Cougs need to revisit Stage Two, with a twist

IT’S SAID THERE are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The guess here is the Cougs have long since gone through all five since Saturday’s loss. This coming Saturday, the biggest statement the Cougar players could make at Rutgers in support of Mike Leach and their position coaches is to revisit one of those steps, but with a twist.

For four quarters in New Jersey on Saturday (12:30 p.m. PT, ESPNU) Washington State players need to tap into that anger, but still play loose.

If they try too hard, they’ll be more prone to mistakes. If they aren’t zeroed in enough, they won’t play precise nor quick enough to come away with the upset win.

Some good news: Washington State, according to this from the Big Ten network, will face a secondary that features three starters who weren’t expected to be there.

The Cougar D, particularly its run defense, has something to prove this week -- and Daniel Ekuale (pictured above) and every single one of them know it. Did you notice what was going on in the background during the Alex Grinch Cougfan TV interview after Sunday night’s practice? The d-line players involved in what had to have been a marathon up-down session under Joe Salave’a certainly got that point hammered home. That unit had a good 11v11 session Tuesday.

Every indication is that QB Luke Falk will start, a prospect that looked dubious at best four days ago when he lay injured on the turf and kicking the ground in pain. As long as the o-line gives him a decent pocket, Falk should be in line for a big day against a suspect Rutgers secondary.

Cougar wide receivers on Tuesday were decidedly not dropping passes like they did on Saturday – there were some sweet grabs in Tuesday night’s session.

And no, it shouldn’t have mattered one whit this past Saturday that their hands were cold and they were soaking wet -- but it did. At New Jersey on Saturday, the forecast for game time is 78 degrees with partially sunny.

The early week results are in: Washington State looks to have things turning its way heading into a game where the importance can’t be overstated.

Now, the Cougs need to find that sweet spot between playing mad and playing loose.


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