Digging deeper into EWU's upset at WSU

Evan Closky breaks down the upset at Martin Stadium, Saturday night. The Eags beat a PAC-12 opponent for the second time in four years. The Cougs lose to a Big Sky foe for the second time in as many years.

Expectations are nothing more than educated assumptions, but the problem with expectations is that it is a product of the past.

"All you (the media and fans) and we have to remember is that we are not that team from last year," senior wide receiver Gabe Marks said.

That is not just true for Washington State, but Eastern Washington as well who boasted a 6-5 record just one year ago missing the playoffs.

"We knew we could do this the whole time. It's more other people for sure realizing that, 'oh, they can do this now,'" EWU sophomore quarterback, Gabe Gubrud, said.

So, now it is time for reevaluation and reflection. It is certainly hard not to look back at last year's game against Portland State and wonder, here we go again, but let's dig a little deeper.

How did Eastern Washington pull off the upset?

First off, the Eags dominated the third quarter. The Eags won those 15 minutes by a 14-0 score and Mike Leach's squad had three drives generating 24 yards on 13 plays with four penalties.

"The biggest issue was us...with a couple of (EWU's offensive players) you have to be real precise," WSU head coach Mike Leach said.

Junior offensive lineman Cole Madison added, "It was our fault we we're losing, our fault we we're behind the chains and our fault we weren't executing."

Another reason why the Cougs struggled was because the defense failed to create pressure and make tackles.

"There were times guys were on different pages that was detrimental to our defense and it cost us," WSU Jr. linebacker Peyton Pelluer said.

The fact is, WSU played fairly sloppy at points and the Eags were almost as crisp as could be for the first game of the season.

That electric play starts with the Gubrud who broke a school record with 551 total yards of offense adding six touchdowns.

"He just went out there and played like he was in a scrimmage and we decided to go live on him," EWU head coach Beau Baldwin said. "He didn't get worried about who it was against or how loud it was or how many fans (we're in the stands)."

Now, on top of Gubrud going off, even Leach said Cooper Kupp was the best player on the field. The All-American made an enormous impact exploiting the WSU defense for 206 yards with three scores...you think he's happy he returned for his senior season?

"It's a special year--it's going to be," Kupp said. "The last eight months in the offseason, it was completely worth it coming back and now being able to start the fun part knowing I made the best decision in my life--it's special getting that first win."

In the end, Eastern Washington was the better team Saturday night. I don't know if we could have said that about Portland State one year ago. Look I get it, Wazzu fans are angry and dejected, and should be, but let's remove the labels.

Let's remove the expectations that a FBS team should beat a FCS team.

Let's remove the notion that 2015's success is supposed to result in 2016's dominance.

Let's also not jump to the conclusion that all hope is lost. If it was not for a missed field goal against Stanford last year, the Cougs would have been in the driver's seat towards a PAC-12 championship game.

All it took was one game for the sliding scale of expectations to reverse for both squads. For Eastern, in the grand scheme of things, it is just one game.

"(The win) will be flushed out in 24 hours, we'll enjoy it and then move on," Kupp said.

As for the Cougs, just follow Luke Falk's advice.

"Don't panic. We've been in this situation before...but I think the type of guys we have in this locker room are going to learn from it be done with it (Sunday) and move on and focus on Boise State and that second game.



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