Football Heads To The Desert To Face Arizona
Sept. 24, 2001
WSU - Mike Price (Puget Sound '69) has a 66-73-0 (.478) record at WSU in 13 years and a career mark of 112-117-0 (.489) in 22 seasons at Weber State (1981-88, 46-44-0) and WSU (1989-present). ARIZONA - The Wildcats are coached by John Mackovic, in his first season at Arizona...Mackovic is 88-64-3 in 14 years as a head coach and 3-0 in his first season at Arizona.
WSU VS. ARIZONA:
While WSU and Arizona have had some magnificent games in recent years, the Wildcats have generally had the upper hand, winning nine of the last 12 games during the Mike Price Era...included is a current three-game Arizona win streak, the last a thrilling 53-47 triple OT win last year in Tucson.
McELRATH LEADS THE NATION:
Nakoa McElrath, WSU's senior receiver, is the nation's leading receiver when it comes to receiving yards...McElrath has hauled in 27 passes for 514 yards, averaging 171.3 yards per game...he also ranks third in receptions, 9.0 per game, tied for fourth in scoring with 14.00 points per game, and 13th in all-purpose running at 171.67 yards per game.
RECORDS FALL IN CAL GAME:
Two one-game records and one career mark fell during WSU's 51-20 win over California Sept. 22...they were:ï¿½ Lamont Thompson picks off one Cal pass, the 15th interception of his career and a WSU record,ï¿½ A school record three receivers each tally over 100 yards receiving, Nakoa McElrath 163, Mike Bush 144 and Jerome Riley 124,ï¿½ WSU quarterbacks throw for a school record 513 yards - Jason Gesser 432, Matt Kegel 53 and Tali Ena 28.
NO CLOSE GAMES SO FAR:
One of the goals this year for the Washington State football team is to turn the close losses of last season into wins in 2001...so far it is working, with the Cougs winning three games by an average margin of 27 points...the closest has been a 21-point win over Boise State...last year the outcome of seven of WSU's 11 games was determined by seven points or less, with the Cougars going 3-4 in those seven games, including three overtime losses...two of the close wins last year were over Boise State and Cal and this year those two games were not close...against Arizona the Cougs lost in three overtimes.
Information as of Sept. 24 - RETURNING: OL Joe Hollenbeck. QUESTIONABLE: LB Alex Nguae (ankle sprain), OT Billy Knotts (dislocated knee cap). POSSIBLE: RB Jimmy Wilson (quad bruise), DB Derrick Dillon (shoulder). OUT: LB Will Derting (ACL, RIGHT knee), OL Gerald Cook (LEFT knee).
McELRATH OFF TO FASTEST START:
Nakoa McElrath, averaging nine receptions per game, is the first WSU receiver to make 27 catches in the opening three games...he is the national leader, averaging 171.3 yards per game, and ranks third nationally at 9.0 receptions...at his current pace he would break Mike Levenseller's school record of 67 receptions...the closest player to McElrath nationally is averaging 138.0 yards per game...at his current average McElrath would total 1,881 yards, well above the school record of 1,151 by Timm Stallworth.
MIKE BUSH SHOWS FOOTBALL SKILLS:
Junior Mike Bush, WSU's top basketball player who averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds last winter, is fast making a name for himself on the football field...Bush joined the Cougar receiver corps last spring and has started the all three games...against Idaho Bush went 4/97, followed by Boise State 2/69 and one TD, then California 5/144 and one TD...the last significant football-basketball player for the Cougars was Kitrick Taylor, who started with the football team (1982-83-85-86) and then joined the basketball team (1985-87)...Paul Mencke also played both sports in 2000-01, although he never started a basketball game.
COUGS SHUT DOWN THE RUN:
WSU has allowed just 199 net rushing yards in the first three games, 74 yards by the Idaho Vandals, 54 yards by the Boise Broncos and 71 by California...WSU currently ranks 10th nationally allowing 66.33 yards per game...the last time WSU started the year holding the first three opponents to less than 100 yards was 1994, Illinois 5, Fresno State 34 and UCLA 69...in 1995 WSU had a string of four mid-season games when the opponents each had less than 100 yards rushing.
GESSER TURNS IN THIRD BEST PERFORMANCE:
Jason Gesser's 432 yards passing against California was the third best performance ever by a Cougar QB...Drew Bledsoe's 476 yards against Utah in the 1992 Copper Bowl is the WSU record, while Ryan Leaf threw for 447 yards against ASU in 1997.
WSU's seven scoring drives of 50 yards or more against Cal is the most since a 63-37 win over the bears in 1997 when WSU also had seven long drives...WSU has had 17 drives over 50 yards this year.
WSU'S EXPERIENCED SECONDARY:
WSU's starting secondary for Arizina has a collective 75 starts and 27 interceptions - seniors Lamont Thompson (25 starts, 15 interceptions) and Billy Newman (26, 5), junior Marcus Trufant (21, 7) and sophomore Jason David (3, 0).
MINNICH TOPS 100 YARDS FOR A FIFTH TIME:
Senior Dave Minnich topped the 100-yard rushing total four times last season, then tacked on his fifth game with 127 yards against Idaho in the 2001 opener...last year he had a season-high 118 yards at Utah, 101 yards at Arizona, 108 yards against Oregon and 113 against Washington...Minnich transferred from Mt. San Jacinto College last August to shore up WSU's thin running back stable and now is the starter with five starts under his belt.
In Mike Price's 12-year WSU career, the Cougar road record of 3-2 in 2000 marked the first time the Cougs had a winning record on the road and did not go to a bowl game...WSU was 4-2 on the road in 1992 and played in the Copper Bowl...in 1994 WSU was 5-2 on the road and played in the Alamo Bowl...and in 1997, the year of the Cougs' Pac-10 title, the team was 4-2 on the road.
HENDERSON THE BEST QB?: Receiver Nakoa McElrath recently joked, when asked if Jason Gesser or Matt Kegel threw the best pass, 'Collin Henderson'...small wonder...Henderson has completed all six passes in his three-year career for an amazing four touchdowns and 249 yards...that's a QB rating of 668.7...he completed one as a freshman in 1999 for 24 yards and a TD...last year he was 4-for-4 for 154 yards and two scores...last week he hooked up with McElrath on a 71-yard pass and run play for a TD.
PRICE FIRST IN WINS AND YEARS IN PAC-10:
WSU coach Mike Price is now first among current Pacific-10 coaches with 112 wins... Arizona's Dick Tomey had been the Pac-10 leader with 158, followed by ASU's Bruce Snyder with 126, then Price, but both Tomey and Snyder have since left their respective schools...Price, in his 13th season at WSU, is also the Pac-10 leader in consecutive years at the same school.
MIKE PRICE AMONG WSU'S BEST:
Only two Washington State football coaches with tenure of five years or longer at WSU put together a better record than Mike Price...Price, in his 13 seasons at WSU, is 66-73-0 (.478), while his career mark is now 112-117-0...Babe Hollingbery was 93-53-14 (.625) during his 1926-42 (17 years) tenure and Jim Sutherland was 37-39-4 (.488) during his eight years, 1956-63...Price's 66 wins at WSU ranks second to Hollingbery's 93...Jim Walden is third with 44 victories.
WSU'S OVERTIME EXPERIENCE:
The Cougars are 1-4 in overtime games...WSU played three overtime games last year and lost all three, including back-to-back OT losses at Arizona (3 OT) and at home against ASU (1 OT), plus a 1-OT loss to Oregon...in 1996, Washington beat WSU 31-24 in overtime in Pullman...WSU's other OT game was a 35-34 win over Arizona in 1997 in Pullman.
GESSER'S 432 A CAREER HIGH:
Jason Gesser threw for a career high 432 yards against California last week, the third best passing performance in WSU history...his previous high was 348 yards against this week's opponent, Arizona, in last year's triple-overtime game.
GESSER STREAK HALTED AT 130 PASSES:
Jason Gesser threw 130 straight passes without an interception over five games early in 2000 before Michael Jolivette of Arizona picked off one in the fourth quarter at Tucson...last week Gesser had a streak of 64 straight snapped with an interception after the receiver fell down, leaving only the defender to pick off the pass.
COUGS AGAINST RANKED TEAMS SINCE 1995:
Last year WSU was 0-4 against ranked teams, losing to #22 Arizona (47-53, triple OT), #18 OSU (9-38), #7 Oregon (24-27, OT) and #6 Washington (3-51)...WSU did not meet a ranked team in 1999...in 1998 WSU lost to No. 4 UCLA, No. 15 Oregon and No. 10 Arizona...in 1997 WSU defeated No. 22 USC and lost to 21st ranked ASU...unranked at the start of the season when WSU won, UCLA finished the year ranked seventh...in the final game of the year, WSU lost to co-national champion Michigan...in 1996 WSU lost at No. 5 Colorado, defeated No. 25 Oregon and No. 19 California and lost to No. 12 Washington...WSU, in 1995, suffered losses to three nationally ranked teams: at No. 2 Nebraska, at No. 5 USC and at No. 12 Oregon.
COUGS GO MARINES:
While looking for a few good men, the WSU coaching staff discovered the Marines...a pair of WSU players are former Marines, Wendell Smith and Dave Minnich...Smith, from Spokane's Gonzaga Prep, joined the Cougars in the fall of 1999 as a freshman after four years in the service...last season WSU brought in running back Dave Minnich from Mt. San Jacinto College...originally from Stonington, Conn., Minnich spent four years in the Marines before going the jaycee route.
COUG O-LINE AVERAGES 286:
WSU's offensive line weighs in at a collective 1,430 pounds, or an average of 286 pounds...the heavyweight of the group is Phil Locker at 305 pounds, followed by Josh Parrish at 296 pounds...next is Derrick Roche at 281, followed by Joey Hollenbeck at 277...center Tyler Hunt weighs in at 271, the lightest of the group...last year's O-Line averaged 288 for much of the season.
WSU EXPLODES IN FIRST THREE GAMES:
WSU has scored 128 points in the first three games of the 2001 season, the most in the first three outings since WSU scored 128 points to open the 1989 season, Mike Price's first year at WSU...in 1989 WSU beat Idaho 41-7, BYU 46-41 and OSU 41-3...WSU's point margin through three games is 81 points, or 27 points per game...the Cougars are also averaging 546 yards per game with a total of 1,639 yards, the most ever by WSU in the first three games...WSU's 1988 team held the record with 1,628 yards.