One thing was for sure for the Washington State Cougars during their spring game on Saturday afternoon: They have plenty of depth going forward into the regular season, and barring any significant injuries, look deep enough to compete in all phases of the game for the entire 60 minutes.
Past Wazzu teams have played extraordinarily against quality opponents for the first half of games. These hot starts lured fans into believing their Cougars could win against top powers of the Pac-12 conference. However, the team would struggle in the second half, perhaps because of fatigue or a lack of mental toughness.
Whatever the reason was for faltering in the second half, that won’t matter this season if the 2014 spring game was any indication.
The Crimson squad defeated Gray by a score of 23-19, and the game was called with under four minutes to play. Had it continued, Gray could have possibly staged a comeback, which would have been even more significant because Crimson was filled with veterans like quarterback Connor Halliday, defensive lineman Kalafitoni Pole and wide receiver Gabe Marks.
Young quarterbacks Luke Falk and Tyler Bruggman both played for the Gray team and judging from the score, they did a decent job dissecting the older defense they faced, and also going toe-to-toe with Halliday. Despite the lopsided rosters, both teams clashed with each other well, and that should be encouraging to head coach Mike Leach if and when he has to deal with injuries this season.
Halliday looked strong at times and mediocre at others, throwing three touchdown passes and two interceptions (though INTs that were thrown spoke volumes about the defense). Daquawn Brown picked off two passes in the game, which puts his name at the top of the list to lead the defensive secondary when the season begins.
Jeremiah Allison, Tracy Clark and Beau Glover of Crimson also picked off passes in the game, showing this Cougar defense has ability just waiting to be recognized.
Crimson led 23-7 at halftime, a lead that was highlighted by touchdown connections from Halliday to Vince Mayle and Drew Loftus. The touchdown to Mayle went for 33 yards, and the scoring reception for Loftus was 22 yards. However, Gray stormed back and made its case with future starters or potential replacements for this year’s starters.
It is still early in the year, but from what the Cougars showed on Saturday, they look ready to make another step up the ladder in the Pac-12. They might be led by their defense this season, but defense wins championships, and whatever the offense does in support will be an added bonus for what should be an improved WSU squad.