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Posts tagged: WSU football

College football is just around the corner

The Pac-12 is holding its annual gathering of coaches, players and reporters tomorrow and Thursday. Media Day (or Media Days, in this case) is a nice chance of us reporters to speak with coaches and players from different school and send back a few stories and notebooks for you all to peruse.

More importantly, however, it signals the end of the offseason. You will start to see a lot more Washington State football news around here, and not all of it recruiting. We'll get back in the swing of things with our morning links, and keep an eye out for some live chats.

While the offseason was slow, there were some NCAA and WSU developments that will have an impact on the upcoming months. In case you have been hibernating since the end of last football season and are just now leaving your man, woman or bear-cave, follow the jump to see what you missed.

Fast forward: Stanford

Will Stanford's reign of terror ever end? It was one thing when you could count on cutting down the Tree's football team every year. Then it didn't matter that the fans in Palo Alto drove the nicest cars, had the best jobs, won nearly every Olympic sport and had a beautiful campus, to boot. Their football team sucked. John Elway never played in a bowl game.

But the Cardinal just played in its fourth consecutive BCS bowl game, losing to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. Losing one of the NFL's best coaches, Jim Harbaugh, and one of its best young quarterbacks, Andrew Luck, barely registered.

Stanford is now one of the elite teams in college football, competes for a championship every season, and shows no signs of slowing down. Sure, they lost some notable players this offseason, including defensive stalwarts such as Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy, Ben Gardner and Ed Reynolds. The offense took some hits, too, losing leading rusher Tyler Gaffney and All-American guard David Yankey.

But Stanford has proved it can handle losses in the past, and has enough sustained football success that it can use it can recruit against anyone in the country. And while its academic standards give it a limited pool of talent from which to choose, the players who can get into Stanford are the most likely to value its reputation.

Follow the jump for our 2014 Stanford preview.

Tyler Bruggman transferring?

 

Tyler Bruggman has become the second quarterback to transfer from the Washington State football program this offseason, according to a report on Twitter from WazzuWatch.com's Britton Ransford. I have not yet confirmed the report. Bruggman was the first major quarterback signed by coach Mike Leach at WSU, and it was widely assumed that he would take over as the starter when Connor Halliday graduates.

Even the transfer of backup quarterback Austin Apodaca was supposed to break up the logjam at quarterback and pave the way for Bruggman to back up Halliday next season. But Bruggman did not look ready this spring and former walk-on Luke Falk played well enough to at least create a controversy if not take the No. 2 spot outright. Both Bruggman and Falk redshirted as freshmen last season.

If Bruggman is indeed leaving the program it leaves he Cougars membrane-thin behind Halliday, a fifth-year senior, with just Falk and incoming freshman Peyton Bender as scholarship quarterbacks.

Monday fast forward: Cal

(Sorry today's installment is a little late in the day. I'm out of town and don't always have the best internet access. – Jacob)

There is something pure about a 0-12 record in college football. Well, purely pathetic. There are so many opportunities for a major college team to pick up a win or two over glorified NAIA teams that most of the worst teams skate by and are merely remembered as appallingly bad, if they are remembered at all.

But to reach true infamy, a team needs to catch all the bad breaks. Key players need to be injured, questionable flags need to be thrown, a schedule can't have any games that are too easy and at the end of it the coach probably wishes he could have a few calls back.

Achieving an “imperfect season” puts a major conference team in rarified air, truly. Recently, it probably means you're the Duke Blue Devils, a program that managed to do it in 1996, 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2006.  Prior to that, South Carolina pulled it off in 1999, Illinois went winless in 1997 and Kansas State didn't win a game in 1987 or '88.

Don't forget – as if any of you could – that the purple people eaters from the wet side of the state had 12 long bus rides home in 2008.

So when looking ahead to Washington State's game against California next season, remember that the Golden Bears were just a 37-30 home victory over Portland State from entering the Pantheon of Pitiful.

Follow the jump for our Cal preview.

Friday flashback: Idaho

If you thought 2013 was fun, you should have seen 2003.

You can tell things are getting better for the Washington State football program because the Cougars are starting to do things that haven't been done since the halcyon days of 2003, when Marcus Trufant was young, Oregon and Stanford were gimmes and the streets of Pullman were paved with Cougar Gold.

That year was the last time the team went to a bowl game until last season's trip to the New Mexico Bowl. It was also the last time the Cougars shut out an opponent, opening the season with a 25-0 victory over sometimes rival Idaho.

Well, if Cougars fans started to get a sense of déjà vu while watching the Cougars last season the nostalgia likely began in the team's fourth game, when WSU sent those same Vandals home with nary a point to show for their pillaging.

Flash back to WSU's 48-0 beat down of Idaho, after the jump.

Leach lands seventh commit

Adam Gorney reported on Twitter that Darrien Molton, a cornerback from Temecula, California has decided to play football at Washington State. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound cornerback plays for Chapparal High. Rivals.com rates him as a three-star cornerback and he claims scholarship offers from California, Colorado, Duke and Utah.

Below is a video of Molton's defensive highlights.

 

Monday fast forward: Utah

Monday fast forward: Utah

In Mike Leach's two full seasons as the Washington State football coach, no Pac-12 opponent has been as consistently memorable as Utah. In Leach's first season the Cougars were embarrassed 49-6 in Rice-Eccles Stadium, the sixth loss in an eventual eight-game losing streak. Leach was so unhappy with the Cougars' effort in the game that he made the unusual move of sending the entire offensive and defensive lines to speak to the media as units after the game.

The postgame setting following last year's win over the Utes in Pullman could not have provided a starker juxtaposition as fans stormed the field when the Cougars attained bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006.

In Leach's third year the Utah game likely won't have such an immediate reaction due to it being just the fifth game of the season, but it is a winnable game on the road against a well-coached opponent and should prove to be very important in the long term.

Fast forward: Oregon

​(Our series previewing the 2014 WSU football schedule continues with Oregon)

A game against Oregon, the fastest, most efficient bully in college football, can quickly get out of hand. Washington State learned that last year when a commendable 34-24 halftime deficit turned into a 24-point blowout in less than six minutes. The Cougars scored the game's final two touchdowns in the 62-38 loss, which really upset UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti for about a day.

Still, it would be a mistake to write-off the Cougars in their Pac-12 opener against the Ducks. For some reason, UO has had some motivation problems lately and struggles to give its best in games that are not being played on the biggest of stages.

Its Rose Bowl hopes were dashed last season after a pretty pedestrian Arizona team dominated the Ducks offensively and defensively. They lost 42-16! So there really is no reason WSU – or anyone else – should feel like they can't beat the Ducks at home. Because for whatever reason the Pac-12's best team just can't always seem to stay focused.

Follow the jump for the rest of our look at WSU's fourth opponent.

Cougars add a late piece

“Do not pay attention to recruiting, for that way madness lies.” Williams Shakespeare spoke those words, or ought to have, anyways, because the twists and turns involved with populating a college football roster are enough to drive Poor Tom sane. Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch.com reported ($) last night that Chandler Leniu is headed to Pullman to enroll at Washington State. Leniu had declared his intentions to join the Cougars last year but ended up signing a letter of intent with California.

Bruce Feldman confirmed Ransford's report and added that Leniu will be eligible to play immediately, if that's what the WSU coaches want. Leniu appears to be around 6-foot, 220 pounds or so and is expected to play linebacker at WSU. He was pretty highly regarded out of high school, in fact he's WSU's best recruit in the 2014 class according to the recruiting sites. 

Here are his profiles from ESPNRivals, and Scout.

Friday Flashback: Southern Utah

Where to start with this one? When Washington State upended USC a week before the Southern Utah game, it effectively guaranteed a 3-1 start to the season. Following tough road games at Auburn and USC, the Cougars finished out the first third of their schedule with gimmes against Southern Utah and Idaho.

The Cougars were expected to win this one, their home opener, and win big. So they did, pretty easily. The offense piled up some impressive statistics, but it was the defense that turned some heads, allowing just one touchdown for the second consecutive week.

Follow the jump to find out what happened.

… 

WSU’s Ivan McLennan arrested

Washington State linebacker Ivan McLennan was arrested on Sunday for unlawful handling of weapons capable of producing bodily harm after pointing a nonlethal Airsoft pellet gun at a student.

We have more information on his arrest after the jump.

Friday flashback: USC

(Cornerback Damante Horton had a pair of picks in WSU's 10-7 upset of USC)

The Cougars may have played better than expected in their season-opening loss at Auburn, but they were still 0-1 as most analysts had predicted they would be. As if Washington State's foray into SEC country wasn't daunting enough, the next test for the Cougars was No. 25 USC at Memorial Coliseum, a venue they had not won in since 2000 against a team they last beat in 2002.

But there were signs that Troy was ready to tumble. Los Angeles partisans were growing weary of coach Lane Kiffin's style over substance approach and the coach faced enormous pressure to produce despite heading into the season with two mediocre options at quarterback (spoiler alert: he didn't).

Injuries had necessitated that true freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown play with the No. 1 defense the week leading up to the game and he had played well enough to give them confidence he would succeed in his hometown return (he did).

And WSU's passing defense had just held Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to 99 passing yards on the road. If the defensive backs could summon another monster performance against quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, then maybe they could keep the score close enough to stay in reach of the upset (yep).

More on WSU's game at USC is after the jump.

Martin Stadium will get new FieldTurf

Photo courtesy of Washington State Athletics

Washington State finally announced that new FieldTurf will be installed at Martin Stadium, including crimson end zones that some fans have been hoping for. The school also released the above image of what the field is expected to look like when it is completed in late July.

“What began in 2011 with the construction of the premium seating addition at Martin Stadium, to the recently completed Cougar Football Complex, the football facilities at Washington State University have experienced a major facelift,” athletic director Bill Moos said in a statement. “The final touches to this three-year transformation are new playing surfaces on both Martin Stadium and the Rogers Practice Field, which is now in full swing.”

Moos has previously hinted that any unused funds from the Football Operations Building project would be put toward aesthetic upgrades to Martin Stadium. In the press release it sounds like they have enough money left over to make a couple other changes, although it remains to be seen what those are.

“With the new FieldTurf installed, and some additional cosmetic improvements, alumni, fans, recruits, coaches and student-athletes will be watching and playing college football in a first class venue in one of the most unique settings in the country.”

Monday fast forward: Nevada

Monday fast forward: Nevada

This is the second installment of a series of weekly previews I'll be doing this summer on the Washington State football team's 2014 opponents.

Our Nevada preview is after the jump.

Friday Flashback: Auburn

It was the first game of Washington State's best season in a decade, it was nearly the Cougars' most improbable upset, in hindsight, in at least that long. Auburn played in the BCS championship game last season, but its breathtaking run was almost undone from the start at home by an upstart team from the country's northwestern corner.

The muggy affair was a game of superlatives. Jeremiah Laufasa – since transferred to UTEP for want of a scholarship – scored two touchdowns. Auburn's Corey Grant rushed for 146 yards – twice as much as teammate Tre Mason, who was drafted 75th overall in the NFL draft.

Instead, Mason's impact was felt on a 100-yard second quarter kickoff return for a touchdown.

The WSU defense held Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to 99 passing yards and just 10 completions in 19 attempts. Cougar counterpart Connor Halliday said afterward that, “If (Auburn) had a quarterback they'd be a top five team. They just don't have a guy that can throw it.”

They were bold words coming from Halliday, who threw three interceptions in the 31-24 loss, but they were prescient. Marshall was better after that first game and Auburn finished second in the AP rankings after a close loss to Florida State in the last championship game of the BCS era.

Follow the jump for more on WSU's 2013 season opener.

Deone Bucannon signs with Arizona

All-American, first round NFL draft pick, now Deone Bucannon is also a multi-millionaire after signing a four-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals that is worth $7,709,200 according to Ross Jones of FOX Sports. Nearly all of it, $6,237,946, is guaranteed.

Bucannon became the first player out of Washington State to be drafted in the NFL draft's first round in a decade when Arizona took him with the 27th overall pick. He was a four-year starter for the Cougars, leading the team in tackles and interceptions his senior year as WSU made its first bowl game since 2003. 

Jalen Canty will not enroll at WSU

Jalen Canty was one of the more intriguing players in Washington State's 2014 football class, but the 6-foot-8 defensive end announced on Twitter late Wednesday evening that he will not enroll at WSU. He apparently then told Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch.com that he intends to head to Casper College in Wyoming to play basketball, and is giving up football entirely.

Canty claimed to have been offered football scholarships by schools such was Oregon, Washington and Vanderbilt, and listed a basketball scholarship offer from California. When he signed with WSU in February he said he was going to try and play both sports in college.

On signing day coach Mike Leach said of Canty, “What was real impressive about Canty, he hadn't played a ton of football. The end of the year was really on fire, the end of the season was like 20-something sacks.” 

Canty's departure leaves the Cougars with just Hercules Mata'afa at defensive end in the 2014 class, with Kingston Fernandez expected to play BUCK linebacker. But the Cougars are deep along the defensive line and are not expected to need help from true freshmen at defensive end, although Canty might have been able to carve out a role thanks to his unique size and athleticism.

FOB media tour highlights

Bill Moos gave the WSU athletics press corps a personal tour of Washington State's nearly completed football operations building today. Its grandeur was enough to make me wish I'd learned how to whistle. You can check out our story in tomorrow's paper for all the details (rumor is it will make the front page) but I thought I'd share some highlights after the jump.

Monday fast forward: Rutgers

(The young WSU offensive line will have a tough first test to stop Darius Hamilton. Photo: Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

We have not yet entered the dog days of summer but we're getting close with only a few Washington State athletes competing in the last remaining NCAA championships. To stave off the summer boredom – and supplement the yeoman's work Vince is doing to find something worth writing about every day – I'm going to start some new series on the blog to prepare for the upcoming football season.

We'll begin today with a Monday Preview, a weekly series of previews of WSU's upcoming opponents in the 2014 football season. Also keep an eye out for some Friday Flashbacks that use the supreme intelligence granted by hindsight to contextualize the 2013 season.

Without further ado, our Monday Preview of WSU's first opponent, Rutgers University, is after the jump.

… 

Former Bruin heading to WSU?

The news that former Bruin Aaron Porter appears to be transferring to Washington State has been out for awhile but I'm just now getting to it after helping out with some preps coverage elsewhere. But in case you missed it this afternoon, WazzuWatch's Britton Ransford is reporting ($) that the former UCLA football player plans to enroll at WSU after attending Cerritos Community College this fall.

If and when Porter does enroll at WSU he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

We've got more on the alleged newest Cougar below the fold.

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