SPRING DAY 10: Injuries opening opportunities

PULLMAN -- It has been a reoccurring issue for the Cougars this spring and Thursday was no different as another starter was sidelined with an injury. Meanwhile, the secondary welcomed a new face, and senior offensive tackle Rico Forbes continues to battle back from injury and defeat the odds.

Sophomore wide receiver Dominique Williams appeared dazed as he left the turf of Martin Stadium after a collision with safety Casey Locker on a route in the end zone. Williams received treatment for about 15 minutes on the sidelines before exiting to the locker room with a team trainer. WSU doesn't comment on injuries so it was unknown if Williams had suffered a concussion.

Williams was just the latest in a seemingly endless list of injuries suffered this spring.

"The thing about the injury bug is you get to see what these 2s and 3s are made of," defensive line coach Joe Salave'a said. "It just shows the depth we're starting to develop. It's not all bad."

Salave'a used third-year sophomore defensive lineman Darryl Paulo as an example. Despite being undersized and inexperienced at the position, Paulo has been thrust into nose tackle.

"Well we got him in there a little bit and let him swim," Salave'a said. "We envision him playing all over the place."

Speaking of playing all over the place, senior receiver Bennett Bontemps shouldn't get too comfortable catching passes this spring. The aggressive, sometimes antagonistic Puyallup product played a little defensive back in team drills Thursday afternoon, working in with the corners and safeties. Coach Mike Leach said Bontemps is built like a defensive back and may be serviceable noting the lack of depth in the secondary right now.

"He wanted to go over there and try out safety," Leach said. "Seems pretty enthusiastic and aggressive over there."

Bontemps played some safety at Puyallup High School and has always had a bulldog mentality at practice, never backing down from a challenge. With senior Deone Bucannon and redshirt freshman Feddie Davey both out at with injuries, the door is open for some of the youngsters -- or Bontemps in this case -- to come in and make an impact.

ONE PLAYER ASSURED of making an impact this fall is Forbes. Having torn his anterior-cruciate ligament twice already in his young career, Forbes said he's not apprehensive about going out and competing.

He's just hopeful this season will be more gracious to him.

"Coming into this spring my main focus was to not let that injury hold me back," Forbes said. "I just want to make it through a season, man. I just want to make it through this time."

Forbes, noticeably perturbed by his injury-plagued past, has been a rock at right tackle this spring and looks to be in great shape. Having two offseasons and an entire season to workout, examine film and hit the gym will do that.

"Last year, I wanted so bad to be out there with those guys," Forbes said. "It just happened the way it did … it made it impossible."

Now comfortably entrenched in the 1s, the Cougars appear to have their bookend right tackle headed into fall camp, but that wasn't always a sure thing. Forbes said he contemplated leaving Pullman after his second knee tear, visibly anxious by the recollection.

"I had to sit down with my family, my coaches, everyone and we all decided it be best to rehab and keep studying over here," Forbes said. "They all helped me keep my head together, really. It was really tough."

  • While senior cornerback Damante Horton did miss practice, he was riding the exercise back at full capacity, dispelling any notion that his knee injury was serious.

  • The fight of the day may have been between fourth-year junior running back Theron West and third-year sophomore Moritz Christ. This David vs. Goliath story rang true as Christ ended up on the ground, while West did not.

    The starting units for Day 10 were as follows:

    QB: Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca
    RB: Teondray Caldwell and Marcus Mason
    X: Dominique Williams (For most of the practice. Missed the last series)
    Z: Gabe Marks and Kristoff Williams (Several rotations at each WR position)
    Y: Brett Bartolone (Several rotations at each WR position)
    H: Rickey Galvin and Bobby Ratliff (Several rotations at each WR position)
    LT: Gunnar Eklund (Zack Brevick got some time)
    LG: Joe Dahl (John Fullington got some time)
    C: Elliot Bosch
    RG: Matt Goetz
    RT: Rico Forbes (Eduardo Middleton got some time)

    LE: Matthew Bock
    NT: Darryl Paulo
    RE: Xavier Cooper
    BUCK: Kache Palacio (Ivan McLennan ran with the 2s)
    SAM: Cyrus Coen AND Jeremiah Allison
    MIKE: Darryl Monroe
    WILL: Tana Pritchard (Justin Sagote as well, but is battling a shoulder injury)
    CB: Anthony Carpenter
    FS: Casey Locker
    SS: Taylor Taliulu
    CB: Rahmel Dockery

    KR: Leon Brooks, Robert Lewis, Brett Bartolone

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