Cougars open season, confidently, against Idaho State
Coach Paul Wulff begins his fourth season at Washington State with an opener against Idaho State. The Bengals are coached by Mike Kramer, Wulff's former boss at Eastern Washington.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Idaho State @ WSU, 2 p.m.
PULLMAN — Reflecting awhile on a college career of mostly hard knocks, Jared Karstetter summed up the emptiness felt by a lot of upperclassmen at Washington State.
"I've never put so much work into something in my life," said the WSU senior wide receiver, "and not had dividends pay off as they have so far here."
Saturday, the Cougars host Idaho State to begin their fourth football season under coach Paul Wulff, one that seems pregnant both with possibility and peril.
Washington State could be marching toward a redemptive six-win season that might land it in a bowl game. It could be headed down a road where the lunch-counter conversation is about Wulff's replacement. Or maybe the destination is a skimpy patch of ground between.
Ah, the unknowns of college football.
"I like our team, No. 1," said Wulff late in the week. "I like where we've come. Am I confident going into the game? All I can tell you is, I'm more confident than I've been before. But at the same time, we've got to go out and prove it on game day."
Truth be told, some of that confidence would have to accrue from the opponent. Wulff's other three openers were against Oklahoma State (twice) and Stanford.
Idaho State, on the other hand, has been a mess, going 1-10 last year, firing coach John Zamberlin and replacing him with ex-Eastern Washington and Montana State head man Mike Kramer, who hired Wulff at Eastern.
"The numbers are horrific," conceded Kramer. "We've lost 10 in a row and haven't beaten a I-A or I-AA team in two years."
Still, WSU has hardly been fearsome, either, and Kramer said, "They're keeping score, so let's go win it."
He was a non-field member of Wulff's staff last year, so he has got an edge in reconnaissance.
"It's the unknown that worries me more than what we do know," said Wulff. "We're going over so many looks (on defense), knowing we're only going to end up with a few."
Still, the advantages elsewhere seem all in WSU's favor. If the Cougars somehow lose this one, the natives are likely to be in the streets here Saturday night bearing torches and pitchforks.
Kramer imported a junior-college quarterback, Kevin Yost, who will be throwing to, among others, Washington transfer Anthony Boyles. But the Cougars should have a sizable edge in talent and experience in the passing game with quarterback Jeff Tuel and a host of capable receivers.
Meanwhile, Wulff said the Cougars still await word on the eligibility of Curtis High receiver/return man Rahmel Dockery. The outlook appears less positive on Portland lineman Alex Mitchell.
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