Cougs begin transition from youth to veterans

PULLMAN—Most of the WSU assistant coaches made their return from the recruiting road for a late night Wednesday practice session. The Cougs started working the veterans more according to defensive coordinator Mike Breske, and linebackers coach Ken Wilson talked Southern California recruiting, plus some young guns on defense who have stood out to him in the early bowl game practices.

"It was fun tonight," Breske said of the Wednesday night session that got underway at 9 p.m. in the middle of finals week.

"We went good on good on inside run, 7-on-7, and team and I think you could just feel the electricity of doing our base defenses and mixing in a few fire zones and just getting that tempo going against the offense. It was fun."

Along with head man Mike Leach and Breske, the WSU assistants present were: Joe Salave'a, Wilson, Eric Russell, David Yost, and Clay McGuire was there when the media returned at the end of practice. I didn't see Jim Mastro, Dennis Simmons or Paul Volero, who were all still assumedly out recruiting. Leach did not talk with media afterwards.

But according to Wilson, he and four other WSU assistants were in the Southern California area this week recruiting.

"It's been great," Wilson said. "The USC game down there was big for us and the bowl game is obviously big for us. And the excitement of us playing on TV (every game) has been good for our recruiting stuff."

Most of the five bowl practices have been run by Leach, Breske, and graduate assistants, with the assistants out on the recruiting trail.

"We've been hitting it hard," Wilson said. "We have been recruiting hard now and we've had good reception most of the year, but obviously those last couple of games: the Arizona game, the Utah game, and obviously the bowl game have all helped us. Some of the coaching changes gave us some life with (the) stability of Coach Leach being here. So, everything is looking good right now."

WILSON SAID THAT Wednesday night's practice was an opportunity for the older guys to start gearing up The players will hit the ground running after an off-day Thursday, which the coaches will use to work on the game plan for Colorado State.

"We had a good first start there," Wilson said of the veterans; work on Wednesday. "We're still just basically getting 1s versus 1s and getting these guys back in the groove of playing football. We will game plan a little bit tomorrow and get into the game plan stuff on Friday."

It will also be easier for the players to start turning their attention more fully to football by the time Friday rolls around.

"It's just getting them back up to speed," Wilson said. "They've got a lot on their minds. It's the first time they've been in a bowl game, they're in the middle of finals. There is just a lot of stuff going on. These (kinds of) practices are kind of redirecting their focus…getting them back and thinking about football and the opportunity we have in this bowl game."

AS THE COUGS transition their practices from focusing on the youth to the veterans and two-deeps, Wilson mentioned a couple of the young guns who have caught his eye.

"I think Jeremiah Allison, Wilson said. "…Has played several positions for us. We are kind of locking him in at the BUCK and WIL position and getting him some good reps.

"Obviously, the young D-linemen have been a big surprise to us and Darius Lemora coming back and being out there at full speed (has impressed) as well as Peyton (Pelluer)."

BRESKE HAS has been busy recruiting too but he's also got in some early film work on Colorado State. Indeed, Breske said he has looked at a lot of film already. The best part of CSU's offense?

"They've got a veteran offensive line…I believe four seniors," Breske said. "That's the strength of their offense. Anytime you get that age and that experience on the O-line, that's a plus for you."

In addition to that senior-laden offensive line, the Cougar D will face another dominant running back in Kapri Bibbs. He's run for over 1,500 yards and has 28 total touchdowns. Breske has faced his fair share of elite running backs this year, so what's once more?

"It gives me a headache," Breske said jokingly. "You got any aspirin?"

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