SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) No. 2 Oregon is as high profile as a team gets but Washington State linebacker Cyrus Coen says he sees the high-flying Ducks as just another ”faceless opponent.”
”We’re going to do the same thing we do every day,” Coen said. ”Work hard, that’s it.”
Hard work is what the Cougars can expect when they host Oregon and Heisman contender Marcus Mariota on Saturday night in Pullman. The Ducks (3-0) have beaten their first three opponents by a combined score of 156-54, including a Michigan State team that came into its game with Oregon boasting a fearsome defense. Washington State, meanwhile, staggers into its Pac-12 opener at 1-2.
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Still, the Cougars say they won’t treat this game any differently.
”It doesn’t matter who we play,” Washington State wide receiver Dom Williams said. ”We can play the Seahawks. You just go out there and play. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is.”
But he acknowledged that players do get anxious before big games.
”I say a little prayer and think about my grandma,” Williams said. ”It helps me calm down.”
Washington State is looking to improve on last year’s game at Oregon, where the Cougars lost 62-38.
The Cougars sacked Mariota three times in the first half. Mariota also lost a fumble that defensive lineman Xavier Cooper picked up and returned for a touchdown.
”The way we came off the ball and attacked the offensive line, we were hungry to get to Marcus,” defensive tackle Kalafitoni Pole said. ”That was the biggest thing, we were hungry to get there.”
”If we consistently do that this week we’ll have a good chance against him,” Pole said.
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday threw an NCAA-record 89 passes against Oregon last time, for what was a school-record 557 passing yards. The Cougars broke that record last Saturday when Halliday and backup Luke Falk combined to throw for 630 yards against Portland State, an FCS team.
Receiver Isiah Myers caught 11 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns against Portland State. He leads the Pac-12 with 26 receptions and 423 yards receiving this season. This week, Myers was added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list.
”He’s explosive,” coach Mike Leach said. ”He hasn’t been streaky at all this year. He’s become a really reliable guy.”
Myers is also benefiting because defenses have been focusing on receiver Vince Mayle early on.
”I think having a good one on each side will open them both up,” Leach said. ”It’s hard to tend to both of them.”
NOTES: Washington State ranks No. 15 nationally in total offense, and is averaging 557 yards per game … Halliday’s average of 471.7 yards of offense per game trails only Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky … WSU’s 706 yards of total offense against Portland State were a school record, breaking the previous mark of 693 set against Idaho in 1975 … The seven passing touchdowns last weekend tied a school record.