WSU Coach Looking Forward to AU Crowd

Pullman, Wash.--Washington State University head coach Bill Doba says he is looking forward to bringing his team to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night despite Auburn's homefield having a reputation as a tough place to win a football game.

"I don't think it will be a whole lot different than Oregon to be quite honest with you," he says. "You can't hear yourself think in that Oregon stadium."

Washington State will making its first ever appearance at Auburn as the Cougars face the Tigers in a game that will be televised by ESPN2 with a 6:45 p.m. CDT kickoff. The Tigers and Cougars have never met in football.

A crowd of around 87,000 fans is expected to be at the stadium to support the Tigers, who are ranked fourth in the preseason AP poll and sixth in the USA Today coaches poll.

"I think it is neat," Doba says of the chance to play in front of a hostile crowd. "I like places where everybody is against you and there are a bunch of people yelling against you. I think that helps to pump up the adrenaline. It helps to get you going."

Washington State's coach adds that despite the atmosphere, the game will be won or lost by on the field performance. "Once you get hit in the mouth by that offensive line, you forget about all of that stuff and it is self preservation after that," he contends.

Although the Cougars play in the Pac-10 conference and don't make many trips as far east as Auburn for football games, Doba will see a familiar face on the AU sideline on Saturday. Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges has gone head to head vs. Doba when Borges worked at UCLA, Cal and Oregon calling plays. Borges says he has a lot of respect for Doba, a coach with a defensive background, and the WSU coach says the feeling is mutual.

Commenting on what he remembers about the offense Borges runs, Doba says, "For every running play, there was a reverse off that run, there was a play-action pass off that run, there was a screen off that run. He really made you...your defense had to slow down.

"We love to run to the ball and he presented a lot of problems," Doba adds. "He is a very good offensive mind, obviously, for people who don't know. He has gotten a little bit more conservative, but every year is different. It is hard to tell.

Al Borges watches his offense at Tuesday's practice as the Tigers work on the game plan for their opener.

"He has an experienced quarterback back who does an excellent job. I think he is kind of underrated, Brandon Cox. If you watch the tape, now if there is a high-low read there he makes good decisions and throws to the people who are open. He is good and of course there is the great tailback, Kenny Irons."

With a new defensive coordinator on board this season at Auburn, Doba says it is more difficult to get a good read on what the Tigers will be doing with Will Muschamp calling the shots.

Washington State plans to fly from Pullman to Montgomery on Friday and then bus over to work out at Jordan-Hare Stadium that day before returning to their hotel in Prattville. The trip is expected to include a 4 1/2-hour flight unless the plane has to make a fuel stop, something the coach is hoping won't happen.

Doba jokes he "praying for snow" on his visit to Auburn, which has had above average heat and humidity all week, although the forecast is for cooler temperatures by Saturday evening.

To get his players ready for the weather after coming from a climate that is dry and cooler, the WSU staff is encouraging their players to drink around a gallon of fluid each day to stay hydrated. Once the Cougars line up against the Tigers on Saturday night, Doba says the plan will be to substitute liberally to keep his players as fresh as possible for four quarters.

Jason Hill is considered one of the nation's top receivers.

Washington State features a talented 6-3, 215 QB in junior Alex Brink, who passed for 2,891 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. His star receiver is back,6-1, 209 senior Jason Hill, who caught 62 passes for 1,097 yards and a school record 12 touchdowns.

WSU was effective running the football last season, too, but must replace star back Jerome Harrison, who rushed for 1,900 yards and 16 TDs in 2005.

Defensively, the Cougars battled through injury problems in 2005 and struggled last year allowing 442.5 yards per game despite strong play from end Mkristo Bruce, an All-American candidate.

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