Then the Beavers blew up.
Multidimensional NCAA receiving yardage leader, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, caught two touchdown passes from NCAA passing yardage leader Sean Mannion and ran for another in the 4th quarter. Running back Storm Woods added a 1-yard TD run and the game went from tight contest to blow out in the blink of an eye.
The Cougars ended up losing 52-24, and head coach Mike Leach was not happy with his quarterback Connor Halliday’s play, or his team’s play as a whole. Understandably so.
Halliday threw 3 interceptions in the 4th quarter, and backup Austin Apodaca added another en route to the miserable defeat in Pullman.
That’s enough to fire any coach up.
“I thought he gave in,” Leach said, speaking about Halliday, according to CSNNW.com’s Dwight Jaynes. “We had adversity – and it certainly wasn’t just Connor – I thought we came out storming in the third quarter. For two-thirds of the game we played about as well as we can play. And then the last third we faced adversity and waved the white flag.”
A year after going 3-9 overall and just 1-8 in the Pac 12, Washington State has made significant progress under Leach. Right now the Cougars sit at 4-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play, including victories at USC and at California.
It won’t get any easier, however, as Washington State travels to play the #2 Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium in Eugene this coming Saturday.
Perhaps Leach should temper his expectations a bit this time around. The team is certainly looking better, and fans have a reason to hope for the future. A win here, while highly unlikely, would no doubt be the signature triumph the Cougars are looking for.
Regardless of the outcome, it is the fact that Leach has raised the expectation level in Pullman that is making this season a success so far for Washington State.