The Daily Evergreen

WSU looks for eighth win of season

Cougars will head to Tuscon to face Arizona, a team that has number-one scoring offense in Pac-12

WSU+defense+grapples+with+an+Arizona+ball+carrier+during+the+Dad%27s+Weekend+match-up+on+Nov.+5%2C+2016.++WSU+won+69-7.
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WSU looks for eighth win of season

WSU defense grapples with an Arizona ball carrier during the Dad's Weekend match-up on Nov. 5, 2016.  WSU won 69-7.

WSU defense grapples with an Arizona ball carrier during the Dad's Weekend match-up on Nov. 5, 2016. WSU won 69-7.

JESSICA HARJA | Daily Evergreen File

WSU defense grapples with an Arizona ball carrier during the Dad's Weekend match-up on Nov. 5, 2016. WSU won 69-7.

JESSICA HARJA | Daily Evergreen File

JESSICA HARJA | Daily Evergreen File

WSU defense grapples with an Arizona ball carrier during the Dad's Weekend match-up on Nov. 5, 2016. WSU won 69-7.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen assistant sports editor

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WSU football (7-1, 4-1) will make its third road trip of the season Saturday when the team travels to Tuscon to take on the University of Arizona (5-2, 3-1).

The Cougars recorded a 28-0 shutout win over University of Colorado, Boulder (4-4, 1-4) last weekend. In the game, redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk rushed for a career-high 41 yards on nine carries.

After the game, Falk said he had to show Head Coach Mike Leach that he could run.

“[Leach] did call me the slowest quarterback in the country at one time,” he said. “So, I had to prove something to him, I guess.”

Despite Falk’s performance, Leach thinks redshirt junior offensive lineman Andre Dillard could beat the WSU quarterback in a foot race.

“I think I’d bet on Dillard,” Leach said.

Dillard agreed with his coach’s assessment.

“Yeah, I’d win,” Dillard said.

When the Cougars take the field Saturday against the Wildcats, they will have to worry about Arizona sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate, who has rushed for more total yards than the entire WSU team.

Tate became the starter for Arizona on Oct. 7 against Colorado. In that game, Tate set an NCAA single-game rushing record for a quarterback with 327 yards. He racked up 230 and 137 rushing yards in the Wildcats’ previous two games.

The quarterback has rushed for a total of 780 yards on the season. WSU redshirt senior defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale said Tate has been impressive, but the defense isn’t adjusting its identity to slow him and the number one scoring offense in the Pac-12 down.

“He’s a fast quarterback,” Ekuale said, “but that doesn’t change who we are as a defense and what we got to do.”

Leach said it will be hard to contain Tate and keep him in the pocket.

“[Tate] goes back there and waits for it to break down and takes off,” Leach said. “He’s the key to their offense right now.”

WSU’s opponent Saturday is coming off a 45-44 double-overtime victory over University of California, Berkeley. The Wildcats enter this weekend’s game on a three-game winning streak after starting the season 2-2.

Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez said the Cougars will be a tough test for his team.

“Washington State’s got the best defense we’ve played so far … so this will be the best challenge we’ve had up front,” Rodriguez said. “This is the best team they’ve had since we’ve been playing them.”

The Cougars will get back junior wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr. for this weekend’s game, who was temporarily suspended last week for violating team rules.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Brandon Arconado and freshman wide receiver Davontavean Martin stepped up against the Buffaloes with the absence of Martin Jr. Both players recorded their first career receiving touchdowns in the win.

Leach said Arconado has gotten better as the season has progressed.

“He’s grown and developed since he’s been here,” Leach said. “He went from the worst blocker I’ve ever seen to a better blocker than most of the receivers.”

As for Martin, Leach said he’s always been explosive and has the potential to get better.

“He’s a guy that the more he catches and the more experience he has, the better he is going to be,” Leach said. “I think he definitely is still emerging.”

The Cougars’ offense had 406 total yards against Colorado. Falk said he and the team could have played better and scored more points.

“I mean 28 points was good … for the conditions, but we still left a lot of points out there,” he said. “We just need to capitalize when we have those opportunities.”

At one point in the third quarter, the WSU offense had back-to-back three and outs. As a result, Leach had the entire offense do up-downs — except for Falk, who did crunches.

Dillard said Leach expects perfection from the offense, but he felt weird doing up-downs on the sideline.

“I felt pretty silly out there doing it, I’m not going to lie,” Dillard said. “It’s what [Leach] wants, he wants the best out of us.”

When WSU takes the field Saturday, they will be looking to end the Wildcats’ winning streak and improve to 8-1 on the season. The victory over Colorado gave Falk his 25th career victory, moving him past Jason Gesser for winningest quarterback in school history.

Falk has broken numerous individual records during his WSU career, but he said this one is more of a team record.

“We always talk about that’s the only stat that matters, and it was a fun one to get,” Falk said, “and we got to keep it going because we got a special team and we are nowhere near being a finished product right now.”

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Arizona Stadium. The game will be broadcasted live on Pac-12 Networks.

About the Writer
DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen Editor-in-Chief

Dylan Greene is a journalism and media production major from Stanwood. He started as the football beat reporter in the fall of 2017 and midway through...

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WSU looks for eighth win of season