Seen & Heard opener eve

GIRD THY LOINS, Cougars, gird thy loins. Actually, it's more like gird thy knees and ankles. That's the word from reliable resources who watched Nevada in their blowout losses last year to San Jose State and Fresno State. Wolf Pack offensive linemen, it seems, have a propensity to chop block, leg whip and roll.

It's illegal and it's a recipe for getting defensive linemen hurt. But that doesn't stop teams from doing it because it's a tough call amid the chaos. Dollars to donuts, though, it scares the bejesus out of Cougar defensive coordinator Bill Doba as he readies his troops for their season opener Saturday in a sold-out 67,000-seat Seahawks Stadium.

With a big-time inter-sectional showdown with Ohio State on the horizon, the last thing the Cougars need this week is to lose Rien Long or Jeremy Williams or Tai Tupai or any of the other studs down low to cheap shots by an undermanned club.

Besides, the Wolf Pack offensive line is experienced, big and talented. Center Cody Johnson (6-4, 294) is about as good as you'll see this year and juniors John Tennert (6-3, 303) and Isaiah Ross (6-3, 305) are real up-and-comers. So is sophomore Harvey Dahl (6-5, 280) but at last word he was out with an injury.

I HATE TO say I told you so, but I told you so. The Cougars playing a "home" game in Seattle is a great, great thing. The alumni are energized and more than 100 in-state recruits will be on hand.

The nay-sayers said we'd never draw a decent crowd without a big-name opponent coming to Seattle. I'm here to tell you that Seahawks Stadium will have more people in it on Saturday, watching our Cougars, than there will be for any game played there the rest of this NFL season.

Let's face it. Labor Day weekend games in Pullman are stinkers. Heck, even in our Rose Bowl year, only 23,000 fans managed to make the opener --- against UCLA fergawdsakes!

By the way, Saturday's game will be the first regular-season contest played in Seahawks Stadium by any team, college or pro. This continues a storied tradition for the Cougars. They also christened the Astrodome, against the Houston Cougars, back in '66, as well as the Metrodome, against Minnesota, in 1982. And the Cougars' last home game in Seattle, against USC in '76, was the first college contest ever played in the Kingdome. That game, by the way, was a nail-biter that the Cougars lost --- one of three street home game losses in Seattle in that era. In '72 the Cougs also lost to USC and in '74 Archie Griffin's Ohio State Buckeyes trounced us. Both of those games were in Husky Stadium.

NOW THAT the New York Times -- the only paper in the nation that runs all the news that's fit to print -- is out with its first poll of the season, it's fair to say the Cougars' national bandwagon officially has arrived. The NYT puts the Cougs at No. 6. And for you naughty types, I'm pleased to report that Playboy has the cats penned in at No. 5.

In case you're wondering, the Associated Press has the Cougars at No. 11 -- the highest they've placed our pumas in a pre-season poll since a No. 15 slot in 1952. Let's hope things turn out a bit differently than they did back then -- the Cougars, under first-year coach Al Kircher, went 4-6 that season.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The Cougars have 28 players who have started at least one game in their career. Collectively they've made 307 career starts. Leading the way are the two lines --- the defensive guys have 71 starts among them, the offensive hosses 99.

NOBODY ASKED, BUT ...: I drove by the Jason Gesser for Heisman Trophy banner hanging on the Tully's building off I-5 in downtown Seattle the other day. It looks oh so sweet. If I were a Husky fan, it would drive me to distraction. So three cheers to Tully's for having the good sense to realize there's more than one university of Washington state.

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