THE SEATTLE GAME
No. 5 STANFORD vs. WASHINGTON STATE
7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28
CenturyLink Field (67,000)
COUGARS FACE NO. 5 STANFORD IN THE SEATTLE GAME: Washington State heads to Seattle to matchup against No. 5 Stanford University Saturday in the annual Seattle Game held at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The Cougars have won three straight for the first time since 2006 and are looking for their first 4-1 start since 2003.
NEXT WEEK: Washington State hits the road for a Pac-12 Conference contest next Saturday against the California Golden Bears. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.
MIKE LEACH RADIO SHOW: Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach holds a weekly radio show on WSU’s flagship station 920 KXLY on Thursdays 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 137th 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.
COACH TO CURE MD: During this weekend’s games, thousands of American Football Coaches Associate members, including head coach Mike Leach, will be wearing ‘Coach To Cure MD’ shoulder patches on the sidelines to help raise awareness and money to fund research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most prolific lethal genetic disorder of childhood. More information can be found at www.CoachToCureMD.org.
YOUTH MOVEMENT CONTINUES: The Cougars have continued their youth movement this season after seeing 17 freshmen, including nine true freshmen, appeared in a game in 2012. Overall, Washington State had 20 players make their first career start last season including five freshmen who earned starts. In this season’s opener at Auburn, WSU started true freshman wideout River Cracraft (3-catches for 14 yards) and later saw freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown tally four tackles, including one for loss against the Tigers. A week later, Brown made his first collegiate start at No. 25 USC and answered the call by tallying a game-high 11 tackles and two pass break-ups while helping hold the Trojans’ Marqise Lee to 27 receiving yards. Brown added another highlight during week three, making his first career interception, with a one-handed snag in front of the Cougar sideline against Southern Utah. Cracraft also posted his best game of the season against SUU, catching six passes for 87 yards. The Cougars have started eight sophomores in each of the first four games, four on each side of the ball. Through four games, four true freshman and five redshirt-freshmen have made their collegiate debuts.
STANFORD-WSU SERIES: The Cougars enter Saturday’s contest against Stanford trailing the all-time series 37-25-1 with the Cardinal owning wins in the last five meetings. WSU’s last win in the series came in 2007, 33-17 in Pullman.
THE SEATTLE GAME: Once known at the Cougar Gridiron Classic, The Seattle Game, presented by Washington’s Beef Producers, features the Cougars facing a conference opponent for just the third time when they host Stanford Saturday. WSU will be making its 11th appearance at the home field of the Seattle Seahawks, a series that started in 2002 with WSU hosting Nevada in the first football game played in the new stadium. WSU beat the Wolf Pack and have also defeated Idaho (2003), Grambling (2005), Baylor (2006) and San Diego State (2007) in Seattle. Since 2002 the Cougars are 5-5 when playing at CenturyLink Field (formerly Qwest Field). In the 2011 Seattle Game, Oregon State posted a 44-21 victory over the Cougars in front of 49,219 fans before Oregon recorded a 51-26 win in front of 60,929 fans last season.
GABE MARKS ADDED TO BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Sophomore wide receiver Gabe Marks was one of six receivers added to The Biletnikoff Award Watch List Tuesday. Marks enters Saturday second in the Pac-12 Conference with 31 receptions, fourth with 348 receiving yards and tied for the team lead with three touchdown catches. The Los Angeles native has led the Cougars in catches in three of the four contests and is coming off of the best game of his young career, recording career highs of 11 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Idaho last Saturday. As a freshman last season, Marks was second on the team in receiving yards (560) and third in catches (49) to go along with two touchdowns. The award recipient is selected by the Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee, a group of over 215 prominent college football journalists, commentators, and former receivers. The fan vote counts as one additional vote. Fans may vote daily on FanVote at http://www.biletnikoffaward.com/fan-vote?DB_OEM_ID=30400.
BUCANNON CLIMBING WSU RECORD BOOK: Senior Deone Bucannon has seen his name continue to climb throughout the WSU record book in the first four games. Following his team-leading 14 tackles (12 solo) at Auburn, his eight tackle performances in the wins at USC and over Southern Utah and five-tackle game against Idaho, the Fairfield, Calif. native enters the week tied for ninth in WSU history for career tackles (305) and fifth in career solo tackles (209). Bucannon has picked off a pass in each of the last two weeks and sits tied for eighth in school history with 11 career interceptions. He also owns 13 career double-digit tackle performances.
FURNEY DOING HIS THING: Kicker Andrew Furney has 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 adding makes from 46 and 30 yards against Southern Utah. Furney has pushed his career total to 35, moving him past Rian Lindell and into sole possession of fourth place for the most makes in program history. He enters the week as WSU’s career leader in field goal percentage at .777 (35-45), percentage points ahead of Drew Dunning’s mark of .773 (68-88). Furney earned All-Pac-12 second team honors after going 14-for-20 on field goal attempts, tied for second in the conference. The Burlington, Wash. native was a perfect 7-for-7 on attempts inside 30 yards and 6-of-10 on kicks outside of 40 yards including a conference-best 60-yarder against Eastern Washington. Furney capped his season by going 3-for-3 in the Apple Cup victory, kicking a game-tying 45-yarder with 1:59 remaining and later hitting the game-winner from 27-yards in overtime.
HALLIDAY AT IT AGAIN: Quarterback Connor Halliday has continued to put his name throughout the WSU record book after tallying three 300-yard games and two four-touchdown games through the first four weeks. The Spokane native opened 2013 by going 35-of-65 for 344 yards at Auburn, the second-most pass attempts in WSU single-game history trailing only Drew Bledsoe’s 66 against Montana in 1992. Against Southern Utah, Halliday threw for 383 yards and five touchdowns and followed with a 346-yard four touchdown performance against Idaho. He owns eight career 300-yard performances, second-most in school history, trailing the school record of 12 shared by Alex Brink and Ryan Leaf. Last season, Halliday passed for 378 yards and four touchdowns at UNLV and 401 yards and four touchdown passes against Colorado on consecutive weeks. It was the first time a WSU quarterback posted back-to-back four-touchdown games since 2007 when Alex Brink threw for five scores against San Diego State and four against Idaho. Halliday also owns two 400-yard games and six career four-touchdown performances. He notched his first career five-touchdown game against UCLA last season and following the SUU game, joins Alex Brink as the only Cougar QB’s with multiple five-TD games. Halliday owns 34 career touchdown passes, good for seventh all time WSU history.
WSU DEFENSE SETTING THE TONE: The Cougars defense has posted some impressive numbers in the first four weeks, holding Auburn to 99 yards passing and 4-of-13 on third down before 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 Cougar 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 limiting Washington to 197, Baylor to 151 in the Alamo Bowl to close the 1994 season and starting the 1995 campaign allowing 244 yards to Pittsburgh. WSU enters the week second in the country in pass defense (118.3 ypg), No. 10 in total defense (264.8 ypg) and No. 13 in scoring (12.0 ppg), No. 13 in third down defense (26.7) and No. 15 in red zone defense (66.7).
COUGARS POST FIRST SHUTOUT SINCE 2003: Washington State’s 42-0 win over Idaho Saturday 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 through the first four weeks. Linebackers Darryl Monroe (31 tackles), Justin Sagote (30 tackles) and Cyrus Coen (27 tackles) currently rank fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, among the Pac-12’s tackle leaders. Each player has registered a double digit tackle performance this season with Sagote making 10 stops at USC, Coen tallying 10 against Southern Utah and Monroe setting a career high with 12 tackles against Idaho. WSU’s linebackers have combined for 14.5 tackles for loss including four sacks.
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. Against Southern Utah, the o-line hit another mark, not allowing a sack for the first time since against Utah in 2011. This past Saturday, Laufasa rushed for two more touchdowns and owns four rushing scores in 2013; WSU tallied six all of last season.
SPECIAL TEAMS AMONG NCAA, PAC-12 LEADERS: The Cougars kickoff and punt return teams saw improvement last season and both have continued the trend through the first four weeks 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, the kickoff return team enters the week leading the Pac-12 and seventh in the NCAA averaging 30.8 per return led by Caldwell’s 34.3. Already in his career, Caldwell owns kick returns of 63 yards at BYU and 92 yards No. 2 Oregon. 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 fifth in the Pac-12 with an average of 13.1, all by Leon Brooks who already owns returns for 22 yards (Southern Utah) and a career-best 51-yarder against Idaho.
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 in Pullman in 2006 and the first win over a ranked opponent on the road since beating No. 5 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl.
HORTON’S HOT STREAK: Senior cornerback Damante Horton recorded his seventh career interception and returned an INT for a touchdown for the second straight week against Southern Utah. The Oakland, Calif. native now owns three career interception returns for touchdowns, tying him for most in WSU history with Jason David. 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 led the WSU secondary that held All-American receiver Marquis Lee to seven catches for only 27 yards. He added four tackles, including a career-best two tackles-for-loss for a combined 12 yards. The Oakland, Calif. native 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.
BOWLIN BLASTS AWAY: Kicker Mike Bowlin provided a big boost to the WSU kicking game in 2012 and has continued to do so through the first four weeks of 2013. Bowlin has recorded 10 touchbacks on kickoffs, six coming against Southern Utah, and already has put six punts inside the 20. Last season, his first at WSU, Bowlin’s 18 touchbacks on kickoffs were the most since Graham Siderius’ 18 in 2005. Last season, Bowlin recorded 14 punts of 50+ yards and put eight punts inside the 20.
TALIULU TAKING OVER: Sophomore safety Taylor Taliulu has taken hold of the starting strong safety position after bursting on the scene as a true freshman last season. Taliulu enters Saturday fifth on the team with 22 tackles after turning an impressive first four games of 2013. The Aiea, Hawaii native posted four tackles and forced a fumble at Auburn, made six tackles in the win at USC, tallied seven stops against Southern Utah and five more against Idaho along with a fumble recovery. While making his collegiate debut in last year’s season opener at BYU, Taliulu racked up nine tackles and broke up two passes. It was the most tackles by a freshman in his debut since Chima Nwachukwu also recorded nine tackles at Wisconsin in 2007.
WILSON, YOST JOIN COUGAR COACHING STAFF: The 2013 Washington State coaching staff owns a pair of new faces in linebackers coach Ken Wilson and inside wide receivers coach David Yost. Wilson comes to WSU after spending the past 20-plus seasons at the University of Nevada. Yost joins Mike Leach’s offensive staff after working on Gary Pinkel’s University of Missouri staff as the recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past 12 seasons, including the Tigers inaugural season in the SEC in 2012.
BUCANNON GARNERS PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Deone Bucannon was named to the Jim Thorpe Award 2013 watch list, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Association announced in July. Bucannon is one of 48 players included on the watch list for the award that honors the nation’s best defensive back. The Fairfield, Calif. native was an All-Pac-12 second team selection last season after making a team-high 106 tackles, tied for second-most in the Pac-12 and was the highest total by any non-linebacker. Bucannon also made a team-best four interceptions including a two-interception performance against Oregon. Bucannon posted seven double-digit tackle performances including a 17-tackle game at Arizona State. Earlier this summer, Bucannon was named to the Preseason All-Pac-12 Second Team by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steel Magazine and was also named to the Preseason All-America Fourth Team by Athlon Sports.
BOWLIN, FURNEY NAMED TO PRESEASON AWARD WATCH LISTS: Senior punter Mike Bowlin and senior kicker Andrew Furney were each named to preseason award watch lists this summer. Bowlin is one of 25 candidates named to the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list that honors the nation’s top collegiate punter. Bowlin averaged 41.9 yards-per-punt last season, his first with the Cougars. The Aliso Viejo, Calif. native put eight punts inside the 20, recorded 14 kicks of 50+ yards including a season long of 69. Bowlin also recorded 18 touchbacks on kickoffs, the most by a Cougar since 2005. For the second straight season, Furney is one of the 30 players named to the Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award Watch List. Furney, a Groza Award semifinalist in 2011, earned second team All-Pac-12 accolades along with Phil Steele Midseason second team All-American honors last season after going 14-for-20 on field goal attempts. The Burlington, Wash. native was a perfect 7-for-7 on attempts inside 30 yards and 6-of-10 on kicks outside of 40 yards including a conference-best 60-yarder against Eastern Washington. Furney went 25-of-26 on PATs.
JACK THOMPSON A FINALIST FOR POLYNESIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Former Cougar great Jack Thompson was among the 25 players and coaches named finalists for inaugeral The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, announced last week. Seven members (six players and one coach/contributor) to be inducted as the inaugural class October 9, 2013. Thompson, the “Throwin’ Samoan,” 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. He is only the second Cougar football Athlete to have his jersey number (14) retired. The other is Mel Hein (7).