Season Report Card: Washington State Cougars
After all, they had only lost on a late touchdown at Auburn (the eventual national runner-up) the week prior to their victory over the Trojans. But after struggling defensively once they reached the meat of Pac-12 conference play, Mike Leach's squad was only able to muster a 6-6 season.
Of course, a winning season would have been possible at 7-6 had the Cougars not blown a 15-point lead with three minutes to go in their bowl game against Colorado State.
Still, in what was a difficult Pac-12, Washington State managed to make it to a bowl game. So you can't rule the entire season as a failure.
Let's grade the Cougars on their 2013 campaign:
As you would expect from a Leach-led offense, the Cougars threw the ball more times than any other team in the country, and had a non-existent running game. The stats speak for themselves. Washington State attempted 756 passes on the season en route to compiling the fourth-best total passing yardage ranking in college football. Meanwhile, they had the worst running game, averaging only 53 yards per game on the ground.
In terms of total defense, Washington State was, well, bad. It finished at 103rd in the land in that particular category, but considering the well above-average offenses that it faced during Pac-12 play, those numbers really shouldn't shock anyone. The Cougars struggled mightily in defending the pass, so obviously that's an area that Leach and company will be looking to improve on heading into the 2014 season.
Mike Leach is Mike Leach. I mean, Washington State fans know what they're getting with this guy. He's going to focus on passing the ball every single time on offense, and defense will probably always take a backseat to offense. The Cougars beat the teams they were supposed to beat (and a few they weren't in USC and Arizona), and ultimately lost to teams that were simply better. There's no harm in that.
Honestly, it's hard to proclaim it a bad season if you make it to a bowl. Expectations weren't particularly high for this team heading into the season, and winning four conference really wasn't half-bad. This program still has a long way to go before it contends for a Pac-12 title, but Leach should at least continue to give them a chance at a bowl year in and year out.
What are your thoughts on Washington State football under Mike Leach? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow FanIQ College Football or myself on Twitter!