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Cougars Set to Host USC Saturday on FOX

Sep 13, 2021

USC (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12) at WASHINGTON STATE (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12)
12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021  •  FOX
Gesa Field (32,952)  •  Pullman, Wash.

Washington State wraps up its season-opening three-game homestand Saturday against USC at Gesa Field. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. on FOX.

Washington State returned 20 starters for the 2021 season and year two under head coach Nick Rolovich, who saw the Cougars post a 1-3 record in a Covid-19 shortened 2020 season. WSU returned 10 starters on defense led by senior linebacker Jahad Woods while senior running back Max Borghi and three-time All-Pac-12 second-team right tackle Abraham Lucas headline the eight starters who return on offense.

Washington State trails the all-time series with USC 10-61-4 including a 4-14-2 mark in Pullman but claimed the last meeting in 2017, 30-27 on a Friday night game. The Trojans posted a 38-13 victory in Los Angeles on a Sunday evening matchup last December. The Cougars have a couple connections to the USC coaching staff as current offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Graham Harrell was on the WSU coaching staff for two seasons, working as an offensive analyst in 2014 before coaching the outside receivers in 2015 while USC offensive coach Clay McGuire coached the Cougar offensive line for six seasons (2012-17). A couple members of the Cougar coaching staff have worked on the USC staff; safeties coach Mark Banker coached the USC defensive line and linebackers in 1996, offensive analyst Dan Ferrigno coached the Trojan wide receives and special teams in 2000 and Cougar director of transfer recruiting Justin Mesa spent seven years (2006-12) on the USC coaching staff. A pair of Cougar players have USC connections; wide out Carter Kamana's grandfather, John Kamana (center in 1953-54), and uncle, John Kamana (fullback and wide receiver in 1980-83), played at USC while longsnapper Simon Samarzich's father, Dave Samarzich, attended USC, where he roomed with former Trojan and NFL offensive line great Bruce Matthews.

• 24 players have made their WSU debuts; 5 players made their 1st career starts on offense, 4 on defense, 2 on special teams
• WSU is 19-4 at Gesa Field over the last 4+ seasons
• Last season, WSU led the Pac-12 with 8 forced fumbles, was 6th in the Pac-12 with 5.8 tackles-for-loss/g
• Since 2015, WSU owns 30 Pac-12 wins, tied for 5th-most among Pac-12 schools (USC - 37, Stan - 35, UW - 34, Utah - 31, Ore - 30)

• RB Max Borghi is the only player in country named to both Doak Walker and Biletnikoff Award Watch Lists
• Borghi opened his 2021 season with a 64-yard TD run vs. Utah State, had 1 rush TD against Portland State, 31 career total TD
• LB Jahad Woods owns 18 tackles in 2021, is Pac-12's active leading tackler with 337 career tackles, 7th-most in WSU history
• OL Abraham Lucas is a Preseason 4th-Team All-American by Phil Steele, 3x All-Pac-12 2nd-Team selection
• KR/PR Travell Harris was named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week, 188 all-purpose yards, 50 yard KR, 22 PR, 2 rec TD
• DL Dallas Hobbs was named a 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Hands Team Nominee (community service, academic, impact on and off the field)

Washington State and Gesa Credit Union announced a partnership to provide Gesa the naming rights to the playing surface at Martin Stadium, now named Gesa Field, pronounced gee-sah. The 10-year agreement is valued at a minimum $11 million, that will escalate as additional Gesa consumer-based incentives are reached. The agreement with WSU Athletics will formalize the first major sponsorship announced under the new Gesa Credit Union which recently merged with Inspirus Credit Union making it the second-largest credit union in the state. 

Washington State University Athletics, in alignment with our football partners in the State of Washington, the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Huskies, will require proof of vaccination for COVID-19 for fans 12 years of age and older, beginning with home contests at Gesa Field in the month of October. Those who are not vaccinated will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event. Additional details will be communicated at a later date. In the interim, effective immediately, WSU Athletics will mandate masks for all fans in attendance at Gesa Field, regardless of vaccination status. This will include both indoor and outdoor seating at all times, unless actively eating or drinking.

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 260 after appearing last Saturday in Ames, Iowa for Iowa-Iowa State. 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. 

Washington State went 7-0 at home in 2017, 6-1 in 2018, 5-1 in 2019, 0-1 in 2020 and have started 2021 1-1 to push it's Gesa Field record to 19-4 over the past four-plus seasons.  

Kick returner/punt returner Travell Harris was named the Pac-12 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday. Harris earns his second career conference weekly accolade after recording 188 all-purpose yards including a 50-yard kickoff return and a career-long 22-yard punt return, both set up touchdown drives for the Cougars in the 44-24 win over Portland State. The redshirt-senior also caught six passes for 80 yards including two for touchdowns (19, 13). Harris' 50-yard kickoff return was his seventh career kick return of 40-plus yards. The Tampa, Fla. native earned his first Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week award back in 2018 after his 100-yard kickoff return against Eastern Washington. Harris enters the week with school records in kick returns (69) and kick return yards (1,745) and owns the 10th-most career all-purpose yards (3,194) in WSU history.  

Travell Harris (WR, RS-Sr.#)    2x All-Pac-12 HM, 103 career rec, 29 rec, 340 yards and 2 TD in 2020
Max Borghi (RB, Sr.)    Doak Walker, Biletnikoff Award Watch Lists, 20 career rush TD, 140 career rec
Abraham Lucas (RT, RS-Sr.#)    3x All-Pac-12 2nd Team, 30 straight starts
Deon McIntosh (RB, 5th-year)    2020 - Led team with 6.2 yards/carry, 80.8 rush yds/g
Liam Ryan (LT, 5th-year)    2020 All-Pac-12 HM, 30 career starts

George Hicks III (DB, Sr.)    39 career GP, 31 tackles and 5 PBU in 2019
Daniel Isom (DB, 5th-year)    2020 All-Pac-12 HM, 17 career starts, 2020 - 32 tackles
Justus Rogers (LB, RS-Sr.)    43 career GP, 7 career sacks, 142 career tackles
Jaylen Watson (DB, RS-Sr.#)    2020 All-Pac-12 HM, 3 GP, 13 tackles, 2 PBU, FF, FR
Jahad Woods (LB, RS-Sr.)    40 straight starts, 3x All-Pac-12 HM, 319 career tackles, 2020 - 31 tackles, 4.5 TFL

Nick Rolovich took the reigns as the Cougars' Head Coach in 2020 after spending a total of eight seasons at the University of Hawai'i, the last four as head coach. Rolovich, 41, was named the 33rd head football coach in Washington State history, Director of Athletics Pat Chun announced Jan. 14. 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. 

• 1st WSU head coach to win his debut since Bill Doba in 2003
• 1st WSU head coach to win his debut on the road since Warren Powers in 1977
• 2019 Mountain West Coach of the Year, Reached Mountain West Championship game
• Opened 2019 with back-to-back wins over Pac-12 foes Arizona and Oregon State
• 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 

Washington State football was not able to see fans at Gesa Field in 2020 but head coach Nick Rolovich was still able to connect with Cougar fans.
• Throughout the spring of 2020, 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

WSU Head Football Coach Nick Rolovich announced in February that Kyle Krantz was named the Cougars' special teams coordinator. Krantz, a coaching veteran with 12 years of experience, including 10 seasons in the SEC as part of four different programs, arrives in Pullman having spent the previous five years (2016-20) at the University of South Carolina under head coach Will Muschamp. Most recently, he served as the Gamecocks' special teams coordinator while also assisting with the defensive backs for the 2020 season. He served as the special teams assistant while coaching the Nickels and the SAM linebackers for two seasons (2018-19) after beginning his time in Columbia, S.C. as a defensive analyst before moving to an on-field coaching position in 2018.

Cougar running backs served all-purpose roles for the Air Raid and increased their production in the run-n-shoot offense under Nick Rolovich • last season, Deon McIntosh rushed for a career-high 147 yards in the win at Oregon State, the most by a Coug since Dwight Tardy's 214 yards against UCLA in 2007 • McIntosh added another 92 yards and a score on the ground against Oregon before Max Borghi and McIntosh combined for 109 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns at Utah • McIntosh finished the season seventh in the Pac-12 averaging 80.8 yards/g • Borghi opened the 2021 season with 86 rushing yards including a 64-yard rushing touchdown against Utah State • Borghi, McIntosh and Jayden de Laura each rushed for a touchdown against Portland State

The Cougar defense was impressive in the season-opening win at Oregon State, recording 4 sacks, the most since recording 4 against Arizona in 2018 • against No. 11 Oregon, WSU forced three takeaways and tallied 6 tackles-for-loss • at No. 20 USC, WSU tallied 7 tackles-for-loss including 3 sacks and held the Trojans to five rushing yards, tied for the 10th-fewest rush yards allowing in program history • since 2015, the Cougars are 30-8 when forcing multiple turnovers • Jahad Woods enters the week with 337 career tackles, seventh in WSU history and the most by any active Pac-12 player, 3rd-most among all FBS players • WSU opened 2021 by forcing a pair of turnovers against Utah State and two more against Portland State

Renard Bell    Social Science
Cammon Cooper    Business Administration
Brian Greene    History
Jarrett Guarantano    Psychology
Travell Harris    Sport Management
George Hicks    Political Science
Tyrone Hill    Social Science
Dallas Hobbs    Digital Technology & Culture
Calvin Jackson, Jr.    Humanities
Brennan Jackson    Business Administration
Armani Marsh    Sport Management
Deon McIntosh    Social Science
Christian Mejia    Kinesiology
Justus Rodgers    Business Administration
Liam Ryan    Criminal Justice
Jahad Woods    Humanities

Matt Chazanow is in his seventh season as the play-by-play voice for Cougar football, men's basketball and baseball broadcasts. Joining Chazanow for his fourth 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.