WSU dances to a homecoming win over Cal

WSU received 91 votes in the AP poll, barely out of the top 25.



WSU wide receiver Renard Bell catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Cameron Ward during an NCAA football game against California, Oct. 1.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

The Cougs look like the best team the Palouse has seen in years.

WSU bounced back from allowing 22 points in the last four minutes against Oregon to keeping the Bears to (change to in? -AM) single digits in their 28-9 win. One key for the Cougs was they contained Jaydn Ott, Cal’s star running back to under what he gained in one carry last week.

The WSU defense is legit. They held Ott, one of the best running backs in the country to under 70 yards. They also held Jack Plummer, the Cal quarterback, to under 300 passing yards. They reduced their explosive plays allowed from 21 last week to eight this week.

Ott is coming off a week where he had 274 rushing yards with one carry of 73 yards and one of 72. He also scored three touchdowns. All of this on just 19 carries. Cal is a good team, coming off a strong win against Arizona. This was a convincingly good win by the Cougs.

The defense totaled four sacks for a loss of 32 yards and seven tackles for a total loss of 45 yards lost. The secondary stepped up too, with four passes defended and four of the top five players leading the team in tackles were part of the secondary.

WSU defenders Armani Marsh (8) and RJ Stone (10) pursue California quarterback Jack Plummer during an NCAA football match, Oct. 1.

WSU head coach Jake Dickert spoke on the defense’s ability to shut down Ott.

“He’s a dang good player and he’s gonna be for a really long time, he’s just a true freshman. But I think it plays into our strengths,” Dickert said. “We’re a good defense and we’re a good run-stopping defense and that was the mentality all week and we knew it was gonna be tough against a physical line and a really good tailback.”

The WSU offense was not lacking either, they had a second-half explosion in which they scored three touchdowns.

Cam Ward went 27/40 for 343 yards, throwing for three touchdowns and two interceptions. During the second half is the most comfortable we have seen Ward look all season. There is one specific play where he took a few steps backs and stood flat footed walked a little bit and delivered a strike to Rob Ferrel.

Ward completed the ball to 10 different receivers, including Billy Riviere III, who caught the first touchdown by a WSU tight end in over a decade.

He did have a few errant throws that turned into interceptions. They were fully avoidable throws too, he just forced a ball to where it could not go, both in the endzone. He had time to throw the ball away or  find a different receiver, but he chose to try and go for the big plays in the endzone.

The running backs also finally got going, unlike last week against Oregon where they were unable to get much yardage. Nakia Watson led with 55 yards on 14 carries and Jaylen Jenkins had five rushes for 41 yards and a touchdown. This is important for the offense to be successful.

WSU running back Jaylen Jenkins (29) stiff-arms California safety Daniel Scott (32) during an NCAA football match, Oct. 1.

The Coug defense forced five three-and-outs, along with nine total punts.

The energy by WSU has been incredible too, the vibes are immaculate with this team. They come out of the tunnel jumping around and were on the sideline dancing during the second half. Brennan Jackson and Armani Marsh spoke on the team’s fun.

WSU students show up to the Homecoming game against California, Oct. 1.

“I’ve been on a lot of teams with different head coaches, but this is really truly a family. I think everyone on this team loves each other, has true care about the guy next to them. And when you’re playing with 11 brothers on the field, it’s hard not to be excited for them when they make a play. There’s no me guys out there. I know that big phrase is we over me and I think that is what our locker room really is,” Jackson said.

Marsh said that Jackson hit the nail on the head. “I would say that’s just like the culture of our team and what we’re building, and the new Wazzu. Like he said it’s not me it’s we guys,” he said.

WSU offensive lineman Christian Hilborn lifts wide receiver Robert Ferrel up into the air after a touchdown during an NCAA football game against California, Oct. 1.

WSU now gears up to play the No. 6 ranked USC Trojans at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.