Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan

In its annual Seattle game, Washington State proved no match for a physical, mature and fundamentally sound Stanford squad — ending up on the wrong side of a 55-17 beat-down.

The Cougars (3-2, 1-1) are looking to post a turnaround season under head coach Mike Leach and have already earned big wins over USC and Idaho to make that a realistic possibility. Stanford (4-0), though, showed how far the Cougars still have to go on that journey.

Early on, WSU managed to stay competitive against the No. 5 ranked Cardinal team. Sure, Stanford amassed 311 yards of total offense in the first half, but the Cougars were able to get off the field defensively, forcing some punts. However, with the inability to run the football, Stanford began teeing off on the Cougars offense and the game got ugly in a hurry.

Starting quarterback Conner Halliday was knocked out of the game after a big hit from Cardinal outside linebacker Trent Murphy drove him into the turf. Sophomore running back Teondray Caldwell also left the game with a noticeable limp. Turnovers became the story and Stanford increased its lead from 17-3 at halftime to 55-10 late.

WSU has a chance to lick its wounds this week while preparing for a game against California (1-3, 0-1). Meanwhile, let’s assess the team’s performance position by position, Saturday.

Connor Halliday (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Connor Halliday (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Quarterback — As mentioned, Connor Halliday left early in this one, exiting in the third quarter with an injury to his left side. He finished 24-for-36 with 184 yards passing and an interception. His replacement, redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca went 15-for-29 passing for two touchdowns and a pick with this game already out of hand. Both played decent considering the opposition and having no ability to keep the defense honest with a running game.

Overall Grade: B

Offensive Line — On the positive side, the unit yielded just two sacks to a very good Stanford defense. On the negative side, they were unable to generate any push at all in the run game and, really left quarterbacks Halliday and Apodaca under constant duress all game long.

Overall Grade: D

Running backs — Caldwell, Marcus Mason and Jeremiah Laufasa finished with a combined total of 48 rushing yards.

Now, a lot of that was a result of just eight rushing opportunities, but at the end of the day they weren’t able to run the football to provide balance to the offense. All three were utilized in the passing game, with Mason pulling down seven catches for 28 yards to lead the way. This was important to Halliday and the offense early, but simply, overall production wasn’t good enough against a team like Stanford.

Overall Grade: C

Wide receivers, tight ends — Receiver Gabe Marks finished with six catches for 75 yards and a late touchdown, River Cracraft added four grabs for 52 yards and Ricky Galvin had four catches for 34 yards and touchdown. Ultimately, the group was overwhelmed by the Stanford secondary and the pressure on QBs Halliday and Apodaca didn’t allow much time for downfield throws.

Overall Grade: C

Defensive Line — On the one hand, the line wasn’t able to generate much pressure against Stanford QB Kevin Hogan who finished 16-for-25 passing for 286 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. But on the other hand, the unit was pretty stout at the point of attack early just as they have been all season thus far. Stanford ultimately finished with 238 rushing yards, though, getting 5.9 yards-per-rush. I honestly think the stats look worse than how the unit performed against a very formidable opponent.

Overall Grade: B-

Linebackers — Freshman Michael Taliulu finished with six tackles to lead the group while sophomore Darryl Monroe had five and sophomore Tana Pritchard had four. However, there were a number of missed tackles at the second level and Stanford really ran roughshod over them all game long. On top of that, the unit was poor in pass coverage over the middle as receivers like Devon Cajuste came up with big play after big play.

Overall Grade: D

Secondary — Senior safety Deone Bucannon continues to be a standout performer for this team. He was all over the field Saturday, finishing with a team-leading nine tackles and an interception. However, the cornerback group led by Damante Horton, Nolan Washington and Daquawn Brown mostly struggled all game to contain the Stanford receiving group which finished with 15 catches for 305 yards before calling off the dogs late.

Overall Grade: D

-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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