Evans and mates rising and shining

SEATTLE -- Washington State's defense of tomorrow was on display for all to see here Saturday against Grambling. Cory Evans, a Louisiana native whose two brothers are Grambling grads and whose mom is a big Tiger fan, led a Cougar Kiddie Corps that saw a ton of action and left head coach Bill Doba and defensive coordinator Robb Akey singing their praises.

Cougars 48 Grambling 7
The Cougars limited Grambling to 11 net rushing yards

Cougar senior tight end Troy Bienemann pulled in an Alex Brink pass with one hand in the back of the end zone to give WSU a 34-0 lead early in the third quarter.

Junior tight end Cody Boyd, out since August with an ankle problem, caught a Josh Swogger pass on his very first play of the season and rumbled 39 yards with it to the Grambling 2 yard line.

Running back Jerome Harrison, who rushed for 113 yards and scored three TDs: "The O-line does it all – I just walk through."

The Cougars have a bye and then travel to Oregon State on Oct. 1. The Beavs lost Saturday to Louisville 63-27.

Evans and fellow true freshmen linebackers Greg Trent and Jason Stripling played much of the game as the Cougars downed their Division I-AA visitors 48-7 in front of 51,000 fans at Qwest field. Evans came in early when starting strongside linebacker Scott Davis left the game with a foot sprain.

"Our three young linebackers did a great job," said Akey. "They were all over the field. They got themselves (to the ball)."

They weren't perfect, Akey said, but they played big. And the sheer experience is significant. "There's a lot of difference when you go out to play in a game instead of practice. Plays here last forever," he said. "Our young guys have gotten a ton of playing time over the last three games --- that's huge, because we're going to need to rely on those guys in Pac-10 play."

Trent, a middle linebacker from Keller, Texas, spelled Will Derting who has been battling flu-like symptoms. Trent had six tackles on the night -- tying him for most on the team with defensive end Mkristo Bruce. Stripling, from Tyler Texas, had three stops.

Evans, who hails from tiny Lena in central Louisiana, had four stops, including a pair of attention getters. Midway through the third quarter he sacked Tiger QB Bruce Eugene for a 19-yard loss and later took him down for a six-yard setback as Eugene ran to his left on a third-down play with the Tigers at the Cougar 6 yard line.

In all, the Cougars posted 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

"If they can sack that guy they can sack anybody," said Doba. "He weighs 260 pounds --- and from the looks of it, maybe a few more."

For the record, when asked at game's end where, exactly, he tips the scales, Eugene responded proudly: "268!"

THE 6-1, 211-POUND EVANS said he was nervous when he entered the game, but after the first hit those butterflies were gone.

"My starter (Davis) got nicked up so I had to step up and make plays," he said, adding that taking his turns with the No. 1 defense is "high time."

He also said beating his home state Tigers was a thrill. "Coming from Louisiana, it was great. Basically it's bragging rights – I can call the home boys back home."

Evans played for a small school in Louisiana's smallest high school classification so he didn't get a lot of recruiting attention. Tulane, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern Louisiana offered him scholarships. But neither LSU nor Grambling gave him a look.

He entered the Cougar orbit when his prep coach sent a tape to an old friend --- WSU graduate assistant Don Bartel. Cougar linebackers coach Leon Burtnett, the former Purdue head coach and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator, took one look and then flew to Louisiana to make a pitch.

Evans' mom, Jeanetta, initially balked at the notion of her son traveling so far away from home for college but eventually warmed to the idea.

Evans said he and his mom talk on the phone daily, and the first question she asks is "How are you doing in school?"

He's attending class, religiously, thank you very much.

Apparently known for sleeping in, Evans said his mom used to wake him up every morning. Both were a bit worried about him having to be his own schedule master.

But it urns out Burtnett has made it easy. He has a linebackers meeting every morning at 7:30.

After watching Evans, Trent and Stripling on Saturday, it's fair to say they're not only rising, but shining as well.

Akey said the Cougars will start practicing the first-team defense against the first-team offense to get both units acclimated to Pac-10 play, which starts Oct. 1 at Oregon State.

Senior defensive tackle Bryan Olson from Kent is making the most of his playing time with Ropati Pitoitua sidelined with a broken leg. He had two tackles against Grambling --- one a sack and the other an 8-yard-loss. "He's done well, playing hard and taking advantage of the opportunity," said Akey. Olson has battled injuries most of his career and shuttled back and forth between the defensive and offensive lines, but clearly has found a home at DT.

For the third straight game, junior receiver Jason Hill of San Francisco caught two TD passes, moving him into a tie for second place with Devard Darling, Deron Pointer and Nian Taylor on WSU's career touchdown receptions list with 18. Hugh Campbell (1960-62) owns the record with 22. In all, Hill burned Grambling with 10 catches for 143 yards.

The stat box won't show it, but give a big assist to kickoff specialist Graham Siderius for WSU's second touchdown of the game. After Jerome Harrison capped an 80-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard-run, Siderius squibbed the kickoff. But this was no ordinary squib. It went deep, low and had some nasty English on it. Grambling's return man bobbled it and the Tigers took possession on their own 7. On the very next snap, Cougar defensive end Mkristo Bruce caused a fumble that Eric Frampton recovered. Two plays later Harrison had the second of his three TDs on the night and the Cougars were ahead 14-0.

Bill Doba upon walking into a phalanx of reporters at his post-game briefing: "This is a little bigger than Pullman." Indeed, there were seven TV cameras bearing down on him, plus a dozen reporters and columnists.

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