Questions we'd love to ask Cougs, but can't

PULLMAN – Connor Halliday is an articulate young man, but after eight weeks we'd love to see some new blood. No, not behind center. Behind the microphone. There are more than 100 guys on the Cougars, but under the tight management of team messaging, the media horde is only allowed to talk with 3-4 once per week, all hand-picked by head coach Mike Leach.

That leaves a whole mountain of potential questions and feature stories dead in the water.

In-season, Leach only permits players to be interviewed immediately after games, save for 3-4 players he selects for group and possible one-on-one interviews held only on Mondays.

"The access around here that you guys enjoy exceeds, if not anywhere, nearly anywhere," Leach said back in August.

If the restraints were magically lifted, here are the first eight guys we'd ask to talk with and some of the topics we'd want to explore.

1. Brett Bartolone: How tough has this season been on you?
Eight weeks ago, could anyone have predicted the 2012 freshman standout would have just ten catches through eight games. He was suited up at Oregon last Saturday, but didn't get in the game – the third time this season he's been stuck on the sidelines due to injuries -- first to one shoulder and then the other. For a big-time competitor with lots of expectations layered on by the faithful, how hard is to be standing on the sidelines? What kind of mental blow was it to come back from one shoulder ding, only to have the other one go down?

2. Chester Sua: What's the situation?
He has yet to suit up for a practice this season, and the closest we've come to clarity on the situation was defensive coordinator saying in September there's a chance Su's could redshirt this year. But why? Is it the back issue that was bothering him last winter? Academics to get in order? Su'a attends practice periodically, spending most of the time talking with the linebacker group. Breske is believed to be very high on Su'a's talent, but said in February that the Honolulu product needed to decide if he was dedicated to success.

3. Isaac Dotson: What's the roller-coaster ride been like?
In the span of two weeks in August he went from quarterback to linebacker to safety. Three weeks into the season, against Southern Utah, he was on the field. And last week at Oregon he was named a Cougar co-captain, representing the special teams. The old saying that things can happen fast has never been more apt. What's it like for an 18-year-old to be living out that storyline?

4. Bennett Bontemps: Where the heck are ya?
A walk on who played in 32 games over the last three seasons, mostly on special teams, he hasn't been seen since mid-August when he was riding a bike on the sidelines with a boot on one foot. The fourth-year senior from Puyallup, who had moved from receiver to safety in Lewiston, remains on the official roster but hasn't been seen on a bike or a sideline since August 14. Still injured? In the dog house? Redshirting? All of the above?

5. Mike Bowlin: Who suggested the yellow shoes, who suggested they be 86'd and are you glad you finally ditched ‘em?
They would have been fine, an endearing bit of quirky, if he'd been punting the ball well. But when you're ranked near the bottom of the entire FBS and you used to play for Oregon, yellow shoes can only be a distraction. Since ditching them a couple of weeks ago, he's seemed to be longer and more consistent with his boots. But the questions persist. Where did the shoes come and why did you think they'd be a good idea with crimson and gray uniforms? A lucky old pair from back in the day? How much heat did you get from special teams coach Eric Russell for wearing them? And why the mid-season switch to black?

6. Austin Apodaca: How you doing?
Once in a quarterback competition that Leach labeled as neck-and-neck this past spring, Apodaca has thrown 42 passes this season to Halliday's 428. Playing time for Apodaca this season, after the game has been decided, has gone from sparse to virtually non-existent. We'd love to ask Apodaca how you deal with all that goes into being a backup quarterback. And with true freshman Tyler Bruggman gaining acclaim from the assistant coaches for his work in Thursday Night Football (this last session notwithstanding), how does Apodaca view the competition setting up for down the road?

7. Casey Locker: How you doing, Part II?
One man who has seldom been seen in 2013 is senior safety Casey Locker. He's played in all eight games but his primary contributions have come on special teams. At safety, Locker has seen his playing time dwindle with the emergence of sophomore Taylor Taliulu and true freshman Dotson. What's his relationship like with the youngsters? Did his propensity to incur 15-yard penalty flags have anything to do with it? It would be interesting to hear Locker's take. And is he still fighting for something more during practice for these final 4-5 games to come?

8. Gabe Marks: Do you really think that's gonna help your cause?
The sky is the limit out on the field for a wideout whose reception numbers dwarf the other receivers -- in an offense that is designed to spread the ball around. But he tweeted the other day that campus coeds need to start hitting the gym and taking care of their bodies, adding that "seeing y'all get big aint cool mann..." No wonder Leach banned twitter last year.

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