4 Takeaways from Albi Stadium

SPOKANE -- When it comes to first impressions, Deone Bucannon is at one end of the spectrum and Joe Albi at the other. Under sunny skies here Saturday, the Crimson & Gray Game left a handful of indelible marks ...

Falk looks bigger than the 6-4, 206 pounds listed, yet he moves quite well. But what I noticed most about this first-year walk-on quarterback is that he throws a beautiful long ball. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 213 yards, one TD and no interceptions on Saturday. I'm not sure how many of those completions or attempts covered 30 yards or more, but it seemed like every time he aired one out the ball was a tight spiral with a perfect arc. He definitely doesn't look like a typical walk-on QB. Between him and Tyler Bruggman, it's little wonder why Brett Rypien decided on Boise State.

On defense Saturday, two guys really struck me for the way they were moving around the field: juniors-to-be Ivan McLennan and Jeremiah Allison. They were quick, strong and aggressive, and took good angles. McLennan posted two sacks, and Allison had three tackles and picked off a tipped Bruggman pass. Stats weren't the story, though. It was the way they moved. They looked like they belonged out there. Both are No. 2 on the depth chart behind experienced veterans -- McLennan at BUCK behind Kache Palacio and Allison at MIKE behind Darryl Monroe -- so I'm not predicting starting roles. But I think they'll both see lots of playing time this fall.

Speaking of Darryl, I met him after the game. He's the type of guy you'd love to have as a teammate. He's full of positive energy and comes across as both smart and personable.

My dad and I had the opportunity during the game to talk with three outgoing Cougs who were in the stands: Deone Bucannon, Bobby Ratliff and Damante Horton. And it was obvious all three are very proud of the role their recruiting class played in getting the WSU program turned around. That class, by the way, is going to continue to play a big role in 2014 with fifth-year seniors Connor Halliday, Toni Pole, Rickey Galvin, Kristoff Williams and Tracy Clark.

Deone told us he had one-one-one visits with 14 NFL teams over the last couple of months, the most recent ones being the Jets, Giants and Eagles. That was the second time the Eagles brought him in. Damante said he visited last week with the 49ers. Bobby is putting the finishing touches on his bachelor's degree and plans to return home to southern California after graduation next month to start the job hunt. All three are incredibly friendly people and outstanding representatives of WSU.

Or maybe the wrecking ball. Shocking is about the only word I can think of to describe my first-ever trip to Spokane's storied old stadium. For starters, I wasn't expecting the dirt parking lot covered in weeds and potholes. I thought for a minute that maybe I'd fallen asleep in the car and my dad accidentally took a wrong turn into Priest River, Idaho. Nope, he said, this is the same place where the Cougs once played Pac-8 and Pac-10 games. He then regaled me about watching USC and WSU battle here in 1974 and that he's pretty sure Trojan running backs were dodging dirt clods and rocks that had spilled over the railroad-tie retaining walls into the end zones. The railroad ties are gone nowadays, but the tunnels leading into the stadium are surrounded by slopes of dirt covered in weeds. And the press box looks like a fire hazard. All I can say is that WSU must really, really like Spokane -- a lot! -- to play the Crimson & Gray Game in a stadium this neglected.

Ryan Witter (pictured below with Darren Mitchell and Jeremiah Allison) is a high school freshman and two-sport athlete from Seattle who periodically writes for Cougfan.com. He is lifelong Cougar fan whose dad co-founded CF.C two months after he was born.

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