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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Cougars Host Utah Saturday To Close Out Home Slate
Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 11/18/2013
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12:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23
Martin Stadium (31,700)
Pullman, Wash.

COUGARS HOST UTAH SATURDAY TO CLOSE OUT HOME SLATE: Washington State will close out its home slate hosting Utah Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.

NEXT WEEK: The Cougars wrap up the regular season with the Apple Cup played in Seattle next Friday, Nov. 29 at 12:30 p.m. on FOX.

MIKE LEACH RADIO SHOW: Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach holds a weekly radio show Thursdays on WSU’s flagship station 920 KXLY from 6-7 p.m. live from Zeppoz in Pullman.

BOB ROBERTSON, NATION’S LONGEST TENURED RADIO ANNOUNCER: Hall of fame announcer Bob Robertson is in his 47th season calling Cougar football games, and according to a nation-wide survey of sports information directors, is the longest tenured radio announcer in the country with the next closest being Bill Hillgrove who has announced 44 straight seasons at Pitt. Robertson began calling WSU games in 1964 and with the exception of a three-year period in 1969-71, has been calling Cougar games ever since. This season, Robertson will slide over from his familiar play-by-play role and pass the microphone to Bud Nameck. Robertson will host the Cougars pre, halftime and postgame shows, while also providing analysis during the games.

COLLEGE GAMEDAY RECORD: In addition to Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso, ESPN’s College GameDay has had another constant – the WSU flag, which this weekend will be making its 145th consecutive appearance on the weekly show, dating back to the beginning of the 2004 season. Two flags – Ol’ Crimson and Gray – have been flown in the background of the GameDay set by dozens of friends and alumni. The Gray flag was added this year after Whitey was retired in honor of Steve Gleason’s “No White Flags.” WSU recognized the GameDay flag wavers in a pregame ceremony prior to the Montana State game in 2010. In addition to the flags that fly, there is a traveling flag signed by the holders after each episode. The traveling flag is retired after each season, the first of which is hanging in WSU’s Alumni Center.

COUGARS TO HONOR 19 SENIORS PRIOR TO SATURDAY’S KICKOFF: Prior to Saturday’s kickoff, Washington State will recognize its 19 seniors who will be playing their final game in Martin Stadium. Players being introduced: Matthew Bock (DL), Elliott Bosch (OL), Mike Bowlin (P), Zach Brevick (OL), Leon Brooks (RB), Deone Bucannon (S), Jared Byers (LB), Anthony Carpenter (DB), Rico Forbes (OL), John Fullington (OL), Andrew Furney (K), Ioane Gauta (DT), Matt Goetz (OL), Damante Horton (CB), Casey Locker (S), Vince Mayle (WR), Eric Oertel (LB), Justin Sagote (LB) and Nolan Washington (CB).

UTAH-WSU SERIES HISTORY: WSU enters Saturday’s game against Utah trailing the all-time series 7-5 after the Utes after posted wins in the last two meetings, both coming the last two seasons, 30-27 (OT) in Pullman in 2011 and 49-6 in Salt Lake City last season. WSU’s last win came in 2000, 38-21 in Salt Lake City behind four TD passes from Jason Gesser. The last win over the Utes in Pullman came in 1984, 42-40 behind two TD passes from Mark Rypien, two rushing TDs and 158 yards from Kerry Porter and one rushing TD from Rueben Mayes. The Cougars and Utes also matched up in the 1992 Copper Bowl, a 31-28 victory for WSU after Drew Bledsoe fired two touchdown passes and Aaron Price kicked the game-winner late in the fourth quarter.

COUGARS REACHING WINS MARKS: With the win at Arizona last Saturday, the Cougars reached the five-win mark for the first time since 2007, recorded three conference wins for the first time since 2007 and posted three conference road wins in a season for the first time since 2006. WSU is looking to notch its first six-win campaign since 2006.

BUCANNON A JIM THORPE AWARD SEMIFINALIST: Safety Deone Bucannon was recently named a Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalist, given to the top defensive back in college football, becoming the first Cougar to be named a semifinalist since Jason David in 2003. Bucannon enters the week leading the Pac-12 Conference and No. 25 in the country with 96 tackles and needs four tackles to become the first Cougar to post back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since Billy Newman (1999-2000). Bucannon is also tied for second in the conference with five interceptions and owns team-highs of three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was named a Midseason All-American by and to the Midseason All-America second team by

BUCANNON AMONG NCAA ACTIVE CAREER TACKLE, INT LEADERS: Senior Deone Bucannon has seen his name continue to climb up both the NCAA and the WSU record books this season. He enters the week fourth in WSU history for career tackles (366) and third in career solo tackles (254). Bucannon picked off a pass in four straight weeks earlier this season and added another against Arizona State to now sit tied for third in school history with 14 career interceptions. He enters Saturday as the NCAA’s active career leader in solo tackles, tied for the lead in interceptions and fifth in total tackles. The Fairfield, Calif. native has posted four double-digit tackle games this season and owns 16 in his career. This season, he also plays on the kickoff and punt coverage teams.

HALLIDAY AT IT AGAIN:  Quarterback Connor Halliday has continued to put his name throughout the WSU record book after tallying seven 300-yard games and three four-touchdown games this season. The Spokane native has passed for 344 yards at Auburn, 383 yards and five touchdowns against Southern Utah, followed by 346-yards and four touchdowns against Idaho. He erupted for 521 yards and added three touchdown throws in the win at Cal and then blew blast those marks with WSU and Pac-12 records of 557 yards, 58 completions and 89 attempts at Oregon. He owns 12 career 300-yard performances, tying for the most in school history with Ryan Leaf and Alex Brink. Halliday also owns four 400-yard games, two 500-yard games and seven career four-touchdown performances. He notched his first career five-touchdown game against UCLA last season and following the SUU game, joined Alex Brink as the only Cougar QB’s with multiple five-TD games. Halliday owns 46 career touchdown passes, tying him with Drew Bledose for fifth all time WSU history. He surpassed the 3,000 yard mark against Arizona State, the first 3,000-yard season since Alex Brink did so in 2007.

HALLIDAY’S RECORDING SETTING NIGHT AT OREGON: Connor Halliday went 58-of-89 for 557 yards and four touchdowns at No. 2 Oregon, setting Pac-12 and WSU single-game records for pass completions, attempts, passing yards and total offense. His 58 completions tied an NCAA Division I record with Andy Schmitt of Eastern Michigan in 2008 and were the second-most completions in NCAA history. The 89 pass attempts were the second-most in NCAA history and were a Division I record, surpassing the previous mark of 83 thrown by Drew Brees in 1998.

INSIDE HALLIDAY’S 500-YARD DAY AT CAL: Connor Halliday’s 521-passing yard performance in the win at California was, at the time, the most yards thrown for in a game by any FBS quarterback in the country this season. The mark was the fifth-highest total in Pac-12 history and the most since WSU’s Alex Brink threw for a school-record 531 yards at Oregon State in 2005. Halliday finished the day 41-of-67, the second-most completions in school history and the most pass attempts in WSU history. The 44 points are the most points scored by WSU in a conference game since beating Oregon 55-10 in Eugene in 2003. The Cougars claimed their first win over Cal since 2002 (in Berkeley).

FURNEY DOING HIS THING: Kicker Andrew Furney picked up where he left off from last season, hitting from 44 yards at Auburn, kicking the game-winner from 41 yards out with 3:03 remaining at USC and connecting on three attempts at Cal. His career total sits at 42, good for fourth place for the most makes in program history. He enters the week second in WSU history for career field goal percentage at .763 (42-55), trailing Drew Dunning’s top mark of .773 (68-88).

COUGAR OFFENSE TAKING OFF: The Washington State passing offense enters the week ranked seventh in the country at 360.4 ypg with quarterback Connor Halliday averaging the fourth-highest average in passing yards per game at 341.7 and owning the fourth-most passing yards in the country (3,417). The offense is on pace to set school records for pass attempts (624 set last season), completions (323 set last season) and passing yards (4,120 set in 1997). Halliday owns two of the top three single-game passing marks in the FBS this season including the top (557). The Cougars have rushed for 10 touchdowns, already more than last season’s total of six. WSU has had 10 receivers catch a pass in each of the last eight games and had 10+ players catch a pass nine times this season.

OFFENSE CLOSING IN ON WSU, PAC-12 PASSING RECORDS: The Cougar offense is closing in on a number of Pac-12 and WSU single-season records. WSU records for completions (363 set last season), pass attempts (624 set last season) and passing yards (4,120 set in 1997) are all expected to fall this season. With two games remaining, the Cougars have completed 362 passes on 577 attempts for 3,604 yards. Connor Halliday has already set the school’s single-season record for completions (341) and attempts (535) and is 551 yards away from breaking Ryan Leaf’s top mark of 3,968 yards set in 1997. The Pac-12 record for completions (398, set by Arizona in 2011), attempts (624 by WSU last season) and passing yards (4,501 by Washington in 2002) are all within reach.

OFFENSIVE LINE TAKING STRIDES: Washington State showcased its improved running game in the season opener at Auburn, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns, its highest rushing total since posting 125 rushing yards at Oregon in 2011. Sophomore Teondray Caldwell led the way with seven carries for 57 yards, junior Marcus Mason added 47 yards on six carries and redshirt-sophomore Jeremiah Laufasa rushed for two scores. Laufasa picked up his team-leading seventh rushing touchdown against Arizona State and Mason rushed for another in the win at Arizona, giving the Cougars 10 rushing scores for the season after posting six rushing scores last season. Against Southern Utah, the line hit another mark, not allowing a sack for the first time since against Utah in 2011. WSU enters the game against Utah with the best pass attempts-to-sack ratio in the Pac-12 Conference at 26.2 (577/22), going the longest between allowing sacks. Oregon State owns the second-best ratio at 24.0 (495/20).

GABE MARKS BREAKING OUT, ADDED TO BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Sophomore Gabe Marks was added to The Biletnikoff Award Watch List in early October. Marks enters the week fifth in the Pac-12 with 63 receptions, 721 receiving yards and six five touchdown catches. His 63 catches are tied for seventh-most in WSU single-season history. The Los Angeles native has led the Cougars in catches in six of the 10 contests and posted his best game of his young career, catching a WSU single-game record 13 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown at Oregon. Earlier this season he had 11 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns against Idaho. Last season,

BOSCH NAMED BURLSWORTH TROPHY NOMINEE: Redshirt-senior center Elliott Bosch was named a Burlsworth Trophy nominee, the Springdale Rotary Club announced recently. Bosch is one of 53 football student-athletes selected as nominees for the award, given to the most outstanding collegiate football player who began his career as a walk-on. Bosch walked on at WSU in 2009 and took over at center as redshirt-junior last season, starting all 12 games and playing every offensive snap. The Spokane, Wash. native has started all 10 games this season, leading an offensive line that has blocked for the country’s seventh-best passing offense and posted 10 rushing touchdowns, already surpassing last year’s total of six. Bosch was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick last season and earned Midseason All-Pac-12 second team honors by Phil Steele Magazine this season.

FULLINGTON KEEPS STARTING STREAK ALIVE: Senior offensive lineman and right tackle John Fullington has started in 40 straight games dating back to his freshman season in 2010 when he started the final six games. The Belfair, Wash. native has started at every position for the Cougars, except center, left tackle (7), left guard (22), right guard (5) and right tackle (6).

WSU DEFENSE SETTING THE TONE: The Cougars defense has posted some impressive numbers this season, holding Auburn to 99 yards passing and 4-of-13 on third down, limiting No. 25 USC to 54 yards passing, 193 yards in total offense and All-American wideout Marqise Lee to 51 all-purpose yards. The defense did not stop once returning to Martin Stadium, holding Southern Utah to 219 yards in total offense and Idaho to 253, the first time WSU held three straight opponents under 260 yards in total offense since the last two games of the 1994 season and the 1995 season opener. WSU enters the week third in red zone defense, tied for fourth in third-down defense and fourth in the Pac-12 with 22 turnovers forced, including 12 interceptions.

COUGARS POST FIRST SHUTOUT SINCE 2003: Washington State’s 42-0 win over Idaho in week four  gave the Cougars their first shutout since 2003 (Idaho, 25-0 in Seattle) and the first home shutout since 1999 (Louisiana-Lafayette, 44-0). The defense tallied 14 tackles-for-loss, the most since making 14 against Arizona State in 2007, and a season-high five sacks, the most since recording six against Colorado last season.

LINEBACKERS: The Cougar’s 3-4 defense has seen its linebackers fill up the stat sheet this season. Linebackers Darryl Monroe (65), Justin Sagote (65) and Cyrus Coen (53) make up three of the Cougars top five tacklers. All three have registered a double digit tackle performance this season with Sagote making 10 stops at USC and a career-high 13 at Arizona, Coen tallying 10 against Southern Utah and Monroe setting a career high with 12 tackles against Idaho. WSU’s linebackers have combined for 20.0 tackles for loss including eight sacks.

YOUTH MOVEMENT CONTINUES: The Cougars have continued their youth movement this season after seeing 17 freshmen, including nine true freshmen, make their debuts last season. Overall, WSU had 20 players make their first career start last season including five freshmen. This season has seen 10 freshman play including five true freshman. In the season-opener at Auburn, WSU started true freshman wideout River Cracraft and also saw freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown make their debuts. A week later, Brown made his first collegiate start at No. 25 USC and made a game-high 11 tackles and two pass break-ups and now owns 50 tackles (sixth-most on WSU), two interceptions and made a team-high five pass breakups. Cracraft enters the week with 31 receptions, two touchdowns and averaging 12.8 yards-per-catch. The Cougars have started eight sophomores in each game this season, four on each side of the ball and have seen 17 sophomores contribute in 2013.

SPECIAL TEAMS AMONG PAC-12 LEADERS: The Cougars kickoff and punt return teams saw improvement last season and both have continued the trend in 2013. Last season, Teondray Caldwell earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a kick returner after finishing third in the conference with a 25.0 kick return average. This season, Rickey Galvin owns a 22.3 kickoff return average, fifth-best in the Pac-12. For the punt return team, last year it nearly doubled the 2011 return average and improved its national ranking by 30 spots with a 6.8 return average. So far this season, the punt return team ranks fourth in the Pac-12 at 10.2 ypr, all by Leon Brooks who already owns returns for 22 yards (Southern Utah), a career-best 51-yarder against Idaho and a 26-yarder against Oregon State. The special teams unit picked up another tally this season, blocking its first punt (Theron West vs. Oregon State) since 2007.

COUGARS KNOCK OFF NO. 25 USC: Washington State’s 10-7 win at No. 25 USC week two was its first victory over the Trojans since 2002 and first win over USC in Los Angeles since 2000. The victory was also the first win over a ranked team since beating No. 16 Oregon 34-23 in Pullman in 2006 and the first win over a ranked opponent on the road since beating No. 10 Oregon 55-13 in 2003.

HORTON MAKES THE HOUSE CALL(S): Senior cornerback Damante Horton returned an interception for a touchdown two straight weeks earlier this season, doing so against USC and against Southern Utah. The Oakland, Calif. native owns three career interception returns for touchdowns, tying Jason David for the most in WSU history. Horton was named the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week following his two-interception performance in the win at No. 25 USC. Horton led a spirited defensive effort by the Cougars in their 10-7 upset win in Los Angeles. Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, Horton picked off a Cody Kessler pass and raced 70 yards for the touchdown. It marked Horton’s second career interception return for a touchdown, the first coming at Oregon in 2011. Horton then sealed the victory by stepping in front of a Max Wittek pass with less than three minutes remaining in the game, ending the USC comeback attempt. Horton was also named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week, National Defensive Player of the Week by Athlon Sports and National Defensive Back of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. Horton added his eighth career interception against Oregon State and has picked off four passes this season.

COUGARS OPEN 2014 HOSTING RUTGERS IN SEATTLE: WSU’s 2014 season-opener against Rutgers University has been moved up to Thursday, August 28. The game will be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The game was previously scheduled for Friday, August 29. Rutgers begins play in the Big Ten Conference next season. The Cougars will make the return the trip to face the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J. Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.  

JACK THOMPSON ELECTED TO POLYNESIAN HALL OF FAME: WSU Athletic Hall of Famer Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan “ Thompson was one of seven inductees named to the inaugural Polynesian Football Hall of Fame class, it was announced October 9. Thompson was one of the most prolific passers in Pacific-8 Conference and NCAA history following three record-breaking seasons, 1976-77-78. Thompson was a Sporting News first-team All-America pick in 1978 and won all-league first-team honors as a sophomore and senior. Twice Thompson finished high in the Heisman Trophy balloting. The third athlete drafted in 1978, he spent three seasons with Cincinnati, then his final two NFL years with Tampa Bay. Thompson was born in American Samoa and prepped at Evergreen High in Seattle before arriving at WSU in 1974. He is only the second Cougar football Athlete to have his jersey number (14) retired. The other is Mel Hein (7). Inductees will be honored January 23, 2014 (prior to the NFL Pro Bowl) at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s Inaugural Enshrinement Ceremony held in Honolulu.

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