COUGAR FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

PULLMAN – Good communication is essential between a quarterback and his star receiver. Case in point: Jeff Tuel and Marquess Wilson.

When asked where he would rank Washington State's deep and talented group of receivers in the Pacific-12 Conference, Marquess Wilson said, "I'd say we're in the top three."

Wilson, proving himself to be every bit as quick on his feet off the field as on, changed his tune when he was told that Jeff Tuel says his receivers are "number one" in the Pac-12.

"We can go with his word," Wilson said with a wide smile. "The quarterback's always right."

Wilson was a first-team Freshman All-American last year, when he hauled in 55 passes for 1,006 yards (an 18.3 average) and six touchdowns. Jared Karstetter, now a senior, led the Cougars with 62 catches and seven TD receptions. He ranked second to Wilson with 658 receiving yards.

Combine those two with speedy senior Isiah Barton (19-456-3), gutsy junior Gino Simone (13-132-0) and gifted freshmen like Kristoff Williams, Henry Eaddy, Bobby Ratliff, Isiah Myers and Dominque Williams, and it's easy to see why Tuel raves about his receivers.

"I don't really know of a group of (Pac-12) receivers that's as deep as we are," Tuel said.

"The new guys coming up, I think they can play," Karstetter said. "They're going to surprise some people. Hopefully, Marquess just keeps getting better and better. I'm sure he will."

San Diego State is the only one of WSU's first five opponents that posted a winning record last year or is picked to finish in the top half of its conference in preseason polls.

The Aztecs, who have 14 starters back from a 9-4 team, are tabbed to finish fourth in the eight-team Mountain West Conference under new coach Rocky Long.

The Cougars visit San Diego State after opening the season with home games against two teams (Idaho State and UNLV) that combined to win three games last year.

More potential good news for WSU fans, players and coaches: After San Diego State, the Cougars have a bye before opening Pac-12 play against what is projected to be a so-so Colorado team that will be coming off an emotional, bruising and, presumably, losing trip to Ohio State.

About 23,000 tickets have been sold for WSU's Oct. 22 "home" game in Seattle versus Oregon State. The primary sales push won't begin until next month.

The Cougars, who did not play a home game in Seattle last season for the first time in eight years, ranked a distant last in Pac-10 attendance last season with an average of 24,532.

Seattle's CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) Field seats approximately 67,000. Capacity for WSU's Martin Stadium will fall below 35,000 this year with some west-end bleachers being removed as part of the anticipated construction of a football operations building.

Cougar Fans might want to purchase tickets early for the Dad's Weekend game with Arizona State on Nov. 12.

Dad's Weekend is always a popular event, and the night before the game, the Blues Brothers will perform at Beasley Coliseum. Tickets for the concert, starring Jim Belushi and Dan Akroyd, go on sale Aug. 29 at 10 a.m.

Zach Enyeart, WSU's long snapper the past four years, is waiting by the phone at home in Sammamish to see if he will realize his dream of playing in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks gave Enyeart a tryout out before the lockout. He said Dallas and Carolina are the only teams that contacted him after the lockout ended. Both teams said they would keep him in mind if an opening developed.

"The lockout definitely hurt first-year players," Enyeart said.

Offensive lineman Zack Williams, drafted by Carolina in the sixth round, is out for the year after tearing up a knee in practice. Rookie punter Reid Forrest is in camp with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent.

As noted in Thursday's hot news, former WSU standout Torey Hunter returned to the Palouse this week when he was hired as Idaho's cornerbacks coach.

Hunter left Eastern Washington after three seasons as the Eagles' secondary coach. The unusually late hiring was made after assistant Rob Christoff left the Vandals due to personal issues.

Idaho head coach Robb Akey is a former WSU assistant. Akey hired ex-WSU quarterback Jason Gesser as running backs coach this summer shortly after Gesser had accepted a non-coaching position with the Cougars.

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