It wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement, but coach Paul Wulff said he has warmed to the idea of starting the Cougars' "home" schedule in...
PULLMAN — It wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but coach Paul Wulff said he has warmed to the idea of starting the Cougars’ “home” schedule in Seattle — approximately 300 miles from the Washington State campus in Pullman.
“When I was on the outside looking in, I wasn’t a big fan of it,” Wulff admitted. “But I do see, now that I’m on the inside, the amount of fans that are in the [Seattle] area and the importance of them.”
The annual Cougar Gridiron Classic started in 2002. The Cougars are 5-1 at Qwest Field.
The football game highlights a weekend of activities for the university, which has a strong alumni and student-body presence in Western Washington.
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“There’s too many reasons to do it in Seattle,” Wulff said. He then conceded that once the game starts, “It’s just not the same home-field advantage.”
Approximately 42,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s game. When WSU hosted Nevada in 2002, 63,5888 were sold. Attendance remained above 50,000 the following three years, but has been below that mark each of the last two.
“It exposes our team to some of the young Westside recruits,” Wulff said. “It’s something that seems to be successful.”
• The Cougars spent most of camp without starting wide receivers Daniel Blackledge and Jeshua Anderson, and Wulff said they’re likely to start the season without them, too.
Blackledge is still “a week or two away,” though Wulff said he still may suit up against Oklahoma State. Anderson won’t see any action for “at least two more weeks.” Freshman Jared Karstetter will start Saturday.
• WSU will take a committee approach with its fragile backfield. Both Dwight Tardy and Chris Ivory have been limited in camp, and neither enters the season at “full strength.”
“They’re not in the shape to carry the ball 15 times or 20,” Wulff said.
Wulff said to expect a platoon of running backs, which figures to include Tardy, Ivory and JC transfer Chantz Staden. Staden has impressed coaches with his burst thus far in camp and has taken a bulk of repetitions.
• Wade Penner will kick field goals and extra points Saturday. Patrick Rooney will be handling kickoffs.