Akey high on defense

PULLMAN – When Washington State defensive coordinator <b>Robb Akey</b> talks, people listen. And what he's saying lately is music to the ears of a Cougar Nation.The vocal coach has nothing but praise for his crimson-clad defenders,as he should, considering their game has been air tight the entire spring and so far this fall camp.

He's especially pleased with the leadership of players like safety Erik Coleman and linebacker Al Genatone and the closeness of last year's recruits.

"(Genatone) doesn't talk much but when he gets in the huddle he just gives me this look like he is ready to go," Akey said. "When he talks, people listen."

As for last year's recruiting class that includes guys like Mkristo Bruce, Scott Davis and Brian Hall - - who are all redshirt freshmen now - - Akey said they were a very close group off the field and they held their own every day in practice last year going up against a Pac-10 champion offense.

Akey also spread plenty of praise to the new crop of guys coming in, such as defensive end Reyshawn Bobo, defensive back Husain Abdullah, defensive back Christian Bass and linebacker Paul Stevens.

"I've liked what I have seen in terms of pass rushing with Reyshawn Bobo. Husain Abdullah has been moving well. Christian Bass is a great looking kid; I'm excited for his future. Paul Stevens has done a good job."

He cautioned not to worry about the smaller size of some of the players right now because standouts like Isaac Brown and D.D. Acholonu were just as small when they joined the team four years ago.

"You want to look at the kind of work ethic and courage a kid shows right now," Akey said.

 The general consensus about JC transfer corner Omowale Dada currently is that he is a wait and see player. Neither head coach Bill Doba nor Akey were ready to make a definite statement on how he will be used during the season, but it is certain that the Cougs need to shore up some depth at that position. Said Akey: "I'm anxious to see what he will do in pads."

Doba said the same thing but also mentioned that he hopes Dada can step in soon to be a backup for Jason David or Karl Paymah. The head coach said he hopes to get Dada up to speed by the third or fourth game of the season.

"We recruited him because he had good burst and break on the ball," Doba said. "But we'll wait and see how he responds when the bullets start flying."


The team worked on most of the same material today as they did Friday, practicing with shoulder pads and helmets. After the injuries from yesterday it appeared they might have been taking it a bit easier on the hits. Doba did mention that they probably were too aggressive yesterday.

With the addition of Aaron Wagner and Hall to compete for the middle linebacker position with Don Jackson, one of the Cougars' former weak spots looks to become a strength for them this year.

All three quarterbacks performed exceptionally better today. Chris Hurd looked the sharpest of the three today hitting Scott Lunde and a sliding Troy Bienemann while on the run. The offensive line had a better day protecting the signal-callers and Matt Kegel was able to use his height as an advantage on several passes. As for Josh Swogger, he was congratulated a few times by QB coach Timm Rosenbach after completing some well-executed passes, however Swogger's biggest enemy seemed to be mental mistakes.

Running back Chris Bruhn continues his crash course on the Cougar playbook, especially learning how to run routes. Running backs coach Kelly Skipper had to correct him a few times.


People we're still talking about the highlight film catch by Don Turner on Thursday. The Spokane native made a one-handed, behind-the-back, no-look, oh-my-God-I-can't-believe-it, grab during coverage drills.


With receivers Thomas Ostrander (out for the season) and Robert Franklin (out 4 weeks) on the injury shelf, the late pick-up of JC transfer Tramaine Murray is looking to be more and more a God-send for offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller.


Sammy Moore and fellow receiver Chris Jordan have changed their numbers to 3 and 2, respectively.

• When asked if practicing in pads made the team a little more light winded, offensive lineman Calvin Armstrong said it was not a burden because of the conditioning the team did in the summer. Armstrong noted that they used weight vests to improve speed.

• Monday is the first day for two-a-day practices, but new NCAA rules do not allow teams to hold them on consecutive days. Wednesday will be the first scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. in Martin Stadium.

• Kicker Drew Dunning has been named to the 2003 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award Preseason Watch List.

• Freshman defensive lineman, Jon Conlin could be out for the entire season after injuring his knee. He'll  have an MRI on Tuesday to determine the injury and severity of it.

• Moore sat out practice with a hamstring injury and will be evaluated Monday.

• Running back Blair Hawkins suffered a broken scapula and will miss four-to-six weeks.

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