Jordan back on the star track

PULLMAN -- Chris Jordan, on track for greatness until blowing a knee in the 2003 Apple Cup, stepped back onto the train of destiny Saturday with three touchdown receptions. But the fifth-year senior from Kent, clearly tempered by two years of physical struggle, was all business talk in the wake of his Cougars' rout of Idaho.

"The play calls were real good," Jordan said matter-of-factly. "They (the Vandals) play a lot of cover-two, so we knew the middle would be open on the weak side. Basically, we exploited that weakness."

Jordan turns in a career day -- falling just one TD catch short of matching his career total prior to the game -- and he's focused solely on the Xs and Os.

There was no sense of having scaled the peak. References to the constant swelling of the knee that hampered him in 2004 and 2005 came more as an afterthought.

The 6-1, 205-pound Pride of Kentlake High was all business -- just as he has been since tearing the ACL and meniscus cartilage on that ill-fated second quarter slant at Husky Stadium.

Head coach Bill Doba, though, didn't hesitate to point out the obvious: Jordan is shining because he's finally healthy.

"Chris is really a good receiver," Doba said. "Every summer or even in the spring when he tried to work out his knee would swell. This year he got through the summer without any swelling and he's been healthy for the first time in three years. He's got good hands. He's doing a nice job."

In addition to the knee woes, Jordan also had to battle a hip injury last season. He played in 10 of the Cougars 11 games, but started just six and ended up with 12 catches for 129 yards -- a far cry from his 28-catch, 341-yard freshman campaign that glimpsed the coming greatness.

Jordan's first two touchdowns in Saturday's 56-10 victory came from the arm of quarterback Alex Brink, the third a bullet from Gary Rogers, who played much of the second half for the Cougs' after running his first series late in the second quarter. That drive ended with Jordan's third touchdown of the first half, putting the Cougs' up 35-3 and essentially putting the Vandals to rest for good.

In all, Jordan had four catches on the day for 57 yards.

AS PLANNED, freshman Kenny Alfred came in for somewhere around 30 or so plays, subbing in for starting center Josh Duin and starting right guard Dan Rowlands. Offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller said a continual rotation of all three players can be expected going forward. RG Andy Roof's return date is yet to be determined, X-Rays were scheduled for Monday.

"Yeah, I would look for that to continue," Levenseller said of Alfred's rotation in with Duin and Rowlands. "Right now, it's just a rotation -- you've got to get them all ready to play. At O-line, it's a rarity to get all the way through (a season). We have already had an injury (Roof's broken hand). The reason some of them are getting an opportunity is because of injuries, so now you've got to take advantage of that. Because if he can do that, and get them all up the slot, then they're better for it."

THE RUNNING GAME was impressive as the Cougar offense used every available back save for injured starter DeMaundray Woolridge. The sophomore suited and warmed up before the game but with a thigh bruise and the Cougs rolling early, they hardly needed the bull-like Texan.

Leading the charge out of the Cougar backfield was Tardy, who carried the pigskin 15 times on the day for 92 yards and also punched in a TD. All lining up in the backfield were juniors Derrell Hutsona (9-68) and Kevin McCall (5-60, 1 TD), sophomore Ian Bell (2-2), and true freshman Chris Ivory (3-87, 1 TD), who turned in an electrifying 79-yard scoring run on his first college carry.

Cougar quarterbacks contributed to the Cougs' 344 yard ground total, with Brink running 5 times for 46 yards and a score while Rogers scrambled once for a three yard gain.

ALL IN ALL, the offense looked considerably more comfortable Saturday. The entire unit played for the most part with confidence and purpose, something many players said Saturday was lacking at Auburn last week.

"Basically after last week's loss, we had to come out and play really strong," said senior DE Mkristo Bruce said. "We looked at film and we saw a lot of little things were the reason why they (had) a lot of their scores. We saw what we had to fix, we came out here and we fixed all the little things."

Echoing that sentiment was Brink, who said offense and defense both came in with the right mindset. "I think we felt comfortable. We had a good game-plan, we were doing the things we were supposed to do."

Specifically praised by Brink was the offensive line, which, like most of the Cougar units, saw a lot of rotation throughout the game.

THE COUGAR DEFENSE also came out swinging Saturday. Despite missing cornerbacks Don Turner (hip contusion), Markus Dawes (high ankle sprain) and Courtney Williams (thumb sprain), plus safety Michael Willis (shoulder sprain), the defense limited Idaho to 4 of 15 on third down conversions and 304 yards of total offense, with 71 of those coming in the final five minutes.

Safety Eric Frampton had a team high nine tackles, while filling in nicely for starter Turner was CB Brian Williams, with four tackles and two pass break ups. Linebacker Scott Davis added five tackles with one TFL, all of them seemingly key plays. The defense switched players in and out as frequently as their offensive counterparts, and virtually every member of the second and third string units saw action on the field.

  • Doba said the only injury incurred in the game was to Boyd, who hurt his hand. No other information regarding the seriousness of the injury was immediately available. Ivory looked to be limping after his final carry but it apparently wasn't anything significant.

  • The crimson and gray myriad of touchdowns Saturday began with a Brink pass to Bumpus, who took the ball from 12 yards out with 12:12 remaining in the first quarter.

  • Despite the quality play of Rogers, who went 6-of-9 passing on the day, there will be no talk of a "quarterback controversy" in Pullman Sunday, as Brink turned in a near perfect outing, going 12-for-15 for 231 yards, plus three TDs and no interceptions.

  • Brink and Rogers hooked up seven different receivers, most notably Bumpus, who had 6 receptions for 55 yards, while Jason Hill pulled in a pair of passes for 92 yards. Brandon Gibson had 3 catches for 41 yards, and tight end Jed Collins had one grab for a net 25-yard chain-mover after a penalty was assessed from the end of the run. Also making receptions for the O were WR Charles Gibson (1-9) and tight end Cody Boyd (1-4)

  • Freshman DE Kevin Kooyman had his first sack as a Cougar.

  • At the beginning of the fourth, Ivory (who later twisted an ankle) busted out his 79-yarder. Not to be outdone, fellow RB McCall, with just over 5 minutes left in the game, squeezed out an impressive run of his own, going 53 yards to the house.

  • The only Idaho TD belonged to RB Jayson Bird. Washington State held the power rusher to 34 yards on 15 carries, limiting Idaho to 83 rushing yards on 32 attempts.

  • Eight PAT attempts for the Cougs' were true, with kickers Loren Langley connecting on the first 7 and Romeen Abdollmohammadi scoring his first-ever Cougar point, completing the scoring after McCall's run. The field-goal tries were not as successful, however, as Langley missed his first attempt (36) and had his second attempt blocked from 31 yards out. Abdollmohammadi did not attempt a field goal.

  • Despite the decisive victory, it wasn't all smiles Saturday for Doba as the Cougars committed 10 penalties for a total yardage loss of 108. "I am a little concerned about penalties," said Doba on the litany of yellow flags. "Last week we had two…I don't know how many we had this week but it seemed like every time I turned around the guys were dropping the ball."

  • Cougfan Top Stories