The Penalty Question

PULLMAN --- Mike Price sounds more like a guy who just lost a game of horse to his little brother than the head coach of a football team that crossed the line against their border rival more times than a thirsty freshman back when the drinking age in Idaho was 18.

Who cares if only 36 points counted? The win was big.

But the penalties were also big. And that has Price seeing red as he gears his team up for a trip to Boise and a showdown Saturday evening with the Broncos, last year's Big West champion and this year's Western Athletic Conference newcomer.

The Cougs were whistled 15 times --- several times for unsportsman-like conduct --- in the 36-7 win over Idaho. Four would-be TDs came off the board because of it (a fifth tally one was nullified because Idaho's John Welsh was ruled to have thrown a bad pass rather than fumbled).

 "I'm real frustrated and upset," Price said about the penalties on Thursday. "We addressed it and we're going to address it every day."

If such commentary sounds familiar, it is. And it's one reason why Price is crimson-faced. He preached the same no-penalty gospel every day of spring practices back in April. When the team entered the Crimson & Gray game with but a handful of flags in 300 scrimmage snaps, the 13th-year head man figured the Cougars' perennial problem with yellow was fixed.

Not so against Idaho. "I think I'm going to say, ‘You just can't celebrate fellas. I'm sorry, you can't have fun. The other 30,000-40,000 people that are watching you can celebrate all they want, but you can't celebrate.' So we're not going to have any type of individual celebration from our penalties."

While Price doesn't want to see any individual celebration penalties, he still wants the Cougs to show emotion and play as a team.

"If the team celebrates, goes down there together, pounds on each other's helmets and jumps and screams and hollers --- it's fine," Price said.

Price's frustration is shared by another guy who was on the sidelines for the Idaho game: Fox-TV analyst and former Cougar All-American Paul Sorensen. "Whether it's youthful exuberance or what, it's the same old story. If these kids think they can commit 15 penalties for 128 yards against UCLA or anyone else in the Pac-10, I've got news: You're going to get crushed. Start using your head -- pretend like you've been here before."


A key to this week's game will be whether the Cougar defensive line can get penetration on the Bronco OL, Price said. In addition, he said, BSU features several new faces on the defensive side of the ball but the Cougs plan to stay more scheme-oriented than try and pick on any one player.

 "I've been competing against Boise State for a number of years and they always seem to play with an air of confidence regardless of who's on the field," Price noted.

The Broncos have never beaten a Pac-10 team, and are still searching for the chemistry that saw them finish a five year stint in the Big West with consecutive league titles.

Sophomore Ryan Dinwiddie replaces the graduated Bart Hendricks at quarterback, and takes over an offense that averaged 44.9 points in 2000, but only managed 13 points against the Gamecocks. Last week marked the first time BSU has been held below 31 points since midway through the 1999 season. 

In the loss Dinwiddie completed 18 of 31 pass attempts for a touchdown and an interception, but had trouble finding a rhythm with his receivers for most of the first half, but Price feels this week will be different.

"In order for this [WSU] to be a special team we need to win the games we're favored in," Price said. "It'll be interesting to see how we react on the road in a hostile environment, especially if we get into some adverse situations, I'm looking forward to see how we'll react."


Starting right OT  Billy Knotts will miss at least one month due to a dislocated kneecap he suffered in the win over the Vandals. Phil Locker will start in place of Knotts and redshirt freshman Calvin Armstrong and junior Gerald Cook will back up Locker.

Freshman Will Derting will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against Idaho. His loss is eased by the return of sophomore middle linebacker Al Genatone and senior outside ‘backer Serign Marong. Genatone, who was slated as the starter at middle linebacker at the beginning of the season, will play but senior Alex Ngaue will start again.

Florida State transfer Devard Darling expects to hear word about his 2001 eligibility status this week.

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