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The future of the WSU defense looked bright on Thursday

After Washington State finished its final full practice before Saturday's game against Oregon the underclassmen had their Thursday Night Football scrimmage. The defense looked great. The offense, well, they had to do some up-downs.

Our report from practice is after the jump.

Week four Pac-12 power rankings

The out-of-conference games took their toll on the Pac-12 and now that the conference’s teams are sufficiently beaten up they’ll start to play each other. With a 25-4 record in nonconference games the Pac-12 mostly solidified its reputation as one of college football’s top conferences.

Still, it’s hard not to think that the Pac-12 missed an opportunity to really be considered elite. USC is still one of the conference’s most talented teams and could certainly win the Pac-12 South. If it does, it will make every good program it beats look bad in the process, losing to the team that lost to Boston College.

Even though UCLA went undefeated, the Bruins’ six-point average margin of victory against what wasn’t thought to be an imposing schedule is going to diminish the national perception of one of the Pac-12’s most talented teams for the rest of the year.

At least Oregon took care of business.

Washington State’s receiving corps runneth over

Heading into the 2014 football season the WSU receiving depth appeared pretty set. The Cougars returned their top eight receivers from the previous season and there seemed to be a defined pecking order.

Or not.

Three games into the season and last year's most productive receiver, Gabe Marks, is redshirting and Isiah Myers has already matched his production from a year ago and is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list. I wrote about Myers' emergence the in paper today, and our practice report includes a number of big plays from redshirting freshman receiver who isn't waiting to make an impact.

We have more links after the jump.

A big day for backups

Washington State's depth is starting to catch up to the starters. Or maybe the backups just had a good day. Either way, Wednesday's WSU football practice saw some big plays from players you don't normally hear about.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Recapping yesterday’s practice

Because we were caught up in the hubbub of some late-night scheduling news and other stuff for the paper we never got a practice report up last night. We make amends for that omission after the jump.

WSU Football live chat

 

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No weekday games in 2015, except one

With the exception of the Apple Cup, which makes a premature return to Black Friday, the 2015 Washington State football schedule doesn't include any weekday games. By contrast the Cougars have already played games on Thursday and Friday this season, with another Friday contest coming up when WSU travels to Stanford.

Now if only they can do something about those night games.

As you can tell by now, the 2015 football schedule was released yesterday and leads off our notebook in today's paper.

More links are after the jump.

WSU 2015-16 schedule released

The Pac-12 released its conference football schedules on Tuesday evening during the Pac-12 Football Weekly on the Pac-12 Networks. Washington State's schedule is as follows:

Week 1: 9/5 Portland State
Week 2: 9/12 @ Rutgers
Week 3: 9/19 vs. Wyoming
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: 10/3 @ California
Week 6: 10/10 @ Oregon
Week 7: 10/17 vs. Oregon State
Week 8: 10/24 @ Arizona
Week 9: 10/31 vs. Stanford
Week 10: 11/7 vs. Arizona State
Week 11: 11/14 @ UCLA
Week 12: 11/21 vs. Colorado
Week 13: 11/27 @ Washington

Superlative WSU statistics

Through three games Washington State has put up some impressive stats, and not just because of its high-volume passing offense. The Cougars are also rank highly in certain special teams and defensive categories.

We'll take a look at some of the Cougars' superlative statistics after the jump.

Isiah Myers added to Biletnikoff Award watch list

Washington State receiver has been added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List following his 227-yard, three-touchdown performance against Portland State last weekend the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation announced Tuesday.

The award will be given on December 11, 2014 to the best receiver in college football as determined in part by online fan voting. Were Myers to win it would mark the third time a receiver has won the award while being coached by Mike Leach – the first two were in 2007 and 2008 when Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree won back-to-back.

 Myers currently leads the Pac-12 conference with 26 receptions and 423 receiving yards. He's likely to continue putting up big numbers; quarterback Connor Halliday says Myers is the receiver he has the best rapport with as well as the team's best route-runner.

Washington State’s focus will be tested

The schemes may vary and the personnel is obviously never the same but for all other intents and purposes the Washington State football team considers all opponents to be one in the same.

If the Cougars can maintain that inward focus and block out the fastest, flashiest, highest-ranked team in the west all week then they can do it against anybody. No. 2 Oregon comes to Pullman on Saturday with ESPN in tow. Whether or not the Cougars like it this is a big game, and a big win or even a good performance this weekend could propel the team to some badly-needed wins against Utah and California in the following weeks. But it would be tough to recover from a bad loss or some critical injuries.

Yesterday the Cougars addressed Oregon during their weekly press conference and there were even a few basketball items throughout the day. All that and more is after the jump.

WSU men’s basketball schedule revealed

The Pac-12 announced the 2014-15 conference men's basketball schedule moments ago during the Pac-12 Sports Report on the Pac-12 Networks. Washington State's Pac-12 season begins at Stanford on Jan. 2 and the Cougars won't play at home until they host Oregon on Jan. 15.

The Cougars' first three conference games, on the road, are all afternoon games but WSU won't play before 4 p.m. again until the Feb. 8 game at Oregon. Washington State only has a pair of afternoon games in Pullman.

You can view the entire WSU basketball schedule for the upcoming season by clicking this link: WSU men's basketball schedule

Video: Cyrus Coen, Dom Williams and Toni Pole

Cyrus Coen, Dom Williams and Kalafitoni Pole spoke to the media on Monday. The videos, courtesy of WSU athletics, are after the jump.

Cougars must make the most of every opportunity

Mike Leach addressed the media on Monday, as is his custom, to discuss Washington State's upcoming game against No. 2 Oregon. Leach emphasized that the key on Saturday will be not “squandering” plays because the Cougars will need to maximize every opportunity to keep pace with the Ducks. 

He acknowledged UO's exceptional talent on both sides of the ball but said that the Cougars' focus will on on themselves and taking care of what they can control. 

The highlights from our interview with Leach are after the jump.

Cougar Hardwood Classic cancelled

For the second consecutive year the Washington State men's basketball team won't make its annual trip to Seattle's Key Arena for the Cougar Hardwood Classic. The Cougars were scheduled to face Hawaii on Dec. 13 but will instead travel to face Santa Clara on that date.

The event began in 2005 against Utah and has seen teams such as San Diego State and LSU travel to the Emerald City to face the Cougars.

WSU's press release announcing the cancelation is after the jump.

WSU at Utah set for 5 p.m. PST

Washington State's game against Utah will kick off at 5 p.m. PST making it the fifth-consecutive night game to start the season for the Cougars. If you're making the trip to Salt Lake remember to move your clocks forward an hour, unless you're getting to the stadium early to tailgate and then it won't matter. 

Grading the Portland State game

Let me preempt those of you who will see fit to remind me in the comments and on Twitter by saying that yes, as far as tests go Portland State isn't exactly the MCAT. But it's still important to ace the easy exams and Washington State clearly did that on Saturday.

Tougher tests may await but for now it's nice to know the Cougars have given themselves a little grading cushion and something to build off of.

Unit grades are after the jump.

Cougars prepare for Pac-12 play

Washington State begins Pac-12 play this week against No. 2 Oregon. That means that the Cougars will have their weekly press conference today to discuss the Ducks and we'll have some coverage from that in the early afternoon.

In the meantime, we follow Saturday's win with a story today's paper and a report from last night night's practice, which featured a sneak peak at WSU's white helmets.

More links are after the jump.

Cougars give a sneak peek at white helmets

The Cougars did indeed debut their white helmets at tonight's practice, albeit without any decals, which lasted for about an hour. Not all the Washington State players wore white helmets, but most of the regulars did. This is purely speculation on my part, but I would bet that we'll see white pants and white helmets on Saturday, and either crimson or anthracite jerseys. If WSU wears anthracite jerseys along with whatever Oregon comes up with (probably dark green numbers on a green jersey or something similar) it's going to be pretty tricking keeping track of who does what.

There were just a few noteworthy items from tonight's short practice but we also had the opportunity to speak with defensive coordinator Mike Breske and running backs coach Jim Mastro afterwards.

Notes and quotes from practice are after the jump.

… 

WSU wins in a blowout

Last night was fun for just about everybody. It was fun for the Washington State players because they got to pile up stats and pick up that first win of the season. It was fun for the fans because the Cougars won and the stadium looked great. And it was fun for me because my duties actually ended before midnight and the Cougars finally had a home game, meaning I got to hang with Grippi in the press box and listen to old-man stories about the days when practices were open and players and sportswriters conversed as they pleased. Sure, Vince, like that ever happened.

Just about the only people it wasn't fun for were the Portland State Vikings, who not only had to suffer through a game they never really had a chance in, but then boarded a bus for a five-hour return trip to Portland. That's a rough travel day.

But there was a lot of good stuff that came out of yesterday so let's get to those links, which are right after the jump.

Some final thoughts from WSU’s win over Portland State

The Cougars picked up a much-needed win in style on Saturday night, treating the 30,874 fans in attendance to a 59-21 blowout. It's easy to say that not much can be learned from a big win over an FCS opponent, but I don't buy that.

This game could have been close if the Cougars didn't put together their most complete game of the season to date, at least that's what I think. I've got a few other thoughts from this game, and I'll share them after the jump.

… 

WSU pregame chat

 

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

Pullman, populated

The is gridlock on Grand Ave, crowds at Cougar Country and I'll thank all you people to kindly get the heck out of My Office! Yes, Cougar football weekends must have returned to Pullman and if the sheer number of people that seem to be milling around my normally quiet college town are any indication, there should be a sizable crowd at the game today.

Because Washington State only offers night classes in football 101 these days the game won't kick off until 5 p.m. We'll get started early with a live chat an hour before kickoff, but until then the links will have to do.

Links are after the jump.