Cougs compete in first away game

a month into season, WSU travels to Eugene to face Ducks, a team that suffered multiple injuries

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Cougs compete in first away game

Redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk runs the ball down field to give Washington State a first down in the second half against USC at Martin Stadium.

Redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk runs the ball down field to give Washington State a first down in the second half against USC at Martin Stadium.

RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen File

Redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk runs the ball down field to give Washington State a first down in the second half against USC at Martin Stadium.

RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen File

RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen File

Redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk runs the ball down field to give Washington State a first down in the second half against USC at Martin Stadium.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen reporter

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The Cougars (5-0, 2-0) will put their undefeated record on the line as they travel to Eugene to face Oregon (4-1, 1-1) Saturday.

WSU football started the season with five straight homes games and will be making its first road trip this weekend. Redshirt senior running back Jamal Morrow said he is looking forward to the first road game.

“I’m really excited to play an away game, I’m not gonna lie,” Morrow said. “I like just getting on the flight and the little cheeseburgers they have on the airplane, it’s like one of the greatest cheeseburgers of all time.”

Head Coach Mike Leach had mixed feelings on the burgers.

“[Morrow] is a little more excited about those than I am,” Leach said. “Some people like them, I’m not a big hamburger guy.”

After the Cougs finish their burgers, they will have to get off the plane and be ready for an Oregon team that is coming off a 45-24 victory over Cal (3-2, 0-2).
Ducks Head Coach Willie Taggart said his team can’t wait to take the field against the 11th ranked team in the nation.

“I think our guys will be fired up about it,” Taggart said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for the Ducks, a challenge we’re excited about.”

Although Oregon has played well so far this season, the team will play its first game without starting quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert suffered a broken collarbone during a seven-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of Saturday’s game over Cal.

Fifth-year senior quarterback Taylor Alie stepped in after Herbert went down and completed nine of his 13 passes for 41 yards and one interception. In the fourth quarter, Alie was knocked out of the game with a concussion and freshman Braxton Burmeister came in and completed his sole attempted pass.

Either Burmeister or Alie, who was cleared by doctors, will make their first career start at quarterback for the Ducks on Saturday. But Oregon co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said, “there’s a chance” that the team might use both quarterbacks against the Cougars.

WSU redshirt junior defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa said the defense isn’t worried about who will be behind center for the Ducks come game day.
“At the end of the day,” Mata’afa said, “there is going to be one guy back there and our job is to get after him.”

Several other Ducks were injured in the Cal game and are considered day-to-day, including star running back Royce Freeman. The senior has 592 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns this season.

The Cougars also had an injury to a key player in their victory last week. Redshirt senior linebacker Isaac Dotson left the University of Southern California game with an unspecified leg injury. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said Dotson is expected to play this weekend.

Additionally, redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Nnamdi Oguayo did not play in the USC game for an undisclosed reason. Oguayo is day-to-day, according to Defensive Line Coach Jeff Phelps.

Mike Leach said WSU isn’t taking the injury-riddled Ducks lightly.

“That’s the thing that is unique about this conference and arguably makes this conference the best one, is every team’s an eyelash from the other team,” Leach said. “You know everybody can get everybody so we gotta be ready to go for anybody we play.”

WSU will be heading into a hostile environment in Eugene on Saturday, and redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk said the biggest challenge with the crowd noise will be communicating non-verbally with hand signals.

Morrow embraced the crowd noise on the road and said it doesn’t bother him.

“I mean it’s great to play at home, the atmosphere has been great,” he said, “but I’m really excited to hear a couple boos when we run out on the field.”
Leach said he wants his team to focus on improving against Oregon and getting rid of an offensive statistic that isn’t his favorite.

“We lead the conference in time of possession, we’re probably one of the national leaders, and it’s a stat that I take virtually no pride in whatsoever,” Leach said. “I mean it’s fun to have occasionally just so you can beat the ball control people over the head with it.”

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Autzen Stadium. The game will also be broadcast live on FOX.