PULLMAN -- Some things in life are inevitable.
Death. Taxes. And Washington State setting a school record for pass attempts in a season during Mike Leach's first year as coach.
The Cougars are just three shy of the WSU record of 525 pass attempts in a season. With two games left, the Cougars also have a shot at the Pac-12 Conference record of 621 pass attempts.
The conference record was set by the 2002 Washington Huskies, with Cody Pickett at quarterback. The WSU record was set in
1997 with Ryan Leaf
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The Cougars also might break the Pac-12 records for single-season passing yards (4,501 by the 2002 Huskies) and pass completions (398 by the 2011 Arizona Wildcats). WSU currently has 3,375 passing yards (the 1997 school record is 4,120) and 309 completions (tying the 2007 school record).
Washington State leads the nation with 52.2 pass attempts per game. The Cougars rank last with just 20.9 rushing attempts per game, which includes a nation-leading 46 quarterback sacks. WSU is tied for second with 17 interceptions, well short of the school and conference record of 36 set by the 1970 Cougars.
AND THEN THERE WERE 6:
Not counting specialists, six Cougar players have started every game this season. Three are on offense (linemen Elliott Bosch
, John Fullington
and Jake Rodgers
) and three on defense (BUCK Travis Long
, DL Ioane Gauta
and MIKE Darryl Monroe
Interestingly, Fullington and Rodgers collected their starts at multiple positions. Rodgers has started six times at right guard, twice at right tackle and once each at left guard and left tackle. Fullington has started eight times at left guard and twice at left tackle.
No conference or school records are listed for most touchdown passes thrown by a quarterback who was benched the following week, but WSU sophomore Connor Halliday
might set that record Saturday at Arizona State.
Leach announced Tuesday that he plans to give senior Jeff Tuel
a fourth straight start on Saturday in Tempe despite Halliday's five touchdown passes in three-plus quarters last week after Tuel was injured against UCLA.
The five TD passes is one shy of Jason Gesser
's school record, set in a triple-overtime loss at Arizona in 2000. Halliday has thrown more touchdown passes (23) in his first 12 career games than any WSU quarterback in history, even though he's only made six starts.
Halliday sparked WSU's amazing comeback attempt last week by firing four touchdown passes in the final 20 minutes. However, he termed his end-zone interception with less than 6 minutes to go "a bonehead play" that "keeps us from winning."
Tuel and Halliday have both played eight games and started five this season. Tuel has completed 64.8 percent of 264 passes for 1,674 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Halliday has completed 53.7 percent of 257 passes for 1,701 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Each player has started in one of WSU's two wins.
Tuel holds the career pass completion percentage record at WSU (61.6), and he's on pace to break the single-season record of 64.5, set by Timm Rosenbach in 1988. Halliday's 12 picks rank second in the Pac-12, one behind USC star Matt Barkley.
Halliday, coming off the bench in freezing weather, started poorly against UCLA. In the second half, he went 19 for 25 for 291 yards and four touchdowns.
Leach said Halliday's highlights and lowlights last Saturday stemmed from the customary sources with the sophomore gunslinger from Spokane.
"When he went in, he tried to make too much happen … the second half, he stayed within himself," Leach said.
Leach has repeatedly said he wanted one quarterback to consistently excel so he could start full-time.
"We've played musical chairs with the quarterbacks the whole year," Halliday said after the UCLA game. "It's been frustrating as all get out."
NOTABLES: The Cougars scored more points (29) in the second half Saturday vs. UCLA than in seven of their nine other games ... Travis Long, the former national sacks leader, had two sacks against UCLA and tied his career high of nine tackles. The spirited senior linebacker is tied for ninth in the nation and third in the Pac-12 with 9 1-2 sacks ... The Cougars must win at Arizona State on Saturday (noon, Pac-12 Networks) or Friday, Nov. 23 at home against Washington (12:30 p.m., FOX) to avoid becoming the first Pac-12 team to go winless in conference play since the 2009 Cougars ... WSU's school-record string of seasons with eight or more losses has increased to five ... Based purely on the results of spring ball, when he seemingly was everywhere at once, the most surprising individual statistic on the Cougars this season has to be slot receiver Andrei Lintz's receptions total. Believed to have been hampered much of the season by a foot problem, he has but two catches for 14 yards this season. Last season as a blocking tight end he had seven catches for 96.