Ohio State bought its way out of a game in Seattle against Washington State, and Hawaii stepped in.
Avid historians of Washington State’s football series at Qwest Field had Saturday’s date circled long ago. But like a lot of scheduling these days, it underwent some surgery.
Presto — out came Hawaii to play the Cougars in the spot where Ohio State was supposed to be. Yes, WSU was once scheduled to host the mighty Buckeyes at Qwest, but Ohio State bought the Cougars out of the game for $450,000 a few years back.
Whatever wrangling it took, it left Ohio State hosting USC Saturday in the college game of the early season.
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Out here, who’s to quibble, other than the bean counters at cash-poor WSU? The Cougars don’t need the Buckeyes right now; they’re angling for their first victory of 2009 and the Warriors (1-0) are capable of denying them.
For the Cougars, the next two games are a coincidental quinella that gives them Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense, and next week in Pullman, SMU — where the coach is June Jones, who brought the same scheme to Hawaii before leaving after the 2007 season.
WSU coach Paul Wulff knows the run-and-shoot well. He played with the New York/New Jersey Knights of the World League of American Football in the early 1990s, when the coach was Mouse Davis, father of the offense.
“It’s fairly simple conceptually,” Wulff said. “But within the play, there are a lot of multi-reads, depending on how the defense is playing you. Then, if you get too soft on routes, they’ll kill you in the screen and draw department.”
A year ago, Hawaii led the nation in sacks allowed with 57, 11 more than the next-worst team. The Cougars had five of their 16 season sacks against the Warriors in a 24-10 loss in Honolulu.
That battle, as well as WSU’s ability to run the ball, figures to be critical. Last week in the opening 39-13 loss to Stanford, WSU rushed for 78 first-quarter yards but finished with only 102.
“Gosh, there was a chance to have some really, really good runs,” said Wulff. “We had some things that were potentially big for us on the table, but someone would get beat at the point of attack. It goes back to getting all 11 to execute.”
While Hawaii is beginning the first of three straight road games for the first time in 45 years, WSU bussed to Seattle, part of a cost-cutting move.
“I’m completely OK with it,” Wulff said. “When it’s all said and done, getting from A to B, it’s not a whole lot different in time.”
A new member of Greg McMackin’s second-year staff at Hawaii is Chris Tormey, three times a Washington assistant. Tormey landed with the Warriors after UW fired coach Tyrone Willingham and his staff last year.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org