Thursday, February 16, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Washington State Cougars

It was a season of highs and lows in the PAC-12 in 2016. The Washington Huskies turned a major corner, making it to the national semifinal before getting smothered by Alabama. The Huskies were one of four teams that won 10 games or more. On the flip side, half of the teams in the conference finished under .500, including two major surprise teams in Oregon and UCLA. The conference's prize QB, Josh Rosen, was injured for most of the season, and under performed when he was available, and Jake Browning became the new star QB of the conference until being upstaged by Sam Darnold at USC. The biggest story was the emergence of the Colorado Buffaloes, who shocked everyone by winning the South. Here is our farewell to the 2016 season, team by team, in the PAC-12...

Washington State Cougars
8-5 (7-2)

2016 Schedule
Lost to Eastern Washington 45-42
Lost to Boise State 31-28
Beat Idaho 56-6
Beat Oregon 51-33
Beat Stanford 42-16
Beat UCLA 27-21
Beat Arizona State 37-32
Beat Oregon State 35-31
Beat Arizona 69-7
Beat California 56-21
Lost to Colorado 38-24
Lost to Washington 42-17
Lost to Minnesota 17-12 (Holiday Bowl)

MVP Offense: QB Luke Falk, WR Gabe Marks
The great news for the Cougars is that Falk stayed relatively healthy all season, even though he did get banged up from time to time. Falk managed to pass for 4468 yards and 38 scores, while tossing just 11 picks in 633 attempts. He averaged 343.7 yards per game, completed 70% of his passes, and landed a solid QBR of 145.6. He passed for 400 yards or more 3 times, and passed for 4 or more TDs 6 times.
Gabe Marks has consistently been one of the best receivers in the conference during his career. He was once again a driving force in the passing game, as he caught 89 passes for 894 yards. He also managed to score 13 times.
MVP Defense: DL Hercules Mata'afa
DE Mata'Afa was a beast up front for the Cougars, and was my MVP for defense on defense. He collected 49 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, and 5 sacks. He also registered 7 QB hurries rushing off of the edge. The Cougars, with his leadership, allowed a respectable 134 yards rushing per game.
Others of Note
Gerard Wicks averaged a TD for every 8 carries in 2016, as he scored 11 times on just 88 carries.
The Cougars, as a team, only averaged 120 yards rushing per game.
10 different receivers caught at least 20 passes in 2016, and River Cracraft caught 53 passes in just 10 games before being injured. He had 701 yards receiving in those 10 games.
LB Peyton Pelluer led the team with 91 tackles on the season. Nobody was within 20 tackles of his number.
Shalom Luani led the team with 4 INTs on the season.
Best Win: Stanford 42-16
This win proved that the Cougars were ready to stake a higher claim in the PAC-12 North, as the Cougars managed to push Oregon and the Cardinal to the side, and the Cougars stayed in the race until the Apple Cup loss to Washington.
Worst Loss: Eastern Washington 45-42, Minnesota 17-12
The loss to a very good EWU club was the second consecutive loss to an FCS program for the Cougars, as they had fallen to Portland State last season. This was a terrible start for a club that had the talent to win more than the 8 games they did win.
The loss to Minnesota was beyond explanation. Minnesota was prepared to boycott the game over off field issues, and was completely not focused, yet, somehow, Washington State still found a way to not show up on offense, something that defies logic. The Cougars were not prepared to play that game.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 Montana State, 9/9 Boise State, 9/23 Nevada
The only game that is concerning here is the home date with Boise State, as the Cougars blew a huge performance from Falk to lose to the Broncos on the road in 2016. This should be viewed in every way as a revenge match for the Cougars. The Cougars should easily win the other two contests.

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