BY Adam Lewis 05:06PM 11/03/2012

Cougars trounced; Leach questions team’s guts

Washington State’s bowl drought stretched to nine seasons after the Cougars solidified their five-year run as a Pac-12 doormat, falling 49-6 to Utah Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

Those seeking reasons for the Cougars’ sixth consecutive defeat needn’t look past Mike Leach’s horrific offensive line. Fresh off surrendering 10 sacks in a loss to Stanford, the pass protectors looked over-matched when they weren’t blowing schemes.

Their performance crushed what little chance WSU (2-7, 0-6 Pac-12) had of upsetting a Utes team (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) trending in the opposite direction.

“If five of our guys went into an alley and fought two of theirs, we would get massacred,” Leach said after his offensive line gave up five first-half sacks.

WSU did manage to avoid being shut out after quarterback Jeff Tuel found Kristoff Williams for a five-yard touchdown pass on the final play of regulation.

Chalk up the play as the only thing that went right for the Cougars during a game that was over by halftime.

Tuel racked up 232 yards on 23-of-45 passing and only one interception. The Cougars rushed the ball just 13 times, amassing -4 yards. Utah, meanwhile, carved through what many analysts pegged as a formidable Cougars  front seven. Kyle Whittingham’s squad ran 43 times for 205 yards.

That number could have been doubled had John White IV (18 rushes, 101 yards, two TD’s) played the entire game.

A promising first series stalled inside Utah’s 40-yard line when Tuel couldn’t connect with Marquess Wilson on fourth-and-12.

Matters worsened for WSU from there.

After forcing a three-and-out, the defense began a puzzling stretch of ineptitude. White began the onslaught with a 47-yard touchdown run to give Utah a 7-0 lead.

The Cougars offense — held to a paltry 255  yards of offense — stalled again on the next drive after picking up a single first down. The Utes responded with an eight-play, 69-yard drive highlighted by a 24-yard completion from freshman quarterback Travis Wilson to Anthony Denham on third-and-19. A personal foul penalty from Casey Locker tacked on an additional 15 yards, pushing Utah into WSU territory. Wilson hit Max Moala six plays later for a five-yard touchdown to give the Utes a 14-0 lead.

The Utes added a pair of touchdowns and a field goal in the second quarter while Wilson, Utah’s third-string quarterback, torched a WSU defense that looked impressive in a 24-17 defeat to Stanford last week. Wilson finished 17-of-21 for 171 yards, two touchdowns and a meaningless interception.

It was 31-0 by halftime.

WSU fans still watching after intermission were treated to a 100-yard kickoff  return by Utah’s Reggie Dunn to start the second half. Whittingham followed the score with his best Jim Harbaugh impersonation, going for and converting a two-point conversion to give the Utes an insurmountable 39-0 lead.

Leach didn’t appear at his post-game radio interview for the first time this season.

The Cougars play in Pullman for this first time in nearly a month Saturday against UCLA.



  • Will

    Based solely on reading Leach’s abrasive comments and judgements about the team and specific players, I wonder if they’ve given up on him? There doesn’t appear to be much positive reinforcement, just put downs and verbal slams. Public wrath goes only so far.

    • Leach did take the blame for not getting WSU “ready to play” during the postgame presser. That being said, I’d be lying to you if I told you sects of this team haven’t quit.

    • RadioGuy

      Bill Moos had to know what he was getting when he brought in Mike Leach. This is a coach who never had a losing season at Texas Tech while regularly appearing in bowl games, and it was well-known that he brings a certain degree of expectations to his job.

      Wazzu football has otherwise historically accepted mediocrity along with a “glad to still be in the Pac 12” attitude (I love the Cougs, but I’m also a realist). Leach will NOT accept mediocrity and he surely won’t put up with it. This season has been all about separating the players from the pretenders. I still have hope that Leach will eventually turn things around in Pullman, but only a fool would’ve thought he could do it in his first season.

      For what it’s worth, Bill Snyder has gone 168-83-1 with 13 bowl appearances over 21 years at Kansas State (another historically underachieving program), but was only 1-10 his first year with the Wildcats…and if there’s a tougher place to recruit players to than Pullman, it may be Manhattan, Kansas.

      • Tian Biao

        But Leach didn’t have great success at Texas Tech. I looked at his team records over his ten years there, and the trend was this: schedule and beat three weak patsy teams, then eke out a mediocre Big 12 record by beating some average teams and mostly losing to ranked teams, and then taking a so-so team to a mid-level bowl. Though I suppose to Cougar fans, that sort of track record would probably qualify as raging success.

      • Will

        I dunno, do I want to follow a team coached by John Wooden or Bobby Knight? One inspires and the other intimidates. Easy choice.

  • Michael Kaiser

    The Cougars better not pull a Red Sox, and get rid of their coach (manager Valentine in Boston) because the spoiled, clearly inept players throw a hissy fit because they don’t like being pushed and called out for what they are–borderline worthless, either as of late or, with regard to the Cougars, and really the Huskies as well, but we are talking about the Cougars, for quite a long time. Total change in culture needed in Pullman, and Leach is one of the few types of individuals that has the composition to possibly pull that off.

    • Good point. I think it’s also important to remember that 80 percent of these guys– all of whom Paul Wulff recruited– wouldn’t start at a TON of schools.