A pretty interesting day in Pullman, what with a couple of visitors to basketball practice and some doings on the football practice field. Read on.
• Let's start with the basketball visitors. I stuck my head in the basketball practice for a while during football and was surprised to see a couple gentlemen over on the far side of the court. Former Cougar – and UW – coach Marv Harshman, escorted by his son Dave, were in attendance as WSU went through its workout today. ... Heard through the grapevine WSU did well in its scrimmage Friday against Montana in Spokane. I understand they held the Grizzlies to 59 points – though I don't know how long they played – with Marcus Capers and DeAngelo Casto (the leading scorer) playing well on both ends of the court. Because there can be no publicity about these closed scrimmages, that's about all I know and can pass on.
• Now back to football. Another spirited practice marred by a couple minor (as far as I could tell) injuries. On the second play of the day, tight end Tony Thompson caught a pass, got hit slightly and had to leave, a little dinged up. He ended up going inside to be checked out. ... Another tight end, Aaron Gehring, didn't suit up at all. He's suffering from a stinger. ... Freshman running back Arthur Burns, redshirting this season, practiced with the scout defensive team today, running at a linebacker spot. Burns played both ways in high school and, at 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, he makes a pretty speedy linebacker. ... Chima Nwachukwu's right ankle was in a boot. It doesn't look good for this week. Redshirt freshman Jay Matthews would take his place. ... We picked Nic Grigsby for our player to watch this week, but the Arizona junior may not play. He's still getting over a shoulder injury and the Wildcats may give him the week off. ... Wulff talked a little today about the three consecutive long road trips. Of course playing on the road isn't easy, he said, but it will pay off in the long run. He sees the team as having grown tighter in the past few weeks. ... Arizona coach Mike Stoops said today he sees the Cougars playing harder this season and it's obvious to him they believe Jeff Tuel is their future. ... Speaking of the future, running back Rickey Galvin, from Berkeley High, has committed to WSU according to Cougfan. This is a guy I know WSU really wanted, enough so that as many as three coaches attended his game when WSU played Cal.
• Talked with Tuel after practice today and it turns out the Cougars' future lived most of his life in Tucson, though he wasn't really a big UA fan. Though he did play on Arizona's field at halftime once as a third grader. Not as a quarterback, he said, but as a running back. And yes, he does think he'll be a little faster this time. ... He said one year he and his buddies, most of whom still live there, won city titles in baseball, soccer and football the same year. As he said, "It will be cool," to run onto Arizona's field this Saturday. ... The Tuels left Tucson for the Fresno area after Jeff's freshman year at Southpointe Catholic. ... His best buddy from those days, who he visited after graduating last spring is Michael Descisciolo, is a freshman walk-on.
• And here's my Pac-10 notes ...
PULLMAN – Talk about lucky.
Twice this season the Stanford Cardinal has been fortuitous enough to be the "next game."
Twice this season the seven-time defending conference champion USC Trojans have lost to a Pac-10 school.
Twice this season the Trojans' conquerors have had to follow up their emotional wins with, yes, you guessed it, a game at Stanford.
The first time it happened, after Washington upset USC, 16-13, it worked out well for the Cardinal. Stanford jumped all over the Huskies early and won going away 34-14.
"You fight it the best you can, you try to take it on upfront, but you can get caught looking back at the last game," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I don't think we did that. For us, the challenge was to try to replicate the energy, the enthusiasm, the emotion that goes into college football was difficult to match when we went to Stanford.
"When you play at home in front and there is so much energy in the air ... when we went on the road I didn't feel that same emotion, that same energy."
Saturday, the Cardinal will get another team on the rebound. Oregon, fresh off its 47-20 trouncing of USC on national television last week, will pack up its strangely colored uniforms and head to the Bay Area.
Will it affect the Ducks?
"We'll find out Saturday I guess," said first-year head coach Chip Kelly, though, when pressed, he was pretty adamant it wouldn't.
"I know we've talked about it," he said. "(We said) 'do you want to be defined because you had a big win over USC in the middle of your season and you finished 7-5?' That's the stark reality.
"I'm a big 'you-are-what-you-are' guy. Right now we're 7-1. That guarantees a chance to finish 7-5. It doesn't guarantee us anything else."
But odds of the seventh-ranked Ducks losing out are pretty remote. Even a Vegas hangover isn't that big.
"There doesn't appear to be a way to shut them down," Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. "You're going to have to try and contain them the best you can."
Instead of relying on luck, Harbaugh may ask for help from the man upstairs. And, no, not the replay booth.
"Hopefully we'll get a lot of sunshine and (the stadium grass) will grow," Harbaugh said, "maybe that's what it takes to slow them down."
Game of the Week
No. 7 Oregon (7-1, 5-0 in Pac-10) at Stanford (5-3, 4-2)
12:30 p.m. Saturday; FSN
The Ducks offense is on a roll. The 613 yards they rolled up on USC is the second-most the Trojans have ever given up. But the numbers – 391 yards rushing, 9-for-9 in the red zone – may not illustrate how well Oregon executed as starkly as this quote from USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo. "We just really couldn't find the ball and they were doing everything right." If the Trojans, who had the Pac-10's best rush defense going in (they are now fifth) couldn't stop the Ducks, what hope does Stanford have?
• That's it for now. We'll be back in the morning with links. Until then …