Tons of stuff going on. Read below for:
1) Scrimmage stuff
2) Andy Mattingly commits
3) Taylor Mays from O’Dea to USC (sorry UW!)
4) Brink runs the first string on Sunday?!?
5) Cougs steal big-time D-end/LB hybrid from Oregon?
6) Cougs AT AUBURN IN 2006??!?!
On the scrimmage, from the Spokesman:
QB Swogger disappointed with his showing
Completes one pass while Brink enjoys better day during Cougar scrimmage
PULLMAN – His first pass of the day provided as much hope as any Cougar fan in the stands could have desired.
Josh Swogger, playing in his first significant live action since last October, dropped back and found a wide-open Troy Bienemann going across the middle of the field for a catch-and-run that totaled 64 yards.
The small group of fans gathered at Martin Stadium for Washington State’s first scrimmage roared their appreciation, and it looked like Swogger was back from the injury struggles of 2004 and ready to win the starting role in this quarterback derby with Alex Brink.
But that completion was his only of the day, as the next seven passes to leave Swogger’s right hand all hit the ground, some barely avoiding defenders’ outstretched hands.
“These last couple of days just haven’t been that good. I don’t know what it is – I just haven’t played that well,” the dejected junior said after his 1-of-8 outing that included a botched handoff in a two-minute drill. “I’ve just got to go home and look at myself in the mirror, get things together, try to shake things up and start playing better. Either I’m going to get better or I’m going to get worse.
“I don’t know what it is. It’s just not coming to me right now. I don’t know if I’m slow on my reads or what it is right now, but I’m just late in throws. I’m not making bad reads, I’m just making bad throws. It’s pretty frustrating. I know I’m better than that and I think the coaches think I’m better than that and expect more than that.”
Brink, the sophomore underdog in WSU’s quarterbacking mix, played appreciably better although he too was quick to admit that an 8-of-15 performance for 68 yards was far from perfect.
“I was inconsistent at times, made a few mental mistakes I shouldn’t make right now,” he said. “But I thought I was throwing the ball well, and hit some good throws.”
Swogger’s struggle to move the first-team offense Saturday afternoon led head coach Bill Doba to backpedal somewhat when asked for an analysis.
“Well, let me look at the video first and see,” he responded. “I saw some dropped passes, sometimes a few protection errors it looked like, possibly. But again, I need to look at the video before I can really make an evaluation.
“We’re not going to pick one just yet.”
Doba did suggest that Swogger may be putting undue pressure on himself, something that could affect his performance.
“He needs to just relax,” Doba said. “He’s trying to be completely error-free, and nobody’s going to be that way.” “
Neither quarterback threw for a touchdown pass as both of the day’s aerial scores came from the second- and third-string offenses. As has been the Cougars’ tendency in recent scrimmages, offensive and defensive first-string units played against each other sparingly and usually went up against backups. And much of the scrimmage was spent getting the newer, younger players an opportunity to take snaps.
But the focus was still on Swogger and Brink, who alternated drives with the first offense. Brink got the team down the field to two touchdowns on the ground – for whatever reason, running backs seemed to find more room with him under center.
Meanwhile, Swogger used that first pass to get the Cougars into field-goal range, but that was it for scoring from the offensive starters.
WSU has another scrimmage Tuesday night and then a third on Friday, and Swogger sounded a lone optimistic note that his first scrimmage back may have been needed to get the rust out. Still, Swogger knows what everyone in attendance also realized: Improvement is a must.
“I know it’s been a long time, but I’ve been playing this game for a while,” he said. “So I expect myself to do things the correct way, and I’m just not getting it done right now. You guys see it on the sidelines and I see it. I know I’m not playing well.”
Here’s some notes from the Spokesman:
Derting probably out next two weeks of practices
PULLMAN – Washington State announced that middle linebacker Will Derting will probably miss the next two weeks of practices because of a left hamstring injury suffered Wednesday.
“Hamstrings, they heal at different rates. I promise you we won’t rush him,” head coach Bill Doba said after Saturday’s scrimmage, growing less serious. “As long as he can get back for the Washington game, I’ll be happy.”
Head trainer Bill Drake said X-rays on the senior captain were negative. The two-week window would extend into the practices directly leading up to the Sept. 1 season-opener against Idaho, but WSU has made no mention of Derting possibly being absent for that game.
Last season, Derting dislocated his wrist at about this time, but still managed to suit up for the opener with a cast over the injury. This is Derting’s first hamstring problem, though, leading in part to the school’s caution in bringing him back.
Senior running back Jerome Harrison lived up to his nickname – “Ghost” – once again on Saturday, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on just six carries.
In what became par for the course this spring, Harrison had a number of long runs including a 51-yarder late in the day.
The running back credited added strength over the off-season as a major aide this fall, though he joked that perhaps at 204 pounds he’s gotten too big for his own good.
“I think I’ve got to miss a couple of days (of eating), you know, do some running,” he said. “Because at the buffet there, they’re feeding us. Man, it’s ridiculous how much we eat. I’ve got to cut down on the Ding-Dongs and the Ho-Hos and the doughnuts.”Position battles
At cornerback, senior Omowale Dada and junior Don Turner are fighting for playing time and both appeared effective in Saturday’s scrimmage. Dada had the advantage coming into camp, and Doba suggested that nothing so far has changed that.
“I think Dada won the job pretty much, almost won the job in the spring,” Doba said. “And it just kind of depends. Don’s been hurt a lot but he’s staying healthy and I think he’s improved each and every day. It’s good competition, and that’s a spot you can roll people in and out a little bit and keep them fresh.”
At kicker, Graham Siderius showed off a refined technique by drilling five kicks – one extra point and field goals from 21, 32, 36 and 49 yards. Loren Langley, who held the job as a freshman for nearly all of last season, had the same five attempts. He made all but the 49-yarder, which sailed just wide right.
The 10 kicks were all attempted with a strong breeze at their backs.Notes
After running a number of tests, WSU has diagnosed tight end Cody Boyd with three benign bone cysts in his right ankle, perhaps causing a stress reaction. The junior will miss 4-6 weeks but will not need surgery for the time being. Boyd dropped out of practice during the fall’s first session when the ankle began causing significant pain. … Another tight end, Jacob McKinney, will miss three weeks because of a cartilage tear in his right knee. … Defensive end Adam West sustained a concussion Friday and will be re-evaluated today. … Freshmen running backs DeMaundray Woolridge and Dwight Tardy, both of whom could play this fall, struggled to gain yards but looked good at times in Saturday’s scrimmage. Woolridge ran for 7 yards on nine carries, Tardy 12 on eight. Doba did compliment the 5-foot-8 Woolridge’s running style and ability after the scrimmage. … Redshirt freshman quarterback Gary Rogers, who could see some playing time in non-conference action this season, threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Benny Ward – most of it after the catch – against the first-team defense. Rogers was 5 of 10 for 64 yards, with one interception as well.
Some stuff on the 4-star, #11 rated safety in the nation, Andy Mattingly:
GOOD NEWS – UW lost out on the heralded Taylor Mays from O’Dea! The bad news is he committed to USC over Michigan and UW, so the fabulous athlete will stay in-conference. I talked to Mead about him and he said he’s regarded as the best overall athlete in YEARS from up here, just amazing.
Sunday morning practice recap includes the news that ALEX BRINK was running the first team offense (and looked good doing it too). I’m telling you, you can FEEL it, and I’ll make the prediction right now – Alex Brink will start the majority of the games in 2005, either by injury, poor performance, you name it, Alex Brink will take more snaps and start more games in 2005:
PULLMAN — With the opener a little over two weeks away, the battle for the starting QB job is heating up. After a Saturday scrimmage marked by inconsistency, Alex Brink and Josh Swogger each ran the offense through a two-minute drill Sunday morning. The kickers, however, looked improved. A true frosh took his shot filling in at middle ‘backer Sunday. Plus, the injury report has three new members — Mullenix, Pitoitua and Bell. And the day is only half over, the Cougs practice later tonight.
Two-a-days continue Sunday, with this evening’s practice slated for 7:30. In a light Sunday morning session, Alex Brink ran the first team offense against the first defense while Josh Swogger led the 2’s against the second team defense.Coach Bill Doba said after practice that no decision had been reached as to who would start at quarterback against Idaho on September 1 and also said his two lead slingers would continue to split time with the first unit in practice.The bottom line is neither Brink nor Swogger has been consistent enough thus far and the naming of a starter doesn’t appear immiment.Brink, however, did look sharp Sunday morning. He marched his unit down the field into a fourth down situation near midfield. The defense held, but coaches ordered the drill forward anyway.Brink then capped the drive with a 30-to-40 yard fade to Jason Hill, catching the receiver in stride in the right corner of the end zone. Brink was five of five on the drive.Swogger hit receivers in the flat on consecutive plays before throwing incomplete on third down. On fourth down, Swogger found tight end Jesse Taylor for what would have been close to first-down yardage, but Taylor dropped the pass and practice came to a close.Gary Rogers also took limited snaps with the first team offense in undefended passing drills.
AT MIDDLE LINEBACKER, Greg Trent, Chris Baltzer and Brian Hall have all taken snaps with the first team in place of Will Derting, (hamstring). Derting will be held out approximately two weeks as the coaches don’t want to take any chances with the All-America candidate.Trent, a true freshman out of Keller, Texas, took snaps with the first team defense at middle ‘backer during the two-minute drill Sunday morning.
THE KICKERS were a combined 6-of-7 during Saturday’s scrimmage, with Graham Siderius and Loren Langley each connecting from 21, 32 and 36 yards. Both were also good on the lone point after attempts they were offered. Langley was responsible for the only miss Saturday, failing to connect on a 39-yard attempt”Not much is different,” Siderius said in comparing last fall camp to this August. “We know each other better, become pretty good friends. Not much different than that. A battle’s a battle.”Both Siderius and Langley have made changes in their kicking styles. Known for his leg strength more than his accuracy during his first three seasons, Siderius said he is focusing on sacrificing some of the boom in an effort to connect on more field goal attempts.”Just hasn’t really paid off,” he said of having a strong leg. “Kind of taking a page out of Drew Dunning ‘s book in terms of, he didn’t have the greatest leg, but the guy was as accurate a kicker as you’re going to get.”Dunning is the all-time Cougar leader in career points. Siderius said he’s already noticed improvement in accuracy and height.Langley’s changes were a little more technical, saying he’s worked on getting back to his high school form after picking up some pressure-induced bad habits in his first season at Washignton State.”I have a year under my belt now and I’m going into camp a lot more confident just in my kicking ability itself,” Langley said. “There’s not much we can do besides just kick. Whoever (the coaches) like better is who they’re going to put on the field.”
NOTESMatt Mullenix (hip), Ropati Pitoitua (thigh bruise) and Ian Bell (ankle stiffness) joined the injury list Sunday. All three are day to day. Mullenix missed Friday’s evening practice, played Saturday and then was out again Sunday. Trainer Brian Oelke said the defensive end experiences pain in the hip from time to time.Oelke said Bell rolled his previously injured ankle in the scrimmage, but didn’t expect the cornerback to miss much time.Arkelon Hall is home for the funeral of Rashaad Green, brother of Cougar walk-on Roc Green, and a high school teammate and friend of Hall’s. Green was killed in a car accident Sunday. Hall will return Tuesday, Doba said.
Doba said receiver Blake Ferguson informed coaches he would be going home, but Doba was unclear as to the details and said he intended to talk with Ferguson.Check back later tonight for the evening report on the 7:30 practice.
In a huge surprise, something I failed to mention before, but A DD Acholonu clone has shown up, a heralded recruit the Cougs nabbed totally under the radar from the Ducks. The player, Lance Broadus, now wears #97 for our Cougs. He was originally signed by the Ducks out of Taft high school as a first-team All-American, choosing the Quack Attack over Nebraska and USC in his final 3 schools. Broadus dominated in high school as a 6-2, 220-pound terror with 4.55 speed. His senior year at Taft, Broadus recorded 94 tackles, forced 6 fumbles with 3 INTs on the way to being named first team all-state. As a junior, he tallied an unreal 144 tackles. Only two linebackers garnered more votes (7) on the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Best in the West list. However he struggled with grades and went the grayshirt route, going to to West LA JC. Meanwhile, another West LA player, Lorenzo Bursey, was on the Cougs radar and they recruited him hard, ultimately getting him to sign and is expected to contribute immediately next year. What I heard is very much under the radar as often happens with grayshirts at JC’s, the Cougs took a run at him as he just jumped off the tape at 6-2, 220, running a 4.5 and making big plays all over the place. Meanwhile Oregon stopped showing him love, for some reason, so the opening was there and we stepped right in. He earned his AA degree, and suddenly, there he was at practice in Crimson! It’s a big, sneaky “get” that Walker and Pflugrad earn high marks for getting. Broadus has 3 years of eligibility and 4 years to be in the program, so keep your eye out for #97!
FINALLY, there is big buzz from over the weekend and we are very close to finalizing an agreement to play Auburn in 2006!?! I heard about this late Sunday, as Sterk told a group of fans at the scrimmage that Auburn initially offered us $500K for a game, and we said no. Then, they came back and said “How about $850K?” and Sterk asked Doba. Doba slept on it, then said “let’s do it.” There is, at this point, no absolute guarantee for a return engagement, and if there is one, it would be a Seattle game. The interesting thing is Auburn’s message boards have been talking about playing us for a few weeks now, so the news is out that it’s close. Auburn rarely plays outside the south, if ever, and will only travel across the country for bigger dates and guaranteed gates, like when they played @USC. But supposedly Sterk is holding out hope that they will come back out here. We’ll see. Personally I hate the idea of going down there and getting killed in the heat. Then again, the game is for 2006, and Doba is absolutely convinced we will be REALLY GOOD next year and has told the media this for some time, and the consensus among the assistants is that the 2006 team is really going to be something. So we’ll see! The announcement per our WSU source is expected at any time.
Meanwhile my co-worker lives 5 minutes from Jordan-Aire Stadium and she can hear the crowds on football Saturdays, and she has offered to host me and my friends for a game down there. Might a trip down there in ’06 be in the cards???