Upon Further Review – WSU @ UCLA Highlights

Happy Monday afternoon/evening/whatever Cougs!  As usual, we hope you are off to a great week, as the first week of October moves along.

With that, we’re back with some highlights from the WSU-UCLA game, ripped for YOUR pleasure, of course.  As you’ll see in a moment, very little defense in the highlights….but you know the drill.  LOTS of offense to show, and for good reason.  They did a pretty good job, all things considered.  And to think, we saw this team in position to take a fourth-quarter lead?  On the road?  Against a BCS team?  UCLA for that matter, a team that just won 34-12 at Texas??  I must be dreaming…

Seriously though, they really did move the ball well.  And while you never want to get too high or too low, a day or so of perspective is the right move here.  Yes, disappointed that the lads couldn’t close the deal when the chips were down.  But deep down, happy or even a little excited at the change on offense? 

Ask yourself this.  Think back to the offense, just back to the Montana State game three weeks ago.  Remember how they only had SEVEN points heading into the fourth quarter in that one?  At home, against Montana State?  And then fast-foward to Saturday, and here we were with 28 points, and knocking on the door for 35 points, into the fourth on the road at UCLA.  Whatever the changes, whether it’s the new pistol-spread offense in the no-huddle, or that everyone from the offensive line to the wideouts to Jeff Tuel himself getting comfortable with everything, the change is quite drastic. 

And for that, I’m tipping my hat towards the sideline, and saying that Wulff and Todd Sturdy deserve a pat on the back for getting this thing going in the right direction all of a sudden.  While the running game is still a major work in progress, you can see the steps being taken overall. 

Enough of this, on to the video!  After the read more, of course….

Some general thoughts (note that the video might be a little bit grainy, as it was just uploaded Monday afternoon):

1)  Jeff Tuel played a very good game. I have to admit to being critical of Tuel lately, and that his accuracy on the routine throws should be better than it has been.  Go back and watch the USC or even the Montana State highlights, and you can see him missing high and sometimes behind guys who appear open.  But he was much crisper this week.  But best of all, after a three-INT game last week?  NO TURNOVERS! And that’s against a very fast, strong, aggressive UCLA defense at that.  He just didn’t make many bad decisions, whether he was running the ball when time was running out in the pocket or just throwing the damn thing away when nothing was there.  I wonder how he’ll “grade out” on the coaches film this week, but from my untrained eye, he sure looked good!

2)  Marquess Wilson is 17.  Think about that.  17!  As they said on the broadcast, during practices players are afraid that he will “posterize” or “Randy Moss” them during practice.  I LOVE Jason Hill and he was fantastic, but I can’t recall that I’ve seen a combination of size, hands and athleticism out of a wide receiver like this at Washington State.  Look at the long catch he had, where he went up and grabbed the ball around two defenders.  A better throw to the outside would have been a TD catch, similar to what he had vs. SMU a few weeks ago.  But he went up and grabbed it with his “ball skills”, adjusting to the ball underthrown and too far to the middle of the field.  Or watch the long strides when he takes in a ball over the middle and nearly goes to the house, about the 9:30 mark of the video.  He runs by some of those UCLA defenders like they were standing in cement!  As Sutra told me on Saturday night, we better enjoy him while he’s in Pullman, because he’s got see-you-on-Sunday type skills and might be on draft boards by the time he’s a junior!

3)  Tuel took some shots.  I bet he’s got bruises on his bruises today, and he took some real shots by the defense, especially late in the game when we were behind.  He also took on the defense a couple of times, when maybe it would have been better if he would have just slid?  The offense is just showing so much promise, the last thing we need is for Tuel to start wearing down from all the hits from Pac-10 defenses.

4)  I love the four-WR sets out of the pistol, and we’re starting to see some real depth develop at the position.  Spread ’em out with that formation, and make the defenses adjust to what you are doing.  With Karstetter, Wilson, and now Blackledge, Solomon, Barton and Simone, that’s six pretty nice guys to have in the mix.  As Wulff said on the coaches show a few weeks ago, Mike Levenseller says that he feels like he has added “ten years” to his coaching life based on the talent they have right now.  And we’re not even seeing Kristoff Williams, the other true frosh who was blowing people away in practice this fall before being shelved due to turf toe! 

5)  The refs did get the Tuel call right.  No doubt about it, his knee was down.

It’s too bad the call came late, as it looked like it was after the extra point, but that’s all been clarified now.  Anyway, like it or not, Tuel was down.  What’s disappointing is that they had two more cracks from one yard out and couldn’t punch it in! 

All for now.  GO COUGS!