WSU had a full complement of linebackers back for the Apple Cup, but ultimately, it didn't make much of a difference in the Cougars' defeat to UW.
Washington State was so low on available linebackers in last week’s defeat to Colorado that the Cougars had no choice but to use nickelback Parker Henry at the will linebacker spot.
But the No. 23 Cougars (8-4 overall, 7-2 Pac-12) had more bodies to go around in the 45-17 defeat to No. 6 Washington (11-1, 8-1). Will linebacker Isaac Dotson and rush linebacker Dylan Hanser both missed the Colorado game with unspecified injuries but returned to action against UW. Neither started, but Dotson, especially, made his presence known, finishing with four tackles, including one for loss.
The biggest surprise in the Cougars’ linebacking corps, however, was the return of sophomore rush linebacker Logan Tago, who last played in the Stanford game Oct. 8 and had missed the last six games because he’s been charged with felony robbery.
WSU’s Athletic Department does not allow athletes who have been charged with felonies to compete “absent extraordinary circumstances as determined by the director of athletes and sport supervisor.”
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In Tago’s instance, it appears that WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos ruled this a case of “extraordinary circumstances.”
Tago had his arraignment in Whitman County Court on Nov. 4 and pled not guilty to second degree felony robbery and fourth degree misdemeanor assault from an incident that occurred in June.
WSU coach Mike Leach said it was “several people’s call” to allow Tago to play against UW.
“He’s been practicing the whole time,” Leach said.
Tago played but did not start, and did not register a tackle in the game.
The other odd change in WSU’s defensive lineup was that Charleston White earned his first start of the season at free safety, where Robert Taylor has started nine games for the Cougars this year. Taylor did not play.
Luke Falk has rough day
In terms of touchdown-to-interception ratio, WSU quarterback Luke Falk had his worst performance in two years, finishing 33 of 50 for 269 yards, with three interceptions and a touchdown in the loss to the Huskies.
It marked only the third time in his career that Falk has thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns. Falk had one pick and no passing touchdowns earlier this year in the win against Arizona.
It marked the first time since WSU’s November 2014 defeat to Arizona State that Falk had thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns in a losing effort. He had four picks and three scores against the Sun Devils in his second career start in 2014.
Two of Falk’s interceptions came on back-to-back offensive drives in the fourth quarter. UW also sacked Falk twice.
“I thought we moved the ball well all day, it’s just that in key situations, we didn’t execute,” Falk said. “This one is disappointing. We started a little slow today, and you can’t do that with a good team.”
Leach conceded that his normally calm quarterback might have gotten uncharacteristically rattled “late in the second half, some.”
“But I also think it gets cumulative,” Leach said. “As people are trying to do something extra than their job, you’re counting on somebody to be somewhere at a certain time and they’re not there, the thing unravels.”
Falk’s lone touchdown pass of the day went to Gabe Marks, and the junior quarterback now has 37 touchdown passes on the season, just one shy of the 38 he threw last season to set the school single season record.
Bob Robertson snaps broadcast streak
Due to a bad cold, Seattle-based Cougars radio announcer Bob Robertson, 87, did not make the trip to Pullman for the Apple Cup broadcast, snapping a streak of 567-straight games.
Friday’s game marked only the second game Robertson has missed in his 49 years broadcasting Cougars football games. (The first was the 1981 Holiday Bowl).
Alamo, Holiday Bowl representatives present
Jack Rogers from the Alamo Bowl and Larry Baber from the Holiday Bowl were both in Pullman for the Apple Cup.
WSU’s defeat makes it unlikely that the Cougars will end up in the Alamo Bowl, which has the first pick of Pac-12 teams after the Rose Bowl. But the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Diego, Calif. is still a possibility.
The Holiday Bowl has sent representatives to Martin Stadium to watch WSU in person twice this season, and Baber said Friday that the Cougars, Stanford and USC are all teams the committee is very interested in.
- The announced attendance was 33,773, which gave the Cougars their fourth sellout at Martin Stadium this season
- WSU set a school single season record for points (484) and touchdowns (66)
- Former WSU greats Drew Bledsoe, Husain Abdullah, Rian Lindell and Rob Rainville were all at the game.
- WSU honored 13 seniors in Senior Day ceremonies before the game: NT Robert Barber, CB Treshon Broughton, WR River Cracraft, WR C.J. Dimry, LB Parker Henry, DB Shalom Luani, WR Gabe Marks, OL Eduardo Middleton, DL Jeremiah Mitchell, C Riley Sorenson, LB Paris Taylor, DB Colton Teglovic and WR John Thompson.