If last weeks loss to Rutgers was a strong jab to the Cougars’ bowl game dreams, their loss to Nevada was the knockout punch.
Washington State could not have asked for much worse of a start to the season than this. In a game where they were universally favored to win, they were outperformed by their Mountain West foes in every area of the game.
Once again, their defense, especially against the run, looked atrocious. With the exception of one scoring drive strung together by Connor Halliday that went 80 yards in just five plays, the Cougs couldn’t get any sort of momentum built. Halliday was picked off twice, one of them setting up a 1-run yard run into the end zone by Nevada’s Don Jackson.
When the dust in Reno settled, and the game came to a merciless end, the final score read Nevada 24, Washington State 13. Even though the score itself did not indicate any sort of landslide, the way in which the Cougars played certainly did.
Last week it was easy to pinpoint the problem. It was the defense. This week it’s a little more complex with that. The run game was virtually nonexistent, the passing game was only slightly effective, the defense suffered their same struggles, and the coaching staff didn’t do much to help.
Next week WSU goes up against a much weaker (on paper) Portland State University team. If the Cougs march all over PSU, as they should, then this game could be the one needed for them to gain some self confidence back, and hopefully ride that good feeling into their future match ups.
If they lose, however, don’t be shocked if the team completely folds on itself for the rest of the year. There is a lot riding on their next game, a lot more than what anyone would have anticipated at this point. It’s still early, but this next result will determine the rest of the year for Washington State.