Seen & Heard 9/15

WHAT IS IT WITH penalties and pumas? The three most-flagged teams in the nation are all Cougars: Houston, Washington State and Brigham Young. So pronounced have been the miscues at WSU over the last two weeks that despite taking a 10-point lead into intermission this past weekend, the first words out of <b>Bill Doba</b>'s mouth before heading into the halftime locker room was exasperation with his team's penchant for penalties.

For the day, the Cougs were whistled 13 times for 125 yards, giving them 35 for 316 yards on the season. That ranks No. 1 nationally in penalty yards and one flag behind Houston for total number of infractions.

The 15-yarder Sammy Moore generated by showboating his way into the end zone on the Cougars' first score of the day at Colorado looked like it could have temporarily cost him his hearing, because Cougar offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller let him know loud and clear afterward that such behavior is not acceptable.

Worse, Moore's penalty was assessed on the ensuing kickoff, so Graham Siderius had to tee the ball up at the 20. The Buffaloes took their subsequently great field position and marched to their first TD.

Penalties are nothing new on the Palouse. Going all the way back to Dennis Erickson's days, the Cougars perennially have been among the leaders in the Pac-10. Last year they had the fourth-most, averaging 10 per game.

HAT'S OFF TO to quarterback Matt Kegel who has been named Pac-10 offensive player of the week for his handywork in the Cougars' rout of Colorado. He completed 17 of 33 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Other Cougars nominated for weekly awards were Erik Coleman on defense and punter Kyle Basler on special teams.

In case you missed it, the Cougars are now ranked No. 24 in the coaches poll and No. 25 in the AP rankings.

NEW MEXICO, whom the Cougars battle Saturday in Pullman, is a brand new name on the WSU schedule. But the head coaches are no strangers to each other. This will be the eighth time Doba and New Mexico head coach Rocky Long have been on opposites side of the field. Long was defensive coordinator at Oregon State from 1991-95 and UCLA from 1996-97. WSU's record in those games is 5-2.

Long won't be the only Lobo familiar with Martin Stadium. Their backup QB is junior Tali Ena, the pride of Prosser, who spent two years at WSU before transferring to New Mexico two seasons ago. He's currently listed No. 3 on the depth chart.

The Lobos, one of the favorites for the Mountain West crown this year, are 1-2 this season. They lost 10-7 this past weekend to BYU and 42-28 to Texas Tech the week before. They opened the season with a 72-8 trashing of Texas State. The Lobos were 7-7 in 2002.

History is not on their side against WSU. New Mexico's lifetime record against Pac-10 schools is 24-67-2. All but three of those games have been played against Arizona or Arizona State. The Lobos' last win vs. a Pac-10 team was against Oregon State in 1979, and their last loss was this past December at the hands of UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The injury situation in Albuquerque won't help matters this weekend. Star offensive tackle Jason Lenzmeir is out, having tweaked a knee against BYU, and starting linebacker Fola Fashola is lost for the season after tearing an ACL against Texas Tech. In addition, starting defensive lineman Guillermo Morrison quit the team last week.

TACKLING TRIO: It's shaping up like a three-man race for WSU's 2003 tackling crown. Linebacker Will Derting currently is running No. 1 with 23 total stops, while cornerback Karl Paymah (22) and free safety Erik Coleman (19) are close behind. Coleman was the team leader in 2002.

KUDOS TO BIG JOHN: How cool is John Olerud? So cool that at a recent game he was scanning the stands to decide whom he was going to toss a ball to and his eyes fixed upon the Cougar logo emblazoned on the hat of my son Billy. He threw a perfect strike to Billy, who made an easy catch even though he was wearing brother Joey'slefty glove. But get this: We were at the game yesterday, with Joey wearing a Cougar hat, and guess who tossed him a ball? Yep. John Olerud. Love that guy.

NOBODY ASKED, BUT I think this is fascinating.Why do golf courses have 18 holes, and not 20, or 10 or an even dozen?
During a discussion among the club's membership board at St. Andrews in 1858, one of the members pointed out that it takes exactly 18 shots to polish off a fifth of Scotch.  By limiting himself to only one shot of Scotch per hole, the Scot figured a round of golf was finished when the Scotch ran out. 

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