Benefit of the Doubt
I minored in economics in college. One thing that always stuck with me was a theory by early 20th-century economist John Maynard Keynes called animal spirits. The theory has to do with spending habits in relation to how people perceive the economy. I modified it for sports. If referees perceive a player or team is penalty prone, they will be predisposed to throw a flag. It’s human nature.
Last night WSU was called for seven penalties and were set back 80 yards, while Stanford only had two for 20 yards. I’m not going to say whether or not all the calls were justified but did the Cougs out-foul Stanford by a margin three-and-a-half to one? I don’t think so.
Washington State has had issues with their secondary this season and penalties. Again, I’m not saying they are or are not committing infractions, but I think if a situation is either iffy or in doubt, zebras are going to call a penalty on the Cougars secondary. It’s a thin line for WSU’s defensive backs because, on the one hand, they can’t just let receivers go, but on the other, they are going to get called when they play physical or tight.
Going forward it’s something Washington State has to be aware of. Not only in their three remaining games but also the PAC-12 Championship game, if they make it, the margin for error is getting slimmer by the week.