WSU Football, 2-0, Opens Pacific-10 Play Against California

Sept. 17, 2001

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WHO: WSU Cougars (2-0 overall, 0-0 in Pac-10) vs. California Bears (0-2, 0-0 in Pac-10)
WHAT: Pacific-10 Conference Cougar Football
WHEN: Saturday, September 22, Kickoff 2:00 p.m. PDT
WHERE: Martin Stadium (37,600, FieldTurf), Pullman, Wash.
TV: No Live TV, Fox Sports Northwest will air the replay Sunday, 10:00 a.m. Sept. 23

THE COACHES: WSU - Mike Price (Puget Sound '69) has a 65-73-0 (.471) record at WSU in 13 years and a career mark of 111-117-0 (.487) in 22 seasons at Weber State (1981-88, 46-44-0) and WSU (1989-present). CALFIORNIA - The California Bears are coached by Tom Holmoe (BYU '83)...he is 15-31-0 in five years at California and 15-31-0 in his career.

WSU VS. CALIFORNIA: California holds a 36-23 lead over WSU since the first game was played in recent years, however, WSU has had the upper hand, especially at home...WSU has won 10 straight at home (9 in Pullman, 1 in Spokane, 1981) since Cal's last win 45-13 in Pullman in 1979...WSU is 13-5-1 against Cal since 1979, including a 21-17 win last year in Berkeley...WSU's last home win was 31-7 in 1999...California's last win was 24-14 at home in 1998.

COUGS SHUT DOWN THE RUN: WSU has allowed just 128 net rushing yards in the first two games, 74 yards by the Idaho Vandals and 54 yards by the Boise Broncos...WSU currently ranks 13th nationally allowing 64 yards per game...the last time WSU started the year holding the first two opponents to less than 100 yards was 1995 when Pitt had 78 and Montana -6 yards.

McELRATH LEADS ALL RECEIVERS: Nakoa McElrath, WSU's senior receiver, is the nation's leading receiver when it comes to receiving yards...McElrath has hauled in 18 passes for 251 yards, averaging 175.50 yards per game...he also ranks tied for fourth in receptions, 9.0 per game, seventh in scoring with 15.00 points per game, and ninth in all-purpose running at 175.50 yards per game.

2001 CAPTAINS: WSU - QB Jason Gesser (17), RB Jeremy Thielbahr (33), RB Dave Minnich (34), SS Billy Newman (10). CALIFORNIA: Game captains selected each week.

COUGS BOAST STARTING EXPERIENCE: WSU returns 17 starters from last year and now boasts 35 players who have made 291 career starts, including games this year.

COUGS PLAY CLOSE GAMES: One of the goals this year for the Washington State football team is to turn the close losses of last season into wins in WSU's first two outings this fall WSU has outscored the opponents 77-27 in gaining two wins...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...the other close setbacks were 53-47 triple-OT loss to Arizona, a 23-20 single-OT loss to Arizona State and a 27-24 single-OT loss to Oregon...WSU pulled out wins over California 21-17, Boise State 42-35 and USC 33-27.

INJURY UPDATES: Information from WSU training staff Sept. 17 - RETURNING: RB John Tippins (knee strain), OL Sam Lightbody (ankle). OUT: OT Billy Knotts (dislocated knee cap), LB Will Derting (ACL, left knee).

McELRATH OFF TO FASTEST START: Nakoa McElrath is the first WSU receiver to catch 18 passes in the first two games of the season...averaging nine receptions per game, he is on pace for 90 receptions this year, well ahead of Mike Levenseller's school record 67 catches in 1976.

FIVE FROSH PLAY: Five WSU freshmen have played in WSU's first two games...they are 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.).

NEWCOMERS BOOST RECEIVING CORPS: Several new WSU receivers who arrived on campus this fall played in the opener against Idaho, a pair of junior college transfers and one freshman...rookie Trandon Harvey (San Diego, Calif.) has seven receptions in the first two games, while transfer Jerome Riley (Los Angeles Valley College) has caught two passes...another transfer, Tyjaun Mayfield (San Bernadino Valley College), has also seen action, but has yet to catch his first pass.

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 first two games...against Idaho Bush made four receptions for 97 yards, then had two for 69 yards and a TD at Boise State...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.

McELRATH SHINES: Senior Nakoa McElrath, last year overshadowed by the play of seniors Milton Wynn (52 receptions) and Marcus Williams (33 catches), has quickly become WSU's go-to the Idaho opener he hauled in 10 passes for 141 yards and two scores, then came back with eight catches for 210 yards and three scores at Boise State...the senior from Palomar College and Scripps Ranch High is the eleventh Cougar to catch 10 or more passes in a game, leaving him just two short of the WSU record of 12 set by Doug Flansburg in 1966...last year his best game, after transferring to WSU, was five receptions for 106 yards and three TDs at Arizona in a triple overtime loss.

DOES TWO WINS MEAN THREE: The last five times WSU won the first two games of the year they also won game three: 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997 and 1998...the last time WSU started 2-0 and lost the third game was 1988 when they fell to Oregon after beating Illinois and Minnesota...they overcame the Oregon setback and finished 9-3-0 in 1988.

RED ZONE: WSU has been inside the opponent 20 yard line 11 times this year, scoring 57 points with seven touchdowns and three field goals...opponents have scored 20 points in the red zone.

NEWMAN COLLECTS 259 TACKLES: Billy Newman, WSU's senior safety has 259 career tackles to rank 12th on WSU's single season list...Newman is only 21 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 last 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 California 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 California has a collective 71 starts and 25 interceptions - seniors Lamont Thompson (24 starts, 14 interceptions) and Billy Newman (25, 5), junior Marcus Trufant (20, 6) and sophomore Jason David (2, 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.

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 191 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: WSU is +1 in turnovers after two games thanks to three interceptions last week at Boise State...WSU opponents have not lost a fumble, but have thrown three interceptions.

    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.

    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 111 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 65-73-0 (.471), while his career mark is now 111-117-0...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 65 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 35-30 (53.8%) and on the road the team is 29-43 (40.3%)...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 five games early in 2000 before Michael Jolivette of Arizona picked off one in the fourth quarter at Tucson...he is now working on a streak of 56 straight without an interception, dating back to his last three throws against Oregon just prior to suffering a broke leg in game nine.

    GESSER PUSHES CAREER TOTALS: With 498 yards passing and 38 yards rushing, Jason Gesser has pushed his career totals to 2,910 yards passing, 230 yards rushing and 3,140 yards of total offense...the junior quarterback is now 262 yards short of Bob Newman (1956-58), who is tenth on the Cougar career passing list at 3,172 yards...he is also 379 yards short of Rueben Mayes (1982-85), who is tenth on the career total offense list with 3,519 yards.

    GESSER THROWS FOR TD RECORD: Jason Gesser threw six touchdown passes at Arizona last season, the most ever by a Cougar quarterback...his record setter was a 19-yard pass to Nakoa McElrath.

    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 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 is Derrick Roche at 281, followed by 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.

    WSU EXPLODES IN FIRST TWO GAMES: WSU has scored 77 points in the first two games of the 2001 season, the most in the first two outings since WSU scored 87 points to open the 1989 season, Mike Price's first year at 1989 WSU beat Idaho 41-7 and BYU 46-41...WSU's point margin through two games is 50 1988, the year WSU went to the Aloha Bowl, the Cougars opened up with a 44-7 win over Illinois and a 41-9 win over Minnesota, a margin of 69 points in the first two games.

    COUGS SCORE OFTEN: Since 1980 WSU has averaged more than three touchdowns a game, currently boasting an average of 25.5 points per outing.

    * = 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, returned to action this season 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, despite batting injuries all season.

    RUSHING TOTALS UNDER 100: In the last nine years WSU has held 36 of 93 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 93 games, WSU held opponents to 50 or less yards 12 times.

    WSU DEFENSE HALTS LONG RUSHES: In the last eight years WSU has allowed just 87 runs of 20 yards or longer in 91 games.

    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 nine years and 92 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.

    WSU'S SACK ATTACK: WSU's defense racked up seven sacks at Boise State and now has 11 in two games...the seven sacks against BSU is the most since the 1994 club recorded 10 in a 21-7 win over Oregon in Pullman...the school record is 48 sacks in 1989.

    MIKE PRICE TV SHOWS: 'KXLY Cougar Football Saturday' airs each Saturday during the football season at 12:00 p.m. PT, leading into ABC's Pac-10 Game of the Week...Rick Lukens, Dennis Patchin, Mike Boyle and Bud Nameck host the shows...FOX Sports Net Northwest's nightly (7:00 p.m.) Northwest Tonight program also gives extensive coverage to Price and Cougar football.

    WEEKLY WSU PRESS CONFERENCES: WSU hosts a weekly press conference each Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. in the Media Information Conference Room, Bohler Addition 195. All in-season head coaches and selected players (when available) will be available for the phone conference and in-person interviews. Contact the WSU Media Information Office for more information. Members of the media may attend in person or participate by use of the telephone.

    LISTEN TO COUGAR GAMES ANYWHERE: Cougar football fans can listen to the Voice of the Cougars Bob Robertson's broadcasts, even if a network station is not in your locale. TRZ Sports Service Inc.'s 'Teamline' provides the hookup directly into the Cougar Sports Network. Call 1-800-846-4700 and punch in the Cougar access code 5938. The cost is charged to your VISA or Mastercard.

    LIVE TELEVISION: Pac-10 television action Saturday, Sept. 22, will include Ohio State at UCLA at 12:30 p.m. PDT on ABC (national) and USC at Oregon at 7:15 p.m. PDT on FOX Sports Net.

    FSNW-TV: FOX Sports Net (Northwest) will air a full-game replay of the WSU-California game...airtime will be Sunday, Sept. 23, at 10:00 a.m.

    AUDIO ON INTERNET: WSU's football broadcasts are now available on the Internet through FansOnly, WSU's Web provider...the address is:

    WSU RADIO: Bob Robertson, Jim Walden, Jeff Aaron, and Bud Nameck combine talents on the 24-station Cougar Sports Network. Robertson is in his 35th year of broadcasting Cougar sports, while Walden, a former Cougar head coach (1978-86), is in his first season as a Cougar broadcaster. Broadcast time is 60 minutes prior to kickoff. Additionally, the one-hour 'Mike Price Show,' produced and distributed by Learfield Communications, airs weekly on most network stations live Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.. Robertson is the show's regular host...all broadcasts are available via the internet. To listen, and for complete broadcast schedules, connect to

    SATELLITE: The Pacific-10 office transmits a weekly 30-minute highlight package each Wednesday at 11:30 - 12:00 PT on Telstar 6, Transponder 9, C-Band (if trouble, call 310-543-1835 or the Pac-10 office).

    PRICE AND PLAYERS AVAILABLE: WSU head football coach Mike Price is available for individual media interviews 11:00 a.m.-Noon Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (expect prior to road games). Arrangements for Price interviews must be made through his office, 509-335-0250. WSU players are available for interviews before and after practice each Tuesday and Wednesday and before practice each Thursday. Contact Jason Hickman at the WSU Media Information Office.

    PRICE PHONE CONFERENCES: Mike Price is available for media interviews three times weekly via a conference phone hookup, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. and Thursday at 2:30 p.m. For access information contact the WSU Media Information Office.

    TICKETS: Tickets for all Cougar home and away games are available through the WSU Ticket Office, North 225 Grand, Pullman, Wash. 99164-1910, or by calling 800-GO-COUGS (available toll free from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands).

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