Three times, the Cougs needed to come up big and three times different guys stepped to center stage.
After the Cougs were flagged with that bogus pass interference call at the 2:18 mark, Colorado just needed one more first down to seal a win. Running back Rodney Stewart found a nice hole on the very next snap and looked headed for a first down when WSU safety Deone Bucannon flew into the gap with a picture-perfect stick that limited the gain to six yards. On the next play, the Buffs went wide right and Cougar defensive end Travis Long fought his man all the way down the string until tripping up Stewart for a loss of one.
The next play, the third down play, now loomed large and Buff QB Tyler Hansen threw incomplete with 1:57 left. That was just no errant throw. Hansen misfired because Alex Hoffman-Ellis was blitzing in from the right side and obliterated Hansen just as the ball left his hand.
By the way, the commentary from the Fox Sports crew calling the game was eerily prescient in the moments before Marshall Lobbestael and Marquess Wilson teamed up for the winning TD. Seconds before the snap, Steve Physioc said, “Somewhere on this drive they’re going to get it to Marquess Wilson,” to which partner Yogi Roth, seeing that the Buffs were coming out in man-to-man coverage with a freshman on Wilson, replied, “I’m going to him right now.”
IN ADDITION TO THE STARS, there were a host of lesser-known Cougars who stepped up nicely in Saturday’s win. Center Matt Goetz, third string a couple weeks ago, did a nice job in pass protection and helped Cougar backs average 4.42 yards per carry. One of those backs, Carl Winston, gained 47 yards on 10 carries and caught four passes for 35 yards. Fully healthy and now in his third year in the program, Winston is rounding into fine form.
Fullback Jared Byers rarely gets his hands on the ball, but Lobbestael found him in the flat in the third quarter for an 11-yard TD aerial. The play caught Colorado flat footed. It was a critical score for the Cougs because it answered a Buff tally and cut the CU margin to 20-17. Byers made sure to protect the ball as he absorbed a hit at the goal line.
Second-year freshman receiver Bobby Ratliff caught four passes against the Buffs, including two that converted third downs into first-and-tens. His final grab moved the chains for another first down just before Lobbestael went yard to Wilson to put the Cougars ahead for good.
Defensive end Lenard Williams was credited with just two tackles, but his presence was clear and key to helping contain the Buff offense to 336 total yards.
Both of the Cougars’ next two games will be televised. This Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. tilt with UCLA in the Rose Bowl will be carried by Root Sports (formerly FSN), and the Oct. 15 Homecoming game against Stanford is going to be on the Versus network -- Kickoff is set for 4:30 at Martin Stadium. UCLA, by the way, is a 3 1/2-point favorite this weekend.
Mark your calendars Seattle-area Cougar fans. Paul Wulff and Bill Moos will be in town Oct. 17 for a luncheon at the Waterfront Marriott. Every Cougar is invited. To reserve your spot, head HERE. Later that week of course, on Saturday the 22nd at CenturyLink Field, the Cougs will be taking on Oregon State. If you haven’t nabbed your tickets yet, head HERE.
Hats off to Michael Clark and Tony Thompson, two ambitious members of the WSU athletic department staff, who recently scaled Mount Rainier in the name of planting the Cougar flag atop the state’s highest point. They also managed to haul Butch’s costume to the top, and then don it, to unofficially lay claim to the national mascot record for highest peak climbed. The effort was all part of WSU’s clever “wave the flag” campaign which you can learn more about at undefeatedfans.com.
Congratulations to Cougar receiver Jared Karstetter, who last week was named a semifinalist for college football’s Campbell Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s top scholar-athlete. Karstetter is a zoology major who carries a 3.61 grade point average. He plans to attend dental school when his football career has concluded.
NOTABLE NEWS LINKS FROM AROUND PLANET COUG:
Former WSU player’s life goes off the rails
Adam Braidwood goes from CFL linebacker to criminal charges. Series of problems said to be out of character.
Forecasting the Pac-12 basketball race
Four-team race for the top envisioned, with WSU pegged for 11th.
The Redemption of Ryan Leaf
WITH NOWHERE TO GO, HE RAN. Just packed up and fled twelve hundred miles to the dust-caked scrubland of West Texas without leaving a forwarding address. A guy his size—six feet six inches, 245 pounds, biceps like HoneyBaked hams—could never truly disappear, but the wide-open Southern sky had a way of shrinking a man. And down there anonymity cost as much as a Stetson and a new pair of cowboy boots. Maybe he could at least blend in, he thought, throw them off of his scent long enough that they’d forget about him. But he should have known better.