PULLMAN – One year ago, Mike Leach frequently railed about the inability of his players to compete,…
Lost in the detritus, what the Cougar OL did
"I thought for two-thirds of the game they played real well," head man Mike Leach said of the offensive line. "One-third of the game they were spotty like everyone else."
Leach was upset with every one of his players for not finishing down the stretch. Still, from my chair, the offensive line created running room and provided a firm layer of protection for the quarterbacks and they did so on a fairly consistent basis.
On the ground, the running backs averaged 5.1 yards a carry on the ground. Sophomore RB Jeremiah Laufasa led all rushers with 54 yards and averaged six yards a carry.
And the starting five – RT John Fullington, RG Matt Goetz, C Elliott Bosch, LG Joe Dahl and LT Gunnar Eklund – allowed but one sack on Connor Halliday. And they allowed only one hurry in the stat book.
"I think our o-line did a really great job of blocking," Laufasa said. "I don't think I was even getting contact until after five yards, so I just give it all to them it was a good effort for them at the end."
It was the best night of running the ball by the Cougs since Auburn. Washington State logged 113 ground yards on 22 rushing attempts.
"They played awesome," running back Marcus Mason said. "They played awesome the whole game. We just got to give them more love and run the ball a little bit more and we will be okay. They did a really good job though."
With Goetz getting the nod two weeks in a row at right guard, with fellow senior John Fullington shifting over to the right side, the Cougs may have found something.
Fullington started in his 37th consecutive game in crimson and gray and looked comfortable at right tackle all night long. He created space for the running backs while slapping down a heavy Beaver pass rush from the right side.
"He came in as a freshman, he's a big kid and we were in a position where we needed to use him right away," Bosch said. "He's been a real solid guy ever since. He's a good guy and he works really hard. He's probably one of the hardest workers on the team and has a great attitude about everything."
Consider this: Since WSU moved Fullington to right tackle and insert Goetz at right guard, the Cougar offensive line has only surrendered only two sacks on a total of 122 drop backs.
Against OSU, the Cougar offensive mostly created a comfortable pocket for Halliday to set up shop.
"The o-line…I was pretty proud of them," Bosch said of the offensive line's play. "I thought we played a pretty good game. (We) ran the ball a little bit and protected Connor and I thought we played until the end, so I was proud of that."
It's one of the few bright spots that can be found in a game where Wazzu melted down in the fourth quarter.
"I wouldn't say I was surprised," Laufasa said of the hosses up front. "I have a lot of confidence in our o-line. I feel like they match up really well with anybody really. They all decided to just play hard. That's all we do. No matter what the score was at the end, we decided to play hard and they got a real good push and was making pretty big holes and making it easier to run."
The score is what matters most. And a blowout loss at home in a game WSU had a golden chance to win with a second half lead is going to hurt for a while. But the offensive line came to play. And now what needs to happen for the Cougs is everyone else rededicating themselves and starting to click with the big guys up front.
"The biggest thing is, we need to learn that being down by a touchdown is not the end of the game," Bosch said. "We haven't lost already and we need to learn to play through some adversity."
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