Sept. 28, 2009
PULLMAN, Wash. -
Oregon Ducks (3-1, 1-0)
October 3 Autzen Stadium 6:15 p.m.
TV: Oregon Sports Network
Radio: Cougar Sports Radio Network
SATURDAY'S GAME: Washington State (1-3, 0-2) looks to get into the win column for conference play when it travels to Eugene to face No. 16 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The game marks the second-straight road contest against a ranked foe for WSU, which faced No. 12 USC last Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum. Saturday's contest will be televised to a regional audience over the Oregon Sports Network, with Joe Giansante, play-by-play, and analyst Anthony Newman calling the action.
WASHINGTON STATE vs. OREGON - THE SERIES: In the 86 games played against the Ducks since the first meeting in 1901, WSU trails Oregon 38-41-7 in the all-time series. The two teams are almost identical when playing in Eugene, with the Ducks holding a slight 17-16-4 advantage. Oregon captured a 53-7 win in the last Eugene meeting (Oct. 13, 2007), though covering the last four road games for WSU the Cougars are 2-2, winning 55-16 during the 2003 campaign and 24-13 in WSU's Rose Bowl season of 1997.
A SECOND TIME FOR A FIRST: True freshman Jeff Tuel has been given the starting nod at quarterback this week at Oregon, marking only the second time in school history WSU has started a true freshman signal caller. The first was Drew Bledsoe in 1990, who made his first career start at Oregon State in the seventh game of the season. Tuel made his Cougar debut last Saturday against USC, entering in the second quarter and finishing the game as he completed 14-of-22 passes for 130 yards. Tuel is only the second true freshman quarterback to attempt a pass for the Cougars since Bledsoe in 1990 (JT Levenseller was the other in 2008).
FRESHMEN CONNECTION: It didn't take long for true freshmen Jeff Tuel and Gino Simone to connect on the field. While Tuel grabbed much of the headlines, Simone had a huge game against the Trojans. The freshman from Sammamish, Wash., caught eight passes for 83 yards, all after Tuel entered the game midway through the second quarter. The eight receptions were the most by a Cougar since Brandon Gibson pulled down 10 catches for 103 yards against Oregon in 2008. Simone entered the game with four catches for 24 yards on the season.
NOTABLES FROM USC: Redshirt freshman cornerback Daniel Simmons recorded the first two tackles-for-loss of his career...sophomore linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis led WSU with a season-high 10 tackles...junior punter Reid Forrest connected for a 65-yard punt in the fourth quarter, eclipsing his career-best of 64 in the 2009 opener against Stanford...the Cougar defense held USC scoreless in the second and third quarters, making the first time since 2000 that WSU held the Trojans scoreless in back-to-back periods.
MONTGOMERY OUT FOR SEASON: Washington State University junior running back James Montgomery underwent surgery Sept. 20 for acute compartment syndrome in his left leg. The surgery was performed by Cougar team physician Dr. Ed Tingstad and will end Montgomery's season. Through the first three games of the season Montgomery led the Cougars in rushing, including his 118-yard effort against Hawaii. His 132.3 all-purpose yards per game ranked 46th in the nation and his 24.0 kickoff return average was tied for 51st.
PUNT FORREST, PUNT: Junior Reid Forrest continues to be a bright spot for the Cougars' special teams. So far this season he is averaging 45.3 yards per kick, with a career-best 65-yarder last week against USC. He has seven punts this season over 50 yards, including three over 60, including his career-high of 65 last week at USC. Forrest has moved into WSU's all-time list for both career punts and career punting yards. His 6,124 career punting yards rank ninth on the Cougars' all-time list as do his 147 career punts.
IMPROVEMENT IN RED ZONE: Through the first four games of the 2009 season, the Cougar defense has taken a hard stand in the red zone. WSU leads all Pac-10 schools in red zone defense, allowing just 58.8 percent of chances finding the scoreboard. Opponents have entered WSU's red zone 17 times, coming away with seven touchdowns (41.2 percent) and three field goals. The Cougars have created four turnovers inside their 20, the most by any conference school. Since the start of the 2001 season, no Cougar team has allowed less than 70 percent of successful red zone chances.
FIRST STARTS: Continuing a trend from last season, WSU has had a number of players make their starting debuts this season. Through the first four games of 2009, 14 Cougars have made their first career starts four on offense and 10 on defense. In 2008 26 players registered their first start for WSU, 17 on offense and nine on defense. First-time offensive starters include Gino Simone (WR), Zack Williams (OG), Jeffrey Solomon (WR) and Tyson Pencer (OT). Defensive first-time starters include Travis Long (DE), Bernard Wolfgramm (DT), Josh Luapo (DT), Jason Stripling (LB), Brandon Jones (CB), LeAndre Daniels (S), Alex Hoffman-Ellis (LB), Casey Hamlett (DE), Daniel Simmons (CB) and Dan Spitz (DE).
FEWER MISTAKES IN 2009: Through four games this season, WSU has been penalized 23 times for 163 yards, nine fewer penalties and 118 fewer yards than through four games in 2008.
LONG ROADTRIP AHEAD: Following WSU's home game against SMU, the Cougars have embarked on a part of their schedule that sees them play five of their next six games on the road. Following contests at USC and Oregon, WSU returns home to host Arizona State. After a bye the next week, the Cougars play their following three games on the road at Cal, Notre Dame (San Antonio) and Arizona. All added up, WSU will be away from Martin Stadium for 35 days.