New inside WRs coach means business

PULLMAN — WSU inside receivers coach Eric Morris sat in his office last week following his first night in his new home out in Pullman. He's been on an air mattress for around a month, living in and out of hotels and the homes of fellow coaches. But with all the mayhem regarding his living situation, one thing was clear during his interview with CF.C ... He means business.

The Cougs took a hit with the loss of senior Isiah Barton to graduation. Barton was without question the Cougars' best slot receiver and finished his senior campaign with 49 receptions, 638 yards and five TDs.

WSU returns several players on the inside including Gino Simone and Blair Bomber. Bomber is continuing to recover from a torn ACL suffered last spring but has done well during conditioning drills in the off-season.

"We have a long way to go," the 26-year old Morris said. "We have to find a way to get the most of what we have here. From the tape I've watched I think we have great athletes. I think they've bought in so far to what we're going to do. But obviously, 9-40 over the last few seasons isn't good enough.

"We have to get these kids to buy in and know that losing isn't an option. Some people are complacent around here and we have to change that whole mindset."

One player who has stood out early on for Morris during Midnight Maneuvers has been Simone. The senior-to-be was heavily recruited, 4-star prospect out of Skyline High in Issaquah caught 38 passes for WSU as a true freshman in 2009. But Simone hasn't been a factor since then, in part due to injuries, and only caught four passes for 69 yards this past season.

"I've sat down with Gino and he has one more good run at this," Morris said. "He's going to be a senior, we talked and he's bought into our system. The best player is going to play and someone who is consistent, works hard every day and proves to me that they can get it done on Saturday."

BOMBER IS ANOTHER guy who Morris liked in the pre-spring workouts. He was expected to make a contribution on special teams last year but suffered a knee injury which sidelined him for 2011. That knee now appears to be close to 100 percent, and Morris has enjoyed working with him. "Being healthy is a big deal for us this spring," Morris said. "We want these kids to get as many reps as possible in the short amount of time we have. They're going to be key reps and we have to use them to their full potential so we can get better as a team."

Incoming freshman Robert Lewis is a potential head-turner later this summer. A 3-star recruit from South Gate, Calif., Morris expects big things from him in his Cougar career.

"He's really explosive," Morris said. "That's kind of been the thing that I've been blessed with coming from Houston. We had kids who could just really flat out run and we were able to get them the ball in different ways. I think Robert's going to add a lot of dimensions to our offense. He can play slot receiver, and he can play running back for us. Speed is something that we need around here so I think he'll be very successful in this scheme and we look for him to do a lot of good things."

In the Air Raid, tight ends are used once in a blue moon other than goal line sets. Indeed, a TE might get more snaps during PATs in a Leach offense. TE Andrei Lintz showed glimpses of his potential last season and Morris said that if he can get the job done, he and the rest of the TEs on the team will see the field.

"I've told everyone that it's an even playing field," Morris said. "At some point in two weeks I'm going to have to cut people's reps (and use them) for people that are doing good things out there. From day one I'm evaluating on different levels and I have no reservations. They're going to have to prove each and every day that they're the best player.

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