PULLMAN – Despite a Pac-12 opener against the No. 2 team in the country on deck, this week is just like every other week for the Washington State football team, which is focused internally and cares only about the things it can control.
No matter what uniform combination Oregon comes up with this weekend, the Cougars say they will simply see the same generic opponent they prepare for every week.
“Our opponent’s just a faceless opponent,” linebacker Cyrus Coen said. “We’re going to do the same thing we do every day. Work hard, that’s it.”
But the Cougars hope to build on last year’s game at Autzen where WSU gave UO one of its tougher outings of the season in a 62-38 loss.
Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota was sacked three times by WSU during the first half and lost his first two fumbles of the season. Defensive lineman Xavier Cooper scooped up one of Mariota’s fumbles and returned it for a touchdown.
Oregon may have even more playmakers than last season on offense. But with four UO starting offensive linemen out for Saturday’s game the Cougars’ defensive line could have an even bigger impact. It’s likely the only way WSU can slow down the Ducks, who put up 46 points on Michigan State’s stingy defense.
“The way we came off the ball and attacked the offensive line, we were hungry to get to Marcus,” defensive tackle Kalafitoni Pole said. “That was the biggest thing, we were hungry to get there and if we consistently do that this week we’ll have a good chance against him.”
WSU was also effective running its Air Raid offense against the talented Ducks secondary and quarterback Connor Halliday threw for a school-record 557 passing yards on 89 attempts. If not for a fumble on the UO one-yard line and an end zone interception the Cougars would have had a real shot at a road upset.
“We had one deal that was kind of a 14-point turnaround on an interception that I felt there was pass interference,” coach Mike Leach said.
Basketball schedule set
The Pac-12 has announced the 2014-15 conference men’s basketball. Washington State’s conference season begins at Stanford on Jan. 2 and the Cougars won’t play at home until they host Oregon on Jan. 15.
After hosting the Oregon schools, the Cougars will travel to Utah and Colorado before returning home for a rematch against Cal and Stanford. WSU will then travel to the Oregon schools before facing Arizona and Arizona State at home.
Fox Sports 1 will televise WSU’s home game against the Wildcats on Feb. 15 and the March 1 game at UCLA.
The Cougars will host rival Washington on Feb. 22. That game and WSU’s home game with Utah will be on ESPN.
Washington State’s regular season concludes on March 7 with a 3:30 p.m. game at home against the Buffaloes.
The Cougars’ first three conference games, all on the road, are afternoon games but WSU won’t play before 4 p.m. again until the Feb. 8 game at Oregon. All but two of WSU’s home games will be played in the evening.
WSU announced the Hardwood Classic game against Hawaii that had been scheduled for Dec. 13 in Seattle has been canceled. Instead, the Cougars will play at Santa Clara that day.
Cornerback Daquawn Brown is without a doubt WSU’s most vocal football player whether he’s facing an opponent on game day or a teammate on the practice field. Brown has said the verbal onslaught he unleashes on wide receivers is more about giving himself energy than trying to psych out his opponent. Either way, his coaches don’t seem to mind.
“I quit listening to Daquawn a long time ago so I’m not real conscious of what he says,” Leach said. “As long as he functions right, Daquawn and I do pretty well.”
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