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Cougars Open 2020 Season at Oregon State

Nov 3, 2020

Game Notes at Oregon State | Nick Rolovich Postpractice | 2020 Schedule

7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020  • Fox Sports 1
Reser Stadium (43,363)  •  Corvallis, Ore.

Washington State opens the abbreviated 2020 season with a trip to Corvallis for a Pac-12 Conference matchup against Oregon State. The contest, presented by Pullman Regional Hospital, is set to kick off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. WSU went 6-7 last season including 3-6 mark in Pac-12 play and reached the Cheez-It Bowl, its fifth-straight bowl game appearance. OSU went 5-7 last season including 4-5 in league play.

Washington State is celebrating its 125th football season in 2020. WSU's first season came in 1894 and did not play the 1933 and 1934 seasons due to World War II. The Cougars own a 556-560-45 record including an 8-8 bowl mark.

The Cougars lead the all-time series with Oregon State 54-47-3 after claiming the last six meetings including a last-second 54-53 victory in Pullman last season. WSU owns a 24-23 mark in Corvallis and has won the last three matchups including a 56-37 win in Corvallis in 2018. OSU is looking for its first win in the series since 2013, 52-24 in Pullman. Nick Rolovich is 1-0 all-time against OSU following Hawaii's 31-28 win in Honolulu last season. Three Cougar assistants own OSU connections; safeties coach Mark Banker coached 14 seasons (1997-98, 2003-14) for the Beavers including the final 12 as the Defensive Coordinator, offensive line coach Mark Weber coached the OSU offensive line for three seasons (1987-90) and WSU Director of On-Campus Recruiting Jessi Seumalo played volleyball at OSU (2015-17) while her dad Joe coached the OSU defensive line and her brother Isaac was a third-round pick offensive lineman out of OSU in 2016 and is a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nick Rolovich was named the 33rd head football coach in Washington State history, Director of Athletics Pat Chun announced Jan. 14. Rolovich, 40, spent a total of eight seasons at the University of Hawai'i, the last four as head coach. He also served as Nevada's offensive coordinator for four seasons and spent two years coaching quarterbacks at City College of San Francisco. Rolovich completed his fourth season at Hawai'i with a 28-27 record and three bowl games in his time. Last season he guided UH to its first 10-win season since 2010 as the Rainbow Warriors went 10-5, capped by a 38-34 win over BYU in the Hawaii Bowl. 

• 2019 Mountain West Coach of the Year, won 5 of final 6 games while reaching the Mountain West Championship game
• Opened 2019 with back-to-back wins over Pac-12 foes Arizona and Oregon State
• Led Hawaii to first back-to-back winning seasons (2018-19) since 2006-07
• Produced 31 All-Mountain West Conference honors and 59 All-Academic honors
• In 2019, UH offense ranked fifth nationally with 338.0 ypg and No. 13 nationally in total offense at 471.0 ypg
• In 2018, UH had 5,800 yards of offense, 43 TD passes, 30.8 ppg and No. 9 nationally with 310.3 passing/g
• In 2016, took over the program as the fifth-youngest head coach in NCAA Division I FBS at the age of 37 
• Produced a 1,000-yard RB and 1,000-yard WR in 2016, hasn't been done at WSU since 2005 (Jerome Harrison and Jason Hill)

• WSU last played a seven-game schedule in 1926, when it went 6-1
• The season-opener vs. Oregon State marks the latest regular season start since Nov. 28, 1918 against Gonzaga, a 20-6 win
• WSU is opening the season with a conference game for the first time since 2009 (39-13 loss to Stanford in Pullman)
• WSU is opening the season with a road conference game for the first time since 1991 (40-14 loss at Oregon)
• WSU's last time winning a season-opener against a conference opponent on the road was 1964 (29-23 at Stanford)
• Prior to this season, the final contest marks the latest regular season game since 2002 (Dec. 7 at UCLA)
• The Dec. 4 contest at USC marks the first regular season game in December since the 2010 Apple Cup (Dec. 4 in Pullman)
• Last WSU head coach to win his debut was Bill Doba in 2003 (25-0 against Idaho in Seattle)
• Last WSU head coach to win his debut on the road was Warren Powers in 1977 (19-10 at No. 15 Nebraska)

Cougar Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert owns 13 years of collegiate coaching experience and worked the last three seasons at the University of Wyoming including the 2019 campaign as the defensive coordinator while working with the linebackers and safeties. Last season, the Cowboys were sixth in the country in red zone defense, No. 11 in the country in rush defense (107.1) and scoring defense (17.8), No. 40 in tackles-for-loss (83) and No. 43 in total defense. Dickert saw four Cowboys earn All-Mountain West Conference honors led by second-team All-American linebacker and Butkus Award Finalist Logan Wilson, who was later selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Dickert also saw redshirt-freshman defensive end Solomon Byrd earn Freshman All-American accolades. Dickert originally joined the Wyoming football staff in 2017 and coached the safeties for the 2017-18 seasons before he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2019 where he started the season coaching the linebackers and later coached the safeties. In his three seasons at Wyoming, Dickert coached a pair of future NFL safeties including three-time first-team All-Mountain West pick Andrew Wingard, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and saw four players earn All-MWC honors in 2019 while another earned 2019 Freshman All-America accolades on the defensive line.

Washington State football was not able to hold spring practice but head coach Nick Rolovich was still able to connect with Cougar fans.
• Throughout the spring, Rolovich would order a number of meals at a local Pullman restaurant, tweet out a "password" and the first 20 people to show up at the restaurant and use the password, would receive the meal
• Rolovich also provided dinner to the staff at Pullman Regional Hospital who were working a late night shift

Saturday's season-opener at Oregon State won't be the first meeting for Cougar head coach Nick Rolovich against OSU or a Pac-12 Conference opponent. Rolovich owns a 2-4 mark against the Pac-12 including a pair of wins last season.
• 2016, L, 51-31 vs. California (Sydney, Australia)
• 2016, L, 47-28 at Arizona (Tucson)
• 2017, L, 56-23 at UCLA (Pasadena)
• 2019, W, 45-38 vs. Arizona (Honolulu)
• 2019, W, 31-28 vs. Oregon State (Honolulu)
• 2019, L, 52-20 at Washington (Seattle)

Dating back to the middle of the 2003 season, ESPN's College GameDay has had the WSU flag appear throughout the show. The streak reached 250 after appearing at the Ohio State - Penn State game in Happy Valley last week. The first appearance came in Austin, Texas (10/4/03) and the streak began two weeks later in Madison, Wisc. (10/18/03). Two flags – Ol' Crimson and Gray – have been flown in the background of the GameDay set by dozens of friends and alumni. The Gray flag was added in 2014 after Whitey was retired in honor of Steve Gleason's "No White Flags." Appearance No. 217 was its first in Pullman (10/20/18), a 34-20 win over Oregon. 

Renard Bell (WR, RS-Sr.)    12 starts, 61 rec, 816 yards and 5 TD in 2019
Max Borghi (RB, Jr.)    2020 Doak Walker, Maxwell, Biletnikoff Award Watch Lists, 16 Total TD, 86 rec, 1435 all-purpose yards
Abraham Lucas (RT, RS-Jr.)    2018 Freshman All-American, 2x All-Pac-12 2nd Team, started 26 straight games
Blake Mazza (K, RS-Jr.)     2019 Lou Groza Award Finalist, All-Pac-12 First Team, 20-of-21 FG, 115 points 

George Hicks III (DB, Sr.)    39 career GP, 31 tackles and 5 PBU in 2019
Will Rodgers III (EDGE, Sr.)    32 career GP, 13.5 career TFL, 8 career sacks
Justus Rogers (LB, RS-Sr.)    39 career GP, 7 career sacks, 70 tackles in 2019
Jahad Woods (LB, RS-Sr.)    36 straight starts, 2x All-Pac-12 HM, 4th in country with 141 in 2019, 10 TFL, 2 FF

ANOTHER NEW FACE BEHIND CENTER (Player notes Pages 10-17)
The Cougars will see a new face lead the offense for the third straight season after Gardner Minshew II led the offense in 2018 and Anthony Gordon did so in 2019. Luke Falk left with a program-record 27 wins following the 2017 season, Minshew II transferred in and led WSU to 11 wins, earning 2018 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, and Gordon followed with a record-setting 2019 season, throwing for 5,579 yards and 48 TD, both Pac-12 Conference records. 
Below is a list of quarterbacks who entered preseason camp competing for the starting position (listed by year).

Cammon Cooper (RS-So.)    2018 4-star, Utah Gatorade Player of the Year, Redshirted 2018, 0 career GP
Gunner Cruz (RS-Fr.)    2018 HS All-American QB, 3-star, No. 14 passing QB prospect, Enrolled early, redshirted 2019
Jayden de Laura (Fr.)    2019 Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year, 4-star, No. 8 Pro-style QB, 3,452 yards and 29 TD
Victor Gabalis (Fr.)    Preferred Walk-On, Archbishop Murphy HS in Everett, Wash.

• Jayden de Laura is expected to be the first true freshman QB to start a season-opener in program history
• The last true freshman to start at Cougar QB was Jeff Tuel at Oregon in 2009
• The last Cougar QB to make his debut with a start on the road was Gardner Minshew II in 2018 (41-19 win at Wyoming)
• Luke Falk's first career start came in 2014 at Oregon State (471 passing yards, 5 TD, Win)
• Cammon Cooper could be the first lefthanded Cougar QB since Steve Birnbaum (1996-99)

• WSU returns just six players who caught a pass last season led by running back Max Borghi who caught a team-high 86 passes • WSU returns wideouts Renard Bell (114 career rec, 14 career TD rec) and Travell Harris (74 career rec, 6 career TD rec) • WSU's wide receiver core was rated 5th-best in the country last season according to PFF Focus, tops in the Pac-12 • last season, WSU had 3 players on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List (Brandon Arconado, Dezmon Patmon, Easop Winston Jr.), the most in the Pac-12 and second nationally only to Alabama's 4 • Dezmon Patmon was drafted by the Indianpolis Colts in the 6th round • last season, WSU had 7 receivers with 40 catches, 8 players with multiple TD catches and 7 players with 500+ rec yards • WSU had 3 of the top 5 rated slot receivers in the Pac-12, Travell Harris (2nd), Arconado (4th), Renard Bell (5th) 

The Cougar running backs served all-purpose roles for the Air Raid and will now look to increase their production in the run-n-shoot offense under Nick Rolovich. In each of the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the Cougar backs combined to record 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. The group just missed making it three straight seasons in 2018, combining for 974 rushing yards and 1,044 receiving yards while scoring 28 total TD. Last season, the 2019 running back group combined for 953 rush yards, 710 receiving yards, 103 catches and 19 total TD • WSU RBs combined to average 6.3 yards-per-carry 

Running back Max Borghi returns for his junior campaign after producing one of the best seasons by any running back in the country in 2019.
• Last season, Borghi was named Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention after rushing for 817 yards and 11 TD, and caught team-high 86 passes for 597 yards and five TD • Borghi led all Pac-12 running backs averaging 6.4 yards-per-carry • Borghi was 2nd in the Pac-12 with 16 total TD last season, tied for 3rd with 11 rushing TD • Borghi was the 1st player in WSU history to score 10 total TD in each of his 1st 2 seasons • Last season, Borghi led all RB nationally with 86 receptions and 26 missed tackles forced after the catch • Borghi was the only player in the country with 800+ rush yards, 550+ rec yards and 16 total TD in 2019 • Borghi's 16 total TD tied for 3rd-most in WSU single-season history • Borghi's 28 career total TD are 4th-most in WSU history • Borghi's 19 career rushing TD are tied for 5th-most in WSU history • Borghi is the only player in the country to be named to both the 2020 Biletnikoff Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists, also named to the Maxwell Award watch list • Borghi has caught a pass in all 26 career games, enters the week tied for the 9th-longest streak of consecutive games with a catch by any player in the country

OFFENSIVE LINE NOTES (Ratings based on PFF College)
• WSU combines to return 77 career starts on the offensive line, LT Liam Ryan (26), RG Josh Watson (25) and RT Abraham Lucas (26) • last season, WSU allowed 20 sacks on 730 dropbacks, the fewest sacks allowed in the Pac-12 • WSU blocked for four 100-yard rushing games by Max Borghi • right tackle Abraham Lucas was named to the 2020 Outland Trophy Watch List for the second straight season • WSU replaces center Fred Mauigoa who graduated as a 2-time Rimington Trophy Watch List selection, started 39 straight games and LG Rob Valencia (13 starts in 2019) • WSU produced an All-America offensive lineman in four-straight seasons; LT Joe Dahl, 2015; LG Cody O'Connell, 2016; LG Cody O'Connell, 2017; LT Andre Dillard & RT Abraham Lucas, 2018

• 2 former Cougar offensive linemen are in the NFL including a pair of starters; 
- 2016 5th-round draft pick Joe Dahl starts at left guard for the Detroit Lions 
- 2019 1st-round pick Andre Dillard made 3 starts for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, will miss 2020 with torn pectoral muscle

Redshirt-junior Blake Mazza was a Lou Groza Award Finalist last season, one of three up for the award given to the nation's top collegiate place-kicker and was the first Cougar to be named a finalist for the award in program history. 
• Named to 2019 All-Pac-12 First Team • named to Midseason All-America Second Team by The Athletic • was 20-of-21 in field goal attempts, made first 18 FG to start the season, longest consecutive FG streak in WSU history • tied for 18th in the country with a Pac-12 leading 20 made field goals, tied for 4th-most in WSU single-season history • tied for 8th-most points (115) by a kicker in the country, 2nd-most by a kicker in WSU single-season history • 2 FG of 50+ yards (50 vs. New Mexico State, career-long 51 at Utah) • named to 2020 Lou Groza Award Watch List and Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team by Athlon Sports

The Cougar defense finished the 2019 season fifth in the Pac-12 with 19 takeways and tied for second in the league with nine fumble recoveries. Since 2015, the Cougars are 29-5 when forcing multiple turnovers including a 5-0 mark when doing so in 2019. 
• Jahad Woods was 4th in the country and second in the Pac-12 with 141 tackles last season, the 4th-most in WSU history and most since 1991 • WSU's defense held Houston's D'Eriq King to 128 passing yards in last year's road win • WSU recorded 5 tackles-for-loss included 4 sacks at Arizona State • recorded 7 tackles-for-loss, 2 sacks, 3 INT and allowed just 141 pass yards against Colorado • held Oregon's Justin Herbert to 222 passing yards and 0 TD, recorded 3 sacks • held Stanford to 6 rushing yards, 10th-fewest allowed in WSU history

Two current Cougars entered the 2020 season already owning their bachelor's degree.
P Oscar Draguicevich III (social sciences) • DB Daniel Isom (social sciences)

Washington State named four players team captains for the 2020 seasons; 
Max Borghi (Jr., RB), Jahad Woods (RS-Sr., LB), Liam Ryan (RS-Sr., OL), Abraham Lucas (RS-Jr., OL)

The Cougar roster features a number of players who have family members who played professional sports. 
• LB Travion Brown's great, great uncle is Jackie Robinson (dad's side) • P Oscar Draguicevich III's dad, Oscar played professional soccer for 10 seasons including 3 for the San Jose Clash of the MLS • WR Joey Hobert's dad, Billy Joe played QB at Washington (1990-92), was a 3rd-round draft pick by the Raiders in 1993 and played 8 seasons in the NFL (Raiders, Bills, Saints, Colts), 29 career games played, 17 starts, 23 touchdown passes • WR Calvin Jackson Jr.'s dad Calvin Sr. played DB at Auburn, played 6 NFL seasons with Miami • CB Derrick Langford's dad Derrick Sr. was a 52nd-round MLB draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 1994 • RB Deon McIntosh' brother, RJ played DL at Miami and is with the Giants, younger brother Kenny is a sophomore RB at Georgia • DL Will Rodgers III's uncle is former NBA start Jason Richardson, played 13 NBA seasons • S Tyrese Ross' dad, Dominique Ross played FB for Dallas Cowboys in late 1990's • RUSH Ron Stone Jr.'s dad, Ron Sr. played OL in the NFL for 13 seasons, 3x Pro Bowler, 2x Super Bowl Winner • Ma'ake Fifita's older brother, Mosese was the starting nose tackle at Air Force last season.

Washington State made their program-record fifth straight bowl appearance, dropping a 31-21 decision to No. 24 Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl and finished 2019 with a 6-7 overall record, 3-6 mark in Pac-12 Conference play. The Air Raid led the nation in the passing (437.2), seventh in total offense (505.2) and 11th in scoring (37.8). The Cougar defense finished fifth in the Pac-12 in takeaways (19). Head coach Mike Leach produced a 55-47 record in his eight seasons with the Cougars and led WSU to a program-record six bowl appearances. Leach left to be the head coach at Mississippi State in late January.

Kicker Blake Mazza's first-team All-Pac-12 selection led eight Washington State players who received All-Pac-12 Conference recognition last season. A trio of players earned second-team honors, including redshirt-senior quarterback Anthony Gordon, redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Abe Lucas and freshman linebacker Travion Brown, who was named as a special teams/all-purpose player. Four players received honorable mention honors: sophomore running back Max Borghi, redshirt-junior offensive lineman Josh Watson, redshirt-senior wide receiver Easop Winston and redshirt-junior linebacker Jahad Woods.

Washington State went 7-0 at home in 2017, 6-1 in 2018 and 5-1 last season to push it's Martin Stadium record to 18-2 over the past three seasons.  

Since 2015, the Cougars have seen six players from San Francisco City College take the field. This season, DB Derrick Langford is the lone player from SFCC but a pair of Cougar coaches are tied to the school. Head coach Nick Rolovich played quarterback for "City" from 1998-99 and later coached the SFCC quarterbacks 2006-07. Cougar wide receiver coach Andre Allen, a San Francisco native, spent 27 seasons coaching at the City College of San Francisco (1991-2017), helping SFCC to three national titles (2007, 2011, 2015) and eight Northern California Championships. Past Cougars who played at SFCC, DB Shalom Luani (2015-16), 
S/KR Rob Taylor (2016-17), QB Anthony Gordon (2016-19), WR Easop Winston Jr. (2017-19), OL Robert Valencia (2017-19)

Matt Chazanow is in his sixth season as the play-by-play voice for Cougar football, men's basketball and baseball broadcasts. Joining Chazanow for his third season will be former Cougar quarterback Alex Brink who is the only WSU quarterback to win three Apple Cups and was later a seventh-round draft pick by the Houston Texans. Returning for her ninth season as the sideline reporter is Jessamyn McIntyre, an executive producer for Q13 FOX in Seattle.