Here are some odds and ends as the Cougars get ready to kick off the 2005 season this Thursday night against Idaho...
With Ropati Pitoitua out for the first half of the season, it has been a derby to replace him in the starting lineup between true freshman Fevaea'i Ahmu and senior Bryan Olson. The Cougs have announced that Ahmu will get the nod to start against Idaho. Coach Doba said earlier about Ahmu, "He has instincts at defensive tackle like Will Derting does at linebacker. He has a nose for the football." The battle for the starting placekicking job is still up in the air and could well be a game time announcement. Both Graham Siderius and Loren Langley have looked good in practice and scrimmage and the competition has been very tight. What is clear is that Siderius will handle kickoffs as he gives the Cougars another potential tackler on the field, while Langley will handle PAT attempts.
Ahmu is not the only newcomer to be tabbed for a key role in the opener against the Vandals. JC transfer DeWayne Patterson has moved into the starting free safety spot in the absence of Husain Abdullah. Backing up Patterson will be Michael Willis. The kick return duties are entirely up to the new guys. Return duties are slated to fall to Lorenzo Bursey and Brandon Gibson. Bursey, a JC transfer, has also moved into the backup spot at cornerback behind Alex Teems while true freshman Gibson is the backup flanker behind Chris Jordan.
Coming into the game, the Cougars have a dominating overall record of 67-17-3 against Idaho. WSU is also riding a seven game non-conference win streak in Pullman. The last time the Cougars lost a non-conference game at home was to the Vandals in 2000. That was also Idaho's last victory in the series.