It was impressive of ESPNU to realize that it was Family Weekend at Pullman as the Cougars hosted Stanford at Gesa Field.
And warning of the network to allow commentators Kevin Brown and Hutson Mason to describe the game live from their homes, avoiding the long trip to Washington.
After all, not only were they able to “change the diapers,” as Mason described as one of the main parts of his life, but they were also able to provide one of the best broadcast efforts of the season.
And it was Washington State’s third-best effort in a row, as the Cougars beat Stanford for the fifth consecutive time, this one 34-31 on Saturday.
What they saw
• Almost everything. From off-court issues that “swirl around the Cougar program,” as Brown described Nick Rolovich’s vaccination stance, to the targeting call against Jahad Woods that cost WSU their main tackle, the duo appeared to be well informed and more than willing to share their information.
While neither were perfect, Brown and Mason did a good job preparing the game – Mason pointed to Stanford tight end Benjamin Yurosek, who caught five passes for 99 yards, including one from 45 yards down the middle to start the scoring – and describing what turned out to be “a crazy win over Stanford,” as Brown called it.
More importantly, both were ready to criticize or praise the action without hesitation, which came into play after Washington State (4-3, 3-2 Pac-12) took a 27- lead. 16 in the second half. That’s when the momentum changed.
• Another Stanford game (3-4, 2-3), another questionable pass interference call against his game-changer. Two weeks ago it cost Oregon a win as Stanford got an extra play, scored the tying touchdown and won in overtime.
This time around, an even worse PI call cost Washington state eight points – and the control it had gained in the middle two quarters.
Facing a third and five, Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee, under pressure, threw a ball in the direction of Bryce Farrell. But the ball went way over Farrell’s head and out of bounds.
How far from the limits? The pass nearly hit a touchline photographer, who is held 10 feet from the touchline.
That didn’t deter Field Judge Jeffrey Yock, who threw his flag anyway.
“I’m surprised the flag was thrown over there,” said Mason, who obviously doesn’t watch Pac-12 football a lot, “because the ball has to be catchable. I don’t know if that ball was catchable.
His partner had an idea of how.
“Maybe it was catchable if Farrell had a stepladder,” Brown said before calling it “a pretty unstable PI call” and, later, a “ghost” call.
Instead of punting, Stanford completed a 74-yard run, converted the 2-point conversion and reduced the WSU lead to 27-24.
Before Washington State began its next ride, ESPNU showed the full pattern. Mason and Brown both commented on the lack of contact.
After the Cardinal erased the Cougars’ 11-point lead, Brown noted that “we still don’t know why” the call was made as it was shown again.
• When Laura’s Jayden attempted to hit Travell Harris in the end zone at the end of the game, four points behind, Mason was also willing to point out that there was more contact from Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly than of WSU’s Derrick Langford Jr. on the Key Passing Interference Call.
No matter. Two games later, Max Borghi scored the winner.
“What a game this has been,” Brown said. “My God.”
What we saw
• Even though the announcement team wasn’t at Pullman, that doesn’t mean they didn’t do their homework. Or speak with the coaches before the game.
When Woods was sent off for a first-quarter targeting penalty – not from the field but by replay – Brown mentioned that they spoke with David Shaw about the rule which received quite a bit of criticism nationwide. As it turns out, Shaw’s second job is as chairman of the Football Rules Committee.
Mason wondered what Shaw thought of targeting, sharing that the Stanford coach thought the NCAA was “in the right place” with the rule. But the analyst did not stop there. He added his thoughts, which didn’t match Shaw’s.
Mason felt that football should learn from its basketball brothers, who have two levels of gross faults. That way, a hit like the one delivered by Woods, which seemed less blatant than many targeting calls, wouldn’t result in ejection.
• No analyst last year and the change captured Laura’s abilities better than Mason, Georgia’s former quarterback.
He often spoke of Stanford’s need to “take (Laura’s) off the studs,” a vivid way of describing how important it was for the Cardinal not to let the elusive sophomore starter run.
They couldn’t make much of the game – he was only sacked once – and it allowed Laura to make several plays outside the pocket, leading to her three touchdowns and 289 yards. on 17 of 30 passes.
But even more relevant was a description that Mason exploded in the second trimester.
He called Laura the type of quarterback who, on a play, can tell you, “Wow, how did he do that? Followed by a play after which you might say, “Wow, why did he do that?” “
Or as it happened right after that nugget fell, the same coin.
Facing a fourth and a 1 on the Stanford 9-yard line, Laura stepped back to throw. He was almost shot by a cardinal, avoided him, walked away from another who forced Mason to wonder how, then rolled left.
De Laura had room to rush for an extended short run, but instead he threw himself back on his body, trying to hit CJ Moore in the end zone, a move that caused Mason to pull himself away. ask why immediately.
The Cardinal fumbled on the next play, WSU recovered and Laura connected with De’Shaun Stribling for a 10-yard touchdown.