TUCSON, Ariz. – Two senior slot receivers returned to Washington State’s lineup, but the Cougars played without a starter on their offensive line.
Seventh-year WSU slotback Renard Bell is back in action after missing the past four weeks with an arm injury. Incarnate Word transfer Robert Ferrel went down with an injury last weekend in the Cougs’ win over Arizona State, but he suited up for WSU’s Pac-12 matchup Saturday afternoon against Arizona. Right guard Ma’ake Fifita also suffered an injury versus ASU that kept him sidelined against the Wildcats.
WSU coach Jake Dickert confirmed earlier this week that Bell would be available Saturday in a limited capacity as he eases himself back to full health. Still, adding a big-play threat like Bell should help open up the offense. His veteran guidance in the huddle is invaluable.
He finished the game with a team-high seven catches for 33 yards. Bell left the field late in the third quarter after a hard collision. He stretched out his arm as he walked to the sideline, went into the injury tent, then headed to the locker room for the rest of the afternoon.
Bell tallied 282 yards and two touchdowns on 20 catches across WSU’s first five games of the year. After following offensive coordinator Eric Morris and quarterback Cameron Ward out of UIW, Ferrel has settled in nicely at WSU as a safety valve for Ward. He is the Cougars’ No. 2 receiver with 422 yards and three TDs on 39 catches.
Fifita started at right tackle for the first half of the season, then was replaced in favor of redshirt freshman Fa’alili Fa’amoe. Fifita switched to guard – the position he played last year – and made his first start of the year at RG last week versus ASU as the Cougars moved some pieces up front to make up for the absence of standout left tackle Jarrett Kingston, who sustained a season-ending injury Nov. 5 at Stanford.
Fifita was knocked from the ASU game early in the second half with an ankle injury. He watched from the sideline Saturday in street clothes.
Grant Stephens, who usually starts at right guard for WSU, played left tackle last weekend. He returned to RG on Saturday. Sophomore Quinn McCarthy made his first-career start, lining up at left guard against the Wildcats. First-team left guard Christian Hilborn shifted to left tackle.
WSU safety Jordan Lee missed his third consecutive game due to a lower-body injury suffered Oct. 27 against Utah.
Cougars tight end Billy Riviere was absent for unspecified reasons.
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