Football holds home opener

WSU football will be heavy favorites this weekend as they take on San Jose State University in its home opener.

Last time out the Cougars (1-0) traveled to Laramie to face University of Wyoming (1-1) for their first game of the season and WSU came out on top 41-19.

Starting Sunday night after the win against the Cowboys, Head Coach Mike Leach started to watch film to prepare for San Jose State (0-1).

The Spartans are going through a similar challenge to that of WSU in deciding who will be at the helm for the offense. San Jose State is shuffling between three different quarterbacks right now which can throw a wrench in just about any coach’s game plan.

“It’s difficult for anybody to prepare for this,” Leach said. “San Jose State’s wide receivers have to catch three different types of passes … [defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys] is smart and he’ll figure out how to stop them.”

There is more to San Jose State than just the quarterback position, though. In comparison to last week’s game against Wyoming, Leach felt that San Jose State would provide more of a challenge.

“Wyoming’s fast guys never really broke away from our defense, but San Jose State has some sneakier, quicker players,” he said.

The Cougars started last weekend’s game against the Cowboys with an opening drive that went the length of the field only to fall short of the end zone and ultimately cap off with a field goal. The rest of the first half went back and forth, with both Wyoming and WSU driving the ball and turning it over on downs, but for a while things turned ugly for the Cougars.

A fumble and a bad snap on a punt on back-to-back plays made it seem as if the team was in dire straits.

“You just have to punch your way back sometimes,” Leach said, “and I think we did that really well in the second half. The first half we worked out the kinks with the young guys.”

The second half the Cougars turned it around and managed to come back and take the lead against the Cowboys. Ultimately the game looked as anyone would expect the first match-up of the season to go, Leach said.

“We could have done better, we could have done worse,” he said.

Meanwhile, San Jose State lost its first game on Aug. 30 against University of California, Davis (1-0), 44-38. The two were tied at 14 after the first quarter, but in the second quarter the Aggies added 21 points to their score while holding San Jose State to just seven.

The second half seemed like the Spartans were going to make a comeback by putting up 10 points in the third and keeping UC Davis from scoring. Going into the fourth quarter down four points, both the Aggies and the Spartans would only add one more touchdown to each of their scores, putting the lead out of reach for San Jose State.

But SJSU Head Coach Brent Brennan seemed confident in his team despite the tough loss.

“That’s football 101,” he said. “Win or lose, you have to flush it and get ready for the next one.”

Brennan said his team is ready for Saturday’s game in Pullman.

“We weren’t good enough to win that game [against UC Davis],” Brennan said, “but we have been working hard since Thursday night to get ready for Washington State.”

This is a tough game coming up for the Spartans, because they haven’t won against a Pac-12 team in almost 12 years. Brennan has been looking at film and thinking of what they must do differently.

“We have to do the things we didn’t do against UC Davis,” he said. “First and foremost, we have to win the turnover battle, which we didn’t do last Thursday.”

The game will also hold special significance as Tyler Hilinski will be honored by his family, former teammates and fans.

Hilinski’s family will raise the Cougar flag to start the night, and a banner for the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation, which was started by the Hilinski family to raise awareness for mental health, will hang in Martin Stadium. Players will remember their teammate by wearing a decal with Hilinki’s No. 3.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Saturday at Martin Stadium. The game will also be broadcasted live on Pac-12 Networks.