Speaking of that Cougar offense, I didn't see anything Saturday to persuade me that Gary Rogers should take the starting quarterback job away from Alex Brink.
Cougars fans were all up in arms last week when a dismal performance by Brink was coupled with what appeared to be a brilliant performance by Rogers in just one series. While I haven't always been the biggest fan of Brink -- I thought he got the job from Josh Swogger under false pretenses in the first place -- he showed me a lot last season, and that shouldn't be so quickly forgotten by the WSU faithful.
Let's remember that this is the first WSU quarterback in a long time to win two consecutive Apple Cups, and that the team scored 33.5 points per game under his leadership. He completed more than 57 percent of his passes, threw 24 touchdowns against only 13 interceptions, and was second in the Pac-10 in total offense (behind only former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart).
Say what you want about his seeming inability to complete a pass in a lot of crucial situations last season, and how you think that led to the Cougars' disappointing record. And, say what you want about him riding the coattails of Jerome Harrison. I'll say that 33.5 points ought to be enough to win most of your games, and that you ought to be a lot quicker to hang those losses on the defensive secondary, which was completely inept most of the season. Such is the life of a quarterback.
I'll be the first to agree that the situation against Auburn might have warranted sticking with the hot hand in a game that seemed to still be at least somewhat in reach; Brink clearly was rattled and off his game, and Rogers seemed poised as he showed off that rocket arm that Coug fans are so fascinated by.
But lets keep the big picture in mind: Brink has proven himself to be a pretty good quarterback, while Rogers hasn't proven much.
Oh, by the way -- Brink was 12 of 15 for 231 yards and three TDs against Idaho; Rogers was 6 of 9 for 62 yards and TD. And it could be a heck of a lot worse for Coug fans -- their quarterback could be Isaiah Stanback ...
Which leads me to my next thought.
Complete and total lack of alternative talent on the roster aside -- unless you count the freshman messiah -- I often wonder why UW coaches keep thinking (hoping?) Stanback can be a Pac-10 quarterback.
Then, I understand.
No matter how many fastballs he fires at receivers' feet or seven yards over their heads, a few times a game he makes a play that just leaves you shaking your head.
Such was the case late in the third quarter against Oklahoma. Down by 10 and facing 3rd-and-10 from deep in his own territory, Stanback spun out of a sure sack, put his left hand on the ground to steady himself, and continued scrambling to his left. With an oncoming defender in his face, he flicked the ball side-arm around the defender and hit a receiver standing at the first down marker for the conversion. He also nearly kept that same drive going with a tremendous 3rd-down scramble away from a blitzing cornerback, barely stepping out of bounds two yards before the marker.
Of course, that last play would never have happened if he hadn't missed a wide-open receiver 20 yards downfield on the previous play. Then, as if to confirm my observations as I wrote, he came up with the capper -- the play that has to make Tyrone Willingham wonder if the things he does well really outweigh all the mistakes he makes.
With a point-blank opportunity to get back into the game on 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line after the defense forced a turnover in the end zone, he coughs up the football on an option to give it right back to the Sooners. Instead of possibly closing to within three points at 20-17, Oklahoma would turn that turnover into an Adrian Peterson touchdown to make the margin 30-13 and effectively end the game heading into the fourth quarter.
The Washington athletic department might want to invest in padded rooms for its offensive coaches before the year is out.