On November 23, 2019, Washington State played host to Oregon State in Pullman. With just seconds on the clock, WSU running back Max Borghi punched in a game winning touchdown run to clinch a 54-53 victory and seal another bowl berth for the Cougs. It was a great moment for fans inside Martin Stadium... Unfortunately, it was the last in-game moment WSU fans would experience at home for quite some time.
Of course, you know the story by now. The 2020 season was canceled, and then it was uncanceled, and then COVID-19 issues caused the Cougs to miss three games and finish the shortened slate just 1-4. The Cougars ended up playing just one home game over that stretch, but fans were not allowed to be in the seats.
But change is on the way. This weekend, for the first time in more than 650 days, the Cougar faithful will find their way back home to see the Cougs in person as they take on Utah State.
“We’re ready to go,” Travell Harris told the media last week. “We’re ready to showcase what we’ve been working on (in front of fans) and we’re ready to get out there and get it done.”
The veterans like Harris and Max Borghi, who tweeted about how excited he was over the Summer, know what the gameday atmosphere will be like in (the newly re-named) GESA Field at Martin Stadium. The younger players and the coaches, however, haven’t had the chance to experience a Cougar Football Saturday.
“We’ve been here for a year and a half and I haven’t gotten a chance to see the stadium full yet,” said offensive coordinator Brian Smith. “I’ve heard a lot about it and what the gameday experience is here and what it’s like, but I’m looking forward to experiencing it.”
“I’m eager for our guys to get some fans to watch them play,” added head coach Nick Rolovich. “I think they’ve sacrificed a lot and grown strong together. They know that the fans are part of the experience. There’s an element of wanting the alums and out season season ticket holders proud. I think it’s definitely bringing some excitement to Saturday.”
The team seems excited for a return to normalcy and the chance to play in front of fans this weekend... Most of the team at least.
“It’s exciting, but they don’t cheer for us anyway on the o-line,” Abraham Lucas told the media yesterday. “I mean, I know all the noise will be great, but it won’t be directed at us so it won’t be that much of a distraction, if that makes sense.”
Spoken like a true veteran.
As for the fans, they’ve also had to wait 22 months to return to Martin Stadium. On Saturday, they’ll have to wait a little longer for an 8 p.m. kickoff, the latest in the country during week one. The good news is that fans in Pullman will be a little extra ‘ready’ for gameday. The bad news is that fans on the east coast might have to invest in a D.V.R.
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