WSU Cougars

WSU football heads into bye on winning note, but wondering about elusive complete game

Washington State linebacker Jeremiah Allison (8) looks to the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wyoming, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Pullman, Wash.
Washington State linebacker Jeremiah Allison (8) looks to the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wyoming, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Pullman, Wash. AP

Jeremiah Allison said it best Saturday while fielding questions about why it is that Washington State seems to have a problem putting complete games together this season.

"We just ease off the gas pedal sometimes," said Allison, a senior linebacker who made the game-clinching interception in the Cougars' 31-14 victory over Wyoming. "We can't do that. We don't have the room to ease off the gas pedal. We don't have room to relax."

In the wake of their defeat against Portland State, many Cougars said the energy in the second half had been lacking, almost as if complacency had set in.

Or as quarterback Luke Falk put it, "We thought we'd just go out and make plays because we had a good summer."

The Cougars either start hot in the beginning, or -- as was the case against Wyoming -- take a while to get fired up. And, in their three games, they haven't turned up the heat in unison in all phases.

Against Portland State, the offense and defense looked lethargic, particularly after halftime. That second-half lull also was apparent against Rutgers, when WSU needed some late-game heroics to escape with the victory.

The Cougars had their defense to thank for the victory against Wyoming. WSU shut out the Cowboys in the last three quarters after giving up 14 points in the first.

Through three games, the only thing consistent about Washington State's play has been its inconsistency and its knack for playing to the level of its opponent.

And as they head into their bye week before opening Pac-12 play at California on Oct. 3, the Cougars are left wondering what they need to do to play a complete game.

You get the sense that at the moment, it's a question the Cougars can't answer. They know what they have to do. They're just not sure how to put it all together.

"We really need to focus on playing a faceless opponent each week," said linebacker Peyton Pelluer, who had a career-high 14 tackles, including 3 1/2 for loss. "It shouldn't matter about them. We need to focus on what we can do and doing our jobs to the best of our abilities and putting together four quarters."

Added Falk: "We need to rise up together. We've had too (many times when) just one side of the ball is playing good and the other side wasn't. I think if we can just rise up and play together, we can be a deadly team, and I think that's going to be something to focus on this week."

Coach Mike Leach echoes his players' thoughts on the subject: The Cougars have to stop being tentative and just play together.

"There's a certain amount of indecisiveness that exists as far as a guy wanting the play to come to them, sorting out whether the other guy is gonna make the play or them," Leach said. "We have to have a little more reckless abandon with regard to our making the plays ourselves."

As Pelluer showed against Wyoming, they have the talent to produce results, and solid execution surfaces when it's fueled by desire.

"He's a very intense player," Leach said, "and he probably is an example that all of them can follow."

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