Mr. Intensity

PULLMAN - - When <b>George Yarno</b> was hired as the Washington State offensive line coach in January, he told the press, "I've mellowed with age." Tell that to his offensive linemen.

"When he first got here it was a little bit of a culture shock," said All-Pac-10 junior Calvin Armstrong.


"He's like another offensive lineman out there, but with a whistle," said senior Billy Knotts.

Watching Yarno coach the linemen on the field is only comparable to Yosemite Sam appearing on MTV's Real World. The same guard-dog bark, but with all the colorful language children would be advised not to watch.

"It intimidates people at first," Armstrong said. "If we come out with the attitude that we'll kick your ass all game long and keep that intensity we'll be able to play with anyone in the nation."

The irony is that Yarno may appear a bully on the field, but when he and his linemen step off you'd think they were old college pals. Yarno teases his player's about anything from their on-field performance to that of their girlfriend's. It's a relationship that is uniquely tight for two parties who have been together only four months, and on the practice field just three weeks.

"I want it to be fun," Yarno said. "If not why do you spend so much time (playing football). Guys who may come out here and watch me may think, ‘golly he's intense,' but there is a time to be intense and a time to come over to my house for dinner. This is the best time of their lives and I want them to enjoy it."

Yarno brings a different approach than that of last year's coach Bob Connelly. Connelly was more of a quiet technician rather than the motivator Yarno is. And while the offensive line has struggled this spring a lot of it comes with new coaching techniques Yarno looks to implant that the players have not mastered yet. The goal is to carve an offensive line - - that last season looked all-world at times and at other times looked more like All-Greater Spokane League players - - into the consistent barricade the offense needs it to be.

"This year it's going to be a more smash mouth, aggressive-go after it attitude" Knotts said.

With that will come the fine-tuning of less-experienced players like senior Patrick Afif and sophomore center Nick Mihlhauser. While Afif is stepping in for the injured Armstrong, Yarno has particularly ridden the two during practices. However, the players seem to respond well to Yarno's hard-nosed attitude and in the long run it should build more depth.

"On the field we're all competitors but off the field we're family," said Knotts.

Expect to see some construction going on at Martin Stadium soon. There will be six new suites put in just underneath the press boxes. The press boxes will be raised to fit the new suites. The suites will cost $25,000 to rent with 12 seats in each one, with room to accommodate more.



The team held the majority of Wednesday's practice in Martin Stadium (the first time aside from the weekend scrimmages) instead of the practice field (Rogers).


 • Most of the day was spent scrimmaging or practicing game-situations and each of the offenses got their shot at trying to crack the first string defense.


 • Two highlights of the day were a 95-yard pass play from Matt Kegel to wide receiver Sammy Moore that he scored on. Sophomore linebacker Brian Hall picked off a Kegel pass after it had been deflected, running it back about 80 yards.


• Yarno said two areas the linemen need to work on are their hand placement and using their feet as a base. He did mention he is pleased with their athleticism.


• Head coach Bill Doba said cornerback Karl Paymah and defensive lineman Josh Shavies have been the biggest surprises this spring so far.


• Running back Lavell Anderson - - who has carried the ball almost every play during weekday practices - - left practice early with an apparent knee injury. There was no official word on the injury. Linebackers Don Jackson and Pat Bennett, safety Jeremy Bohannon, and receiver Trandon Harvey all sat out with minor injuries.

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