The Cougars opened their season on the road against Oklahoma State, suffering an embarrassing loss to the Cowboys at T. Boone Pickins Stadium in Stillwater. Cougar fans came into the game expecting to see improvement, but instead saw another blowout. The young Cougs weren't ready for the Cowboys and the defense was exploited by talented running back Kendall Hunter.
The Cougs didn't just lose the game, they also lost two players for the season. Promising freshman Rickey Galvin and fullback Jared Byers both went down with serious injuries that required season-ending surgery. Galvin, an explosive running back, fell awkwardly on his first carry of the game, fracturing his forearm. Byers caught a pass in the flat and took a helmet right to the knee, coming dangerously close to having his career ended.
This week, WSU tries to rebound against FCS-opponent Montana State. Montana State is coming off a convincing win against NCAA Division II Fort Lewis, defeating the Skyhawks 59-10. The Bobcats bring a talented, dual-threat quarterback to Pullman in Denarius McGhee. McGhee was 11-18 with 178 yards and two touchdowns through the air last week. He's not afraid to scramble, but always has an eye downfield for the open man. The Cougars must contain McGhee and play disciplined defense this week.
Over at CougCenter, I made the case for starting C.J. Mizell, a talented freshman linebacker who hasn't yet grasped the scheme despite all his physical abilities. In response, Spokesman-Review writer Vince Grippi addressed why Mizell should not see the field, filling in the blanks with the knowledge he's gained seeing the Cougs' in practice every day.
If you were at practice every day you would see a player who still hasn't learned to work ethic needed to be an every down player at WSU - or any college for that matter. Mizell just doesn't work hard enough at practice. Let me amend that. He hasn't worked hard enough yet. No matter how talented he is - and wow, he's got talents, you saw just a glimpse of them on Saturday - he can't be handed a starting spot. He has to earn it.
The Cougars are also starting a new tradition this weekend, getting the fans involved with the team's pregame routine. Before the game, the athletic department is asking fans to gather at the Cougar Pride statue to form a human tunnel to Hollingberry Fieldhouse, which the team typically passes through before pregame warmups.
Washington State takes on Montana State Saturday at 4 p.m. in Pullman.
For more on the Cougs, check out SB Nation's CougCenter.