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September 24, 2006

Cougs take down Stanford, 36-10

Coming out of Palo Alto with any win would've been good, but the Cougs put an exclamation point on this one. The Cougs gave Stanford yet another shove on their downward spiral, dominating the Cardinal 36-10.

Like the Auburn game, the score doesn't reflect the game. WSU bobbled the ball away twice deep inside the Stanford red zone: once on the one due to a fumble by Alex Brink and another one the eleven due to a fumble by Dwight Tardy. Figure those two turnovers would've been worth at least six points and maybe another fourteen. Yep, 50-10 would've been nice.

In fact, if you want to point to something negative about this game, it was butterfingers on the ball leading to turnovers. Along with the fumbles lost by Brink and Tardy, DeMaundray Woolridge coughed up the ball on the WSU seventeen in the second half - a turnover that almost led to a Stanford score before Husain Abdullah stripped the ball loose on the Cougar three for a fumble recovered by Don Turner.

Other than that, the Cougar offense just ripped right along. The three headed running back of Tardy, Woolridge, and Derrell Hutsona - along with a little help by Kevin McCall and Brink - racked up 240 yards and touchdowns by Tardy and Brink. Brink was on, going 21 for 33 (64%) for 228 yards and touchdowns to Jed Collins and Jason Hill. Cody Boyd was a productive big target, leading the Cougar receivers with 5 catches for 72 yards.

The Cougar defense took it to the depleted Stanford offense as well. Mkristo Bruce made Trent Edwards's life hard - setting a Cougar single game record with five sacks. The defense thoroughly limited Edwards for once, holding him to 159 yards passing and -21 yards rushing. Overall, Stanford only had 195 yards of total offense.

The Cougar defense also put points on the board - always a bonus. WSU's first score came on a safety when Edwards took a tumble in the endzone following a snap. The second Cougar score came when Mike Graise - who also had a 15 yard sack and recovered a blocked punt on the Cardinal 15 to set up the offense's first score - snagged an Edwards pass and took it 33 yards for the Cougars' first touchdown.

The Good

1) Mkristo Bruce:
I mean, dang. Five sacks. That gets you a "woo" and a "hoo."

2) Alex Brink: Brink looks to be settling in and hitting a groove. Completing 64% of your passes is good stuff, plus Brink threw for two scores and ran another in from the Stanford one.

3) WSU's defensive front: The Cougar D-line accounted for a total of 7 sacks for -58 Stanford yards, 14 total tackles, and an interception for a touchdown. Nice.

The Bad

1) Fumbles:
The Cougs put the ball on the ground four times and lost three. Two just about certainly cost the Cougars points, and the third could've led to a Stanford score but for a timely ball strip. Do that against a tougher opponent and you likely don't end up with the win.

2) Special teams: Not terrible, but a couple disturbing miscues. Loren Langley missed a PAT, and Darryl Blunt shanked a punt for only 15 yards. This is being a little picky, though. Blunt's other punts were dandy and he put one inside the Stanford 20, and Jason Hill - who added to his touchdown total with a 7 yard reception in the third quarter - blocked a Stanford punt.

Player of the Game - Mkristo Bruce: Five sacks on the game to set a Cougar single game record and six total tackles. Another fine game in what's shaping up to be a top notch season for Bruce.


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