Much to work on, say players and coaches, but ...

PULLMAN -- The Cougs played well on Thursday -- at times. At other times, they struggled so much that the outcome of the game was in doubt. The teetering ship was righted quite nicely in the fourth quarter, however, and when the 38-26 victory was done the coaching staff and players were singing from the same song book.

"The biggest thing is it's good to get that first win," said quarterback Alex Brink, who went 17-29 for 230 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. "We need to play more consistent. We know what we need to work on."

Defensive end Mkristro Bruce echoed those thoughts. "The first win is always great," Bruce said. "I could sacrifice one sack for one win. There's some stuff we obviously have to work on, but we've got a few days to work on it."

The Cougs committed 9 very costly penalties for 103 yards, which didn't please Will Derting much. "(Those penalties) are my pet peeves," said the All-America candidate, who had seven solo tackles and assisted on four others. "We made some mistakes, but it was good overall. We came out alright, but we need to clean them up."

Defensive coordinator Robb Akey lamented about a couple of plays that slipped away. "We need to make plays when we're in position to make them," Akey said. "That's what I'm disappointed with. We need to play better as a defense. We need to be more consistent. At times we were a very good defense."

Akey attributed a lot of the mistakes to first-game jitters. "It takes everyone time to get in the flow," he said. "But we found out where we're at, and what we need to pay attention to. We need to make the plays, but we need to feel good about winning."

Tight end Troy Bienemann, who caught three passes, said jitters or not, "dropped passes and missed blocks" are not OK.

Head coach Bill Doba was glad to see the team turn things around. "In the second quarter we had some foolish mistakes," he said. "We didn't play consistent. We played better in the second half."

THE START OF THE GAME looked somewhat like the start of last year's ugly loss to USC, when the Trojans scored two rapid touchdowns on the way to an easy win.

Thursday, it looked like the Cougs might do the same thing as Jerome Harrison scored twice in the first 69 seconds to put WSU up 14-0. Harrison, who ended with 165 yards rushing, opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown run around the right side that featured great work from the hosses and nice blocks from Michael Bumpus and Jason Hill.

A beaming Harrison gave credit to his front line for helping him get the scores, in particular center Nick Mihlhauser. "They just take care of me," Harrison said. "We really take care of each other."

His second tally was set up on the kickoff, when DeWayne Patterson stripped the return-man of the ball and Adam West recovered it.

After seeing warm-ups, Doba knew the Vandals would put up a tough battle, but said Harrison's opening-play heroics "broke it open."

Even with those scores, however, Doba didn't feel the game was over. "It's hard to maintain the intensity like that," he said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to their team," Brink said. "We let some drives slip away. When you get the lead, you need to keep the pedal down."

"They were a better team from last year," Doba said of Idaho. "We're a better team, also."

Defensive stars like Bruce and Derting were also quick to sing Idaho's praises. "I was impressed," Bruce said of the Vandals.

Added Derting, "They were a good team. I thought they did a good job. We took it for granted, being up 14-0."


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