Three takeaways from Washington State's 28-18 win over Arizona State
Washington State (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) won its second straight game on Saturday with a 28-18 win over Arizona State (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12). The Cougars reached bowl eligibility for the second straight year and the seventh straight full season. On the other side, Arizona State is trending toward one of its worst seasons since 2000.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Washington State defensive front does it again
Brennan Jackson came screaming off the edge on a third-and-8 play for Arizona State to absolutely blow up ASU quarterback Trenton Bourguet and send the ball flying back toward the Sun Devils’ own goal line. Tight end Jaylin Conyers recovered the fumble just outside the endzone to prevent a safety, but the result was a 25-yard loss that brought up a punt.
That set the tone.
Bourguet was constantly pressured right up until he was forced out of the game midway through the second quarter. Washington State finished with four sacks and six tackles for loss. ASU had been red-hot offensively in recent weeks and Washington State completely ground the offense to a halt.
At halftime, Wazzu had a 28-0 lead. Arizona State had gained a total of 61 yards on six possessions.
As the Cougars have gotten back to winning football in recent weeks, it’s been a combination of things. Yes, they’ve played Arizona State and Stanford, so the competition has lightened up just a touch, but they’ve also been able to run the football effectively and set the tone defensively in the first half.
They’ve given up just one score in first halves over the last two games against Stanford and Arizona State. And the offense has been playing complementary ball.
Washington State has scored 70 first-half points in its last two games.
— Saturday Out West (@satoutwest) November 12, 2022
Bourguet took over for Emory Jones officially after the Sun Devils’ 15-14 loss to Stanford. Over the next two games, he threw the ball all over the yard, completed a high percentage of his passes, and led the offense to 78 combined points. The offense looked more effective with the redshirt junior at the controls.
After an interception to Washington State’s Chau Smith-Wade in the second quarter, Bourguet was done for the day.
PICKED OFF! @Chau__Smith with his 2nd INT of the season!
— Washington State Football (@WSUCougarFB) November 12, 2022
Bourguet was replaced by Jones from then on. He finished with just three completions for 26 yards and an interception on 10 attempts.
Given the fact the change came after an interception, there was speculation interim coach Shaun Aguano was making another change at the position to spark a sputtering offense. He said at halftime, though, that Bourguet was dealing with an unspecified injury and wouldn’t return.
Jones got the last possession of the first half. He then got six second-half drives. ASU’s first drive of the third went three-and-out and the next ended in a punt, but from then on Jones was able to find something of a groove. Aided by excellent field position, Jones led three touchdown drives on the Sun Devils’ final four possessions.
But he also ended a 15-play, 71-yard march by firing out of the back of the endzone on fourth-and-goal from the Wazzu 7. Jones had Elijhah Badger breaking open along the back of the endzone. He missed.
Does Aguano have another discussion on his hands with the quarterback spot as Arizona State moves into the final two games of the season? We’ll see.
Nakia Watson puts forth another strong showing
It’s no surprise that Washington State’s two-game winning streak has coincided with the return of Nakia Watson to the Cougar lineup. The redshirt junior was knocked out of the USC game and then missed Wazzu’s next two outings.
Washington State is not a run-first outfit, but if there’s an immutable rule in college football, it’s that you have to be able to effectively run the football regardless of what your scheme or approach dictates. With Watson’s return to the field, the Cougars have looked to run it.
Watson turned in his second consecutive 100-yard day against the Sun Devils. A week after going for 195 yards of total offense (166 rushing) and a touchdown against Stanford, Watson went for 158 yards (116 rushing) and three scores against Arizona State.
The Cougar offense has looked better when No. 25 has lined up in the backfield.
Hitting the next level. 📈
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 13, 2022