It's time for our pregame post, this one coming from one of the iconic football facilities in the country (notice I didn't say best). And, for once, the post includes some news, though not the news Washington State fans want to read. Read on.
• There will be no Jeff Tuel tonight. The junior quarterback ended up not being cleared by the medical staff and, though he will suit up, he won't be playing. He will be X-rayed and evaluated again on Wednesday, to see how far the injury – in case you've been in Kubikastan or somewhere, a fractured left clavicle – has progressed. Basically, he's still in limbo and he may or may not play the next week against Stanford. ... Another Cougar starter who will miss is right tackle Wade Jacobson. The senior tweaked his back earlier this week and it never healed. In fact, Jacobson was no condition to get on a plane Friday so he did not make the trip. It looks like Dan Spitz will start in his place, with his backups being redshirt freshman Jake Rodgers and Rico Forbes, the JC transfer who the Cougars are trying to redshirt. ... Watching the offensive linemen wander around the Rose Bowl right now, playing catch, it reminded me of something that happened Thursday before practice I wanted to pass along but forgot – hey, I'm 55. The linemen like to play catch or punt the football when they have time and Thursday, B.J. Guerra tossed a 25-yard or so pass in the direction of John Fullington. Fullington, pretty athletic for a 6-foot-5, 290-pound man, turned away from the pass and caught it behind his back. Yes, behind his back. The rest of the o-linemen busted up. ... So what's going to happen tonight? Last week I thought I had a bit of a handle on what was going to happen. Tonight, because of WSU's injuries – Jacobson and possibly Nolan Washington, who didn't practice much this week – I'm a little more perplexed. I still believe the key for the Cougars tonight is stopping – or slowing down or containing – UCLA's rushing attack. As I wrote this morning in the paper, there are a lot of ways to do that, from actually playing excellent run defense to getting a lead and forcing the Bruins to pass to catch up. But I don't know if any of that will happen. ... The scoring a lot part may depend on how well the offensive line plays, and yes, I know UCLA's pass rush doesn't scare anyone. But two-fifths of WSU's starters will be out and the offensive line has been a work in progress anyway. We'll see how it will hold up. ... And if that doesn't happen, then the defense has to be stout up front and tackle well. Whether Tyree Toomer or Casey Locker get most of the snaps at free safety – they split them last week and during practice – they both have to tackle well. So do the corners, and that's one thing Washington does. He sticks his nose into the play, giving WSU three guys it can count on to rotate at the two positions, keeping everyone fresh. ... There is one area I think WSU has advantage when UCLA has the ball, though. I do think the defensive line can wreak havoc on the Bruin offensive line. That UCLA group is no better than average and, if the Cougars play to their potential, there's a chance to make plays on the Bruin side of the line of scrimmage. ... One quick housekeeping note I think I need to pass along, due to the late start to tonight's game. We have to write our game story as the game progresses, which will cut into our tweeting time quite a bit, especially in the second half. I will try to keep it coming, but if it comes down to working on the story or tweeting, I'll be working on the story.
• That's it for now. We'll be back after the game, after we run down to the locker room and back up to our seat, which might be an iffy situation. Until then ...