was going to roll over for them? Besides the long run TD, Peyton Pelluer shot himself in the foot on the pass to Ryan Nall in the flat that went for a TD by having his eyes on the quarterback. That's a big red flag in man coverage when your responsibility is already aligned away from you."

"However, in the second half, the boys came back ready to let it loose. I thought Isaac Dotson did a good job of really flying around and always being around the ball. I still think the tackling and angles were a bit of an issue, but it was definitely minimized in the second half. They faced a big downhill power back. In the first half it just went to show that if you aren't gap sound and making solid tackles, it's going to hurt you. But much better showing in the second half to earn the W. Overall, I'd give the LBs a C+ for their week -- far from one of their best games, and I'm sure they're harder on themselves than anyone. I'd expect them to come back with a much stronger performance next week. Go Cougs!"

Note: Hoffman-Ellis is currently playing in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos who defeated the Hamilton Tiger Cats last Friday 29-26

Saturday's game time and TV broadcast selection has been announced for Washington State vs. Arizona:  Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Martin, televised by the Pac-12 Networks.

RELATED: Notebook from WSU win over Oregon State

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