Cougar left tackle Joe Dahl out vs. Devils, Jacob Seydel steps in but at RG

THE STREAK IS OVER. The same five offensive linemen have started every game this year for Washington State but that comes to an end today against Arizona State. Cougar left tackle Joe Dahl, one of the best pass protectors in the college game, is out with an undisclosed injury. Senior Jacob Seydel will start, but not at Dahl's spot.

Left guard Gunnar Eklund (6-7, 305) got the No. 1 reps at Dahl's left tackle in practice all week -- and for good reason. Eklund, a fifth-year senior, is highly familiar with the gig with a combined 19 starts at left tackle his first two seasons in Pullman. He has 40-plus starts over his WSU career.

In perhaps the most intriguing part of the equation with Dahl, a three-year starter, out Saturday, fourth-year junior right guard Eduardo Middleton, who has exploded onto the scene this season, practiced this week on the other side of the line -- at left guard -- in place of Eklund.

Jacob Seydel, a 6-6, 295-pound fifth-year senior moved into Middleton's spot at right guard this practice week. Seydel has effectively been WSU o-line coach Clay McGuire's first man off the bench since fall camp ended.

To sum up: With Dahl out, Eklund slides into the LT spot, Middleton moves to LG and Seydel comes in at RG.  Center Riley Sorenson and right tackle Cole Madison complete the expected starting five for the Cougs vs. Arizona State.

Eklund, and the Cougar o-line as a whole, have some big shoes to fill Saturday vs. ASU with Dahl out -- and not only because the Sun Devils live and die with the blitz. 

An initial (not exhaustive) check has Dahl with no sacks allowed through eight games and 457 pass attempts this season. In all of 2014, Dahl gave up but one sack despite the Cougars' 769 pass attempts.

That's one sack allowed over 1,226 pass attempts.

Two weeks ago, Pro Football Focus tabbed Dahl as the nation's best pass protector in college football, saying his plus-12.2 pass blocking grade on PFF's scale led the nation -- this, after Dahl led the nation last year at plus-21.0.  Dahl, Pro Football Focus said two weeks ago, had allowed but 12 pressures on 364 snaps and had been solid in the run game.

Washington State does not release injury information (Mike Leach for the most part declines to even acknowledge their existence) so it's unknown if Dahl was injured during last Saturday's loss to Stanford but a look back at the tape showed Dahl played the entire game

Meanwhile, Seydel started the final four games at right tackle in 2014 after Madison was slowed by illness, appearing in nine games overall last season. But a quick check of the participation lists from the first eight games this season have Seydel's name nowhere to be found. It's not surprising in the sense that the starting five Cougar o-linemen have been entrenched this season, but it is surprising Seydel hasn't at least lined up on special teams (as have reserve o-linemen Cody O'Connell, B.J. Salmonson, Sam Flor and others).

Still, given how practices have played out since Tuesday, Leach and McGuire clearly feel Seydel and some movement up front gives WSU the best chance for success on Saturday against Arizona State (WSU cancelled their customarily brief Sunday night practice).

So what will Seydel and Co. face against blitz happy ASU? The Devils rank third nationally in sacks (3.6 per game) and second in TFLs (9.5) -- but in yet another example of how sacks and TFLs aren't always a good indicator of defensive success, ASU is allowing 31.5 points per game (10th in the Pac-12). ASU also ranks 101st nationally in pass defense, allowing 260 yards per game.

Washington State (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) would become bowl eligible with a win. A loss for ASU (4-4, 2-3) could put their postseason chances in peril after starting the season ranked No. 15 in the country. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. The game is sold out. 


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