The Washington State Cougars hung with another top 20 team last weekend in Pullman before falling to the Arizona Wildcats, 24-7. Next up for the Cougars is 12th-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto.
Mistakes were the name of the game for Washington State last weekend, with a multitude of mental errors killing any chance the Cougars had of taking out the Wildcats. With Nick Foles injured in the first half, the Cougs had plenty of chances, but couldn't seize the momentum.
In a game with so many swings, WSU made too many mistakes to win the ballgame. Nearly every time they were on the verge of seizing the momentum, a mistake or turnover gave the game right back to Arizona.
After weeks of watching the offense steadily improve, it was the defense's turn this week. The offense took a step back, but the defense took a big step forward, holding there own against an Arizona offense with plenty of weapons, even without Foles.
Washington State comes into the Stanford game banged up after taking a pounding against Oregon and Arizona. The Cougs lost two more starters against the Wildcats, both with likely season-ending injuries. Offensive lineman David Gonzales broke his forearm and has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Freshman cornerback Damante Horton also partially tore some knee ligaments and will likely sit out the rest of the year.
Against a physical Stanford team, the banged-up Cougars face a real test. At CougCenter, Jeff Nusser wonders if this is the week Washington State takes a real step backwards.
This will be the third consecutive matchup for WSU against teams currently ranked in the top 15. That they've been able to play Oregon and Arizona so tough -- not perfect, but tough -- is a testament to the preparation of the players and the coaching staff. But it's rare that any team can stay up for every game of a three-game gauntlet such as this, and with the first two coming at home, one has to wonder if this is the one where the Cougs lose a little focus and it truly blows up on them.
Because of the injuries, head coach Paul Wulff made some changes this week. Players were shuffling around to fill-in the gaps left by players who will be out. The Spokesman-Review's Vince Grippi laid out the changes on his blog last night.
Tight end Skylar Stormo, who hasn't seen much time with the offensive using spread sets most of the time, moved to right tackle and will be prepared for an emergency if needed, Wulff said. That was one of many changes to the offensive line made in the wake of David Gonzales' broken arm. The first group including freshman John Fullington at left tackle and Micah Hannam (concussion), sporting a yellow jersey for the first time in his career, back at right tackle. The second group has Wade Jacobson at left tackle, Andrew Roxas at left guard and Stormo at right tackle.
Grippi also noted Arthur Burns moved from linebacker to running back, Sekope Kaufusi moved from middle linebacker to outside linebacker and freshman C.J. Mizell was back from suspension and working at middle linebacker.
Mizell, a talented freshman, was forced to sit out last weekend against Arizona due to a violation of team rules. He's struggled with practice and maturity this year, forcing the coaches to come down hard in an effort to keep him on the right path.
Mizell will miss today's game as he deals with personal problems, according to the school. Best as I can figure out the young man is homesick and struggling with all that being thousands of miles from home entails.
He's back at practice so it sounds like everything is a go for him, barring a setback this week.
The Cougars have looked better in recent weeks, putting up a fight for a half against Oregon and staying within striking distance of Arizona for much of the game. Still, the Cardinal should have a field day against the nation's worst defense on Homecoming.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is a handful for any team and the Cougars will be no exception. The redshirt sophomore is widely regarded as the most complete quarterback in the Pac-10 and is a big reason Stanford sits at 12th in the first BCS rankings.
Any doubts about whether Andrew Luck could keep the offense clicking without No. 7 in the backfield have been erased. The redshirt sophomore has already surpassed his passing TD total from last season, and with 16 through 6 games, he's on pace to break the school's single season record of 27. That mark is currently shared by John Elway (1980) and Steve Stenstrom (1993). While Stanford's rushing production has been identical to last year's squad through 6 games--a testament to the Cardinal's dominant offensive line and the emergence of Stepfan Taylor--Luck is averaging nearly 70 yards more passing per game.
The Cougars are in for a fight this weekend as they take on the Stanford Cardinal at 2 p.m. on Fox College Sports.