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Cougars prepare for PSU’s dual-QB threat

PULLMAN – When Kieran McDonagh stays on the sideline at the start of a Vikings drive today or runs to the bench while a replacement takes over, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Portland State quarterback has drawn the ire of his coaches or that he will spend the rest of the game with a clipboard. The substitution is completely normal for the PSU offense, which has the unusual practice of utilizing two quarterbacks. McDonagh is the primary passer, and when Paris Penn comes into the game it’s to hurt a defense with his legs. He’ll rarely throw the ball, and when he does it’s more often than not incomplete. But just because opposing defenses know what’s coming doesn’t mean they will stop it. “When he’s in the game we’ve got to be alert as a defense, everybody cluing in” Washington State defensive coordinator Mike Breske said. “He’s also thrown the ball this year.” Today’s game against the Vikings will be a good test for the WSU defense, which showed it has the athletes to contain a Pistol offense last week against Nevada. That game ended in a loss because of inconsistent offensive play, but the defense played much better than in the season opener against Rutgers. Portland State has added a few wrinkles that will test the defense’s ability to adapt, as the Vikings tested Oregon State in both teams’ season opener. Portland State led that game at halftime, but the Beavers adjusted and shut out the Vikings for the final two quarters for a 29-14 victory at Corvallis. “(Oregon State was) well aware by the second half of what was going on with the quarterback position,” Breske said. “They crowded the box a bit more when Paris was in the game and I think they were much more aware of what he can do.” In the OSU game, Penn had three explosive runs out of an empty set – nobody in the backfield but him – and two of them went for touchdowns. The close call for the Beavers serves as a wakeup call that the difference in resources between a Pac-12 school and an FCS school such as PSU is no longer a guarantee of victory. In 2013, FCS schools knocked off seven teams from the so-called “Power Five” conferences, including Eastern Washington’s win at OSU. Small-school powerhouse North Dakota State beat Iowa State of the Big 12 34-14 earlier this season, and has beaten an FBS team every year since 2010. “I think always the first-level guys have been similar,” WSU coach Mike Leach said of the talent differences between the FBS and FCS schools. “Then more you get to the second-level guys, the big schools have more scholarships so there is more distinction.” That distinction won’t matter if the WSU starting offense can’t play significantly better than it did at Nevada last week, scoring just one touchdown in the loss. The team struggled to put together drives, and the coaching staff will likely make some adjustments against the Vikings, such as getting the running backs more touches. Plus, the expected return of starting receiver River Cracraft should help. In the end, it will come down to execution. “Shoot, We weren’t making enough plays,” outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons said. “You saw it, it was pretty evident. We’d have explosive plays and then we’d do things to shoot ourselves in the foot and to be a good football team – to be a successful football team – you can’t do that. Keith Jackson Hall dedicated on WSU campus Keith Jackson may be the “granddaddy of them all” when it comes to sports broadcasters, and he was on campus in Pullman on Friday to witness the dedication of a WSU broadcast building in his honor. The Murrow College of Communication held a formal ceremony for the 1954 WSU graduate, who was a renowned voice for college football on ABC Sports from 1966-2006. Jackson was also the first play-by-play announcer on “Monday Night Football” and covered 10 Olympics for the network. His classic “granddaddy of them all” nickname is a hallmark of each year’s Rose Bowl, and he also coined the term “The Big House” for Michigan’s stadium. He is best known for his expressions like, “Big uglies,” “Whoa, Nellie,” and the drawn-out “Fummmmble.” The newly named Keith M. Jackson hall houses television studios and classrooms. Teondray Caldwell leaves Teondray Caldwell has left the Washington State football program. The junior was a part-time starter at running back for the Cougars before switching to defense shortly before the start of this season. Caldwell was passed on the depth chart during spring ball by running backs Jamal Morrow, Gerard Wicks and Theron West. He switched to safety and started against Rutgers, recording four tackles. Caldwell had a smaller role in WSU’s second game with redshirt freshman Darius Lemora starting in his place. Caldwell worked primarily with the scout team in practice this week, and Sulaiman Hameed is listed as Lemora’s backup on this week’s depth chart. Caldwell had 50 carries for 271 yards and a touchdown in 2013, in addition to 26 receptions for 130 yards.
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