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No Peyton Pelluer, no problem for Washington State defense

PULLMAN — When Washington State coach Mike Leach was asked about the obvious absence of his prized linebacker, Peyton Pelluer, on Saturday, the never-speak-of-an-injury Leach wouldn’t recognize the fact he didn’t register a snap.

“Pelluer is in the locker room, with us, so he wasn’t really absent,” Leach said following his team’s 45-7 victory over Nevada, improving the Cougars to 4-0 for the first time since 2001.

The senior was even listed on WSU’s depth chart on Saturday, despite the fact it had been reported since Sunday that Pelluer’s season had ended due to a broken foot sustained last week Oregon State. Pelluer’s father even confirmed the injury with the Lewiston Tribune, which broke the story.

But Pelluer wasn’t occupying his usual MIKE linebacker spot on Saturday against the Wolf Pack. Instead, WIL backer Isaac Dotson moved to middle, giving freshman Jahad Woods his first start career start at WIL.

The 6-foot, 214-pound Woods had all four of his tackles in a lopsided first half, helping the Cougars defense flummox a Nevada offense that totaled just 151 total yards while WSU nearly posted its second shutout in four games.

Woods, who said Pelluer has been in good spirits despite the injury, knew he had to help fill the defensive’s leader’s void.

“I needed to step up, it’s as simple as that. It was clear,” said Woods, a San Diego product.

Having a veteran in Dotson at his side also helped Woods in his debut as a starter.

“He’s like a coach on the field,” Woods said of Dotson.