Oct. 26—Washington State's depth at the running back position suddenly took a hit in recent days.
This week, WSU football coach Jake Dickert announced that top backup Jaylen Jenkins has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. Another backup, Dylan Paine, suffered a high-ankle sprain in the team's 38-24 loss to No. 8 Oregon on Saturday and is inactive.
"There's a standard that we have around here and you've got to follow it ... and that's on and off the field, and those are the choices that we make," Dickert said of Jenkins. "I'm going to leave it at that and we're going to keep moving forward."
The specific rule was not mentioned.
Jenkins had just 62 rushing yards and a 3.1-yard average on the season, but the sophomore's speed was among the best on the team and he was considered the future at the position after senior Nakia Watson departs.
Watson will be backed up by freshmen Djouvensky Schlenbaker and Leo Pulalasi when the Cougars face Arizona State on Saturday.
Schlenbaker and Pulalasi have a combined 84 yards on the season, mostly in mop-up duty.
In the loss to the Ducks, the Cougars (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) looked a bit like their old selves on offense, at least in the passing game.
Quarterback Cam Ward had 438 yards passing, complete with some big scrambles, occasionally changing his arm angle for a side-arm release to avoid a tip and a long-ball down the sideline dropped perfectly into the arms of Kyle Williams for 41 yards in tight coverage.
Plays like those are hard to miss when rewatching the game tape.
"I think through the body or work, Cam Ward has been phenomenal," Dickert said. "I really mean that. I think he gives us the opportunity every week to go out there and win the game."
The downside is it seems like sometimes when the offense does well, the defense has a poor game (against Oregon) and vice versa (the UCLA loss).
The Cougars will have a chance to try to finally shed their three-game losing streak on the road against one-win ASU this weekend (5 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Networks).
The running backs aren't the only group feeling the hurt — the Cougs are also missing some key reserves on the defensive line.
Edge Quinn Roff recently suffered a "medical emergency" that required surgery on an infection, but the junior is doing everything he can to get back on the field.
"I think he's another guy you'll see out here sooner than later because that's the fighting spirit of Quinn," Dickert said. "He'll be back hopefully as soon as possible."
Fellow backup edge Raam Stevenson is also banged up and will miss the Arizona State game.
To add some depth behind starters Brennan Jackson and Ron Stone Jr., defensive tackle Nusi Mulani will play some snaps at the edge position, Dickert said.
Quote of note
"Now you're on the back stretch of the season. When you don't get your way, you really reveal who you are. The last three weeks we didn't get our way. We went in with a mission, didn't get it accomplished, so this team ... we're just fighting for each other, we're fighting for a bowl game, we're fighting to extend the season because we only have 32 days guaranteed left." — WSU coach Jake Dickert
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