It's another Cougar Football Friday. As of late, that doesn't have a winning ring associated, but who cares?
Cougar Nation cares!
Coach Paul Wulff and his staff have spent the week preparing the Cougs for their first win of this season. They will be taking on Coach Jerry Glanville and his Portland State Vikings. The question on the minds of everyone who follows Washington State football is, "Will the Cougs finally get their first win on Saturday?"
The answer to that question is a simple, yet confident, "You bet!"
There are a number of reasons why WSU win finally earn a 'W' and stop the three-loss skid to begin 2008 Cougar football.
First: Coach Wulff will start Kevin Lopina at quarterback again for the second week in a row. Lopina is better suited to work with an offensive line that is still a work in progress. He has the athletic ability to make something out of nothing.
Should protection break down, which it probably will on occasion, Lopina has the wheels to escape would-be defensive attackers.
His high school experience is of benefit as well. Before his days in Pullman, before transferring from Manhattan, KS, Lopina was running an option offense with authority. The Cougs don't have the personnel to run an option offense, but the quick reactions needed by your quarterback are present in Lopina.
Second: The Cougar secondary will get louder this week with the return of Xavier Hicks from a three-game suspension to start this season. Hicks will be back at his strong safety position. When he gets the chance, Hicks will put a lick on any receiver bold enough to work his side of the field.
Alongside X will be a face familiar to Cougar fans, Alonso Jackson. Jackson is a player that loves to put a big-time hit on any opponent who invades his side of the field.
It's not just the hitting power of these two safeties that will shake things up for the Cougar D. It's their attitude. Neither of these studs willingly gives up an inch to their opposition, let alone yardage.
Watch this tandem in action Saturday, and you will clearly agree: With Hicks and Jackson, WSU has talent at the safety position.
Third: PSU is a passing team. They don't even pretend to have a running game because they don't. Remember the run-and-shoot offense that put Hawaii on the college football map? The heart of the Viking coaching staff invented that offensive scheme and has brought it back to the mainland from the Big Island.
So what's the point? Look for Andy Mattingly to have a monster game harassing sophomore PSU quarterback Drew Hubel. Mattingly has too much speed for the PSU line to contend with. Number 45 will hurry, knock down, and sack Hubel so often that he'll have nightmares for the next month.
Fourth: Team speed. For the first time this season, Washington State will have better team speed than their opponent. That factor has been key to their first three losses and should prove to be the difference in the game on Saturday.
Fifth: Last but not least, the Cougs will be playing in front of the best fans in college football. The crazies will be out in force at Martin Stadium, defining the word 'fanatic' as it applies to fans. WSU players will respond to the zealous roar of a crowd that lives for the chance to thunder, "And that's another. Cougar. First. Down!"