Jake Deckert understands the Apple Cup’s passion and history.
The Washington State interim soccer coach knows what it would mean for WSU fans to end their seven-game losing streak against Washington, and he knows the Cougars have a chance to play in the main Pac-12 game if they do.
But he didn’t want his players to think any of that as they prepared for Friday’s competition game at Husky Stadium.
“There is a history and passion for this game in Coug fans across the country, and we respect that, we understand that, and we are excited to represent our team, our university and every player who has come here 2-2 since taking over as Nick Rolovich,” said Deckert, who is 2-2 since taking over as Nick Rolovich. , but at the same time I think you can put undue pressure on (yourself) by understanding the stress of the past or what happened in the past.
“This is our moment, Team 2021, and we are trying to be 1-0 (in the Apple Cup). … We love that this is a passionate game for our country and our alumni base, and our players are excited to play in. But at the end of the day, let’s focus on what we can Control it to be 1-0. It’s not about the past record, it’s about our team being 1-0 after Friday night.”
Washington State qualified to beat Arizona last week, and the potential prize for Friday’s win could be even greater.
That’s because if Washington State wins and Oregon launches a upset against Oregon on Saturday, it would be a three-way tie at the top of the Pac 12 North standings. WSU will win the tiebreak over Oregon and Oregon State—with the best Northern Division games record with a 4-1 score—and play in the 12-pac title game.
Not that Deckert wants to discuss the matter much.
“My biggest message to men – their heads are not in the sand and they hear and understand – but we need to control what we can control,” said Deckert. “So we understand (the situation), but we’re not going to talk about it a lot… It’s exciting, but we don’t have control over these things.”
Deckert doesn’t want this year’s team to be saddled with its recent Apple Cup history, but there is a slew of seniors leaving – at least 14 – who have never won any and want badly.
Symbolic of the game’s importance are the Apple Cup countdown clocks that Rolovich installed last year when he was appointed; They stay where they are.
“We have one next to our staff offices to look at and one in the locker room for the players to see,” Deckert said on Tuesday of the countdown hours. “If you want to win competitive games, there has to be a greater commitment. And I think that’s what the hours are. We have to commit daily to what we’re trying to do to win this match and not just match week. What we do 365 days a year to compete and that’s what that represents ( hours) for our programme.
The second game week began after the 44-18 win over Arizona, when Deckert said he saw a different atmosphere as the players walked off the field.
“It was just players who understood what was ahead of us, the passion for this game and how we wanted to finish the game,” Deckert said. “It’s not just about the Apple Cup, but we want to finish the season well and prepare for what could be coming.”
Midfielder Jihad Woods, 6, spoke to reporters last Friday night about what winning the Apple Cup would mean to him.
“I’m thinking about it now,” he said after the win over Arizona. “I think about it right away. I want to win this very bad game, not just for my teammates and coaches that I have now, but for my teammates who haven’t won it in the past five years, I’ve been a part of playing in an apple cup. It’s a very important thing. As for me, I wouldn’t take this week lightly.”
The Cougars are a 1/2 point favorite for a win, but Deckert knows that Cougars are very challenging.
“We know it’s going to be a tough environment, we know it’s on the way, we know it’s probably going to rain,” he said. “But we have to control the things we can control – that is our attitude, our focus and our technique. That is the mentality of the week.”
Deckert said Tuesday that Daniel Issum and cornerback Chau Smith-Wade, who suffered undisclosed injuries against Arizona, are under doubt to play in the Apple Cup.