The Washington State Cougars haven’t played a football game in 12 days, and they’re happy about it.
Like the Sun Devils, Washington State is coming off a bye week, which was much needed after playing eight straight games. The Cougars don’t get the benefit of a full two weeks off as the game is on a Thursday, but senior safety Deone Bucannon is approaching the week just like any other.
“I haven’t really played many Thursday night (games), but I feel the coaches do a really good job scheduling it just like it was a Saturday game,” Bucannon said. “It’s really no different, we’re just going to go and prepare the same way we normally do.”
The time off has given the Cougars time to get their focus back after losing back-to-back games to Oregon and Oregon State by a combined score of 114-62.
“I just want them to rest a little bit but focus,” coach Mike Leach said. “Get better and utilize our additional time to improve.”
One area the Cougars will be looking to improve is their defense.
The Cougars rank 10th in the Pac-12 in both scoring defense and total defense, allowing 29.9 points per game and 440.1 yards per game.
Senior linebacker Justin Sagote said nothing about ASU’s offense jumps out at him as being particularly bothersome. Instead, his focus is on what his own defense needs to do better.
“We have a lot of problems sometimes with communication on defense,” Sagote said. “I think that’s the only part that really kind of hurt us. … (ASU’s offense) is kind of something we’ve seen. It’s just lack of communication on the defense’s part, but that’s something the bye week will help us with.”
Last year’s contest in Tempe didn’t go the Cougars’ way. Washington State was blown out 46-7. It was the final loss of a dismal 3-9 season.
This season the Cougars are 4-4 and two wins away from being bowl eligible, making their final four games all the more critical.
Senior offensive lineman Elliott Bosch said he will be looking for payback from when the Cougars were shellacked at Sun Devil Stadium last year.
“I think we were going out there trying to prove something last year, and we fell short come game time,” Bosch said.“We have something to prove this year.”
While revenge seems to be on Bosch’s mind, it certainly won’t be on Leach’s.
“That’s a ridiculous motivator,” Leach said. “The motivation needs to be to play the very best that you can.”
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