PULLMAN – Washington State’s two longest-tenured players watched the Apple Cup from the sideline.
Standout nickel Armani Marsh and seventh-year slot receiver Renard Bell took part in senior night celebrations Saturday evening at Gesa Field, but didn’t suit up for the Cougars’ regular-season finale against Washington.
WSU coach Jake Dickert told reporters earlier this week that Bell would be a “game-time decision” against UW one week after he sustained an injury in the second half of WSU’s win at Arizona.
Marsh’s status came as a surprise. The sixth-year Cougar came up limping after making a pass break-up in the second half last weekend, but returned to the field after a short checkup in WSU’s injury tent.
Bell suffered an arm injury Oct. 8 at USC and missed the next four games before returning to the lineup last weekend.
The team captain from Los Angeles registered 315 yards and two touchdowns on 27 catches during his final regular season in Pullman. The most experienced player on the Cougars’ roster, Bell has appeared in 50 career games – six shy of the program record for career appearances (56), shared by linebackers Jahad Woods and Justus Rogers.
Dickert had indicated that Bell was close to being ready Saturday, so it’s possible the slotback plays one more game in a WSU uniform – a bowl game next month. Bell sits in a tie for 10th in WSU history with 18 career receiving touchdowns. He is just outside the program’s top 10 in career catches (174) and receiving yards (1,971).
Marsh, a third-year starter out, has appeared in 45 career games for WSU – more than any of his defensive teammates. An All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick last year, Marsh is a team captain and one of the Pac-12’s highest-graded cornerbacks/nickelbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Spokane product tallied two interceptions, including a game-sealing pick-six, in WSU’s 40-13 win over Washington last year in Seattle. Marsh said earlier this week that it “means the world” to play in the Apple Cup as a Washington native.
“You grew up watching the Apple Cup, you grew up wanting to be on this stage,” he said. “It means a little bit more.”
The Cougars started sophomore Armauni Archie in place of Marsh, whose absence was felt against a Husky offense that boasts the most productive passing game in the country (3,869 yards).
WSU senior strong safety Jordan Lee was available after missing the past three games with an injury. Lee took some reps at nickel during warmups. The Cougars started freshman Jaden Hicks at strong safety for the ninth time this year.
Guard Ma’ake Fifita suited up after missing the Cougars’ last game due to an injury sustained Nov. 12 against Arizona State. But sophomore Quinn McCarthy made his second career start in place of Fifita, who will be saved in case of an “emergency situation,” Dickert said Wednesday.
Thirteen Cougars seniors were honored before the game. Offensive tackle Jarrett Kingston, who is out for the season due to an injury sustained earlier this month, was the final Cougar to walk through the tunnel. After greeting Dickert and embracing his family members, Kingston dropped to a knee and proposed to his girlfriend, who accepted the offer.