The big question going into today's game was how much of our recent success was real, and how much of it was due to playing lesser talent. Well, after Colorado played SC tough, almost earning an upset, our own struggles against them seemed a little more understandable.
In Washington State we knew we had an opponent that could move the ball and score. The general consensus was that we were in for a shootout, since we have also shown an ability to move the ball and score. Both defenses had question marks and the game it was felt would come down to who out scored the other.
Bruins kicked off to start the game. The Bruins defense then took the field and proceeded to push the Cougs backwards, with a sack and a tackle for a loss. Cougs go three and out, managing only 1 yard on 3 plays. The Bruins offense then took the field and started out on fire, with a 13 yard pass to Perkins and a 45 yard pass to Payton. But, a slew of false starts in the red zone killed the drive and we settled for a field goal. 71 yards on 7 plays in 3:02; Score: 3-0 Bruins. The Cougs got the ball back and the Pirate showed why his nickname is Mike Leach, promptly driving 75 yards on 12 plays including going for it on 4th and 5 on the 43. The stones on this guy huh?. Cougs scored on a 2 yard run by Gerard Wicks. Time for the Bruin's to do what they do. And, while we saw some amazing throws by Rosen, the offense faltered in the red zone once again we settled for a field goal. 74 yards on 16 plays; score 7-6 Cougs.
The Cougars took a few snaps to end the 1st, but only managed to gain 22 yards on 8 plays before punting. The Bruins then came back out and returned the favor, going only 6 yards on 3 plays before an ugly punt gave the Cougs the ball back on the Wazzu 47. The Cougs came back out and faced a determined defense, going only 9 yards on 5 plays before punting it back. The Bruins took the field and got back in the swing of things, going 94 yards on 11 plays, culminating with a 14 yard Nate Starks TD run. Score 13-7 Bruins. Wazzu came back on the field and was moving the ball well before that thunderous sack by Jacob Tuioti-Mariner took Luke Falk out of the game. One play later the Cougs were punting. Ishmael Adams fielded the ball, and the the SPTRs happened, and the ball was given back to the Cougs after an official review reversed a call on the field. With a very short field before them, the Cougs did everything they could to blow the opportunity, but an Ishmael Adams holding penalty gave them new life, and one play later, they scored. 14 yards, on 3 plays; Score 14-13 Cougs. The Bruins took the field looking to end the half on a positive note. We moved the ball well, going 57 yards on 13 plays in 1:19. But, once again, we fell apart in the end zone and settled for a Field Goal. Score: 16-14 Bruins
UCLA got the ball to start the quarter, but managed only 23 yards on 6 plays followed by a really short and awkward punt. Luke Falk! led the Cougs back on the field. Despite the questionable move, the Cougs did go 47 yards on 11 plays and taking 4:12 off the clock, and ending in a Falk TD pass to Gabe Marks. The Bruin offense got back to work, but after going 39 yards on 7 plays, a Darren Andrews fumble gave the ball back. Score: 21-16 Cougs. Given a short field, Wazzu did not manage much, going 16 yards on 5 plays before punting. The Bruins began their drive on the 4 yard line, and did not stray far from there, going 20 yards on 6 plays before finally punting. Once again, the punt was nothing to brag about, and Wazzu began their drive on the Washington State 47. The Cougs did not manage much, going 6 yards on 5 plays, before the Pirate once again went for it on 4th and 6. They would convert, and thus ended the 3rd Quarter.
The Cougars drive continued into the 4th. The Cougars converted a critical 3rd and 9 to keep the drive alive, and would ultimately go 45 yards on 14 plays before settling for a field goal. Score 24-16 Cougars. The Bruins finally started a drive at a respectable 19 yard line. We moved the ball well until another drive killing false start penalty made it 2nd and 20. We stumbled around for 61 yards on 13 plays before settling for another Kai'mi Fairbairn FG. Score: 24-19 Cougs. The Cougars took the field and moved the ball with the help of some blatant holding non calls on the part of the SPTRs. They would go 52 yards on 7 plays before a Jaleel Wadood interception in the end zone would end their drive. The Bruins began the drive on the 20 and basically stumbled around for a few before Rosen's amazing 37 yard TD scramble. We followed that with a Rosen to Duarte two point conversion. Score 27-24 Bruins with 1:07 left. Luke Falk led the Cougs back on the field with four 4th quarter comeback wins to his name. Starting at their 20, the Cougs ran and threw at will against our defense, going 75 yards on 7 plays in 1:06 capped off with a 21 TD pass to Gabe Marks. This left us with only 3 seconds to work with, but with little imagination among the coaches, they had nothing like Miami practiced and used against Duke. Game Over.
Where to begin?
The penalties cost us this game hands down. Every single time we made any kind of progress, built any kind of momentum, a false start penalty would rear it's ugly head and put us at a disadvantage. It became laughably and infuriatingly predictable. Every. Single. Time.
The SPTRs did not help. They overturned a call in the 2nd quarter that flew against the original call, and the video evidence. Beyond that gift of a short field, the SPTRs ignored some pretty blatant holds on the part of the Cougs all night long.
Our coach's lack of imagination was on full display once again. Twice in tonight's game the Pirate led Cougs went for it on 4th down. And, unlike our own predictable and cowardly coaching circle they weren't on 4th a 1s. They were 4th and 5, and 4th and 6. The first resulted in a TD, and the second resulted in a FG. In the hands of our coaches, those drives would have ended in punts.
And, then there was the atrocious punting game. What the F was that? The first and most memorable was the result of the punter trying to get cute. Was that a designed play? Who's idea was that? Just going off memory there was 3 punts that went nowhere. Literally no where. 0 yards. We absolutely skewered Neuheisel for proclaiming 'punting is winning.' What then is Mora's excuse?
For the record, here are the results of our drives: FG, FG, Punt, TD, FG, Punt, Fumble, Punt, FG, TD. 4 punts and 4 FGs. If we convert a single one of those FGs, It's a tie game. A lot of wasted opportunities there.
Feel free to vent below. You'll feel better. (Not really.)