Receiver from Skyline High has one of his best games in years
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Gino Simone reappeared in a significant way in the Washington State offense here Saturday. But there was far too little around him to lift the Cougars, who fell to Oregon State, 19-6.
Simone, the senior slot receiver from Skyline High, had three catches for 83 yards, including a 49-yard bomb over the middle from Connor Halliday.
“We’ve got to be better,” Simone said, referring to an offense that sputtered for only 227 yards against a grudging Oregon State front.
Simone’s day was his best in a long while. He entered with eight catches for 75 yards, and was playing little early in the season. But Mike Leach, in his first year as the WSU coach, has shown to rely heavily on practice performance, and Simone got considerably more snaps against OSU, making the best of them.
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Simone had 36 catches as a freshman, but then his receptions dropped to 13 two years ago and four in 2011 as he battled injuries. He said last winter he felt bulking to 198 pounds by 2011 slowed his progress and he would play more effectively at a better-conditioned 184 pounds, his listed weight Saturday.
Still, there wasn’t much solace against the Beavers, who helped create problems described by Halliday: “Whether it would be mis-ID’ing something up front, a bad check by me, a missed hole by the back, a dropped ball by the receiver — just go down the line. Like we’ve said the last couple of weeks, same-old, same-old.”
As OSU coach Mike Riley put it, “I thought our defense in general was very disruptive. When Washington State thought they had something, they really didn’t.”
The Cougars might take a cue from OSU’s successful recruiting ventures to the north of Oregon. The Beavers got several key contributions from state-of-Washington products, including three sacks from Foss High grad Scott Crichton, and an interception and 43-yard return by Highline High product Anthony Watkins.
Last week, former Meadowdale High tight end Connor Hamlett caught the winning touchdown pass for OSU at Arizona.
• Leach has made little attempt to hide his dissatisfaction with the play of the offensive line, a theme that reoccurred. “I thought Oregon State’s defense was more physical than our offense,” he said. “We had too many guys getting slung around. When that happened, rather than rely on our technique, it became a series of street ball. We spent most of the day playing street ball on offense.”
• More Leach: “Our freshmen are better than I expected. I didn’t expect to start quite this many of them.” Three start on offense.
• WSU didn’t score in the third quarter, and has only seven points in that period in six games. Meanwhile, OSU prevented a fourth consecutive opponent from scoring in the first quarter, during which it has only 158 yards.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org