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WSU’s defeat to Oregon, the day after


COUGARS

The great thing about college football in general and the Pac-10 Conference in particular, is no matter how good or bad things get, looking back is only an option for about, oh, 30 minutes. The No. 3 team – Oregon, for now – may have just left town with a 43-23 win in their pocket, but that has to be forgotten. The No. 9 team – Arizona, for now – in the nation will be here in less than a week and it will be pissed off, after losing 29-27 to Oregon State. Get caught looking behind and the team in front steamrolls you. But, thankfully, we don’t have that problem. We can look back all we want. And we will on the link, so read on.

••••••••••

• Before we get to the links, we want to share our four keys to the game, which seem to have disappeared on line, and some extra comments by Cougar players and coaches. Here are the four keys …

• What went right …

Washington State was the more physical team from the opening kickoff. And that’s something coach Paul Wulff has been stressing. “We keep talking about being tough,” he said. “That’s the next step for our football team. They have to tougher, more physical.” They were in this one. “We got off the ball and we played fast defensively,” Wulff said. “We had some big plays, some big hits, on special teams. It’s young energy.” And gave that youth a blueprint for the future. “Now they know they can play at that level,” Wulff said. “And they also know where we’ve got to get to.”

• What went wrong …

The big play really bit the Cougars. It started with LaMichael James’ 84-yard pass reception, continued through Cliff Harris’ 67-yard punt return, was evident on Nate Costa’s 43-yard run and finished with James’ 55-yard blast up the sideline. James’ scoring catch-and-run – the pass covered about 10 yards; he took care of the rest – was the product of a linebacker and nickel back getting caught inside. Harris’ punt return came after the Cougars seemed to stop, thinking he was going to let the bouncing ball continue to roll. Costa’s run was a missed assignment and James’ capper including a couple missed tackles.

• Turning point …

Trailing 36-23 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter, the Cougars were driving for a score that would, at the least, make the game interesting. After throwing a perfect fade route to Jared Karstetter down the right sideline for 35 yards to the Oregon 12, Jeff Tuel tried to power a pass into Daniel Blackledge at the goal line. It didn’t get there. Linebacker Casey Matthews picked it off. “They had been bringing pressure and they didn’t pressure off that side that time,” offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy said. “The ball needed to go outside. And he hung too long on the inside and made a mistake.”

• Difference maker …

Though defensive tackle Brandon Bair didn’t get one of the Ducks’ four sacks, he knocked Tuel to the ground four times after the ball was released. The 6-foot-7, 272-pound senior also had 3.5 tackles for loss, accounting for 14 yards, and disrupted countless other plays. “He’s a big wiry guy, long arms, good football player,” Wulff said. “He created a lot of problems for us.” With Bair and rover Eddie Pleasant supplying the pressure, the Cougar offensive line struggled to protect Tuel, who was hurried often. “We did not protect well enough today,” Wulff said. “He took too many hits. We have to get better at that, without question.”

•••

• Anthony Carpenter on …

The Cougars: “We’re starting to believe now. Starting to believe we can win games. Talent is not the issue. We’ve just got to execute.”

• Jared Karstetter on …

Winning: “We are so close, but we need to quit saying it and start doing it.”

• Paul Wulff on …

The game: “We made enough mistakes and Oregon made enough plays to keep us from winning the game.”

Jeff Tuel: “When he has time, he’s going to throw it against anyone in this country. That’s the bottom line.”

The run defense: “I thought our defense did a dang good job (on James).”

• Todd Sturdy on …

Mistakes: “A couple penalties hurt us and a few consistency things that took us out of drives.”

What stopped the offense: “A little bit too much pressure at times. Their speed up front, we knew it was going to be a factor.”

Logwone Mitz’s play: “I thought he showed some passion, thought he ran the ball hard.”

The offense: “The disappointing thing is we had some third-and-shorts we didn’t get. Bottom line is we’ve got to get those.”

• Myron Beck on …

The freshmen linebackers: “They’re both very big guys. Sekope, he played on the D-line. And C.J., he’s just as big as Sekope. And they’re both fast.”

The defense: “We played real physical the first half. We’ve just got to put together a whole game.”

• Jeff Tuel on …

What Chip Kelly told him in the tunnel after the game: “He just said he really believes I’m one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac-10 and he’s telling every paper he can about that. It was really nice of him to do that.”

His 30-yard pass to Marquess Wilson: “It was really a busted play kind of. It wasn’t how it was designed to come out. The two receivers running next to each other. I saw Marquess, so I tried to throw it in there to him and he ended up making a great catch for it.”

• Sekope Kaufusi on …

Playing linebacker: “I feel like it’s my natural position. It just came to me quick. Get from sideline to sideline, that’s all that goes on in my head. Wherever the ball goes, I go.”

His fumble recovery: “I didn’t know the ball had popped out until someone went ‘fumble,’ and I was like ‘where, where, where?’ I just jumped over C.J. because he was on top of LaMichael James and I just grabbed it with one hand and brought it in.”

The game: “It just hurts to know we could have come out with a victory.”

• Tyree Toomer on …

The physical play: “We’ve been a lot more physical in practice and now that’s carrying over into the game.”

“Guys are laying people out. Carp had one of the biggest hits I’ve ever seen in person today.”

• James Montgomery on …

Dropped passes: “They’re just killers.”

Offensive mistakes: “Little penalties here and there, shooting us in the foot. We left 14, 21 points out there just on holds. Two holds, that’s a real setback for us.”

•••

• Washington State: We’re going to start in a different manner. Our photographer, Chris Anderson, had these photos from the action. … On to the stories. … John Blanchette’s column looks at the Cougars from another perspective. … John and I combined on the notebook. … The game story as it ran in the S-R and the longer version from last night. … CougCenter, free of the shackles of space considerations, breaks the game down into offense, defense and overall. … ESPN.com’s Ted Miller had this view from Tucson. … I have a question for you, especially if you set through the rain at the game. If it had been on TV, do you think folks would have a better feeling about how WSU played or would they still feel Oregon had a letdown, which seems to be the consensus around the country?

•••

• Around the Pac-10: Miller hands out his helmet stickers and tells us what we learned. … Jerry Scott took his traveling show to Oregon last weekend. … With Alabama losing, who is going to take over atop the college football polls? Right behind Ohio State, of course. … Washington: Jake Locker was under the weather and so were the Huskies in a killer of a 24-14 loss to Arizona State. … The columnists were out in force last night, with Steve Kelley, Jerry Brewer and John McGrath all weighing in. … Oregon State: The Beavers upset Arizona 29-27 in Tucson, but they may have lost James Rodgers for the season. … Oregon: The Ducks overcame some adversity, including losing Kenjon Barner on a big hit on a kickoff return and quarterback Darron Thomas to a shoulder injury. … Nate Costa filled in admirably. … Some more notes. … Cal: Talk about up and down. Wait, the UCLA section is below. … Stanford: The Cardinal edge USC 37-35 on a last-second field goal. … USC: For the second consecutive week, the Trojans stumble late to a long drive and a field goal. … UCLA: OK, now we can talk about an up-and-down season. … Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ bowl hopes stay alive with the victory in Seattle…. Arizona: The Wildcats’ Pac-10 title hopes suffer a big blow thanks to OSU quarterback Ryan Katz.

•••

• That’s all for this morning. We’ll be back after Paul Wulff’s press conference today. We actually thought of about a dozen questions we forgot to ask last night. Until then …


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