Could Simone be the leader this team needs?

PULLMAN – FANS HAVE HEARD IT every year since 2009: This will be Gino Simone's breakout year. The season when he lives up to his potential. Now a senior, Simone was once the most anticipated wideout to join the Cougars since Michael Bumpus. Four years later, Simone finds himself down on the depth chart in a pass-happy offense.

"Gino is someone that comes out and does his job and works hard every day," said inside receivers coach Eric Morris.

Simone has always been regarded as a hard worker, regardless of the coaching staff. His competitive fire is what makes him a crowd favorite. But as a senior, surrounded by freshmen receivers still learning how college football is played, one would expect Simone to have a more defined role in this offense.

"I wouldn't say Gino is someone who people look to in the huddle right now," Morris said. "I don't think this team has any true leaders right now. That's something that we're lacking."

Four years ago, Simone was a four-star recruit out of Skyline High School, the lone blue-chip prospect in Washington State. Many regarded him as a can't-miss prospect. But whether it's been a dropped touchdown pass on the first drive of the 2009 Apple Cup or constant injuries that have plagued his career, Simone just hasn't had a chance to hit his stride.

"He was doing well in camp, but got dinged up," Morris said. "Gino's a tough kid; he played through some stuff, but he's doing a good job for us right now."

Morris added that he is looking for more, and that he believes Simone has what it takes to become the leader this team needs. Still, he has some work ahead of him to achieve that.

"It takes someone at some point to have success to be a true leader," Morris said. "You have your core of guys who are true leaders in the huddle, and with as many snaps as Gino gets, I just don't think it's all there yet."

Simone may get his chance to see some extended playing time this week against Oregon. Freshmen Brett Bartolone and Gabe Marks will start at inside receiver according to the depth chart, but Simone surpassed senior Andrei Lintz for the back-up role.

"We have two guys in there who will play a lot of plays," Morris said. "If they don't win their battles, then the next guy steps in. That's something we need more of in there. We need guys who want to fight and it means something."

Elsewhere on the field Thursday, senior quarterback Jeff Tuel was without the knee brace that had been holding him out of several drills throughout the last couple weeks. Tuel didn't take any snaps with the first team, but seems to be getting healthier.

On the other side of the field, the same sort of optimism didn't ring true.

Scout team quarterback Jesse Brown, a redshirt freshman, exploited the first team defense for touchdown after touchdown from inside the 20-yard line. Brown looked to emulate the read-option offense that Oregon will display Saturday, and he did a good job at it.

The scout team offense scored on four consecutive plays; three from inside the red zone and then after the offense turned around at the 10 and started in the opposite direction, Brown threw a pass down the sideline to redshirt junior Theron West that, for all intents and purposes, would have gone for a 90-yard touchdown if he would have kept running.

The defense is going to have to perform at a much higher level Saturday if it hopes to contain Oregon's explosive offense. Kickoff at CenturyLink field is slated for 7:30 p.m.

The 1's
Running with the 1's for the scrimmage:

OFFENSE
LT- John Fullington (Brevick got some time)
LG- Wade Jacobson (Goetz/Meighen/Brevick got some time)
C- Elliott Bosch (Meighen got some time)
RG- Jake Rodgers (Goetz/Meighen/Brevick got some time)
RT- Gunnar Eklund (Brevick got some time)
QB – Connor Halliday (Jeff Tuel got some snaps)
RB – Carl Winston/Teondray Caldwell/Leon Brooks
X-WR – Marquess Wilson (Dominique Williams got some snaps)
Y-WR – Brett Bartolone (Gino Simone got some time)
Z-WR – Isiah Myers (Bennett Bontemps got some snaps)
H-WR – Gabe Marks (Gino Simone got some snaps)

DEFENSE
LT- Matthew Bock
NT- Ioane Gauta
RT- Xavier Cooper (Steven Hoffart got equal snaps)
BUCK- Travis Long (Logan Mayes got some time)
SAM- Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Justin Sagote
CB- Damante Horton/Daniel Simmons
CB – Nolan Washington/Daniel Simmons
FS- Casey Locker (Tyree Toomer got half the snaps)
SS- Deone Bucannon

SPECIAL TEAMS
LS - Alex Den Bleyker
P - Mike Bowlin
KO - Bowlin/Andrew Furney rotation
FG - Furney
KR - Leon Brooks
PR - Leon Brooks (Rahmel Dockery got some snaps)

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