What they're saying: post-ASU edition

REPORTERS SEEMED just as shocked as Cougar coach Bill Doba after Washington State's 47-14 loss to Arizona State. Player comments were few, though Doba and defensive coordinator Robb Akey did address the Cougars' breakdowns against the Sun Devils. All stressed the importance of the Apple Cup, which the Cougars have won 29 times in the series history. Here's what they're saying:

Washington State coach Bill Doba walked into the interview room and said, "I didn't see this coming to be honest with you." Neither did a lot of folks. WSU got thrashed 47-14 by Arizona State in a game that was a low-water mark for the suddenly struggling Cougars. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

On a night that Arizona State honored two of its championship teams from the past, the current Sun Devils stuck to the theme by looking as if they had stepped out of a time machine. Who were these guys stuffed inside the maroon and gold uniforms, with the quarterback slinging the ball downfield and offense compiling big chunks of yards at will? This was the ASU of 2005, a squad that very rarely has been seen this season. - Dan Zeiger, East Valley Tribune

"I don't know what the heck happened until we take a look at the tape," Doba said, "but we had guys running through the secondary, we had guys missing tackles and we got no push from the offensive line. You have to be able to run the ball a little bit." The Arizona State offense, sputtering and struggling most of the season, overwhelmed the Cougars for 298 first-half yards. Carpenter completed 11-of-17 for 229 yards and two scores in the first two quarters. - Bob Baum, The Associated Press

"I thought we'd be able to compete," said Doba, who watched his team give up 562 yards to WSU's 192. "I know we're beat up, but so are they. I don't have any excuses." Nor did Doba or the coaching staff allow any to be made. In the locker room, players were told not to speak. Doba said his peace, quietly spoke with reporters for 10 minutes and directed his team to the exits. - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

Defensive coordinator Robb Akey enumerated the various ways the Cougars broke down against Arizona State, then made the point that he saw instances when WSU defenders were trying to cover for the mistakes of others, a frequent problem last year. "Players start to press," Akey said. "You're trying to get guys to get toned down and just mow your own lawn. If you take care of your own neighborhood and he takes care of his, we'll be fine. "We need to get that neighborhood watch back." - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

The Cougars ran out of tricks and stopgaps. If trends continue, they might run out of players. … Not only did the WSU offense sputter without top receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus, the defense collapsed under the weight of repeated injuries and the suddenly rejuvenated arm of Rudy Carpenter. Often enough, they just missed plays. - Lewiston Tribune

Gone was the indecisive, unsure quarterback of earlier this season [Carpenter], and if one throw could sum up a night's worth of brilliance, it was a picture-perfect 62-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Smith after Washington State had closed the gap to 30-14. - Scott Bordow, East Valley Tribune

Washington State, unable to mount much offensively without injured receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus, scored on the first drive of the second half. Quarterback Alex Brink threw for 51 yards to Cody Boyd on the way to a 6-yard scoring pass to Jed Collins. Carpenter, believed at halftime to be injured, went deep over the middle to Brandon Smith, who beat corner Tyron Brackenridge for a 62-yard touchdown that wiped out any Cougars comeback prayers. Only 2 hours, 44 minutes was needed for the non-televised game, played before an announced 53,289. - Jeff Metcalfe, Arizona Republic

Washington State traveled to the desert this weekend knowing just how valuable a win would be. And then it played as if that didn't matter one bit. Instead of rebounding from an embarrassing home defeat against Arizona the week before, the Cougars walked out of the Sun Devil Stadium tunnel and got flattened by Arizona State, 47-14, leaving their bowl hopes in doubt for yet another week. The Cougars (6-5, 4-4 Pac-10) allowed a Sun Devil football team that had lost by nearly five touchdowns seven days earlier to score on all six of its first-half possessions, good for a 30-7 halftime edge. - Glenn Kasses, Spokesman-Review

Play of the game: Late in the first quarter, ahead 10-7, ASU picked up a WSU blitz and QB Rudy Carpenter fired a deep strike to receiver Michael   Jones. That 50-yard touchdown gave the Sun Devils a 10-point lead. Star of the game: Carpenter, who had failed to throw for as many as 180 yards in ASU's six previous games, passed for 339 yards on 15 of 24 completions. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

The recent scratch-claw-and-fight bravado, the next-time-will-be-better banter, was long a thing of the past for the Washington State Cougars late Saturday. After a humiliating, 47-14 Pacific-10 Conference loss to Arizona State, the focus quickly shifted from a dumbfounding, lackluster effort against the Sun Devils to the final game of the regular season. Who said something about the Apple Cup being a snoozer? If the Cougars want to visit the postseason, they must find it in third-time's-a-charm fashion. - Todd Milles, The News Tribune

[Washington] junior center Juan Garcia believes pride and the natural excitement of Apple Cup week will be enough to revive the Huskies. "This loss is a big loss, but thank God we're playing the Cougars," Garcia said. "That in itself is going to pick us up. ... It doesn't matter if they're good or we're good, it's always a good game. We can't end it on a loss. We're going to go over there and play our hearts out." - Don Ruiz, The News Tribune

The Cougars were hoping to have two of their battered defensive tackles available for this game and perhaps return somewhat to their base 4-3 schemes. But Ropati Pitoitua stayed in Pullman with his knee injury and Aaron Johnson suffered another elbow injury. In their absence, the Cougars stayed in a 3-4 and failed to apply much pressure on Carpenter. - Lewiston Tribune

Cougars defensive end Lance Broadus seemed pleased that the next opponent is Washington. "We're going to take our aggression out on them," he said. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

[Cougar defensive end Mkristo] Bruce is a semifinalist for the third annual Lott Trophy. Named after NFL Hall of Fame member Ronnie Lott, the Lott Trophy is awarded to college football's defensive impact player of the year. Other semifinalists are linebackers Buster Davis of Florida State, Patrick Willis of Mississippi and Paul Posluszny of Penn State, safety Michael Griffin of Texas, cornerback Daymeion Hughes of California and defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock of Ohio State. WSU junior quarterback Alex Brink has been named one of 11 finalists for the second annual Wuerffel Trophy. The award, named after the former Florida quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy, is given to the college player who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement. Brink has a 3.54 grade-point average in sports. - Craig Smith, Seattle Times

ATTENTION SEATTLE-AREA COUGS: Cougfan.com is helping kickoff Apple Cup festivities this Wednesday evening in Seattle. It's Cougfan.com Night at The Village Pub, a Cougar bar and grill in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. Cougar legend Mike Utley will be the featured speaker. In addition, we'll be giving away autographed photos, showing game highlights, and more. Don't miss it. We'll start gathering at 6 pm and then turn on the mic at 7 pm.

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