What they're saying: post-UCLA edition

FROM QB ALEX BRINK'S 400-plus passing yards to a defense that smothered yet another Pac-10 foe, reporters from across the West Coast were dishing crimson praise aplenty after WSU's 37-15 triumph over UCLA. One recurring theme -- the versatility of Michael Bumpus, the WR/PR who added punting duties to his repertoire. And oh by the way, win No. 6 makes WSU bowl eligible. Here's what they're saying.

"That wasn't anything close to the game I was expecting," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "We came in with a good plan but did not execute very well on either side of the ball." That was especially true in the second half, when the Cougars had the ball for nearly 22 minutes while UCLA had it just over eight minutes. "We knew we had the capability to do that," Brink said regarding the second-half domination. - John Nadel, the Associated Press

The Cougars' back-to-back touchdown drives of 90 and 98 yards in the second quarter were the longest back-to-back TD drives of the decade for WSU. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

WSU quarterback Alex Brink entered the game with a streak of 17 completions, but he didn't add much to it. Brink completed his first pass of the afternoon, to Brandon Gibson for 10 yards, then under pressure threw an incompletion to Michael Bumpus on this next throw. The streak of 18 consecutive completions is believed to be a WSU record. The sports-information office plans to research performances of past quarterbacks to verify the mark. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

The Cougars took the foot out of football Saturday, passing the ball so proficiently that it hardly mattered that they lost their punter and their place-kicker. Alex Brink threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns as Washington State erased a one-point halftime deficit Saturday and became bowl-eligible with a 37-15 win over UCLA. - Lewiston Tribune

Romeen Abdollmohammadi added two extra points on the Cougars' final scores in a night to remember for the junior, whose biographical information does not appear in the team's media guide and whose last name stretches down his sleeves on his jersey. Abdollmohammadi came to WSU in the spring and decided to give kicking a try when he was offered a walk-on tryout. He practiced for eight months and earned a spot, even though he knew his playing time would be limited. Now it doesn't seem like a crazy decision. "It's a great experience to be here," Abdollmohammadi said. - Curtis Zupke, Seattle Times

The home field advantage UCLA had enjoyed for two years was obliterated, the Bruins hope for a miraculous finish to the season disintegrated and now even the modest goal of becoming bowl eligible seems lofty. The supposed breather game in a tough four-game stretch turned into a lifeless effort for UCLA, which saw its secondary brutalized by Washington State quarterback Alex Brink and its offense again go dormant in the second half. - Brian Dohn, Los Angeles Daily News

The Washington State kicker? Uh, he's a walk-on. The punter? Oh, he's a receiver. That became reality during a 41/2-hour period Saturday when the Cougars entered the Rose Bowl for their Pacific-10 Conference game against UCLA. They lost their starting punter. They lost their starting kicker. But they went on to win the game, 37-15, without them. - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

The health issues that have hounded the Cougars' offense and defense in recent weeks spread to their kicking game, where punter Darryl Blunt fell ill during warmups and was whisked to a hospital. His replacement was place-kicker Loren Langley, who himself left at halftime with a quad contusion. That left the punting duties to receiver Michael Bumpus, who had reportedly never punted in high school or college. "It was like a junior-high game," WSU coach Bill Doba said. "You're working kids out at halftime: 'Can you punt? OK, you're the punter.' - Lewiston Tribune

[Bumpus] came out in the final moments of intermission, took five or six snaps from long snapper Tony Thompson to get a feel for the routine, then had one idea in mind as he trotted on the field for two second-half attempts. "Just get the punt off," Bumpus said, "... and not to shank it." Two minutes into the second half, Bumpus had his first collegiate punt, of 35 yards. He later added a low-spiraling 36-yarder. UCLA was called for a 10-yard holding penalty on the latter. - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

The Cougars held possession for 37 of the game's 60 minutes. ... They also put their red-zone problems further behind them, scoring on 6 of 7 chances inside the 20. ... Bruce Davis sacked Brink twice, but the Cougar defense uncharacteristically went without a sack. ... The margin of victory was the widest for the Cougars against UCLA since 1936. - Lewiston Tribune

The defense pitched its second second-half shutout in three weeks, matching the accomplishment of the 21-3 defeat against California on Oct. 14. The Cougars said they were unhappy trailing 15-14 at halftime and players said they verbally chewed on each other for motivation. "We talked about shutting them out in the second half, and that's what we did," said cornerback Tyron Brackenridge. "We got it together," said Frampton, who had his fourth interception of the season in the first half and finished tied for the tackle lead with linebacker Scott Davis with seven. All of Davis' tackles were solos, while Frampton had five solos and two assists. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

UCLA was held without a first down in the second half until Patrick Cowan's 12-yard pass to Junior Taylor with 11 1/2 minutes remaining. The Bruins then moved to the WSU 17-yard line before an interception by Brackenridge prompted many in the crowd of 53,058 at the Rose Bowl to head for the exits. - John Nadel, the Associated Press

This week, WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey, short on defensive tackles with Ropati Pitoitua and Aaron Johnson sidelined, exclusively used the 3-4 scheme, rotating in Bryan Tarkington and Matt Eichelberger at noseguard. It worked, as UCLA was held to 326 yards and did not have a first down in the second half until the 11:26 mark of the fourth quarter. "It gave us the best situation," Akey said. - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

Gibson made a key defensive play in the fourth quarter when the teams exchanged interceptions. Tyron Brackenridge stepped in front of Derrick Williams when the Bruins had advanced to the 17. Then Eric McNeal intercepted a Brink pass, but Hill forced the fumble and Gibson recovered it. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said he was trying to send a message to his team when he went for a first down on fourth-and-1 at midfield late in the third quarter of Saturday's 37-15 loss to Washington State at the Rose Bowl. At the time, the lifeless Bruins trailed by five points. But quarterback Patrick Cowan's pass attempt to fullback Michael Pitre was woeful, and Washington State quickly responded by scoring on its next two possessions to take control of the game. - Brian Dohn, Los Angeles Daily News

The question caused Patrick Cowan to stop for a moment. Standing in front of his locker, the UCLA quarterback wiped his face with a towel. What had gone wrong with the Bruins' offense? "Um," Cowan said. "I'm not sure." This was supposed to be the week the running game got back on track. Instead, the Bruins managed only 74 yards on the ground. This was supposed to be the week Cowan built on a decent performance against Notre Dame. Instead, he completed less than half of his passes and two of them were intercepted. It added up to a single touchdown and an otherwise frustrating performance as UCLA lost to Washington State, 37-15, at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. - David Wharton, Los Angeles Times

Thousands of the fans in the UCLA (4-4, 2-3) homecoming crowd of 53,058 -- many of whom spent much of their time booing UCLA coach Karl Dorrell and his staff for their offensive play-calling -- were long gone by the end of the game. That's when Washington State players were gathered in the northwest corner of the stadium with thousands of crimson-clad Cougar fans in a boisterous celebration. "In the locker room, everyone was dancing," star WSU defensive end Mkristo Bruce said after sitting out much of the second half with a knee injury that he admitted for the first time has bothered him since the season opener Sept. 2 at Auburn. - Howie Stalwick, the Columbian

Somewhere beneath the rafters of the Rose Bowl, it thundered. In a small visitors' locker room, they screamed and celebrated like Pop Warner football champions. Except the Washington State Cougars had met just one goal late in this Pacific-10 Conference season: They became eligible for their first NCAA Division I bowl game since 2003. Not even the creeping forces of attrition could stop the Cougars on Saturday. They stomped UCLA, 37-15, in a stunning display of offensive firepower and defensive willpower. - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

This season, armed with a new outlook, the Cougars have defeated the Beavers, Cardinal and Ducks in the Pacific-10 Conference, crowned by a 34-23 victory against Oregon last weekend. "One, we've matured," Doba said. "Two, (losing) is more of a mental thing. We'd be ahead in the fourth quarter and that, ‘Oh, crap, look what's going to happen now' feeling (would come up)." In the offseason, the Cougars adopted a one-word slogan – "Finish" – for the 2006 season. So far, they have done just that. "We've learned from those games. We didn't finish," WSU quarterback Alex Brink said. "A lot of it … it wasn't about the fourth quarter. It's about getting off to a fast start, making big plays throughout the game – big plays that affect momentum changes in games – and we've done a better job of handling it." - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

UCLA lost its third consecutive game, dropping to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in Pacific 10 Conference play with a second half of uninspired football in a game it needed to win. Meanwhile, the Cougars (6-3, 4-2) executed down the stretch like a team going someplace. Washington State piled up 515 total yards against the top-ranked defense in the Pac-10 as quarterback Alex Brink passed for 405 yards and three touchdowns. - Lonnie White, Los Angeles Times

Brink said he changed about a dozen plays at the line of scrimmage. … The Cougars finished October with a 3-1 record after going 0-9 in the month the previous two Octobers. … UCLA has lost three consecutive games at home to WSU. The 22-point defeat was its worst since a 32-7 defeat in 1936. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

Defensive end Mkristo Bruce left the game with about 11 minutes left after aggravating a knee injury while sprinting downfield to make a tackle. His hustle held Derrick Williams to a 30-yard gain on a catch-and-run. Four plays later, Steve Dildine hurried Patrick Cowan into a throw that Brackenridge intercepted at the Cougars 23. Bruce's injury is believed to be a sprain. WSU punter Darryl Blunt, who was taken to a hospital after falling ill during pregame warmups, returned to the Cougar sidelines in the third quarter. He never took the field. - Lewiston Tribune

Punter Darryl Blunt (illness) never made it through warmups and was taken to a local hospital. ... Kicker Loren Langley (strained right quadriceps) was hurt during a kickoff late in the first half and never returned. ... Running back Derrell Hutsona (sprained left ankle) left after the first quarter and was on crutches. ... Cornerback Courtney Williams (right knee sprain) left in the second half, as did Bruce (bruised right knee). ... Running back Dwight Tardy (left calf) cramped up late and had his leg wrapped in ice. - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

The Washington State Cougars might have more players on crutches than on the practice field today, but they looked perfectly fit to the UCLA Bruins on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. … "Everyone says, 'You're bowl eligible,' but we've got a lot higher aspirations just being bowl eligible," Brink said. - Howie Stalwick, the Columbian


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