Flashback to Washington State: Run-and-shoot Clicks as Cougars Eliminate Oregon State, Pac-12 North Leader | Washington State University


PULLMAN – As the Washington State Cougars left Gesa Field on Saturday, they were probably thinking, “Why not us? “

They had just eliminated the state of Oregon, which was at the top of the North Division standings of the Pacific-12 conference.

After a gloomy start to the season, the Cougs (3-3, 2-2 Pac-12) are picking up their pace.

On a beautiful day back home in Pullman, WSU’s running and shooting offense seemed to be finding new equipment, and his defense continued to have a knack for playing in a timely manner as the Cougars won 31-24 in a back-and-forth affair.

The WSU, with impressive back-to-back wins, aim to extend their mid-season push when they host Stanford on Saturday.

WSU takes offensive steps,

wins the battle of contrasting approaches

Saturday’s game featured the Pac-12’s most productive rushing attack against a rapidly climbing passing game through the conference ranks.

The clash of contrasting offensive styles resulted in a thriller, with WSU and Oregon State (4-2, 2-1) exchanging punches throughout the second half after the first 30 minutes defined by defensive positions and possessions that run out late.

The Cougs, happy with the pass, ended up beating their Pac-12 foes for their eighth straight win in the series.

Laura’s WSU quarterback Jayden couldn’t miss, especially in the second half.

The elusive sophomore didn’t need to use his legs. He hung in the pocket and swept the field. De Laura scored 15 of 18 after halftime, racking up a career-high 399 passing yards and three touchdowns. Only three QB Power Five totaled more yards in Week 6 than Laura, who completed 69.6% of her attempts.

“He was efficient, took care of the ball,” Cougars coach Nick Rolovich said. “It has increased everyone’s confidence in this program. He improves the people around him, and that’s a key characteristic of a good quarterback game. … I thought he was playing a lot.

WSU’s passing offense went from midfield in the conference to second place (260 yards per game). The team ranks 48th in the Football Bowl subdivision for passing yards per game.

The Cougs’ 491 offensive yards and 399 passing yards against Oregon State marked the program’s highs in 10 games under the offensive spirit of Rolovich, whose running and shooting system had produced no more than 30 points in a game this year and was subject to flops in the second half. This time around, the Cougs bounced back after a few missteps in the first half.

The 2nd and 3rd longest games of the WSU season came after half-time against the Beavers. The Cougars connected on 11 passing plays that totaled over 15 yards – their most in a game this year. Each of the seven players to catch a pass had at least one reception from over 15 yards.

“They weren’t very long passes, but Jayden does a really good job getting the ball out,” Rolovich said of the two 50-yard winners from Joey Hobert and Travell Harris. “It was nice to see a few meters after the crash and the explosion. This team deserves so much credit for what they’ve been through. They continued to grind.

OSU’s pass defense entered the game in 10th place in the Pac-12, and WSU capitalized. But the Beavers boasted of having a Top 50 defense (21.6 points per game) and allowed more points against WSU than they had conceded to any other team.

Rolovich credited offensive co-coordinator and QB coach Craig Stutzmann for “calling a good game”.

The Cougars have improved their offense with new formations.

“We started last week with a bit of, be it ‘eye candy’ or different looks,” Rolovich said. “I think we were stale. It felt like we were still learning the offensive. But we did a little more to give our guys a chance… adding a little flavor to the offense was a bit of an emphasis the last few weeks.

WSU’s winning score had a bit of “eye candy.”

The Cougars, who had roamed the field for touchdowns on three straight practices, got creative on what turned out to be the blink of an eye with just over 5 minutes to go.

Facing OSU’s third and goal from the 1-yard line and a tie at 24, WSU sent an unusually heavy formation with an extra lineman and his four receivers all bundled together. De Laura faked a transfer to her left as running back Deon McIntosh slipped straight into the open field. De Laura gave him an easy score to top off a 12-play, 75-yard drive that lasted almost 6 minutes.

“We’re working on a lot of stuff that we haven’t released yet,” said de Laura. “It’s just patience, and when the time comes, we’ll throw some stuff out there.”

WSU’s reinvigorated offense scored three touchdowns on as many occasions in the red zone in the second half. He entered the game 9 out of 22 in this category. The Cougs converted 8 of 8 third downs after halftime and 2 of 8 in the first half. They were 22 of 64 (34.4%) on the third tries at the start of the day.

WSU was pissed off on a few scratching third and middle draw games early in the game. As the game progressed, the Cougars’ third game calls got smarter. They gave Laura easy shots into weak spots in the middle. Their most impressive conversion came on a third and a 12 at the start of their winning campaign. McIntosh pulled a screen pass 16 yards behind a wall of linemen.

“We’re on a good track right now,” de Laura said of the development of the offense from week to week.

WSU was limited to 92 rushing yards by an OSU defense that ranks in the top 20 nationally to stop the run. It was the third game this year the Cougars failed to go over 100 rushing yards.

They recorded 73 rushing yards on 13 attempts (5.6 yards per carry) after halftime as the offense opened.

WSU often used an empty backfield and wide fivesets to fight the Beavers’ charged defensive front. When OSU began removing the bodies from the box, the Cougs found seams in the gut with McIntosh or Max Borghi.

“We have a bunch of six-man boxes so the numbers aren’t good and (the naysayers) have played us that way probably most of the year,” Rolovich said. “We needed more of the passing game because the numbers were on our side. “

Rolovich praised his offensive line for playing his second straight clear game. De Laura ran into a sack, but that was it. The Beavers finished second in the Pac-12 with 12 sacks on the finish line.

“We were able to go through some progressions, allowing our receivers to open up,” Rolovich said of an O-line that started senior Brian Greene at center for the first time since Week 1. “The offensive line deserves a ton of credit.… I thought Jayden would appreciate the time he spent there.

Perhaps the brightest moment for the WSU line came with Lincoln Victor Cougar’s first touchdown, a 14-yard screen early in the fourth period. Three linemen made key blocks to clear a track.

The OSU’s ground and pound approach stacked 309 yards. The Beavers are the only Pac-12 team to go over 300 rushing yards in a game this year, and they’ve done it twice. They paced the Pac-12 with 36 points per game before this one.

They had 6.9 yards per carry, charging through the WSU’s defensive front for 14 rushing plays of 10 yards or more.

“The game plan was this: we knew they were going to gain yards, but just put them behind the sticks, get them to fight us in the air,” said Brennan Jackson, WSU edge, who made an interception in diving on a juggler. ball in the red zone in the middle of the third quarter. “Later in the game we started putting them behind the sticks, second and 12, second and 13 – forcing them to throw the ball. … They got a lot of yards, but when it counted we got to tackle the quarterback.

Beaver quarterback Chance Nolan scored 11 of 25 for 158 yards. WSU has held each of the last three QBs it has faced within 200 passing yards.

The Beavers scored 6 of 12 in the third downs. On their average third down in the second half, they needed 8.8 yards to move the chains.

“They had some big explosive runs, but what about BJ’s choice? There were plays made by the defense, ”Rolovich said.

Four of OSU’s training sessions were stopped in Cougar territory. The Beavers cut the field for back-to-back touchdowns before their 13-play, 75-yard practice was cut short at the WSU 4-yard line with 30 seconds remaining.

“We talked before going on the pitch that it would be a physical football game, especially defensively,” Rolovich said. “I felt like we were up to it. … The realization, knowing that he was coming and accepting this challenge is something that takes a lot of conviction from a young man who is in this box all the time typing.

Hicks III stands out

Of his 10 team-leading tackles and his career, none was more important than the last.

Safety George Hicks III stopped OSU’s Trey Lowe at the Cougars 4-yard line to preserve the lead from a WSU touchdown and seal the victory.

WSU advantage Ron Stone Jr. recorded a clutch sack to set up a fourth and 19 OSU with about half a minute to go. Lowe slipped out of the backfield and into the open field to his left. Nolan dropped the ball and crossed his fingers.

Lowe crossed the field and had room to run. The marker on the first down was in his sights until Hicks charged up and lay down, cutting Lowe’s left leg and knocking him down 1 yard before a first down.

“He’s someone you can trust on the pitch 100 percent of the time,” Jackson said of Hicks, the former cornerback who has stepped up to free safety this year. Hicks, a graduate student, was a reserve at his new job until starter Halid Djibril injured his leg in week two.

“He just makes plays that you have to play. On and off the field, he’s a student of the game. He understands things because he’s a leader in the team. He’s older. In the end, I hope he makes the plays he needs, and he did (Saturday).

With about a minute to go in the second quarter, Hicks broke on a seated run near the far sideline and made a diving interception five games after a Cougars drive stalled in the red zone.

WSU’s offense couldn’t cash – the first half ended with an interception in the end zone – but Hicks’ two games embodied the ever-growing identity of the Cougar defense’s resilience. .

“You can’t dwell on the games that have been on before,” Hicks said. “You have to be worried about the game going on now. … Something bad is going to happen in every game. When that happens, shake it up and collect it in the next set or room. “

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