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Cougars conclude spring with “shootout”

The offense barely outscored the defense.

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PULLMAN, WA - APRIL 23: Washington State Cougar football take to Martin Stadium for the 2022 Crimson and Gray game Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning. If you had “Washington State Cougars vs. Washington State Cougars, Under 106.5 (-110)”, I’m sorry, your ticket was not a winner.

On a day when “beers consumed by fans” likely outscored “snaps for presumed starters”, WSU Cougar Football concluded its spring session, with the offense defeating the defense, 56-51. After trailing 49-28 at halftime, the offense’s second-and-third teamers rallied to overcome their defensive counterparts, as Chris Irvin threw the winning score to receiver Tsion Nunnaly to clinch the win.

Between that touchdown toss and the first snap, both sides of the ball made their share of big plays, with signal caller Cameron Ward accounting for many of them. The new quarterback completed 21 of his 30 passes for 246 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Not bad for a guy who was only in the game for six possessions. This was really the first time I’ve watched him in semi-live action, and he has a bit of an unorthodox yet somehow seemingly effortless motion.

It helped that some of those throws were to wide - and I do mean wide - open receivers, such as the first score of the day when he hit Drake Owen, who was all alone behind the defense. Hopefully that gets cleared up in the defensive film room! For its part, the defense turned in plenty of big plays, intercepting four passes, two each from Xavier Ward and Emmett Brown. A few of those INTs were the result of some ghastly passes, as you’ll see in the highlight reel. The defense also collected six sacks, led by tackle Ahmir Crowder’s two.

Coach Jake Dickert was justifiably cautious when it came to using guys who will be counted on when the proverbial bullets start flying on Labor Day Weekend.

It should be noted that Ward wasn’t always working against the Cougs’ best defenders. Established standouts such as nickel Armani Marsh and edges Ron Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson participated in only one or two drives.

“I was surprised to see Armani Marsh play two series,” Dickert said, laughing. “I was like, ‘Get him out.’ We had some guys on snap counts. … I know, when the lights turn on, what we’re going to get out of those guys.

“We kinda got a little bit high in the rep count in the first half, but at the end of the day we wanted to get a certain number with a bunch of guys,” Dickert added. “Even as the scrimmage was going, I was pulling guys myself, like, ‘We’ve seen enough. Let’s make sure we get healthy and get them to the summer.’ “

Among those who didn’t play were the Nard Dog - still recovering from his ACL injury - defensive backs Chau Smith-Wade, Armauni Archie and Chris Jackson, receiver Orion Peters, and backup quarterback Victor Gabalis. The Spokesman Review also reported that WSU had just nine offensive linemen available, which doesn’t seem great!

Another glance at the statistics suggests that running back Nakia Watson was one of those players on a tight snap count, as he carried the ball just once for five yards, and caught one pass. Freshman DJ Schlenbaker assumed most of the load on Saturday, leading the team with 11 carries for 34 yards. A CougCenter source tells me that his nickname in high school was “Ben” but I like mine better because people who go by initials are clearly the coolest around. Meanwhile, reserve Kannon Katzer racked up 53 yards on just four carries.

So now that we have spring football in the rearview mirror, we settle in for the long, long journey across the football desert until things crank back up in late summer. The Cougs open with the non-rival / Palouse neighbor Idaho Vandals on September 3, and you can expect to learn kick time in June, when the conference announces game times for the first three weeks of matchups. Go Cougs.

PS - Did I hear that Ryan Leaf’s kid is named MacGyver, or do I need my ears checked?

PPS - It was so much better to have Matt Chazanow on the call than some Pac-12 Network hack.

Postgame Interviews


Before we get to more spring game content, College Football News published a set of early Pac-12 predictions. They seem pretty optimistic about WSU, ranking them sixth among the conference’s 12 teams.

College Football Rankings, Season Predictions: Pac-12 Spring 2022
The Cougars lost QB Jayden de Laura to Arizona, but Ward is a big-time all-around playmaker from Incarnate Word who should go off in the Wazzu attack.

Quarterback Cameron Ward 'comfortable' in spring-game debut at Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
Fans attending Washington State’s Crimson and Gray spring game were eager to get a sneak preview of the team’s new offense and highly touted transfer quarterback. They didn’t leave disappointed.

Stream episode BFT Interview: Eric Morris by John Canzano BFT Podcast podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud
Canzano talks with Washington State Offensive Coordinator Eric Morris before his first season in Pullman. Morris discusses his time with Mike Leach, retuning punts, working with Mahomes, impressions of the Cougar side and much more!

WSU Athletics

AD Pat Chun appeared on John Canzano’s show recently, and the interview was rather entertaining, as Canzano’s segments often are.

Stream episode BFT Interview: Pat Chun by John Canzano BFT Podcast podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud
John Canzano talks to Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun about the return of the air raid offense, navigating the new world of NIL deals, and why his mother refuses to retire.


Cougs win! After staging a monumental collapse on Friday, WSU Baseball rebounded nicely on Saturday against Oregon. Cougar batters broke out the boom sticks, slugging four home runs enroute to a 10-8 victory. The rubber match is Sunday at noon.

Cougars Hit Four Homers to Even Series at No. 10 Oregon - Washington State University Athletics
WSU jumped out to an 8-1 lead after four innings and held off Oregon, the Pac-12's top hitting team, who dropped to 26-12 overall and 11-6 in conference play.

This Week in Parenting

Weekend baseball season began in earnest on Saturday, and of course both kids had games at the same time, on fields 45 minutes apart. Mom went with the pizza socks-wearing 10 year-old, while I took the teenager to his game. Wait, did I say game? I meant games, plural. Sure would’ve been nice to learn that multiple games would be taking place before we showed up, coach! Anyway, the double-header thankfully went quickly. In the first game, we scored 18 runs in three innings (the max you’re allowed to score per inning is six), and the game was called.

The kiddo was called upon to mop things up in the third inning. He responded by striking out two and...drilling a batter in the head. A true Rick Vaughn appearance. One of the more bizarre occurrences I’ve ever witnessed at a baseball game also happened on Saturday. The umpire was calling balls and strikes backward. For example, then the count was 3 balls and one strike, he would yell out, “One and three!” I’ve watched well over 1,000 baseball games in my lifetime, and not once have I ever heard an umpire call strikes before balls. It was jarring every time. Every. Time.

Various and sundry from the 10 year-old’s recent conversations - he has a friend named Sasha in class, and once said, “Sasha is very Russian.” I asked him to clarify the difference between “Russian” and “very Russian.” His response, was “He can speak Russian and he can drink vodka on the spot.” What the hell is going on in that classroom?!

Then, as he was eating breakfast before school one morning, he asked, “Where would you want me to go to college if you could decide?
“Stanford,” I replied.
“Would you be mad if I went to Washington?
“No. I just wouldn’t root for your teams to win.”
“What about Ole Miss?”
“That would be fine.” (but seriously a big part of me totally wants him to go to Ole Miss)
“I’ve decided to go to Ole Miss, Alabama or WSU.”

So there you have it. Hat ceremony forthcoming.

Book Club

Turned in my research project for my Master’s, so now the future is assignment-free out past the horizon. That means we’re back to the books. First up is a real page-turner! The 13 year-old will soon be in (gulp) high school, which means post-high school isn’t far behind. So it’s time to educate myself on the grift process, and author Ron Lieber’s The Price You Pay for College is where I’ve chosen to start. Hopefully it helps Mrs. Kendall and I find some college coupons or vouchers in the couch cushions.


Why American Teens Are So Sad - The Atlantic
Four forces are propelling the rising rates of depression among young people.

How an Ivy League School Turned Against a Student | The New Yorker
Mackenzie Fierceton was championed as a former foster youth who had overcome an abusive childhood and won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Then the University of Pennsylvania accused her of lying.