Cougs Middleton, Rogers talk Maneuvers w/ CFC

PULLMAN – No sweets. Washington State true freshman Justus Rogers learned early on to watch his dietary intake during Midnight Maneuvers, the two-week offseason conditioning circuit held in February. CF.C talked to both senior o-lineman Eduardo Middleton and Rogers about the Cougs’ grueling workouts.

It’s darned important to eat right before a session of Midnight Maneuvers, Rogers (6-2, 220) said.

“I really make sure I get the proper veggies and certain meats -- and especially for Maneuvers. You don’t want to eat too many sweets before those,” Rogers said.

Rogers told me Thursday if the Cougs had a good session that night, the coaches had told the team they wouldn’t need to have a final session on Friday. They must have performed to Mike Leach's satisfaction, because the 2016 Midnight Maneuvers out on the Palouse came to an end after Thursday night.

No matter how good of shape a player is in, Leach’s Midnight Maneuvers are always an eye opener for first-time participants.

“It’s pretty tough,” Rogers said.  “Especially the first day going into it, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Time to show my stuff, and you just get thrown in the mix. After the first day it starts to go by faster.”

Rogers and three other January enrollees—freshmen Isaiah Johnson and Jalen Thompson and junior college transfer Garrett McBroom—compared notes.

“All four of us are in different position groups, but we’ll talk and see how each other did,” Rogers said. “I talk to Jalen the most, and we’ll talk about how we did at each station and see how much the other was able to do.”

Rogers is working with the quarterbacks group, and said Luke Falk was both very helpful and vocal during Maneuvers.

“Luke has really helped me get comfortable,” Rogers said. “I’ve talked to the other quarterbacks, but Luke is the main guy to give me pointers.

Rogers also said WSU’s sports nutrition program and dieticians are already playing a big role in his development.

“It’s really nice to have them,” Rogers said. “I even have a class where speakers come in and talk on nutrition. There’s so much help to support us, WSU really cares about their players and want them to be the best at what they do.”

Meanwhile, Middleton (6-5, 310) said the sessions are meant to push the players to the brink and with purpose.

“They’re pushing us to our limits so we can be our best in the late parts of games,” he said. “We had some night games last year, and we can pull from the Midnight Maneuvers training to help us keep pushing in the fourth quarters of games.”

Middleton, the Cougars' starting right guard, will head into the spring as arguably WSU's top offensive lineman. He said the players in Midnight Maneuvers cycle through the different stations in their position groups, but the entire team does the same workouts.

“It helps build cohesiveness for the guys that you’ll be playing with side-by-side throughout the season,” said Middleton.

Although they’re not Middleton’s favorite thing to do, he said the sessions do add to the nostalgia that sinks in as he heads towards his final season with the Cougs.

“It’s part of the process, it’s something we have to do,” he said. “They’re not easy, but it’s part of the mental part of football and doing them at night.”

Washington State begins spring drills on March 24. The spring game at Joe Albi in Spokane is April 23.

CF.C, as always, will be bringing you wall-to-wall spring ball coverage. 

-WSU is replacing the left side of their offensive line with Joe Dahl and Gunnar Eklund graduating. Middleton says those will be “tough shoes to fill,” but he’s confident the younger players can step up. “Everyone just needs to do their jobs and fall in line, and we’ll be fine,” Middleton said.

-Rogers said he has been studying last year’s playbook from a fellow player. At Bellevue High, Rogers quarterbacked a run-first offense, but he’s not concerned with going to the Air Raid under Leach. “It’ll be a transition, but nothing I haven’t done before. It will definitely be a transition, but I think Washington State prepares their players so they can comfortably transition to the Pac-12,” he said.

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