We spent the first 45 minutes of the show today talking about the debacle that was the Cougars loss to Arizona State on Thursday. What was so alarming to us was the fact that there doesn't seem to be much improvement with this team since Paul Wulff was fired. In addition, the problems that plagued Wulff, not showing up at the start of games, continues to haunt the new staff under Mike Leach.
What is troubling about this years team is that of their four conference losses this season, they have given up 50 or more points and 500 or more total yards. On top of those horrific numbers for the defense is the inability of the offense to sustain any drives and function at the rate that is expected of the Leach Air Raid.
This season WSU is averaging 417 total yards. 52.1 yards on the ground. 365 yards through the air and 29.8 points per game. In 2011, Wulff's final year, they averaged 422 total yards, 100.2 rushing yards, 322 yards passing and 29.8 points per game.
However, one of the bigger issues is the defense and their continued poor play. On the season they are giving up 453.3 total yards, with 185.5 yards on the ground and 32.7 points.
Remember when everyone thought this team was playing such good defense in the beginning of the season based on the Auburn and USC games? Well, look back at Auburn and you'll see a defense that surrendered 295 yards on the ground. Auburn had a quarterback that was making his first start and he routinely overthrew receivers who were wide open.
As for USC, that whole situation was a dumpster fire down there under then head coach Lane Kiffin. In that game, Tre Madden gained 151 yards on 32 carries. One of the bigger reasons SC lost that game was because Kiffin didn't force the running game more and instead settled for receiver screen passes that didn't take advantage of the teams running ability with play action passes down the field.
From the first game of the season, the Cougars defense has not been all that good, it's just been really exposed by better offenses as the season has wore on.
One thing that must improve under Leach is the running game. Right now that aspect of the teams offense is simply non-existent. When Leach had things rolling at Texas Tech he was able to keep defenses off balanced a bit with a rushing attack. In 10 seasons at Tech under Leach they averaged around 90 yards a game. In one of his better seasons, 2008, his team averaged 117.8 yards on the ground. In 2003 they averaged 107.5 and in 2005 it was 107.0.
The point being is that the Air Raid offense has evolved over the years, but Leach has yet to get the other aspect of his offense going. Until he does, Washington State will continue to struggle against the better teams.
We had a great conversation with former WSU quarterback Alex Brink, who joins us every Friday to talk about the Cougs and Pac-12 football. In case you missed it, check it out above, because Brink gives some great insight on the offense and highlighted many of the points we discussed.