Cougars Begin String of Road Games at California
Oct. 19, 2009
SATURDAY'S GAME: Washington State (1-5, 0-4) begins its longest stint away from Martin Stadium when it travels to California (3-2, 0-2) for a Saturday contest at 1:30 p.m. Following their home game Oct. 10 against Arizona State, the Cougars will not return to Martin Staidum until Nov. 14, a span of 35 days. Saturday's contest marks the first of three straight on the road, followed by Notre Dame (in San Antonio) and Arizona. The contest will be radio only and can be heard across the Cougar Sports Radio Network.
WASHINGTON STATE vs. CALIFORNIA - THE SERIES: The 2008 meeting between the Cougars and Golden Bears marks the 70th time the two teams have met on the gridiron, with Cal holding a 40-25-5 series advantage. When playing at home, Cal holds owns a 27-12-3 advantage, though WSU is 2-2 in the last four meetings at Memorial Stadium. The Golden Bears have won each of the last four games played between the two schools (2005-08), including a 66-3 victory last season in Pullman. Prior to 2005 WSU held a four-game winning streak (1999-2002), including two wins in Berkeley (2000 & 2002).
FOUR COUGARS RECEIVE MIDSEASON RECOGNITION: Four Cougars were included on Phil Steele's Midseason All-Pacific-10 Conference list, including Redshirt junior punter Reid Forrest was named to the first team, redshirt senior center Kenny Alfred was named to the second team and freshman defensive end Travis Long and junior safety Chima Nwachukwu were each named to the third team.
LINEUP SHUFFLE: Through the first six 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 four 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.
INJURIES TAKING A TOLL: Through the first six 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 46 player games due to injury or illness. On the offensive line five players who have started this season have 12 missed games due to injury, while the defensive line has missed a total of 10 games from four players.
FIRST STARTS: Continuing a trend from last season, WSU has had a number of players make their starting debuts this season. Through the first six games of 2009, 17 Cougars have made their first career starts, six on offense and 11 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), Anthony Laurenzi (DT) and Dan Spitz (DE). Through the first six games of 2009, the Cougars have had a combined 29 starts by freshmen, already more than in eight of the last 10 seasons. In the last 10 years, only 2004 (32) and 2008 (47) saw more combined starts by freshmen.
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.
NOTABLES FROM ARIZONA STATE: Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Anthony Laurenzi became the ninth freshman to record his first-career start this season, matching the total number of freshmen to start a game in all of 2009...the last time WSU started as many as nine freshmen in back-to-back seasons was in 1999 (11) and 2000 (10), the two seasons prior to WSU's run of three consecutive bowl games...Freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel's 99-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Forzani was the longest play from scrimmage in school history...The Cougar defense recorded six takeaways against the Sun Devils, and now has 18 on the season, more than in all of last season (13)...the six takeaways were the most against Arizona State since also recording six in 1987, and the most against any opponent since recording seven against UCLA in 2003.