MONROE LOGGED GAME- AND CAREER-HIGH 12 TACKLES
FOR OLD SCHOOL DEFENSIVE PURISTS, it was sheer joy to watch. Washington State’s defense shut out the Vandals 42-0, holding Idaho to 253 total yards, logging five sacks and a video-game like 14 tackles-for-loss. Were it not for a trio of Cougar turnovers as they were knocking on the doorstep, it could have been even more lopsided. Imagine how a post-game Paul Petrino might have reacted then…
Connor Halliday’s 22-yard pass to Dominique Williams on third-and-long in the second quarter. It got Halliday out of his early funk and WSU would go on to score a couple more TDs – all four came on Halliday passes – and take a 28-0 lead into the locker room. There wasn’t a defensive turning point in the game, the WSU stop corps simply knocked the stuffing out of Idaho from the get-go and continued to do so all the way through the final goal-line stand. More on that later...
DEFENSIVE PLAYS OF THE GAME:
It’s not possible to list all of them in this space, not when 14 tackles-for-loss is but one of the tenets to talk about, but here are a few of the highlights.
As Ioane Gauta wrapped up from the backside, the Cougar NT forced the fumble a split-second before Deone Bucannon absolutely decaffeinated Idaho RB Kristoffer Olugbode. The ball was recovered by Taylor Taliulu and the Cougs quickly scored to make it 21-0.
Darryl Monroe and Bucannon tie for the hardest hit of the night, both were slobberknockers. Monroe had a game- and career-high 12 tackles.
D-lineman Xavier Cooper had an incredible game, with a career high 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks and countless more plays where his impact was hugely felt.
Bucannon’s interception in the first quarter was No. 11 in his WSU career, moving him into a tie for eighth in program history. His five tackles tied him on the career list with Artie Holmes at No. 9 (305).
But perhaps the most representative of the game was this: On the fourth sack of the game for WSU, by Toni Pole, there were four other Cougars closing in.
OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME:
You can pick any one of Halliday’s 4 TD passes but his 31-yard TD strike to Dominique Williams was executed particularly well – not only by Halliday and Williams but by the offensive line and the rest of the unit.
UNSUNG OFFENSIVE PLAYS OF THE GAME:
Early in the game, Leon Brooks ran a reverse on fourth down and it seemed to have little chance but Brooks stepped out of the grasp and moved the chains. Jeremiah Laufasa provided the Cougs with some good, tough running yards.
DON’T YOU WISH YOU COULD SUIT THEM UP?
Wasn't it supposed to be the WSU and Idaho players who had the bad blood brewing between them? Instead, the biggest brouhaha happened after the game between the coaches. In the game's final moments, Mike Leach took exception to the personal foul penalty called on the Cougs – so much so that the officials slapped an unsportsmanlike penalty on Leach himself -- who then proceeded to put the Cougs' first string back in to try and preserve the shutout. They did, Petrino apparently took offense to that in the postgame handshake and said something. Leach proceeded to basically tell Petrino, in appropriately colorful terms, what he could do with himself. That really set Petrino off and the two coaches continued to jaw at one another as assistants and staffers rushed to provide a buffer between the two coaches.
OTHER UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS:
Idaho went early to mobile QB Joshua McCain in an effort to catch the Cougs off-guard. It didn’t work. Chad Chalich returned after the Bucannon pick and when Idaho tried McCain later, Xavier Cooper forced a fumble, though Idaho got that one back. With the offseason incident between the two teams and WSU blowing the doors off Idaho, it was surprising it took until the third quarter for some real testiness to surface.
The Cougs turned the ball over four times and still won 42-0. That’s some serious defense.
MEANINGLESS STAT OF THE GAME:
Idaho won the time of possession battle -- 38:06 to 21:54.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKING:
Halliday was out of sorts in the first quarter, missing a wide open Isiah Myers on what would have easily been a touchdown, followed by overthrows and lob balls with too much air under them. Leach, said the Pac-12 color commentator, has asked Halliday to throw more of those lob balls rather than gun it all the time -- allowing his receivers to get under and go up to make plays. But the execution of those high-arching tosses left something to be desired. The Cougs had three turnovers in the third quarter – two fumbles and an interception that should have instead been tossed out of bounds, and four all told. The third quarter miscues all came deep in Idaho territory and so instead of it being 49-0, the score remained 28-0.
SPECIAL TEAMS EDGE GOES TO…
Washington State by a mile. No, make that 8 miles. Mike Bowlin averaged 49.5 yards on his two punts, had a touchback on a kickoff and raced downfield to try and get in on a couple tackles. WSU held Idaho to an 18.0 yard average return on kickoffs. Leon Brooks had one long punt return nullified by penalty but later broke off a 53-yarder. There was the 45-yard KO return by Teondray Caldwell to start the second half. Idaho’s fake punt attempt in the first quarter was whistled dead due to penalty, and it looked like they might have had something there.
WSU SCORING DRIVES:
8:43: Gabe Marks 43-yard pass from Connor Halliday, capping a 3-play, 47-yard drive. Set up by the Bucannon interception. After throwing a bit high and wide, Halliday put a perfect pass on the play side for Marks.
8:11: Dominique Williams 31-yard pass from Connor Halliday, capping a 10-play, 64-yard drive. Halliday spun a nice ball to Williams, who shrugged off a would-be tackle and waltzed into the end zone.
5:05 Vince Mayle 20-yard pass from Connor Halliday, immediately following the Gauta-forced fumble that was recovered by Taylor Taliulu. Halliday threw a strike while on the run and feeling pressure to Mayle in the back of the end zone.
0:24: Gabe Marks 1-yard pass from Connor Halliday capped off an 8-play, 60 yard drive.
2:17: Jeremiah Laufasa with a 14-yard scoring run. The Cougs finally broke through in the third quarter after turning the ball over three times deep in UI territory. The score came after linebacker Justin Sagote batted away a fourth-down pass that gave WSU the ball on the Vandal 20-yard line.
8:15: Jeremiah Laufasa with a 3-yard scoring run. The offensive line plowed the road nicely on the drive, which spanned 10 plays and 72 yards.