Cougars enjoying that winning feeling again
Saturday’s improbable 10-7 victory over No. 25 USC might augur well for the future, considering how WSU’s schedule unfolds.
LOS ANGELES — The lobby emptied shortly after 1 a.m. at the Renaissance Hotel early Sunday morning, a handful of men wearing Washington State gear shuffling toward the elevator with joyful exhaustion.
“Man,” one of them said, “winning sure is a lot more fun than losing.”
There has been much of the latter and little of the former for the Cougars during the past five years. But Saturday’s improbable 10-7 victory over No. 25 USC might augur well for the future, considering how WSU’s schedule unfolds.
Awaiting Saturday is Southern Utah, an FCS school and a member of the Big Sky Conference. The Cougars should be heavily favored.
So they will be the next week, when hapless rival Idaho (0-2) visits Martin Stadium, where the Cougars should have a fine opportunity to improve their record to 3-1. That would set up an interesting game against Stanford at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sept. 28.
“It’s a start. That’s what we’re taking it as,” said left tackle Gunnar Eklund. “ ... We’re just going to keep getting better.”
In many ways, they already have. Coach Mike Leach spent much of last season lamenting WSU’s woe-is-us attitude, often criticizing his team for either failing to maintain focus after pulling into the lead, or for hanging their heads after falling behind.
There hasn’t been any of that through WSU’s first two games. Week 1’s 31-24 loss at Auburn was frustrating in its outcome, but the Cougars were adamant afterward that they could have — no, should have — won.
And Leach said it was obvious that even as they struggled their way through Saturday’s game, there was a belief that they would be the ones celebrating when it was over.
“I really believe the second half coming out of the locker room, we really believed we were going to win, and that seemed to accelerate there in the fourth quarter,” Leach said. “Nothing had really happened, but I do think our composure and confidence rose in the fourth quarter.”