Washington State’s Peyton Pelluer (Nez Perce Tribe) ready to shake opening-game jinx

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WSU dropped its last two season openers, and linebacker Peyton Pelluer says it’s all ‘a mental thing.’

By JIM ALLEN of The Spokesman-Review

LOS ANGELES — Bring on Montana State.

Sept. 2 can’t come soon enough for Washington State linebacker Peyton Pelluer (Nez Perce Tribe) and the Cougar defense.

Burying the Bobcats would go a long way toward burying the past — namely opening day losses the last two years to FCS teams from Portland State and Eastern Washington.

The Washington State linebacker was fully prepped for that question during Thursday’s Pac-12 Media Days event, and the larger one: Why can’t the Cougars win on opening day under coach Mike Leach?

“It’s definitely a mental thing,” Pelluer said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve been through that.”

Both times, the Cougars recovered and went on to bowl games.

“That’s a mental thing, too,” Pelluer said.

Leach agrees.

“Last year we were predominantly freshmen and sophomores, and I think we struggled as far as adjusting to being on the field for the first time in some cases,” said Leach, who’s 0-5 in openers since he arrived in Pullman in 2012.

“(We) go out there, first game, college football, first time. All of a sudden, eyes got wide and we tried to do too much,” Leach said.

That didn’t lessen the sting. Run into the ground by Portland State in 2015 and passed silly by Eastern Washington last year, Pelluer and the Cougars defense get another dose of the Big Sky Conference when Montana State comes to Pullman on Labor Day weekend.

That one will be special for Pelluer. Current MSU coach Jeff Choate was a linebackers coach at WSU in 2012, the year Pelluer committed to the Cougs out of Sammamish, Wash.