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Was last night a turning point for M’s?


Some days are easy to identify as turning points. Others are a bit harder. And often times the realization doesn't come for a week or two. Read on.

The Pac-12 is still a mystery

Two weeks into the college football season and we still don't know much about the Pac-12 conference. Oh sure, Oregon's awesome while USC and Stanford look really good, but what do we make of this California squad? Can teams like Utah and Arizona keep winning and is Oregon State going to shake off this early-season rust or is are the Beavers headed for a downswing?

It's a confusing time, and the Pac-12 Power Rankings in the paper today could look very different as soon as next week. Also, our Pac-12 notebook leads off with two teams that haven't met expectations so far, but remain undefeated.

Follow the jump for more links.

Dinged up Cougars add a receiver

It's a good thing Washington State entered the season with so much depth at receiver, returning their top eight from last season. Last year's leading receiver, Gabe Marks, is going to redshirt the season, while starters River Cracraft and Kristoff Williams are both limited and wearing yellow no-contact jerseys during practice.

So it was good to see Barry Ware at practice today. Ware, a freshman, was on the roster during fall camp but never arrived. He's with the team now, however, and looks the part at 6-foot-2, 213 pounds. While it's unlikely Ware will play this season, it's nice to add depth at outside receiver with Isiah Myers, Kristoff Williams and Vince Mayle graduating after the season.

“He looks good,” Mike Leach said after practice. “We've just got to get him out here practicing. We're glad to have him and are looking forward to working with him … He's a big, tall, physical guy with really long arms that has a lot of range to him.”

We have more from practice, after the jump.

Sleep can wait; the M’s are rallying


Last year at this time, sleep was no problem. Early to bed, early to rise and all that malarkey. But this year is different. Thanks to the M's, I'm a bit sleep-deprived. Read on.

Preparing for Portland State

For the first time this season the Cougars are on a normal game week schedule and that means the press conference finally held on a Monday. If this keeps up we'll actually have Thursday Night Football on the day for which it's named.

There was a lot of news yesterday, such as the fact that two former starting receivers will redshirt this season, some new faces on an updated depth chart and the fact that the Cougars are offering standing-room only tickets to the sold-out Oregon game. Furthermore, we have a video and transcription of coach Mike Leach's press conference, a First Look at Portland State and our story for today's paper. We also have our unit grades for the Nevada game.


Various links from around the conference are after the jump.

Portland State game notes plus updated WSU Depth chart

Washington State just sent out its game notes for its week-three matchup against Portland State, and as always there is an updated depth chart. There was some movement in the WSU two-deeps, including:

— Robert Lewis is listed ahead of River Cracraft at Y receiver. Cracraft did not play against Nevada and was limited during Sunday's practice. Lewis played well in Cracraft's absence, collecting eight receptions in his first career start.

— True freshman Sulaiman Hameed is now backing up Darius Lemora at strong safety. Lemora arrived as a cornerback but was quickly moved to safety during fall camp and has a very physical style of play.

— True freshman Pat Porter is listed as Daquawn Brown's backup at boundary cornerback.

— Quentin Breshears is listed as the starting placekicker over Erik Powell. Powell started the first two games, but missed two kicks at Nevada.

— Jeremiah Allison has moved over to Will linebacker, where he will back up Tana Pritchard. Allison had previously backed up Darryl Monroe at Mike linebacker, but now Peyton Pelluer will take that role. Chester Su'a was Pritchard's backup but is limited and will not be back for some time.

— Paris Taylor has taken over as backup Sam linebacker.

Gabe Marks will redshirt

For the past two weeks the Washington State football coaches have considered the idea of having junior Gabe Marks, last year's leading receiver, redshirt and sit out this season. On Sunday Mike Leach confirmed that is likely the course the Cougars will take, saying, “we're going to try and redshirt him if we can. He's been doing a lot of good things, he's been really selling out there. Basically, we have two seniors at the position and it's sort of clouded up right now and he was behind in his offseason for definitely understandable reasons and so sequence is better for us, better for him, so that's what we're shooting for.”

Those two seniors are Isiah Myers and Kristoff Williams, who entered fall camp ahead of Marks on the depth chart at the Z receiver position. Marks had offseason surgery for an undisclosed injury in the spring, and was arrested in February. Those two factors may have contributed to his starting fall camp so low on the depth chart, but a hit to the head during a fall scrimmage effectively ended what had been a very good fall camp.

Marks has been healthy lately, however, and has been a force on scout teams for WSU playing both receiver and quarterback in order to help the Cougars prepare to face the Pistol offenses of Nevada and Portland State. 

If Marks redshirts he will still have two seasons of eligibility remaining at the start of next season. Myers has been a revelation at Z through two games this season and is second on the team with 15 receptions for 196 receiving yards and has tied Vince Mayle for the team lead with a pair of receiving touchdowns. Williams has two catches for 36 yards and has been the team's primary kickoff returner.

Cougars need to focus

Washington State coach Mike Leach held his weekly Monday press conference today, and addressed the team's poor play of late. The biggest concern in Leach's mind appears to be focus. He said that the team needs to isolate outside distractions — particularly the positive ones — and focus on doing what he's seen it do in practice.

He said a lot in the 20 minute press conference, including more thoughts on the previous game, his evaluation of the linebackers and offensive linemen, how the coaches can get more out of the players and he gave a status update on Gabe Marks, who it appears will redshirt this season.

The video of Leach's press conference is above, and a transcription is after the jump.

Teams look for mix that will help them percolate


We have been on a mission lately. A mission to put together the perfect cup of morning coffee. After multiple attempts, the elusive mix seems to have come together today and we couldn't be happier. Read on.

Grading the Nevada game

The Washington State defense gets better marks this week after the Cougars' 24-13 loss at Nevada thanks to an OK if not great performance, with a little extra credit given the bind it was put in by WSU's offense.

Even with a 55-yard run by quarterback Cody Fajardo the Wolf Pack only averaged 3.8 yards per rush and only 4.2 yards per offensive play.

The defense forced a three-and-out five times, held Nevada on 12 of 18 third-down opportunities, and gave the offense plenty of chances to win.

But the offense ended a 12-game streak of scoring at least 24 points, which would have been enough to send the game to overtime.

Our individual unit grades are after the jump.

Heading into another game week

Sundays are always a quiet day on the Pac-12 college football landscape as teams and reporters alike gear up for another week of press conferences, teleconferences, practices and previews. Still, we've found some links from around the conference to pass along before today's Monday press conference with Mike Leach and three players.

The links are after the jump.

A late night trip to the beach

Washington State practiced for about an hour on Sunday night to prepare for their Pullman home-opener against Portland State this weekend. Prior to the official start of practice, however, the team took a quick roll through Leach Beach, the sand pit the Cougars use for conditioning.

After practice Clay McGuire said that the team's trip to the beach wasn't punishment for the team's performance in Friday's 24-13 loss at Nevada.

“It's just more of a reminder,” McGuire said. “Just some inside things we want them to think about when they're thinking of those things, that happens.”

The Cougars are taking a look in the mirror this week after a pair of losses in games that the team was favored to win. Washington State is also a little banged up this week, with starting receivers Kristoff Williams and River Cracraft limited in yellow practice jerseys.

McGuire says the coaches are letting the team know they their performance has been substandard, while not trying to beat the team up mentally.

“You've got to be honest,” McGuire said. “There's got to be truth in everything but we've also got to build them up too. It's one of those things where you can only hold so much negativity, you've got to build them up, get the most out of these guys but in this game you have to be honest, too, with the results you're getting.”

We have more from practice after the jump.

Turnovers are a tasty treat for football teams


It's said if you can learn something new every day, then you never really age. So what happens if what you learn is just a reoccurrence of something you learned long ago, but forgot? Does that mean you've reverted back to that earlier age? It's enough to make your head spin. Read on.

An offensive Saturday of Pac-12 games

There weren't so many fireworks in Arizona's win over Texas-San Antonio on Thursday and Washington State's loss on Friday was a defensive struggle.  But Saturday was a series of shootouts for the Pac-12 and with the exception of the two teams involved in USC's 13-10 win over Stanford, every conference team scored at least 38 points.

The links are after the jump.

Cougs dazed and confused in Reno


It's pretty easy to imagine how the typical Cougar fan feels this morning. Disappointed, discouraged and confused. Above all, confused. That last one I understand. I share that final one. Read on.

WSU falters at Nevada

Well, that was unexpected. Sure, there were Washington State partisans that figured winning at Nevada would be a tall task. Even the always faithful Jim Moore called the upset. But those pundits imagined the Cougars coming up just short in a shootout. I don't think anybody saw WSU's offense putting up only a field goal in the second half.

Here is our game story from the loss and our scoring summary. We also have video of Mike Leach and Connor Halliday addressing reporters after the game, which didn't end until around 11 p.m. Here are some of my final thoughts from the game. Bud Withers has a column from the game. Nevada is understandably pretty excited about its defense's performance.

Links from around the conference are after the jump.


WSU at Nevada box score and summary

Courtesy of WSU athletics

Final thoughts from Nevada

Washington State suffered a deflating loss at Nevada on Friday night in which the defense played surprisingly well and the offense surprisingly did not. The game ended after 11 p.m. so the final quarter was a little rushed on our end, but with some time left in Reno I thought I'd put together some thoughts I had following the game.

Those are after the jump.

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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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John Blanchette John Blanchette is a freelance writer who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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