Sept. 20, 2004
The 2-1 Washington State Cougars, fresh off a 49-8 win over the Idaho Vandals, prepares this week for their Pacific-10 Conference opener at Arizona. Game time is 12:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium (56,002). The game will be televised live by ABC Sports.
Saturday's match-up with the Wildcats will be the 33rd game in the series, which began in 1963 with a Cougar win. Arizona holds a 20-12 series advantage against WSU.
However, WSU has won the last three meetings between the two teams, including 30-7 last year in Pullman and the previous two years in Tucson.
The Wildcats bring a 1-2 mark into the game, with a win over Northern Arizona (21-3) and losses to Utah (6-23) and Wisconsin (7-9) the last two weekends.
Since the league reformed in 1978, adding Arizona and ASU, the Cougars are 13-12 in Pac-10 openers. Three of those opening league games came against Arizona, with a Cougar win in 1992 and losses in 1979 and 1983. WSU has won its Pac-10 opener each of the past three years.
WSU cranked up its offense last weekend against Idaho, passing and running for 509 yards. It was WSU's best offensive output since gaining 513 yards against Arizona last year.
Jason Hill had another outstanding game, going the distance with all three passes he caught from Josh Swogger. He had TD receptions of 10, 19 and 76 yards, all in the first half. The previous week he had 206 yards in reception yardage, giving him 311 yards in two games.
On the ground, the Cougars generated 286 rushing yards, the most since playing Idaho (339 yards) in the 2003 opener and the second highest total since rushing for 346 yards against Montana State in 1993.
Defensively WSU forced six Idaho fumbles, recovering three. WSU also picked off one Vandal pass. Two WSU scores came off Idaho turnovers.
Nationally, the Cougars are ranked 17th in pass defense and total defense, allowing 150.67 passing yards and 272.00 yards per game. WSU's pass efficiency defense is ranked 18th. WSU is also ranked 19th in passing offense, averaging 283.33 yards per game, and 21st in turnover margin at +1.33 per game.
Hill is currently ranked eighth in the nation with 115.00 receiving yards per game.
This week's Cougar-Wildcat match-up was originally scheduled for Oct. 2 and WSU and Arizona were to have the weekend off, but ABC Sports came calling last May with the suggestion the game be moved to Sept. 25 and played at 12:30 p.m. before a regional television audience. Both teams agreed to the offer.
COUGARS GET A BYE NEXT WEEK: With the moving of the Arizona game to Sept. 25, WSU will not play a football game Oct. 2, giving the Cougars two weeks to prepare for their Oct. 9 game with Oregon.
ABC TV: The WSU-Arizona game will be televised live Saturday by ABC Sports, with Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts and Todd Harris calling the action...ABC Sports also televised WSU's game with Colorado and will be on hand to televise Cougar games with USC and Washington.
2004 CAPTAINS: WSU - QB Josh Swogger (9), OL Sam Lightbody (75), FS Hamza Abdullah (28), LB Will Derting (51), P Kyle Basler (8). ARIZONA: RB Mike Bell (11), TE Steve Fleming (87), C Keoki Fraser, DE Andre Torrey (56), DT Carlos Williams (92), FS Darrell Brooks (6).
DOBA'S TEAMS SHUT DOWN FOES: Bill Doba has been WSU's head coach for 16 games and he has won 12 times...in those 16 games, his Cougar teams have held the opponents without a TD in the first half nine times...in 2003 WSU blanked Idaho, Arizona and Stanford in the first half and held Notre Dame to a field goal, Oregon to a safety and UCLA to a pair of field goals...this year New Mexico and didn't score until the third quarter, Idaho until the fourth quarter and Colorado had one field goal in the first half.
AARON JOHNSON STEPS UP: Redshirt freshman Aaron Johnson got a little more action than he expected against Colorado, seeing primary duty when WSU lost two tackles to injuries...he ended up with three tackles, shared in two TFLs and blocked a Colorado field goal attempt...in his first start against Idaho he had five tackles...Johnson came to WSU as a tight end, but after a few practices last year as a redshirt, he asked Bill Doba if he could switch to the defensive line. Doba obviously said yes.
COUG DEFENSE TOUGH: WSU's defense may be young, but the Cougars have proven able to hold their own in the first three games:
NO PICKS: Josh Swogger did not throw an interception against Idaho, going 12-for-19...the last time WSU didn't throw a pick was New Mexico and Oregon in back-to-back games last year.
HILL TIES RECORD: Sophomore Jason Hill has had great games against Colorado and Idaho...against the Buffs he had six receptions for 206 yards, the seventh best yardage game in WSU history...against Idaho he only had three catches for 105 yards, but all three went for touchdowns as he tied the WSU single-game record held by seven others, including his coach Mike Levenseller...in his last two games he has 311 receiving yards, the most in back-to-back games since Nakoa McElrath had 373 against Boise State and California in 2001.
RECORD ATTENDANCE: The WSU-Idaho crowd of 34,858 was the largest season-opening crowd in Martin Stadium for the Cougars.
SWOGGER GOES DISTANCE FOUR TIMES: Josh Swogger threw four TD passes in the first half against Idaho, the first time a Cougar QB had done that since Jason Gesser had four scoring passes against Utah in 2002...it was the 19th time a WSU QB had four TD passes in a game.
WSU-IDAHO NOTES: Marty Martin caught his first career TD pass...Jerome Harrison's 19-yard third quarter TD run was his first as a Cougar and WSU's first rushing TD of the year...Allen Thompson's TD run was his first since 2001 against Stanford...
COUGS 32-9 THE LAST FOUR SEASONS: Since 2001, WSU has won 32 of 41 games and is tied for eighth among D-I teams the past three years: Miami 37-3, Oklahoma 38-6, Boise State 36-6, Ohio State 35-7, Texas 34-7, Georgia 35-8, Maryland 33-9, WSU 32-9 , USC 32-9, LSU 33-10, Tennessee 31-10 and Bowling Green 29-10.
COUGS LEAD PAC-10 LAST FOUR YEARS: The WSU Cougars boast the best record among Pacific-10 Conference schools over the past four years...both WSU and USC are 32-9 overall and 19-5 in league play.
BUMPUS RETURNS PUNTS: True freshman Michael Bumpus made a few heads turn against Colorado when he took over punt return chores and ended the game with six returns for 61 yards, including a 21-yarder...against Idaho he was also effective with three returns for 20 yards.
LANGLEY DOES KICKING: True freshman Loren Langley has inherited WSU's kicking chores...against New Mexico he was successful on all three PAT kicks, but did not attempt a field goal...against Colorado he didn't try a PAT (WSU went for two on its only touchdown), but did hit field goals from 44 and 35 yards...he also had misses from 26 and 40 yards...against Idaho he hit all seven PAT attempts and didn't try a field goal.
JORDAN PASSING: Chris Jordan has thrown one pass for 59 yards (to Jason Hill) and has a QB rating of 595.60.
GAME OVER WHEN IDAHO MOVES: Through three quarters last week against Idaho WSU led the yardage battle 436-181 and the scoreboard 42-0...Idaho scored their only points with 17 seconds to play and had 95 yards in the fourth quarter.
SCORING STREAKS: WSU currently has three significant scoring streaks on the line:
WSU SCORING STREAK FOURTH: Here are the longest current scoring streaks among NCAA Div. I teams: Texas 280, Washington 267, Michigan 241, WSU 230.
NOTHING LIKE HOME: WSU performs better at home than on the road, as do most schools:
PENALTIES DOWN: Through three games, WSU has 16 (5.3) penalties for 137 (45.7) yards, including just one against Idaho...the last time WSU had one penalty was 1986 against Arizona...opponents have 27 (9.0) penalties for 208 (69.3) yards this year...last year WSU averaged 11.5 penalties per game and 94.6 yards per game.
IDAHO SCORING DROUGHT: Against WSU, Idaho went 139:08 without scoring over three games...Idaho finally scored with 17 seconds to play in a 49-8 loss last week.
SACKS AND INTERCEPTIONS: WSU was the national leader with 168 sacks over 2000-01-02-03 seasons, while Texas was second with 161, then TCU 160...WSU had 92 interceptions during the 1999-2003 seasons, ranking fifth nationally...this year WSU started off the season with three sacks at New Mexico and three interceptions, then an interception and two sacks against Colorado and three sacks and an interception against Idaho.
TURNOVERS: WSU is +4 in turnovers this season...in 2003 WSU finished +8 in turnovers...in the last 16 years, WSU is -25 in turnovers...only three times has WSU had fewer turnovers than the opponents, +12 in 2001, +9 in 1994 and +8 in 2003, while the turnovers were even in 1995.
CHRIS BRUHN GOES 129 YARDS: Senior Chris bruhn likes playing Idaho...he had 118 rushing yards against the Vandals in his first Cougar game last year and went for 129 against Idaho this year, including a career best 65-arder.
FEW FIRST QUARTER TDs: WSU has not allowed a first quarter touchdown in 13 of the last 16 games.
COUGS IN THE POLLS: Washington State, during the course of the 2001 and 2002 seasons, was ranked for 28 straight weeks, the longest continuous stint in the polls for WSU...after finishing 10th (AP) in the final 2001 and 2002 polls, WSU was not ranked at the start of the 2003 campaign...WSU returned to the polls for the first time Sept. 14, 2003...this year WSU was not in the Preseason Top 25.
WSU JUMPS TO EARLY LEADS: this year WSU held New Mexico and Idaho scoreless in the first half and held Colorado to just one first half field goal...WSU was also scoreless in the opening two quarters against New Mexico and had just one field goal against Colorado in the opening half, but bounced back with 28 first-half points against Idaho...in 2003 WSU outscored opponents 123-25 in the first quarter and 218-104 in the first half...WSU held a 95-79 second quarter scoring advantage, a 84-67 lead in the third quarter and 92-83 in the fourth quarter...the only first quarter points allowed by the Cougs in 2003 were touchdowns by Colorado, Oregon State (interception return) and ASU, a safety by Oregon, and a field goal by USC...
COUGS LIMIT THIRD DOWNS: WSU is continuing to be tough on third down plays by the opponents...so far through three games opponents have made 13-of-49 third down conversions...last year WSU foes converted 25.1% of their third down opportunities, including just 16.3% in the first quarter and 20.7% in the first half.
WSU NATIONAL LEADER IN TAKEAWAYS: WSU led the nation in 2003 in forced turnovers with 48, just ahead of Nebraska's 47 and 42 by USC...the Cougars also led the nation with 24 fumble recoveries and the team's 24 interceptions ranked second nationally to Nebraska's 32...this year WSU has picked off five passes and recovered six opponent fumbles to rank 21st nationally in turnover margin.
WHEN DEFENSE SCORES, WSU WINS: WSU has won 16 of its last 17 regular season games when the defense or special team units score...the exception was in 2003 at Notre Dame.
MULTIPLE RECEIVERS: Seven receivers caught passes in WSU's opener at New Mexico and against Idaho, while six caught passes against Colorado...last year at least seven WSU players caught passes in each of the Cougars' first nine games and in 10 of the 13 games...in all, six wide receivers, two tight ends and three running backs made catches last year.
TURNOVERS = POINTS: WSU scored one TD off four New Mexico turnovers in the opener this year and two touchdowns off four Idaho turnovers...last year WSU turned 24 of the opponent's 48 turnovers into 142 points...WSU took the ball away from the opponents 24 times with interceptions and recovered 24 of the opponents' 47 fumbles.
BLOCK THOSE KICKS: WSU has nine blocked kicks in twoyears, five placement kicks and four punts:
COUG TD STREAK: WSU quarterbacks threw touchdown passes in 39 of its last 41 games, every game during the 2001 (12) and 2002 (13) seasons and in 11 of 13 games in 2003, plus all three games this year:
STREAKING COUGARS: WSU has won six of eight and 10 of 13 Pac-10 road games, seven of eight Pac-10 games in California, 11 of 12 games against California schools and seven of the last nine league games.
TEEMS MAKES PLAYS: Junior corner Alex Teems clinched a starting spot in fall camp and came very close to picking off four New Mexico passes in his starting debut...he intercepted two passes, forced a fumble, broke up three passes and made seven tackles...one of his deflections was in the end zone when he pulled down a UNM pass, but couldn't control the ball.
COUGS BOASTED STARTING EXPERIENCE: This year, while many of the Cougars have been on the field, few have significant starting experience...there are 121 starts among the offensive players and combined they have played in 283 games...on the defensive side there are 65 starts among the starters and they have combined to play in 296 games...last year WSU fielded a very experienced team, with 41 players having started at least one game...in all, by season's end, the Cougars boasted a collective 594 starts, 284 by defensive players, 245 by offensive players and 65 by kickers in 2003.
ARMSTRONG THE STARTING LEADER: Senior Calvin Armstrong has played in 40 games and made 36 starts in career...other double-digit starters on the 2004 offensive team are Troy Bienemann 26, Sam Lightbody 19, and Nick Mihlhauser 13...on defense, Will Derting's 21 starts is the most, followed by Karl Paymah with 19.
BREAKING DOWN TOP 22-44: WSU's starting lineup of 22 players against Idaho this week will included 2 freshmen, 8 sophomores, 6 juniors and 6 seniors, while the top 44 (two-deep) consisted of 7 freshmen, 15 sophomores, 14 juniors and 8 seniors...in the two-deep, WSU listed a combined 22 freshmen-sophomores and 23 juniors-seniors...36 of the top 44 are underclassmen.
COUGS AMONG SACK LEADERS: The Cougars started the season at New Mexico with three sacks and had two more against Colorado, then three against Idaho...last year WSU finished the regular season with 50 sacks, second to USC's 55 in the Pac-10...WSU had seven sacks against both Oregon State and Texas last year marking the sixth time in the past two years the Cougar defense has recorded six or more sacks in a game...the Cougars recorded a sack in 22 straight games between 2001 and the Arizona game in 2003.
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: WSU has won 10 of its last 13 Pac-10 road games...WSU closed out the end of the 2000 season with a win at USC...in 2001 the Cougars defeated Arizona, Stanford and ASU on the road before a loss at Washington, while in 2002 WSU defeated California, Stanford, Arizona and UCLA in Pac-10 action...in 2003 WSU won at Oregon and Stanford and lost at USC and Washington.
FALL SCRIMMAGE NOTES: In four scrimmages this fall, starting quarterback Josh Swogger hit 40 of his 72 passes for 455 yards, five touchdowns, with three interceptions...Alex Brink was 23-of-49 for 239 yards, with one TD throw and one interception...Jerome Harrison was the top running back with 174 yards and one score on 27 carries...Chris Bruhn had 15 carries for 44 yards...Marty Martin was the top receiver with 12 catches for 126 yards, while freshman Michael Bumpus had 11 receptions for 115 yards...tight end Troy Bienemann caught seven passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns...newcomer Tyron Brackenridge picked off two passes, while eight other players had one interception each...Mkristo Bruce recoreded 4.0 sacks in those four scrimmages, while Adam Braidwood and Aaron Johnson each had 2.5 sacks.
BRIAN WINTER SCHOLARSHIPED: Last week was an up and then down week for senior Brian Winter, who walked on at WSU three years ago...last Thursday Bill Doba announced he was putting Winter on scholarship...then Saturday, playing against Colorado, Winter suffered a fracture of the left fibula and is expected to miss WSU's next two games, including Idaho this week.
OLD FACE, NEW NUMBER: Several members of the 2004 football team opted for new uniform numbers when camp opened in August...among the prominent players wearing new numbers are running back Chris Bruhn, who now sports #3, dropping one three from last year's #33...backup quarterback Alex Brink wore #18 last year and now is wearing #10...Allen Thompson is another regular who switched, going from #38 for his first two seasons to #4 this fall.
BASLER AMONG BEST IN THE NATION: Kyle Basler stacked up well in the Ray Guy Award's primary categories (average, punts inside the 20, % of punts inside the 20, number of returns, % of non-returned punts) finishing second among the 10 semi-finalists...the sophomore's numbers vastly improved from his freshman season...his average improved from 41.1 yards to 43.5 and more importantly, his net average was up from 35.3 yards to 40.5...he had 15 punts inside the 20 as a freshman, 30 in 2003...he allowed 19 returns for 288 yards in 2002, while in 2003 the returns were up to 29 but the return yards were down from 288 to 232...in 2002 he had 10 punts 50 yards or longer, in 2003 20.