Good morning Coug fans. Our Washington State Cougars started practice yesterday, which would normally be cause for great excitement. Don’t get me wrong—it still is exciting, and I can’t wait to watch Cougar football this fall. But....it’s just not the same.
So before getting to some words on the first practice of the season, I thought it’d be fun to look back on what happened five years ago today: a double overtime victory over the Oregon Ducks in Eugene.
The Lead Up
Washington State was 2-2 heading into this one, while Oregon was a disappointing 3-2. The Ducks were coming off a National Championship Game appearance and expectations were still high. Vernon Adams was a high-profile FCS transfer, but he was injured for this one. Jeff Lockie (who?) got the nod instead.
Oregon’s wins were against Eastern Washington, Georgia State and Colorado, while its losses came against the Michigan State Spartans and the Utah Utes. WSU lost to Portland State (yuck) and Cal (3rd and 36....), and beat Wyoming and Rutgers.
The Ducks were also wearing special Oregon Trail helmets, and Mike Leach wasn’t impressed:
Mike Leach explains Lewis & Clark and the Oregon Trail
TV MAGIC. Either Washington State Football head coach Mike Leach REALLY knows his stuff, or he played a LOT of Oregon Trail (like the rest of us did...). #WSUvsUO is NEXT on Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12.com/now!Posted by Pac-12 Conference on Saturday, October 10, 2015
Even with a 3-2 record, Oregon was still Oregon, and we didn’t know a whole lot about this Cougar team yet. But, we soon found out.
WSU struck first when Gabe Marks caught a seven-yard pass from Luke Falk. It was an impressive drive, and for a moment we all said, “Hey, we look pretty good!”
The Ducks scored the next 17 points before Marks caught his second touchdown right before halftime. Tavares Martin Jr. gave WSU a 21-17 lead on a nice screen pass in the third quarter. But two Royce Freeman touchdowns put Oregon up by 10.
Thankfully, the Ducks wouldn’t score again in regulation. WSU got an Erik Powell field goal to get within seven before a clutch late game drive by Falk that ended with a Dom Williams touchdown with a second left.
The Ducks got the ball first and only needed two plays to get to the end zone. Uh-oh. That’s the Oregon offense we’re used to.
WSU took a little longer, but Falk followed his offensive line and into the end zone—barely—on a QB sneak to tie the game. Before that, however, Jamal Morrow picked up a huge first down on 4th-and-2. I’m no officiating expert, but for some reason they had to measure this:
WSU got the ball first in the second overtime, and Falk eventually found River Cracraft on the goal line—when the ball suddenly popped out into the air and into the arms of Robert Lewis. Right place, right time.
So all the Cougs needed to do was keep Oregon out of the end zone and they’d have the upset. The Cougar defense—the first season of the Speed D—rose to the occasion and Shalom Luani picked off a Jeff Lockie pass to seal the deal and gave us this fantastic tweet from the athletic department:
You can watch the 60-minute version here:
The Cougs were good and the Ducks were not. That pretty much sums it up. The Cougs finished 9-4 with a Sun Bowl victory, and while Oregon did win its next six games before falling to TCU in three overtimes in the Alamo Bowl, they definitely weren’t the Ducks everybody was used to. Their brief fall from elite status started here and culminated in a 4-8 season the following year.
This started WSU’s streak of four straight wins over the Ducks, and it should be five but we won’t get into that.
Where Did You Watch From?
I only ask so I can share my story. Self-serving, I know.
I was at a wedding reception for the second half and overtime. The ceremony took place during halftime—clutch!—and I could watch most of the first half at home. Once the reception started, I was glued to my phone. I couldn’t access the game on the Pac-12 Network app or online, so I relied on Twitter and whatever Gamecast app I had. I wasn’t the only one in this boat, as multiple tables had people crowding around them to follow the game.
While I would normally be bummed to not be able to watch the game, following by Twitter and Gamecast was actually an interesting experience. The adrenaline was still there, the nerves were high and the heart rate was unhealthy. But the ending was perfect, and the reception crowd broke out into the fight song not long after Luani’s interception. Fun times.
So that was five years ago. Happy anniversary, Coug fans. And happy anniversary, Jordan and Kelly.
WSU holds first practice of the 2020 season
It’s finally here—the first real sign that this 2020 football season is happening. Nick Rolovich got his first look at his 2020 football team, at least on the field. It’s one practice, so there’s not a ton to glean, though apparently Joey Hobert impressed:
Nick Rolovich was asked if any true freshmen impressed him during #WSU's first practice. The coach responded with two words.— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) October 10, 2020
Rolovich wasn’t the only one impressed with Hobert:
Look through Theo’s other tweets, as there are some Rolo thoughts on the quarterbacks, Bell’s hope to return next fall, and news that some unnamed players have opted out for the season. I’m sure we’ll learn more as practices continue.
Washington State preseason notes (Oct. 9): Seniors encouraged by NCAA eligibility decision; Joey Hobert stars on day 1 | The Spokesman-Review
Renard Bell and Justus Rogers are senior leaders on Washington State's football team whose voices and actions should carry a long way in the locker room this fall.
Canzano: Pac-12 Networks facing questions and a cloudy path - oregonlive.com
Conference media company teetering.
Washington State mailbag: How does quarterback mobility factor into Nick Rolovich's run-and-shoot offense? | The Spokesman-Review
As we deliver the mailbag to you this morning, the equipment staff at Washington State is polishing helmets, pumping air in footballs and making last-second accommodations as the Cougars prepare to open preseason camp in Pullman.