Cougar Football Notebook

HE’S NOT QUITE to the 10,000-calories-a day-level of former Washington State basketballer Robbie Cowgill, but Cougar senior quarterback Connor Halliday is no salad eater when it comes to the amount of food he consumes to maintain his weight.

“If I don’t eat 45 hundred to 5,000 (calories), I’ll lose weight in a day,” said Halliday, who this summer, for the first time in his career, breached the 200-pound mark.

He weighed 190 at the start of last season but was at 179 by the time the campaign ended.

Given the number of times a Mike Leach quarterback drops back to pass, durability (read strength plus mass) is an important piece of the winning puzzle.

And so, of course, is the offensive line.

Halliday will have a largely inexperienced group protecting him in 2014, but he’s sky high on their abilities.

“I’m excited for them,” Halliday said. “They’ll be the most talented bunch (potentially) I’ve ever played with.

“Obviously, they’re inexperienced, but I’ll be really excited to come back in a couple years to see where they are, because that group has so much talent.”

Junior left tackle Joe Dahl and junior left guard Gunnar Eklund (pictured above) are returning starters, but no one else on the OL has a single start on the resume. While unproven, players like Riley Sorenson, Cole Madison, Jacob Seydel and Devonte McClain add size and athleticism in the trenches.

“They’re all really talented guys for how old they are,” Dahl said. “I’m sure we’ll have our ups and downs in the season, just like any other team.

“But,” he added, “they’ve been getting a great amount of reps in the spring and in the fall. They’ve been doing a lot better and just growing as players. I expect them to do that the whole way throughout the year.”

Halliday maintains that the O-line newbies would benefit greatly if they play well in the first two games: Aug. 28 against Rutgers in Seattle, and Sept. 6 against Nevada in Reno.

“If those guys get confidence at the start of the year, it could really make our season,” Halliday said. “When those guys play like they’re capable, I could be sitting back there for five or six seconds with nobody near me.”

CONSISTENCY AND THE COUGAR DL:
WSU’s young O-linemen have learned some lessons the hard way while going up against a talented and experienced defensive line in practice.

“I feel we have one of the best defensive line groups in the country,” linebacker Darryl Monroe said.

One year ago, the D-line was dominant at times, but made far too many glaring mistakes.

“We were inconsistent, definitely,” junior end-tackle Xavier Cooper said. “I mean, numbers don’t lie.

“The majority of us were sophomores. We were still inexperienced at that time. We only had one year under our belts. The depth is better (this season).”

Cooper led the Cougars in sacks and tackles for loss last season. He’s quick to credit run-stopping nose tackle Toni Pole for part of his success.

“For 90 percent, 80 percent of my plays, Toni was the reason I made those plays,” Cooper said. “Toni is one of the hardest workers on the team. His play goes unnoticed.”

HIGH PRAISE FOR THE WIDEOUTS:
Like Cooper, Monroe is never at a loss for words when complimenting teammates. Monroe says WSU’s deep and talented receivers “may be the best receiving group in the nation.”

Part of the reason for Monroe’s optimism is the strong fall camp of senior Isiah Myers. A part-time starter the past two years, Myers has been limited by injuries and consistency in college.

“He may be our breakout player for the Cougs this year,” Monroe predicted.

Myers started nine games last season and caught 37 passes for 425 yards and three touchdown. As a true sophomore in 2012 he was fourth on team with 42 receptions for 438 receiving yards and four TDs.

HALLIDAY IS MAKING PLANS:
A year from now, Halliday hopes to be playing in the NFL. Even if he’s making big bucks in the pros, Halliday says he plans to earn a real estate license during his first offseason so he can earn additional income and prepare for life after football.

Halliday also envisions himself being a club golf pro after he’s done with football. Halliday played varsity golf in high school, and much of the little time he spent away from football training this summer – “You get 12 days (off)” – was spent on the golf course.

THE PIPELINE FROM PULLMAN TO CHENEY:
No fewer than six Washington State transfers are on the roster of the Eastern Washington Eagles, the top-ranked team in most preseason polls for the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA).

Some of the ex-Cougars saw little or no playing time at Washington State, but Jake Rodgers started at various spots on the offensive line during his final season at WSU in 2012. He started part-time for the Eagles last season, when a knee injury sidelined him part of the year. The senior is currently listed as the starting right tackle.

The other old Cougs set to start for the Eagles are wide receiver Blair Bomber, defensive end Zack Johnson and punter Jake Miller. Offensive tackle Matt Meyer and kicker-punter Tyler McNannay are backups.

 ANOTHER MOOS ON THE LOOSE:
Bo Moos, the eldest son of WSU athletic director Bill Moos, is in his first year as a graduate assistant coach at Idaho. Asked if his son will ask Idaho coach Paul Petrino about his angry exchange with WSU coach Mike Leach after the Cougars’ 42-0 win over the Vandals last season, Moos quipped, “I don’t think he has the courage.”

Moos’ other son, Ben, was a Freshman All-American tight end at Pullman High last year. The proud papa is optimistic that Ben can follow himself (a standout offensive tackle at Washington State) and Bo (a starting defensive tackle at Arizona State) into college football.

SEATTLE WEEK EVENTS ARE SET:
Washington State will kick off its annual Seattle Week with a seafood fest in Gig Harbor on Aug. 23. That will be followed by "Burgers with Bill (Moos)" in Issaquah on Aug. 26 and more "Burgers with Bill" in Seattle on Aug. 27. On game day, Aug. 28, WSU will have a tailgate in the CenturyLink Event Center that begins at 4 p.m. For more details, head to CougarAthleticFund.com.

Also on game day, CF.C will hold its annual Karlynn "Maw" Howard Memorial Tailagte in the north parking lot. CF.C readers are invited. This year's event also will serve as an informal reunion of WSU's 1981 Holiday Bowl team as they gather to salute old teammate Jeff Files, a Redmond dentist who recently was diagnosed with ALS. Jim Walden, Clete Casper, Ricky Turner, Mike Walker and many more are expected to be there.

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