Keep in mind, I did not see this game. My knowledge of what happened is based on text message updates and hearing a lot of the postgame show on my way home from L&C. But there are a few things I want to talk about:
- Who the hell even has a 5th string QB? Yet, for the second year in a row, we're already relegated to fifth string status. How do you plan for that. We are so far behind in quarterback development that its not even fair. Costa goes down a week before the season starts, and all the work that you put with him is down the drain. Then Roper gets hurt and you're left with no experience whatsoever. Whether Masoli, Thomas, or Harper, you're talking about guys who know just a fraction of the offense. That's not on the coaches. These guys aren't sniffing the field under any other situation. When looking at the QB performance of these guys, you have to keep in mind that they've hardly been here and have had no development at all. Its not a good situation.
- Many are wondering why we ran the ball eleventy jillion times in a row with Harper, instead of bringing Thomas in or, why did we try to redshirt Thomas instead of Harper in the first place? I don't blame Bellotti for that decision. Remember, Harper was supposed to be the fourth string quarterback. There was never the thought that he would have to be in with the game on the line. They didn't redshirt him because he was going to be used as a change of pace only (and he runs better than Thomas does). Nobody thought that every other quarterback would get hurt. The fact that he's less qualified to throw the ball than any given member of the softball team shouldn't have been relevant this year.
- As for why MB didn't put Thomas in sooner? I can tell you right now, those are difficult decisions to make. I often struggle with these types of questions. When do you pull your best players who aren't playing well? Do I put on the full court press even though it sucks in practice? The obviously aren't the exact decision that Bellotti was faced with, but every decision has significant drawbacks or potential benefits. If I take out the best player when he's struggling, maybe he loses confidence and continues to play poorly. Maybe his backup is worse. Of maybe the backup plays well and helps us win. If I put on the press, maybe we go from a 10 point deficit to being blown out. Or maybe we come back. And, those decisions are so hard to make, that sometimes you realize in hindsight that you make them too late. I can tell you right now that it was a difficult decision to put Thomas in, and Bellotti had to talk himself into doing it. He had to weigh the potential benefits of bringing Thomas into the game vs. the drawback of losing him for a year by losing his redshirt. That's a big decision to make. And I guarantee you he though about blowing Dennis Dixon's redshirt, and that Dixon would be a senior right now had that not happened. He didn't want to do this, but as Harper proved to be completely ineffective, he was left with little choice. Sure, had he pulled the trigger a bit earlier, maybe Thomas wins the game. But that is such a difficult decision to make
Now, with that said, there is no defending the defense. We lost because the defense was putrid. Even with no Walter Thurmond, there is no excuse for that performance. Learn how to defend a play aciton pass. That is my blame for the game.
Where do we go from here? Its hard to say that Thomas should be the starter--it was one good quarter. But he's clearly better than Harper at this point. Rght now, a healthy Roper is our best option, but Thomas is our QB of the future. Its also clear that we can't be a really good team until we can keep a QB healthy. The injuries are a fluke, and the laws of probability say that they have to stop soon, but they need to hurry up. But no matter who our QB is next week, WSU sucks, and we will win.