The WSU Cougars lost another heartbreaker this weekend against Boise State. It’s still early and Pac-12 play hasn’t started yet, but are the Cougs done already?
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The WSU Cougars were under serious pressure this weekend. Unlike their cross-state rivals, the Huskies, who created an easy schedule for their hugely talented squad in the season’s early weeks, the WSU Cougars faced the plucky Eastern Washington Eagles and lost at home, and dropped a road game against the Boise State Broncos 31-28 on the Smurf Turf to fall to 0-2.
There is plenty of time left in the season for the WSU Cougars to make noise in the Pac-12, especially since they haven’t faced a Pac-12 team yet, but the two losses to start Mike Leach’s fifth season as the Cougs’ head coach are hugely disappointing. Leach was the first to blame his team, calling them “a JV softball team” in his latest rant after the game on Saturday. (He is not a fan of participation trophies).
Leach was right in criticizing his players. The WSU Cougars again played down to a decent but beatable team in Boise State, with Luke Falk throwing an 85-yard pick-six to Tyler Horton (his first career interception) and the defense allowing BSU running back Jeremy McNichols to run for 116 yards and two touchdowns. BSU quarterback Brett Rypien shredded the once-touted Cougar defense for three quarters, finishing with 299 yards, including a 47-yard strike to receiver Thomas Sperbeck.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the WSU Cougars’ defense started stepping in front of Rypien’s passes. They got two interceptions in the final quarter to help the offense climb back into the game. But in the end, Falk’s desperation heave was knocked down, throwing the Cougars’ season into question.
Luckily, the WSU Cougars’ issues on defense came with ten games to go in the regular season. They have the Idaho Vandals next week, whom Washington just beat by 45 points, then things get interesting with a test at home against Oregon before traveling to northern California to face Stanford. The rest of the Pac-12 season will be lined with big games because of the Cougs’ 0-2 start, but hope is not completely lost.