Some twists on spring football at WSU

IT'S CLEAR THE legendary poet Alfred Lord Tennyson was neither a sports fan nor a Cougar. "In spring," he famously wrote, "a young man's fancy turns lightly toward thoughts of love." Not in these parts, fancy boy. Here, one's thoughts turn toward the crackin' of helmets. Spring workouts commence at WSU on March 7. In addition, crimson eyes this spring will be focused up the highway in Spokane.

Yep, while spring practices begin in Pullman, they will end in Spokane on April 16, when the Cougars play their spring finale, the Crimson and Gray Game, in Joe Albi Stadium.

This will mark the Cougars' first trip to Albi since the 2001 spring game. But more important, it's another of example of how serious athletic director Bill Moos is about turning the Lilac City into a stronger bastion of crimson support.

Besides the Crimson and Gray Game, WSU will be in Spokane for two other events that week. On April 11, the brand new football uniforms that Nike has created for the Cougars will be unveiled, and on April 15 and 16 Paul Wulff and his staff will conduct a coaches' clinic at the Red Lion Hotel downtown.

These moves are just the latest in a series by Moos to step up WSU's presence in Spokane, which is by far the largest community in Eastern Washington but one where WSU has not maximized marketing efforts over the years. Moos has a regular Monday morning radio show in Spokane with Bud Nameck on KXLI 700. He also typically works out of Spokane a couple of days a week. In addition, he's put together some cooperative marketing deals with the Spokane Shock of the Arena League in an effort to get those spirited fans standing in the Cougars' corner as well.

START TIME FOR THE Crimson and Gray Game on April 16 has yet to be determined, but given the coaching clinic Wulff will be hosting earlier in the day it's probably a good bet that kickoff will be around 2 or 3 p.m., with a range of festivities likely surrounding the game.

Wulff is trying something new this spring with workouts. He's starting them before spring break. So the Cougs will hit the field March 7, 9 and 10, be off for spring break, and then return to action March 22 for the final 12 practices and scrimmages. The thinking is it allows the staff more time to evaluate and adjust, if needed, based on how the session unfolds.

Also for the first time since he's been at WSU, Wulff will have enough talent in the ranks to run simultaneous 11-on-11 drills, thus affording significant game-like reps to dramatically more players this spring.

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