THE COUGS DON'T have a lot of time before their bowl game on Dec. 21 to get in their practices – especially when it comes to the youth. But Mike Leach's Cougars are at least better equipped to deal with a short bowl game turnaround than are many other schools when it comes to younger player development. The reason for that is…

Thursday Night Lights.

A TV broadcasting crew a couple Saturdays ago was gushing about how Penn State coach Bill O'Brien this year dedicated extra time during the practice week to his younger players – casual viewers might have thought O'Brien invented the concept. Of course, Leach has for years been putting his true freshmen, scout teamers and young guys on center stage in practice each week during the regular season.

For the first three bowl practices held last week, the Cougar youth again was in the spotlight after the starters and veterans went through a short session and were sent off to lift. Today's practice will follow the same script.

At some point in the coming days, the Cougs will switch things up and increase the starters' and two-deeps' time with the coaching staff -- but getting those guys extra time now pays dividends next season. The younger players are simply more ready than they would be otherwise.

The Cougs practice again this evening after having Monday off, followed by practice sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The next two practices will again be held indoors, as were last week's, with it hopefully warming up enough by Friday for the Cougs to practice outside. A quick check shows that Friday's forecast calls for a high of 37 degrees in Pullman.

Would you rather have a bowl game later on the slate, allowing more flexibility to get in 20 hours per week of practice time allowed while taking into account finals week and coaches out on the road recruiting? Of course.

But in terms of youth development, through his Thursday Night Lights program, Leach has the Cougs as well positioned as he could have given that Washington State plays in the first bowl of the season (Dec. 21, ESPN, 11 a.m. PT).

AS FOR COLORADO STATE, they've placed the priority on recruiting this week. Their coaches are out on the road and CSU won't practice until Saturday. And at that time, they'll deal with what WSU is dealing with now – CSU finals week begins on Monday.

WHILE WASHINGTON STATE is obligated to purchase $150K in tickets, (about 5,000 tickets) the Mountain West sets their conference's team allotment to be sold at 10,000 tickets. As of Monday, CSU had sold close to 1,000 tickets.

AN INTERESTING STORY on the last few years at CSU, focusing on the struggles in today's climates to put butts in the seats – particularly the students' and the importance of having a WiFi-friendly stadium: CLICK HERE

MEANWHILE, CSU LINEBACKER Shaquil Barrett on Tuesday was named the Mountain West defensive player of the year. He lead the conference in tackles for loss (20.5) and sacks (12) among his 74 tackles. Plus, he blocked three kicks and forced three fumbles among other things.

INTERESTINGLY, THOUGH, Barrett's total tackle numbers this season are dwarfed by two other CSU linebackers -- Max Morgan (129) and Aaron Davis (113).

AND YES, AS you have no doubt heard by now, CSU is the nation's only team that can boast the combination of a 3,200-yard passer (Garret Grayson) and a 1,500-yard rusher (Kapri Bibbs).

Lesser known is this: None of Colorado State's seven wins this season came against a team with a winning record. The vanquished seven had a combined mark of 23-61 this season.

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