After 59-28 Loss To Arizona, Can WSU Win Any Of Their Final Three Games?

Lew WrightSenior Writer INovember 10, 2008


It was Dad's Weekend in Pullman last Saturday.  The Washington State Cougars played host to the most improved team in the Pac-10 this season, the Arizona Wildcats.

There were high hopes across Cougar Nation for a surprising performance by a team coming into the game as a 41-point underdog.  Clearly there was no pressure on Cougar players.

So what happened?

WSU lost for the ninth time this season, 59-28 in front of over 24,000 fans.

Before the game, Coach Paul Wulff was clear on what his team had to do in order to upset the prohibitive favorites.

"We need to quite waiting for something bad to happen and make something good happen."

So what happened?

On the opening drive for Washington State, they didn't wait around for something bad to happen.  They got right to it.   On the second play of the first series, Kevin Lopina fumbled the ball.  Great.  However, Lopina did recover his miscue.  The very next play Lopina through an ill-advised pass forced into coverage, something he'd repeat a couple of times later in the game, and was intercepted.  Great.

So what happened?

Two plays later, the undermanned Cougar defense that made something good happen.  Romeo Pellum read the eyes of the 'Cats quarterback and picked off a Willie Tuitama pass.  Great!

Not only did Pellum's put an emotional charge into the crowd, Lopina and the offense returned to the field with confidence that they could get the job done.

Six plays and 56 yards later, the Cougs were celebrating an 18-yard spring into the end zone by junior running back Dwight Tardy.

For the first 25 minutes of football, the contest was very much in doubt.  It was anybody's game to win until shortly before halftime when things unraveled for the Cougs.  Penalties and interceptions gave Arizona two quick touchdowns and put the game out of reach.

Despite the final outcome, the game was exciting for Washington State fans on a number of levels.

The offensive drought ended for the Cougs just five minutes into the contest.  After going ten consecutive quarters without scoring a single point, WSU was putting points on the scoreboard once again.  By the time the clock ran out, Coach Wulff's offense scored 28 against a very good defense.

It was hoped that by having some continuity from the last game, improvement would be seen on both sides of the ball.  

If there is one area the Cougs really need to improve, it's on defense.  They have already broken a school record for the most points given up in a season.  Yes, there are still three more games to play.  The record this defense is establishing for yielding points may stand longer than the pyramids of Egypt.

As if things haven't been tough enough on the injury front, Coach Wulff had plenty of bad news before the opening kickoff.  Over the course of the practice week, four players on defense that started the Stanford game went down.  Myron Beck, Kevin Kooyman, Matt Eichelberger and Alfonso Jackson were scratched from the lineup because of injuries.  Jackson actually tried to play, but didn't have it going.  Key reserve Andy Mattingly was scratched as well. 

So what happened?

Just as the offense has switched to Plan B, abandoning the "no huddle" offense because of personnel issues, the Cougar defense was forced to implement Plan B.  They went to a 3-4 base defense simply because there weren't enough defensive linemen ready to go.  The result?  Not a pretty sight.

So what happened?

Ultimately, it was another humbling loss for Coach Wulff and his Washington State Cougars.  The disappointment of this season has reached epic proportions.  Only in the context of 2008 could Cougar fans be excited by a 59-28 loss.  That's where things are and it's just silly to try and sugar coat reality.