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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Cougars see an opportunity to overcome problems

PULLMAN – The Cougars took to the practice field after a defeat for the first time this season on Tuesday appearing – apologies to James Bond for turning things around – stirred, not shaken.

“The question wasn’t, cross our fingers, are we going to win it or not?” safety Eric Frampton said after that first practice. “The question was, we have the game in control, can we just execute and finish it off? So I think even at the end of the game when it was all said and done confidence was still high.”

Washington State plays its conference home opener Saturday against Stanford, hoping to draw on the positive (the first half at Oregon State) while fixing the negative (the second half at Oregon State).

The Cougars (3-1, 0-1 Pac-10) are by no means gasping for air in this 2005 season, but they may not be too far off. After this week’s game, WSU has to play five ranked opponents in five weeks, two of them on the road.

As a result, some of the Cougars are looking at this week as a must win, not just for the bowl picture but for morale as well.

“Definitely,” senior center Nick Mihlhauser said. “Everyone’s kind of starting to doubt us. We have to win so we don’t doubt within the team. We’re going to have to win this game.

“It will be an interesting week, and I think the older guys need to have a really mentally sound week in preparation. We’ll be fine.”

Stars on the sideline

It’s not the vision WSU wanted this season, but Will Derting came onto the practice field in street clothes and on crutches.

The senior middle linebacker was also sporting a bulky brace that extended from his upper thigh to his ankle after injuring the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. X-rays have revealed no bone damage, and head coach Bill Doba expects Derting to miss two to four weeks, maybe more.

“It’s going to be two,” Derting said. “I hate crutches.”

In a bit of positive news, head coach Bill Doba said Alex Teems is questionable to play Saturday after X-rays on his separated right shoulder turned up no break. Teems didn’t practice and probably won’t today, either. The same is true for wide receiver Jason Hill, who will try to run Thursday and then play Saturday.

The Cougars’ other starting cornerback, Omowale Dada, didn’t practice as a precaution for a knee sprain.

Ramadan starts

The Muslim holiday, lasting a month, will have a significant effect on the life of starting safety Husain Abdullah beginning today.

In observance of the holiday, Abdullah cannot eat or drink from sunrise to sunset, so that means the sophomore will have to go through practices and day games like the one on Saturday without any water.

“It gave me a lot of problems,” Abdullah said of last year’s experience. “I was tired a lot of times when I normally wouldn’t be.”

The safety said he will probably take an IV before games to help supply the needed nutrients.

Notes

Husain Abdullah‘s older brother, Hamza Abdullah, who graduated last season, was at practice. The safety was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in training camp after being drafted in the sixth round and is still hoping to latch on with a team. After practice, secondary coach Ken Greene was helping the older Abdullah with some drills. … Defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua did not practice. Bill Doba has set a deadline of today for the sophomore defensive tackle to be cleared for contact in practice if he is to make a season debut Saturday after breaking a leg in fall camp. … The UCLA game will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 15, and FSN has decided to pick up the game nationally. … Fewer than 1,500 tickets remain for this weekend’s game, and fewer than 1,800 are left for UCLA.

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