When you think of "bold" WSU football players past and present, who comes to mind? Maybe a guy who played his whole career injured and was still awesome like Will Derting. Maybe a certain quarterback who led us to the Rose Bowl on one leg. Maybe a kicker who built his reputation by giving WSU one of its greatest wins against USC in 2002, then was so "bold" that he still thought of himself as the BMOC even after playing a key role in one of WSU's most painful losses.
If I ever find myself making a list of bold Washington State football players sometime in the future, I'm sure that Jeff Tuel will be on that list somewhere. Tuel has played in front of some cover-your-eyes awful offensive lines. Lines that have claimed the backs or knee ligaments of several WSU quarterbacks. But Jeff has showed the ability to make plays with his feet or his arm despite the lack of a "pocket" or "time to make a proper decision." He's done it with defenders focused almost entirely on him, and only paying lip service to the meager WSU running game.
He's also consistently played through pain and, in the game we are about to revisit, lack of proper brain function. For all of this, Jeff Tuel is already one of the most bold players in Cougar Football history.
Read more about this glorious day after the jump.
Aren't you impressed with how I tied in something I was already going to do into something that I had to do? I love doing stuff like that. During my last semester at WSU I had my capstone writing class for history and some media class for my last general requirement. I used about six pages of my history paper as the final paper for my general education class and just added a different introduction and conclusion.
Speaking of efficiency, that was not what you would use to describe Washington State's upset of Oregon State on November 13, 2010. WSU rushed for 221 yards, but used 61 attempts to do it. It was 3.6 yards a carry, and for those of you who don't want to think, that translates to 10.8 yards every three plays. Just enough to avoid those dreaded fourth and short decisions! That is doing the bare minimum and still getting the job done (as you may have guessed from my story above, I am a fan of that).
Jeff Tuel accounted for 79 of those 221 net rushing yards, and probably less than half of that was on designed runs. Tuel was often taking advantage of man coverage while finding his way towards the first down marker. Many of his runs came on key third downs. His scrambling was just enough to keep the Beavers honest and he completed 10 of his 15 pass attempts for 157 yards.
Inspired defensive play (which is defined as: "When a terrible defense does something positive for once") and the Tuel-led offense allowed WSU to jump out to a 14-0 first half lead. CougCenter had never experienced this type of WSU football success, and the commenters in the game thread responded accordingly:
CougGuy86: We are now officially looking GOOD!
Craig Powers: TWO SCORE LEAD EVERYONE.
Of course, Cougar fans are not the type that can just enjoy success. We are always weary of that other shoe dropping, and the play before the touchdown looked like just that.
Jeff Tuel put the Cougs in position on the goal line after running and getting tackled just inches before reaching the endzone (still think he got in...but whatever). On that play a Beaver player collided helmet-to-helmet with Tuel and he came up dazed. He was immediately taken from the game and, for CougCenter, nearly all hope was lost:
Brian Floyd: They took Tuel's helmet. Screwed.
Craig Powers: Can we win with 14 points?
selahcoug: I hope tuel is back in the second half or we are in trouble.
GoCougs: Why do I have a sinking feeling that we are going to blow this?
Grady Clapp: Best. Half. Ever. We should probably turn the TV off now. Nothing good can come of this.
But we Coug fans underestimated the boldness of our quarterback. Hope was again restored as the second half was set to begin.
CougarDuck: Tuel warming up! With a helmet on!
newportcoug: THERE IS A CHANCE WE WILL SEE TUEL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dids: TUEL ALIVE!!!
Of course, I must mention my own comment, which was a precursor to something that we will see later in the series:
HELMET ON! PANTS OFF!
As WSU built the lead to 21-0 early in the third quarter on a fake-option pass to Marquess Wilson, supporters from around the Pac-10 began to stop by the game thread to cheer on our Cougs. The problem was they weren't Coug fans, and they couldn't understand that we were only mildly enjoying a 21-0 lead because we lack the capability to think optimistically about our football team.
The first outsider dropped in to congratulate us:
QuackQuackQuack: Coug fans are great. You guys deserve this one.
To which I responded in my typically subdued gametime manner:
WE DON'T HAVE IT YET.
A more in-touch Oregon fan came over and offered this comment:
benzduck: Just joined so I can stop by and say...Don't screw this up.
The game remained in balance (at least in our warped minds) until the Cougs possessed the ball deep in OSU territory late in the fourth quarter with a 24-14 lead. Chantz Staden finally allowed us to celebrate when he punched across the goal line for the game's final score with 2:04 remaining. Needless to say, we all went nuts:
philkid3: I never thought I'd care so much about beating OSU in a losing season!!!!!
Dids: crying now
02Cougs: I'M GOING ALL CAPS FROM HERE ON OUT TONIGHT. IT'LL GET OLD IN THE BASKETBALL THREAD BUT I DON'T CARE.
Mark Sandritter: Paul Wulff's headset is off and so are my pants
Craig Powers: CYBER HUGS FOR ALL.
Yaaaardsma (or as he is now known, Mark Sandritter) followed with a barrage of every single .gif he had ever provided for CougCenter. You'll have to go there and check it out.
I had my own special way of celebrating the win (in honor of our bold quarterback):
I JUST JUMPED UP AND HIT MY HEAD REALLY HARD AND IT IS BLEEDING.
I typed that comment with one hand. The other was pressing a towel against the top of my head.
The elation continued into the night as CougCenter celebrated with its standard onslaught of images and gifs.
That win stands as one of only two that have occurred in Pac-10 play during CougCenter's existence, so there was no doubt that it would land among the site's top moments. Jeff Tuel's bold move to return to the game after a blow to the head gave the win that "Disney" touch.
I guess you could say this was the day that our "boldness" as fans was finally rewarded. Full highlights for you here:
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