Cougs banged up but still intense at practice

PULLMAN -- Senior safety Chima Nwachukwu is officially out for Saturday's game with Arizona, Cougar head coach Paul Wulff said Wednesday following another spirited and hard-hitting practice. Freshman Deone Buccanon is expected to start in his place but Anthony Carpenter and Casey Locker could be in line for PT as well.

Nwachukwu, suffering from a hamstring injury that shelved him last week too, was in shorts Wednesday and participated in some light drills, but was a spectator during full contact. Bucannon is the odd-on-favorte to start in place of Nwachukwu but Carpenter and Locker took plenty of reps with the first-team defense, splitting up time with Bucannon.

Carpenter recorded the play of the day Wednesday when he went full extension for a pass deflection against the No. 1 offense. On a 4th- down play, QB Jeff Tuel rolled out of the pocket and fired a 15-yard rope to Daniel Blackledge in the corner of the end zone. Blackledge appeared to have hauled in the scoring strike when Carpenter dove to his right and knocked the ball loose.

"It was a hard practice," Wulff said. "They grinded through it pretty good and thought it was a pretty good days work."

The hard hitting was on prime display as the first-team units were hard at work getting ready for heavily favored Arizona (4:30 pm kickoff, Versus TV). The Cougs saw a linebacker's day cut short again Wednesday, when backup Arthur Burns tried to bring down RB James Montgomery and landed awkwardly. Burns sat out for the rest of practice with what looked to be a left knee injury.

WIL LB Sekope Kaufusi, went down during practice on Tuesday with a knee injury and was a spectator Wednesday. Wulff said after practice that Kaufusi should be able to return to Thursday's practice.

Alex Hoffman-Ellis was more involved on Wednesday than he was early this week, but the third-year junior was a spectator during full contact drills. Wulff also said after practice that Hoffman-Ellis should be fine for Saturday. Meanwhile, MLB C.J. Mizell was absent Wednesday because of an academic appointment.

With Mizell gone and Hoffman-Ellis and Kaufusi sidelined, Hallston Higgins and Darren Markle joined Myron Beck in the corps of starting linebackers.

As for the offense, Tuel & Co. looked sharp appeared to have the upper hand over the first- team defense when they squared off for 11-on-11's.

"We got a lot of good things done," Tuel said. "We got a little flat in the middle of practice but I think we came out out it and did a good job of finishing strong."

Much discussion on the Cougars offense over the past few weeks has been their improvement against quality teams. Tuel has certainly stepped up his performance as of late, but told CF.C Wednesday that none of this progress means a thing, unless the team can pick it up and put some numbers in the win column.

"To win ball games really, that's our number one goal down the stretch," Tuel said. "It doesn't matter how many yards we put up or points really, or how much you're improving. It's if you're winning ball games, so that's our main goal."

When the Wildcats roll into Pullman this weekend, they bring one of the best defenses in the conference.

"They've got a lot of athleticism, they've got guys that fly around and are fast," Tuel said. "They got some pretty good d-lineman, their d-ends are probably their strongest position. Hopefully we can handle those guys and we'll have a pretty good shot I think."


  • RT Micah Hannman (concussion) and RB Chantz Staden (ribs) missed practice again on Wednesday and their status for Saturday remains uncertain. If Hannam can't go, freshman John Fullington will get his first collegiate start.

  • Kickers Nico Grasu and Andrew Furney opened up practice going 3-for-3 apiece on field goal attempts.

  • Cougfan Top Stories