Washington State Preview

This Saturday, twelve Arizona State (7-2, 4-2 in Pac-10) seniors will be playing in their final ASU home game. Should the Sun Devils be victorious on Saturday, it would mark the first time the team has gone undefeated at home since 1996. Washington Sate (4-5, 2-4 in Pac-10) comes to town in hopes of a victory that would keep the Cougars alive in a hunt for a bowl game.

Second year Cougar Head Coach, Bill Doba, righted the ship last week, leading his squad to a thrilling 31-29 victory over the UCLA Bruins in Pasadena, CA. Previously, Washington State had dropped four straight games to conference foes.

Cougar Defensive Coordinator, Robb Akey, is one of the more underrated DCs in College Football. Akey doesn't try to beat you with fancy schemes. Instead, he opts for a simple gritty defense built upon speed and good tackling. He has one of the nation's best all-around players at his disposal in Linebacker, Will Derting. The ubiquitous LB is the leader of the defense with 77 tackles. Derting was slowed with an arm injury earlier in the year but has since regained his form and intensity. Another LB has stepped up for Akey this year, Scott Davis. His 72 tackles have been a big help to the Cougar defense.

Up front for the Cougars have a pair of Defensive Ends that have made their way in backfields all season long. Sophomore Mkristo Bruce is among the conference's up-and-coming defensive stars with 50 tackles, 11 of those for loss. At the other end, Adam Braidwood has 35 tackles and 4 sacks on the year. DT Odell Howard is a contributor in the middle for the line as well.

Washington State has produced some solid players in the secondary over the years and the '04 group is no exception. Hamza Abdullah is the anchor of this quartet. The Free Safety is finishing out his WSU career in style. At SS, Jeremy Bohannon is doing the same with 55 tackles and 2 INT's. Both Cornerbacks, Alex Teems and Karl Paymah, can cover adequately. Teems has a nose for the ball and can create turnovers.

Part of the problem for Washington State this season has been turnovers. The offense has had the propensity for turning the ball over, 26 times to be exact. The Cougar offense has also been bitten with the injury bug this year, forcing lineup changes every week it seems like. WSU lost Josh Swogger at Quarterback for the year. In his place is Freshman Alex Brink. He has 4 TDs, 4 INT's, and is averaging 104 yards per game. In order for Brink to be successful he must get some decent pass protection from a shaky OL.

Jerome Harrison had a career outing against the Bruins last week rushing for 247 yards. The enthusiasm is tempered a bit though with the Bruins fielding the conference's worst rushing defense, which opponents are averaging over 200 yards on the ground against. Harrison has 8 TDs and is averaging an effective 70 yards per game.

The Cougar receiving corps is led by Jason Hill, who has 32 catches and 10 TDs this season. Hill is averaging just under 89 yards per game. The true freshman Bumpus follows with 26 catches. Chris Jordan and Trandon Harvey round out the WR group. Tight End, Troy Bienemann, is a solid blocker and pass catching option for Brink as well.

Bumpus also returns punts for the Cougars and ranks third in the Pac-10. The ASU punt team ought to be on their toes this week as he's already returned a punt for a TD this year. Bumpus averages about 10 yards each time. The Cougars employ two kick returners, JC transfer Tyron Brackenridge and RB Jerome Harrison. Brackenridge averages 21.5 yards on returns.

First year Kicker, Loren Langley, is cutting his teeth this season and is 5 of 11 in Field Goal attempts. His longest of the year was for 44 yards. However, the Cougars do have a consistent threat in their other specialist, Kyle Basler. The Punter is one of the conference's best, averaging 43 yards and pinning 16 punts inside the 20-yard line. Basler's longest punt of the year went for an amazing 87 yards.

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