An Excerpt From Cougar Sports Weekly
From the newsletter this week, how not to pull a big upset:
Oregon just has so much speed on defense. When you get that close to the goal line and the field gets compressed … it’s so incredibly hard to make room to do things. That speed makes the windows microscopic, and it’s a huge reason why Oregon is seventh nationally in red zone touchdown percentage defense – the Ducks have given up just six TDs in 21 opponent red zone trips. Arizona, with its prolific offense, scored zero points on six red zone trips against Oregon last week.
This was something that was tough for me to see watching the game live from the other end of the stadium, but was very clear when I watched each play about three times yesterday morning: Oregon completely dominated those three plays. There’s just no other way to put it. And I think that’s really the story behind why WSU didn’t go for it there. Maybe the Cougs convert on fourth if they go for it, but Leach obviously thought the odds were low. Combined with how mentally fragile this team is – Leach’s words, not mine — Leach did what he felt he had to do.
It’s tough for me to say whether that’s the right call in the long run. Maybe WSU is able to build off the fact that it hung with Oregon for a half, and getting those three points was a part of that. And maybe the boost from being able to point to that first half score during preparation this week is legitimate. I’m not going to pretend that I know the answer to that.
But I know one thing: Kicking that field goal was absolutely the wrong call if WSU was going to pull off that upset on Saturday. Same thing with the later field goal on 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard-line. Sure, if WSU doesn’t get either of those scores, they’re down by at least 10 at half. But even if they only get one of them, it’s basically a wash. So, the only way you shouldn’t go for it on both of those is if you’re absolutely convinced the odds are good that you’re going to go 0-for-2.
The point? If you get them both, maybe you’ve got a real shot at an upset.