Seen & Heard on Planet Coug 9/2

TWO SURPRISES CAME out of the Cougars' season-opener at Qwest Field: the number of snaps the defense was aligned with three-down-linemen and the amount of playing time logged by true freshman safety Tyree Toomer.

Head coach Paul Wulff has said since December that the Cougs' base D would be the 4-3, with the 3-4 and 3-3-5 being used in spots. The Cougs started with four down linemen – Kevin Kooyman and Matt Mullennix at the ends, Matt Eichelberger and A'i Ahmu at the tackles – but went to three down linemen on third down plays and then variously thereafter.

Wulff kept good wraps over the summer on his three-DL intentions, with nary a report that he intended to use it so significantly.

Tyree Toomer, a 5-11, 188-pounder from Bellflower, Calif., was a beneficiary of the 3-4 – and took advantage of his time on the field. He registered six tackles, three of them solo, including one for loss. Toomer was one of three Cougar youngsters lauded by Wulff on Sunday in his teleconference with reporters.

The others receiving kudos were second-year freshman corner Tyrone Justin, who in filled for Alfonso Jackson (hip) and walk-on JC transfer Myron Beck, who started at free safety. Justin had five tackles and reeled in a tipped pass for an INT. Beck posted three tackles and had one pass breakup.

One rookie who had a less-than-memorable debut was receiver Jared Karstetter, who earned a starting spot due to the injuries of Jeshua Anderson and Daniel Blackledge. He was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul in the first quarter that negated an 11-yard run by Dwight Tardy. In the second quarter he was nailed for a false start and in the fourth he dropped a pass from Gary Rogers. The freshman from Spokane had a chance to shine at the start of the fourth quarter. He was all alone at midfield, but Rogers was under chase and ended up throwing an interception. A pass to Karstetter would have almost certainly produced a TD.

WSU'S GAME SATURDAY against Cal (3:30 kickoff) will mark more than just the Pullman and Pac-10 opener for the Cougs. It also will mark the first game with the brand new Cougzillatron scoreboard and the fully completed Phases I and II of the stadium remodel. Look for the Cougfan.com logo rotating across the new video board during pre-game warm ups.

The Cougars have won seven consecutive Martin Stadium openers, and 14 of their last 16. The game will be broadcast live on FSN Northwest, with former Sonics voice Kevin Calabro on the call and CouGreat Jason Gesser doing the color commentary. For Seattle fans not heading to Pullman, the Village Pub in Magnolia will have its 28 flat screens tuned in and $5 food and drink specials on the menu.

Members of WSU's 1988 Aloha Bowl team will be honored at halftime. This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Cougars' 24-22 victory over No. 14 Houston. Current Head coach Paul Wulff and running backs/special teams coach Steve Broussard were members of the team.

Cal, a 13-point favorite, opened its season on Saturday with a 38-31 home win over Michigan State.

HATS OFF TO WSU SENIOR middle linebacker Greg Trent. With nine tackles against Oklahoma State he now has 241 career stops, putting him well within the grasp of WSU's 250-tackle club, which includes just 17 members. The all-time WSU tackles leader, with 524 stops, is Lee Blakeney (1980-84).

THE BASKETBALL BUZZ around Pullman these days is that Klay Thompson, the 6-6 swingman from Santa Margarita, Calif., is going to have instant impact this season. He may not start, at least not initially, but word is that he has the court smarts, moves and athleticism to give the Cougs serious minutes right out of the chute. He'll play the 2 or the 3, but also could take some turns at the 1.

Speaking of the point, the Cougs will need a backup for Taylor Rochestie. And Michael Harthun, out of Medford, Ore., apparently is looking very comfortable in that role.

Another true freshman who sounds like a lock for playing time this season is 6-6 forward DeAngelo Casto of Spokane's Ferris High. The state Player of the Year has been described as "even better than advertised" by one observer who has seen him play several times.

JEFF MCQUARRIE, PRODUCER of the marvelous six-hour feature film on the history of Cougar football, has condensed his documentary to 50 minutes and added some great new interviews. To get your copy, click to LegendsOfThePalouse.com.

KJR RADIO IN SEATTLE is launching a new weekly podcast devoted to Cougar football. It's one hour of non-stop Cougar news, information and interviews that is updated every Wednesday. CF.C is a co-sponsor of the show. As part of the proceedings, Jason Gesser will answer your e-mail questions about Cougar football. You can send questions to him via jasonpuckett@clearchannel.com. To find the show online, click to the Cougar page on 950kjr.com at www.kjram.com/pages/cougars_page.html.

CONCERNING THE WSU POLICY on consumption or possession of alcohol in public areas throughout the University, Director of Athletics Jim Sterk has clarified the position as it relates to Cougar football gamedays following earlier, incorrect reports. "With the completion of the CUB renovation and the opening of the Palouse Ridge Golf Course, the University has allowed the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits at two restaurants operated by independent vendors in these locations. (But) various media reports have indicated those sales also will take place in Hollingbery Fieldhouse prior to home football games. That is not the case. We are maintaining our practice in the fieldhouse and corporate tent area of making only beer and wine available to those 21 and older with valid ID," said Sterk.


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