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Final thoughts from the Oregon game

The Cougars came up just a few plays short of knocking off the No. 2 team in the country in front of what was easily the finest crowd I've seen in Pullman. It was like an Apple Cup crowd but with fewer visitors.

Yes, I raised my eyebrow in the direction of the officials more than once in the fourth quarter, but I don't think a clock that started too soon or a pass interference call changed what this game ultimately was: a great college football game in which one team was tougher and crisper, but the other team had the best player on the field (Marcus Mariota), a Heisman candidate for obvious reasons who made just enough big plays to give his team the victory.

I can understand if you'd rather not think about this one for a few hours (or a few barley pops) but I have my thoughts from the game after the jump.

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Week four Pac-12 picks

Give credit to Utah for making a trip to the Big House to make Week 4 interesting for Pac-12 viewers. The rest of the nonconference schedule is as bland as a beige rainbow.

The week’s most interesting storyline can be found in Colorado, where the Buffaloes take on a Hawaii team that lost close games against Washington and Oregon State. Can we just decide that the winner of that game gets to stay in the Pac-12?

All games are Saturday, all picks should be used for kindling purposes only.

Last week: 7-1 straight up, 1-5 against the spread.

Overall: 26-5 straight up, 8-15 against the spread.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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 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.


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.


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Teondray Caldwell leaves WSU

Teondray Caldwell has left the Washington State football program, as was first reported by Cougfan.com's Chris Shaw. The team's representatives have a policy of not commenting on player attrition or transfers, but I have been able to confirm that the report is accurate.

Caldwell, a junior, will have to sit out the remainder of the season, as well as his new team's first two games next season if he transfers to an FBS school

We have more on this story after the jump.

(Update 5:02: Because Caldwell played in WSU's first game of the season he is not eligible to use his available redshirt at a new institution.)

A new pair of Thursday stars

Last season Thursday nights were the Morrow and Wick Show starring a pair of redshirting running backs who were mostly hidden on scout team during the week but who spent one night each week showing off stunning glimpses of talent that foreshadowed a long and productive career. One year later Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks are atop the WSU depth chart, quickly making good on all that promise.

Well if tonight's practice was any indication, receiver Barry Ware and running back Squally Canada are the next pair of talented offensive players you'll hear about every Thursday night, but will have to wait a year to see for yourself.

Read about their exploits and the rest of today's practice after the jump.

Pac-12 picks for week three

At least USC and Oregon did what they were supposed to, beating Stanford and blowing out Michigan State as we predicted. But what to make of a conference in which UCLA and Washington have to squeak by Memphis and Eastern Washington at home, while Utah and Colorado are blowing teams out of the water?

At least there’s one thing by which to set your timepiece: Colorado making pessimistic gamblers smart gamblers.

Not that anybody’s using these entertainment-only picks for gambling, of course.

All games are on Saturday, picks are after the jump.

Week three Pac-12 power rankings

The two teams at the top and bottom of the conference are easy enough to sort out. Oregon and USC have the only two major wins so far while Colorado and Washington State are the only teams currently flailing. The other eight teams have almost all won two games they were expected to win and we should see plenty of movement once they start to play each other.

Follow the jump to see our power rankings for week three.

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.