Things are changing around KREM 2. Wednesday's used to be dedicated to Washington State University football, but this week we went to practice a day early (and probably will for the rest of the season). That doesn't mean our Cougar coverage changes at all, especially on KREM.com (that's why you're reading another exciting blog right now).
Washington State is preparing for another tough contest this weekend (let's be real...there are no easy games for WSU the rest of the way). The Cougars play Arizona in Tucson on Saturday. At the beginning of the season, I thought this might be a game WSU could win, but the Wildcats are 3-1 in the Pac-10 (victories over Stanford, UCLA, and Oregon State) and 5-2 overall.
As of today, the Cougs have not played a snap at Martin Stadium in 25 days. You can add another 11 days to that total, because Washington State doesn't return home until November 14th against UCLA (it's Dad's Weekend). I looked back through the media guide to find the last time Wazzu spent so many days away from Pullman in a single season. In 2003, WSU played its season-opener in Seattle, and then played two straight road games to start the year. The game in Seattle is technically a home game though. You have to go back to 1990 to find a road streak longer than three games or more (the Cougars played four straight away from Pullman).
All of the players that we talked to at practice today said it's not a big deal being away from home for so long. Alex Hoffman-Ellis actually enjoys the travel involved with college football. Paul Wulff also said the road trips aren't a big deal because the team travels so well together. He says it's a "professional" atmosphere this year, which makes me wonder what it was like last season.
Defensive back Chima Nwachukwu did not participate in practice on Tuesday. He is wearing a boot to protect his injured ankle (he got hurt against Notre Dame). I'm guessing he won't play this weekend. Tight end Tony Thompson actually got hurt at practice today. My photographer says he "came up lame" on a play early in practice. He didn't notice if he returned to the practice field or not. He said running back Dwight Tardy also appeared to injure his quad. He was seen grabbing at his leg early in practice as well.
I know I say this every week, but the Cougs still appear to be motivated at practice. The losses don't seem to have buried their spirits (like they seemed to last year). That's probably why Wazzu is much improved over last year (and why they've covered the spread in all but two of their games this year). There is heart and pride on this team, which can carry WSU a long way in the future (maybe as soon as this weekend against the Wildcats).
The main word at practice today was "execution." The Cougars truly believe that if they would just carry out the weekly game plan that they would have a chance at winning. Hoffman-Ellis added another word as well -- trust. He said in his interview that the players need to "trust" the coaching staff. Maybe this is the week that they put it all together.
Kickoff between WSU and Arizona is slated for 12:30pm on Saturday. The game will be shown live on Fox College Sports. A replay of the game will be aired on FSN Northwest at 7:30pm.
That's all I have for now.