Oct. 5, 2009
PULLMAN, Wash. -
Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1)
October 10 Martin Stadium 2 p.m.
TV: No TV
Radio: Cougar Sports Radio Network
SATURDAY'S GAME: Washington State returns to Martin Stadium following a two-week stretch on the road as it hosts the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1), Saturday at 2 p.m. The game is part of Homecoming weekend for Washington State and marks the only home appearance by the Cougars in the month of October. The contest will be radio only and can be heard across the Cougar Sports Radio Network.
COUGARS ON HOMECOMING: Dating back to the first Homecoming game against Whitman in 1915, a 17-0 shutout victory for the Cougars, WSU is 41-43-3 on Homecoming weekend. The Cougars are 38-41-2 in Homecoming games played against Pacific-10 Conference rivals, including 0-1 in the only meeting played against Arizona State (23-20 in 2007). Dating back to 1990, WSU is 10-8 in Homecoming games.
WSU-ASU SERIES: Arizona State leads the all-time series by a 21-12-2 margin, including a 7-6 advantage when playing in Pullman. The Cougars have dropped the last five meetings in the series after winning the previous three. Last year the Sun Devils' Rudy Carpenter threw three touchdown passes en route to a 31-0 victory in Tempe. The last meeting in Pullman saw Thomas Weber kick a 37-yard field goal with less than one minute remaining to lift ASU to a 23-20 win, a game in which WSU recorded seven sacks. WSU's last win in the series came in 2003, a 34-19 victory in Pullman.
LINEUP SHUFFLE: Through the first five games of the 2009 season, the Cougar coaching staff is still searching for continuity within its starting lineup. Though early in the campaign, injuries have forced the Cougars to use four different starting lineups in its offensive live, five different starting lineups on offense and three different starting units on defense. There has yet to be two games this year where WSU has used the same starting offense and defense.
PUTTING IN TIME: Looking at the 2009 WSU roster reveals few names who have been in the program more than two years. Of the 114 players currently on the Cougar roster, only 37 have been a member of the team more than two years. That includes only six current fifth-year seniors and 15 total players who have earned more than one varsity letter. Compare that to the success of WSU during the 2002 and 2003 season, when the Cougars had 28 and 24 players, respectively, with multiple varsity letter winners.
FIRST STARTS: Continuing a trend from last season, WSU has had a number of players make their starting debuts this season. Through the first five games of 2009, 16 Cougars have made their first career starts, six 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), Alex Reitnouer (OL), Jeff Tuel (QB) 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).
INJURIES TAKING A TOLL: Through the first five games of the 2009 season, the Cougars have been hit hard by the injury bug, particularly the offensive and defensive lines. So far this season WSU has missed 34 player games due to injury or illness. On the offensive line five players who have started this season have nine missed games due to injury, while the defensive line has missed a total of seven games from four players. In Saturday's contest at Oregon, a fifth player, Bernard Wolfgramm, left with a hip injury that has left his status for the ASU game in question. Unlike last season when the Cougars suffered a rash of season-ending injuries, only defensive tackle Josh Luapo is out for the year.
A SECOND TIME FOR A FIRST: True freshman Jeff Tuel was given the starting nod at quarterback last week at Oregon, marking only the second time in school history WSU 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, who was 1-of-2 before leaving the game in the first quarter with a hip pointer, made his Cougar debut 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).
HOME SWEET HOME?: For only the third time since the inception of the Pacific-10 Conference in 1978, the Cougars have at least four games during the month of October with only one being played in the friendly confines of Martin Stadium. If history is any indication the outcome should be close, as the Cougars lost to USC by two points in 1983 (Oct. 6; 29-27), and defeated UCLA by three points in 1979 (Oct. 13; 17-14). WSU also played only one home game during October in 2008, but had one of the four weeks off with a bye.
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 six games on the road. Following contests at USC and Oregon, WSU returns home to host Arizona State. After a bye, 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.
NOTABLE FROM OREGON: With Carl Winston (running back), Alex Reitnouer (off ensive guard) and Jared Byers (fullback) all seeing action against the Ducks, the Cougars have now played six true freshman in 2009...WSU played nine true freshman during the 2005 season...redshirt senior running back Dwight Tardy became only the ninth running back in WSU history to eclipse 2,000 career rushing yards...redshirt freshman cornerback Terrance Hayward recorded a career-high nine tackles...his eight fi rst-quarter tackles were more than he had on the season entering the game (three).
ALFRED NAMED A DRADDY SEMIFINALIST: Senior offensive lineman Kenny Alfred was named a semifinalist for the Draddy Trophy, the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame recently announced. The Draddy Trophy recognizes the best and brightest in college football, as nominees must have at least a 3.2 GPA, must be a first team player or significant contributor and must demonstrate strong leadership and citizenship. Alfred's former teammate Alex Brink was a finalist for the award in 2007. Alfred was also named to the 2009 Rimington Trophy Watch List earlier this year, awarded annually to the nation's top college center.
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 two weeks ago 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.
TARDY RUSHING FOR A FIRST: Redshirt senior running back Dwight Tardy is looking to become the first known running back in school history to lead WSU in the statistical category in four consecutive seasons. Dating as far back as 1942, only three backs have led WSU in rushing in three consecutive seasons: Tardy (2006-08), Shaumbe Wright-Fair (1990-92) and Tim Harris (1980-82). So far this season Tardy has rushed for a team leading 187yards.
PUNT FORREST, PUNT: Junior Reid Forrest continues to be a bright spot for the Cougars' special teams. So far this season he is averaging 44.7 yards per kick, with a career-best 65-yarder two weeks ago against USC. He has eight punts this season over 50 yards, including three over 60. Forrest has moved into WSU's all-time list for both career punts and career punting yards. His 6,512 career punting yards rank seventh on the Cougars' all-time list while his 156 career punts are tied for seventh.
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 has appeared on the weekly show a record 83-consecutive times since the beginning of the 2004 season. Two flags - Ol' Crimson and Whitey - have been flown in the background of the Gameday set by as many as 115 friends and alumni. 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.
TARDY MOVING UP THE RUSHING LISTS: Redshirt senior running back Dwight Tardy entered the 2009 season ranked 10th in both career rushes and career rushing yards. Tardy became only the ninth running back in WSU history to eclipse 2,000 career rushing yards following the Oregon game. Tardy now has 2,008 on his career, and ranks ninth on WSU's career rushing list. His 473 carries rank seventh all-time.