PULLMAN -- For the Cougars’ senior running back Carl Winston, junior kicker Andrew Furney and freshman linebacker Darryl Monroe – the theme remained constant on Monday. Yes, it was big to get that first win under their belts. But now it’s on to the next one. Furney showed he has just as big a personality as he does a leg. And Monroe said fellow 'backer Cyrus Coen, well, he knocks his socks off.
Furney was the focus on this day, the only day of the week Cougar players are made available to media. The questions for the pride of Burlington ranged from his 60-yard field goal all the way to his weight.
Furney took each and every question in stride though, cracking an emphatic smile for his 15 minutes of fame.
“Enjoy the moment when you have it and soak it all in,” Furney said. Although the quote pertained to his kick, it seemed to capture the moment perfectly as the exuberant kicker seems to have embraced the ‘celebrity-for-a-day’ role.
“Facebook kinda blew up a little bit,” Furney said. “Twitter too. It’s been pretty crazy, but exciting. It’s been nice getting the congratulations from everyone -- really appreciated.”
Philadelphia Eagles Kicker David Akers and Clemson kicker Spencer Benton both booted field goals in excess of 60 yards this weekend, but none of that matters to Furney.
“Everyone has been telling me ‘Oh man, that’s a real bummer, they stole your thunder’, but honestly, I don’t care,” Furney said. “I think it’s a real accomplishment for any kicker to hit a 60 plus yarder; representing for kickers everywhere.”
SOMETHING ELSE CAME through about Furney as he fielded questions -- the kicks, the statistics and the accolades don’t matter. Furney is selfless. The vivacious kicker just wants to win, and have fun doing it.
“Ya know, when they called a timeout to try to freeze me, Gilby (holder David Gilbertson) looked at me and said ‘Ya know, them calling this means they must actually think you can make it,” Furney joked. “I just looked at Gilby and said ‘Let’s just go out and have fun this year.’”
And he is.
Furney’s celebration may go down in Cougar history as one of the more animated routines fans have seen -- certainly for one at the end of the a first half. Furney said he’s certainly seen the replays and if given the chance, he wouldn’t tone it down a bit.
“I kind of enjoyed making fun of myself,” Furney said. “I wouldn’t change a thing. It showed off my personality. I was kind of surprised, but excited at the same time.”
As far as the record books go, Furney said he’s never met any of the prolific Cougar kickers of the past, but is excited to be mentioned in the same breath as them.
“I mean, I definitely want a chance to play in the NFL,” Furney said. “I don’t think any of the guys on the team would be out there right now if they hadn’t ever thought about it.”
One of Furney’s favorite kickers, he says, proves that body stature isn't everything. And Furney didn’t beat around the bush when it came to his weight. He was quick to agree that his body isn’t the typical football kicker’s body. That being said, it has never deterred him from living the dream.
“It’s about technique,” said Furney. “That kid from Clemson was a pretty skinny kid and he’s got a big leg. And then look at (Sebastian) Janikowski! He’s got a cannon and he’s a pretty big guy.”
Furney was emphatic in the fact that although he’s a kicker, he earned his leadership role by partaking in as many practice activities as he can, something Leach also pointed to earlier this offseason about his junior kicker.
“Being a specialist, we don’t do as much in practice,” Furney said. “I try to do as much as I can. I don’t need to be in the shape some of the other guys do, but I still work as hard as I can out there to earn my teammates respect.”
Indeed, Furney is 10 pounds lighter than he was last season.
Furner said Saturday was a big win, and he looks forward to taking on UNLV and taking it one kick at a time.
Winston characterized next task at hand and said the Cougars are already well into preparation, particularly with the game slate for Friday at 6 p.m.
“Huge win,” Winston said of Eastern. “From here, we got to move on, prepare for next week and go out there on Saturday and let it loose.”
THE AIR RAID offense hasn’t had too much wind in its sails just yet, but Winston said the team isn’t deterred.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Winston said. “It’s all about consistency now. We just need to put together a full game in all three phases.”
The Cougs have tallied six sacks in two games after posting just 17 all of last season. Linebackers have been the primary culprits, grabbing five of those six sacks. Monroe said the defense is getting stronger week-by-week, and close to a breakthrough.
“I don’t have any goals this year but to help make this the best D in the Pac(-12),” Monroe said. “We’re close, we just need to put it all together in all phases.”
It looks as though the Cougs may be developing quite the playmaker in sophomore linebacker Cyrus Coen. The explosive Samoan out of Hawaii walked-on at Washington State last year, but nobody sees it that way.
“Cyrus is one of the most physically gifted players I’ve seen in my entire life,” Monroe said.
Monroe added that when he was told Coen was a walk-on last season, he didn’t believe it.
“I can’t believe this guy ended up a Coug and didn’t have any offers,” Monroe said. “He’s still in the process of learning the position, but he’s a real good player.”
All three players said UNLV is a good challenge, and that the Cougs are eager to get down to Vegas and put on a show.
The Cougs will square off against UNLV this Friday at Sam Boyd Stadium at 6 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPN.