WSU Football Opens 2001 Against Idaho In Battle Of Palouse

Aug. 28, 2001

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WHO: WSU Cougars (0-0 overall, 0-0 in Pac-10) vs. Idaho Vandals (0-0 overall, 0-0 Sun Belt)
WHAT: Non-Conference Cougar Football
WHEN: Thursday, August 30, Kickoff 7:07 p.m. PDT
WHERE: Martin Stadium (37,600, FieldTurf), Pullman, Wash.
TV: FOX Sports Net Nw Live, Fox Sports Northwest also airs replays each Sunday, 10:00 a.m.

WSU - Mike Price (Puget Sound '69) has a 63-73-0 (.463) record at WSU in 12 years and a career mark of 109-117-0 (.482) in 21 seasons at Weber State (1981-88, 46-44-0) and WSU (1989-present).

IDAHO - The Idaho Vandals are coached by Tom Cable (Idaho '86), who was 5-6 last year, his first at Idaho and his first season as a head coach.

WSU VS. IDAHO: The Cougars hold a 63-17-3 series advantage with Idaho since the first game in 1894...this year's contest, which is officially an Idaho home game, will be the 84th in the is the oldest active series for both teams...Idaho was WSU's first-ever football foe...the Vandals bring a two-game win streak into the game with wins in 1999 and 2000, both in Martin Stadium...Idaho's longest win streak over WSU is three games, 1901-02-03 and 1923-24-25

COUGS PLAY CLOSE GAMES: The outcome of seven of WSU's 11 games in 2000 were determined by seven points or less, with the Cougars 3-4...five of the close games came consecutively, starting with Idaho and ending with that string, the last two were overtime losses at Arizona and at home against ASU...then, after a loss at Oregon State, WSU lost another overtime outing to Oregon...the five-game streak started with a 38-34 loss to Idaho...then came wins over California 21-17 and Boise State come the 53-47 loss to Arizona in triple overtime and a 23-20 overtime loss against ASU, followed by a 27-24 overtime loss to Oregon and a 33-27 win at USC.

WSU HONOR CANDIDATES: Dave Minnich and Lamont Thompson are listed as candidates for the Doak Walker and Jim Thorpe Awards, respectively...Thompson is one of 28 candidates for the Thorpe Award, given annually to the top defensive back...Minnich is one of 43 running backs listed for the Walker Award.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SAYS WSU #3: Sports Illustrated's college football preview issue ranks WSU's schedule as the third toughest in the nation...USC, according to SI, plays the toughest schedule, followed by Penn State, then are Alabama, UCLA and Notre Dame.

POSITION CHANGES: A pair of offensive linemen and a running back have been moved to tight end during fall camp and a former linebacker turned running back is now back at linebacker...Alex Nguae, a senior, worked at running back in the spring, but with the addition of several freshmen running backs to the roster, Nguae is now back at linebacker and slated for a starting role against Idaho...working at tight end are Jeremy Thielbahr, who is also listed as WSU's number two running back, along with Gerald Cook and Calvin Armstrong...Armstrong is a red-shirt freshman, while Cook is a addition, defensive backs Ira Davis and Wendell Smith have been working as outside linebackers this fall following the loss of two returning linebackers from a year ago.

SEVERAL FRESHMEN COULD PLAY: Several newly arrived freshmen are ticketed for play when WSU opens against Idaho...the list includes linebacker Will Derting (Okanogan, Wash.), receiver Trandon Harvey (San Diego, Calif.), running backs Jimmy Wilson (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Allen Thompson (National City, Calif.), and defensive back Jeremy Bohannon (Richland, Wash.).

THIELBAHR FACES BROTHER-IN-LAW: When WSU senior Jeremy Thielbahr lines up as WSU's starting tight end Thursday against Idaho, he could be looking at his brother-in-law across the line...playing for Idaho and a starting defensive end is Ryan Knowles, who is married to Thielbahr's sister Angie.

NEWCOMERS BOOST RECEIVING CORPS: Several new WSU receivers who arrived on campus this fall are expected to see action in the Cougar opener against Idaho, including a pair of junior college transfers and one freshman...rookie Trandon Harvey (San Diego, Calif.) is the freshman fighting for playing time, while transfers Jerome Riley (Los Angeles Valley College) and Tyjaun Mayfield (San Bernadino Valley College) are also expected to see plenty of action.

MIKE BUSH MAY FOLLOW IN TAYLOR'S FOOTSTEPS: 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 is already listed as a potential starter against Idaho...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.

RED ZONE: WSU scored 27 times in 36 trips inside the 20 yard line in 2000, scoring 17 touchdowns to go with 10 field goals...

NEWMAN COLLECTS 250 TACKLES: Billy Newman, WSU's senior safety has 250 career tackles to rank 15th on WSU's single season list...Newman is only 30 tackles away from Don Hover, tenth on the list with his 280 tackles, 1973-77...Newman made 45 tackles as a freshman, led WSU in 1999 with 105, then tacked on 100 more this year to again lead the Cougars...he also has five career interceptions...if he records 100 tackles this season he will finish with 350 career tackles and rank fourth...the school record holder is Lee Blakeney with 524...Newman could have more tackles than any non-linebacker in WSU history.

BREAKING DOWN TOP 22-44: Against Idaho the Cougars' starting lineup of 22 players includes 0 freshmen, 5 sophomores, 7 juniors and 10 seniors, while the top 44 (two-deep) consisted of 5 freshmen, 13 sophomores, 14 juniors and 12 the two-deep, WSU lists 18 freshmen and sophomores and 26 juniors and seniors...

WSU'S EXPERIENCED SECONDARY: WSU's starting secondary for the Idaho game includes two seniors, Lamont Thompson and Billy Newman, junior Marcus Trufant and sophomore Jason David...Thompson, Newman and Trufant have started a combined 63 starts and have picked off 24 opponent passes...Thompson has 14 interceptions, while Newman and Trufant have five each.

MINNICH TOPS 100 YARDS FOR A FOURTH TIME: Junior Dave Minnich topped the 100-yard rushing total four times last season, 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 four starts under his belt.

SCORING STREAKS: WSU currently has three significant scoring streaks on the line:

  • The Cougars have scored in 197 consecutive Pacific-10 games, the longest active streak for any league team...the last time WSU was shut out in Pac-10 play was at Oregon State in 1975,

  • WSU has scored in 189 consecutive games since a 44-0 shutout at Ohio State in 1984,

  • The Cougars have scored in 163 consecutive home games since a 21-0 loss to Oregon State in Pullman in 1956.

    TURNOVERS: Not since 1994 has WSU finished on the plus side of turnovers, although twice since then the Cougs were even with the opponents in turnovers.

    LAST TOUCH WINS: In four of seven losses in 2000, Idaho, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon, WSU opponents pulled out the win on their last possession...Idaho drove 57 yards to score the deciding points with 40 seconds to play...Arizona scored in the third overtime and then picked off a WSU pass to preserve their win, while ASU stopped WSU with an interception in the first overtime and then kicked the winning field goal...Oregon kicked a field goal in the first overtime and then blocked WSU's FG attempt...Stanford, OSU and Washington are the only victors over WSU not to decide the game late.

    ROAD WINS: 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 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.

    SECONDARY PICKS 13 PASSES: Each starter in the secondary made at least two interceptions in 2000...Billy Newman lead the quartet with four, while Mory Banks, Marcus Trufant and Chris Martin each had three picks...for their careers, Martin has six interceptions, Trufant and Newman five each and Banks three.

    PRICE FIRST IN WINS AND YEARS IN PAC-10: WSU coach Mike Price is now first among current Pacific-10 coaches with 109 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, having completed 12 seasons 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 12 seasons at WSU, is 63-73-0 (.463), while his career mark is now 109-117-0...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 63 wins at WSU ranks second to Hollingbery's 93...Jim Walden is third with 44 victories.

    WSU SECOND IN PAC-10 DEFENSE: Since 1992 WSU has been in the top half of the conference in defense all but twice (1992, 2000)...the Cougs won the defensive title in 1994, allowing 229 yards a game, the best average in the league since 1982 and the second best since 1993 and 1997 WSU's defense was ranked second in the Pac-10.

    NOTHING LIKE HOME: The Washington State Cougars perform much better at home than on the road during Mike Price's 12 year home the Cougars are 35-29 (54.7%) and on the road the team is 28-43 (39.4%)...WSU's 6-0 home record in 1997 is the best ever for the Cougars.

    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 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 LOOKS FOR FIRST FULL SEASON: Junior quarterback Jason Gesser is hoping 2001 will be his breakout season when it comes to injuries...In 1999 Gesser was poised to take over the starting duties when a thumb injury against Arizona shelved him for the season...last year he suffered the broken leg against Oregon in the ninth game of the season and had to sit out the final two games.

    GESSER'S 348 A CAREER HIGH: Jason Gesser threw for a career high 348 passing yards last year against Arizona and then came back the next week with 321 yards against ASU, giving him 669 yards against the schools from Arizona.

    GESSER STREAK HALTED AT 130 PASSES: Jason Gesser threw 130 straight passes without an interception over nearly five games early last year before Michael Jolivette of Arizona picked off one in the fourth quarter.

    GESSER THROWS FOR TD RECORD: In the second overtime period at Arizona Oct. 14, 2000, Jason Gesser drilled a 19-yard scoring pass to Nakoa McElrath, his sixth TD pass of the game and a WSU record...the previous record of five was shared by Jack Thompson (vs. Washington, 1976), Timm Rosenbach (Tennessee, 1988), Drew Bledsoe (Oregon State, 1991), and Ryan Leaf (California, 1977).

    GESSER NEARLY HITS TOP 10 LISTS: Sophomore Jason Gesser's untimely injury, a broken left tibia that sidelined him for the final two games in 2000, halted his chances of gaining a spot on WSU's single-season Top 10 list...he closed out his sophomore year with 1,967 passing yards and 2,014 yards in total offense...his passing total of 1,967 yards was 324 yards short of tenth on the list (Chad Davis is tenth with 2,291 in 1994), while his total offense of 2,014 yards was 250 short of tenth on the single season list (Jack Thompson's 2,264 yards in 1978 is tenth) his brief two-year career Gesser has passed for 2,412 yards and has 2,604 total offense yards.

    SCHEDULING: Coaches often talk about whom an upcoming opponent faces the week before or the week after the two teams collide.

    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 1998 WSU lost to No. 4 UCLA, No. 15 Oregon and No. 10 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 the final game of the year, WSU lost to co-national champion 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 281: WSU's offensive line weighs in at a collective 1,404 pounds, or an average of 281 pounds...the heavyweight of the group is Josh Parrish at 296 is Derrick Roche at 281, followed by Billy Knotts at 279 and Joey Hollenbeck at Tyler Hunt weighs in at 271, the lightest of the group...last year's O-Line averaged 288 for much of the season.

    COUGS SCORE OFTEN: Since 1980 WSU has averaged more than three touchdowns a game, currently boasting an average of 25.5 points per outing...the following is a breakdown of WSU scoring by season since 1980:

    TD RECORD: WSU scored at least one touchdown in 82 consecutive games between 1984 and 1991...the streak ended with a 44-3 loss to UCLA in 1991.

    WSU ON THE ROAD AT HOME: In years to come it may be a trivia question - When did the Cougars play on the road at home?...Sept. 18, 1999 Idaho was officially the home team and the Cougars were the visiting team, complete with white uniforms...and ditto Aug. 30, 2001. Idaho currently uses WSU's Martin Stadium as their home field in an effort to qualify for NCAA D-I status...the Vandal's Kibbie Dome is not large enough to allow Idaho to meet the average needed for D-I status.

    LAMONT THOMPSON RETURNS: Senior Lamont Thompson, who shares the WSU record with 14 career interceptions, returns to action this year after missing the 2000 season while recovering from a neck injury...Thompson broke into WSU's starting lineup as a freshman in 1997, starting the final four games of the year for the Cougar Rose Bowl team...he started all 11 games in 1998, then made seven starts in 1999 while plagued with injuries.

    RUSHING TOTALS UNDER 100: In the last eight years WSU has held 34 of 91 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing...the lows include Montana State's -35 and Pacific's -6 in 1993 and Montana's -6 in those 91 games, WSU has held opponents to 50 or less yards 12 times.

    WASHINGTON STATE SINCE '89: The Washington State Cougars have won 63 games since the start of the 1989 season, the year Mike Price took over the coaching reins at WSU.

    100-YARD RUSHERS FEW: Only 33 running backs have been able to crack the 100-yard mark in the last eight years and 91 games against WSU's defense...UCLA's Skip Hicks and Reuben Droughns from Oregon are the only backs to have done so in back-to-back seasons.

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