What They're Saying, 9/2

RELIVE THE WIN THAT WAS Washington State's 38-26 triumph over the Idaho Vandals with these quips and quotes from sportswriters across the land.

"Bill Doba grew a bit icy a few days ago when someone reminded him that the national know-it-all sports 'zine rated Washington State's football schedule softer than grandpa's morning eggs.

Third-easiest nationally, to be precise. Some hard science behind it, too, no doubt.

'Tell them to come play it then,' the coach of the Cougars sniffed.

Ah, yes. The best defense is a good double-dog dare, especially one that has no hope of sanction." John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

"So much for the notion that the Cougars could casually stroll through the non-conference preamble to the regular season that included Idaho, Nevada, Grambling State and Bye. Bye was expected to be only slightly less taxing than the first three outings." Dave Boling, Tacoma News Tribune

"Brink said he felt like a rookie during the first half of Thursday night's game, but he's a veteran who knows that feeling isn't supposed to last long." John K. Wiley, Associated Press

"With both teams fielding relatively young lineups, and with both starting quarterbacks playing conservatively after barely holding onto their starting jobs in fall camp, mistakes were numerous on both sides of the ball. It was the season opener for both teams, and Idaho's debut as a Western Athletic Conference member." Howie Stalwick, The Kitsap Sun

"Another theory is that it's not Doba but Nick Holt who should be a little chapped about the diss of Wazzu's schedule. In just year two of his tour as head coach at Idaho, Holt has imbued the Vandals with a good deal more siccum than they've shown all decade. They rallied swiftly after their early gaffes and kept plugging even when the Cougars finally ended any relevant debate early in the fourth quarter." John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

"After the half, WSU reverted to its first-quarter ways as Bumpus, who had a team-high eight receptions for 88 yards, helped ignite the offense. He got it started with a dazzling 25-yard punt return, and then on the next play hauled in a 26-yard touchdown pass from Brink despite being interfered with by Martin." Darrin Beene, Tacoma News Tribune

"WSU won by a 38-26 score Thursday night at Martin Stadium. The moderate margin (the Cougs were 27-point favorites) serves as a tribute to the determination of the overmatched Vandals, and also as an eye-opening struggle for the Cougars. After all, if Idaho threatens to upset you, it evokes fearful possibilities for meetings with, say, USC." Dave Boling, Tacoma News Tribune

"Washington State has all manner of big-play firepower, from the remarkable Harrison – whose lack of opportunity in these early games a year ago still mystifies – to receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus to 3-D linebackers Will Derting, Scott Davis and Steve Dildine. If the chorus needs some seasoning, the soloists surely can carry the show." John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

"The Idaho Vandals spent nine months trying to erase the memory of the 2004 football season. Twelve seconds into the 2005 season, Jerome Harrison reminded the Vandals how much work is left to do." Howie Stalwick, The Kitsap Sun

"Harrison rushed for 165 yards and scored on his first two carries. Hill also wound up with two touchdowns, one on a 78-yard bomb from Brink, but he had at least three drops and was twice called for offensive pass interference. The first half could not have started better for WSU. And it could not have ended much worse." Darrin Beene, Tacoma News Tribune

"If the student bodies of the two schools still agreed that the losers would walk the eight miles to the other's campus like they used to way back when, you can bet there would have been some tight sphincters on the WSU side of the stadium when the Vandals narrowed matters to 24-19 in the third quarter." Pat Mitchell, Cougfan.com

"That they might give up a few big plays against an opponent from a less-prestigious conference would not be unexpected. The Cougars, though, did not display the kind of physical dominance along the lines that a Pac-10 team should exert. And if there was a huge talent gap, the Vandals refused to recognize it." Dave Boling, Tacoma News Tribune

"Harrison, who had 134 yards in the first half, finished the 2004 season with three consecutive 100-yard games. His 80-yard touchdown run on the first carry of the game was the 10th longest scoring run in school history, tying Jermaine Green's 80-yarder against UCLA in 2002." Darrin Beene, Tacoma News Tribune

"And quarterback Alex Brink – who won the starting job, Doba reported, by making fewer mistakes in his August audition than incumbent Josh Swogger – made a couple of big ones in the second quarter that could have been more damaging if the Vandals had been able to convert them into touchdowns instead of short field goals." John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

"WSU penalties handed the Vandals nine of their 12 first-half points. Idaho's first touchdown drive would have been long over were it not for a roughing-the-punter penalty on true freshman Courtney Williams, and the first field goal was aided by a 3rd-and-7 holding penalty on Mkristo Bruce." Glenn Kasses, Spokesman-Review

"The downside to the night was, the Cougars didn't get Swogger any quality time, thanks to Idaho's resolve. The good thing was, they had Alex Brink on the field." Bud Withers, Seattle Times

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