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September 10, 2006

Cougs win battle of the Palouse

Victory is sweet. Following the Auburn loss and Idaho's strong showing against Michigan State, it was generally anticipated that the Cougars' game against the Vandals would be a tough one. The Cougs came to play on Saturday and positively took it to Idaho from the get go.

With the score 21-3 in the second quarter, Idaho worked to stay in the game and brought the ball down to the Cougar goal line. Big plays by Eric Frampton, Tyron Brackenridge, and Scott Davis stopped the Vandals short and basically broke their will for the rest of the game. If Idaho had been able to push the ball into the endzone from the Cougar half-yard line the score would have been 21-10. Probably the Cougars would have continued their offensive romp and ended up with the win, but the Vandals would likely have hung tougher for the duration. As it was, the Cougs took the ball at the WSU 4 and promptly marched right upfield to the endzone to make it 28-3. Gary Rogers was inserted with less than two minutes before the half, and promptly marched the Cougs 68 yards for another touchdown with only seconds left on the clock.

The 35-3 deficit had already pretty much put the game out of reach by the second half, but the starters weren't quite done. Alex Brink returned for the first Cougar series and led WSU 79 yards to the Idaho 1 where Dwight Tardy had the ball torn free while spinning away from a tackle. Idaho recovered, but immediately turned it back over to WSU when Aaron Johnson caused a fumble recovered by Greg Trent. Brink sneaked the ball over to make it 42-3, and was done for the day. Rogers took over for the rest of the game and the Cougs scored two more touchdowns on long runs by Chris Ivory and Kevin McCall to cap the WSU scoring for the day. Following Ivory's score, Idaho added a touchdown against the WSU deep bench making the final score 56-10. Not a bad day in the Palouse.

THE GOOD:

Cougar Quarterbacks:
Brink and Rogers lit up Idaho, helped largely by great protection from the offensive line which did not allow a sack. Brink finished a thoroughly impressive 12 for 15 for 231 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks. Brink also made great scrambling decisions, rushing for 46 yards on 5 carries and the touchdown. Rogers was no slouch in his game time and finished 6 of 9 for 62 yards and the touchdown. Good stuff indeed.

Offensive line: The Cougar line did very well, giving the quarterbacks great protection and not allowing a sack. The line also did a job on run blocking. The Cougar running backs accounted for a whopping 344 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Chris Jordan: With Idaho focusing - like everybody else - on Jason Hill, Jordan hurt them bad and often. Jordan ended with 4 catches for 57 yards and tied the Cougar single game record with 3 touchdowns - including a diving endzone catch to put WSU up 14-0 in the first quarter.

Defensive Secondary: Tyron Brackenridge was the standout here, but the group as a whole has to be mentioned as all played well. Eric Frampton came up big a number of times including on the back-breaking goal line stand, and Brian Williams played well in his first start. Idaho passing only accounted for 220 yards, a number that's actually deceptively high as the Vandals' starter was held to 11 of 31 for 170 yards and a pick.

Lance Broadus: After being manhandled by the Tigers, Broadus stepped up against Idaho which started the game out by coming right at him. Broadus held his end of the line well and brought in a spectacular early pick - a one-handed while falling down grab.

Dwight Tardy: At long last, the Cougar running game looks deep and strong. With DeMaundray Woolridge out of action, Tardy stepped in and looked plenty capable. Tardy finished the day with 92 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown.

Punting: The Cougar punting game had their second consecutive strong showing. Darryl Blunt averaged 44 yards on 3 kicks and put one well inside the Idaho 10 yard line. Coverage teams looked great, giving Idaho negligible return yardage.

Offensive production: 637 total yards, 344 yards rushing, 293 yards passing, 75% completions, 56 points. 'Nuff said.

THE BAD:

Field goal kicking:
This is a problem that is gonna need fixing - there will be at least one game this season that will turn on a field goal and right now it doesn't look good. Loren Langley was perfect on PATs and did reasonably well on kickoffs, but ended 0-2 on field goal attempts - both inside forty yards. A 36 yard attempt went wide right, and a 31 yard attempt was a line drive with no loft that was easily blocked at the line.

Penalties: After playing an almost penalty free game against Auburn, WSU got tagged a number of times on avoidable penalties including the dreaded after the play personal fouls that nullified or reduced several big gain plays.

PLAYER OF THE GAME - Alex Brink: After having a horrendous game against Auburn, Brink looked flat out great against Idaho. Rogers is a strong backup and can lead the Cougs to wins - that looks established - but Brink's performance should do a lot to extinguish any grumbling about who should be the starting QB.


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