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Washington State vs. Oregon State 2012: Cougar defense shows signs in loss

When Mike Leach arrived at Washington State, many expected the Cougars to have a high-scoring offense this season. On Saturday against Oregon State the offense struggled, scoring just six points, but the defense was surprisingly strong.

Over at CougCenter, SB Nation's WSU blog, Jeff Nusser praised the defense for the strong showing which proved to be true from both a visual and statistical standpoint.

4.51 - Yards per play allowed by the defense. It obviously felt like the defense was having a very good day, and this more or less confirms it. While yards per play isn't a tell-all stat, it's a nice rudimentary indicator of offensive and defensive effectiveness.

The loss was a big blow for the Cougars' bowl hopes, but as Nusser noted, it was another positive development for the defense.

It's exciting to see the defense build off of what was, at times, a very strong performance against Oregon the week before.

While the defensive performance was encouraging, the quarterback play was a major issue for the Cougars. Starter Connor Halliday threw three interceptions while backup Jeff Tuel came in to throw one of his own. Interceptions have been a problem for Halliday this season as Nusser noted.

I don't really have a whole lot of other insight to offer, other than to say that if you were of the opinion that Halliday's interceptions weren't that bad, they really are. And if you were of the opinion that it really was that bad, well, it is.

The Cougar defense will look to continue it's strong play when WSU hosts California on Saturday. Whether or not WSU quarterbacks can avoid costly interceptions remains to be seen.