WACO, Texas – It wasn’t the homecoming they wanted.
For the eight Washington State football players from Texas or Louisiana, the final score – 45-17, Baylor – wasn’t what they wanted. The night – Friday, thanks to an oncoming Hurricane Ike – wasn’t what they wanted. And the crowd certainly wasn’t what they wanted.
“Most of my family couldn’t make it because of the storm,” said senior middle linebacker Greg Trent, who did thrill what family was here with a team-high seven tackles, giving him 256 in his WSU career.
“Some people did get a chance to make it, though. Win or lose, it was definitely good to come back to the state of Texas again.”
The seven defensive players from the area had to endure freshman quarterback Robert Griffin’s 225-yard rushing night – a Baylor record.
“I warned everybody this week that they had a good athlete at quarterback,” said outside linebacker Kenny Dunn, from down the road in Hearne.
But the whipping didn’t get Dunn down.
“I told (everyone) we would have liked a better homecoming,” he said. “But it’s past. Can’t look back on the past. Hopefully, we’ll get better next week.”
Mullennix plays tackle
Matt Mullennix came out of Liberty High as a razor thin 6-foot-5, 235-pound speed-rushing end who hoped to put on some weight.
He did and six years later he’s a 6-6, 253-pound speed-rushing tackle.
That’s where Mullennix played most Friday night, inside.
“It was kind of nice – he’s a good athlete and a good friend,” defensive end Kevin Kooyman said. “It was definitely a different feel.”
“We’re just trying to get a pass rush in different situations,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said.
Mullennix did start at end but played much of the game at tackle. He was inside when he picked up the team’s only sack, coming around a stunt with A’i Ahmu and knocking Griffin to the ground.
Mullennix finished with four tackles.
No travel travails
Game-day travel wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
The Cougars ate breakfast together Friday morning at 6:45 and left Bohler Gym at 7:40. Their charter flight took off from Pullman at 9 and arrived in Waco at 2 p.m. CDT.
The 3-hour flight left them enough time to get to their hotel and take a break before the team meal at 3:30. The buses arrived at Floyd Casey Stadium at about 5:30.
When asked if the travel was a factor, Wulff answered, “I’m not going to say that. We just got outplayed and we made too many mistakes. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
This wasn’t the first time WSU had to move a game quickly. Back in 1963, the Apple Cup, scheduled for Nov. 23, was postponed a week. A day earlier, President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. The Huskies won 16-0 in Seattle.
Moving up the contest may have hurt the gate (only 25,595 were in Floyd Casey Stadium), what with Friday nights reserved for high school football in this state. But the move still seemed appropriate considering the weather forecast for today in Waco.
The national weather service has issued a tropical storm wind warning, meaning there could be winds up to 75 mph. A flood watch is also in effect in the area, with up to 4 inches of rain expected.
Not that the wind wasn’t blowing anyway.
Before the game, Wulff and assistant coach Steve Broussard could be seen talking and pointing at the flags at the southeast side of the stadium.
At that time, the wind there was blowing hard toward the southeast. But the flags on the other end of the field were blowing with less fury but in the opposite direction.
The conditions stayed mild all night, with only the stiff breeze serving as a reminder a hurricane was just over the horizon.