Fall camp goes 'thud'

PULLMAN – Washington State football players are ready to hit someone besides each other (preferably an Idaho Vandal), but Saturday evening they didn't get to hit anyone. In fact, the entire scrimmage went "thud."

The Cougars final scrimmage of fall camp is referred to as a "thud" because players are not allowed to hit each other.

Senior quarterback Matt Kegel completed 14 of 21 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. While running back Chris Bruhn scored the other offensive touchdown on a 12-yard burst.


Defensive end D.D. Acholonu put two points on the board with a safety on a sack. Chris Jordan led all receivers with five grabs for 89 yards.

Thud scrimmages go like this: As soon as a player is touched they are ruled down. Making the action even more of a yawner was the pitting of the first and second team against the scout team.

Overall the scrimmage was a poor man's version of the annual Crimson and Gray game (held in April), complete with the cheer squad, dance team and an announcer. The first and second team offense and defense dressed in the Crimson uniforms and the scout team wore the white tops.

To the naked eye it may seem nothing really got accomplished, sacks were more like smacks and the 126 ground yards chewed up by running backs Jonathan Smith and Bruhn probably would have translated to twice as much.

What was invisible to the naked eye though, was that the Cougars were acting out some of Idaho's "defensive tendencies," in order to simulate what the Vandals would do in their August 30 opener. If the Vandals typically blitz on third downs, the WSU defense was blitzing on third down during their scrimmage.

"We had bad execution but got a lot out of it mentally," WSU head coach Bill Doba said.

Doba pointed out that his team had too many offsides calls and offensive penalties. Both Doba and players admit that they are sick of playing against each other and it is tough to stay mentally sharp at this point in the year.

"We just tried to keep the tempo up even though we were playing the scout team," said junior Devard Darling, who hauled in three balls for 31 yards on the night. "Right now the real test (of whether WSU is ready or not) is against Idaho."

Not to say that there weren't any noteworthy plays. Jordan accounted for nearly half of his yards in the second quarter as Kegel worked himself out of a jam by cruising a 40-yard pass Jordan's direction. Kegel was looking at about third and 21 after a series of penalties and sacks pushed him further back. He then turned that jam into a touchdown drive, finding Darling for another first down on the 10-yard line and then zipping a bullet to Trandon Harvey for a touchdown.

On Crimson's next drive Kegel again manhandled the scout team defense, putting a scoring drive together in 44-seconds. The QB first found Darling for a five-yard hook up. Next it was Harvey again to secure the first down. Then Kegel quickly found the 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman, Cody Boyd in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.

"Boyd gives us a good big body in there that can come off screens from the linebackers and defensive backs," Doba said.

Doba also liked what he saw with running back Smith. The senior has largely improved his running game — carrying just nine times for 66 yards Saturday — but what Doba liked was his ability to play receiver, also. Smith caught two balls for 16 yards.

"We like having Smith as a wide-out on the spread," Doba said.

Doba has also been impressed this fall with the raw skill of Bruhn. With starter Jermaine Green sitting out with a tight back, Bruhn and Smith filled in adequately.

"If it'd have been live, we would've gotten a lot of yards rushing," Doba said.

As far as progress Darling and senior defensive tackle, Jeremey Williams — both team leaders — think this team is definitely comparable to the one that went to the Rose Bowl last season.

"I love the offense," Williams said. "We've got a lot of weapons and a lot of key guys coming back. Everyone is just anxious right now to get the season started, to hear that crowd again or just to hit someone other than your teammate."

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