Gesser, rookies shine

PULLMAN --- <STRONG>Jason Gesser</STRONG> was back to his old self Wednesday night in the second scrimmage of fall camp, throwing three touchdown passes, including one against the No. 1 defense. Two of Gesser's scoring strikes were to Collin Henderson, including one of about 20 yards coming from shotgun formation.

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Gesser stepped up swiftly in the pocket to avoid a blitz and hit Henderson who had briefly shaken his man.

The bottom line on Gesser is that he's handling his reads very well. He checked off several times during the 2 1/2 hour scrimmage, and virtually every one of those audibles came up roses.

Gesser's final touchdown pass went to Scott Lunde in the first matchup between the No. 1 offense and defense of fall camp.

In addition to Gesser, there were a number of offensive bright spots in Wednesday's scrimmage. True freshman running back Jimmy Wilson ripped off several solid gains, and showed a knack for hitting the hole that is sometimes difficult to see in young players.

Despite his slightly skinny stature (and youth -- he's 17)), Wilson is making a push for the No. 2 running back spot behind Dave Minnich. Minnich, as planned, sat out the scrimmage to rest a sore groin. It is still unknown whether he will be able to participate in Thursday's 7:30 p.m. practice.

Another true freshman, receiver Marty Martin of Puyallup, had one of the most impressive showings during the scrimmage. Martin made a number of tough catches, including a 30 yard grab in which he was leveled by defensive back Alex Teems, but still held onto the ball. It appears to be a certainty that Martin will play in 2001 as a true freshman, just as fellow Puyallup High alum Henderson did in 1999.

Although the kicking situation still hasn't sorted itself out, it looks like assistant coach Aaron Price will have some good kickers from which to choose. Nick Lambert, Drew Dunning and Graham Siderius all turned in strong performances in for the second straight scrimmage. All three hit from upwards of 45 yards once during the scrimmage. Right now, the edge would probably go to Dunning, followed closely by Lambert, then Siderius.

ON THE DEFENSIVE

On the defensive side of the ball, a number of players impressed the coaches in the scrimmage. Sophomore defensive end D.D. Acholonu seemed to be in the backfield all night, as did defensive tackle Jeremey Williams. Linebacker Raonall Smith intercepted Tali Ena's first pass of the day and returned it almost 40 yards for a touchdown. And Billy Newman sacked quarterback Matt Kegel, then followed that up with a kickoff return for a touchdown just several minutes later.

Sophomore Jason David, a backup corner, continues to push the coaches to find a spot for him. The diminutive star of last April's Crimson & gray game blanketed receivers all night and broke up a pass intended for Nakoa McElrath in the endzone. David also blocked a Lambert field goal attempt. Despite his small size, his lightning-quick moves make him a big weapon on the block team. Look for him to cause some major special teams disruptions this year.

NOTABLE NOTE

Freshman linebacker Will Derting has impressed coach Bill Doba so much that the youngster from Okanogan is seeing regular reps with the No. 2 defense. That is, however, due to some nagging injuries that have bothered fellow weakside linebackers James Price and Serign Marong, but Derting has nevertheless looked very good. He even saw a couple plays with the No. 1 defense. Both Derting and fellow frosh linebacker Pat Bennett have been solid in camp, but Derting will probably be the only one to play this year. Bennett doesn't quite look as ready, so barring another major catastrophe at the LB position, he will most likely redshirt.


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