Dickert-era on display

Wisconsin win brings elevated expectations to Cougar football, Dickert-era



WSU head coach Jake Dickert speaks to his players after the 2022 Spring Game, April 23, at Martin Stadium.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen managing editor

After yelling over 80,000 people, Jake Dickert could barely speak. Thankfully, he had wonderful things to talk about when the clock hit zero.

With 3.5 million people watching, first-year head coach Dickert and the WSU football team walked into Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin and defeated the then-ranked No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers 17-14.

Dickert, a Wisconsin native, secured a win that will be edged into program history. He gave his raw reaction to the win in his postgame interview with Fox’s Allison Williams. The second he finished speaking, his family embraced him in a sea of Dickert joy.

After an alarming performance at home vs. Idaho, WSU fans were nervous. Most expected a blowout loss for the Cougs. The Daily Evergreen’s own Trevor Junt predicted a 34-27 Wisconsin victory.

But, with nearly every Coug expecting a beatdown at the hands (or paws and claws) of the Badgers, WSU ensured that quite the opposite occurred as they held the Badgers to just two touchdowns despite them holding the ball for over 38 minutes.

“We’re a gritty football team.” Dickert said. “On Tuesday after practice, I really challenged our mental toughness.”

On Saturday, the team responded. The mistakes the offense made against Idaho were taken into account in the team’s preparation. Although the offense struggled to maintain long possessions of the ball, the Cougs scored three times and put together a five-minute drive to drain the clock at the end of the game to clinch the win.

“I just give all the credit to the team because since January they trusted the process,” Dickert said.“They knew that this could happen and I’m just so proud of these guys.”

His philosophy figures to help the Cougs not get complacent against a perceived lesser opponent in Colorado State and over the long season. His standard as head coach is the key to the Cougs’ success.

“I don’t believe in trap games,” Dickert said. “I believe in preparing the right way to go out there and do what you need to do to be 1-0 every week. Period.”

The infamous Lincoln Victor play clearly exemplified Dickert’s ‘New Wazzu’ philosophy at work.

A Badger defender picked off Ward’s pass. Victor sprinted back into bounds past a whole pack of Badgers and hit the defender forcing a fumble and setting up the recovery by the WSU offense.

“[I] put every ounce of my body into that hit,” Victor said. “I don’t really get many shots to tackle like that being on the offensive side but that’s just a testament to being a ball player my whole life.”

Dickert’s success will ultimately be measured by how he mentors all players, including his quarterback, Cam Ward.

Although Dickert gets a lot of credit for his leadership of the defense having previously been the defensive coordinator for Wyoming and for WSU, he played wide receiver in college and knows his way around an offense.

Every year, Cougar fans hype up the quarterback. Every college football fan has some degree of belief in their QB at the beginning of the season but the success Ward had at Incarnate Word in which he passed for 4,648 yards, 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions carries great weight.

Ward has the talent, but the intangibles will be the difference maker.

“I saw great growth in leadership, I saw great growth in body language,” Dickert said. “He didn’t make all the sexy plays either but there were times where he got us out of negative plays.”

Dickert hopes that Cougar football fans will show up for the team.

“I hope Cougs everywhere were proud after that game,” Dickert said. “To show that, come support these guys, fill Gesa Field, and let’s continue to have some fun and keep building this program the way we all want it to be.”