Tardy recalls ill fate
Injury vs. UCLA ended ’07 season
PULLMAN – It was the best game of Dwight Tardy’s career. And the worst.
It was a 214-yard, career-best rushing effort in a 27-7 upset win over UCLA last year in Pullman. And it was a torn ACL suffered on the last of his 37 carries, an injury that cost the junior from Walnut, Calif., the rest of the 2007 season.
Now, as Tardy gets ready to face the Bruins again, he can only hope to hit the 200-yard mark again.
“I haven’t even seen a 100-yard game yet (this year),” Tardy said this week. “I’m just trying to get that C-note.”
Tardy leads WSU with 250 yards rushing on 66 carries, more than twice as many as any other Cougar. But, with the offensive line changing weekly, running lanes have been hard to find, with his long only 25 yards.
He more than doubled that on his last run against the Bruins last year, taking off down the left sideline for a 51-yard, game-clinching scoring run. On his final cut, he tore his left ACL and missed the rest of the year.
“I know not to do that again,” said Tardy, who is fighting an ankle sprain this week. “My legs got fatigued and I made a lazy cut with it. It messed up my whole season. I stretch well and I’m not as lazy on my cuts any more.”
That was the only time Tardy was lazy that October day.
“It was midseason and we had all the kinks out,” he said. “We were ready to play. We were coming together as one by then, especially the blocking.
“We really wanted to win that game. I believe we came off a loss (53-7 to Oregon) or two … and needed a win.”
Just like now.
“We always match up good with them,” Tardy said of the Bruins. “I don’t know what it is, but we usually play them pretty solid.”
Left guard Andrew Roxas figures he’s driven past the Rose Bowl thousands of times.
“Probably every day growing up,” said the sophomore, who was raised in the western part of Pasadena, Calif., just up the hill from the famous stadium.
And yet, having wandered past the bowl so many times, tonight’s walk-through practice will be a new experience.
“This is my first time ever to step inside of it,” Roxas said.
Come Saturday, he won’t be alone. His little sister, Allison, told him their elementary school, St. Andrew, has purchased 200 tickets to watch Andrew play.
Two assistant coaches, including recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen, are already in Southern California watching high school recruits.
The NCAA allows each school to pick a 42-day stretch to visit with prep football players and WSU’s staff decided to be a little different this season.
“We tried to build it around the bye week and a couple trips south, instead of building it necessarily around a couple home games,” Rasmussen said.
The Cougars are recruiting hard, despite the natural hardships of being isolated in eastern Washington.
“Pullman’s a difficult place to get in and out of from a travel standpoint, so this gives us an opportunity to get some of the coaches out on the road and get into some of those high schools,” Rasmussen said.
Being there makes all the difference.
“That’s the most important thing, is us being seen,” Rasmussen said. “There are certain things you can get from us being there in person, as far as an evaluation, you get to see body language, how they interact with the coaches, those things don’t show up on video as we watch it, so that’s important for us to be able to see that.
“But more than anything, it’s us being out and being seen. And guys understanding we’re there to see them.”
Though Tardy and Logwone Mitz should be able to play Saturday, running back and kickoff returner Chris Ivory probably won’t. He suffered a hamstring injury Wednesday and is doubtful. … Freshman Kevin Norrell, from Los Angeles, will take Ivory’s spot on kickoff returns. … Steven Ayers, battling for the left tackle spot, suffered an injury Wednesday and may not play. Will Hunter, who was also seeing time at right tackle, broke a finger the same day and is questionable. … Daniel Blackledge hasn’t returned to practice this week after suffering a shoulder injury against Oregon. Jared Karstetter will start in his spot. … True freshman Louis Bland is penciled in to make his first start at linebacker, replacing senior Kenny Dunn in a coach’s decision. Myron Beck will start at the other side because of Cory Evans’ hamstring injury. … WSU has won six of the last seven meetings between the schools, with the only loss coming in overtime in Pullman in 2005. The last loss at the Rose Bowl was in 1998. … Paul Wulff went out of his way to praise the play and leadership of seniors Matt Mullennix and Ben Woodard during his Thursday press conference.