Football Game Notes Week One: WSU Vs. Nevada

Aug. 26, 2002

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WSU VS. NEVADA The Cougars and Nevada Wolf Pack have never met on the gridiron...WSU's Mike Price is 2-5 against Nevada, with all games played while he was head coach at Weber State...Price and Tormey each won once while Tormey was at Idaho.

COUGS ENJOY PRE-SEASON NATIONAL RANKINGS: WSU has been ranked by Associated Press just twice in their pre-season poll. In 1952 WSU was ranked 15th. This year WSU enters the season ranked in just about everyone's top 15, including AP, where they are ranked 11th.

COUGS BOAST STARTING EXPERIENCE: WSU fields an experienced team in 2002, with 28 players having started at least one game...collectively they made 307 career starts, including games in 2002...the Cougar defense boasted 124 career starts by 11 players, including 71 by six linemen, 10 by two linebackers, and 43 by three defensive backs...on offense eight linemen made 99 starts, four receivers made 42 starts, and four backfield players had 29 starts, total of 170.

IT'S WHAT'S UP FRONT THAT COUNTS: Washington State returns four of five starters on the offensive line and three of four on the defensive line, prompting many preseason publications to take notice. Tom Dienhart of The Sporting News ranked WSU's offensive line as the sixth best unit in the nation, and pegged the Cougars' big men on the other side of the ball as the ninth best group in the country. Individually, Dienhart rated guard Derrick Roche, center Tyler Hunt, and defensive tackle Rien Long among the top 20 at their respective positions nationally.

MIKE PRICE PAC-10'S COACH OF THE YEAR: For the second time in five seasons, the Pacific-10 Conference named Washington State's Mike Price Coach of the Year...Price, in his 14th season at Washington State, guided a remarkable turnaround for the Cougars in 2001...coming off a 4-7 season in 2000 with two Pac-10 wins, WSU was picked to finish last in the Pac-10 in the pre-season media poll...instead, WSU rolled to a 10-2 record, a Top 10 ranking in the poll and a 6-2 conference finish...Washington State's 10 wins give Price 73 victories during his tenure on the Palouse, and 119 for his career. The 'dean' of the Pac-10 coaching fraternity was also named the conference's Coach of the Year in 1997 after guiding the Cougars to a 10-2 record and the Rose Bowl.

GESSER INCLUDED ON O'BRIEN WATCH LIST: Senior quarterback Jason Gesser was one of 32 signal callers included on the preseason Davey O'Brien Award watch list. The award has been given to the nation's top quarterback each of the last 26 seasons and is named after the Heisman Trophy-winning O'Brien, who led Texas Christian to the 1938 national championship. The list of 32 will be cut to three in late November and decided on by a committee of nationally-known sportswriters and commentators.

Offensive Lineman Derrick Roche is an All-America Candidate.

ROCHE A PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICAN: Senior right guard Derrick Roche was selected preseason first team All-America by Football News. The Kent, Wash., native has started 27 games during his Cougar career and will begin the 2002 season on the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list. Roche was also named second team All-America in the preseason by The Sporting News. PRICE TO COACH 2003 EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME: Washington State Head Coach Mike Price will patrol one of the sidelines for the East-West Shrine Game January 11, 2003 at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco, Calif. Price, who has guided the Cougars to a pair of 10-win seasons over the last five years, was selected along with Tyrone Willingham of Notre Dame. Price served as an assistant in the same event in 1996. Quarterback Jason Gesser, cornerback Marcus Trufant, and offensive lineman Derrick Roche have committed to play in the 2003 game.

GESSER FIRST THREE-TIME CAPTAIN: Senior quarterback Jason Gesser was named one of three team captains for the 2002 season, along with cornerback Marcus Trufant and wide receiver Curtis Nettles. Gesser was also selected captain as a junior and sophomore, making him the first three-time captain in the 108-year history of Cougar football.

JASONGESSER.COM: Washington State and the Official College Sports Network launched July 30, a website that will promote and track the senior quarterback's bid for the prestigious Heisman Trophy. The site can be accessed through the WSU Athletics main page, or browsers can type in for the most direct route. Biographical information, career stats, including game-by-game breakdowns, recent news, and a photo gallery of the Honolulu, Hawaii, native are featured on the site. Gesser's weekly teleconferences will be included when the season begins, as will highlights from his first three seasons.

JASON GESSER NOTES: 2001 season: Gesser's 432 yards passing against California was the third best performance ever by a Cougar QB...the top two are Drew Bledsoe's 476 yards against Utah in the 1992 Copper Bowl and Ryan Leaf's 447 yards against ASU in 1997...he had a streak of 64 passes without an interception before a pick against California when the receiver fell down...2000 season: Gesser threw six touchdown passes at Arizona, the most ever by a Cougar quarterback...his record setter was a 19-yard pass to Nakoa McElrath...Gesser threw 130 passes without an interception before Arizona picked off a pass in their 3-OT that loss Gesser threw for 348 yards, his best outing of the season...1999 season: poised to start before being sidelined with a thumb injury against Arizona...came back to play against Washington and start in WSU's win at Hawaii.

GESSER TOSSES TD PASSES: In 27 career games, Jason Gesser has thrown 42 touchdown passes, fourth on the Cougar list...ahead of him are Ryan Leaf 59, Jack Thompson 53 and Drew Bledsoe 2001 Gesser had 27 TD passes, second only to Ryan Leaf's 34 in 1997...all of Gesser's TD passes have come in his last 20 games.

PRICE ON COACH-OF-THE-YEAR LIST: WSU head coach Mike Price was picked by Football News as one of 10 semifinalists for national coach of the year honors in 2001...he was also a Football News semifinalist in 1997 and went on to win the award.

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