Indeed, this contest was won between the tackles, as the Cougs - - led by a reel's worth of highlight film by Jonathan Smith - - piled up 339 rushing yards against the Moscow defenders.
Smith bettered this 2002 performance against the Vandals - - 12 carries for 121 yards - - gaining 160 yards on 16 runs and 2 touchdowns. The senior back up also caught 2 passes for 28 yards and opened the game with a 38-yard kickoff return.
Starting back Jermaine Green, hampered much of preseason camp with a bad back, muscled out 48 yards on 21 touches. JC transfer Chris Bruhn finally was able to show the world of Division I football what all the fuss was about, rushing for 118 hashes on 9 runs.
The Crimson defenders played steady throughout the four quarters, bending on occasion, but never breaking, and barely missing a beat when the first team sat late in the game. The Cougs held the Wreckers to a net of 83 yards on 26 carries. Safety Virgil Williams intercepted Idaho quarterback Michael Harrington twice; redshirt freshman corner Don Turner also recorded an air-theft, the first of his career. Harrington connected on just 15 of his 34 pass attempts for 162 yards.
But it was the leaping ability of tight-end Cody Boyd that insured Idaho went home with the goose egg. The 6 foot 7 redshirt freshman blocked not one, but two Vandal field goal attempts.
Drew Dunning was a perfect 4 for 4 on field goal attempts, beginning with a 47 yarder in the second quarter. The Lou Groza award finalist narrowly missed connecting on 2-point conversion attempt after grabbing a muffed snapped in the third quarter following Smith's second touchdown run.
WSU quarterback Matt Kegel turned in a solid debut as the helmsmen of the Cougar offense. He tossed for 108 yards, completing 12 of 21 attempts. He had but one miscue, but it was a costly. The senior signal caller threw an endzone interception that stalled a textbook 18-play drive early in the second quarter.
The tenacious running game wasn't the only notable feature of the "new look" Cougars. Tight ends seemed to be everywhere at times tonight, with Troy Bienemann, Adam West, Jesse Taylor, and Boyd all seeing substantial playing time. Bienemann led all Cougar receivers with 3 grabs for 30 yards.
The Cougs travel to South Bend, Indiana next Saturday to face the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
WSU—J. Smith 6 yard run (Dunning kick)
WSU—Dunning 46 yard FG
WSU—J. Smith 2 yard run (pass failed)
WSU—Dunning 42 yard FG
WSU—Dunning 29 yard FG
WSU—Dunning 35 yard FG