Washington State-Miami grades: Offensive line lifts Cougars to victory

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from Washington State’s win over Miami in the Sun Bowl.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Washington State-Miami grades: Offensive line lifts Cougars to victory


Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Washington State’s 20-14 win over Miami in the Sun Bowl.

Washington State Cougars

— Despite his solid stat line (29-52 for 295 yards and two touchdowns), QB Luke Falk (-5.9) had his lowest-graded game of the season. He had several passes that were dropped by Miami defenders, and struggled on intermediate passes. Falk finished just 3-14 for 73 yards on passes thrown between 10-19 yards, and earned a -5.5 grade on those plays. Top targets Gabe Marks (-1.6) and Dom Williams (-1.4) each dropped two passes, though Marks beat Miami safety Jaquan Johnson for a 25-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

— Washington State’s +67.4 team pass blocking grade is the best in the NCAA this season by nearly 30 points, and they were true to form in this game. Falk was pressured on just seven of his 56 drop-backs, and each of the Cougars offensive linemen earned positive pass blocking grades. LT Joe Dahl (+7.0) leads NCAA tackles with a +19.0 pass-blocking grade this season despite missing 4 games due to injury, and RT Cole Madison ranks second with a +16.9 pass-blocking grade. Dahl and RG Eduardo Middleton (+1.9) were both perfect in pass protection, and Dahl also finished with a game-best +3.8 run blocking grade. The Cougars ran the exact same play behind Dahl’s block on their final three run plays, gaining a total of 25 yards and two first downs to close out the win.

— The Cougs displayed a solid all-around defensive effort, especially against the pass. Nine defenders finished with green (better than +1.0) grades, led by LE Destiny Vaeao (+4.1). CB Charleston White (+2.8) and SS Taylor Taliulu (+1.3) were excellent in pass coverage; Kaaya was a combined 1-9 for 18 yards when targeting them.

Top Performers:

LT Joe Dahl (+7.0)
LG Gunner Eklund (+4.2)
LE Destiny Vaeao (+4.1)
CB Charleston White (+2.8)
OLB Frankie Luvu (+2.0)

Miami Hurricanes

— Miami’s pass rushers were no match for Washington State’s elite offensive line. Five players earned red grades for pass rushing, and the Hurricanes recorded just 10 pressures on 58 passing snaps. ED Al-Quadin Muhammad (-3.1) has been Miami’s best pass rusher this season, but finished with just three pressures on 48 pass rushes.

— The Hurricanes’ young offensive line (four sophomores, one junior) has been a major weakness this season, ranking 60th of 65 Power-5 teams in both pass blocking and run blocking. All five starters earned negative grades in this game, and each gave up a sack. LT Trevor Darling (-4.6) and LG Alex Gall (-4.4) both earned red grades for both pass blocking and run blocking, and Darling was also penalized twice.

— QB Brad Kaaya (+2.1) earned a green grade for the eighth time this season in spite of the poor pass protection in front of him, making Miami’s choice to have HB Joseph Yearby throw a deep pass on their last offensive drive of the game even more puzzling. Kaaya was solid in this game, but struggled against the blitz (3-7 for 52 yards, 2 sacks, -1.5 grade). Top target WR Rashawn Scott (-4.1) had a tough day, dropping three passes, one of which was intercepted in the end zone.

Top Performers:

SLB Tyriq McCord (+2.2)
QB Brad Kaaya (+2.1)
WR Stacy Coley (+1.8)
CB Tracy Howard (+1.8)
WR Braxton Berrios (+1.8)

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