Cougs look to stay unbeaten in Berkeley

coming off win over Oregon, WSU looks to keep momentum against unranked Golden Bears


RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen File

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Renard Bell makes a dash for a gain of yards after completing a pass during the USC game on Sept. 29.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen reporter

After notching its first road win of the season, No. 8 WSU (6-0, 3-0) will travel to Berkeley on a short week to take on University of California, Berkeley (3-3, 0-3).
Cougar football is coming off a 33-10 victory over Oregon (4-2, 1-2), in which the defense held the number-one total offense in the nation at the time to 277 yards.

The defense accomplished this feat without redshirt senior linebackers Isaac Dotson and Nate DeRider, who both left the game with injuries in the first quarter.
Senior rush linebacker Dylan Hanser said it was hard to see those guys go down, but the defense was not fazed by their absence.

“You know, one guy goes down, next man up,” Hanser said. “That’s your role as a backup, to be just as ready, if not more ready than the starter, because when your number’s called, you got to be able to step up for the team like that.”

Redshirt freshmen linebackers Jahad Woods and Justus Rogers were the players that stepped up in the absence of the two veteran linebackers. The duo combined for 10 tackles in the win.

Hanser, who recorded his first career sack against the Ducks, said the defense runs and the depth allow the team to plug players in nearly seamlessly when someone goes down.

“Everyone’s buying into this defense,” Hanser said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re first, second or third string, you know, everyone knows the defense like the back of their hand and everyone’s willing to do whatever it takes to just get the job done.”

The status of Dotson and DeRider for Friday’s matchup with Cal is uncertain, as WSU does not address injuries. Either way, the Cougs will need to be ready for a Golden Bears team that is looking to end a three-game skid.

Cal started off winning its first three games of the season, but has failed to capture a victory since. Golden Bears fullback Malik McMorris said the team is tired of losing.

“It sucks to lose,” McMorris said. “We want to get back to winning. Winning is fun, you know.”

The Golden Bears are led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Ross Bowers. He has passed for 1,437 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
After Cal Head Coach Justin Wilcox watched film of Saturday’s 38-7 loss to University of Washington, he said each position would be reevaluated, including the quarterback position.

“Everything’s on the table,” Wilcox said. “Ross did some good things, and he has quite a few things he needs to get better on.”

Despite the reevaluation, Wilcox said Bowers will start at quarterback against WSU. After the Oregon game, WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said he had an eerie feeling that the Cougs had already moved on to Cal before they left Autzen Stadium.Head Coach Mike Leach said he couldn’t feel it.

“We try to push that,” Leach said. “I don’t know if I felt it leaving the stadium. I was a little preoccupied with a bunch of other stuff, but I definitely felt it last night.”

Hanser said the team moved on quick and switched its focus to getting win number seven.

“As soon as we got on the airplane, we were talking about Cal,” Hanser said. “It just switches over quick when you have these Friday games. And as happy as we are with six wins, its only six wins, and it really gets us nowhere, so it will be a lot better when we win the next six.”

Redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk tied Jason Gesser as the winningest quarterback in WSU history with the victory over Oregon. Falk usually downplays the significance of records, but this one was more significant.

“I think that’s really the only record I care about,” he said, “just because it’s a team record in terms of wins, and what matters in football is getting the win.”
Leach said the team isn’t looking past Cal and can still get better despite the undefeated start.

“[The Golden Bears are] an explosive team, you know, a little like us from the standpoint that they’re fighting to be consistent,” Leach said. “I think we’re still getting better. We’re a relatively young unit so we got plenty of space to grow.”

The Cougs are off to their best start since 2001, when the team finished the season as the 10th ranked team in the nation with a 10-2 record.
Falk said he will enjoy the success the team has had after the season.

“I think you enjoy the grind and all that stuff,” he said, “but if you get content, lazy and happy with where you’re at, then you stop growing and then success stops coming to you.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at California Memorial Stadium. The game will also be broadcast live on ESPN.