Cougs focus on Huskies, not Doba chatter

MICHAEL BUMPUS

PULLMAN -- With the snow continuing to fall in Pullman, Washington State took it indoors again on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Gibson takes it light, lots of facts and figures, a Husky player provides some bulletin board material and Cougar players talk about all the speculation surrounding their head coach.

Apple Cup week is all abuzz about the future of Washington State coach Bill Doba, but WSU players say it's not detracting them from their mission: Beat the Huskies.

"It's something we don't even think of," senior offensive guard Bobby Byrd said. "We don't think of it at all."

"All I hear is the same thing: ‘He's on the hot seat,'" senior wide receiver Michael Bumpus said. "I really don't know how to react to that.

"Doba's a great coach. It's unfortunate he's had a couple bad seasons. The person he is makes it harder to hear things being said about him. He's a great coach, a great leader."

-- Talkin' smack: Washington's Jordan Reffett, a senior defensive tackle from Moses Lake, took the early lead in Apple Cup smack talk when he was asked what he would do if his daughter wanted to attend WSU.

"I'd say, ‘You're a traitor,'" Reffett said. "That wouldn't be allowed. That's just the way it is.

"None of my kids -- and I plan on having more -- are going to be at WSU, because I want them to be able to get a job some day."

-- Practice update: Pac-10 receiving leader Brandon Gibson did some light running, but he was held out of practice for the second straight day. It's been a recurring theme for the junior receiver the second half of the season after the injury bug started to pop up.

"I'm just a little sore (legs)," Gibson said. "I'll be all right. I'm playing."

The Cougars had planned to practice outside after going inside Monday, but they went to their indoor facility when snow fell in Pullman for the second straight day.

Players practiced in helmets and pads with limited hitting for 90 minutes.

-- Nice guys: A long, losing season can lead to a certain amount of tension between the media and players, coaches and others connected with a team.

Cougar beat reporters agree that the current crop of WSU players has been unusually gracious under often trying conditions.

At the risk of missing a deserving player or three, a tip of the cap goes out to (in alphabetical order) Romeen Abdollmohammadi, Husain Abdullah, A'i Ahmu, Kenny Alfred, Chris Baltzer, Alex Brink, Bumpus, Byrd, Gibson, Reed Lesuma, Vaughn Lesuma, Kevin McCall, Chima Nwachukwu and Dan Rowlands.

-- Ugly stuff: WSU's average margin of defeat is a whopping 24 points, and that includes a pair of three-point losses. The Cougars win big, too -- an average of 20 points.

The only WSU team to suffer more losses of 40-plus points (five) or 50-plus points (two) was the infamous 1970 squad. That 1-10 team set a school record for losses while losing by more than 40 points six times and by more than 50 points three times.

WSU is 0-5 on the road this year, with the losses coming by an average of 26 points. Washington is 2-4 at home after snapping a four-game home losing streak last week against California.

FOXSports.com ranks Washington 63rd and WSU 70th among the 119 teams in the NCAA Bowl Championship Subdivision.

-- Scoreboard watching: Look for plenty of scoring Saturday. The Cougars rank ninth in the nation in passing and 29th in total offense; the Huskies are 70th in pass defense and 93rd in total defense. Washington ranks 26th in rushing and 54th in scoring; WSU is 79th in total defense and 97th in points allowed.

Gibson ranks seventh with 104.3 receiving yards per game. Brink is 10th in passing with 308.5 yards per game. Husky quarterback Jake Locker is 13th in all-purpose running yards at 178.4.

-- Numbers game: If Brink passes for 398 yards, he'll wind up third in Pac-10 history in career passing yards with 10,912. Brink currently stands sixth in yards and seventh in touchdown passes (71).

Gibson is 117 yards away from Nakoa McElrath's school record of 1,163 receiving yards in one season (26th in Pac-10 history). Bumpus holds the school record of 189 career receptions, which ranks 19th in Pac-10 history.

-- Pellum published: William Pellum, a diminutive wide receiver who started on WSU's 1988 Aloha Bowl team, has published an autobiography entitled "Catching Dreams" (www.authorstobelievein.com/catching.dreams.htm, $15.49).

Part of the focus of Pellum's book is his struggle to earn respect as a 5-foot-10, 155-pound college receiver. Other Cougar athletes who picked up the autobiographical pen in recent years include running back Derek Sparks, (early 90s) and basketball star Jim McKean ('68)

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