Molton is a four-year starter at WSU and says this final year is special. As a leader, Molton will help ensure the Cougars are ready for the few critical games ahead.

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For years, Darrien Molton has started at cornerback for Washington State, and now, he is stuck with the reality that he has just a few games remaining as a Cougar.

“I am trying not to think about that because it’s pretty crazy,” Molton said. “It’s gone by super fast.”

But Molton knows this team is in a position to leave memories that will last a long time. The Cougars (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) still have a shot at getting into the College Football Playoff and have a half-game lead over Washington in the Pac-12 North.

There is no room for error in the final three weeks of the regular season, beginning at Colorado (5-4, 2-4) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Colorado is coming off four straight losses after starting 5-0, but as you might expect, Molton said all the right things about the Buffaloes.

“They are a great team and they play hard,” said Molton, who played at Chaparral High School in Temecula, Calif. “They have a lot of weapons and a lot of depth and I know they are going to bring their best. So we have to be prepared and be ready.”

The WSU defense was ready last week in a 19-13 win over California, getting a late interception that kept the Bears from taking the lead, and giving the offense a chance to finally score the go-ahead touchdown.

Depsite losing several key starters and the defensive coordinator from last year, the defense has been solid all season, allowing 325 yards per game, ranked 23rd in the country and third in the Pac-12 behind Washington and California.

“I expected this,” Molton said of the defense continuing to play well this year. “We have a lot of young guys, and I knew they were going to step up. With the new coaching (coordinator Tracy Claeys), it has been a great system for us. It hasn’t been hard because we run a lot of similar things (from coordinator Alex Grinch’s tenure), a lot of similar terminology and everything has gone really smooth.”

The Cougars are allowing 194.4 yards per game passing, third best in the Pac-12. Molton thinks he knows why the secondary has been solid.

“Just our chemistry; we’re a brotherhood and we all play hard,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. When you play hard, you are going to make plays out there.”

Molton, as a four-year starter, has emerged as a leader, and he takes that role very seriously.

“I try to be a leader every day, on the field and off the field,” Molton said. “But I think we have a lot of leaders on this team, which is a big help.”

As a leader, Molton will help ensure that the Cougars are ready for the few critical games ahead.

“We’ve got to come into every game really focused, because the other team is going to give us the very best,” he said. “We’ve got to come to every game with the right mindset because every team in this conference is very good. … We’re just focused on the next game, and doing that, you will be fine.”

And it’s been a fine career for Molton, who came to WSU with the mindset of being a starter, but isn’t sure he could have predicted it would go like this.

“It’s been a great journey so far,” he said.