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Cougars get ready for nine straight weeks of football

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WSU had an early bye yet again this season, but it probably came at a good time.

William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. Saturday was a day for Cougar fans to relax, as WSU had its first and only bye of the season. Normally, bye weeks this early in the season aren't very advantageous, especially with nine straight weeks of conference games ahead. It seemed to work last season, though, as WSU looked much improved out of the bye week. They lost to Cal that day, but they looked like the better team. The rest of the season would bear that out.

WSU appeared in great need of an off week, what with the off-field distractions and less-than-inspiring on-field performances we've seen through much of the first three games. I know Gabe Marks needed it, as he just hasn't seemed healthy since getting dinged up in the EWU game. Needless to say, the team really needs Gabe at 100 percent for conference play.

The bye week was not bereft of good WSU stories, however, as Jacob Thorpe put together an interesting feature of WSU receiver Tavares Martin. Martin comes from a pretty rough part of Florida, a place that has produced a wealth of college and NFL football players. Many are lauded for their quickness, which comes from a unique skill, that of catching rabbits with their bare hands. You read that right.

Wait. Stop for a second. You catch rabbits – crazed rabbits fleeing from fire and machine – with your bare hands?

“Yep.”

Have you personally caught one with your hands? “Yep.” Are you pretty good at it? “Yep.”

Even coach Mike Leach, whose travels and spirit of adventure are well documented, is bewildered by this.

“They will literally catch rabbits, run after them and see if they can catch them,” said a wide-eyed Mike Leach. “Can you imagine?”

The story of catching rabbits in sugar cane fields sounded familiar. Sure enough, I'd read about it nearly 10 years ago. I have no idea why I recall reading this in 2007 yet forgot to get my wife a Coke at 7/11 yesterday, but that's neither here nor there. I'm sure Tavares can identify with this passage from the 2007 story:

In Muck City, the children have nervously followed their fathers and grandfathers into the mud and the fire and emerged with a fearlessness that most of us cannot understand. Soon we will gather in front of our televisions and watch receivers run over the middle and linebackers dive headfirst at loose footballs. We will tell ourselves we could do this too, if we were paid millions, or if we were famous, or if we took steroids. But we'll forget how the game of football is born out of hunger, and courage, and desperation, and community, and hope. And how sometimes it's played in spite of everything else.

The proof is tucked away, far from our malls and mansions, in the endless fields by Lake Okeechobee, where the land burns and the rabbits run.

The legend goes back years, but is still compelling. It's pretty cool that a kid from those cane fields made it all the way to Pullman, and makes you want to root for Tavares that much more. Both articles are definitely worth your time.

Football

Quick look back at first quarter of Cougars’ season | The Spokesman-Review
There is no Washington State game on Saturday, and the open date nestled between the end of nonconference play and the start of Pac-12 games gives us a nice opportunity to reflect on the first quarter of the season.

Tennis

WSU Continues Play at UNLV Invitational - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
Aneta Miksovska and Ege Tomey reached semifinal matches at the UNLV Fall Invitational tennis tournament at the Fertitta Tennis Complex Saturday.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: The Mrs. remarked this week that my beer fridge was looking rather sparse. Challenge: accepted. A trip to Total Wine on Friday afternoon took care of that. The best beer I had certainly was not Magic Hat's Vamplifier Hoppy Red, half of which ended up in the sink. Luckily, things got better. The best so far has been Anderson Valley Pinchy Cheek Barl. It's a pumpkin ale aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. Though it's not quite as good as Southern Tier Pumking (aka the greatest pumpkin beer in recorded history), it's quite tasty nonetheless.

Big brewers turn to acquisition, innovation to stay competitive amid craft beer craze | SmartBrief
As craft beer continues to establish itself as more than just a trend or a bubble in danger of bursting, big brewers are making a play for the craft market by adding small brands to their portfolios or expanding their product lines to include more innovative brews.

Non-Sports

The Brilliant MI6 Spy Who Perfected the Art of the 'Honey Trap' | Atlas Obscura
Pack’s code name at the British spy agency MI6 was “Cynthia,” and her clandestine escapades during World War II led her boss, Sir William Stephenson, to call her unequivocally “the greatest unsung heroine of the war.”