COUGARS FACE UNLV IN LAS VEGAS FRIDAY ON ESPN: Washington State University travels to Las Vegas for a nationally televised nonconference matchup against UNLV on ESPN, Friday at 6 p.m.NEXT WEEK: The Cougars open Pac-12 Conference play next weekend by hosting University of Colorado Saturday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. on FX in Martin Stadium. The Cougars came from behind to beat the Buffaloes 31-27 in Boulder, Colo. last season.
WSU-UNLV SERIES HISTORY: Washington State as won all five meetings with UNLV, posting a 59-7 week two victory over the Rebels in Martin Stadium last season. The Cougars have only played in Las Vegas one time and left with a 40-13 win in 1991. In the game, Drew Bledsoe ran for two touchdowns and also threw for one and the Cougars saw Jason Hanson set an NCAA record with a 62-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Mike Leach AGAINST UNLV: Head coach Mike Leach has never faced UNLV but did take is 2008 Texas Tech team to Reno, Nev. and posted a 35-19 win over the Wolfpack. The Red Raiders had beaten Eastern Washington the week prior to facing Nevada.
COUGARS AGAINST THE MOUNTAIN WEST: The Cougars are 16-4 overall against current members of the Mountain West Conference, dating back to the 1953 when WSU faced Texas Christian. WSU has won its last nine of ten matchups against MWC opponents dating back to a 1990 loss against Wyoming. WSU beat UNLV last season but lost at San Diego State 42-24 in week three last year.
Mike Leach RADIO SHOW: Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach holds a weekly radio show on WSU's flagship station 920 KXLY live from Zeppos in Pullman. This week's show will be Wednesday from 6-7 p.m.
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 120th consecutive appearance on the weekly show, dating back to the beginning of the 2004 season. Two flags - Ol' Crimson and Whitey - have been flown in the background of the Gameday set by dozens of friends and alumni. WSU recognized the Gameday flag wavers in a pregame ceremony prior to the Montana State game last season. 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.
WSU AGAINST NONCONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Since the opening of the 2001 season, WSU is 25-9 against unranked nonconference opponents. The Cougars own wins over Idaho (seven times), Montana State (three times), Nevada (twice), New Mexico (twice), Boise State, Purdue, Colorado, Grambling State, Baylor, Portland State, SMU, Idaho State, Eastern Washington and UNLV (2011).
WILSON AMONG PAC-12's CAREER LEADERS: Junior wide receiver Marquess Wilson enters the week as the Pac-12 Conference's active career leader in receiving yards with 2,502, good for No. 37 all-time in conference history. His 1,388 receiving yards in 2011 was the 12th most in Pac-12 history.
DEFENSE RACKING UP THE SACKS: The Washington State defense has tallied six sacks through the first two games after recording 17 all of last season. The switch to a 3-4 defense has seen more linebackers in the backfield as five of the six sacks have come from linebackers.
WILSON CLIMBING WSU RECORD BOOKS: Junior Marquess Wilson continued his climb up WSU's career receiving records with four catches for 47 yards against Eastern Washington. Wilson passed Doug Flansburg and Nian Taylor on the career receptions list and enters the week in seventh with 145 career catches, three away from Jason Hill and Phillip Bobo who sit tied for fifth with 148. Wilson's 47 receiving yards allowed him to pass Hugh Campbell on the top 10 for career receiving yards and into third place.
LONG CLOSING IN: Senior Travis Long matched career highs with nine tackles and two sacks at BYU two weeks ago. The Spokane native finished with 2.5 tackles-for-loss and moved into seventh place on WSU's top 10 for career tackles-for-loss with 31.5. He is half a tackle-for-loss away from tying Will Derting. Long's second career two-sack performance pushed his career sack total to 13 and is now just 1.5 sacks away from breaking into WSU's top-10 for career sacks.
FURNEY GOES LONG DISTANCE: Junior kicker Andrew Furney has provided the highlights for the Cougars during the first two weeks of the season, hitting a pair of 40+ yard field goals (47, 41) at BYU then closing the half against Eastern Washington with a 60-yard field goal. Furney's career-long was the second longest in WSU history behind Jason Hanson's 62-yarder at UNLV in 1991, which is the last and only time the Cougars played at UNLV. The 60-yarder is also tied for the second longest in conference history and is the longest by a WSU player in Martin Stadium. The kick also gave Furney is ninth straight make when attempting from 40+ yards. The streak ended after he missed wide right from 40 yards in the third quarter against EWU.
NEW FACES MAKING AN IMPACT: Washington State has seen a number of new faces on the field through the first two games of 2012. First-year Cougars making an impact are led by junior nose tackle Ioane Gauta who has started both games and made nine stops including a pair of tackles-for-loss. Freshman safety Taylor Taliulu has also started both games and been one of the top two tacklers in each contest, making nine at BYU and seven against Eastern Washington. Freshman wideouts Brett Bartolone and Gabe Marks each own six receptions while freshman running back Teondray Caldwell is second on the team in rushing and also serves as WSU's primary kick returner, already owning a 63-yard return at BYU.
MONROE MAKING HIS MARK: Redshirt-freshman linebacker Darryl Monroe has produced for the Cougars in his first two games, starting both games at the MIKE and making 11 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. The Orlando, Fla. native was forced to redshirt last season after suffering a leg injury in the 2011 season opener against Idaho State. Monroe added 15 pounds to his frame since arriving from Dr. Phillips High School where he was named one of the top five linebackers in the state of Florida as a senior.
BUCANNON'S INT'S: Junior safety Deone Bucannon made his seventh career interception when he picked off Kyle Padron of Eastern Washington last Saturday. Bucannon notched two picks as a freshman in 2010 before making three interceptions last season, at San Diego State, at Colorado and at Oregon.
RETURN GAME: The Washington State return game as already seen improvement from 2011 as punt returner Leon Brooks followed up a 17-yard return at BYU with a career best 29-yard return against Eastern Washington last Saturday. Kick returner Teondray Caldwell has shown the ability to break one, starting the second half at BYU with a 63-yard return and posting an 18-yard return against Eastern Washington.
BOWLIN BOMBS AWAY: Redshirt-junior Michael Bowlin has provided a big boost to the WSU kicking game, already recording three touchbacks to surpass last year's total of one. Nick Grasu had 11 touchbacks in 2010. Bowlin also owns three punts of 50+ yards including a 69-yarder against Eastern Washington last Saturday and has put three punts inside the 20 through the first two games.
TUEL AMONG WSU'S ELITE PASSERS: Senior quarterback Jeff Tuel enters Friday's game at UNLV in eighth place on WSU's career top-10 for completions with 369 and eighth in career passing yards (4,245) after throwing for 229 yards at BYU and 171 against Eastern Washington. The Fresno, Calif. native's two touchdown passes against Eastern Washington also put him in a tie for eighth for career touchdown passes with 27. His career completion percentage also improved to .612 (369/603, the best by any quarterback in WSU history, after completing 20-of-26 against Eastern Washington.
TALIULU IMPRESSIVE IN COUGAR DEBUTS: Freshman safety Taylor Taliulu showed little nerves while making his collegiate debut against BYU, racking up nine tackles and breaking 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. The Aiea, Hawaii native followed that performance with by tying for a WSU game-high with seven tackles in last Saturday's home opener against Eastern Washington.
WILSON PLACED ON PAIR OF PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAMS: Junior wide receiver Marquess Wilson was named to CBSSports.com Preseason All-America first team and the SI.COM Preseason All-America second team.
TUEL NAMED TO DAVEY O'BRIEN AWARD AND JOHNNY UNITAS AWARD WATCH LISTS: Senior quarterback Jeff Tuel was named to The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® watch list. The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award is presented annually to the nation's best college quarterback and is the oldest and most prestigious nat ional quarterback award. Coming off an impressive sophomore campaign, Tuel appeared in three games while battling through injuries last season. As a sophomore in 2010, Tuel threw for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns while starting all 12 games.
FURNEY NAMED TO LOU GROZA AWARD WATCH LIST: Junior kicker Andrew Furney was named to The Lou Groza Award watch. Furney was named one of 20 semifinalists to the same award during the 2011 campaign. Last season, Furney was 14-of-16 in field goal attempts to post the best field goal percentage in WSU single-season history. He recorded a season-long of 51 and was 5-for-5 from 40+ yards.
LONG NAMED TO THREE PRESEASON WATCH LISTS: Senior linebacker Travis Long was named to preseason watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Top Defensive Player), Butkus Award (Top Linebacker) and Rotary Lombardi Award (Top Lineman or Linebacker). Long enters the 2012 season having started all 36 games of his Cougar career. He is a three-time all-conference selection, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2011. Last season he led WSU with four sacks, collected 12 tackles-for-loss, which ranked fifth in the Pac-12, and had 42 total tackles from his defensive end position.
WILSON NAMED TO MAXWELL AWARD AND BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LISTS: Junior wide receiver Marquess Wilson has been named to the preseason watch lists for the annual Maxwell Award, given to the nation's top collegiate football player, and the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver. Wilson enters the 2012 season coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. In 2011 he set WSU single-season records with 82 receptions and 1,388 receiving yards and tied for second-most in a season with 12 touchdown receptions. Wilson led the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game at 115.7 and earned Yahoo! Sports All-America second team and Sports Illustrated All-America honorable mention honors.