The way Paul James ran Thursday night, the Rutgers running back reminded many fans at CenturyLink Field of a Seattle Seahawks running back with the nickname Beast Mode.
James did his best Marshawn Lynch impersonation to the dismay of the Washington State Cougars, who were trampled and battered after a 41-38 defeat in the season opener.
“I got to give respect to the running back,” junior defensive tackle Xavier Cooper said. “He was very patient, and he killed us with that.”
James, a 6-foot, 205-pound junior, rambled for 173 yards and three touchdowns, which helped the Scarlet Knights withstand an onslaught from WSU quarterback Connor Halliday, who passed for 532 yards and five touchdowns.
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“I don’t think we ever established the line of scrimmage on defense,” coach Mike Leach said. “And that’s coaching.”
James did his best work late in the second quarter when he dashed through the left side of the line and ran away from WSU players for a 56-yard score that pushed Rutgers ahead 21-10. He also had a 1-yard TD plunge in the first quarter and capped the scoring with a 3-yard score with 3:24 left.
“It was a spotty performance,” Leach said of the defense. “We gave up way too many explosive (plays).”
While Washington State leaned heavily on Halliday – the Cougars had just 6 rushing yards – Rutgers countered with 215 yards rushing and 281 passing yards from quarterback Gary Nova.
“The defense, we didn’t play to our potential tonight,” Cooper said. “Our tackling killed us. We got to be better tacklers.”
Gesser joins radio broadcast team
Washington State unveiled an altered radio lineup for the season opener, bringing in assistant director of development – and ex-quarterback standout – Jason Gesser as color analyst.
Gesser, who led the 2002 Cougars to the Rose Bowl, replaced Shawn McWashington, a member of the 1997 “Fab Five” receivers that also made it to the Rose Bowl. McWashington spent just one season on the radio broadcast.
Gesser had been an assistant coach at Idaho and Wyoming before returning to Pullman. When he was named to the radio post in the spring, he told the Times of his planned style, “It’ll have that favor toward Washington State, but at the same time, I’m going to call things like I see it.”
In the booth for his 48th season – longest in college football – is Bob Robertson, who hosts pregame, postgame and halftime shows and lends analysis. Robertson turned play-by-play duties over to Bud Nameck before last season.
Second-longest tenured college announcer in the nation, according to WSU publicists, is Bill Hillgrove of Pitt, who has done 44 straight seasons.
• Ticket sales for the Seattle game were slow, and Thursday’s announced attendance was 30,927.
• Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said there’s no update in the negations between the Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV.