NOTEBOOK: WSU wins battles, loses war

THE COUGAR STOP CORPS against Stanford did just that, allowing but 256 yards of total offense to the Cardinal. And that was both cause for optimism and regret for the Cougs and Mike Leach.

"I know Stanford has lost two games, but I don't know that too many people outplayed them like we did," said Leach post game.

THE COUGAR DEFENSIVE success against Stanford was spearheaded in large part by WSU's three-man d-line (plus Travis Long).

Linemen in genral don't get the stats -- and certainly not in a 3-4 -- but NT Ioane Gauta, T Xavier Cooper and E Matthew Bock combined for 1.5 of the Cougs' five tackles for loss, and 1.5 of the Cougs' three sacks. But most importantly they, along with Toni Pole, allowed the linebackers and Deone Bucannon, playing up much of the game as a safety in the box, to make the tackles that shut down Stanford's vaunted running game.

Stanford's Stepfan Taylor rushed 21 times -- and gained but 61 yards.

Bucannon racked up 10 tackles to post his tenth double-digit tackles performance of his career and fifth this season. Long recorded five tackles -- on a night where his stat line, while still noteworthy, didn't show the true measure of his play.

THE COUGS CHANGED PUNTERS midway through the game. Mike Bowlin was inconsistent and after his three punts had averaged 29.7 yards, the switch was made to Wes Concepcion. The walk on averaged 41 yards on his two punts, with a long of 51.

Bowlin did better on his kickoffs, with two touchbacks on three boots.

WSU RECEIVER Gabe Marks was careless early on with the football after a reception, fumbling the ball out of bounds after a Stanford player knocked it loose. Marks was yanked from the game immediately and seen performing up-downs on the sideline. He returned and eventually upped his total to seven catches for 52 yards, before he was injured and came out of the game.

The Cougar receivers showed virtually none of the "dropsies" that had plagued them at times this season. Rather, the Wazzu grabmasters lived up their name -- regularly making very difficult catches, snagging just about everything that was close to them on Saturday.

Marquess Wilson led the way with nine grabs for 100 yards. Both Dominique Williams (6 rec. 79 yards) and Kristoff Williams (6 rec. 58 yards) had touchdown grabs -- for Dominique Williams it was his first collegiate score. He also added 44 yards on two kickoff returns, giving him 100 all-purpose yards on the game.

SENIOR QB Jeff Tuel's 401 passing yards were a career-high. He got there by posting career highs in completions (43) and attempts (60). Tuel was masterful at times in the short passing attack.

And he was also less than consummate at other times, holding the ball too long. But it's hard to nitpick his performance too much -- he also ran with the ball on enough occasions and made enough good yardage to give WSU a chance.

The offensive line, however, was another story. They played better as the game went along -- but you can't receive even a passing grade when you allow 10 sacks. That WSU was in the game with a first-and-goal opportunity to tie it speaks to WSU's defensive effort, Tuel, the wide receivers and the persistence of the entire traveling squad.

WSU RUNNING BACKS carried the ball only six times and that was probably about right -- Stanford shut them down every one of those six carries. And Washington State outgained Stanford 385 - 256 in total offense.

So yes, a tip of the cap to WSU's game plan is in order here.

FOR ONE OF the more oft-maligned refereeing crews in the Pac-10/12 over the years (and oh-so-deservedly so), it was hard to argue with Jay Stricherz and Co. on Saturday. Say this for them, they let them play.

WSU incurred five penalties for 48 yards, Stanford was flagged four times for 28 hashes.

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