Henley leads WSU Cougars vs No. 15 Oregon to open Pac-12 play

Sep 23, 2022, 1:49 PM

WSU Cougars...

WSU linebacker Daiyan Henley points at the Wisconsin fans after an upset win on Sept. 10, 2022. (Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Through his first three games at WSU, linebacker Daiyan Henley is proving to be one of the most important transfer portal additions in the country.

Huard: Why UW Huskies, WSU Cougars are both back on rise

Much like his team as a whole, Henley gets another big stage to show both he and the Cougars are worthy of even more attention hosting No. 15 Oregon on Saturday.

WSU (3-0) already stole the show once this season with its surprising upset victory at Wisconsin. Knocking off the Ducks would certainly vault the Cougars into the AP Top 25 and into the discussion about Pac-12 contenders.

“I think we’re in a great place,” WSU coach Jake Dickert said. “They have worked their tails off to get here and they’ve earned it. We’re confident in what we need to do.”

Henley, a transfer from Nevada, has been the anchor on a defense that’s performed beyond expectations while the Cougars’ offense has been slow to get going. Henley had a huge day in Washington State’s 38-7 victory over Colorado State last week, registering 13 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles, and was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week.

Henley ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 30 tackles and leads the conference in both tackles for loss (7.5) and sacks (four). The 6-foot-2, 232-pounder from Los Angeles has been especially sharp on blitzes.

“He gained 25 pounds since he’s been here, and his speed and athleticism is matching what we all thought it could be,” Dickert said. “His blitzing ability is off the charts.”

Henley will be challenged Saturday by Oregon’s veteran offensive line and standout quarterback Bo Nix.

Oregon coach Dan Lanning said the Ducks are aware of Henley.

“Athletic ability, motor, versatility,” Lanning said. “They use him in a lot of unique ways.”

The Ducks (2-1) routed BYU at home last weekend, an impressive bounce back after the season-opening blowout loss to Georgia. Oregon used a balanced attack to score on each of its first-half possessions. Nix completed 13 of 18 passes for 222 yards and Oregon’s ground game totaled 234 yards on 43 carries.

Lanning was not satisfied.

“We haven’t played a four-quarter game in all phases,” Lanning said. “There are a lot of things we can get better at.”

Dickert seemed to agree with Lanning’s assessment that the Ducks are still evolving.

“I wouldn’t judge Oregon on that Georgia game,” Dickert said. “Georgia is on another planet. (The Ducks) have improved every week.”


Washington State transfer quarterback Cameron Ward has improved in each game. He threw a season-high four touchdown passes in the blowout win over Colorado State. Ward, who played last year at FCS Incarnate Word, is tied for second in the Pac-12 with eight touchdown passes. His favorite target is Donovan Ollie, second in the league with 19 receptions.


Oregon has won the past three meetings to lead the all-time series 50-42-7. The Cougars’ last win in the series was in 2018, a 34-20 victory in Pullman.


The Ducks’ veteran offensive line hasn’t given up a sack this season. Only four teams in the nation have yet to allow a sack. “Our goal is to win, not on how many sacks we give up in a game,” Lanning said.


After struggling against Georgia, Nix has found his groove. In his last two games, the former Auburn starter completed 80% of his passes for 499 yards and 10 touchdowns with no turnovers. Nix is also capable of making plays with his legs and rushed for three touchdowns versus BYU. “He keeps the play alive and runs very effectively,” Dickert said. “His experience, you can’t replicate it. They did a good job in the portal of upgrading that position. He really has command of the offense.”

Cameron Ward throws 4 TDs, WSU beats Colorado St 38-7


WSU Cougars Martin Stadium...

Brent Stecker

Another WSU departure — voice of the Cougars finds a new home

Add lead play-by-play announcer to the list of key departures from the WSU Cougars, with Matt Chazanow leaving for North Carolina State.

3 days ago

WSU Cougars Oregon 2023...

Cameron Van Til

State of WSU Cougars football and more: Interim AD on the future

WSU Cougars interim AD Anne McCoy joined Bump and Stacy for a conversation about where the Cougs stand amid a future full of questions.

6 days ago

Pac-12 UW Huskies Jadelyn Allchin...

Cliff Brunt

Dominant Pac-12 softball nears end with realignment set to scatter programs

Current members of the Pac-12 have dominated softball for most of its existence. Those programs will spread out next year.

13 days ago

Pac-12 UW Huskies Oregon...

Christian Caple

Caple: The toughest game for each Pac-12 team as they enter new leagues

The 2024 college football season will find 10 of the former Pac-12 members playing in three different conferences.

14 days ago

Apple Cup logo UW Huskies WSU Cougars...

Brent Stecker

The ‘TV’ home for Apple Cup is set, may create some controversy

The TV broadcast of the 2024 Apple Cup from Lumen Field between the UW Huskies and WSU Cougars won't technically be on a TV station.

16 days ago

UW Huskies vs. WSU Cougars in Apple Cup...

Christian Caple

Caple: Why are Apple Cup tickets so expensive? Let’s examine

Early ticket sales for the neutral-site Apple Cup between the UW Huskies and WSU Cougars for 2024 have caused sticker shock.

22 days ago

Henley leads WSU Cougars vs No. 15 Oregon to open Pac-12 play