By Jason Puckett
No one would have ever guessed that in the first year under new football coach Mike Leach that Washington Stat would go 2-10. That's not what Athletic Director Bill Moos had in mind when he flew to Key West, Florida and danced with Leach while Paul Wulff was still coaching the Cougars.
But, get ready Cougar fans for that record this season, because the Cougs will finish with that mark. You can take this to the bank right now, Washington State will not win another game this season if they continue to perform like they have in the first four games.
From BYU to Colorado, Washington State has shown no tangible improvement from last year in which they won four games.
The offensive lacks consistency. Too many times, especially with Connor Halliday as their quarterback, they look for the home run ball when the little base hit up the middle will do just fine. Their running game is limited, which prevents them from keeping a defensive honest. Their wide receivers are dynamic and without a doubt the strength of the team, but too many times they drop passes in key situations.
The other side of the ball is simply an unmitigated disaster. There is no question that the Cougars possess the worst secondary in the Pac-12 and I wouldn't be surprised if they were the worst in the country. They are constantly out of position, confused, late and overmatched. In particular, Nolan Washington and Damante Horton have no ability to match up one on one with any receiver in this conference.
The scariest thing about how bad the Washington State defense is, especially against the pass, is that they have not YET faced a team that can actually throw the football. BYU, EWU, UNLV and Colorado are all limited in their passing attack. The next four opponents will dissect this secondary: Oregon, Oregon State, California and Stanford.
It's one thing if you don't have the talent , which the Cougars clearly don't, but it's another thing not to be prepared and adjust. How many times were the Cougars out of position on Saturday and how many times did Colorado run the same play over and over again and the Cougars answered with nothing for them to counter with?
The only positive from the defense has a whole was that when they did commit to blitzing they actually showed the ability to get to the quarterback. However, this is where it gets confusing for me, why didn't Mike Breske dial up more blitzes?
However, the most glaring deficiency is their mental make up. This team expects to lose. They expect to have things go bad for them. They expect nothing.
And what concerns me more than anything is that I don't know how you change that. It seems easier to teach a team how to tackle better. How to throw better. How to catch better. But how do you teach a team to expect and demand success?
If the Cougs can't answer that question they will be stuck on those two wins and this program will be no better than a four win team.