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Archive for September 2012

Late night WSU musings

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Something about driving 4 1/2 hours is good for the brain (my back, however, is a different story). Anyway, the trip home this afternoon gave us plenty of time to think, and with Washington State cancelling its scheduled 8 p.m. practice, we figured it'd be a good time to pass along some notes and thoughts from yesterday's game. Read on.

A late night in Seattle

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's not often I see the other side of midnight anymore. It was a time I used to visit quite often in my younger days, either for work or pleasure. But not much anymore. Last night, thanks to a combination of work and pleasure, we were still awake at 2 a.m. But not really. Read on.

The morning after

COUGARS

FROM SEATTLE — Before we head back to Pullman for practice tonight, we'll run down all of the links you need from both the Washington State game and the rest of the Pac-12.

Tale of the tape: Oregon 51, WSU 26

COUGARS

FROM SEATTLE — Our postgame coverage will be without video tonight, for the simple reason that there just wasn't enough time to do any — these late games are killer with deadlines and all that. But we do have our capsulated look at tonight's game. Read on.

Vandals get shellacked on Tobacco Road

Sometimes the final score isn't indicative of a how game went. Idaho's 66-0 loss at North Carolina isn't one of those games. We've got details on the rout that transpired in Chapel, N.C., after the link.

EWU, Big Sky Game Day links

The Eagles and Griz kick off this afternoon at Roos Field, and there are plenty of stories setting it up, starting with our preview, andin case you missed it, a profile of offensive lineman and captain Will Post. From the Missoulian, here a look from the Grizzlies' perspective. And this from the Billings Gazette, which also previews Montana State's game at Southern Utah. …

A great day for sports

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Is there anything better than spending an entire day vegging out in front of the television set, watching a golf tournament that has the ambiance of a football – both U.S. football and the world's definition of the game – game? Sure there is. But it's still pretty cool and it was how we spent our Friday. About 11 hours of golf broken up with seemingly endless strings of commercials. But today will be even better in that the golf is still on, albeit on NBC, while, during the long commercial breaks, there is real football to watch. I'm not sure I'm leaving the Laz-E-Boy much today either. Until about 10 p.m. tonight. Read on.

Links on the day of the game

COUGARS

FROM SEATTLE — Hard to believe this is the fifth game day of the season, but here we are. In a few hours, we'll drive over to CenturyLink Field — hopefully avoiding traffic — and settle in to watch Washington State take on Oregon. For now, here are some links.

Idaho-UNC on tap this afternoon

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora was asked this week if there's a certain danger that comes with playing 0-4 teams like Idaho. His response: “No doubt about it, especially when you have an 0-4 team that is probably the best in the country in my opinion.”

So there you have it. Four FBS teams came into the week at 0-4 — UI, Massachusetts, Eastern Michigan and Memphis — and Fedora considers the Vandals the class of that group. Not exactly what UI coach Robb Akey was hoping for before the season.


Fedora’s Tar Heels and Akey’s Vandals meet this afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C. We’ve got a preview below.

Early morning links and golf

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I got up a bit before 5:30 this morning to watch the Ryder Cup and I haven't been disappointed. Sure the golf has been great – Rory McIlroy just chipped in a nearly impossible shot and Tiger Woods has already put a drive into no-man's land – but the best part is how the players actually get excited about their shots and contentious with each other. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

There is no shortage of stories on Saturday's Eastern Washington vs. Montana football game - and it's only Friday morning. Look for our game preview tomorrow, but until then here is my feature on Eagle right tackle Will Post. We also have our weekly Big Sky Conference notebook, focusing on Montana QB Trent McKinney. We also had a live chat yesterday. Here is the transcript..

Cougs travel, we post links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State has a home game this week, which means getting on a plane and making the short trek across the state to CenturyLink Field. Though maybe that's a good thing, given the good fortune of the home teams in that stadium this week. Read on.

Talking special teams on Thursday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State held its standard Thursday night practice at Martin Stadium before it heads to Seattle tomorrow to take on Oregon. We have notes below, plus a conversation with special teams coordinator Eric Russell. Read on.

Words can be powerful things

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Only one day after typing “our long national nightmare is finally over,” the NFL and its usual officials settle their labor dispute. Today I've decided to type, “Vince Grippi wins million dollar lottery” and see if that happens in the next 24 hours. Read on.

Pac-12 power rankings, week 5

1. Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12; last week: 1) — So the Ducks shut Arizona out and win by 49 points, and their offense wasn't even clicking? Huh.

2. Stanford (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12; last week: 2) — Coming off a bye, Cardinal eyes another big win over Huskies.

3. Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12; last week: 6) — If the Beavers can pull off another big road win — this time at Arizona — they might make things interesting in the Pac-12 North this year. They might regardless.

4. Southern California (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12; last week: 5) — Nice time for a bye for the Trojans, as they've struggled a bit the last couple weeks.

5. UCLA (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12; last week: 3) — Bruins can heal their wounds with a game against Colorado this week.

6. Arizona State (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12; last week: 9) — Not sure anyone saw that coming. ASU might have one of the best young quarterbacks in the conference.

7. Arizona (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12; last week: 4) — The Wildcats had chances to score against Oregon but did just about everything wrong in the red zone. It doesn't get easier with OSU coming to town this week.

8. Washington (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 10) — Huskies first upward movement in these rankings came after a week off. A win over Stanford would help a little more.

9. Utah (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12; last week: 7) — Utes better hope 37-7 loss to Arizona State was a low point.

10. California (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12; last week: 8) — Not a fun start for the Bears, but not a fun schedule, either.

11. Colorado (1-3, 1-0 Pac-12; last week: 12) — Remember when the Buffaloes were supposed to go 0-12?

12. Washington State (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12; last week: 11) — Back to all-too-familiar territory for the Cougars.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Seattle Game talk, plus links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Lots to link to today, beginning with our story providing player thoughts on playing this week's home game in Seattle. Let's get to it.

Talking Ducks with Choate, plus practice notes

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The Cougars continued working on their scout today for this weekend's game against Oregon, practicing for another two hours or so. We have notes and quotes, so read on.

GSL football statistics

Here's a link  to this week's Greater Spokane League football statistics.

Also, make sure you follow me on Twitter (@srpreps) Thursday and Friday as I post GSL football scores and retweet scores from the area that are passed along.

Check out Thursday's newspaper for an intriguing story about Rogers standout running back Luke Rogers.

Pac-12 pick ‘em, week 5

As usual, post your straight-up and against-the-spread predictions for each game.

Stanford at Washington (Thursday), Stanford by 6.5

Arizona State at California, Cal by 2.5

UCLA at Colorado, UCLA by 20.5

Oregon State at Arizona, Arizona by 3

Oregon at Washington State, Oregon by 29

Our nightmare will end sometime

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I can't wait until the NFL and its usual officials finally settle. When I can sit here at my computer and type “our long national nightmare is finally over.” And then, just a few days later, make fun of some blown call. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky Links

It's Montana week in Cheney, which always has a few interesting story lines. It's only Wednesday, yet we have a piece on Eastern's quarterback situation as well as the new video scoreboard. There's more to come today out of the weekly Big Sky coaches' conference call, and don't forget: Live Chat on Thursday at noon.

Live chat today, plus a tough week for WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The past few days have been trying times for Washington State fans in a couple of different ways. The football team will try to turn that around this weekend against Oregon, but more bad news trickled in elsewhere yesterday. Read on.

Spitz absent again from WSU practice

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State began its preparation for Oregon earlier this afternoon, going through a two-hour session of scout work and special teams drills. They did all of it without an offensive lineman who had returned to the team only two days prior. Read on.

Mike Leach on Pac-12 coaches call

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach made his weekly appearance on the Pac-12 coaches call this morning, and we have a recap of it below.

Zags get tricky in video

The Monday Night Football fiasco was running wild on Twitter late last night when GU guard Kevin Pangos tweeted to his 6,600-plus followers: “Its finally here! Check out our video and spread the word!!” The corresponding link takes you to a 5-minute, 47-second video featuring Pangos and guards Kyle Dranginis, Drew Barham and walk-on Rem Bakamus draining trick shots from all over the McCarthey Athletic Center and auxiliary gyms at the Martin Centre.

PGA golfer Kyle Stanley, one of GU basketball's biggest fans, makes a cameo roughly 3:30 in and promptly hits a one-hopper from the MAC concourse.

Here's a link to the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcn3-y2B3yQ

Thursday showdown: Mead/G-Prep

UPDATED

Just two teams remain unbeaten in Greater Spokane League football - Mead (4-0) and Gonzaga Prep (4-0) - and they meet Thursday night at Joe Albi Stadium. Kickoff is at 6:15.

Last week, an enormous crowd of 12,568 watched Mead hold off upset-minded Mt. Spokane. Meanwhile, G-Prep was taking Shadle Park to the woodshed (57-19). Pictured above is G-Prep quarterback Zach Bonneau.

So let's start a discussion here. What are your thoughts on the big showdown. Who will win? You'll see my prediction Thursday morning in the Pick 6.

EWU and Big Sky Links

It's a big week for Eastern and Montana, who meet Saturday at Roos Field with a lot on the line. For the injury-plagued Eagles, it's the hope opener, a near-sellout crowd, the debut of the new scoreboard, and the chance to give their rivals an 0-2 start in the conference. For the Griz, it's a chance to get back on track after last week's devastating home loss to NAU, the Grizzlies' first home loss to the 'Jacks in 14 games. Here's a commentary piece on the the Grizzlies' loss. The Eagles are coming off a 32-26 win at Weber State and are ranked seventh in this week's FCS poll, Montana is 21st.

A photo finish in Seattle

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Roger Goodell is a freakin' genius. Admit it. That was the most exciting Monday Night Football game in years. And all because Goodell has realized the added attraction of over-their-head officials has reinvigorated the sport. Read on.

News of the routine, and unexpected

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mondays are usually busy during football season, with press conferences to attend, questions to ask and stories to write. But some breaking news yesterday made things even more interestind. Read on.

Mondays with Mike Leach, part 2

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Here's the rest of Mike Leach's press conference, with player videos, as well.

Mondays with Mike Leach, part 1

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach met with reporters for about 20 minutes today, covering topics ranging from the Colorado game to Oregon to Matthew McConaughey. Read on for a transcript of the first half of his press conference.

Reggie Moore dismissed from WSU basketball team

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State announced Monday that point guard Reggie Moore has been dismissed from the men's basketball team for a violation of team rules.

“Reggie has been an important part of the basketball program for the last three years and I wish him the very best in the future,” coach Ken Bone said in a statement.

We'll have more as information becomes available.

WSU depth chart, week 5

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — As usual, there are a few changes to Washington State's depth chart.

Most notable might be the movement of Gabe Marks from outside receiver to inside receiver. He's now listed as the starter at the “Y” receiver spot that was previously occupied by Andrei Lintz and then Brett Bartolone.

Bartolone is now listed as the starter at the “H” inside spot ahead of Bobby Ratliff.

Coach Mike Leach said he's simply trying to get WSU's four best receivers on the field.

Marks is a really smart guy, one of the smartest receivers we have,” Leach said. “I mean, he's just an intelligent guy. Like, certainly not all of you, but he could beat some of you in Trivial Pursuit. And then the other thing, just a real sense of how to play receiver and how to setup routes and set things up. And how his role related to others. So I don't like making the transition, because I don't like the transition part. But I do think he's the most adaptable. And he's pretty fast. He's one of our fastest guys.”

Also of note: Teondray Caldwell is now listed as the starting running back, and Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday are still listed with an “or.” But Leach said Halliday will probably start this week and will take first-team reps in practice.

Depth chart after the jump.

There is more to watch on Sundays now

A GRIP ON SPORTS

After watching a lot of NFL action yesterday, I've done a complete 180 on the replacement referees. I really believe the league should keep them. Read on.

A new week starts with links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Saturday wasn't fun for Washington State. But the Cougars can't dwell on it. Not with preparation for No. 2 Oregon already in the works. Read on for links to get the week started.

Spitz returns, Halliday “probably” will start again

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State held its usual short Sunday night practice, but that didn't mean there wasn't news. Read on.

EWU football, the morning after

SALT LAKE CITY - Last night's Eastern game had it all - too much to encompass in one late-night story - so I'll try to follow up later today after I fly out of here. So many questions: the injuries to Zach Johnson and Nick Edwards; do the Eagles have a two-headed quarterback, and it so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Last night at Weber, I think it was a good thing - here's my game story - mainly because it caught Weber State unprepared. I had no inkling either, but that's the whole idea: to spring a surprise.

After everyone adjusted to the new reality - and Vernon Adams began suffering from dehyradation and cramps - Kyle Padron played almost the whole first half. In other words, both QBs got a chance to do what they do best - Adams keeping teams off-balance with his running ability, and Padron with the ever-present deep threat to Brandon Kaufman (who now has 16 catches for 316 yards and three TDs and who offers perhaps the best deep threat in the Big Sky).

And while this game came down to the wire, don't forget that Weber made some big mistakes in the first half to fall behind 20-3 in the first place, including a drop of a sure TD pass on their first possession. The Wildcats' 0-4 record is quite misleading, I think.

So who gives the Eagles the best chance to win this week against Montana? Maybe both. So who will start? Apparently, only Beau knows.

A rough morning after

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Not sure how much is left to say about Washington State's 35-34 loss to Colorado yesterday, but we'll go ahead and summarize that — and the rest of yesterday's Pac-12 action — in our morning post. Read on.

This is how not to wave the flag

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Sometime in the fourth quarter Saturday at Martin Stadium, public address announcer Glenn Johnson asked what was left of the crowd of 31,668 to grab the WSU flags left on their seat for homecoming and wave them. It was an impressive sight as the little flags fluttered and waved to the music. There was only one problem. The flags were white. And the football team took it as a cue to surrender. Read on.

Vandals fall in OT to Wyoming

It was right for the taking for Idaho — a possible interception from Trey Williams in overtime and a victory over Wyoming. But as happened so often Saturday, Idaho's secondary didn't come up with the play. The Vandals lost 40-37 in overtime to the Cowboys to drop to 0-4. We've got our story and notes below.

Tale of the tape: Colorado 35, WSU 34

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — As usual, we take a capsulated look at Washington State's performance, this time of a 35-34 loss to Colorado at Martin Stadium. Read on.

An impassioned Mike Leach assesses a tough loss

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach was as passionate as he's been at any point in his WSU tenure on Saturday. Here's a full transcript of his postgame press conference.

Puck drops on a new season for Chiefs tonight

The Spokane Chiefs are about an hour from dropping the puck in their Western Hockey League regular season opener at Tri-City, and below we've got all kinds of pregame material for you to read before you watch the game on SWX at 7:05 - including a lot of extra material from my sit down with coach Don Nachbaur yesterday at the Arena.

Pac-12 power rankings, week 4

Better late than never …

1. Oregon (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 2) — Ducks can further assert their dominance if they beat Arizona big today.

2. Stanford (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12; last week: 3) — After an iffy win in week one, Cardinal look like a potential conference title contender.

3. UCLA (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 4) — Tough test against game Oregon State team this week.

4. Arizona (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 5) — Will Rich Rodriguez's offense operate as smoothly against Pac-12 teams?

5. Southern California (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12; last week: 1) — Trojans may have lost shot at national title already. Might have to fight UCLA for Pac-12 South title.

6. Oregon State (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 6) — Beavers would be best team in the country if they got to take a few more weeks off.

7. Utah (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 8) — Solid win over BYU alleviated some concerns over losing Jordan Wynn.

8. California (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 9) — Bears move up a spot despite losing at Ohio State. It was their most promising performance of the season.

9. Arizona State (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 8) — Maybe Todd Graham's offense isn't bulletproof, after all.

10. Washington (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 10) — Not sure how many bye weeks it would take for Huskies to have a shot against Stanford.

11. Washington State (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 11) — Might not feel like it, but Cougars are about to match last season's 3-1 start.

12. Colorado (0-3, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 12) — The Buffaloes are really bad.

Vandals, Wyoming looking for first win

Idaho is 0-3. Wyoming is 0-3. Heck, the other game on the Palouse today also features an 0-3 team, Colorado, against Washington State. We have the lowdown on the Vandals-Cowboys matchup in the Kibbie Dome (2 p.m., ESPN3) after the jump.

A second and third helping of football today

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's almost as if the college football season has finally arrived in the Inland Northwest. The main course, if you will. There have been appetizers – Eastern playing at Idaho and at Washington State – but today the Cougars, Vandals and Whitworth Pirates are all playing at home. A full-meal deal. And, if you're going to compare today's college football schedule to a dining choice, it would have to be barbecue. With all the smoke in the air, it does bring me back to the days I burn, er, grill, on the back deck. Read on.

Live chat, and another game day on the Palouse

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — If the haze doesn't get any worse, there will definitely be a football game played in Pullman today. OK, so there's probably going to be one played no matter what. But it might not be too pleasant for the spectators. Read on for links and ponderings.

EWU and Big Sky links

It's 5:20 a.m. as I'm typing this at a very quiet Spokane International Airport, waiting for the 6:15 to Salt Lake City. This evening I'll be in Ogden for the EWU-Weber State game, but until then, here's my preview of the game. The Ogden Standard-Examiner also has a preview…Meanwhile, NAU hasn't beaten Montana in the last 14 tries, but there's always that chance. … and a preview from the Billings Gazette. EWU faces Montana next week in the Eagles' home opener.

Pac-12 pick ‘em, week 4

Meant to get this posted much earlier, so sorry for the delay. As usual, I need a straight-up winner for each game, as well as an against-the-spread prediction.

Arizona at Oregon (Oregon by 23.5)

Utah at Arizona St. (ASU by 7)

California at USC (USC by 16)

Oregon St. at UCLA (UCLA by 7.5)

Colorado at Washington State (WSU by 21)

No, not that button

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I made a major mistake in judgment this morning and, because of it, this blog post is coming too you quite a bit later than I intended. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

The Eagles are flying to Salt Lake City today for Saturday night's matchup at Weber State. I'll be there too, but in the meantime I wrote this profile on EWU wide receiver Brandon Kaufman. Yesterday we had a lively live chat; here's the transcript. Look for a preview of the game tonight at spokesman.com and tomorrow morning in your newspaper.

Friday before game day for WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's walk-through day for Washington State, which means we're busy writing our advance material for tomorrow's game. But not before linking to everything you need to read from the day before, as usual. Read on.

WSU, Wyoming announce home-and-home

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Tweeted this earlier but simply forgot to post it on the blog. Washington State announced today that it will play a home-and-home series against Wyoming, beginning with a game in Pullman in 2015.

The Cougars return the trip in 2018 with a game in Laramie.

Halliday the man during light Thursday practice

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It was a standard Thursday for Washington State, with the Cougars covering some special teams work, finishing up their scout work for the week, then watching the scout-team players put on pads and scrimmage for a little while to wrap things up. We have notes. Read on.

Nice guys do get to finish

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's an interesting weekend coming up in the Inland Northwest. Not only because the Cougars will host Colorado for homecoming (talk about picking the right opponent for that game), but also because Eastern Washington gets into Big Sky play with a game against an old friend's team. Read on.

Live Chat and EWU links

Don't forget: live EWU-Weber State football chat today at noon, right here on SportsLink. In the meantime, here's my feature on former Eastern defensive coordinator Jody Sears, now the interim head coach at Weber and a good friend of Eagle head coach Beau Baldwin. Tomorrow we'll have what I hope is the definitive feature on one of Eastern's top players. If you want the nuts and bolts on Saturday's matchup, here's the official release from EWU Sports Information Director Dave Cook. .And here's the official release from Weber State; it's so long I couldn't read it all.

Gauta, picks and links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — From a story on a WSU nose tackle to our weekly Pac-12 picks, there's plenty of Cougar-related news to read about this morning. Read.

Halliday still taking most reps

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — If we had to guess who Washington State's starting quarterback will be on Saturday, we'd feel at least semi-comfortable saying …

M’s game sparks old memories

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Probably the best thing about baseball is it doesn't have a clock. Though I'm sure those folks in the press box at Safeco Field last night would be willing to say it is the worst thing about baseball. Read on.

Live chat on deck this afternoon

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's another Wednesday at Sportslink, which means a live chat later this afternoon at 1 p.m., and another Washington State football practice tonight. We have some reading material for you. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

Big Sky Conference play begins this week, and as they like to say “Now the games really count.” But if your team is chasing an at-large spot in the FBS playoffs, don't they all count? In the case of Eastern Washington, I think the win over Idaho wll count for something in case they don't win the conference. We're sure to revisit that topic in November, but for now, the Eagles told me at practice Tuesday that they are focused squarely on the Big Sky opener at Weber State.

Idaho notes: Akey responds to Choate

Washington State linebackers coach Jeff Choate, a former Boise State assistant and Post Falls coach, had some strong comments today about Idaho's commitment to staying at the FBS level in a VarsityCdA.com article. We have the details below and Robb Akey's response after practice today — as well as other Vandal football-related notes.

WSU practice: Morris says Ratliff must step up

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — One quarterback took most of the reps during Washington State's practice today. But he didn't take all of them. We have that, plus a conversation with inside receivers coach Eric Morris, after the jump. Read onward.

Mike Leach on Pac-12 coaches call

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach answered questions on the Pac-12 coaches call today. He had some interesting things to say, as usual. Read on.

Goodson thriving at Baylor

When players have left Gonzaga's program over the years — and there have been plenty of them — 95 percent of the comments I hear are from Zags fans worried that the player will turn into a star elsewhere and come back to haunt GU.

That wasn't the case with Demetri Goodson. “Meech” left basketball, and opted to play football at Baylor. I caught up with Goodson last week and here's an article that ran in Tuesday's S-R. He's from a football family, older brother Mike is with the Raiders, a younger brother is just finishing up at Klein Collins High and is being recruiting by Big 12 schools, and a half-brother left Georgia and is finishing up as a safety at South Carolina State. Goodson, as always, was up front, saying he felt his best chance for future earnings was in football, not basketball.

—Ex-Zag Adam Morrison has another shot at making an NBA roster. He'll go to training camp with Portland.

—The Old Spice Classic comes in sixth in a ranking of 10 college hoop tournaments.

It’s a late-summer lull

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's a Tuesday in late September. The baseball pennant races involve teams other than those we have a vested interest in. The college football season has really yet to hit full stride and the NFL, well it just started. So what do we talk about? Read on.

EWU and the Big Sky

It's time for conference play in the Big Sky. Here are a few links to get the week going. First one reason Montana State is so successful is the Bobcats' ability to score in the red zone. … Meanwhile, EWU's next opponent, Weber State  ranks dead last in that category, but Wildcat punter Tony Epperson has stepped up to lead the nation.  And in case you missed it, here's a recap of Weber's 35-21 loss to McNeese State.

A busy Tuesday starts with links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With a Pac-12 coaches conference call in the morning and Washington State practicing in the afternoon, it's another busy Tuesday. But that doesn't mean you don't have time for our morning spin around the Pac-12. Read on.

WSU depth chart, week 4

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State's week 4 depth chart is out, and there are a few changes.

— The “or” is back between Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday at quarterback.

— Justin Sagote is now listed as the starter at WILL linebacker over Chester Su'a.

— Gunnar Eklund is listed as the starting left tackle, with Dan Spitz removed from the depth chart completely.

— Bobby Ratliff is listed as the starter at the “H” receiver, and Rickey Galvin has been removed entirely. That was to be expected, considering his departure from Friday's game, his absence from Sunday's practice and some cryptic tweets from teammates wishing him well. It would appear that Galvin is out for the immediate future. (EDIT: Did not mean to imply that Galvin has left the team or anything of that nature, as some seem to have taken it. He has not. He is presumed injured.)

— Isiah Myers has been moved ahead of Gabe Marks at Z receiver.

— Taylor Taliulu is now listed as Deone Bucannon's backup at strong safety, with Tyree Toomer and Casey Locker listed with the “or” tag at free safety.

Full depth chart after the jump.

Mondays with Mike Leach

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach spoke with reporters for about 17 minutes today on a wide range of subjects, including his thoughts on a potential Pac-12-mandated injury report, and his favorite pirates. You'll have to look elsewhere for the pirate stuff, but we have the rest of Leach's media session below.

And the hits just keep on coming

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There was a big hit for the Seahawks on Sunday. It was delivered by Golden Tate on a Top Pot maple bar two hours after Seattle's 27-7 dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys. What, that's not the one everyone was talking about yesterday? Sorry. Read on.

Another Monday and more links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Have a case of the Mondays? Of course you don't, because I reckon you'd get your rear kicked saying something like that. Yeah, that's an Office Space reference. And these are links. Read on.

After day off, Cougars get back to routine

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With last week being a day short and this week being a day long, Washington State took Saturday off and returned to the practice field for its usual Sunday night practice session. We have some notes, so read on.

Late kickoff for WSU vs. Oregon

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State announced Sunday that its Sept. 29 game against Oregon at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will kick off at 7:30 p.m., and will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.

It will be the Cougars' third game on ESPN this season. The first two — at BYU and at UNLV — were also night games.

The fan experience is sometimes premature

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We are going to keep it simple today. A lot simpler than the ending of the Utah/BYU game, that's for sure. Read on.

Big Sky links

And what did I do during the Eagles' bye week? Watched college football from my couch, of course. Too bad Weber State wasn't on the tube, but we'll be catching up with the Wildcats this week. Weber, which hosts EWU on Saturday, is 0-3, losing last night to No. 19 McNeese State, a perennial playoff team. Montana, the Eagles' opponent on Sept. 29 at Roos Field, continues to impress, thrashing FBS-bound Liberty. Here's the story from the Missoulian. Meanwhile, No. 3 Montana State outlasted Stephen F. Austin. Elsewhere in the Big Sky, North Dakota gave FBS team San Diego State everything it wanted, and Portland State was thrashed at Washington, Cal Davis lost to South Dakota by an unusual score. In a non-conference game matching Big Sky teams (got that?), Sacramento State struggled past Northern Colorado,

Reviewing a high-scoring Saturday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Keeping with the weekend's Las Vegas theme, we'll call Saturday a good time to have bet the “over.” There were high, lopsided scores all over the place, including the game featuring Washington State's next opponent. Read on.

Three observations after UI fades at LSU

Idaho receiver Najee Lovett summed up Saturday night's 63-14 loss to LSU this way on his Twitter account: “We had death valley silent for two quarters.” It's hard to imagine the 92,177 at Tiger Stadium being completely silent, but the Vandals did make the game more interesting than expected in the second quarter. Much more interesting. 

We have more on UI's third straight loss to start the season below, as well as three observations on the Vandals heading into a home game with Wyoming (also 0-3) next week.

Another long pass, another win

A GRIP ON SPORTS

For the second consecutive week, the Washington State Cougars had to sweat out their opponent's final possession to earn a victory. For the second consecutive week, they did. Read on.

Links from a WSU win

COUGARS

FROM LAS VEGAS — We're flying back to Spokane shortly after this post goes live, so this is going to be brief because it's late and we're tired. But here are your morning-after links following WSU's 35-27 win over UNLV.

WSU 35, UNLV 27: tale of the tape

COUGARS

FROM LAS VEGAS — For the second consecutive week, Washington State escaped with a closer-than-it-should-have-been victory. But this one came against a considerably weaker opponent than Eastern Washington. We have our capsulated look at the game after the jump.

Leach speaks after WSU’s 35-27 win over UNLV

COUGARS

FROM LAS VEGAS — Here's a sampling of coach Mike Leach's comments following his team's 35-27 win over UNLV here tonight. Read on.

It’s almost game time in Vegas

COUGARS

FROM LAS VEGAS — When you think of this city, you do not think of Sam Boyd Stadium. There is a reason for that. First of all, it's about a 25-minute drive from the strip, ensuring that otherwise semi-interested visitors won't bother attending games here. Secondly, Google Maps estimates that it's about a 17-minute drive from UNLV's campus, making it an unappealing trip for students, too.

Oh, and the football team's never any good, either.

Pac-12 power rankings, week 3

(Getting to these a little late, but here you go)

 

1. Southern California (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 1) – Some question about the Trojans’ lack of dominance last week against Syracuse. They can put those to rest with a convincing win over Stanford.

2. Oregon (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 2) – Another cupcake this week – Tennessee Tech – before things heat up a bit.

3. Stanford (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 4) – Nice bounce-back game for the Cardinal against Duke, but Marqise Lee and Robert Woods might be harder to cover.

4. UCLA (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 6) – Another big non-conference win for the Bruins against Nebraska, but Rick Neuheisel had a few of those, too. Trick is maintaining.

5. Arizona (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 8) – For beating Oklahoma State, Wildcats rewarded with a cake-walk this week against South Carolina State.

6. Oregon State (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: INC) – Beavers might be a little better than originally thought. Or Wisconsin is a lot worse.

7. Arizona State (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 7) – Todd Graham’s team has been lights out at home. Might be on to something if they’re as efficient at Missouri.

8. Utah (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 3) – What started as a promising season has taken a turn for the not great. Win over BYU would be huge for restoring confidence.

9. California (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 9) – Bears should make statement against Ohio State. That statement: we’re not very good.

10. Washington (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 5) – LSU game proved just how far the Huskies still are from competing with the nation’s elite.

11. Washington State (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 10) – Offense still hasn’t taken off, but that’s certainly a possibility against a bad UNLV this week.

12. Colorado (0-2, 0-0 Pac-12; last week: 11) – Some postulated that the Buffaloes’ 30-28 loss to Sacramento State was the worst in school history. Still plenty of chances to top it.

No time for fun in Vegas

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There was a tweet from one of the Washington State football players last night – and no, I'm not going to rat him out – that said it all about playing a game in Las Vegas. The essence of the tweet concerned how sad it was driving by the strip and not stopping, instead heading to the team hotel. While their fans get to head to Vegas for playtime, the football team has to focus on work. Funny, the college kids are the ones playing a game, the fans are the ones with jobs. Read on.

AFL won’t return to Ironman days

The AFL pondered a return to the Ironman rules that were trademarks of the league until 2007, but decided to stay with the current format of free substitutions (read: one-way players). That was one of several news items to come from the league meetings held earlier this week in Phoenix.

More here.

Gameday links from Vegas

COUGARS

FROM LAS VEGAS — It's that time again. We'll see the Washington State football team play a game under coach Mike Leach for the third time later this evening. But first, some links, as usual.

Five questions about UNLV

COUGARS

FROM LAS VEGAS — To get a better feel for what we might see from UNLV on Friday, beat writer Taylor Bern of the Las Vegas Sun was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the Rebels. Read on for his insight.

EWU and Big Sky links

Sorry, but owing to the bye week, there is no Live Chat today, but we'll resume next Thursday and do this thing the rest of the season here on SportsLink. In the meantime, here's a link to my Big Sky notebook. Speaking of the Big Sky, here's a story by our own Josh Wright on Idaho's struggle to fill a schedule next year while playing as an independent. Word is, half the Vandals are fine with going FCS, and the others need some more convincing.

It doesn’t hurt to report injuries

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Do you like Madden football? Do you like the way you can control the computer players, make them go exactly where you want, run the right pattern, hit the correct hole? If you do, you would make a great football coach. Read on.

Pac-12 pick ‘em, week 3

We'll get around to tabulating the standings from last week later. For now, here are your games to pick for week three. I need a straight-up prediction, as well as a prediction against the spread.

 

Washington State at UNLV (WSU by 8.5), Friday

California at Ohio St. (OSU by 16.5)

Tennessee Tech at Oregon (no line)

Portland St. at Washington (no line)

Arizona St. at Missouri (Missouri by 6.5)

USC at Stanford (USC by 8.5)

Colorado at Fresno St. (FSU by 15.5)

BYU at Utah (BYU by 4)

South Carolina State at Arizona (no line)

Houston at UCLA (UCLA by 17)

Off to Vegas

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — An early-morning drive from here to Spokane is on tap for yours truly, followed by a flight to Las Vegas. The team is heading down there today, too, but we have some links to share before making the trip. Read on.

Halliday still first in line

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State practiced for the final time on campus before it departs for Las Vegas tomorrow. We have a quarterback update, as well as a couple other notes after the jump.

It’s time to hit the road

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's an odd type of week. Washington State plays on the road Friday night, meaning a flight on Thursday. Eastern Washington has a bye. Idaho is traveling to the bayou to play LSU – as an aside, wouldn't it be cool if that were a home-and-home series and we got to see the Tigers in the Kibbie Dome next season – so they will be getting out of town as well. Heck, even the Whitworth Pirates are on the road. In other words, no college football in the Inland Northwest this week. Read on.

EWU and the Big Sky

Even though the Eagles ahve a bye this week, there's plenty to talk about. I was at practice Tuesday to catch up on things on and off the field, including progress on the new video scoreboard and the team's new matte-black helmets, which will be used later this season at a game to be determined (I have a pretty good idea which one.)  I tweeted an image of the helmet while I was at practice; follow me on Twitter at @srjimallen. While I was there, word filtered in about the half-game suspension  slapped on WSU safety Deone Bucannon after his hit on EWU receiver Greg Herd. Folks in Cheney thought that was a biteasy. Here's a discussion of the topic at Coug Center, along with a video of the play.

It’s Wednesday, and these are links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — But it's Thursday in the world of Washington State football. Yes, it's another odd week on the Palouse, with the team practicing one last time in Pullman today before departing for Las Vegas tomorrow. Read on for links. If you don't, Lane Kiffin will ban you from practice.

Coaches react to Bucannon news, Tuel on the mend

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — There was plenty to observe during practice, which meant there was also plenty to talk about afterward. So let's get right to it. Read on.

WSU’s Bucannon suspended for hit

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The Pac-12 announced Tuesday that Washington State safety Deone Bucannon will be suspended for the first half of WSU's game at UNLV on Friday.

Bucannon was flagged for a late hit in the fourth quarter of the Cougars' 24-20 win over Eastern Washington on Saturday. After an incomplete pass, Bucannon appeared to launch himself into EWU receiver Greg Herd, who left the game and didn't return. EWU announced later that Herd suffered a concussion.

(CougCenter has a good look at the hit.)

In a statement released by the conference, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said “this disciplinary action was part of our weekly review of all targeting and unnecessary roughness hits.

“In order to appropriately protect our student-athletes, it is imperative that we monitor and when needed, act in situations where a blow to the head of a defenseless player was flagrant and/or unwarranted, especially in situations where the hit occurred well after the play was over.”

As noted in the release, all penalties involving a blow to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent are to be reviewed by the league office, except in cases when the player is ejected from the game.

Bucannon, WSU's most experienced defensive back, will likely be replaced in the lineup by either Tyree Toomer or Anthony Carpenter. Toomer subbed in for him immediately after the hit on Saturday.

Coach Mike Leach said yesterday: “It was a late hit, it was a bad hit and it’s something we don’t tolerate.”

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Recapping Mike Leach’s Pac-12 call

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's Tuesday, which means coach Mike Leach answered questions for about 10 minutes during the Pac-12 coaches call. We have a recap of his segment below.

It’s starting to feel like football weather

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The weather turned colder last night, reminding us once again winter is coming (and yes, I know it is still officially summer). I'm under the weather a bit, reminding me once again I'm getting older. Read on.

Linking to Vegas

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Listen, here's the thing — if you can't spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, you are the sucker. But there are no suckers in our morning links. Read on.

Furney being Furney is fine with Cougs

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — David Gilbertson shares Andrew Furney's sense of humor, so of course he could only joke when the timeout was called.

Eastern Washington decided to try to “ice” Furney at the end of Saturday's first half, WSU leading 21-14 with a 60-yard field goal attempt upcoming.

But trying to ice Andrew Furney is like … well, it's like trying to ice Andrew Furney.

“Gilby actually came up to me and cracked a smile and said, 'Oh they’re calling a timeout. They must actually think you can make it,'” Furney said Monday during WSU's media availability. “That’s kind of our approach to every kick. Just go out and have fun. Life’s too short to take it that serious.”

Also: “Calling a timeout before a kick kind of helps me out a little bit. Lets me enjoy the moment a little bit. Got in a couple laughs with Gilbertson and the guys up front. I enjoy the moment and it gives me more time to get comfortable on the field.”

Tuel rides bike, other WSU practice notes

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Obviously, there's one question on everyone's mind when it comes to who practiced and who didn't for Washington State on Monday: who biked the fastest? Wait, that's not it. Read on.

WSU week 3 depth chart released

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State's depth chart for the UNLV game has been released. There are a couple of minor changes, so read on.

All the excitement in Hawks loss was at the end

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Well, at least the final seconds were exciting. In the Seahawks' game, I mean. There was a near-game-winning drive, a couple of key penalties, a mistake by the officials and, finally, a ball that went right through Braylon Edwards' hands. Of all those things, the only one that wasn't a surprise was the final one. Read on.

EWU and Big Sky links

I'm sure the sun came up again yesterday in Cheney, although not without visions of what might have been Saturday in Pullman. Here's a short video clip of the final play, which appears to show EWU wid receiver Nicholas Edwards getting one hand on the ball, but unable to do any more than that as the ball flutters to the turf. … After the game, I was impressed the the heads-held-high attitude of the players. Head coach Beau Baldwin, too, seems to have a great ability to throw away the rear-view mirror and continue down the highway. I'll catch up with the Eagles tomorrow, but for now, here are a few links to the rest of the Big Sky Conference:

UNLV week is here

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With Eastern Washington in the rearview mirror, Washington State turns its attention to another team it will be expected to beat, but can't look past. That'd be UNLV, and game week preparations begin in earnest today. Read  on.

Just like the old days

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know, it was a really good Saturday for the Pac-10. The Pac-12's weekend? Not so much. Read on.

The happier morning after

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — As victories go, yesterday's was relatively lackluster for Washington State. But the fact remains: the Cougars are 1-1 with two games upcoming against teams they will be favored to beat. So it should be a happier Sunday morning this week for WSU fans. With that, let's round up yesterday's action.

UI falls to 0-2 for first time since 2006

Dominique Blackman was dynamite in his debut at quarterback, receiver Jahrie Level had a monster game and the Idaho defense stiffened at key times, but all this wasn't enough. The Vandals absorbed a 21-13 loss at Bowling Green on Saturday evening to drop to 0-2, their worst start since Dennis Erickson's return year in 2006.

We've got the details after the jump.

WSU 24, EWU 20: tale of the tape

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Someone asked in a chat the other day if I'd be giving out position grades on the blog after games, a la Vince Grippi pre-2011. Well, I'm not going to. But we do have a capsulated overview for you after the jump.

Leach, Tuel play coy

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN -- Move it along folks. Nothing to see here.

That, predictably, was the tone of the response by coach Mike Leach and quarterback Jeff Tuel to questions about Tuel's apparent leg injury, which he suffered on the first play of the fourth quarter. He didn't return to the game and was seen walking on the sidelines with an ice pack wrapped on the inside of his right knee.

“He took me out because I was just actually feeling too good,” Tuel said.

“We don’t have injuries around here so he’s 100 percent and I would think if anything, he can run a 4.5 now instead of a 4.7,” Leach quipped.

There obviously is no way of knowing how long Tuel might be out, or whether it's major or minor. Tuel was hit low after releasing the ball by Eastern Washington's Jerry Ceja. Tuel stayed on the turf for a while before walking off under his own power.

Trainers examined his right leg on the sidelines, then wrapped an ice bag around his knee area. Connor Halliday relieved him at quarterback.

Notes from Mike Leach after WSU beats Eastern

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Here's part of what WSU coach Mike Leach had to say after Washington State held on to beat Eastern Washington 24-20 at Martin Stadium on Saturday. Read on.

Tuel hurt as Cougs hang on

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Well, it wasn't easy. Or pretty. And the biggest concern at the moment is likely the health of Jeff Tuel, who left the game after taking a low hit on the first play of the fourth quarter and didn't return.

Tuel walked off the field under his own power, and trainers applied an ice bag to the inside of his right knee. He was able to walk without much of a limp.

Eastern Washington made things very interesting by finishing a 99-yard touchdown drive to pull within 24-20 with 2L17 left in the game. And the Eagles got the ball back with a chance to win the game, but Kyle Padron's hail marypass from the WSU 32-yard line was knocked away as time expired.

We'll have plenty more on the blog after interviews.

WSU notes on game day

COUGARS

FROM THE BIG OL' RENOVATED PRESS BOX — It's even nicer in here with the furniture set up. Though Bud Withers would probably like it more if he'd been allowed to bring his iced coffee inside. We have thoughts and notes after the jump, so read on.

Vandals looking for a do-over

Can the Vandals reset 2012 and start all over again? That's not possible, of couse. But a win today against a solid Bowling Green team would put them at 1-1 and help most (or some) Vandal fans get over last week's ugly opener versus Eastern Washington.

We've got links and a preview of the third Idaho-Bowling Green game in four years after the link.

Game day links, plus DISH deal

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Not only does today include Washington State's home opener against Eastern Washington. It also marks the beginning of a deal between the Pac-12 Networks and DISH, as announced by the conference early Saturday morning. More after the jump. (And with the Spokesman's servers down last night, wer're late posting this morning. Sorry about that.)

The showdown is finally here

A GRIP ON SPORTS

After months of watching a building materialize inch-by-inch on a web camera, today's the big day. Time for the big unveil. Washington State will host its first game in the rebuilt Martin Stadium this afternoon and the visitors from up U.S. Highway 195 by way of Bradshaw Road will do their best to make it a memorable one. Read on.

Sacre signs with Lakers

Former Zag center Robert Sacre has signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. Terms weren't released. Sacre was drafted by L.A. with the last pick of the second round.

More here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakersnow/

It’s official: tomorrow’s game sold out

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — This is just a quick post to pass along the news that Washington State has officially announced tomorrow's game as a sellout.

The last one of those at Martin Stadium was Oct. 6, 2007, when the Cougars hosted Arizona State. WSU also filled Martin to capacity for the 2006 Apple Cup.

Pac-12 regionalization TV schedule

The Pac-12 has passed along some clarifying information about this week's television schedule. Their message is below, after the jump.

EWU and Big Sky links

Helpful hint to Eastern fans: leave early for Pullman, because game-day traffic can be pretty rough. This one will be no exception. I'm leaving Spokane tomorrow at 8:30, which I figure will put me in my parking spot at about 10:30 - just right! But hey, if you're stuck in traffic, you can always check out these links to Eastern and Big Sky football…

The weekend is (sort of) underway

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The weekend is about to dawn. If you count Friday as part of the weekend. And I would guess most of us include the after-work hours of each Friday as part of it. Especially this time of year, when Friday night includes high school football. Read on.

Choate, Padron and Friday links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Forget the construction crews grinding away on last-minute preparations for the new premium seating facility (and press box!). The true sign that a football game is being played at Martin Stadium tomorrow? I couldn't drive on Fairway Lane yesterday, the road between Beasley Coliseum and the main Beasley parking lot, because RVs and motor homes were setting up there for the weekend's festivities. Yep, there's a football game here tomorrow. We have links related to that, so read on.

Pac-12 power rankings, week 2

As promised, here are our Pac-12 power rankings for the second week. A bit of movement, but it looks the same at the top.

  1. Southern California (1-0, 0-0; last week: 1) – The Trojans did whatever they wanted against Hawaii last week. Expect more of the same against Syracuse, though USC would probably like to eliminate some of those dropped passes.
  2. Oregon (1-0, 0-0; last week: 2) – Besides the uniforms, the Ducks’ season-opening win over Arkansas State was a thing of beauty. Interested to see how Marcus Mariota fares against Pac-12 teams.
  3. Utah (1-0, 0-0; last week: 3) – A convincing win against Utah State could merit consideration for a bump up in these rankings.
  4. Stanford (1-0, 0-0; last week: 4) – Thought about dropping the Cardinal a spot, but something tells me there’s more to Josh Nunes and that offense than what we saw against San Jose State. And nobody else in the conference looked real great, either.
  5. Washington (1-0, 0-0; last week: 5) – Big week for the Huskies. Game at LSU will tell a lot about their character. And, you know, their talent.
  6. UCLA (1-0, 0-0; last week: 8) – Bruins probably aren’t totally satisfied with their effort against Rice, but the big offensive totals bode well. Good test against Nebraska this week.
  7. Arizona State (1-0, 0-0; last week: 10) – Todd Graham had plenty of nice things to say about his new quarterback after a rout of Northern Arizona. Will he take the same tone after ASU plays Illinois?
  8. Arizona (1-0, 0-0; last week: 9) – Not many points, but tons of yards for Arizona in its opener. If Wildcats can figure out a way to convert those yards, look out.
  9. California (0-1, 0-0; last week: 6) – Yeah, maybe don’t schedule Nevada anymore.
  10. Washington State (0-1, 0-0; last week: 7) – Excitement might be hushed a bit, but WSU’s schedule still suggests a 3-1 start.
  11. Colorado (0-1, 0-0; last week: 12) – Same old problems for Buffaloes in their opener. Running game needs to show up.

INC: Oregon State: Beavers obviously didn’t get to play last week, so they don’t factor into this week’s rankings. I’m eager to see how they play at home against a Wisconsin team that really took it to them a year ago.

Christian Caple can be reached at  christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Q-and-A with WSU writer Christian Caple

Every week, I hope to ask a few questions of a journalist who covers Eastern Washington’s next football opponent. Actually, this idea was the brainchild of our own Christian Caple, who covers the Cougars – 24/7 it seems. To give some perspective on the Cougars, Christian answered five questions I posed to him earlier this week. Read on….

Chiefs gear up for second weekend of WHL preseason action

Just a quick post since I haven't been able to do much on this year's Spokane Chiefs (yet). That ends soon, as I'm starting to transition into season preview mode. We'll have plenty for you next week. The Western Hockey League regular season begins in a few weeks, and preparation for the Sept. 22 opener at Tri-City continues tomorrow (Friday) morning for the Spokane Chiefs.

Cyrus Coen will get his chance

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It was the typical Thursday practice in terms of the workload — special teams, then a whole lot of scout work on both ends of the field followed by the standard “Thursday Night Football” team session for the scout-teamers at Martin Stadium. But today's practice also brought news of a change to the starting defensive lineup. Read on. Or watch the video above. Or both.

Did you know there is news on at 11 p.m?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

OK, so I slept in this morning. Sorry. I was up late last night and I'll tell you, when you watch the clock hit 10:07 at night, it's no fun. And when you're still awake at 10:29, you know it's late. Read on.

Pac-12 pick ‘em, Week 2

As we enter the second week of our Pac-12 picks contest, we'll recap the first week's standings and list the second week's games below.

As usual, all picks — both straight up and against the spread — must be submitted before any games are played.

EWU football and Live Chat

We'll have a live chat on all things EWU football at noon today with S-R reporter Jim Allen (that's me). Also this morning, here is my first Big Sky notebook, and my feature yesterday on EWU defensive tackle Evan Cook. Today, our WSU beat writer, Christian Caple weighs in what the Cougars need to do in the running game.

Linking to Thursday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's two days until game day, which means the usual Washington State Thursday content — Pac-12 picks, as well as power rankings later on in the day. WSU has its final practice of the week later this afternoon, but first we have all these links to post and nowhere else to post them. Read.

Q-and-A with EWU reporter Jim Allen

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We like to ask five questions of a reporter who covers WSU's opponent each week. And we weren't going to be stopped this week by the fact that Jim Allen, the primary beat reporter for Eastern Washington, is a colleague and an S-R employee. To give some perspective on the Eagles, Jim stopped by to answer some questions. Read on.

Leach likes practice, has tiger opinion

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It was another quality practice for Washington State on Wednesday, Mike Leach said, with the Cougars working out for about two hours or so on Rogers Field. We have some notes and quotes — as well as an entertaining assessment of UW's live tiger stunt yesterday — after the jump.

Hey, the Cowboys are on

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The NFL is back. Wait, what? It is Wednesday, right? And the NFL is back tonight? Yep, America's team is going up against New York's better team in the premier of the National Football League, 2012 edition. But why on a Wednesday night, I have no idea. OK, yes I do. Read on.

EWU and the Big Sky

Three days until the Eagles face Washington State. Until then, there's plenty of topics from both sides. And don't forget, we'll have a live chat Thursday noon on all things EWU football. Before that, our own Christian Caple will have a WSU football chat today at 1 p.m. Christian also has his first look at the Cougars' next opponent . (Does anyone have a clue why these schools haven't played each other in 104 years? I have a pretty good idea.)

Live chat at 1 p.m., plus links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We have plenty to talk about, so as usual, there will be a live chat on the blog at 1 p.m. to answer all of your WSU-related questions. Now, on to the links.

Cougars practice a bit longer

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — After a relatively short practice on Sunday and a day off, Washington State spent a solid two-and-a-half hours on Rogers Field on Tuesday. We have notes.

Mike Leach on Pac-12 coaches call

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach made a brief appearance on today's Pac-12 coaches call. Here's a recap of what he said.

Is it time to put some clothes in storage?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There is that old saw about never wearing white after Labor Day. It came to mind yesterday as I sat in front of the TV set and watched Rory McIlroy hold on to win the Deutsche Bank Championship. He was wearing white pants. I wonder if he will be wearing the same ones on Sunday in next week's BMW Championship. Or is he too savvy for such a fashion faux pas? Read on.

Links as Cougs get back to practice

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — After a day off, Washington State will be back on the practice field later this afternoon to continue preparing for its home opener against Eastern Washington on Saturday. We have plenty of links to get you started.

Around the Big Sky

Another bonus for Eastern fans, who get a second straight week of bonus coverage, since we also cover the Washington State football team. But you already knew that. In fact here's Christian Caple's blog post on WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel, who wishes he's been a bit more vocal duriing the Cougars' 30-6 loss at BYU. Meanwhile the Eagles are getting some props from their 20-3 win at Idaho last week, including two players winning Big Sky Conference weekly honors this week. The Eagles also broke the top 10 in the FCS media poll thanks to the win.

Mike Leach, body language and more

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Along with three Washington State players, coach Mike Leach met with the media in a formal setting for about 10 minutes. Here's a transcript of said media session.

Travis Long: defense must improve ‘little things’

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It took roughly 30 minutes on Thursday for Washington State's defense to figure out how to properly execute what linebacker Travis Long calls “little things.”

Such as lining up properly.

“We just were able to take the corrections we made at halftime, put those onto the field,” Long said Monday. “We were able to line up and execute our calls. Usually, all day when we were doing that we were successful in stopping them.”

That was primarily in the second half, when the Cougars held BYU to just six points (two field goals) despite a couple of red-zone trips.

But before that, they'd surrendered 294 yards in the first half, allowing BYU to take a 24-6 halftime lead.

Part of the problem was caused by BYU's hurry-up offense, which didn't allow the Cougars to line up properly on a number of plays.

They'll have to respond faster against Eastern Washington, which throws the ball frequently and plays an up-tempo style of offense.

“Obviously they like to throw the ball a lot,” Long said. “That means we’re going to have to get after the quarterback and not let him get back there and put a strain on our secondary. That’s kind of on the front seven.”

More from Long …

Jeff Tuel putting BYU behind him

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — OK, so they weren't terrible numbers.

Jeff Tuel did complete 30 of 45 passes for an acceptable completion percentage of 66.7. That's not awful. But it wasn't great that he didn't throw any touchdowns, threw two interceptions and seemed to hold onto the ball too long.

That's what Thursday's loss to Brigham Young looked like to anyone who saw it. And it looked the same on film.

“I need to play better and get through my reads quicker and really disperse the ball,” Tuel said Monday. “And when guys aren’t open, I need to find my backs and just put the ball in play really, that’s the biggest thing.”

He didn't do that so well on Thursday, though part of the issue also stemmed from a lack of pass protection at times.

Tuel was asked if he wishes he'd pulled  the ball down and run on a couple of plays when receivers weren't open. He said that, yes, there were certainly times when that would have been the right thing to do.

“I was maybe just a little too passive in the game, and maybe at times trying to be someone I wasn’t,” Tuel said. “I've made plays with my legs my whole career here, and I need to continue to do that and give the defense problems with it. There were definitely opportunities for me to take off and run that I should have taken advantage of.”

Is that OK with coach Mike Leach?

“Coach Leach always says he’d rather watch one of the running backs or the receivers run with it than me,” Tuelsaid. “But I can’t let that affect my play, and if I see something, I need to go ahead and take it and just get the yards there. We’re learning each other and that’s what this is all about. Just continue to grow.”

Moving past the BYU loss won't be an issue, Tuel said.

“If you guys are expecting us to sit around and mope for the whole week, you’re wrong,” Tuel said. “Because that’s not what’s going to happen here anymore. Those times are over.”

More from Tuel …

Week 2 depth chart for WSU

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's Monday, which means Washington State's game notes and depth chart have been released. More after the jump.

Labor day is always a celebration

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you look up the word “labor” in the dictionary, there are about six definitions. The sixth one, however, has particular meaning in our household. And as this is Labor Day, we wanted to pass along the story. Read on.

Holiday links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's another off-day for Washington State, with the long week and everything following the Thursday opener. But three WSU players, as well as coach Mike Leach, will be made available to the media later this afternoon. We'll pass along every word. First, as usual, there are links to read.

Leach speaks, other WSU notes

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Now that the season has started, it seems we're going to see shorter practices, as coach Mike Leach is want to do once games are played. So the Cougars practiced for about an hour and a half on Sunday, and we have plenty of notes to pass along from the session.

College football Saturdays are back

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The first Saturday of the college football season was pretty good if you are a fan of the nation's top-ranked teams. That means you USC and Alabama fans. You can whoop and holler as much as you want. But see that guy trying to sneak out the door? He's a Michigan fan. Pity him. Read on.

EWU and the Big Sky, Week One

This being an election year, I can report that we have results in a few football precincts, and the early trend is red.

Fan exit polls show a strong defense in Cheney, uncertainty in Missoula and Portland, and mixed results from North Dakota to San Luis Obispo.

But as they say, the only poll that matters is the one in November (that would be the final FBS poll before the playoffs), though Eastern Washington has already gone into the fall campaign with a lot of momentum.

So-so showing for Pac-12

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The Pac-12 teams with earlier games did not fare very well, with the exception of USC. Neither did the teams that played later on — for the most part — but at least they managed to win. Read on for reading material to get you through a Sunday morning, lazy or otherwise.

Chiefs drop preseason opener in Everett

Even though preseason games can be taken with a grain of salt, the Spokane Chiefs didn’t quite dazzle in their debut. Read on for more.

A Mike Leach history lesson

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — If you were surprised that Washington State failed to score a touchdown against Brigham Young on Thursday, you weren't alone.

And you weren't the first to feel that way, either. Just imagine how Texas Tech fans must have reacted in 2006, when their Mike Leach-led Red Raiders were held without a touchdown in a 12-3 loss to TCU in the third week of the season.

So upset with his team's effort was Leach that he told reporters after the game:

“That was the sorriest offensive effort that I have ever seen,'' said Leach, who questioned his players' toughness while adding that he and his staff were out-coached. “Today I coached the worst offense in America, which makes me the worst offensive coach in America. There's going to be some changes, because I'm not going to sit here and watch this stuff.''

Ouch.

No time for a history lesson

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I spent a lot of time last night trying to come up with a way to work John Belushi's speech about the Germans and Pearl Harbor into my blog post this morning, but failed miserably. So alas, no “Animal House” reference (or video clips) this morning. Read on.

Relax on this Saturday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It doesn't feel like Saturday, but it is. Doesn't feel like there's a full slate of college football games today, either, but there are. Even rarer? We get to watch most of them. Read on for all the links you need in that regard.

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