We really needed that, the players really needed that, and this embattled coaching staff REALLY needed that. While Washington State isn't great, that was definitely something worth cheering for. I'm happy. It's only one game, but I'm happy.
How about that second half by our Buffs? We outscored Mike Leach and his Cougars 28-13, and 21-6 in the 4th quarter. We paid them back for their comeback victory last season in Boulder. I remember thinking in the middle of the 4th, that it felt eerily similar, but with the roles reversed. This was an exciting game (at least in the second half), and one that was actually fun to watch. We still have problems all over the field, but we looked better this week than we have at any point yet this year. We have a long way to go before we can hope to muster up any other wins in 2012, but this was a definite step in the right direction.
But mostly, I'm just happy.
Follow the jump to see me do my happy dance!
- Stephane Nembot got the start at right tackle after getting into the game last week. I like him, and while he's clearly very raw, he also is a phenomenal athlete there, with long arms and a lot of power. I hope he learns quickly, because I think he just has a ton of potential there, and I'd like to see him keep that starting spot. Also, Jack Harris has been having troubles on the edge there, but has enough lateral quickness to play inside at guard.
- Our offensive line is still struggling. Maybe less than last week, but we need to see even more serious improvement this week. They did start to figure things out in the 4th quarter, though, so hopefully that bodes well for us.
- Christian Powell needs to keep getting carries. Yes he had that fumble late, but he is a great first option. Similarly, I'm glad Josh Ford is getting the occasional chance, and it looks like Tony Jones may be healthy again. I'd be just fine if those are the three tailbacks getting carries, with Powell getting more than the other two. I like that arrangement.
- Nick Kasa had the huge TD, which was great (good adjustment to the ball and he was strong through the defensive contact) and he had a couple of other good moments. As you can imagine, he's still making mistakes, and he got lucky when that pass he tipped way up into the air was out of the reach of the WSU defenders. That's a big no-no. He also was solid blocking, but is definitely hit-or-miss there.
- I'm curious as to why Vincent Hobbs didn't make the trip. DaVaughn Thornton did a solid job filling in for him with a couple of good catches in the middle of the field.
- They're doing better, but Gerald Thomas needs to get more than 5 touches/game. He's averaging 12.6 yards/touch this season. Too explosive to only get the ball 5 times. But at least they're looking his way more.
- Nelson "Double-Deuce" Spruce is very, very solid. That's a good thing.
- When was the last time we had two big plays like that in one game, let alone one half of football? That was glorious.
- I'm glad Jordan Webb got to score that last TD himself. He earned it with some gutsy play this week. I wish I had proof besides my word and the word of the people I was watching the game with, but I totally called that playcall. And I think it was perfect. Speaking of which, the playcalling was much improved this week, and I think we may have even seen a couple of halftime adjustments on offense... but I don't want to jinx it.
- Jered Bell started at safety today. Yes, he had the early interception (though the ball was thrown right to him), but otherwise he was spotty in the first half. But the whole secondary played better in half number two, Bell included. I'm still looking forward to having Ray Polk back (I think... we didn't actually see enough of him this year to know what we're missing)
- Our linebackers are still struggling this season. Again, like the rest of the defense, they played better in half 2, but as a unit they have been 'off' more than 'on'. Some nice individual plays, like Paul Vigo's TFLs and the fumble he forced, but there were a bunch of missed assignments and poor reads on plays.
- Here's one that is absolutely killing me (and the Buffs). WHY DO WE GIVE SUCH ENORMOUS CUSHIONS TO WIDE RECEIVERS?!?!?!?!? Someone, PLEASE, explain this to me? On WSU's 3rd TD, Kenneth Crawley was giving his guy (the one who scored the TD) a 10 yard cushion while WSU was at the 12 yardline. And then he backpedalled to ensure that the guy he was covering would be able to catch the ball in the endzone before he could react. Crawley has solid recovery speed, so let him try to press guys. We can't give every wideout we face a free jump off the line, or else teams are going to continue to pick us apart with underneath routes. We absolutely HAVE to do a better job of disrupting routes and timing, or else our secondary will never improve. Crawley made a great play later in the game when he was running with a WR. Let him play that way and make plays.
- Chidera Uzo-Diribe and Will Pericak are pretty good, did y'all know that? Pericak is facing double-teams all day and still managing to get pressure and have an impact. And CUD is a beast. And the young guys around them are starting to play a little bit better. Because of that, we were able to get some pressure while only rushing three.
- On the negative side of that, we were still getting a number of passes completed on us while dropping 8 guys into coverage. That is bad.
- Darragh O'Neill didn't have a great game this week. He's been solid for the most part, but this week he wasn't. I think he'll bounce back, though.
- And Will Oliver came out and had his first miss, but bounced back and looked perfect on his next kick. That's a good sign, but I am interested to see what happened on the miss when I look at it again.