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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington State RB Dylan Paine to miss ASU game with high-ankle sprain

Washington State Cougars running back Dylan Paine (30) runs the ball for a first down against the Northern Colorado Bears during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 64-21.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – If Washington State wants to end its three-game slide with a win over Arizona State on Saturday, it will have to do so with a thinning running back rotation.

Walk-on running back Dylan Paine will miss the game with a high-ankle sprain, head coach Jake Dickert said Wednesday. Paine, who became his team’s No. 2 running back after backup Jaylen Jenkins was suspended then dismissed from the team, suffered the injury during WSU’s loss to No. 9 Oregon last weekend.

Without Jenkins, who was dismissed for a violation of team rules, the Cougars’ running back rotation in Tempe will include starter Nakia Watson, redshirt freshman Djouvesnky Schlenbaker and true freshman Leo Pulalasi.

“We need big things out of Nakia,” Dickert said. “We need one of those big games. Obviously, a protection game is gonna be huge. That’s part of that running back’s job. They (ASU) have very complicated pressure schemes.”

Schlenbaker has played sparingly this season, appearing in games against Colorado State and Northern Colorado. He’s totaled five carries for 45 yards. The only action from Pulalasi, a Tacoma native, has come against UNC, when he had seven rushes for 39 yards.

The Cougars have struggled to run the ball all season – they rank last in the Pac-12 in run offense, per Pro Football Focus – but Dickert liked what he saw last weekend in Eugene. WSU totaled 22 carries for 57 yards and one touchdown, which came from Watson.

“I felt like last week was our best week running the football downhill,” Dickert said. “We didn’t have that many attempts, but it was our best week, I think, statistically, besides the Northern Colorado game.”

Washington State, trying to earn its first win since it beat Oregon State on Sept. 23, will need more of that to beat Arizona State.

Roff out after surgery

WSU will also be without edge rusher Quinn Roff for some time.

Roff, who missed the Oregon game with what Dickert called a “medical emergency,” recently underwent surgery to clear out an infection, Dickert said.

“He’s doing well. He’s back on his feet, back at home,” Dickert said. “I think (he’s) another guy you’ll see out here sooner than later, because that’s the fighting spirit of Quinn. He’ll be back hopefully as soon as possible.”