PULLMAN – An upper body injury kept starting Washington State cornerback Sean Harper Jr. out of his third consecutive game Satuday night as the 10th-ranked Cougars hosted California at Martin Stadium.
Harper Jr., a senior from Hartwell, Georgia, started in WSU’s first six games alongside Darrien Molton but suffered an undisclosed injury after the Cougars’ Oct. 6 game at Oregon State and missed subsequent games against Oregon and Stanford.
It’s coach Mike Leach’s policy not to address injuries and the nature of Harper’s injury is unknown, but the senior defensive back was pictured wearing a sling on his right arm in a Lewiston Tribune photo taken earlier this week.
In place of Harper Jr., the Cougars have gone with junior Marcus Strong at the corner position opposite Molton since the game against Oregon. Sophomore George Hicks III, who’s listed as Harper’s backup on the WSU depth chart, has also seen an uptick in playig time as a result of his teammate’s injury.
Molton and Strong had a few lapeses in coverage last week against Stanford, drawing two pass interference penalties each while struggling to contain Stanford’s big wide receivers. The Cougars gave up 323 passing yards to Stanford, but the corners also came up with a few pivotal plays toward the end of the game.
The Golden Bears are also shorthanded tonight and will be without redshirt junior wide receiver Kanawai Noa, who hurt his shoulder in Cal’s 12-10 win over Washington last week. As Cal’s backup “X” receiver, Noa has caught 28 passes for 326 receiving yards and two touchdowns this year.
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