Lots to fear in Pullman, says Card head coach

WHAT DO YOU get when you match the nation's fifth-ranked offense against a defense surrendering 34 points per game against the likes of Navy and UC-Davis? "It presents a big problem," first-year Stanford head coach Walt Harris said about his club's trip to Pullman this weekend. "They (the Cougars) have an outstanding runner and their quarterback has put up big numbers," he added. "They also have a couple of highly ranked receivers, so right now all those things scare us."

Cougars vs. Stanford
2 p.m. Pacific Time

Martin Stadium


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WSU by 13 1/2

Stanford leads 31-23-1. Last year WSU lost 23-17

Cougars 35, Card 21

The situation also seems to be sending a message to oddsmakers, who have installed the Cougars --- who are averaging 43.5 points per game --- as 13 1/2-point favorites.

One thing Harris does have going for him is history. While the Cougars have taken three of the last four in this series, the Card have taken 19 out of 25 since 1973, including the last two played in Martin Stadium. A year ago, behind quarterback Trent Edwards, who is back this season, Stanford came to town and jumped to a 17-point lead en route to a 23-17 victory in which Josh Swogger was intercepted three times.

Stanford tight end Matt Traverso said it was a memorable win because it was on the road in a notably hostile environment --- something that gives he and his teammates confidence as they look to Saturday.

"That's not easy to play in. It's very loud and in an isolated community that just loves Washington State football," he said "But, we've had success up there in the past, and that's something we definitely need to use as motivation. There's a confidence in playing up there. It's not an easy place to play, but the guys that have had success up there need to bring the guys who haven't played up there along."

Harris calls the Cougars "a solid football team" and says he was impressed with the grit they showed down the stretch at Oregon State.

"They were fighting to the end. It's going to be challenging playing on the road and playing up there. In order for us to be successful, we have to get better at the things we're not doing very well right now --- which are tackling, keeping the ball in front of us and getting pressure on the passer. Offensively, our line needs to become much more consistent in protecting the passer. We've got to find a way to score touchdowns."

The Card are 1-2. Last week they were pasted by Oregon, 44-20. They've also dropped a 20-17 decision to Division I-AA UC-Davis. They opened the season with a three-point win over Navy.

Harris, who succeeds Buddy Teevens, comes to Stanford from Pitt, where he rebuilt the Panthers into a top 25 team. Prior to his tenure at Pitt, he was an assistant at Ohio State and Tennessee, among others. He also spent three seasons as quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets.

A NUMBER OF FAMILIAR FACES: Stanford's offensive line coach is one-time WSU offensive coordinator John McDonnell. He's in his second stint at Stanford, having coached there under Ty Willingham before moving with Ty to Notre Dame. The Card have four players from the state of Washington: Mercer Island's Justin McCullum, Clover Park's Tavita Pritchard (son of 1981 Holiday Bowl Cougar Dave Pritchard); Renton's (Lindbergh High) Merlin Brittenham and Edmonds' (Kamiak High) Bobby Dockter.

Senior Cougar running back Jerome Harrison has a Pac-10 leading 523 rushing yards so far this season. That ranks him No. 5 nationally. He had 124 yards and three touchdowns last week against Oregon State, marking his seventh-straight game over 100 yards and second consecutive with three TDs. Dating back to the UCLA game last season, Harrison is averaging 148.3 yards per game and has scored 12 touchdowns. His backup, freshman DeMaundray Woolridge, didn't take a handoff at OSU but still is averaging 85 yards per game.



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Harrison isn't the only Cougar sitting pretty nationally. Receiver Jason Hill is averaging 130.2 yards per game, No. 2 in the nation, while his seven receptions per game is 14th nationally. He left the Oregon State game in the third quarter with a deep thigh bruise but is expected back for Stanford.

Freshmen walk-ons Tony Thompson, a tight end from Seattle, and Jesse Baines, a receiver from Puyallup, were named WSU's co-scout team players of the week for their work leading up to the Oregon State game. This is the second time this season Baines has been honored.

Another Cougar freshman, scholarship receiver Brandon Gibson of Puyallup, was nominated for Pac-10 special teams player of the week after returning five kickoffs for 91 yards against the Beavers. His longest, 38 yards, set up WSU's second TD of the game.

Last year's win at WSU marked the Cardinal's only Pac-10 road victory between 2002 and 2004.

WSU's Homecoming game with UCLA on Oct. 15 will be televised live by FSN. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. PT at Martin Stadium.

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