Cougs dial back usual Full Contact Tuesday

PULLMAN -- With the number of injuries growing -- WSU's schedule has 11 straight weeks without a bye and Stanford will mark their fifth opponent over the first eight games ranked in the Top 25 -- it was time for a change. Paul Wulff mixed up the practice schedule and for the first time this season, the Cougs were in shoulder pads and helmets for the Tuesday session rather than going full contact.

An emphasis on full contact has been the norm the last three weeks, but the Cougs took it down a notch Tuesday night as they try to get healthier for Saturday's tilt with the No. 12 Stanford Cardinal, the third straight week, and the fourth of five weeks, WSU has faced a Top 25 opponent.

Overall, as of Saturday WSU will have played five teams ranked in the Top 25 over their first eight games.

"The banging has helped in the games, but we don't have any byes so we cut it down a bit," James Montgomery said.

Daniel Simmons said going shoulder pads and helmets on Tuesday, rather than full contact, shouldn't stop the Cougs from making strides.

"Last week we had a couple of guys (Sekope Kaufusi, Arthur Burns) go down in practice and that's terrible to see," Simmons said. "This is very beneficial to what we're doing right now. We're still trying to grow, breakthrough, and play real Cougar football."

RETURNING ON TUESDAY were CB Aire Justin (knee) and DT Brandon Rankin (rest). Both went full speed. Rankin ran with the 1's, while Aire Justin was the primary backup for Simmons and CB Nolan Washington.

LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis (back) was a spectator, as he was on Monday, so Sekope Kaufusi stepped in for the second straight day at the WIL with the 1's. He was joined on the first team by SAM Myron Beck and MLB C.J. Mizell.

Simmons said the D's focus this week is on toughness.

"You can expect us to be tough simply for the fact that they're going to be tough," Simmons said. "They pride themselves on being tough, so we just have to match toughness with toughness. It's going to be a battle with our defense and their offense."

OVER ON THE other side of the ball, o-line coach Steve Morton continues to work on ways to replace starting LT David Gonzales, who suffered a season ending broken arm against Arizona. True Freshman John Fullington saw virtually all the action Tuesday at left tackle, while Wade Jacobsen was the backup. LG Andrew Roxas continued to see some turns running with the 1's as well, when Jacobsen would slide down to LT.

RT Micah Hannam (concussion), who had his consecutive start streak snapped last week, went full speed for the second straight day on Tuesday, though he remained in a yellow no-contact jersey. Usual TE Skylar Stormo again saw plenty of action with the 2's at RT for the second consecutive practice.

As reported earlier, Alex Reitnouer could possibly see his redshirt pulled if needed. He was much more active on Tuesday, running with the 2's at LT.

Due to injuries, Wulff reluctantly was forced to play Reitnouer last year after the 6-5, 270-pound true freshman initially was targeted for a redshirt. Wulff then hoped to redshirt Reitnouer this season, but the Cougs' depth at tackle is thin and injuries have begun to pop up with more frequency as the Cougs' schedule offers 11 straight games without a bye, before a three week layover prior to the Apple Cup.

WSU QUARTERBACK Jeff Tuel and the offense were moving around with a little extra intensity on Tuesday.

"We've been in the games and we know we can compete with anybody -- so it's all about our execution," Montgomery said.

"We (the offense) had two big games against UCLA and Oregon but then we came out against Arizona and we were flat and it showed. (Arizona's defense) just outplayed us so our goal is to be physical and tough."

Senior Safety Chima Nwachukwu remained sidelined with a strained hamstring injury. He continues to do plenty of rehab work on the sidelines, however. Wulff said earlier this week that Nwachukwu is questionable for Stanford.

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