A young WSU team made progress last season despite a 2-10 record, and safety Tyree Toomer and offensive guard John Fullington seem rather peeved that a lot of folks are picking the Cougars to finish last in the Pacific-12 Conference North Division.
"We don't listen to that kind of stuff," Toomer said. "That's all people on the outside looking in. They don't really know what's special brewing here."
"We know how good we are and what we're going to do this year," Fullington said. "Outside distractions, we're not even paying attention to that."
Toomer and Fullington had a quick response when asked about team goals.
"Bowl game," Toomer said. "Definitely."
"I'm telling everyone we're going to a bowl game," Fullington said. "Nothing less."
Running with the 1's on Day One:
QB: Jeff Tuel
X receiver: Marquess Wilson
Flanker: Isiah Barton
Z receiver: Jared Karstetter
(note: TE Andrei Lintz, WRs Gino Simone and Bobby Ratliff and FB Jared Byers also saw frequent action with the No. 1 offense).
LT: David Gonzales
LG: John Fullington
C: Andrew Roxas
RG: B.J. Guerra
RT: Wade Jacobson
RB: Logwone Mitz (Rickey Galvin also saw substantial action)
LE: Travis Long
LT: Toni Pole
RT: Anthony Lurenzi
RE: Ian Knight (Knight moved to RT when Jordan Pu'u-Robinson played RE)
SAM: Sekope Kaufusi
MIKE: Mike Ledgerwood
WILL: Alex Hoffman-Ellis
LCB: Nolan Washington
SS: Deone Bucannon
FS: Tyree Toomer
CB: Damante Horton
Practice summary: The hot day took a toll on a few players who lost their lunches as practice unfolded. However, most players displayed plenty of energy and enthusiasm in a 2 1-2-hour workout at the Rogers Field practice facility outside Martin Stadium.
"It was good," coach Paul Wulff said. "Really good for the first day."
"It was OK," Fullington said. "OK to good. We've just got to sharpen up."
"Overall, we did pretty good," Toomer said, "minus a few mistakes on the defensive side of the ball. A couple checks weren't made."
Like many Football Bowl Subdivision players, virtually all the Cougars spent the majority of the summer on campus for "voluntary" workouts. Football shape is different than workout shape, however.
"It's hard to simulate the football part of conditioning … but I thought the guys did a really good job of grinding through," Wulff said.
In addition to practice, players attended meetings and lifted weights.
Session highlights: The Cougars have talent, size, experience and depth at wide receiver, and that was readily apparent in the first practice.
Several drops were made, but impressive catches were ralso ecorded by the likes of Marquess Wilson, Jared Karstetter, Isiah Barton, Bobby Ratliff and Kristoff Williams.
Barton made a nice, sliding catch early. Later, Wilson got behind the defense and made a leaping grab of a deep ball from Jeff Tuel.
Tuel looked sharp running and passing in the shorts-and-helmets, no-tackling workout.
Heralded freshmen running backs Rickey Galvin and Marcus Mason showed great quickness and cutting ability.
Coaches continue to press the offense to play more up-tempo. Shouts of "Play fast!" and "Tempo! Tempo! Tempo!" were heard repeatedly.
Wulff, asked to name newcomers who impressed him most, mentioned Mason, freshman wide receiver Dominique Williams and junior defensive end Lenard Williams. The latter is a junior college transfer.
Freshman defensive tackle T.J. Poloai certainly impressed Jeff Waldner, a redshirt freshman walk-on. Poloai cleanly beat Waldner two straight plays with swim moves during a 1-on-1 drill in which linemen square off in between a pair of cones 6 feet apart.
The 1's played the 1's and the 2's played the 2's simultaneously on the two fields in 11-on-11.
"We've never been able to do that," said Wulff, citing a lack of depth in his previous three years as coach. "Finally, the numbers are building."
The Cougars again practice in helmets and shorts Monday, then add shoulder pads Tuesday and Wednesday before donning full pads Thursday.
Practices are open to the public, free of charge.
Players are wearing WSU's new practice jerseys, which feature the new Cougars font that has a slight "flair" in the upper left corner of the left number.
Lobbestael helping: Backup quarterback Marshall Lobbestael had a pass picked off early by linebacker Darren Markle, but Lobbestael also attracted attention by lining up to block on the punt team.
"He wants to help any way he can," Wulff said of the fifth-year senior, who is known for his enthusiastic, team-first attitude.
Missing men: Several freshmen, many of them walk-ons, were missing due to delays with academic or medical paperwork.
Missing veterans included linebacker C.J. Mizell (personal reasons) and safety Anthony Carpenter (delayed flight). Wulff said both should be on hand Monday.
WULFF SAID offensive lineman Alex Reitnouer, who sat out last season with back problems, may be forced to give up football after undergoing his second back operation last spring. Reitnouer is expected to miss at least two weeks of practice and may be limited to long-snapping duties – if that – once he arrives.
The 6-foot-4 Reitnour, who has been unable to lift weights, is listed at 242 pounds. He was listed at 270 last year. He started four games as a true freshman in 2009.
Wulff said he's "pretty confident" that wide receiver-kick returner Rahmel Dockery and offensive lineman Alex Mitchell will be cleared academically. Another freshman, offensive lineman Wendell Taiese, also has yet to be cleared.
Two other freshmen recruits, defensive end Demetrius Cherry and linebacker Brock Lutes, are set to play at junior colleges after failing to qualify academically.
Wulff said freshman safety Max Gama's grayshirt status (January enrollment) may be lifted and he could join the team this fall; JC defensive end Eli Edwards is still grayshirting; and JC defensive end recruit Niko Aumua may be invited to enroll in January if he earns his Associate of Arts degree.
-- Losing bleachers: The upper bleachers at the west end of Martin Stadium are being removed for make room for a private reception area for fans.
All west-end seats are expected to be replaced by a new football operations building in 2013.
Practice video clip from WSU Athletics: