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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Opponent Analysis: Wazzu sits in national basement

    The future looks grim for the Washington State football team and its ability to win against Arizona Saturday afternoon.

    The Cougars’ ineptitude in nearly every facet of the sport has been well documented over their first nine games of the year. Washington State has a 13th game on their schedule this year – something most teams would welcome as an extra chance to become bowl eligible, but with an average 37-point defeat in each contest, that’s not exactly a welcoming notion.

    When looking at the Cougars’ ranking in total offense, total defense, scoring offense and scoring defense, they rank no higher than 111th out of 119 FBS teams. They rank 103rd or worse in 10 of the 14 major statistical categories.

    No matter how you look at it, two words can sum up the 2008 version of Washington State football: historically bad.

    “”I honestly don’t spend a lot of time on what records we’re breaking or not breaking,”” said WSU head coach Paul Wulff during the Pacific 10 teleconference Monday. “”It just doesn’t matter to us right now because we’ve got other things that are more important and pressing for us to move forward and make our corrections.””

    Not all the Cougars’ troubles can be blamed on poor play. The injury bug hit the team early and often throughout the season. Four different players have taken snaps at quarterback this year, three players have lined up at running back, two different players have been the team’s punter and there have been six different combinations to a starting offensive line that’s seen eight players start at some point this year.

    The injuries have piled up so much that 24 players, including 20 underclassmen, have started in games for the first time in their careers.

    “”They’ve got some playmakers. They’ve just had some things where they’ve shot themselves in the foot here or there so we don’t want to be the team where they put it all together,”” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”They’re a good team. They have a couple of really quality players on that offense.””

    One such player is wide receiver Brandon Gibson. The senior ranks third on the Cougars’ all-time receptions list (169) and is just 42 yards shy of becoming the all-time leader in receiving yardage with his current total at 2,663 yards.

    Despite Gibson’s status as an elite receiver and the play of the defensive leader in linebacker Greg Trent, the game remains a total mismatch on paper. But that doesn’t mean Arizona players are taking the Cougars lightly, despite what the numbers suggest.

    “”Games aren’t played on paper. You can have five turnovers, but you can still win the game,”” said UA wide receiver Mike Thomas. “”The statistics are part of the game, but that’s not where the game is played. The game is played between the hashes, so we’ve got to go out there and dominate the game.””

    The 2008 Washington State team might go down in the history books as one of the worst teams to ever play the game, but that doesn’t mean the players have given up. After last week’s 58-0 loss to Stanford, a handful of players suggested some of their teammates might have quit on the season. The statistics might point to that notion, but Wulff doesn’t think that’s the case.

    “”I don’t think anybody’s quit. I just think that some players are frustrated, and they’re tired of answering the same questions,”” Wulff said. “”I have to keep these guys going and working hard, which I know they’re doing, and they’re trying to do the right things.

    “”We all make mistakes,”” he added. “”I’ve been handed a task to rebuild the program, and we’re going to do it and it’s going to take hard work. … I have a plan and we’re going to stick to it, and it’s going to work.””

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