PULLMAN The Washington State Cougars, licking wounds both physical and mental, enter their only bye week this season with a long list of injured players and a full-blown debate over their starting quarterback.
Connor Halliday was benched in favor of former starting quarterback Jeff Tuel for the second straight week in the Cougars 31-17 loss to California late Saturday night at Martin Stadium.
Just as he did the previous game at Oregon State, Halliday threw a pair of first-half interceptions. Unlike at OSU, Washington State coach Mike Leach did not bring Halliday back to start the second half Saturday.
Three WSU starters left the game with injuries wide receiver Marquess Wilson, running back Teondray Caldwell and linebacker Darryl Monroe. In addition, starting cornerback Damante Horton may be hurt, because he saw little or no action.
The Cougars (2-5 overall, 0-4 Pacific-12 Conference) will return to action Oct. 27 at 17th-ranked Stanford (4-2, 2-1). Washington State has lost four consecutive games, and eight straight to California (3-4, 2-2).
Halliday threw for 55 yards on 3-of-9 passing accuracy 40 yards coming on a beautiful deep ball to Wilson and also had a fumble before he was benched 8 minutes into Saturdays game. Halliday has completed 52.7 percent of his passes for 1,339 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in six games.
A crowd of 27,339 the first 10,000 fans received a coach Mike Leach bobblehead turned out on a pleasant evening. Tuel, a senior who ranks high in several all-time passing statistics at WSU, looked sharp at times despite facing a good pass rush and having receivers drop several passes.
Fans cheered when a video of former WSU and NFL player Steve Gleason speaking with considerable difficulty was shown at halftime. Gleason suffers from ALS, and Washington State is helping Gleason raise funds to fight the fatal disease.
The video was shown on the main scoreboard, which did not provide the game time, score or other statistical information because of an electrical malfunction.
There was little use for the scoreboard in the first half, which was bogged down by a series of team timeouts, TV timeouts for commercials and video reviews of plays.
Halliday and Cal quarterback Zach Maynard both threw a pair of interceptions in the first quarter. Maynard capitalized on Hallidays second interception, completing a short pass to star receiver Keenan Allen for a 69-yard score with 5:55 remaining in the first quarter. Allen victimized safeties Deone Bucannon and Casey Locker with ankle-breaking moves.
The Cougars settled for a 20-yard field goal by Andrew Furney at 10:14 of the second quarter after failing to score on four plays after Gabe Marks fumble just outside the goal line was overturned following a video review.
Two of the most penalized teams in the country both drew a penalty in the non-scoring sequence.
Maynard and Allen hooked up three times in the ensuing possession before C.J. Anderson scored from 4 yards out with 6:35 remaining in the first half.
The Bears expanded their lead to 21-3 on the opening drive of the third quarter, methodically marching their way down the field before Maynard scored from a yard out with 10:58 to play.
WSU slot receiver Brett Bartolone, continuing to start and play well as a true freshman, caught a pair of touchdown passes from Tuel in the second half.
Cals Vincenzo DAmato kicked a 52-yard field goal with 2:02 to go in the third quarter, and the Bears led 31-10 early in the fourth quarter when C.J. Anderson broke free on a 29-yard touchdown run.