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November 20, 2012

Quick Hitters: UW vs. WSU

There are several storylines heading into the final game of the Cougars' 2012 season -- a forgettable one, at that.

Travis Long injured?

According to reports out of practice, Travis Long looks to be injured and his status for the Apple Cup is uncertain. Per Leach's injury policy, the extent of Long's injury is unknown and with that uncertainty brings a cloud hovering over Friday's game for numerous reasons.

First of all, and arguably the most important storyline that could unfold is that Long, who has been a staple on the Washington State defense for four seasons, might be unable to play in his final game wearing a Cougars uniform. What a shame that would be after all of the detriment he has gone though - losing nearly 50 games in his four year career, enduring a rough coaching change and never reaching a bowl game, which meant the world to him.

On the field, Long's absence could have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. There's no secret about it, Long is the most influential player on the Cougars defense, leading the team with 9.5 quarterback sacks and seemingly creating pressure on nearly every play. No other player has more than three sacks, so there will be a huge load to lift if Long is unable to lace them up. Logan Mayes, a sophomore, would be in line for increased playing time given Long's absence.

Jeff Tuel playing his final game at WSU?

Jeff Tuel , much like Long, may be playing his final game as a Washington State Cougar. His career has been riddled with what-if's due to an onslaught of injuries, absolutely no offensive line to protect him, and losing season after losing season which can be attributed to a number of things that time won't permit.

The NCAA has yet to rule on Tuel's application for a medical redshirt and a fifth year of eligibility, but the chances of Tuel earning the redshirt seem slim to none. If that is the case, it will mark the end of an four year period with so much potential that never seemed to blossom, for whatever reason. All in all, whether this is the last Tuel will play at WSU, there's no denying that his off-the-field contributions, his leadership and effort will be something that people will always be appreciated.

End of the season that never was

Just over one year ago, Mike Leach was hired to be the head coach at Washington State, the savior of the program, and the man in charge of reinventing the wheel at the helm of WSU. Those lofty expectations, bowl game dreams, and visions of the Air Raid lighting up scoreboards around the Pac-12 slowly dissipated as the Cougars began losing game after game in embarrassing fashion.

Sitting at 2-9 and winless in Pac-12 play, the Cougars have just one game to look forward to - a game that could salvage a season that never was for Leach and the Cougars.

For all intents and purposes, this is a huge game for the program as they look to overcome the entire mishap that was the 2012 season and head into the offseason on a positive note.



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