LAS VEGAS – Washington State and UNLV, two teams that are regarded among the lesser lights in college football, put on an exciting show Friday night.
Too exciting, according to WSU coach Mike Leach.
“We need to get better on third down, both sides of the ball,” Leach said after the winless Rebels pushed the Cougars to the wire before falling, 35-27.
“One of the biggest things is that we need to rise together,” Leach said. “One side gets them against the ropes, the other side needs to respond. We need to be a little better when the meat’s on the table.”
WSU continues to struggle with penalties – 12 more on Friday, including seven in the fourth quarter.
“We need to be tougher in the fourth quarter,” Leach said. “It’s as simple as that.
“We played hard and did some good things, and then our technique breaks down. We need to stop entertaining fatigue. I think we tell ourselves that we are fatigued long before we are actually fatigued.
“Part of being fatigued is a decision. And everybody goes out there and everybody’s tired. Big deal. Like the guys on the other side aren’t tired?”
Preseason All-America receiver Marquess Wilson caught his first two touchdown passes after having one TD catch in each of WSU’s first two games nullified due to a penalty.
Wilson would have one or two more scores Friday if not for drops. Still, he broke Mike Levenseller’s school record with his 12th 100-yard receiving game; moved up to third in school history with 20 touchdown catches; and jumped up to fifth in career catches with 150.
Wilson caught five balls for 110 yards, a 22-yard average. Wilson, a junior, moved past Georgia senior Tavarres King to take the career lead among active Football Bowl Subdivision players with a 17.7 yard per-catch average.
Free safety Tyree Toomer made his first start of the season, and the senior recorded his first career interception. … True freshman Taylor Taliulu, who started the first two games at free safety, saw little action. … Starting strong safety Deone Bucannon, who was suspended the first half for a late hit last week, received a debatable late-hit flag Friday. … Connor Halliday tied his career high of four touchdown passes. He has 13 in six college games. Former WSU and NFL star Drew Bledsoe threw nine TD passes in his first six games. … Leach said offensive lineman Dan Spitz, who started at tackle or guard the first games, did not make the trip for “personal reasons.” Earlier in the week, the Cougars said Spitz had class conflicts. … The Cougars scored their first seven second-half points of the year, but remain scoreless in third quarters. … UNLV is 0-3, with the losses coming by a total of 14 points. “We were down by double digits three times (Friday), we have a lot of character,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. … WSU is 6-0 all-time against the Rebels. … Barely 4,000 tickets are left for next Saturday’s homecoming game in Pullman against Colorado. Barely 2,000 tickets are left for the Apple Cup with visiting Washington on Nov. 23. About 15,000 seats are available for the Sept. 29 “home” game in Seattle with Oregon.