The smiles become more reluctant, the eyes less forgiving, the upper lips a little tighter. It’s game week. Finally.
With five days remaining until Washington State’s football opener against UCLA in Martin Stadium, the first misunderstanding has already been blown out of proportion.
It happened Monday, when UCLA coach Bob Toledo made reference to something his WSU counterpart denied having said. Alas, the machines of motivation are working overtime.
“If you talk to Mike Price, he’s excited about his football team,” Toledo told the Los Angeles media. “He thinks they’re much like Arizona State a year ago.”
The Sun Devils, of course, sailed through the 1996 regular season with an 11-0 record and nearly defeated Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Price, who might have laughed off such a suggestion only days ago, bristled when told of Toledo’s inference.
“I don’t ever remember saying anything like that,” Price said. “But I don’t quote him. I don’t know why he’s quoting me.”
In addressing the strengths of WSU, Toledo referred to the Cougars’ media guide.
“Looking at their press guide, you see seven All-America candidates,” he said. “You got that many All-America candidates, you oughta be in the hunt. So I’m concerned about that.”
The seven WSU lists are quarterback Ryan Leaf, tailback Michael Black, guard Jason McEndoo, center Cory Withrow, defensive end Dorian Boose, linebacker Brandon Moore and safety Duane Stewart.
On the injury front, defensive tackle Gary Holmes (back) made it through Monday’s practice without complication and could see extensive playing time in a reserve role.
Black (ankle) also practiced and appeared healthy.
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