In their 41-38 heartbreaking loss to Rutgers, RB Paul James ran for 173 yards and scored three TD’s against the Cougs, his third being the game winner. Those numbers alone indicate a serious problem with Washington State’s run defense. With all due respect to Paul James, he’s not exactly the next big RB in the NCAA, but the defense certainly made him look that way.
The positives to take away from the Cougars first game of the year is that, as we expected, their passing offense is big time. Halliday put on a jaw-dropping passing display. He completed 40 of his 56 passes for a total of 532 yards and five touchdowns. How in the world a QB can have that spectacular of a night while his team comes up short is beyond me.
This game had to be incredibly disappointing for the senior.
While trying to remain optimistic it’s hard to walk away from this outing feeling good given the Cougars current situation. Connor Halliday is clearly their best player, but this is his last year. If this were his sophomore or even junior year, it would be an entirely different situation.
The coach would be able to remain hopeful as he would have a great QB to build around moving forward, while shoring up the glaring holes in the defense. Unfortunately, this is WSU’s best chance to put together a solid season, and that opening loss in Seattle was not what they needed to build momentum as they have a very difficult schedule ahead of them.
Washington State’s next game is at Nevada, another team Halliday will likely pick apart with his arm. It will be up to the defense to carry their own weight this time in order to secure the victory.
I like to compare NCAA teams to NFL teams at the beginning of the year. Right now, the Cougs resemble the Dallas Cowboys. Hopefully they can get things turned around defensively. If they can make that happen, this could potentially be the best season Washington State has had in years.