Cougars vs. themselves
One thing the Cougars have been good about all season was limiting their mental mistakes. Coming into this game, Minshew had only thrown seven interceptions in 11 games. Saturday he threw two, both on ill-advised passes. This was maybe the first time in 2018 anyone could second guess GMII’s decision making.
On the other side of the ball, Washington State’s tackling was some of their worst this season. Maybe it was due to the weather or fatigue from the physicality of UW’s offensive linemen and tight ends. Whatever the case was, Wazzu didn’t wrap up well and Washington was able to break tackles and add on more yards.
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Cougars vs. expectations
Washington State found themselves in unfamiliar territory heading into the game. When was the last time WSU was being talked about for a shot at a national championship on Thanksgiving weekend? That’s not an excuse for a poor performance, but the atmosphere surrounding it is. There were more interviews and less focus on the game at hand.
Additionally, Wazzu came into the Apple Cup anywhere from two to three-point favorites. It doesn’t happen very often that the Cougars are expected to win this game. Lots of folks were let down Friday night, most of all Washington State football and their supporters.
Cougars vs. the hype
Minshew had a press conference Monday after Leach. The week before, at roughly the same time of day, Leach told the media GMII was in the weight room working out. Disruption in the pattern. By now, Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, etc are used to disruptions in their routines and have planned for them.
Sometimes success is measured by how well those involved handle the added attention. Washington State could have done better in this area. While that may sound harsh, Leach is a smart man, he’ll learn from it.
This has been a fantastic season for the Washington State Cougars, one loss doesn’t erase all the other accomplishments. They will be back.