Washington State/Arizona: Will The Cougars Nightmare Of 2008 Continue?

Lew WrightSenior Writer INovember 6, 2008


Sooner or later, Coach Paul Wulff's WSU Cougars are going to put together four quarters of football that equals their potential.

It's going to happen.

The question on the minds of Cougar Nation this Football Friday is, "When is this team going to play some solid football?"

One thing is certain, the Cougs will have their hands full with an Arizona team that is on the rise and looks to be bowl bound for the first time since a Democrat was president.

Coach Mike Stoops finally has his team playing the type of football Wildcat fans expected years back.  It's been a long, long road traveled by Arizona, but the 'Cats are back.

Arizona is 3-2 in Pac-10 play, but with a couple of breaks, they could be undefeated.  That's right.  Stanford stole a game from them 23-22.  USC ran off the field and got out of Tucson as quickly as they could with a 17-10 victory.

The turnaround for Arizona began last season, and is fueled this year by the rock solid play of their senior quarterback Willie Tuitama and two outstanding running backs, Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin.

Before discussing the Cougs, one last thing...

Arizona is a 38 point favorite on the road against Washington State.  The spread wasn't that wide for their season opener against Idaho.

Coach Wulff and his players have quietly gone about getting work in this week, preparing to execute a game plan for the second time this season.

It looks like Coach Wulff will have the luxury of putting the same 22 first team players on the field this week he had down in Palo Alto.  For the first time this year, there were no players seriously injured last week against Stanford.  That may not sound like much to most.  If this team is ever going to play together as one unit, they must have continuity with personnel on both sides of the ball.

There should be a good crowd on hand at the beginning of the game in Martin Stadium.  It's Dad's Weekend in Pullman.  That means lots of folks in town.  Patience is waning with fans, so if things are out of hand early there will be a mass exodus to the local establishments purveying adult beverages.

Should junior quarterback Kevin Lopina get the offense moving, Martin Stadium crowds are known for injecting adrenaline into the Cougs veins.

Senior middle linebacker Greg Trent has quietly played good football all season.  He'll have the defense fired up to stop the high powered Arizona offense that averages nearly 150 yards a game more than the Cougs.

The Wildcats are in uncharted territory under Coach Stoops.  They have never had a winning record this late in the season over the course of his brief career in Tucson.

Will Arizona be looking past the Cougs to their game next week against the Ducks in Eugene?

It's possible that the 'Cats might be enamored with their press clippings and Vegas odds.  Heck, just about everyone in the conference has their first team on the sidelines by the beginning of the third quarter against Washington State.  Why should they be challenged by their hapless hosts?

Not saying that this is going to be the week, but why not?

Don't be surprised if Lopina returns the offense to the no-huddle Coach Wulff ran to begin this season.  He's still trying to recover from a broken back, but the kid clearly has fire in his belly and is getting stronger every day.

Don't be surprised if this is the week the Dwight Tardy of last season returns to form.  And if he doesn't, Logwone Mitz is ready to have a 100 yard game.

The other thing that might happen is special teams delivering.  Chantz Staden has looked very good on returns the last couple of games.  With all the game reps he's been getting, that shouldn't come as a surprise.

A punt return for a touchdown?

Sure all of that stuff is what dreams are made of.  But come on now.  Eventually the nightmare of 2008 has to end.

This might be the week that happens.





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