Cougs far from over confident as G-men approach

PULLMAN –- Human nature, not to mention the improbable upsets that regularly dot the college football landscape, would suggest that being heavily favored can impart a certain carelessness on Goliath. Washington State players, gearing up for Saturday's 4 pm battle in Seattle with Division I-AA Grambling State, don't appear to be falling into that trap, however. After Wednesday's practice the Cougars brushed off any suggestions of cruise control --- and offered up some sound reasons why.

"They're college football players, so they're gonna be good no mater what," said junior receiver Chris Jordan. "If you prepare like it's not gonna be a hard game, you can get beat."

Cougars vs. Grambling State
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
4 pm Pacific Time

WHERE:
67,000-seat Qwest Field, Seattle

TELEVISION:
None

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
None

THE SERIES:
This is the first meeting.

CF.C PREDICTION:
Cougars 41, Grambling State 14

Says back up offensive lineman Josh Duin, newly anointed with a scholarship after three years as a walk on, "They have something like 21 Division I transfers, so we can't come out like they can't beat us. Anyone can beat anyone. I mean, TCU beat Oklahoma. Who thought that was going to happen?"

And to some players, like defensive end Mkristo Bruce, Grambling isn't even considered a lower division school. "When you think Grambling you don't even think Division II or whatever. That's Grambling, ya know? That's a prestigious school. I'm not going to take them lightly," Bruce said.

Grambling's star quarterback, Bruce Eugene, is listed at 260 pounds --- five more than Mkristo Bruce. Asked about taking down the record-setting signal-caller, Bruce was succinct. "He's bigger, but I'm meaner, I just want to sack him. If I get to him, I'll bring him down."

That won't be easy. For one, Bruce the QB may be bulky, but he's also agile. In addition, Grambling's O-line average nearly 330 pounds per man.

Duin, who knows a big Cougar lead will mean more playing time for him and his mates on the second and third units, calls the G-men --- as the Tigers are called in Louisiana --- "big, strong and physical. It should be a good game."

WEDNESDAY PRACTICE NOTES:

* Cougar defensive tackle Aaron Johnson was back at practice after missing Tuesday's session with a right knee bruise.

* The offensive play of the day came courtesy of tight end Troy Bienemann. When a pass intended for Jason Hill in the back of the end zone was deflected by Shelton Danzy, Bienemann appeared on the scene and snatched the ball inches before it hit the turf.

* The defensive play of the day was turned in by safety Michael Willis, who was covering Marty Martin on a slant route over the middle. When Josh Swogger's pass was low, Willis dove head first and made the interception.

THE WOOLRIDGE CHRONICLES

Few people knew it, but DeMaundray Woolridge had very specific goals going into last Friday's game at Nevada. It is customary for Washington State players to take a pre-game quiz that asks them about their goals for that contest, and Woolridge, a freshman backup tailback, wrote that he planned to gain at least 80 yards and to score his first collegiate touchdown. Mission accomplished.

After the Cougars put the Wolf Pack to bed early in a 55-21 blowout, Woolridge helped tuck them in, gaining 133 yards on 15 carries (8.8 yards per attempt). He scored on a one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter, and on WSU's next possession, ripped off a 70-yard run.

"After I scored, Coach [Kelly Skipper, running backs] was like, ‘Now all you need is 80 yards. What are you gonna do now?" Woolridge said this week. "On the (70-yarder), I tried the best I could to take it all the way, but I got caught from behind."

Woolridge came to WSU from Keller High School in Texas, where he was teammate of Cougars freshman linebacker Greg Trent. Woolridge was expected to be No. 3 at best on the depth chart, or perhaps even redshirt. But when No. 2 tailback Kevin McCall suffered a high ankle sprain, Woolridge moved to second-string. He played sparingly in the season opener against Idaho, gaining 17 yards on four carries, but after last week's showing, appears to have secured his spot behind Jerome Harrison.

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