Seen & Heard 11/4

FOR A GUY WHO once sported a gold cap on the most prominent tooth in his mouth, getting your lobes pierced and fitted with earrings is probably no big deal. But considering the circumstances surrounding WSU defensive line coach <b>Mike Walker</b>'s new look, it's a very big deal indeed, symbolic of why the Cougars are 8-1 and ranked No. 5 in the land.

Back in the dogs days of summer, you see, Walker, himself once a standout defensive lineman for the Cougars, posed a challenge to budding superstar tackle Rien Long and his fellow mates on the DL. If any one of them recorded 10 quarterback sacks for the season, Walker told the junior from Anacortes and the rest, the ol' position coach would adorn himself with earrings.

The Cougars posted eight sacks against ASU on Saturday and three of them were at the hands of Long, giving him 10 1/2 for the season. That stellar little stats means that nearly one-third of his 33 tackles are sacks --- a development Walker was no doubt most pleased to sacrifice his ears for.

Long came into his own last season, but has been a regular force of nature this season. All by itself, his work in overtime against USC earlier this season was enough to turn heads.

Two weeks ago he was named to Sports Illustrated's mid-season All-American team, along with Cougar offensive guard Derrick Roche.

With three games left in the regular season, plus a fourth in the post-season, WSU's all-time sack-master, Palouse Posse phenom DeWayne Patterson, may see his single-season record of 17 in 1994 fall to Long.

And if that happens, you can just imagine what Coach Walker will look like when he's decked out with tongue, nose and navel rings.

DUCK WATCHING

For those of you who discovered in Sunday's box scores that Cougar nemesis Onterrio Smith didn't play in the Ducks' 41-14 drubbing of Stanford, don't hold your breath. Word from Eugene is that Smith, the Pac-10's top rusher and arguably the best back in America, is expected to be at 100 percent this Saturday against the Cougars. He sat out the Stanford game with a sore knee. His replacement, Terrence Whitehead, made the most of the chance to play, piling up 132 yards. A year ago, lest we forget, Smith punished the Cougars with a 285-yard rushing day.

The win over Stanford ended the Ducks' two-game losing streak (USC and ASU). They're now 7-2 on the season and ranked No. 16 nationally.

CouGrad Keith Jackson will be making his second trek to his alma mater in as many weeks, as the Cougars and Ducks are the Pac-10 regional game of the week on ABC. Kickoff is at 12:30 in Martin Stadium. Keith's color partner is Dan Fouts, a former Duck.

The early line on the game is WSU by 6 1 / 2

INJURY UPDATE

Cougar backs Jermaine Green and John Tippins are dinged up a bit but will be ready to go Saturday. Backup linebackers Wes Patterson-Ausuma and Doc Farley are definitely out, with wrist and knee woes respectively. OL Josh Parrish, out most of the season with a broken leg, is expected to see a handful of snaps against Oregon. No word yet on the status of starting linebacker Al Genatone, out the past two weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Speaking of Green and Tippins, you've got to like what they've done this season. Tippins has 442 yards this season and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry while Green has 506 total hashes and a 4.9 yard per carry average.

Jason David was set to have surgery on his broken cheekbone today. We should have a could sense by week's end whether the scrappy corner will be ready for the Cougars' bowl game.

NOTABLE NOTES

Dan Raley of the Seattle P-I spotted, and hunted down, Fiesta Bowl board member Mike Doherty at Martin Stadium on Saturday. And the subsequent conversation was something to behold. "They're for real," Doherty said of the Cougars. "They'd be good competition for anybody. They're legitimate contenders, whether it's for the Rose Bowl or our national championship game. They'd bring a great crowd. I'm very, very impressed with Mike Price and what he's done with this team. We'd love to have them."

Understatement of the Week: Mike Price after Saturday win: "I think we're for real. I think we've got a good football team."

Quote of the Week: Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune: "What ... did somebody tell the Cougars that Arizona State players were putting the moves on their women?"


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