Cougars Head South to Face Arizona

Nov. 2, 2009

PULLMAN, Wash. -

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Washington State Cougars (1-7, 0-5) at
No. 21 Arizona Wildcats (5-2, 3-1)
Arizona Stadium • Tucson, Arizona • November 7
12:30 p.m. (PT) • TV: AWSN, Fox College Sports
Radio: Cougar Sports Radio Network

SATURDAY'S GAME: Washington State (1-7, 0-5) concludes its longest stint away from Martin Stadium in 2009 when it travels to Tucson, Ariz. to face the Arizona Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) at 1:30 p.m., local time (12:30 p.m. PT). The game will be televised live by Fox College Sports and the Arizona Wildcats Sports Network, and then rebroadcast by FSN Northwest Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON STATE vs. ARIZONA - THE SERIES: Arizona holds a 23-13 advantage in the all-time series, although the Cougars have captured four of the last seven games. The Wildcats earned a 59-28 victory last season in Pullman as Nic Grigsby rushed for a game-high 189 yards and a touchdown. The last time the two teams met in Tucson, the Wildcats scored the final 28 points in a 48-20 victory in 2007. The Wildcats hold a 12-7 edge when playing at home, although the Cougars had won the previous three meetings at Arizona Stadium prior to 2007. Arizona has captured the last three games in the series after the Cougars had taken the previous four.

FOUR COUGARS RECEIVE MIDSEASON RECOGNITION: Four Cougars were included on Phil Steele's Midseason All-Pacific-10 Conference list. 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 eight games of the 2009 season, the Cougar coaching staff is still searching for continuity within its starting lineup. Midway through the campaign, injuries have forced the Cougars to use five different starting lineups in its offensive live, seven different starting lineups on offense and six 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 eight games of the 2009 season, the Cougars have been hit hard by the injury bug, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. So far this season WSU has missed 64 player games due to injury or illness. On the offensive line five players who have started this season have 17 missed games due to injury, while the defensive line has missed a total of 14 games from five players.

TURPIN HAS BIG GAME: Redshirt junior defensive tackle Toby Turpin blocked his second kick in as many weeks, this time a PAT in the first quarter against Notre Dame. Turpin blocked a field goal attempt two weeks ago against California. The last Cougar to block a PAT was also Turpin, against Stanford in 2008. The last time a Cougar player had multiple blocks in the same season was in 2004, when both Cody Boyd (three) and Erik Coleman (two) did it. Turpin also recorded his first sack of the season, and his first since Hawaii in 2008.

FIRST STARTS: Continuing a trend from 2008, WSU has had a number of players make their starting debuts in 2009. Through the first eight games, 19 Cougars have made their first career starts, six on offense and 13 on defense. In 2008 26 players registered their first start for WSU, 17 on offense and nine on defense. First-time offensive starters in 2009 include Gino Simone (WR), Zack Williams (OG), Jeffrey Solomon (WR), Alex Reitnouer (OL), Jeff Tuel (QB) and Tyson Pencer (OT). Defensive 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), Mike Ledgerwood (LB), Terrance Hayward (CB) and Dan Spitz (DE).

NOTRE DAME NOTABLES: Freshman wide receiver Gino Simone caught one pass for 15 yards, giving him at least one reception in each of the seven games he has played this year...he missed the SMU game with a concussion...sophomore wide receiver Jared Karstetter caught two touchdown passes, giving him five on the season...the total is the most by a Cougar since Brandon Gibson caught nine touchdown passes in 2007...freshman Jared Byers' 12-yard reception in the second quarter was the first of his career...redshirt senior linebacker Jason Stripling's 13 tackles were a career high and marked the first double-digit effort of his career...redshirt sophomore linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis recorded his second double-digit tackling game of the season...his 12 tackles were a career high...Andy Mattingly became the 10th Cougar to force a fumble this season...WSU has forced 13 fumbles in 2009, more than twice the total than in all of 2008 (six)...WSU has recovered 12 fumbles in 2009, four times as many as in all of 2008 (three), and the most by a Cougar team since 2006 (14).

DEFENSE CREATING MORE OPPORTUNITIES: The WSU defense has forced 20 turnovers, and ranked second in the Pac-10 entering the week. The total is already more than in all of last season (13).

TUEL GOES OVER 300: Freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel's 354 passing yards are the second-most by a true freshman quarterback in school history. Drew Bledsoe holds WSU's record by a true freshman, throwing for 385 yards against Arizona, Oct. 27, 1990. Tuel had eclipsed his career high with 232 yards in the first half. The last Cougar quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a game was Alex Brink, who threw for 399 yards against Washington in 2007.

FRESHMEN STARTS APPROACHING DECADE HIGH: Through the first eight games of 2009, the Cougars have had a combined 41 starts by freshmen, more than in nine of the last 10 full seasons. In the last 10 years, only 2008 (47) saw more combined starts by freshmen. Additionally, 10 freshmen have garnered starting roles this year, the most by a Cougar team since WSU also started 10 freshmen in 2000.

TURNOVERS WAY DOWN FROM 2008: The Cougars have a turnover margin of -2 in 2009. Through the first eight games of 2008, WSU had a turnover margin of minus-15. Against both Stanford and California this season the Cougars have played turnover-free, something they did not accomplish at any point during 2008.

WSU CONCLUDING LONG ROADTRIP: Since WSU's home game against SMU, the Cougars have embarked on a part of their schedule that sees them play five of six games on the road. Following contests at USC and Oregon, WSU returned home to host Arizona State Oct. 10. After a bye, the Cougars play their following three games on the road at Cal, Notre Dame (San Antonio) and Arizona. All added up, WSU will be away from Martin Stadium for 35 days.

FORZANI GOES DEEP: Redshirt junior wide receiver Johnny Forzani's 68-yard touchdown against California was his second of more than 65 yards in as many games (he also caught a 99-yard touchdown against Arizona State). The last Cougar to catch multiple 65-yard-plus touchdowns in the same season was Chris Jackson in 1997. Jackson caught 72- and 78-yard touchdown passes against California and UCLA, respectively.

ALFRED NAMED DRADDY SEMIFINALIST: Senior offensive lineman Kenny Alfred was named a semifinalist for the Draddy Trophy by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. The Draddy Trophy recognizes the best and brightest in college football, as nominees must have at least a 3.2 GPA, must be a first team player or significant contributor and must demonstrate strong leadership and citizenship. Alfred's former teammate Alex Brink was a finalist for the award in 2007.

TARDY RUSHING FOR A FIRST: Redshirt senior running back Dwight Tardy is looking to become the first known running back in school history to lead WSU in the statistical category in four consecutive seasons. Dating as far back as 1942, only three backs have led WSU in rushing in three consecutive seasons: Tardy (2006-08), Shaumbe Wright-Fair (1990-92) and Tim Harris (1980-82). So far this season Tardy has rushed for a team leading 258 yards.

PUNT FORREST, PUNT: Junior Reid Forrest continues to be a bright spot for the Cougars' special teams. So far this season he is averaging 43.5 yards per kick, with a career-best 65-yarder against USC. He has 11 punts this season over 50 yards, including three over 60. Forrest has moved into WSU's all-time list for both career punts and career punting yards. His 7,516 career punting yards rank sixth on the Cougars' all-time list as do his 180 career punts.

IMPROVEMENT IN RED ZONE: Through the first eight games of the 2009 season, the Cougar defense has taken a hard stand in the red zone. WSU is second in the Pac-10 in red zone defense, allowing just 73.5 percent of chances finding the scoreboard. Opponents have entered WSU's red zone 34 times, coming away with 20 touchdowns (58.8 percent) and three field goals. The Cougars have created five turnovers inside their 20, the most by any conference school. Since the start of the 2001 season, no Cougar team has allowed less than 70 percent of successful red zone chances.
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