Tuel cements role as WSU’s starting QB
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Quarterback Jeff Tuel is listed alone as the starter as Washington State prepares for its home opener against Eastern Washington on Saturday.
Last week, Tuel and sophomore Connor Halliday were both listed as possible starters on the depth chart.
Tuel completed 30 of 45 passes against BYU for 229 yards and was intercepted twice as Washington State failed to score a touchdown in a 30-6 loss last Thursday. Tuel also looked a bit slow in releasing the ball and didn’t scramble much when his receivers were covered.
Tuel seemed to have plenty of time to throw, but seemed hesitant to run.
“I’ve made plays with my legs my whole career here,” Tuel said. “I need to continue to do that and give the defense problems with it.”
One place Tuel did shine was slipping away from defenders when it appeared he might be sacked.
“He did get out of some stuff I didn’t think he’d get out of,” coach Mike Leach said.
Tuel said he intends to bring a little more fire to Saturday’s game.
“I maybe tried to play it a little too cool and just be too relaxed,” Tuel said. “I need to let myself out more and let some of my passion for the game out, and do a better job leading and being vocal for my guys on the sideline.”
There has been criticism that the Cougars displayed poor body language when they got down early against BYU, hanging their heads and looking like some had given up.
Leach noticed it and wasn’t happy.
“I won’t hesitate to send some guy to the locker room if he is sitting on the sideline pouting,” Leach said.
Safety Deone Bucannon said the team’s body language drew attention because the Cougars face some heightened expectations this year under Leach.
“It’s new for everyone to have so much faith in us,” Bucannon said. “We need to be more confident in ourselves before anything. That’s what the coaches are instilling in us.”
One bright spot in the BYU loss was the play of the defense in the second half, when the Cougars gave up just six points.
Washington State and Eastern Washington are just 60 miles apart but haven’t met on the football field since 1908.
The Eagles are getting plenty of respect from Washington State this week after beating Idaho 20-3 in their season opener in Moscow last week.
“You don’t go into any football game thinking it’s in the bag,” Tuel said. “We can’t overlook these guys. They’re a good football team.”
The game is the first in the renovated Martin Stadium, which received $80 million worth of upgrades, including a new press box.
Notes: Marquess Wilson has caught a pass in all 25 games of his college career … K Andrew Furney hit field goals from 47 and 41 yards in the second quarter to notch his seventh and eighth straight successful kicks from 40 yards or more, dating back to 2010.