Defensive changes in the box?

PULLMAN -- The Cougs are keeping a close eye on two defensive starters this week –- one d-tackle and one linebacker -- who are questionable with injury for Saturday's home opener against Montana State. If they can't go, who are the replacements, and how did they do in Wednesday's full contact session?

Some starting positions remain in the air for Saturday's home opener, with DT Bernard Wolfgramm (shoulder), and MLB Mike Ledgerwood (stinger) both missing their second consecutive practices of the week with injuries.

In place of Wolfgramm was DT Anthony Laurenzi who along with DT Brandon Rankin on Wednesday, put forth a good amount of pressure on the QBs and had a consistent stop of Cougar running backs at the line.

Wulff said both Wolfgramm and Ledgerwood will try and go to close out the practice week, but their status remains uncertain and might not be known until game time.

"I think questionable, so we'll see how they respond over the next couple of days," Wulff said.

As for Ledgerwood's replacement, Hallston Higgins saw virtually all the time at the MLB spot.

Higgins is coming off a great spring camp and a solid fall session, where he earned a good deal of praise from Wulff. The redshirt senior has been a vocal leader for the Cougar defense when he's on the field.

"He's doing a good job, he's a veteran," outside ‘backer Alex Hoffman-Ellis said. "He's got veteran poise, he's confident and he talks out on the field too which is good. He'll let you know if you need to be somewhere, he'll check with you on the field too, so it's good to have that veteran role out there."

Hoffman-Ellis reiterated to CF.C the Cougars learned from their mistakes in Stillwater and have been correcting them this week. Perhaps the biggest issue the Cougs needed to correct this past Saturday, he says, was just to keep their heads up and remain mentally tough.

"I think the biggest thing is we have to keep fighting," Hoffman-Ellis said. "We can't get down on ourselves if something goes wrong. The teams we play against, no matter who they are, they're going to make plays and it's our job to just fight through that, not let it get us down and say, here we go again."

The talk around cyberspace and on the airwaves has been about a ‘must win'. Jeff Tuel, however, said that's not the mindset among the players –winning every week is where the focus lies.

"I don't really know, it's not something I really think about," Tuel said. "We know we have to win that's the bottom line week in and week out. We're just preparing the same way and trying to win a ball game. We're not treating this one any different than any other one."


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