A new start

ITS BEEN A long journey. A record smashing career at Woodland High was followed by two tours of duty in the JUCO ranks. Then last year, he didn't play at all. Just when it seemed he'd never wear the Crimson and Gray, suddenly there he was.. gliding his way through the Idaho defense with a rare blend of speed and power. This week, he reaches another milestone.

Running back Chris Bruhn gets his first career start in a Cougar uniform when Washington State travels to Stanford on Saturday.  Jermaine Green (ribs) is "ninety-nine percent sure not to make the trip", said coach Bill Doba. 

The coaching staff was going to take a final look at JG on Thursday afternoon but Doba noted, "(Wednesday) he couldn't even run".   Barring a miraculous recovery, Green will remain in Pullman and continue to receive treatment.  Redshirt junior LaVell Anderson will travel in Green's place.

The leading rusher for the Cougs, Jonathan Smith, figures to spend time rotating in the backfield with Bruhn.  Doba said Smith (ankle) is a little "nicked up", but nothing that should preclude him from playing against the Cardinal.  Its a safe bet Smith will, as usual, see plenty of action.

Still, when you've got two starting running backs; one of them is out, and the other is dinged a bit, that's enough for the head coach to remark, "Thank goodness Chris Bruhn is healthy."

One player the Cougs are fortunate to have had play every game this year is DT Jeremey Williams.  Asked about his leadership and mental toughness, Doba said of the senior lineman, "He's one of the best.  Jeremey is first class, the definition of a student-athlete." 

While Williams is normally reserved, that's not always the case.  When necessary, he'll let a teammate know if he needs to pick it up.  "When he comes to the sidelines and if things aren't going well, he's a different guy.  He can get after you pretty good," Doba said.

Its pretty clear a big reason the Cougs are ranked No. 6 in the nation is because of the leadership on this team.  Players like Williams, Erik Coleman, Matt Kegel and Al Genatone have been crucial to that end.

Nothing new on LB Will Derting during Doba's Thursday afternoon presser.  What is definitive; Derting will not start.  Scott Davis, whom Doba has been very pleased with, will start in Derting's place.  "He just makes plays," said Doba of the redshirt freshman.

Asked how the Cougs have been able to open so impressively against opponents from the get-go this season, Doba revealed something for the first time, "We've got a secret warm-up we do."  

Once again serious, and taking into account the loss to Notre Dame, Doba said, "In most cases, we've just got a better team..  Mike Levenseller (offensive coordinator) and Robb Akey (defensive coordinator) have done a great job preparing our team to play."

Further, Doba also pointed out that in the second half of a few games, in order not to run up the score, "we've kinda backed off a bit". 

AFTER A FREAK mishap, it seemed highly unlikely Ira Davis (ankle tendon) could play this year.  While Davis thinks he's now ready, Doba disagrees.  "Its our responsibility as coaches to make sure he's healthy enough," and Davis simply doesn't have the necessary push off that injured leg yet. 

Still, Doba finds it remarkable the senior is even this far along; a testament to his work ethic.  Doba hopes he can continue to progress; enough so that he can see some playing time before season's end. 

PUBLISHED REPORTS OF dirty play by Stanford last week against USC would appear to be a non-starter to Doba.  Viewing game tape, Doba hasn't "seen anything like that.  I think that's probably just two California teams getting after each other, building a rivalry." 

Doba went on to say neither Akey nor Levy had mentioned anything to him about it.  As they do every week, assistant coaches spend a ton of time breaking down game film.  So if it appeared to be much of an issue, the coaches would have mentioned it to Doba by this point.

VISITING THE TEAM during the bye week was QB Chris Hurd.  He continues to rehab down in California and may travel to Palo Alto for the game.  If he makes the trip, expect to see Hurd wearing a jersey on the Cougar sideline.

WITH HEAVY RAIN on Wednesday, and a steady drizzle Thursday, Doba was asked if the team planned on practicing indoors.  "Outdoors," said Doba. 

While the coach doesn't want anyone to turn an ankle during an indoor practice late in the week, one also gets the feeling Doba didn't think a little rain would hurt a bunch of guys ready to go out there and get after it.  Bring on Stanford.

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