Gunnar Eklund puts Coug O into hyper-drive

GUNNAR EKLUND may need to do his Vince Lombardi impersonation more often. After the Cougar offense gained 10 total yards on its first seven snaps Saturday in Pullman against Arizona State, the fifth-year senior offensive lineman went vocal with his teammates.

As the Cougar O gathered on the sidelines following an interception -- the third-straight fruitless possession to open the game -- Eklund had had enough.

He was animated and he was angry.

"If you don't want to play," Eklund told Jason Gesser after the game about what he was saying to the offense in that first quarter, "then go back in the locker room."

Cougar football Saturdays are a precious commodity, the Pride of Lake Stevens added, noting that he's a senior and the clock is ticking on him.

So get your heads in the game -- now!

The Cougars proceeded to score on six of their next nine possessions -- five of those being TDs -- and defeated Arizona State 38-24.

The urgency in Eklund's voice was also fueled by the fact the line was playing without honors candidate Joe Dahl for the first time in three years. He didn't practice this week and sat out the game with an undisclosed injury sustained late against Stanford.

Cougar quarterback Luke Falk said Eklund's speech indeed sparked the offense.

"We wanted to pick up the slack (in Dahl's absence)," Eklund said.

The injury led the Cougs to do a massive reshuffle with the OL. Eklund, normally the left guard, moved to Dahl's left tackle spot -- a position Eklund played in 2013. Eduardo Middleton then moved from right guard to Eklund's normal spot at left guard. Senior Jacob Seydel then back filled for Middleton, with right tackle Cole Madison and center Riley Sorenson staying in their regular places.

Seydel started four games for the Cougars last season when Madison was out with illness. He hadn't started this season, as no one in the starting five missed a game until Dahl today.

Eklund said Seydel "did a heck of a job."

NOTABLE:

  • The Cougars are 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-12. They are bowl eligible currently have a shot at seven invitations. The Rose Bowl is a very long shot, but not technically impossible, while the following are well within reach: the Alamo (vs. the Big 12), the Holiday (vs. the Big Ten), The Foster Farm (vs. Big Ten), the Sun, the Las Vegas (vs. the Mountain West champ), and the Cactus.

  • Asked by Jason Gesser about the dramatic difference between the Cougars' first and second halves, Mike Leach joked that "other than all the signals we stole from Arizona State (the difference was execution)."


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