Sources: Starting Coug DE won't play in Bowl

TONI POLE

THE COUGARS' STARTING defensive line has suffered a blow for Saturday's upcoming New Mexico Bowl, two independent sources with knowledge of the situation tell Cougfan.com. Toni Pole, who has started 10 games up front this season on WSU's 3-4 defense and played in all 12 contests, has been sent home by Mike Leach due to academic ineligibility and will not play in the Cougars' bowl game.

Pole posted 26 tackles during the Cougars' regular season, with-three for-loss and two QB hurries -- including a key hurry in the win over USC, as pictured above, that led to a pick-six.

He also forced a fumble, blocked a kick and recovered two fumbles.

WSU SID Bill Stevens said when asked about Pole; "We don't comment on team matters."

In order to be eligible for postseason play, the NCAA dictates student-athletes satisfy two criteria: a student-athlete must meet minimum GPA requirements maintain and pass at least six degree-applicable units during the preceding academic term.

If the end of the WSU regular season is any indication, BUCK Kache Palacio now figures to play a key role in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl (ESPN, 11 a.m.) due to Pole's absence.

In the Cougs' final two games against Utah and UW, Washington State started Palacio at Pole's d-end spot. Palacio had four tackles, all solo, in the win over the Utes including a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a QB hurry. Against the Huskies, Palacio had four tackles, all assists, along with a sack, tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Meanwhile, Pole added a combined four tackles in the final two regular season games.

Another option would be more Destiny Vaeao. A BUCK who primarily plays with his hand down, Vaeao checks in at 6-4, 290. A video on Washington State's official site showed at least one practice snap where Vaeao and Palacio were both up on the line. It should also be noted that the Cougars are multiple on defense and feature a variety of fronts and different looks.

Darryl Paulo and Lyman Faoliu, who have played in 11 and 12 games respectively, also would appear to be logical replacement options to help shoulder the load.

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