The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU offensive woes continue, something must change

There are a some ways they can make that change
Nakia+Watson+and+Kyle+Williams+celebrate+after+a+first-quarter+TD%2C+Oct.+21%2C+in+Eugene%2C+Oregon.++
BRANDON WILLMAN
Nakia Watson and Kyle Williams celebrate after a first-quarter TD, Oct. 21, in Eugene, Oregon.

It’s more than safe to say that the WSU football team has fallen off a cliff in terms of performance in the past three games. 

The Cougars started the season 4-0, including two ranked victories. One of those ranked wins came against a previously ranked Wisconsin and the other came against a current top 25 team in Oregon State. 

WSU was ranked as high as No. 13 in the Associated Press poll at the height of the win streak before the loss to UCLA. 

The Cougars have been a completely different football team since stepping off of the bus in Pasadena, and so the valid question lies, what happened?

Well, what if I told you that this hiccup was bound to happen? 

WSU is averaging 88 rushing yards a game through seven contests, ranking 125th nationally (very bad). 

The lack of production in the run game, and the pass-heavy play calling that went hand-in-hand, are both issues that WSU simply just got away with up until UCLA. 

The fact of the matter is that the lack of a running game was a ticking time bomb for WSU that UCLA ignited. This exposure came after Oregon State exposed the weakness in the second half of their game in Pullman, almost completing a comeback in which WSU’s offense sputtered tremendously. 

UCLA dialed up defensive sets that dared WSU to run the ball, putting the Cougars’ offense in a shamble. WSU could not respond on the offensive play-calling front and could never seem to move the ball. 

The Cougars finished with 216 yards of total offense against UCLA and 234 total yards against Arizona, losing the time of possession battle in both games as well. Oregon went better, with 438 yards through the air from Cam Ward and 161 receiving for Lincoln Victor, but the running backs only managed 27 yards on 11 attempts. 

WSU offense needs to adapt quickly, or the season could end up beyond saving. I’m sure this is something that the offensive coaches are already aware of but there has been little change since the second half of the Oregon State game. 

The offensive line needs to make drastic changes in the communication department. As a whole, there seems to be something off as far as assignments, both in the run game and when protecting Ward on pass plays passing. 

The play calling in the run game also needs to be catered to the offensive line to make it easier to scout out blocking assignments pre-play. 

This would entail running double-team-heavy run schemes like inside and outside zone, which are some of the run plays we have already used this season, and a staple in modern football. 

The premise of this run scheme is to offer variety in the holes to run through for the running back, and the Cougars primarily face three and four-down linemen at the line of scrimmage, so hammering this scheme could spring some great running lanes. 

If the coaching staff can get improved communication out of the line on these play calls, coupled with the running backs using patience and waiting for a running lane to open up, there could be major improvements offensively. 

Improvements in the run game will only add to the passing game, as play-action fakes will be easier to execute because the defense will need to respect the run game, potentially freeing up receivers. 

No matter what happens, WSU will need to improve in the play selection category, and the communication department, for proper offensive execution the rest of the season. The Cougs have what should be an easy stretch coming (knock on wood), but without a run game nothing is easy.

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About the Contributors
Zach is a junior multimedia journalism major from Clarkston, Washington. He likes football and grew up going to Cougar football games.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2023 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.