Seen & Heard 9/30

Josh Shavies  (WSU Photo)

I'VE HEARD TELL THAT statistics don't lie. Maybe so, but last Saturday in Eugene is proof that they don't tell the whole story either. Case in point: Cougar defensive tackle <B>Josh Shavies</B>. The box score credits the fifith-year senior with one modest tackle against the Ducks. Yet those of us who watched the game know that Big Josh played a major role in the Cougars' rout.

By my count, Shavies batted away three Oregon passes, one of which led to a Jason David interception. Is it any wonder the 6-foot-6 former tight end once toiled briefly for Paul Graham?

Besides the ball wacking, Josh served as a big road block in Oregon's running game. And he put some serious pressure on Kellen Clemens and Jason Fife. More than once I heard an onlooker bellow "who's No. 44?" as Josh rumbled into the backfield.

He was playing more than usual because Steve Cook is out with a broken foot.

And I have to say it was great to see. Given Josh's journey --- from star tight end recruit in 1999 who played as a true freshman to out-of-shape offensive lineman to getting booted off the team to returning as a walk on last year --- it was a fitting day in the sun for a guy who learned from his previous missteps.

POLL WATCHING: The Cougars are now ranked No. 14 in the coaches poll and No. 15 in the AP ratings, but they're a lofty No. 9 in the BCS Sagarin Computer standings.

In a great story on Monday, Chuck Culpepper, a columnist for Newsday in New York, waxed eloquent about how the Cougs would be getting his vote for No. 1 in the land if it weren't for that counfounding fourth quarter in South Bend. If you're wondering how a scribe in New York knows enough about the Cougs to proclaim them a national power, Culpepper worked for the Portland Oregonian before heading East.

And speaking of rankings, there's no disputing that the Cougars are No. 1 in penalties. This week, for the first time this season, they hold down the top spot both in total number of flags (59) and penalty yardage (529). In previous weeks, they've been No. 2 in total flags and No. 1 yardage. Oregon State is No. 2 right now in both categories.

LOADED AT LB: A week ago I was crowing about the play of backup Cougar linebacker Scott Davis, the second-year freshman from Kennewick. Well, I'm back this week in praise of another backup 'backer: second-year freshman Brian Hall of Walla Walla. Like Davis the week before, Hall seemed to be all over the field against Oregon. He finished the day with five tackles.

While on the topic of guys who like to hit, free safety Erik Coleman's eight-tackle day in Eugene raised his season total to 31 stops, tying him for the team lead with linebacker Will Derting. Karl Paymah is No. 3 with 29.

AS MUCH AS I like Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood, I've got to say his decision three years ago to fire esteemed Dick Tomey and replace him with John Mackovic has to rank as one of the dumbest moves in the history of Pac-10 football. In 14 years in Tucson, Tomey won 95 games, took his club to seven bowls and finished in the top 10 twice. In Mackovic's 2 1/2 seasons at the helm, the Cats posted exactly ZERO conference wins. Ironically, Tomey is among the conference's all-time elite in that category with 60 conference victories.

In case you missed it, Arizona's president this week emphatically stated that Mike Price would not be considered for the Wildcat coaching job.

By the way, the early line on the Cougar-Wildcat game is WSU by 28 1/2. I'm not a betting man, but I find that spread ridiculous. There's no way any team in the Pac-10 should be a four-TD favorite against another. There's just too much talent, top to bottom. Unfortunately, there's no live TV coverage of the game, which kicks off in Pullman at 2 pm. The replay will be on FOX Sports Northwest Sunday at 10 am PT.

HAT'S OFF TO Cougar safety Jeremy Bohannon who was named Pac-10 special teams player of the week for his efforts at Oregon. He returned a blocked punt for a TD, recovered a fumble, and nabbed an INT. His selection marked the fifth straight week a Cougar has been among the conference's weekly award winners.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From Jim Moore of the Seattle P-I: "The Go 2 Guy is bursting with pride after Washington State's 55-16 dismantling of Oregon on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Welcome to yet another Cougar gloat-fest in which I'm not only projecting WSU to defend its Pac-10 title but to win the national championship by getting revenge against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Listen, I've undersold the Cougs. I thought they would be pretty good. Correction: They're darn good."

DO SOME RESEARCH, big fella. Allen Wallace, the USC sycophant who masquerades as a national recruiting analyst, has never been what you'd call a real student of the high school grid scene in the Pacific Northwest. He pretty much finds out who the Class 4A studs are from Greater Seattle-Tacoma and calls it a day.

So I truly had to laugh recently when I saw a comment from Wallace proclaiming with great authority that Mukilteo's Gary Rogers (an early verbal commit in the Cougars' 2004 recruiting class) is the best in-state quarterback pick up for WSU since Drew Bledsoe back in 1990. News alert, Allen: Unless you count TE/QB/H-back types Paul Mencke and Tali Ena, whom the Cougars took fliers on, or Carl Bonnell, who signed but never took a snap in crimson, you have to go all the way back to Shawn Deeds to find an in-state QB signee at Quarterback U.

EVERY VICTORY SHOULD be savored, but you really have to marvel at the rabid fandom in Montlake for Coach Gilby and his troops. Talk about riotous. Following the Dawgs' titanic battle Saturday with Stanford, hundreds of students poured into Greek Row to set bonfires, flip over a Volvo and tear down street signs. Up to 75 law enforcement officers were needed to quell the melee. Just imagine what will happen if the Dawgs knock off Nevada this week. Better call out the National Guard just to be on the safe side.

SEEN AT VASA Park on Lake Sammamish this past Sunday: A gaggle of pesky ducks looking for handouts from local picnic-goers and getting chased off by a 40-something dad shouting "55-16, 55-16, 55-16!!!!!!!!"

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