James Williams will dial back the hurdling, he says. WSU has a great day on special teams, but no field goals, and Jamal Morrow will miss the first half of the next game after his ejection.
Redshirt freshman running back James Williams had a breakout performance in Washington State’s 56-6 win over the Idaho Vandals, rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
After missing most of his senior season of high school with an injury and spending last season on the scout team as he redshirted, Williams said his scoring run against the Vandals was something he’d dreamed about for a long time.
“It was like a dream come true,” Williams said. “Every Saturday, I sat down wondering how it felt to score a touchdown on Saturday against a big crowd on TV. I lived it today.”
In a week where Leach challenged his team’s toughness and said they’d played with too much hesitance in their first two games, Williams’ intuitive running was a breath of fresh air for the Cougs.
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“He’s explosive and he’s elusive. He’s not a guy who thinks about 30 inconsequential things. He just goes out and plays,” Leach said. “He’s got really good hips. James Williams hates that this game concluded. He always wants games to keep going, which is what you’re after out of the guy.”
The only critique Leach had of Williams’ play was to question the running back’s penchant for hurdling defenders at the end of runs.
“I don’t like the hurdling stuff at all,” Leach said. “He did pretty much pull it off, but the big guys just race up and jack you up, and he’s still airborne and landing hard.”
Williams got an earful about his hurdling from running backs coach Jim Mastro too.
“I shouldn’t have done it the first time,” said Williams, who hurdled at least twice against Idaho. “I could have hurt myself on that first one. Coach Mastro didn’t like that at all. So I’m not gonna try that for a little bit.”
Great day for special teams … except on field goals
When Marcellus Pippins caught the deflection off Barber’s field goal block and had a 72-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, he made a concerted effort to pick up the football.
Which sounds easy but can be quite the challenge.
“I watch a lot of NFL football and every time there’s a fumble it’s like the ball just automatically just has grease on it so no one could pick it up,” Pippins said. “I was thinking, ‘I gotta get this ball.’ I was timing how it was bouncing. I know how to look at the ball and know how it bounces, and I knew it would take one more bounce to bounce up, so I got under and scooped it.”
And that point, Pippins had only one thing on his mind: “Run fast and don’t get caught,” he said.
Toward the end of the game, Gerard Wicks also scored on an 11-yard fumble recovery.
WSU scored its first touchdown on special teams since 2005, and notably, had its first game with two touchdowns on special teams since the Cougars returned two punts for touchdowns against Idaho in 1973.
Wick said one of the assistant coaches came around and pumped up the special teams guys before the game.
“He was talking about toughness and going out there with an attitude and playing every play like it’s your last,” Wicks said. “It’s kind of an attitude: Go out there with your head on fire and something good will always happen.”
The Cougars had one of their best special teams performances of the Leach era, but kicker Erik Powell missed a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter to fall to 0-for-3 on the year on field goal attempts. He went 20-of-26 in 2015 and was put on scholarship this offseason, but has had two misses and a block so far this fall.
Morrow to miss first half of next game
Cougars’ game captain Jamal Morrow was ejected from the game in the third quarter after he threw a punch at an Idaho’s Kendrick Trotter at the end of a punt return play. Per NCAA rules, he will miss the first half of the Cougars’ next game against Oregon on Oct. 1.
- The announced attendance was 28,447.
- Tyler Hilinski made his collegiate debut in relief of Falk late in the fourth quarter and went 6-of-8 for 55 yards. … WR Dezmon Patmon and WR C.J. Dimry each recorded their first career receptions.
- OL Fred Mauigoa and RB Alijah Lee made their WSU debuts while DE Nnamdi Oguayo and LB Frankie Luvu each recorded their first career starts.
- The last time WSU and Idaho met in 2013, WSU won 42-0 and Idaho coach Paul Petrino had some testy words and the briefest of handshakes for Leach after the game because he was annoyed that Leach put his starters back in action late in the game to preserve the shut out. This time however, there was no shutout, but also no handshake. “I wish him the best but I didn’t see him (after the game),” Leach said.