WASHINGTON STATE (0-0) at AUBURN (0-0)
4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 31
Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
COUGARS KICK OFF SEASON AT AUBURN: Washington State University opens the 2013 season at Auburn University, Saturday at 4 p.m. (PT) on ESPNU.
NEXT WEEK: Washington State will hit the road for the second straight week, heading to Los Angeles to open Pac-12 Conference play against the University of Southern California, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7:30 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 live from Zeppoz in Pullman. This week’s show will be Wednesday from 6-7 p.m.
BOB ROBERTSON, NATION’S LONGEST tENURED RADIO ANNOUNCER: Hall of fame announcer Bob Robertson enters 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.
COUGARS IN SEASON OPENERS: Washington State owns a 69-43-5 record in season openers in its 117-year history. When opening the season on the road, WSU is 20-28-3 all-time after dropping a 30-6 decision at BYU last season. Head coach Mike Leach is 9-2 in season openers and has won seven of his last eight. The last BCS road win to open the season was against Illinois (20-13) in 1998. WSU is 78-34-3 all-time in home openers, including games in Pullman, Spokane and Seattle. Since 1990 the Cougars boast a 15-7 record in home debuts, and are 25-12 dating back to the start of the 1975 season.
WSU VS. AUBURN, SEC: WSU owns a 1-5 all-time record against the Southeastern Conference, going 1-4 against the University of Tennessee before suffering a 40-14 defeat to Auburn in their only previous meeting, the 2006 season opener in Alabama.
MIKE LEACH AND THE SEC: Cougar head coach Mike Leach owns a 2-2 career mark coaching against SEC opponents during his 10 seasons at Texas Tech. Leach led the Red Raiders to a 42-28 win over Ole Miss in 2002, a 49-45 victory at Ole Miss in 2003, suffered a 13-10 defeat to Alabama in the 2006 Cotton Bowl and a 47-34 loss to Ole Miss in the 2009 Cotton Bowl. In his one year as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, Leach saw the Sooners fall to Ole Miss 27-25 in the 1999 Independence Bowl. Leach also spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Kentucky where the Wildcats went 5-6 in 1997 and 7-5 in 1998.
WSU AGAINST NONCONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Since the opening of the 2001 season, WSU is 26-9 against unranked, nonconference opponents including wins over Idaho (seven times), Nevada (twice), New Mexico (twice), UNLV (twice), Boise State, Purdue, Colorado, Grambling State, Baylor and SMU.
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 131st 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.
YOUTH MOVEMENT FOR COUGARS IN 2012: The Cougars saw a youth movement in 2012, as 17 freshmen, including nine true freshmen, appeared in a game last season. Overall, Washington State had 20 players make their first career start in 2012 including five freshmen who earned starts.
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 inaugeral season in the SEC in 2012.
BUCANNON GARNERS PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Senior safety Deone Bucannon was named to the Jim Thorpe Award 2013 watch list, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Association announced this past 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 Michael 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 and finished the year with a team-best seven special teams tackles. 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, 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 went 25-of-26 on PATs and capped his season going 3-for-3 in the Apple Cup victory including the game-winner from 27-yards in overtime.
BUCANNON CLIMBING WSU RECORD BOOK: Deone Bucannon enters his senior year with his name sprinkled throughout the WSU record book, appearing seventh in career solo tackles and just outside the top-10 for total tackles. He also owns nine career interceptions, needing just two more to break into the WSU’s career top-10.
BUCANNON POSTED 100-TACKLE SEASONS: Safety Deone Bucannon picked up his first career all-conference accolade last season, earning All-Pac-12 second team honors after making a team-high 106 tackles, tied for second-most in the Pac-12 and was the highest total by any non-linebacker. The 106 stops is WSU’s first 100-tackle season since Eric Frampton made 100 in 2006 and is the most since James Darling made 136 in 1996. Bucannon also made a team-best four interceptions including a two-interception performance against Oregon. The Fairfield, Calif. native posted seven double-digit tackle performances including a 17-tackle game at Arizona State. Bucannon also pushed his career solo tackle total to 190, seventh-most in school history.
FURNEY FINISHED OFF IMPRESSIVE JUNIOR CAMPAIGN: Kicker Andrew 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 went 25-of-26 on PATs and capped his season earning Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week after 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.
DEFENSE RACKED UP THE SACKS: The Washington State defense tallied 35 sacks in 2012, fifth-most in the Pac-12 Conference and tied for No. 11 in the country at 2.9 per game. Following a year in which the Cougars recorded 17 in the 2011 season, the switch to a 3-4 defense saw more linebackers in the backfield as 23 of the 35 sacks came from linebackers. The Cougars also racked up 92 tackles-for-loss, the fifth-highest total in the Pac-12, and seventh-most per game (7.7) in the country. The 35 sacks are the most by a Cougar defense since the 2006 team had 36 while the 92 tackles-for-loss are the most since the 2003 team had 93. WSU also picked off 15 passes, the most since the 2006 team finished with 16 interceptions.
COUGARS PRODUCE PAC-12’S TOP PASSING MARK: Washington State finished 2012 with the top passing attack in the Pac-12 Conference at 330.4 yards-per-game. That figure ranked ninth nationally and marked the second-highest average in school history. Six times the Cougars threw for more than 300 yards led by Connor Halliday’s four 300-yard performances, tying for third-most in the conference. WSU posted school single-season records for completions (363) and pass attempts (624), breaking the previous marks of 309 completions and 525 attempts, both set in 2007.
HALLIDAY AT IT AGAIN: Quarterback Connor Halliday picked up where he left off from 2011, tearing up the record books once again as the Spokane native passed for 378 yards and four touchdowns at UNLV then followed with 401 yards and four touchdown passes against Colorado. It was the first time a WSU quarterback has 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 threw for 348 yards against No. 2 Oregon and 330 yards against UCLA and owns five 300-yard performances, two 400-yard games and four four-touchdown performances after passing for 494 yards and four scores against Arizona State in 2011. He notched his first career five-touchdown game against UCLA, the tenth such game in WSU history, and owns 24 career touchdown passes.
NEW FACES MADE BIG IMPACTS: Washington State saw a number of new faces on the field in 2012 as 17 freshmen (nine true freshmen) made their debuts and 20 players made their first career start. The newcomers were led by junior nose tackle Ioane Gauta who started all 12 games, made 31 stops including 8.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks and an interception. Freshman wideout Brett Bartolone earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention after leading WSU with 53 receptions and added four touchdowns while fellow freshman wide receiver Gabe Marks finished third on the team with 49 catches and tallied a pair of 100-yard performances in his first collegiate season. Freshman running back Teondray Caldwell was second on the team in rushing and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a kick returner after finishing the year third in the Pac-12 in kickoff return average at 25.0, posting a 63-yard return at BYU, a 54-yarder against Colorado and a 92-yarder against Oregon.
MONROE MADE HIS MARK: Linebacker Darryl Monroe produced some impressive numbers in his first full season for the Cougars in 2012, starting at MIKE linebacker in all 12 games. Monroe earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention after finishing second on the team in tackles with 80 including 8.5 tackles-for-loss. He also forced two fumbles, recovered one and made three sacks. The Orlando, Fla. native redshirted last season after suffering a leg injury in the 2011 season opener against Idaho State but bounced back after adding 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.
COOPER, WILLIAMS PRODUCE AFTER REDSHIRT SEASON: After redshirting the 2011 campaign, their first season campus, defensive lineman Xavier Cooper and wideout Dominique Williams both put up impressive numbers in their first season on the field in 2012. Cooper earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention after tying for third on the team with 8.5 tackles-for-loss including three sacks in 11 games while Williams made 34 catches for 546 yards and three touchdowns. Williams started the final five games and capped the season with his first career 100-yard performance, catching eight passes for 143 yards in the Apple Cup victory.
BOWLIN BLASTS AWAY: Kicker Mike Bowlin provided a big boost to the WSU kicking game in 2012, recording 18 touchbacks on kickoffs to surpass 2011’s total of one, Nick Grasu’s mark of 11 in 2010, Loren Langley and Romeen Abdollmohammadi’s combined total of 14 in 2006 and matched Graham Siderius’ recorded 18 in 2005. Bowlin also recorded 14 punts of 50+ yards including a 69-yarder against Eastern Washington, a 60-yarder at UNLV, one for 65 yards against Oregon and put eight punts inside the 20.
SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVED: The Washington State return game saw improvement in 2012 as 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. Caldwell recorded kick returns of 63 yards at BYU, a 54-yarder against Colorado and nearly took one to house against No. 2 Oregon, going for 92 yards. The punt return team nearly doubled the 2011 return average and improved its national ranking by 30 spots with a 6.8 return average. Leon Brooks led WSU with a 10.6 return average, more than three times the average of 2011. Brooks made a career-best 29-yard return against Eastern Washington. Additionally, the kickoff coverage team finished as the No. 61 in the country, allowing 21.3 per return, a big improvement from 2011’s coverage team that ranked No. 99 at 23.7 yards-per-return.
TALIULU MADE IMPRESSIVE COUGAR DEBUTS: Safety Taylor Taliulu showed little nerves while making his collegiate debut in last year’s season opener at 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 the home opener against Eastern Washington.
BUCANNON, FURNEY NAMED TO ALL-PAC-12 SECOND TEAM: Washington State saw 10 players receive All-Pac-12 Conference recognition last season. Deone Bucannon and Andrew Furney each garnered second team honors while graduated senior linebacker Travis Long, wideout Brett Bartolone, center Elliott Bosch, kick returner Teondray Caldwell, linebacker Cyrus Coen, defensive lineman Xavier Cooper, linebacker Darryl Monroe and graduated cornerback Daniel Simmons all received honorable mention.
COUGARS CLOSED SEASON WITH APPLE CUP VICTORY: Washington State closed out the 2012 season with a 31-28 overtime victory over Washington to claim its first Apple Cup since 2008. Andrew Furney kicked a 27-yard field goal on the Cougars first possession of overtime, and the Cougars overcame an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to stun the Huskies for the largest comeback victory in Apple Cup history. Jeff Tuel threw for 350 yards and Carl Winston rushed for three touchdowns in their final collegiate games.