Dean Janikowski boots career-long FG, Ward uneven in Cougars opener against Colorado State

Sep. 2—FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Dean Janikowski might have increased his range over the offseason.

That became clear right before halftime of Washington State’s season opener against Colorado State on Saturday when the Cougars faced a fourth-and-3 from the Rams’ 38. WSU head coach Jake Dickert elected to send out Janikowski, hoping to get a few points out of the drive.

Janikowski made Dickert look like a genius. His 55-yarder sailed right through the uprights, and it looked like it would have been good from 5 or 6 yards farther out.

That’s how the Cougars entered halftime with a 17-3 lead on the Rams.

Cougars make right moves

WSU offensive lineman Christian Hilborn made his debut in the first quarter, slotting in at left guard. He had missed more than a week of fall camp practice and was listed with an “or” next to Brock Dieu. But because he was mixing in with the starters toward the end of fall camp, it was hardly a surprise to see him return early in the game.

To make that move, Washington State subbed out Dieu and moved Ma’ake Fifita to right guard, where he played for two games last season. He’s usually at right tackle, but those snaps went to Fa’alili Fa’amoe and backup Christy Nkanu.

Even more notably for WSU’s offensive line, transfer left tackle Esa Pole helped hold CSU defensive lineman Mohamed Kamara to two tackles in the first half — including no sacks and no tackles for loss. For the Cougars, limiting his disruption and giving quarterback Cameron Ward time to throw was paramount.

Tricks, not treats

WSU showed a willingness to attempt 2-pointers — and not always to encouraging results. After their first two touchdowns, the Cougars lined up for what looked like a trick play on the extra point, only for Janikowski to line up and boot it through the uprights.

When WSU created some separation, though, coaches decided to open up the playbook on extra points. They drew up a Lincoln Victor rush twice and failed to convert.

A few things to fix

Ward coughed up a fumble in the first quarter and did the same in the third. Before his second fumble, he had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage. The only reason why it didn’t go for an interception was because a CSU linebacker dropped it.

WSU’s rushing attack didn’t exactly show up. Starting running back Nakia Watson totaled just 8 rushing yards by midway through the third quarter. Backup Jaylen Jenkins posted four carries for 13 yards. Ward might have been his team’s best runner in the game.

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