Cougars run nowhere, except toward defeat

THE AVERAGE LENGTH of a jetway is 88 yards. That means that in order to board their flight to San Francisco, the Cougars walked 14 more yards than they amassed on the ground during Saturday's 30-7 drubbing against California. Granted, WSU's average of 2 yards per carry is deceptive because the team lost 28 hashes on an errant snap, but even so, the Cougars only averaged 2.9 yards per carry.

The running backs actually racked up 115 yards on 25 carries for an average of 4.6 yards per carry.

Freshman Rickey Galvin was the one bright spot of the night, with the longest run – 15 yards – as well as the Cougars' only touchdown, a 5-yard, fourth-quarter dash through the wind and rain to prevent a shutout.

The Berkeley, Calif., native who grew up cheering for the same school that steamrolled his team Saturday ran for 73 yards on 12 carries and also caught three passes from Marshall Lobbestael for another 22 yards. He split into the slot a few times to cause havoc for the Bears' secondary.

And yet his team collectively could not even break the 70-yard rushing mark.

IN COMPARISON, CALIFORNIA rushing back Isi Sofele rushed 23 yards for a career-high 138 yards and a touchdown.

"Our defensive front and our linebackers clearly did not play very well today," coach Paul Wulff said in a postgame interview. "We did not get off blocks, and we did not tackle."

Still, the Cougars weren't anticipating a blowout.

"I felt like we were ready to play," said junior safety Tyree Toomer, who made a career-high 10 tackles – and was one of the few WSU players willing to speak after the game. "But once the game going, (the Cougars were) a little bit slow reacting."

The running game wasn't the only aspect operating in slow motion, though.

The Cougars entered the game ranked second in the Pac-12 in terms of the passing game. In looking at the Bears' drab 4-4 overall record, it apparently didn't occur to them that their foe's defense was ranked first in the conference. The result was WSU's passing game being limited to 155 yards.

"They're the best defense in this conference," Wulff said in calling Cal a veteran, physical team. "They've got some NFL players on that side of the ball.

"If they take care of the football, they can beat any team in this league."

Talk about an understatement.

THE COUGARS WENT three-and-out on their first two possessions. Cal scored touchdowns on its first two and took a quick 13-0 lead.

WSU couldn't even count on the special teams to put points on the board, as sophomore Andrew Furney's 48-yard attempt in the second quarter quickly became a 53-yard attempt after the Cougars were called for a delay-of-game penalty.

"Our kicker, No. 1, has to set up (quicker)," Wulff said of the penalty. "He was taking too long to set up."

And then came a high snap that slipped through senior punter Dan Wagner's hands and traveled 28 yards downfield. It was indicative of the Cougars' performance Saturday – bumbling and all over the place.

"They just outplayed us. We just came out flat," said Washington State left guard John Fullington in a postgame interview. "It's really frustrating, and I don't understand it."

NOTABLE NOTES

  • Saturday was the first time this season that the Cougars did not score in the first half. They trailed California 23-0 at halftime.

    Senior wide receiver Jared Karstetter has now caught a pass in 36 straight games.

  • Sophomore wide receiver Marquess Wilson had seven catches for 85 yards, which puts him just 26 yards away from posting his second 1,000-yard season.

  • Senior linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis recovered the second fumble of his career and first of the season.

  • California defensive end Trevor Guyton traded his No. 92 jersey for No. 6 in honor of Cory Mackay, the defensive end who was paralyzed in a car accident after his freshman year at WSU. Guyton, who played at Redmond High School, and Mackay, who played at rival Eastlake of Sammamish, are close childhood friends. Bears defensive back Alex Logan, who normally wears No. 6, switched to No. 10 for the day.

    "He's been going through some tough times," Guyton said of his friend, who suffered lower-body paralysis in the accident outside Washtucna and is living at home in the Seattle area.

  • In losing to California for the seventh time in a row, the Cougars snapped a three-game streak in which they gave up more than 40 points against Stanford, Oregon State and Oregon. They also surrendered 42 points to San Diego State. WSU racked up the same statistic five times last year, six times in 2009 and seven times in 2008, Wulff's first year as coach.

    None of Wulff's teams had scored more than 33 points until the Cougars scored 64 and 59 against Idaho State and UNLV, respectively, in the first two games of the season. Since then, they haven't scored more than 31.

  • In addition to Wulff being a native of Woodland, outside of Sacramento, 22 WSU players either grew up, attended high school or played junior-college football within a few hours of the Bay Area.
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