PRACTICE: Cougs kick off Apple Cup prep

PULLMAN – The weekend weather forecast calls for rain in Seattle – what else is new? – but the Washington State Cougars can rest assured that weather conditions at Saturday's Apple Cup won't be nearly as challenging as the ones they faced during practice Monday night at Rogers Field.

Rain and icy winds made the upper-30's temperatures feel much colder during the standard, light Monday practice. The Saturday forecast in Seattle calls for a high of 51, a low of 45 and a 70 percent chance of rain.

The Cougars originally planned to practice in their indoor practice facility for the third straight Monday, but the 70-minute practice was held outdoors.

"I gave into those frickin' other coaches," head coach Paul Wulff quipped with a pained expression on his chilled face. "I was for staying inside." Actually, Wulff said, the coaches prefer running skelly drills outside. Also, Wulff said he's a bit wary of the indoor facility's artificial turf after safety Deone Bucannon turned an ankle during last Monday's indoor practice.

Bucannon was limited in Saturday's overtime loss to Utah, and he did not practice full time Monday. Casey Locker, who has seen significant action all season, teamed up at safety with Tyree Toomer most of the time on the No. 1 defense.

DT Kalafitoni Pole back with team at practice Monday after missing Saturday's game to attend his grandmother's funeral.

THE PRACTICE WENT off smoothly after some early barking by coaches. Wulff and his assistants have rarely had complaints about the effort and focus of the Cougars at practices this year.

Like most college teams late in the season, the Cougars had a number of ailing players skip practice or go light. However, WSU's list of walking/limping wounded added three starters after the Utah game.

Isiah Barton watched practice on crutches after suffering a torn anterior ligament in his right knee. Defensive end Adam Coerper sat out while wearing a light brace on his right leg due to a knee injury. Left offensive tackle David Gonzales wore a protective boot on his sprained right ankle.

Barton, WSU's third-leading receiver and top kickoff returner, awaits surgery. Coerper is "questionable" for Saturday.

Gonzales appeared to be walking comfortably. Wulff said Gonzales and Dan Spitz, WSU's other starting offensive tackle, may be sufficiently recovered from their ankle injuries to practice Wednesday. Spitz was out of his protective boot Monday.

AT PRACTICE MONDAY, John Fullington moved from left guard to left tackle, where he started the final five games last season after Gonzales suffered a broken arm. Versatile senior Andrew Roxas filled in for Fullington at guard. Jake Rodgers stayed at right tackle after making his first start Saturday when Spitz was sidelined.

Lenard Williams, whose own knee injury helped Coerper regain the starting job that Coerper lost due to a previous knee injury, remains out. Ditto for cornerback Daniel Simmons, who started seven games before going to a backup role.

Wulff said long snapper Zach Koepp, who was lost to a concussion two games ago, likely will remain sidelined. Wulff said he has been pleased with the work of Koepp's replacement, true freshman Alex Den Bleyker.

Key players like wide receivers Marquess Wilson and Jared Karstetter, running back Rickey Galvin and outside linebacker Sekope Kaufusi practiced sparingly. Only Kaufusi is dealing with a serious injury, as he faces post-season shoulder surgery.

True freshman Chester Su'a, who started for Kaufusi on Saturday, handled most of the practice duties for Kaufusi. Another true freshman, Marcus Mason, showed off his blazing speed while sharing carries at running back with Carl Winston and Logwone Mitz on the No. 1 offense.

Senior Mike Ledgerwood, who started at middle linebacker ahead of C.J. Mizell on Saturday, remained with the 1's on Monday.

Marshall Lobbestael was back in charge of the No. 1 offense after freshman phenom Connor Halliday went down with a lacerated liver Saturday. Lobbestael lacks the mobility and arm strength of Halliday, but the fifth-year senior knows the playbook inside and out and has played quite well at times.

FORMER WALK-ON quarterback David Gilbertson, the son of ex-Washington coach Keith Gilbertson who went on scholie this fall, saw limited action with the 1's. Gilbertson, a redshirt sophomore who threw his only college pass in the season opener against Idaho State, is the No. 2 quarterback this week with Halliday and Jeff Tuel out with injuries.

"He did good (Monday) for a guy that doesn't get a lot of reps," Wulff said. "He's in that film room. He's in every meeting. He's got a very good grasp (of the offense) for the lack of reps he's got."

Redshirt freshman Kristoff Williams handled most of the slot receiver duties with Barton absent. Redshirt freshman Bobby Ratliff and true freshman Isiah Myers took most of the snaps at the outside receiver spots.

Tracy Clark filled in occasionally for starting cornerback Damante Horton and picked off a Lobbestael deep ball. Gino Simone made a brilliant diving catch; scout teamer Kyle Lappano made a one-handed that defied all logic in the rain and cold; and scout teamer Mansel Simmons hauled in a touchdown pass that bounced off the hands of Locker.

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